The 2020 NFL draft will be unlike anything we've ever seen from the league's annual player selection lottery.
No flashy stage with awkward hugs with Commissioner Roger Goodell. No hats that are too small, no hastily made jersey for the draft pick to hold up in front of hundreds of flashing cameras. No Aaron Rodgers waiting in the green room all night.
Players, scouts, agents and even us in the media have had to adapt on the fly to the changes in the nation as COVID-19 has altered much of life as we know it. But the show will go on for the NFL draft, with the Cincinnati Bengals on the clock.
As the draft gets closer, the information from team sources gets more accurate and starts to flow more freely. Head coaches who are still digesting draft information will reach out for tips on a player or position group. Scouts, who've been studying this class for a year, are bored and anxious to talk.
As those conversations happen, what information can be relayed to readers will be. And that's what this week's Scouting Notebook hinges on—the top team-by-team buzz in NFL circles right now.
CINCINNATI: The expectation is still, as it has been for four months, that the Bengals will select Joe Burrow at No. 1 overall. That said, there is a lot of buzz in scouting circles that the Bengals will at least listen to calls for this pick. This isn't New York Giants general manager Dave Gettleman refusing to listen to calls when they had the No. 2 pick in 2018.
WASHINGTON: Chase Young will be the pick unless there is a major change in the next three weeks. I'm told by league sources that Washington won't consider a quarterback here.
DETROIT: The Lions will be a hot destination for teams hoping to trade up in the 2020 draft. The clear expectation from inside sources around the league is that the Lions would love to slide back to No. 5 or No. 6 overall and still get a cornerback like Ohio State's Jeff Okudah.
NEW YORK GIANTS: The most recent talk coming out of New York is that the Giants love Clemson defender Isaiah Simmons, and I believe it enough to have made that the pick in my most recent mock draft. There is a quiet buzz building for Iowa offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs, though. It's notable that around this time last year, the talk of Daniel Jones to the Giants heated up, but many around the league, myself included, simply couldn't believe Jones would be a top-10 pick. This time around, both players linked to the Giants are natural fits and values at No. 4 overall.
MIAMI: Dolphins fans might want to begin thinking about life without Tua Tagovailoa as their quarterback after months of "Tank for Tua" talk. I'm told by multiple league sources that the Dolphins aren't convinced Tua is the best option and could instead target Oregon's Justin Herbert. The situation is fluid, but the buzz around the league is that Herbert has the most fans in the Dolphins' draft room.
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS: For months we've heard the Chargers will draft whichever quarterback the Dolphins don't, which was believed to be between Tua and Herbert. That could still be the case, but in a conversation earlier this week, one very well-connected scout mentioned that Jordan Love is a name to watch here. That's something I reported during Senior Bowl week—that the Chargers had a crush on the Utah State quarterback—and it could be coming full circle.
CAROLINA: After the Panthers traded for Russell Okung, sources around the NFL don't expect Carolina to draft an offensive tackle in the first round. One source suggested Matt Rhule and Joe Brady could surprise a lot of people and draft a wide receiver at No. 7 overall. "Look at that LSU offense. They're going to need more athletes at wide receiver to run Brady's scheme," is how the scout explained it.
ARIZONA: We all expected Arizona to go wide receiver here until Steve Keim stole DeAndre Hopkins from Houston. Now it looks like offensive tackle is the favorite position among analysts, but team insiders believe the Cardinals have eyes for Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown in the first round.
JACKSONVILLE: With two first-rounders, the Jaguars can address serious needs. Sources around the league wouldn't rule out a surprise pick at quarterback or wide receiver. That said, the consensus among sources has them going defensive tackle and cornerback in the first round.
CLEVELAND: Offensive tackle is expected to be the pick here by virtually everyone, but one well-connected scout did mention the Browns could trade back and target a defensive tackle like Javon Kinlaw from South Carolina.
NEW YORK JETS: Every source I spoke with still thinks the Jets go offensive tackle here, but I did learn throughout calls and texts this week that they are very high on Oklahoma wide receiver CeeDee Lamb. He's WR1 on the team's board and wouldn't be a surprise pick at No. 11 overall.
LAS VEGAS: Two first-rounders for Mike Mayock and Jon Gruden leaves the Raiders well-stocked to fill in holes. Don't rule out a quarterback, one source said, but the expectation around the league is a wide receiver early and a middle-of-the-field defender with their second Round 1 pick. That would be a defensive tackle, as the team wants to upgrade there.
INDIANAPOLIS: With two picks in the second round, the Colts are still in position to draft a quarterback of the future. As one scout told me: "This team has no quarterback under contract for 2021. They're drafting one."
TAMPA BAY: With Tom Brady locked up, look at offensive tackle in Round 1 as the biggest need and also best value. If Andrew Thomas (Georgia) or Austin Jackson (USC) is there, the Buccaneers could get a plug-and-play left tackle to protect the GOAT.
