This isn’t exactly what anybody had in mind when Las Vegas was announced as the destination for the 2020 NFL Draft. It was supposed to be the birth of a new era in the NFL, as the Las Vegas Raiders took their first lap in the limelight on a national scale. Las Vegas was a city that the NFL long shunned because of the gambling aspect. Boy, have things ever changed.
With the advent of Daily Fantasy Sports, and the NFL sticking their head into that arena, it was inevitable that they weren’t going to be able to ignore Las Vegas and the gambling industry. Also helping is the proliferation of legal sports betting across the United States. This was supposed to be about more than the Raiders going to Las Vegas. It was going to be a celebration of a new era in the NFL.
Covid-19 changed those plans in Las Vegas, which was going to include a stage over the Bellagio Fountains for player interviews. Yeah, it would have made for the biggest NFL Draft following the party Nashville put on last season. Instead of an over the top show in Las Vegas, Roger Goodell will be announcing picks from his basement.
In any event, the draft is not being delayed and teams are preparing under crazy circumstances. There won’t be any “war rooms”, or personnel gathering together to discuss selections. Everything will be done digitally. If they had a live stream of Bill Belichick all night frustrated with technology that’d probably be worth watching alone.
He’s been seen smashing his tablet on the sidelines before, and has stated several times he doesn’t do social media, so it would be interesting. Yes, you can bet on whether there will be technical difficulties or not. You can locate our selections for weird NFL Draft props below, including how many dogs and cats will be on the broadcast.
From a football standpoint, it’s all the same. Players will be drafted and get multi-million dollar contracts and lives will change forever. This operation is just going to be a lot more like the old school NFL days when there wasn’t much of a spectacle involved. The 1980’s were as basic as they could have gotten. In any event, there are odds available on the draft in this era, and it might be the biggest betting event for a while. What was once a degenerate bet, the draft has become normal betting.
Keep in mind that a lot of the news you read online about the draft isn’t true. It might be true, but in some cases, teams are trying to throw up smokescreens. A trap might have been set by the Detroit Lions, as rumors of them being interested in Tua Tagovailoa have been making the rounds for over a month now. That could just be a move to try and get potential suitors to trade up with the Lions. Tua is the most interesting prospect going into the draft on Thursday night, though. Head below for our free draft positioning prop predictions in the 2020 NFL Draft.
One week until the 2020 @NFLDraft!
Who is your team picking? pic.twitter.com/0xW0h4TwbO
— NFL (@NFL) April 16, 2020
Which Pick Will Tua Tagovailoa Be Drafted
Tua Tagovailoa is going to be the guy that everyone is waiting to see where he goes. If Tua did not get injured last season as a member of the Alabama Crimson Tide, this wouldn’t be a subject to debate. We’d be talking about whether the Cincinnati Bengals are going to go with him or Joe Burrow, and not if he’s going to fall in the draft. Tua suffered a serious hip dislocation against Mississippi State. It was a devastating injury that had people thinking initially that his football career may be over.
His surgery was a major success, and his recovery has been right on schedule. His numbers were superb leading up to the injury, having thrown 33 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. In his three years at Alabama, Tua threw for 87 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He was a starter at Alabama for two years after stealing the first-team role away from Jalen Hurts. This was in the SEC against some of the best defenses in the NCAA, which makes it incredibly impressive.
We can talk about how talented Tua is all day long, but the fact of the matter here is that teams are going to be scared about the injury. He is the prototypical boom or bust pick in the draft. Taking a chance on him high in the draft could be a major gamble. Tua hasn’t taken a hit or even felt pressure since the injury. He has looked solid moving around in workouts, but that wouldn’t be nearly enough for me to feel confident about selecting him in the top-5.
The Dolphins are the most realistic spot for Tua in the top-5. I know, yeah, the Lions, but think they’re going defense. Fans might not like it, but the Dolphins could go with the safe pick and consider Andrew Thomas or Tristan Wirfs for the offensive line. They may also feel more comfortable with Justin Herbert instead of Tua if they want to go with a quarterback. Tua is the flashy pick at 5 for the Dolphins, but I don’t think GM Chris Grier wants to gamble on Thursday night. There is value on the OVER.
Will Tee Higgins Be A 1st Round Pick?
The wide receiver class in the 2020 draft is the best we’ve seen since 2014. We’re going to see a lot of wide receivers go off the board in the first-round. It won’t take long for CeeDee Lamb and Jerry Jeudy to go off the board, while Henry Ruggs and Justin Jefferson likely won’t have to wait for Day 2 to get the call from a team as well.
You also can’t forget about the ultra talented Laviska Shenault out of Colorado. He carried the Buffaloes offense. They did not look remotely the same when he was out of the lineup. Colorado focused their offense around him and got him involved every way they could. Whether it was deep routes, short, jet sweeps, screens, end arounds, Colorado made no secrets about getting him the ball. If he’s healthy after playing banged up last season, the sky is the limit for Shenault. The only negative with Shenault is injury concerns.
Along with those guys, Arizona State product Brandon Aiyuk is another talented wide receiver that will be considered by many teams searching for an offensive weapon. We can’t forget about Denzel Mims from Baylor as well. That brings us to Tee Higgins, a wide receiver that became one of Trevor Lawrence’s favorite targets. He played “above the rim” and had a tremendous knack for winning 50-50 balls and finding balls in traffic. Higgins finished his career at Clemson with 2,448 yards and 28 total touchdowns, one of which was a rushing score.
