The 2020 NFL draft wrapped up this weekend, and while some teams did amazing jobs of helping brighten their team’s futures, others, well, they didn’t. It is certainly too early to start judging these players as they have yet to play in an NFL game, but we can certainly judge the teams that drafted them!
In this article, we are going to take a look at five draft picks that left us scratching our heads and wondering how the teams could have gotten it so wrong. Is your favorite team a Super Bowl contender that was one weakness away from contention, that refused to address it? Or a bad team that had a chance to draft the savior of the franchise, and instead took a bum that won’t make a difference? Let’s get started!
Jordan Love – Green Bay Packers
All Aaron Rodgers has ever wanted in his time in Green Bay is an elite receiver to throw the ball to. There is an ESPN tweet floating around highlighting the fact that Rodgers, in his career, has thrown a total of just one touchdown pass to a player selected in the first year of the NFL draft. This was supposed to be the year that Green Bay finally went out and got him a blue-chip pass catcher in the draft.
Green Bay did not draft a receiver. Or a running back. Or a tight end. Or anybody that could help Rodgers attack. Instead? They drafted his replacement. Green Bay selected quarterback Jordan Love out of Utah State. All across Wisconsin, jaws dropped, likely none more so than Rodgers himself.
In 15 seasons, Aaron Rodgers has thrown only ONE touchdown pass to a first-round pick.
It was to tight end Marcedes Lewis. pic.twitter.com/kQYMXqcSnz
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) April 28, 2020
This pick is eerily reminiscent of when Green Bay selected Rodgers to take over for incumbent Hall of Fame signal-caller Brett Farve, over a decade ago. In fact, Rodgers is the exact same age as Farve was when he was drafted at the end of the first round, just like Love was this weekend. Can anybody say quarterback controversy?
And this one has to hurt even worse than it did when the Pack took Rodgers as at least Rodgers was considered an elite prospect. Remember, Rodgers had a chance to go number one overall that year, and when the San Francisco 49ers decided on taking Alex Smith instead, and no other team had immediate QB needs, Rodgers fell down the draft board.
That wasn’t the case with Love, as he was a shaky at best, first-round talent, and was the fourth quarterback selected. While Love seemed like a can’t miss prospect after his sophomore year at Utah State, he really struggled last year as he saw his yards, TDs, completion percentage, and QB rating all fall. After throwing for 32 touchdowns and just 6 interceptions as a sophomore, he threw just 20 TDs and a whopping 17 interceptions as a junior.
It is going to be a very interesting year in Green Bay. Not only did the Packers management refuse to get Rodgers any help, they traded up to draft what could end up being his long-term replacement. Could this be a spot where Rodgers attempts to force his way out of Green Bay? While that seems quite unlikely, we did just see Tom Brady bolt from New England, so anything is possible.
Jalen Hurts – Philadelphia Eagles
This pick is much more about the team than the player. The Philadelphia Eagles already have a good, young quarterback in Carson Wentz. And while Wentz has been injury-prone in his time in Philly, when he is healthy, he has shown that he can post elite numbers, which would seem to make him the quarterback of the future for Philadelphia, at just twenty-seven years old.
That is why it was shocking to see the Eagles take Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts in the second round, at number fifty-three overall. I love Hurts, all he does is win, and he showed a lot of poise as a young man at Alabama when he was supplanted as the starter, despite leading his team to the college football title game in two consecutive seasons, and still helped his team when called upon.
Hurts then transferred to Oklahoma to finish out his career, and all he did was lead the Sooners to the college football playoff while racking up over five thousand all-purpose yards, and fifty-two total touchdowns.
The head-scratcher here is, why? Are the Eagles ready to move on from Carson Wentz? Are the Eagles planning on using Hurts as a hybrid type player, something like a Tasom Hill in New Orleans type of guy that is all about gadget plays and misdirection? Or did Philly management just see an opportunity to grab a really good football player that showed a lot of value in the second round and just took the best player available on the board?
Jalen Hurts told me Carson Wentz texted him and has
“welcomed me with open arms”
“He’s a very established, championship winning quarterback. I can’t wait to be under him and learn. Whatever he’s willing to teach me, I’m willing to take in”
1on1 with Jalen NBC10 11:35 tonight pic.twitter.com/q3dwW41TvW
— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) April 26, 2020
Whatever the case may be, this pick is certain to cause some controversy between Wentz and team management, and that is not what you want if you are an Eagles fan. Maybe Wentz will be the bigger man here and let it roll off of his back that his team is looking to replace him before he even hits his prime.
Or maybe he gets hurt again and drafting Hurts looks like a genius move. This pick doesn’t have to work out badly, but it has a lot of potential to derail a promising career and hurt a lot of feelings, and for that, it leaves me shaking my head.
Henry Ruggs III – Las Vegas Raiders
When he was alive, Raiders owner Al Davis always loved to draft speed. Sometimes it worked out, with guys like Tim Brown and James Jett being blazing fast Raiders that had successful careers. Other times, yeah, not so much, I am looking at you, Darrius Heyward-Bey.
