Updated: Aug 24, 2020
Speaking in absolutes the week of the NFL Draft (or really any time you’re discussing something as unpredictable as it) is foolish. I’ve been trying to tell everyone that recently. Will Grier as QB1, Baker Mayfield as a reach, and Corey Davis as a 10-year stud were all takes that have proved to be poorly articulated once the dust settled.
Anyone who knows me knows that I love the chaos of the NFL Draft. The unpredictability is what draws me to covering so much of it. Those people also know that I am one for a hot take or two. I’ve even reached Habanero-level takes. Sometimes I hit. Most times I look like an idiot. So here I am; inviting the hate in. Here are my ten hottest takes of the 2020 NFL Draft.
1. Isaiah Simmons will be a different kind of cat in 2020 and beyond.
(Image from The Athletic)
Percent Chance: 60%
Why I think it will happen: The Detroit Lions are in a very odd spot. They pick 3rd overall in a class full of outstanding, elite defensive talents. They just traded their best defensive player – Darius Slay – to the Philadelphia Eagles; a trade that was forced upon them by… well, them. But Bob Quinn and Matt Patricia have signed or acquired a total of three cornerbacks since the beginning of free agency – one being former Pro Bowler Desmond Trufant. I know Jeff Okudah is the popular pick and he immediately fills the void left by Slay, but Isaiah Simmons’ do-it-all nature and lack of a true position makes me think Patricia would love a player like him. Oh, and by the way, the NFL is essentially base-nickel (someone should tell the Bears’ offense that) now due to the overwhelming pass-first shift. Simmons could slide into sub-linebacker, slot corner, or deep safety and immediately be effective.
Why I’m an idiot: Jeffrey Okudah is a damn good football player and fits the scheme perfectly. The Lions always do things that set them back a few years, and passing on Simmons is on brand.
2. The Los Angeles Chargers will draft a wide receiver with their first-round pick.
(Image from The Los Angeles Times)
Percent Chance: 30%
Why I think it will happen: The Los Angeles Chargers have a shortage of immediate needs. They believe in Tyrod – at least for the 2020 season – and Trey Pipkins. They definitely have a need at guard and linebacker, but unless you think Tristan Wirfs is a guard (admittedly, I do), this is too rich of a position to take those positions. What the Chargers don’t have is a decent third receiver. The Chiefs just proved that an average defense and elite offense can win a Super Bowl, and the Chargers already have a great defense. The quarterback of the future will come – it could be Jalen Hurts at the back of the first or early second, or maybe it comes via free agency in Cam or Jameis. Either way, adding Henry Ruggs III, Jerry Jeudy, or even CeeDee Lamb would put that quarterback of the future in a much sweeter position when they finally take the field.
Why I’m an idiot: Keenan Allen and Mike Williams – plus Austin Ekeler and Hunter Henry – provide a pretty stout passing attack already. A third wide receiver could be overkill, and passing up a quarterback like Tua could come back to haunt the Chargers for years to come. If they aren’t sold on Tua, passing up an offensive lineman with the potential of Wirfs or Becton could have the same effect.
3. Michael Pittman Jr. will hear his name called on Thursday night.
(Image from NFL Mock Draft)
Percent Chance: 77%
Why I think it will happen: Did you know that around 30% of second-generation NFL players are drafted in the first round of their respective drafts? It’s true. Michael Pittman Jr. is a receiver that I admittedly was super low on. The first time I watched his tape, I saw a slow, big body receiver that had pretty good hands and decent body control. I couldn’t have been more incorrect. Michael Pittman Jr. has an early-second round grade for me, and I assume the NFL is even higher on him based on his family name. Some crazy team like the Jets could take him early. Teams like the Vikings, Seahawks, and Packers at the back of the first could look at adding Pittman Jr. And don’t sleep on the 49ers or Chiefs taking a receiver at 31 or 32 respectively. There’s nothing significant stopping a team from getting a big, fast, productive NFL wide receiver from USC on Thursday night.
Why I’m an idiot: Well, I’ll start with the high percentage I gave this. I don’t think that there is a take I am more confident in. But also, this is a class full of great wide receiver prospects. Michael Pittman Jr. could very easily get lost in the sauce, to speak, and fall to the second or even third round. There are probably scouts that think he’s not very good, because a scout once said that Mekhi Becton likes food too much and that’s why he’s bad (someone get me a scouting job, for real. I’d never say such asinine things).
