Five teams with more questions than answers after the 2020 NFL Draft

If you believe the main commentators, most of the 32 NFL teams had a decent draft. There were a lot of A grades bandied about, with the Ravens, Cardinals, Cowboys, Vikings and even the Bengals getting praise for their hauls. But which teams raised a few eyebrows, had us wondering what they were thinking or just messed with our minds? Here are five teams that were more conundrum than consensus.


1. What are the Packers trying to tell Aaron Rodgers?

As we approached the draft, the general feeling was that the Packers needed more offensive weapons for Aaron Rodgers to throw to. And, with one of the deepest receiver classes in a long time, it was easy to predict that they’d pick one or two to keep Davante Adams company. But rather than finding Rodgers offensive tools to elevate his game, Green Bay opted for his heir apparent, Utah State QB Jordan Love, instead. I would not have wanted to be the pet cat in the Rodgers household on Thursday evening. 

Ronald Martinez / Getty Images

Getting all kinds of heat for this pick (our very own Kieran gave it an ‘F’) asx well as the draft as a whole (‘D’ and ‘loser’ grades were not uncommon), you have to question why they traded up to #26 to pick a high-risk guy with 17 interceptions last year. OK, Rodgers is 36 and on the back nine of his playing career (to mix my sporting metaphors), but there’s still plenty of life in the old dog yet – he’s still contracted for another four years.

They made matters worse by failing to pick a single WR – criminal, given the number of pass-catching options available in the 2020 class. Instead, they opted for a power running back (AJ Dillon) and then reached for a TE (Josiah Deguara).

With roster needs at receiver and offensive tackle, as well as linebacker and defensive line, it seems odd that they wouldn’t want to push on from reaching last season’s NFC championship game. But it seems the Pack have a longer-term vision and may be planning for the post-Rodgers era rather than building around him with a Tee Higgins or a Michael Pittman Jr. They could still have win-now aspirations and may just have wanted a decent backup in case the old boy gets crocked, but you can’t help but feel that Green Bay wasted their picks this time around… and upset their franchise QB to boot.

Get 10% off at NFL Europe Shop with code FULL10


2. Did the Patriots make a dog’s dinner of the draft?

Bill Belichick doesn’t do templates; he does things his own way, ploughs his own furrow as it were. Being the coaching guru he is, what often seems like an odd pick to the rest of us usually works out OK. But even for him, this year’s draft seemed a little off-script. Maybe we should take more stock from the video feed from Belichick HQ that suggested Bill’s dog Nike was in charge of making the picks.

With Tom Brady, Danny Shelton, Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins and the once-retired Gronk all leaving town this spring, conventional wisdom would be to fill some of those holes with the Patriots’ 12 picks. But somewhat unconventionally (at least for everyone else bar Belichick), there was a bit of horse-trading, they moved back out of the first round and made their first pick at #37 instead of #23. Small-school safety Kyle Dugger – at least we’ve all heard of Lenior-Rhyne now – was followed by defensive linemen Josh Uche and Anfernee Jennings: decent enough picks, but defence was never the issue here.

We were left with a few questions after New England’s business was done. We all expected tight ends to be on the shopping list but were Devin Asiasi (#91) and Dalton Keene (#101) the right selections at the time? Given their limitations last year, they also needed help out wide so, just like the Packers, why didn’t the Pats pick up at least one receiver, especially from this deeper-than-deep class?

They also didn’t take a QB, so we have to assume they trust former fourth-round pick Jarrett Stidham to pick up the reins in TB12’s wake. They could have a Gardner Minshew on their hands or he could be more of a Ryan Finley – eek. Apparently, not going after Jalen Hurts, Jacob Eason or Jake Fromm to reduce the risk “wasn’t by design, it just didn’t work out that way”… not words you usually hear Belichick utter. (Then again, he may yet trade for Cam Newton or Andy Dalton and all this conjecture would be pointless.)