DENVER: The Broncos are well-positioned to draft the best receiver on the board. Said one source with the team, "John [Elway] is going to get Drew [Lock] targets to work with."
ATLANTA: Cornerback is the favorite position for the Falcons based on conversations with scouts around the league. Florida's C.J. Henderson is the best cornerback expected to be on the board.
DALLAS: The Cowboys' moves in free agency all point to adding a wide receiver or cornerback, according to conversations with a plugged-in scout who knows the workings of this front office.
PITTSBURGH: No first-rounder for the Steelers, but in the middle of Round 2, many scouts and sources expect the team to draft a quarterback of the future. "They can't risk what happened last year with no one behind Ben," said one rival general manager.
CHICAGO: After trading for Nick Foles, the Bears aren't expected to draft a quarterback in this class. Said one plugged-in rival executive, "They're going to do all they can without a first-round pick to make [Mitchell] Trubisky look good and save their jobs."
LOS ANGELES RAMS: The Rams are limited on early-round selections after trading for established NFL starters like Jalen Ramsey, but the team has needs. Sources expect a running back early and an offensive tackle to potentially be the priority in Round 2 if one is on the board.
PHILADELPHIA: It's no secret the Eagles need help at wide receiver, but I'm told by sources with knowledge of the team's draft plans that speed will be the priority—not just at receiver, but for the entire draft class.
BUFFALO: After trading for Stefon Diggs, the Buffalo Bills don't have a need at wide receiver, but they also don't have a first-round pick. Sources expect the team to continue trying to add impact playmakers and speed at skill positions.
NEW ENGLAND: No one can predict what the Patriots will do at this stage, but one thing consistently heard is that Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels like Jarrett Stidham as the quarterback of the future and believe he's ready to take over for Tom Brady.
NEW ORLEANS: A quarterback-of-the-future selection early in the draft shouldn't be a surprise if one falls into the Saints' lap, but with only five picks in this year's class, I'm told by team sources not to expect a quarterback unless the value is perfect.
MINNESOTA: With two first-rounders, the Vikings are heavily expected to draft a wide receiver early, but I continue to hear this might not be a Day 1 priority. In a historically deep receiver class, there is a belief among league insiders that the Vikings could wait for a receiver and attack the defensive and offensive lines in Round 1.
HOUSTON: The Texans are expected, according to scouts and league sources, to invest in the secondary and a wide receiver after trading away DeAndre Hopkins. The Texans don't have a first-rounder but do own eight selections and could fill many holes with good scouting.
SEATTLE: Edge-rusher is the biggest priority, according to a team source. There is also buzz that adding a cornerback, particularly a slot player, is considered an internal need.
BALTIMORE: The defense will be prioritized early, according to sources. Middle linebacker and edge-rusher are two spots that could be addressed at No. 28 overall.
TENNESSEE: Three positions are mentioned as needs when talking to league sources about the Titans' draft plans: cornerback, offensive tackle and a playmaker at receiver. Whichever is available at No. 29 overall will be the pick.
GREEN BAY: Even after adding Devin Funchess, receiver is an early need for the Packers. One very well-connected front-office member from another team mentioned he's heard the Packers will consider a quarterback in the first two rounds.
SAN FRANCISCO: Two picks in the first round could add much more firepower to an already good roster, but many league sources expect the 49ers to attempt to trade back from No. 31 overall after targeting a top wide receiver or cornerback at No. 13.
KANSAS CITY: The word on the scouting streets is that general manager Brett Veach wants to add more premium targets for Patrick Mahomes at quarterback, but don't rule out a trade back from No. 32 overall. Many sources around the league believe the Chiefs could move out of the first and pick up valuable Day 2 selections to pick up starter-level players at cornerback and running back.
The Scout's Report
—Where does Tua's stock stand? On calls and in texts with multiple scouts and decision-makers this week, you find that the media are higher on the former Alabama quarterback than teams are. Tua ranks as QB4 on one board I saw this week and was QB3 on another.
So why are scouts down on what seems like a sure thing? It's not all injuries. One team source explained that they have knocked Tua for an all-world supporting cast that often saved him when plays broke down. Another mentioned poor interviews and board work during scouting combine meetings.
Tua's accuracy and vision are exceptional, and he's a very good prospect with starter traits, but it's worth noting that not everyone sees him as a lock to be the second quarterback drafted.
—One of the more popular tweets of my career was when, in 2017, a high-level executive told me Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Pace "just got fired" after trading up to select Mitchell Trubisky and then taking tight end Adam Shaheen.
The Bears would go on to make the playoffs after the 2018 season and Pace would win Executive of the Year, which caused many Bears fans and others to bring up the tweet as fuel to their fire. Then the Bears fell apart in 2019 as Trubisky and Shaheen struggled.