The problem for Higgins is that he’s not a burner like some of the guys I mentioned above. His 40 time was average with a 4.54, but what was really concerning was his 10-yard splits numbers. If Higgins participated at the combine, that would have been the worst out of any receiver with a 1.66.
In comparison, Ruggs was a 1.43, Lamb a 1.46, Jeudy a 1.48, and at the bottom there were three receivers tied with a 1.51, and then Higgins was well behind the rest at his pro day. Higgins did not participate at the Combine because he suggested that he tweaked his groin two weeks before. The pro day was a disaster and did nothing to help his cause after missing the Combine.
Apparently the Buffalo Bill were eyeing Higgins before making a deal for Stefon Diggs. They did not care for his effort during his pro day and wanted to secure a monster weapon for Josh Allen. All of the quality wide receivers available does not help Higgin’s case if he wants to go to a team in the first-round as well. I sense he’s going to the Colts at No. 34. The Packers are a team to look out for who will consider Higgins, but they likely go with Mims if they want a wide receiver.
Highest Drafted QB
This is likely a bet between Jacob Eason and Jalen Hurts. They’re two quarterbacks that faced a lot of expectations in 2019. It was a big year for the both of them, and they were both adequate, but both could have been better. Instead of a first-round selection, which they could have been with an elite season in 2019, Eason and Hurts are looking at the second or third-round.
They can still become successful quarterbacks in the NFL, but without first-round money, at least initially. Eason has all of the tools to be a starter in the NFL. He has a cannon arm that belongs on an NFL team. However, Eason was inconsistent with his accuracy and decision making at times was questionable. At times, though, Eason looked like a superstar, and if he was on a team with better weapons, his numbers would reflect it. Put Eason on the Huskies team with John Ross a few years ago and his numbers would have been huge.
Eason finished with 23 touchdowns and 8 interceptions in 2019 on 64.2% completions. It was his first season as a starter after transferring from Georgia to Washington. The big arm was definitely there. If he goes to the right team, Eason likely has a bright future. Selecting Eason is less of a gamble than Hurts. Hurts is going to be boom or bust. I don’t think there’s going to be any in between.
Hurts depends on his legs, while Eason is a prototypical pro-style quarterback. However, Hurts doesn’t have blazing speed. Besides scrambling and running out of trouble, don’t expect to see Hurts running like he did at Oklahoma. Depending on him to be a pocket-passer is a reach, though. He was at his best when he was moving around, though not nearly as accurate on the run as Kyler Murray was in Norman. And he doesn’t have the arm strength of Eason to drive the ball into tight windows. After Jordan Love is off the board, Eason is likely up next.
Highest Drafted Running Back
This isn’t the year of the running back, wide receivers have that claim, but there are still some running backs to like in this class. Between Jonathan Taylor, J.K. Dobbins, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, and D’Andre Swift, there is talent to like there. The way I see it, take your pick between Jonathan Taylor and D’Andre Swift as the first running back off the board. Zack Moss won’t be taken first, but he might end up being one of the best in this group.
The question for us here is whether Dobbins or Edwards-Helaire will be first off the board. Both share similar characteristics, in the sense that they’re both explosive runners. Dobbins is incredibly difficult to bring down because of his low center of gravity. What makes him especially attractive is his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. That isn’t a problem for Dobbins, who caught 71 receptions for 645 yards in three seasons. He ran for 4,459 yards and 38 touchdowns for 6.2 yards per carry. His pass pass protection is average and leaves room to improve in pass protection, though.
Dobbins has the extra gear when he reaches the second level. Clyde Edwards-Helaire doesn’t have that extra gear with more of a burst at the line of scrimmage. He never fumbles and can cut on a dime in the open field. He can act as a bowling ball at times with solid vision between the tackles. Compared to Dobbins, his hands are not as reliable. Teams likely want to see more out of his receiving ability. That could change at the next level, but if there’s a team deciding on Dobbins versus Edwards-Helaire, and they want the more rounded running back, Dobbins is going to be the answer. Dobbins might be the best all-around running back in the draft in 2020.
1st Wide Receiver Drafted
Jerry Jeudy was long rumored as the top wide receiver off the board in 2020. However, CeeDee Lamb has taken a bit of the spotlight away from Jeudy. He was as high as +175 in some spots when I was looking back then and had to take that value. As I assumed then, his odds have dropped nearly every day, and is now the favorite over Jerry Jeudy. If a team wants a wide receiver that will do anything asked of him, CeeDee Lamb is their guy.
He is not afraid of contact at all, and will catch passes across the middle of the field without hesitation. Lamb will also go deep if that’s what the offensive coordinator wants of him. His ball skills and ability to find an opening in the defense is exceptional. Jeudy’s route running is better than Lamb, but that could be fixed with some coaching in the NFL.
The way I see it, Lamb is the better all-around player and will likely be treated as such on most draft boards. Henry Ruggs is faster than both of them, though speed is all he has over Lamb and Jeudy. That would be a big reach if Ruggs goes No. 1. I selected Lamb to win this bet two weeks ago and still like him at even money to edge out Jeudy.