Get 10% off at NFL Europe Shop with code FULL10

Not only did they ignore the quarterback prospects, they did so in favour of a kicker no one had heard of in Justin Rohrwasser. Without one on their roster, a kicker was always a need but was he the best value at #159, especially with Tyler Bass and Rodrigo Blankenship – arguably the two top options – still available? Apparently, his familiarity with playing and training in bad weather was a key selling point but even so, it still seemed a bit odd that the first kicker off the board was ranked about 12th in his position.


3. Did the Eagles get Hurts in case Wentz gets hurt?

I don’t recall any mock drafts pairing the Eagles with Oklahoma QB Jalen Hurts, but that’s who they used their second-round pick on. Philly have already coughed up a cool $137 million on extending Wentz’s contract so they obviously see him as their QB1 for a fair while yet. So is investing the #53 pick in his understudy a wise move?

Jason Getz

Their first pick, WR Jalen Reagor from TCU, gives Wentz a new target to throw to, and they got more speed later in the draft, as well as through a trade for the 49ers’ Marquise Goodwin. But opting to bring in a new backup at quarterback, rather than address corner, safety and linebacker, or give their current QB more playmakers to aim at, was an unexpected move.

GM Howie Roseman obviously believes in his current play-caller but also stated that he wants to make Philadelphia “a quarterback factory”. They do like a strong second choice, be it Nick Foles, Chase Daniels or Josh McCown, and it’s saved the day of late, especially with Wentz twice suffering season-ending injuries. But unless they use the athletic QB in a Taysom Hill-like way, as a Swiss Army knife on special teams, Hurts’ only hope of seeing the field in the short term will be if Wentz fails to suit up for some reason over the next three or four years. That may not happen for some time, if at all, so not waiting till Day 3, when Jake Fromm and Jacob Eason came off the board, seems like a reach with their second pick.


4. Just how many tight ends does Chicago need?

Having passed their first-rounder to the Raiders as part of the Khalil Mack deal, the Chicago Bears didn’t have many picks and only joined the draft at pick #43. Many were expecting them to use their two second-round selections to fill gaps at corner and safety. However reasonable the choice of Utah CB Jaylon Jennings was at #50, many of us were surprised that at #43, Chicago plumped for Notre Dame tight end Cole Kmet with their first pick.

Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Don’t get me wrong: seen in a vacuum, he’s a great pick – Kmet was very much a top TE choice and will give Mitchell Trubisky or Nick Foles a viable red zone target. However, the Bears had added Jimmy Graham to an already-crowded tight end room during free agency, so the selection of Kmet only muddies the waters further. Unbelievably, his arrival means the Bears now have ten (yes, 10!) of ‘em – maybe someone’s getting TE and TEN confused?


5. Houston, do we have a problem?

One of the lasting images of this year’s remote draft will be Texans Head Coach – and now General Manager – Bill O’Brien losing his cool and storming off when a potential trade with Detroit fell through at the last minute. Not the personification of poise and professionalism maybe, but that frustration only mirrors how Houston fans must feel about O’Brien.

The fact that he has traded away two big stars, Jadeveon Clowney and DeAndre Hopkins, without getting a first-round pick for either are black marks against his record. The friction between him and Hopkins, and the arrival of a sub-par David Johnson in his stead, were part of the most puzzling free agency move this off-season. They also gave up a fourth-round pick in that deal, as well as a second-rounder in exchange for the LA Rams’ Brandin Cooks and a first-round spot (plus two top picks in 2021) when acquiring former Miami left tackle Laremy Tunsil. That may yet prove to be as high a price as the $66 million extension they’ve just forked out.

Those shenanigans left them with just five selections this weekend. Having seen DJ Reader leave for Cincinnati in free agency, at least DT Ross Blacklock was a sensible choice with their only selection in the first two rounds. Linebacker Jonathan Grennard in Round 3 was probably a reach, and neither CB John Reid nor WR Isiah Coulter seem to be immediate impact players, given the Texans’ depth at both positions.

