Five predictions for this month’s draft
Roger Goodell has spoken, er, written, and the NFL draft will indeed happen as previously scheduled. Goodell sent two memos out to teams in the last two weeks explaining that yes, the draft will take place from April 23-25, and if teams have a problem with it they can shove it.
“…public discussion of issues relating to the Draft serves no useful purpose and is ground for disciplinary action,” Goodell wrote in his March 26 memo. Sure Rog, whatever you say.
In his memo on April 6 Goodell told teams that the draft will be held in a “totally virtual format.” The catch is, GM’s and coaches cannot gather at a team facility to conduct the draft. No, instead each coach and each GM will be at their homes, apart from any other team personnel, picking 21 to 24-year-olds they hope can change the fortunes of their franchise. These truly are wild times we are living in.
Goodell’s decision comes at the dismay of teams that feel they have not been able to do their full scouting due diligence as many pro-days and pre-draft workouts were forced to be cut short. Saints general manager Mickey Loomis has been particularly outspoken.
“I’d be personally in favor of delaying the draft, so that we could get some of the work done that our scouts and personnel people ordinarily do. And then just the logistics of trying to conduct the draft with not having access to your draft rooms and your offices creates a lot of logistic problems,” Loomis said on the Peter King podcast.
Loomis then stated that “This is not a fantasy draft…” In a report from The Daily News Steelers GM Kevin Colbert (no relation to the late-night talk show host Stephen) that teams be rewarded three additional picks due to the unprecedented circumstances leading up the to draft.
Like it or not, teams will simply have to play with the cards Goodell dealt them and make it work as best they can. The ratings for this draft might break records as fans and people tune-in and try and quench the thirst that the COVID-19 outbreak has created in this now cold, dark sportless world. Sure they won’t be able to bombard Goodell with boo’s, but that’s a small price to pay.
Now let’s get to the less corporate decision-making side of things and try and predict what will actually go down when April 23 rolls around. Here are five predictions for Draft Day 2020.
1. Lions trade out from 3rd overall
The Lions are the logical spot for QB needy teams to trade up to and get the guy they want. With Cincinnati on a virtual lock to take hometown kid Joe Burrow at one, and the Redskins in line to take all-world prospect Chase Young for the pick after, Detroit is set up nicely at three. Miami and the Chargers are the two top trade candidates here.
After Burrow lands with the Bengals, Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert are the presumed next two quarterbacks to go off the board. The Dolphins can sit pat at the number five spot and hope the guy they want falls to them, but with the Chargers picking at six this may be a risky proposition. Los Angeles has a franchise quarterback hole of their own to fill. Give me a break with all this Tyrod Taylor support, Taylor is a capable quarterback, but functions best a stop-gap at the position. A shiny new quarterback may be the only way to get fans in Los Angeles to at least think about attending a Chargers game.
2. Jordan Love goes in the top-15
A landing spot for Love is tough to pinpoint. His talent and upside might be the best out of all the drafts quarterbacks, but he lacks much tape against NFL-ready defenders. I think the success of Patrick Mahomes will entice a team like the Raiders or Saints to go up and get Love, have him sit a year behind an established NFL veteran, and then give him the reigns in 2021.
3. Anthony Harris gets traded during the draft
Harris was set to hit the open market this off-season and secure the bag by becoming perhaps the NFL’s highest-paid safety before the Vikings surprisingly slapped him with the franchise tag. With Minnesota in “cap-hell,” Harris was dubbed a trade candidate before reports surfaced that he and Vikings were trying to work out a long-term deal.
However, earlier this week Darren Wolfson from the Scoop had reported that negotiations with Harris “are not quite going so well,” which means the Vikings and the all-pro snub are back to square one. Losing Harris would be a big blow to an already depleted Vikings secondary. That being said, Harris is coming off his best season as a pro and his trade value is at its peak.
Moving Harris would obviously mean the Vikings would have to pay him an expensive yet well-deserved contract and could lead to the Vikings being able to fill another position of need (I’m looking at you, Trent Williams.)
4. Three wide receivers go in the top-12
Much has been said about this year’s receiving class being among the best of all-time. Three wideouts have separated themselves from the pack in Henry Ruggs III, Jerry Jeudy and CeeDee Lamb. With so much talent to be had in the middle rounds, filling other needs and waiting to take a receiver makes sense, but the game-breaking ability this WR trio offers will be too much for teams to pass up.
What say you, New York Jets? Sure you have major o-line issues but give your boy Sam Darnold someone to throw too. If you’re reading this, I dare you to go look at the Jets receiving stats from last season, but be warned, it’s not for the faint of heart.
What say you, Oakland Raiders? Sure Derek Carr might not be “it” but you can at least help him out a little. Jeudy is an Amari Cooper clone ready to help usher in the new era of Raider football in Las Vegas.
What say you, Miami Dolphins? Sure you might get your franchise QB in the top-5, but DeVante Parker needs a sparring partner. Use a couple of your zillion draft picks and go get your brand-new face of the franchise a best friend.
5. Isaiah Simmons is the second defender off the board
Simmons is part of the new breed of NFL defenders with a unique ubiquity to do just about anything you can ask him to do. Want him to rush off the edge? He can do it. Third and long and need him to cover from the slot? No problem. Need a thumper at strong safety ready to wipe out anyone that comes across the middle? Simmons is your man.
In basketball terms, Simmons can play 1-5. Jeff Okudah is being touted as the next true shut-down corner in the NFL, but I think Simmons’ versatility will give him the edge. In a draft that almost didn’t feature a can’t miss prospect with Chase Young, the Clemson alum would be a lock for a top-3 pick.
Bonus prediction: The New England Patriots give us Zoomgate
Bill Belichick has one last trick up his sleeve now that golden boy Tom Brady has skipped town. When the middle part of the 1st round begins, don’t be surprised when teams mysteriously start having technical problems, causing them to miss their picks and allowing the Patriots who are currently slotted at 23 to float up into the top-15 and draft Brady’s successor Jordan Love.
It is far too easy to picture Belichick sitting at home in his slippers, sipping his sweet tea as he watches the chaos occur through his computer screen, for he has somehow found a way to shut down other teams’ communication outlets and destroy their draft plans.