NFL Draft 2020: Team-by-Team Analysis and Grades for Round 1 Results

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistApril 24, 2020

FILE - In this Jan. 13, 2020, file photo, LSU quarterback Joe Burrow throws a pass against Clemson during the second half of the NCAA College Football Playoff national championship game in New Orleans. The Cincinnati Bengals chose Burrow with the first pick in the NFL draft Thursday, April. 23, 2020. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)
Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

The 2020 NFL draft produced more surprises as the first round went on Thursday night.

There was no trade action in the top 10, and a majority of the franchises in those spots filled positional needs. The surprise was Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons landing with the Arizona Cardinals, but that was viewed in a positive light since he was not expected to drop that far.

The Atlanta Falcons, Las Vegas Raiders and Philadelphia Eagles were among the teams that made some interesting decisions despite filling positions of need.

Since their picks were viewed as reaches by some, those squads had lower first-round grades than others who had Thursday night play in their favor.


2020 NFL Draft Results


Team Grades and Analysis                 

Arizona Cardinals: A- 

Arizona ended up with one of the top first-round steals, as Simmons fell to the team at No. 8.

The Cardinals could have taken an offensive lineman to bolster protection for quarterback Kyler Murray, but they went after the best player available instead.

Simmons could line up in all three areas of defense, and pass coverage is one of his top strengths. Combining him with Chandler Jones and Jordan Hicks gives the Cardinals one of the better linebacker groups in the NFL.

That could be an important factor when facing the San Francisco 49ers' run-heavy offense twice a year in the NFC West.


Atlanta Falcons: C+ 

Atlanta filled a need at cornerback with Clemson's A.J. Terrell, but he was not the best defensive player left on the board. The Falcons could have upgraded their pass rush with LSU's K'Lavon Chaisson or Oklahoma's Kenneth Murray.

They deserve credit for sticking to the plan to improve their secondary, but Terrell was the No. 36 overall player in the final draft rankings from Bleacher Report's Matt Miller.

If they were set on Terrell, the Falcons could have made a deal with a team looking for a wide receiver and collected more draft capital. Atlanta has five picks in the next six rounds.


Baltimore Ravens:  B

The defensive market shaped up perfectly for the Ravens, as they added LSU's Patrick Queen.

Queen had 85 tackles and three sacks for the national champion, and he should be an anchor of Baltimore's interior defense.

Positioning Queen alongside Matthew Judon in the second layer of defense behind offseason additions Calais Campbell and Derek Wolfe will make the Ravens a Super Bowl contender in the AFC again.


Buffalo Bills: N/A 

Buffalo gave up its first-round pick in the Stefon Diggs trade with Minnesota and does not pick until the late second round.


Carolina PanthersB

First-year head coach Matt Rhule had to choose between Simmons and Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown at No. 7.

The former seemed like an ideal addition as a replacement for the retired Luke Kuechly, but the Panthers opted to improve their interior with the latter.

Brown recorded four sacks and a pair of forced fumbles while menacing SEC defenses in 2019. He should be a great foundation to Rhule's first draft class, but Carolina needs to make more defensive improvements over the next two days.


Chicago Bears: N/A 

Chicago's first draft decision will come at No. 43.


Cincinnati Bengals: A

The Bengals hope Joe Burrow is the quarterback who digs them out of the AFC North basement in the coming years.

The Heisman Trophy winner is set up for success, with Joe Mixon, A.J. Green and other weapons already on the roster.

If Burrow meshes well with head coach Zac Taylor, the two could gradually help the Bengals move up a competitive division.


Cleveland Browns: B

Cleveland was gifted Alabama offensive tackle Jedrick Wills Jr. at No. 10.

Wills was the No. 7 overall player and top offensive tackle on Miller's final big board. The run on quarterbacks and defensive players from Nos. 5 through 9 allowed the Browns to bring in protection for Baker Mayfield.

With Wills and Jack Conklin in place, Mayfield should be able to stay upright more in 2020. If that is the case, the Browns offense could be one of the most exciting units to watch.


Dallas Cowboys: B+

Dallas used a similar strategy to Arizona, as it took the best player available instead of filling a larger need.

By adding CeeDee Lamb at No. 17, the Cowboys have three marquee targets for Dak Prescott to work with, in addition to running back Ezekiel Elliott.

On top of bolstering their offense, the Cowboys denied the NFC East-rival Philadelphia Eagles from choosing Lamb through either the No. 21 pick or a trade up to a spot beneath Dallas.

While its wideout trio will be hard to stop, Dallas has to fill needs in the secondary, and six defensive backs are already off the board.


Denver Broncos: 

Drew Lock and Courtland Sutton were two of the biggest winners Thursday, as Jerry Jeudy was added to the Denver offense.