Rather than roster-building, O’Brien seems to be slowly doing the opposite, leaving Houston fans increasingly frustrated with his unpredictable choices.

QB1 Its impact on the transfer portal, the QB race for the Heisman and the Fromm effect – By Tom Borrett

The 2019 College football season will see a pool of very talented Quarterbacks, some who will be looking to build on their successes last year, as well as a number of guys hoping to have that all important breakout season. There are at least four QB’s playing at typically top 25 ranked teams that have benefitted from the transfer portal and when delving deeper into their stories I became fascinated by the role players featured in the Netflix documentary QB1: Beyond the Lights have played in this particular crop of QB’s.

QB 1: Beyond the Lights gave us an insight into some of the highest ranked High School Quarterbacks in the country all playing in their senior year before heading to college. It’s interesting to see how three of the stars from series one and two are going to have a big impact on the 2019 college football season.

In fact; two stars of the show have been heavily involved in much of the talk around the transfer portal and the other has quite frankly had a direct impact on both of those two moves. 

Season one of the show introduces Gatorade high school player of the year Tate Martell, demonstrating his flashy skills, electric pace and confident personality coming out of High School Football powerhouse Bishop Gorman, Las Vegas. The Ohio State commit seemed destined for greatness and glory; well his ego certainly lived up to the hype as Tate didn’t lose a single High school match.

Also featured in season one was Georgia native Jake Fromm, a natural born leader with an extremely competitive edge who’d committed to Kirby Smart’s Bulldog’s and has since fended off tough competition but made the QB1 position his own.

Tate Martell redshirted his first year with the Buckeyes preserving his 4 years of eligibility having had no game time in the 2017 season but hoped to battle it out with Dwayne Haskins in 2018.

Meanwhile Back in Athens, Jake Fromm – who took over from the injured Jacob Eason after game one – made the starting spot his own, eventually leading the 12-1 (regular season) Georgia Bulldogs to the National Championship game where they faced Alabama. Georgia lost in OT due to some late magic produced by another freshman Tua Tagovailoa (you’ll see how he’s affected this year’s transfer portal shortly).

The outstanding break out season by Fromm led to the previous starter Jacob Eason – also a five star high school recruit – submitting a transfer request out of Athens to go and join the Washington Huskies. Eason’s transfer to the Huskies meant he would have to redshirt the 2018 season as per NCAA rules, interestingly that same rule hasn’t been applied to the two high profile QB1 transfers this season…

As we moved on to the 2018 season, college football was introduced to star of season two of QB1: Beyond the Lights – Justin Fields. As the number one ranked high school player in the country, Fields – also a Georgia commit – followed Jake Fromm to Athens to compete for the top spot with the goal of pushing his competition to the side.

Despite a few snaps, Justin Fields had no luck in displacing Fromm from his starting spot at Georgia – Jake continued to show dominance and this ultimately led Fields to make the decision to leave for the 2019 season – ‘and then there was Fromm’.

Back in the Big Ten Tate still had no success in Columbus as the Buckeyes were led by the man who would become last year’s Heisman third place recipient, Dwayne Haskins. Haskins of course has gone on to be drafted as the number 15 overall pick by the Washington Redskins, the third QB in the draft, runner up only to Daniel Jones and last year’s Heisman winner Kyler Murray.

Two years on and as we approach the start of the 2019 FBS season the stories behind the stars of QB1 become even more intertwined. You’d think that with Haskins out of the picture Martell would step up and be the man for the Buckeyes but with Urban Meyer retiring and Justin Fields deciding to head to Columbus, Martell’s uncertain future meant that he was looking for a way out.

Tate entered the portal and it wasn’t too long before he’d committed to heading to Coral Gables in an attempt to bring back the U.

Jake Fromm’s dominance at Georgia had now forced two five star recruits out of Athens, with one heading to Washington and one to Ohio State, the knock on effect of the later meaning QB1 star Tate Martell was now being pushed out to Miami. 