4. Jordyn Brooks will be taken before Patrick Queen on Thursday evening.
(Image from Full Press Coverage)
Want a sleeper first-round pick? Even though he's ranked publicly in the round 2-3 range at best, multiple NFL sources say Texas Tech ILB Jordyn Brooks is one to watch. Details on Brooks and other pre-draft whispers for @TheAthleticNFL: https://t.co/jOQA6odRxV — Ben Standig (@BenStandig) April 17, 2020
Percent Chance: 52%
Why I think it will happen: Jordyn Brooks is an elite tackler. He has sideline-to-sideline capability and is a linebacker prospect that possesses loads of potential. He has issues in coverage, and in today’s NFL, that’s scary. But an athlete like Brooks should be able to fix that. To me, this comes down to one thing: do I think Brooks has a higher ceiling than Patrick Queen? I do, even if I have Queen ranked higher and think he’s currently better. Does the NFL also think Brooks’ ceiling is higher than Queen’s? There are a lot of indications that may be the case. Would I do this if I were an NFL GM? I’m not sure I’d have the cojones to. But someone might.
Why I’m an idiot: Jordyn Brooks has a second-round grade, in my book, and coverage ability is vital to be a successful linebacker in today’s NFL. Drafting a guy in the first round that can only be on the field for two downs is risky business, even if you think your staff can coach up the coverage ability. Patrick Queen was a vital piece on a championship team, and championship players typically get drafted higher than guys from Texas Tech.
5. New Orleans gets their heir to Drew Brees… in the first round.
(Image from USA Today)
Percent Chance: 36%
Why I think it will happen: New Orleans displayed their lack of confidence in Taysom Hill as a starting quarterback when Drew Brees went down in 2019. They turned the keys over to Teddy Bridgewater, who has since left for division-rival Carolina. The Saints know that the future is nearer than some may think, and what happens if Drew Brees gets injured again in 2020? The answer: draft a quarterback in the first round. I know the Saints have a lot of needs and they should be a win-now team. But good organizations plan for the future. The Patriots were win-now in 2019 when they drafted Jimmy Garoppolo in the 2nd round of the 2014 NFL Draft. The Packers were win-now when they selected Aaron Rodgers as Brett Favre’s successor in the 2005 NFL Draft. The Saints are a good organization.
Why I’m an idiot: The Saints absolutely need to go all out for a Super Bowl. They’ve been so close and a couple of plays swayed in their favor would have resulted in another ring for Drew Brees and Sean Payton. They have a ton of needs, losing AJ Klein, Vonn Bell, and others. Of course, they signed Malcolm Jenkins as a Bell replacement, but their defensive needs extend beyond the safety position. They need corner help and interior defensive line wouldn’t be a bad look, either. A quarterback would be a risky pick for a team with limited draft capital in 2020.
6. The Jets will take an edge rusher with big names at WR and OT still on the board.
(Image from YouTube)
Percent Chance: 10%
Why I think it will happen: The Jets have a new guy calling the shots this time around. Their defensive line has one notable name on it: Quinnen Williams. And he hasn’t proven anything yet. The Jets haven’t taken an EDGE in the first two rounds since Leonard Williams in 2015. It’s time to reinvest in the ever-so vital position that they’ve ignored for quite some time. Joe Douglas recently said that he likes the guys in the receiver’s room and clearly likes the guys he paid to “reinforce” the offensive line. Chaisson is dynamic, but fits the Jets’ scheme a lot better than someone they can find in the later rounds of the draft.
Why I’m an idiot: The Jets simply don’t do this, and I have to assume they’re still in the running for Jadeveon Clowney. The need at receiver is too significant to pass up a top guy, even if they think they can get a starter later in the draft. I truly believe there’s very little chance they do take Chaisson, because even if all the top receivers are gone by the 11th overall pick (unlikely), George Fant is not the answer at left tackle.
7. Two running backs will be off the board before the NFL Draft restarts on Friday.
(Image from Bleacher Report)
Percent Chance: 44%
Why I think it will happen: The NFL values running backs significantly more than media and fans do. There hasn’t been a draft absent of first round running backs since 2014 when Bishop Sankey was the first off the board to the Titans in the second. That puts odds of at least one already fairly high. Mix in the fact that this running back class is full of potentially elite prospects, and you could very well end up with 2 first-round running backs in the 2020 NFL Draft. D’Andre Swift has emerged as the favorite to go in the first, but JK Dobbins, Jonathan Taylor, and Clyde Edwards-Helaire all have a strong case, as well. There aren’t a ton of running back-needy teams, but the early-second round teams may be inclined to move up to get ‘their’ guy. The Chargers could use a true workhorse. The Colts need some stability at the position. The Dolphins could go RB at 18, 26 or a trade up from the second. The Lions (much to my dynasty team’s dismay) will likely invest in a running back at some point. I’m also the biggest advocate for the first-round running back.