The source, who is now out of football, texted me this week with reminders that he was right and that sometimes what appears to be a hit early can end up a miss.
When I asked for a prediction on what happens in Chicago, he said the rumor is both Pace and head coach Matt Nagy will be fired after this season, with Nagy returning to Kansas City to replace Eric Bieniemy when he becomes a head coach after the 2020 season.
The Big Board
1. EDGE Chase Young, Ohio State
2. QB Joe Burrow, LSU
3. CB Jeff Okudah, Ohio State
4. LB/S Isaiah Simmons, Clemson
5. WR Jerry Jeudy, Alabama
6. QB Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama
7. OT Jedrick Wills Jr., Alabama
8. DL Derrick Brown, Auburn
9. EDGE K'Lavon Chaisson, LSU
10. DL Javon Kinlaw, South Carolina
11. OT Tristan Wirfs, Iowa
12. WR Henry Ruggs III, Alabama
13. WR CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma
14. CB C.J. Henderson, Florida
15. RB D'Andre Swift, Georgia
16. OT Mekhi Becton, Louisville
17. LB Patrick Queen, LSU
18. OT Andrew Thomas, Georgia
19. LB Kenneth Murray, Oklahoma
20. WR Justin Jefferson, LSU
21. EDGE Yetur Gross-Matos, Penn State
22. QB Justin Herbert, Oregon
23. S Xavier McKinney, Alabama
24. EDGE A.J. Epenesa, Iowa
25. CB Jeff Gladney, TCU
26. RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire, LSU
27. OC Cesar Ruiz, Michigan
28. WR Tee Higgins, Clemson
29. S Antoine Winfield Jr., Minnesota
30. RB Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin
31. QB Jordan Love, Utah State
32. LB Zack Baun, Wisconsin
5. B/R GOAT Sim
The B/R GOAT Sim, which debuted on Monday, is just one of the ways we're bringing you action while there are virtually no other live sports. We'll be updating the event throughout, so be sure to check back regularly.
The Round of 16 kicks off tonight:
FRIDAY, APRIL 3
Chiefs vs Chargers - 5p ET
49ers vs Rams - 6p ET
SATURDAY, APRIL 4
Ravens vs Steelers - 8p ET
Packers vs Lions - 9p ET
SUNDAY, APRIL 5
Patriots vs Bills - 8p ET
Redskins vs Giants - 9p ET
MONDAY, APRIL 6
Jaguars vs Titans - 8p ET
Panthers vs Bucs - 9p ET
4. Sleeper of the Week: CB Noah Igbinoghene, Auburn
The 2020 cornerback class is hard to unpack. There's Jeff Okudah at the top, then C.J. Henderson and then a tier of players all seemingly tied for the CB3 ranking. The lack of consensus could be good news for Noah Igbinoghene, who has the size, speed and length teams want in an outside starting cornerback.
Coming out of the SEC, Igbinoghene is hardly an unknown, but if he finds himself the third cornerback drafted on April 23, don't be surprised. The talent is there, and he definitely fits what teams like the Kansas City Chiefs and Minnesota Vikings could be looking for.
3. Riser of the Week: S Jeremy Chinn, Southern Illinois
Jeremy Chinn is going in the first round; at least that's what multiple NFL scouts told me this week. Chinn is a fantastic athlete who dominated at SIU before having strong weeks at the Senior Bowl and NFL Scouting Combine.
Chinn wasn't ranked in the top 50 on my board until a conversation with a scout opened my eyes to his potential. "How many guys in this class move like him? How many guys have his positional versatility? You can't be in love with Isaiah Simmons and not at least really like Chinn."
It's true. Chinn is this year's discount version of Simmons, who is expected to be a top-five selection. Chinn's athleticism and upside are likely to put him in the top 25 selections.
2. Faller of the Week: WR Tee Higgins, Clemson
The lack of pro day workouts and private visits could hurt many players, but one top-tier receiver could find himself out of Round 1 because of limited opportunities to run. Clemson's Tee Higgins didn't work out at the combine and then ran a 4.56-second 40-yard dash before the COVID-19 pandemic caused private workouts and visits to be shut down. Now Higgins' draft stock hinges on game tape, which was good but does bring up questions about speed.
A fall to the top of the second round wouldn't be a surprise for Higgins.
1. Stick to Football is back in the studio this week with an updated 2020 two-round mock draft, with all three hosts making picks—plus an interview with former Washington quarterback Jacob Eason.
Check out all our podcast episodes, which are also available on YouTube as a video series, and subscribe if you haven't already. We will also post a ton of behind-the-scenes content on our Instagram page.
Matt Miller covers the NFL and NFL draft for Bleacher Report.