See, it all comes back to Fromm.

Elsewhere, the transfer portal has also been put to good use across the conferences. Tua Tagovailoa’s 3,996 passing yards and 43 touchdowns at Alabama meant that Jalen Hurts would be on the move for his graduate year. Over at Clemson, Trevor Lawrence pushed starter Kelly Bryant in to the Portal with an outstanding freshman season seeing him throw for 3,280 yards, 30 TD’s, only 4 interceptions and a win in the national championship game – all of this despite him not being named the starter until game five of the regular season. 

Kelly Bryant is going home to Missouri and I doubt he’ll pose much of a threat when it comes to the Heisman however; I am really excited to see what happens with Jalen Hurts at Oklahoma.

Hurts was the ultimate team man last year. After being replaced by Tua in the 2018 National Championship Game he spent the season in a supporting role but boy did he deliver when he needed to most. With the Crimson Tide trailing to (that man again) Jake Fromm and the Bulldogs in the SEC championship game, Hurts was rotated in and lead Nick Saban’s men to victory. 

Hurts is heading to arguably the best programme in the country for a college football Quarterback, after all Oklahoma have produced the previous two Heisman trophy winners and number one overall draft picks for the NFL in; Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray – with a strong offensive line and QB coaching expertise, could we really see Oklahoma and Hurts make it three in a row?

(If you would like to read more about the Sooners lineage of QB’s, including Jalen Hurts’ potential Heisman bid, have a read of this)

As you can see; the QB contest and potentially the battle for the Heisman is going to be an exciting one to watch this year. You don’t have to look too far around the conferences to find some other stand out QB’s – whilst I don’t think their programmes, twinned with excellence at other schools, will be good enough to get them near to the top spot, keep an eye out for likes of; Kellen Mond, Justin Herbert and Sam Ehlinger.

Kellen Mond was impressive at Texas A&M and Jimbo Fisher’s men played some great football last season proving to be tough competition for Clemson – if you want to go by SEC media day, Kellen has already said ‘he is the best QB in the SEC’.

Pay attention to Justin Herbert at Oregon, Justin returns to the Ducks after speculation that he would enter the 2019 NFL draft and comes off of the back of a 3,159 passing yards season with 29 touchdowns, not to mention he also has the size and stature of a prototypical NFL quarterback on his side.

Sam Ehlinger will also be a legitimate Heisman contender and has already been named in the All-Big 12 selection as voted for by those in the media that cover the league, he also set a school record last year of 16 rushing touchdowns as a QB.

Despite this class selection of talented Quarterbacks, ultimately I think that the race to the Heisman Trophy will be decided between Tua Tagovailoa, Trevor Lawrence, Jalen Hurts and Jake Fromm – I give an outside chance to Justin Fields at Ohio State but we really won’t know how the Buckeye’s will look until we see them tested. It’s an unpopular opinion but if Manny Diaz really can ‘bring back the U’ who’s to say that Tate Martell won’t throw his hat in the ring? He clearly has the pedigree to be a top college QB and if he wins the starting spot at Miami and is given protection up front he will most certainly be an exciting watch this year.

Personally however, for me, it all comes back to Fromm.

Whilst Jake may not have put up as impressive numbers as favourites Tua and Lawrence last year, he is arguably the best leader in the country. If Georgia continue to win game after game and are able to defeat Alabama in the SEC championship Jake will definitely be in contention. He has fought off two five star recruits in Eason and Fields forcing both in to the transfer portal, he led the Bulldogs to the National Championship game as a freshman and only just lost out in the SEC championship game to arguably one of the best Alabama teams we have seen last year. The Georgia Bulldogs really are his team.

Even though it’s too early to call, my money is on one man lifting the prize in Manhattan next December, and that’s Jake Fromm.

— 

Follow Full 10 Yards College Football on Twitter @Full10YardsCFB

Follow Tom Borrett on Twitter @BlogsBoz