Why I’m an idiot: I’m the biggest advocate for the first-round running back. I’ve also read that under the new collective bargaining agreement, fifth-year options are fully guaranteed at time of pickup, and incentives could push the salaries up to near-franchise tag numbers. That’s a high investment if the goal is simply to get a fifth-year. Plus, the value of running backs is at an all-time low. Devonta Freeman is without a job despite being a solid back for a very long time in Atlanta. Melvin Gordon and Todd Gurley are on fairly cheap deals compared to their production. Despite the teams listed above, there aren’t tons of teams that need workhorse backs. Plus, Twitter and Facebook say so.
8. The Chiefs select one of the two running backs with the last pick of the first round.
(Image from USA Today)
Percent Chance: 5%
Why I think it will happen: Damien Williams is not the long-term answer at running back. He struggled to stay on the field in 2019, and it’s fairly likely that will be the case moving forward because of his small stature. He was productive down the stretch, but adding a guy like D’Andre Swift, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, or JK Dobbins would put this offense on a new level – something that doesn’t seem possible when you look at what they did in 2019. The Chiefs have searched for answers at running back for the last year and a half and the Shady McCoy project turned out about as expected. Rolling with a rookie that has a lot of tread left on his tires seems like a likely fix.
Why I’m an idiot: The Chiefs have very little draft capital to play around with and have succeeded at identifying mid-round running backs in the past. Sure, it was a different GM making the selections – and specifically, the Kareem Hunt selection – but they’ve seen first hand that a mid-rounder can get the job done. This running back class is fairly deep, with guys like Darrynton Evans (App. State), Antonio Gibson (Memphis), and Ke’Shawn Vaughn (Vanderbilt) could get the job done in a similar way to one of the top guys. Plus, the Chiefs just drafted a speedster in the 2019 draft in Darwin Thompson. The Chiefs don’t do high investments in the position. Plain and simple.
9. Jeremy Chinn will be the first safety off the board in the 2020 NFL Draft (provided that Isaiah Simmons is still listed as a linebacker).
(Image from Saluki Athletics)
Percent Chance: 60%
Why I think it will happen: Jeremy Chinn is a very good football player. He, like the aforementioned Brooks, is an elite tackler. He closes down space like a starting NFL safety, already, and he doesn’t often get fooled by elusive, shifty ball carriers. His ball skills are elite, and he’ll soon have the ball hawk X-factor in Madden. His man coverage is shaky, but he’s an incredible athlete that can be taught how to be effective in man coverage. Xavier McKinney is a good football player, but his ceiling is far below Chinn’s, in my opinion. Grant Delpit probably isn’t sure if he wants to tackle ever again (or take angles that allow him to, for that matter). Antoine Winfield Jr. has injury concerns. I think that there’s a really good chance that Chinn hears his name called Thursday night.
Why I’m an idiot: Xavier McKinney is widely-regarded as the top safety in the class. He did a lot of things at an above average level against the best football players in the country. Jeremy Chinn played against inferior competition, which is why he seems so much more dominant. Grant Delpit was regarded as a top-ten lock after his 2018 season. Antoine Winfield Jr. has some good blood running through his veins and is getting compared to Tyrann Mathieu. Jeremy Chinn’s flaws will see him fall to at least the second round, despite his Isaiah Simmons-lite style of play. I don’t believe much of this paragraph, but maybe NFL teams do.
10. Jalen Hurts will be selected on Thursday night.
(Image from PFF)
Percent Chance: 35%
Why I think it will happen: Jalen Hurts is the ultimate leader. His ability to win everywhere he has ever been is astounding. His arm talent has only improved during his college career, and some of the hitches that he had seemed to be gone during drills at the NFL Combine. He has drawn tons of different comparisons, from Russell Wilson (by me) to Deshaun Watson, and his floor seems to land on Tyrod Taylor. Hurts is a guy that I would want leading my team, and he’s a guy that NFL teams will covet, as well. Plus, quarterbacks are the most premium of the premium positions in the league. Whether it’s a trade up or teams like the Saints and Patriots, Jalen Hurts may actually hear his name called on Thursday evening.
Why I’m an idiot: Because Twitter says so. Jalen Hurts is a “late day two guy,” according to other Twitter scouts, and he has no business being selected in the first round. The one guy on Facebook who called me the r-word says so, too. And Jalen Hurts has plenty of concerns related to his arm talent. He was actually very accurate in 2019, but he only has one year of true throwing success. He thrived in an offense that caters to quarterbacks (though the other two have turned out alright thus far) and without Lincoln Riley, he could be a bust at such a high investment.
Alright. Let me know why else I’m an idiot. Remember that I gave most of these a very low percentage. I think some will happen and some won’t. But I’m all about Habaneros.
Until next time!