2020 NFL Draft Grades: Grading Each Team’s Picks, Trades Of First Night


Apr 24, 2020

The NFL draft isn’t necessarily a crapshoot as many people say it is, but it certainly is an inexact science.

Thirty-two players were selected in the first round Thursday night, and no matter what anyone says, no one knows for sure what’s going to come of those, or any, picks in the draft.

But that doesn’t stop us from trying. We’ve already given you winners and losers from the first round, and here are (way too premature) draft grades for each team from Night 1 of the 2020 NFL Draft.

Arizona Cardinals — LB Isaiah Simmons (No. 8 overall)
Grade: A

Simmons is an athletic freak who can play just about anywhere in a defense and is a perfect plug-and-play. The Cardinals can basically build the defense around him.

Atlanta Falcons — CB AJ Terrell (No. 16 overall)
Grade: B-

The Falcons needed all kinds of help on that defense, and you could do worse than plucking from Clemson to address the need. But it feels like Terrell could have been available later in the draft.

Baltimore Ravens — LB Patrick Queen (No. 28 overall)
Grade: B+ 

Just about every mock draft had the Ravens going with a linebacker here, and Queen was projected to go higher than 28 in some mock drafts. That he basically fell into Baltimore’s lap made for an easy night.

Buffalo Bills — No pick (Stefon Diggs trade)
Grade: B+

Most teams are hoping their first-round draft picks will be impact players, but none know for sure. Buffalo, though, knows Diggs is the real deal.

Carolina Panthers — DT Derrick Brown (No. 8 overall)
Grade: B+

Carolina was simply putrid against the run last season, and getting a 6-foot-5, 326-pound mountain of a man to plug in the middle of the defense should help. The Panthers should still look linebacker early on Day 2.

Chicago Bears — No pick (Khalil Mack trade)
Grade: B-

At his best, Mack remains one of the NFL’s top defensive players, but it looks like the Bears might have missed their window (thanks, Mitch Trubisky), and they sure could have used first-round picks the last two years.

Cincinnati Bengals — QB Joe Burrow (No. 1 overall)
Grade: A

Nice little Thursday night for the Bengals. They were done by 8:30 p.m. ET, and the general consensus about Burrow is he’s a franchise QB.

Cleveland Browns — OT Jedrick Wills (No. 10 overall)
Grade: B+

The Browns finally have a franchise cornerstone offensive tackle. The offensive line was a major issue last season, making this a no-brainer, and they’ll be far better in the upcoming campaign after also signing Jack Conklin.

Dallas Cowboys — WR CeeDee Lamb (No. 17 overall)
Grade: A

Sure, this draft is loaded with wideouts, and sure, the Cowboys need help on defense. But to land arguably the top receiver in the draft midway through the first round is a steal, and now Mike McCarthy can hit the ground running in Dallas with one of the most talented offenses in the NFL.

Denver Broncos — WR Jerry Jeudy (No. 15 overall)
Grade: A

Things couldn’t have fallen better for the Broncos, who now have one of the best young arsenals of offensive weapons with Jeudy, Courtland Sutton and Noah Fant. If Drew Lock is the real deal, the Broncos are in business.

Detroit Lions — CB Jeff Okudah (No. 3 overall)
Grade: B-

Maybe Okudah will be Darrelle Revis, but taking a cornerback with the third pick in the dang draft seems like a reach, especially if there were valuable trades (with, say Miami) out there to be made. At the very least, they could have made it seem like they were going QB to try to get the Dolphins or Chargers nervous to trade up.

More NFL Draft: Winners And Losers From First Round

Green Bay Packers — Trade up to draft QB Jordan Love (No. 26 overall)
Grade: C

In a vacuum, drafting Love — who some felt was a top-10 talent — makes sense given where Aaron Rodgers is in his career. But if the Packers feel they’re truly a 13-3 team that came within one win of a Super Bowl, which is what happened last season, it’s puzzling for them to make a pick that’s clearly made with an eye on the long-term future. There probably was a better way for them to improve in the short and long term with that pick, but maybe they just love Love.

Houston Texans — No pick (Laremy Tunsil trade)
Grade: B-

They also don’t have a first-round pick next year. Whoops.

Indianapolis Colts — No pick (DeForest Buckner trade)
Grade: B

They reportedly were sniffing around on Jordan Love, but they should feel good about having Buckner in their pocket before the draft even began.

Jacksonville Jaguars — CB CJ Henderson (No. 9 overall), LB K’Lavon Chaisson (No. 20 overall)
Grade: A-

If the Jags hit on both Henderson and Chaisson, that should go a long way in restoring a defense that just a few years ago was one of the best in the NFL.

Kansas City Chiefs — RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire (No. 32 overall)
Grade: B+

Even if you don’t know much about the player, you should still feel confident about his chances to succeed in Andy Reid’s offense.