Lock now has two No. 1 wide receivers to work with alongside 2019 first-round pick Noah Fant, free-agent signing Melvin Gordon, Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman.

It may not be enough to eclipse the Kansas City Chiefs atop the AFC West, but the Broncos have plenty of offensive talent to compete in most games and be involved in the wild-card race.


Detroit: A-

Detroit's defensive overhaul continued with the selection of Ohio State defensive back Jeff Okudah.

Okudah is viewed as a direct replacement for Darius Slay, who was shipped to the Eagles earlier in the offseason.

The combination of Okudah, Justin Coleman and Desmond Trufant should allow the Lions to improve a unit that allowed the second-most total yards in 2019.

If all of the new additions play well, the Lions should be nowhere near the No. 3 overall pick in a year's time.


Green Bay: C

The Packers employed the most puzzling strategy Thursday, as they moved up four spots to take Utah State quarterback Jordan Love.

Aaron Rodgers is coming off his eighth 4,000-yard season and an NFC Championship Game appearance in his first year working with head coach Matt LaFleur.

Instead of adding more weapons for Rodgers to work with, the Packers opted to bring in his potential successor. The move could work in the long term, but it does not help Green Bay contend with San Francisco, Minnesota and others.

Green Bay has two picks on Day 2 and six in the final three rounds to add to its running back and wide receiver depth charts.


Houston Texans: N/A 

Houston hits the clock first with the eighth pick of the second round. It has seven picks in total.


Indianapolis Colts: N/A 

Indianapolis owns two of the first 12 picks in the second round and possesses five selections from the third to sixth rounds.


Jacksonville Jaguars: B+

Doug Marrone continued to rebuild his squad by adding a replacement for A.J. Bouye, as well as a potential successor for Yannick Ngakoue.

Florida cornerback CJ Henderson will be thrust into a starting role after Bouye was shipped to Denver for draft picks.

Henderson was the clear second option behind Okudah at the position, and if Jacksonville waited until No. 20 to pick a corner, he would not have been there given Atlanta and Las Vegas' decisions.

If Ngakoue leaves through a trade, K'Lavon Chaisson could be a solid anchor for the pass rush. He led LSU with 6.5 sacks in 2019.

Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell told NFL Network's Mike Garafolo "options are very limited at this point" for Ngakoue to move.


Kansas City Chiefs: A- 

It is hard to imagine Kansas City's offense becoming more dangerous, but that is what will happen with Clyde Edwards-Helaire in the backfield.

The LSU running back will be another asset for Patrick Mahomes to work with in the passing game. He caught 55 passes for 453 yards while running for 1,414 yards in 2019.

He could feature in a similar role in which Brian Westbrook did during Andy Reid's tenure in Philadelphia.

General manager Brett Veach said that Reid believes Edwards-Helaire is better than Westbrook, per NFL Network's James Palmer.


Las Vegas Raiders: B-

Las Vegas filled a pair of needs, but it was not with players who were on the top of some draft boards.

Henry Ruggs III was chosen over Alabama teammate Jeudy and Lamb, but the Raiders will benefit from his speed alongside Tyrell Williams.

The selection of Ohio State defensive back Damon Arnette was the most surprising of the first round, as he was the No. 13 cornerback on Miller's final big board.

Las Vegas acted on a need without a second-round pick, but one has to wonder whether it could have traded back since another corner was not selected until No. 30.


Los Angeles Chargers: A-

The Los Angeles Chargers landed their quarterback of the future in Justin Herbert, but he may not be the first-round pick who makes the biggest impact in 2020.

The trade up to No. 23 for Oklahoma linebacker Kenneth Murray reinforced a talented front seven that needs more speed to keep up with the Chiefs.

Murray led the Sooners with 102 tackles, and he recorded four sacks on the way to the Big 12 Championship.

If Murray forms a strong bond with Melvin Ingram, Nick Bosa and others and Herbert develops into a starter, the Chargers could end up with one of the best draft classes.

Those two will be under the spotlight more in this draft since the Chargers have four Day 3 selections remaining.


Los Angeles Rams: N/A 

The Los Angeles Rams should be busy Friday, with two picks in both the second and third rounds.


Miami Dolphins: B+ 

Miami did not have to trade up to bring in the quarterback it had been linked with for months.

Tua Tagovailoa should compete for the starting job, and in the best-case scenario, he will become a franchise quarterback for at least a decade.

With Austin Jackson, the Dolphins have more protection for Tagovailoa or Ryan Fitzpatrick from the start of the season. Miami's third pick Thursday was a bit puzzling because it added Noah Igbinoghene to a secondary that already boasts Byron Jones and Xavien Howard.

It was not the ideal pick given every running back available, but it fills depth, and the AFC East side has 12 more selections left.


Minnesota Vikings: B

Minnesota produced one of the smartest first rounds.