In what felt like an ode to the former owner, his son, Mark Davis, drafted Henry Ruggs III with the 12th overall selection, making Ruggs III the first player ever drafted by the now, Las Vegas, Raiders.
Ruggs III was not high on many team’s draft boards until he showed up to the combine and absolutely shocked the world. Ruggs III showed his absurd speed, running a 4.27 40-yard dash and also showed some elite jumping ability with a 42-inch vertical and a 10-foot broad jump.
— NFL (@NFL) February 28, 2020
I guess that blazing speed distracted Las Vegas from the fact that Ruggs III is only 5’11” 188 pounds, undersized for today’s modern receivers. But what makes this pick a real head-scratcher is that the Raiders could have gotten a much higher rated wideout at number twelve, as Rugg’s college teammate, Jerry Jeudy, was still available, as was Oklahoma star, CeeDee Lamb.
All told, an NFL record thirteen wide receivers were taken in the first two rounds this year. And I am not sure that any team, not named the Raiders, saw Ruggs III as the best of that talented bunch. Maybe Ruggs III will give the Raiders a guy that can stretch the field with his elite speed, much like Tyreke Hill has been able to do for the Kansas City Chiefs.
But when you are drafting this high, you don’t have to rely on a maybe, as there were sure things left on the board. The Raiders are closer to making the playoffs than a lot of teams think, and they needed to nail this pick, and I am not so sure that they did that by reaching for Ruggs III, who has a lot of speed, and not much else.
Damon Arnette – Las Vegas Raiders
Las Vegas Raiders head coach John Gruden keeps telling everyone to trust the process. When he came out of retirement to lead the Raiders back to the promised land, the first thing he did was trade away the Raider’s best player in Khalil Mack. The next major move he made was trading away the Raider’s next best player in Amari Cooper.
And while he has done a respectable job of improving the Raiders on the field, they were in the playoff chase until week seventeen last year, some of these personal decisions are getting hard to defend. We already talked about the Raiders taking Henry Ruggs III at number twelve, a move that felt like a reach, when there were higher caliber players available.
Las Vegas followed that pick up with another head-scratcher, as they took Ohio State cornerback Damon Arnette in the first round, at number nineteen. Depending on who’s board you looked at, Arnette was ranked somewhere in the late fifties to mid-sixties. The consensus was that he was a fringe second round, potentially third-round pick, yet Las Vegas took him at number nineteen overall!
"Damon Arnette was one of the guys on my 'better than' team. I liked him better than the scout, but clearly I didn't like him better than the Raiders did."@PriscoCBS was high on Arnette coming into this year's draft and the Raiders must've listened as they took him at 19. pic.twitter.com/qXu8zvaX2a
— CBS Sports HQ (@CBSSportsHQ) April 24, 2020
Arnette did show some strong ability in his time at Ohio State. But the problem is, that it is hard to trust his results, as he rarely faced the Buckeyes best opposition, as Arnette played on the opposite side of Jeff Okudah, a kid who was taken at number three and is a generational level talent at cornerback.
This kid is talented and could start right away for Gruden, but they could have easily traded back an entire round and still safely gotten their man, making this the biggest reach in the draft. Having a great draft isn’t always about getting the players that you wanted, it is getting the most value out of every pick, and Las Vegas certainly didn’t do that here by taking Arnette at number nineteen.
Jordyn Brooks – Seattle Seahawks
Heading into the 2020 NFL draft, the Seattle Seahawks had some glaring needs. They needed an elite pass rusher, they could have used some depth at cornerback and running back, and they don’t have a reliable third receiver. They addressed absolutely none of those needs when they reached for Texas Tech linebacker Jordyn Brooks in the first round at number twenty-seven.
With the 27th pick…
— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) April 24, 2020
When you look at the Seahawks roster, they are actually fairly deep at linebacker, having taken two in last year’s draft, and having incumbents KJ Wright and Bobby Wagner, who still have lots of tread on their tires still on the team. Taking a linebacker, in general, didn’t make a lot of sense, and when you look at where Brooks was projected to be taken, this pick is really dumfounding.
Brooks was ranked 84th on the consensus big board. FiveThirtyEight’s projection chart gave him a 0% chance of being taken in the first round. Yet, here he goes in the first round to Seattle, as an absolute shocker of a pick.
Like I said before, this isn’t me trying to slam a kid that has never even been on the NFL field yet, but it just doesn’t make a lot of sense for Seattle to reach for a guy, two rounds early, that wasn’t even a positional need in the first place.
If you are going to reach hard for a player, like the Raiders did with Ruggs III, at least they addressed a team need by doing so. The Seahawks made a major reach, and I am not sure they did anything to make their team better in 2020. In my opinion, Seattle taking Brooks was the lowest value pick of the entire first round.
The 2020 NFL draft will be remembered forever as the first-ever virtual draft, and as is always the case, the players drafted this weekend will be making a difference for their teams for years to come. Maybe all of these guys listed above surprise me, and end as good draft picks, but that doesn’t change the fact that the teams could have saved themselves a lot of drama or found higher value elsewhere. Thanks for reading and make sure you stay tuned to The Sports Geek for all of your 2020 NFL betting advice!