Las Vegas Raiders — WR Henry Ruggs III (No. 12 overall), CB Damon Arnette (No. 19 overall)
Grade: C+

The Raiders obviously love Ruggs, and it’s their job to build professional football teams, which is a long way of saying they know better than we do. But it was hard to find many people who had Ruggs higher than Lamb or Jerry Jeudy. Arnette, meanwhile, fills a need, but NFL.com gives him a 6.1 prospect grade, which classifies him as a “good backup who could become a starter.” The Raiders, with two top-20 picks, had a chance to knock this out of the park. It doesn’t feel like they did, but time will tell.

Los Angeles Chargers — QB Justin Herbert (No. 6 overall), LB Kenneth Murray (No. 23 overall)
Grade: A

We’re operating under the assumption Herbert won’t be a total bust, and having Tyrod Taylor means he won’t have to start right away. LA traded back into the first to get Murray, who is the perfect addition to a defense that already includes Joey Bosa, Melvin Ingram and Derwin James.

Los Angeles Rams — No pick (Jalen Ramsey trade)
Grade: B

Ramsey obviously is great, but the Rams are probably closer to needing to rebuild than they’d care to admit.

Miami Dolphins — QB Tua Tagovailoa (No. 5 overall), OT Austin Jackson (No. 18 overall), CB Noah Igbinoghene (No. 30 overall)
Grade: A

The Dolphins got their quarterback, and they didn’t even have to move up to do so. If he stays healthy — a big if — it could be their best pick since Dan Marino. Jackson is a solid cornerstone tackle. The Igbinoghene pick surprised some people, but it’s hard to go wrong by adding good players.

Minnesota Vikings — WR Justin Jefferson (No. 22 overall), CB Jeff Gladney (No. 31 overall)
Grade: A

They effectively replaced Diggs with Jefferson, who can be just as good and actually wants to be there. The Gladney pick satisfies the defensive-minded Mike Zimmer. An already good team got better.

New England Patriots — Traded out of first round
Grade: B+

The Patriots did well to stock up on Day 2 picks, especially if there was no one they liked at No. 23. The hard truth for the Patriots after an offseason exodus is they need to fill multiple holes, so they’re clearly hunting for value here.

New Orleans Saints — OL Cesar Ruiz (No. 24 overall)
Grade: B+

Hard to get too jacked up about offensive linemen at the back end of the first round, but you could do worse than adding protection for an elderly quarterback like Drew Brees.

New York Giants — OT Andrew Thomas (No. 4 overall)
Grade: B

Thought it was interesting to read Thomas excels in run blocking. Might as well get someone to help pave the way for Saquon Barkley, while also helping Daniel Jones in his quest to become a franchise quarterback.

New York Jets — OT Mehki Becton (No. 11 overall)
Grade: B+

It’s a solid pick by the Jets. They desperately need offensive talent, inside and outside. Taking Becton — who is a massive human being — makes sense here, and they can still circle back and grab a receiver on Day 2 where there’s no shortage of value.

Philadelphia Eagles — WR Jalen Reagor (No. 21 overall)
Grade: B

Philly grabbing a wideout might have been the biggest no-brainer of the draft, but it’s a little odd they chose Reagor over Jefferson, who went to the Vikings the very next pick. Clearly, the Eagles were prioritizing the speed here, and now it’s on Doug Pederson to fit him into the offense. Best-case scenario is they have the next DeSean Jackson.

Pittsburgh Steelers — No pick (Minkah Fitzpatrick trade)
Grade: B

Fitzpatrick is good and will continue to be good. #analysis

San Francisco 49ers — DT Javon Kinlaw (No. 14 overall), WR Brandon Aiyuk (No. 25 overall)
Grade: A

If Aiyuk is good, the 49ers will look very smart, but it would have been fascinating to see San Fran take another game-changing wideout with that No. 14 pick and let Kyle Shanahan go to work. But maybe he can do that with Aiyuk anyway. If Kinlaw produces right away, the Buckner trade will look like a smart, cost-effective move.

Seattle Seahawks — LB Jordyn Brooks (No. 27 overall)
Grade: B

Seattle not trading was a shock, as its early deals have become a yearly tradition of sorts. Brooks sounds like the perfect middle-level player for a defensive guy like Pete Carroll.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Traded up for OT Tristan Wirfs (No. 13 overall)
Grade: A-

The Bucs had a need and they made the move to get it done, making sure another lineman-needy team didn’t take their guy. In the last month or so, Tampa Bay has added the best quarterback of all time, maybe the best tight end of all time and a franchise offensive tackle. Decent.

Tennessee Titans — OT Isaiah Wilson (No. 29 overall)
Grade: B

Gotta imagine Wilson will get a chance to compete for a starting spot after Conklin left for Cleveland. A solid pick, we think.

Washington Redskins — DE Chase Young (No. 2 overall)
Grade: A

Keep it simple, stupid. The Redskins took the best defensive player in the draft and called it a night. Surprisingly competent.

More NFL Draft: Patriots Fans Livid Team Traded Out Of First Round Again

Thumbnail photo via Tim Fuller/USA TODAY Sports Images
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