It replaced Stefon Diggs with Justin Jefferson at No. 22, and then it moved back six spots to choose TCU corner Jeff Gladney.

The Vikings received two picks from the 49ers in exchange for No. 25, and they now have 12 selections to work with, including three Friday. If they bolster protection for quarterback Kirk Cousins and add another secondary member in the second and third rounds, the Vikings will have a strong rookie class.


New England Patriots: N/A 

New England collected the No. 37 and No. 71 picks from the Chargers in a trade for the No. 23 pick. It has five Friday selections.


New Orleans Saints: B-

Sean Payton's team used one of its five draft picks on Michigan interior lineman Cesar Ruiz, who can play either center or guard.

Ruiz was rated as the best pass- and zone-blocker of centers and guards by Miller, but the Saints could have filled other needs at No. 24.

New Orleans could have gone after Queen to fill up the middle of defense but now has to wait until the third round to make defensive improvements.


New York Giants: B+ 

Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley will have a first-round pick protecting them for the foreseeable future.

The Giants landed Georgia's Andrew Thomas at No. 4 to fill one of the biggest needs at the top of the draft. Jones was sacked on 38 occasions in 13 appearances, and to contend with the Cowboys and Eagles, that total has to drop.

General manager Dave Gettleman told reporters Thursday he wants to "fix this offensive line once and for all," per ESPN's Jordan Raanan.

Thomas was a three-year starter at Georgia and fits seamlessly into the left tackle position.


New York Jets: B

The New York Jets also added protection for their young quarterback by bringing in Mekhi Becton.

Sam Darnold still needs some help around him, but keeping him upright should be easier with Becton in place. The Louisville product has a massive frame and was one of four offensive tackles rated in a similar category by Miller.

The Jets could give Darnold more help at wide receiver in the second round, with Clemson's Tee Higgins and Baylor's Denzel Mims among the prospects still available.


Philadelphia Eagles: C+ 

The Philadelphia staff selected its preferred wide receiver in TCU's Jalen Reagor.

Reagor was not the top wide receiver on the board since Jefferson was still available, but he could fit what the Eagles need. His speed on the outside may be a perfect complement for tight ends Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert, who will take up space across the middle.

But it is worth considering if the Eagles could have traded down a few spots and taken Reagor since he was the No. 10 wideout on Miller's big board.


Pittsburgh Steelers: N/A 

Pittsburgh has to wait until the 17th pick of the second round after trading its first-round selection to Miami for Minkah Fitzpatrick.


San Francisco 49ers: B

The NFC champion worked the trade market in its favor.

The 49ers took advantage of Tampa Bay's need for an offensive tackle and traded from No. 13 to No. 14, where it chose Javon Kinlaw as DeForest Buckner's replacement.

Kyle Shanahan's team then moved up from No. 31 to No. 25 to take Arizona State wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk. who adds more speed alongside Deebo Samuel.

The 49ers do not pick again until the fifth round, but they were smart by using the fourth-round selection they acquired from the Buccaneers to land Aiyuk in a deal with the Vikings.


Seattle Seahawks: B- 

Texas Tech's Jordyn Brooks landed in a great position for his development as a linebacker.

Brooks could end up as a replacement for K.J. Wright or Bobby Wagner, but in 2020, he will get to learn under them while improving Seattle's defense.

While this could turn into a great pick in the future, it is questionable because the Seahawks could have attacked other needs, like defensive line and defensive back.


Tampa Bay Buccaneers: B+ 

Tampa Bay continued to improve its offense by taking offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs.

The Iowa product is expected to provide more protection for Tom Brady, who gained another weapon earlier in the week when tight end Rob Gronkowski agreed to come out of retirement.

With most of the pieces in place, Tampa Bay's only offensive need is a running back to complement Ronald Jones. Since a single player at that position went off the board Thursday, the Buccaneers could improve even more Friday or Saturday.


Tennessee Titans: B- 

Isaiah Wilson is expected to compete for a starting position, but he is not guaranteed to come in day one and start like the top four offensive linemen.

Tennessee missed out on Queen by one selection and opted to stay away from a defensive lineman. If Wilson develops into the starter opposite Taylor Lewan at tackle, the Titans could be praised for their pick.

However, it is worth noting the Titans passed on Josh Jones, who is the No. 5 offensive tackle in Miller's rankings, to choose the seventh-rated Wilson.


Washington Redskins: 

Washington did not complicate its decision Thursday night.

Instead of trading down or exploring another quarterback, the Redskins chose Chase Young with the No. 2 pick.

During his 16.5-sack season at Ohio State, Young showed he could be a generational pass-rusher. Young still has to improve his skill set to adapt to the NFL, but he has a strong base to work off, and he could be a pass-rushing menace from Week 1.


Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90Statistics obtained from ESPN.com.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.