With live sports canceled, nearly every sports fanatic tuned in to the 2020 NFL Draft to catch a glimpse of some content. A completely virtual draft, with NFL coaches, general managers, and the commissioner all stuck in their (rather impressive) homes, the NFL draft went as smoothly as one could have hoped despite the looming possibility of a postponed season.
For those who do not know, the draft is the process in which the top college athletes are selected by NFL teams. The order for each of the seven rounds is determined by the previous season records of the teams, with the worst record receiving the first overall pick. Each pick, just like a player, is tradeable and can be used as capital to move up and down in the order.
Rookies are often more desirable than veterans, because their contracts are considerably more team-friendly than veteran deals due to NFL rules. While players can sign as undrafted rookies, the best players will go in the first couple of rounds, and a top draft pick often has a significant effect on a team in the following season.
There were winners and losers of the first round but for the most part, there were few surprises. It was expected to be crazy, unpredictable, and filled with uncertainty, but much of it went according to plan. A grand total of four trades occured on draft night, only one of which happened in the top 15.
Despite talks of the Lions, Giants, Cardinals, and Jaguars all wanting to move down from their top 10 pick, none of the excitement we were promised came to fruition, and all of the teams picked the players they were expected to.
In football, the quarterback holds an immense amount of positional value, outranking any other individual position in importance. The quarterback is the only player that touches the ball in every play that he’s on the field (unless a trick play is called).
It was no surprise that three quarterbacks went in the top six picks: Joe Burrow to the Bengals (first), Tua Tagovailoa to the Dolphins (fifth), and Justin Herbert to the Chargers (sixth).
All three had tremendous collegiate careers. Burrow had, statistically speaking, the best single season in division 1 college athletics history, and capped it off with a Heisman Trophy and National Championship for his alma mater, Louisiana State University. This season made him the presumptive first pick — the Bengals even sent him a welcome gift before drafting him. Tagovailoa won his own national championship at the University of Alabama in 2017. Injury concerns made some wonder if he would be picked early, but these proved unfounded.
A few teams that had the spotlight coming into the draft included the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New England Patriots. After future Hall of Fame player and arguably greatest quarterback of all time Tom Brady decided to sign with the Bucs instead of the Patriots, fans were rightfully curious to see what each teams’ next steps were.
The Bucs traded up from the fourteenth to the thirteenth pick to select offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs. This position is the most difficult and important in an offensive line, responsible for keeping the quarterback safe and giving him time to make a play. A good offensive tackle is a must for a team with an immobile quarterback like Brady. The Patriots, instead of potentially drafting Brady’s replacement, traded out of the first round to acquire more picks.
The biggest pick in the night came from the Green Bay Packers at pick 26. With a very skilled quarterback Aaron Rodgers already at the helm, many believed the Packers would select a wide receiver to help their star quarterback. But the Packers opted to move up from pick 30 to 26 and select Jordan Love — another quarterback.
This pick likely signals the end of the Rodgers era for the Green Bay Packers. Love will most likely sit for a couple years and be transitioned into the role of starter once Rodgers’ contract expires, much like Rodgers did when he replaced Brett Favre.
A few other winners included the Cowboys, D.C.’s team, and the Ravens. The Cowboys drafted arguably the best receiver in the draft, CeeDee Lamb, to add to their already stacked offensive arsenal. The team from D.C. selected the best talent in the draft, defensive end Chase Young, with the second overall pick. Predicted to be a perennial pro bowler, and a once in a lifetime player, Young is a game changer. Finally, the Ravens waited patiently at pick 28, to have linebacker and projected top-20 pick, Patrick Queen, fall into their lap and address their biggest need.
Despite some miscommunication over which analyst’s turn it was to talk over the Zoom call, the virtual draft went off without a hitch. These first round players just earned themselves millions of dollars and will hopefully show teams that their investments are worth it in the next NFL season. The draft is when dreams come true for players and hope is restored for franchises, and I know we all could use a bit of hope right now.