Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the only thing in the world even remotely resembling sport at the moment that we can get excited about. It also happens to be my favourite three days of the year.
I don’t know if that says more about the NFL initiative to go fully digital with their draft or my hobbies and interests, but it’s definitely one of them.
At time of writing, I’ve evaluated 156 prospects and I hope to hit 200 before the draft on Thursday night, but I’m here to brief you on a player your Super Bowl-contending team must draft if they’re to have enough to go the extra step.
Welcome, folks, the 2020 NFL Draft.
The Chiefs will be Super Bowl favourites yet again, simply because of that man under centre. But KC must do everything in their power to actually protect him first.
While the reigning champs seem to have a perennial need at linebacker, DC Steve Spagnuolo found ways to manage opponent’s tight end threat last year without a top-end player at the position. Will his scheme have as much success this year? Who knows? But one thing we do know, is that if Patrick Mahomes has time in the pocket, they can win any game.
With that in mind, they need to protect him. At pick #32, they should practically have their pick of the interior offensive linemen in the class. Isaiah Wilson, out of Georgia, is a six-foot-six mauler and is likely to move from tackle to guard in the NFL. He can do plenty to fast track Mahomes to another Super Bowl ring.
The Ravens’ standout need is on defence, and it’s probably a middle, or “Mike”, linebacker that they haven’t had since Ray Lewis retired.
It’s very hard to find a Ray Lewis replacement.
It’s even harder to do it in this class that isn’t strong at the position – and it’s near impossible to manage it when picking at #28.
So, they’ll instead opt for an off-field backer who is better in coverage and sideline to sideline pursuit rather than straight-up run-stuffer.
The value player here in my eyes in Wisconsin’s Zack Baun. Given he’s likelier to be taken closer to #40 overall, the Ravens can trade back if they wish and still land the difference maker and potential signal-caller of one of the league’s meanest defences.
The San Francisco 49ers have been drafting defensive linemen in the first round for what feels like an eternity, and while I’m tempted to plug in Javon Kinlaw again here to make up for the loss of DeForest Buckner, they need an offensive weapon after losing Emmanuel Sanders in the off-season if they’re not to become stagnant on offence.
There’s nobody ahead of them that screams receiver-needy bar the Raiders, and if they’re content with one of Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs or CeeDee Lamb, then they should pull the trigger.
My slight preference is for a physical presence on the outside, so in that regard, CeeDee Lamb is perfect to slot in here and I believe it could well fall like this with Las Vegas fancying a slot type in the shape of Jeudy to complement Tyrell Williams.
This is tough, and the reason for this is because they’ve got the most complete roster in the entire NFL. Brees coming back for another year might tempt the organisation to go all-in on a receiver to help them grab another Championship, but it’s not the right move long-term.
And if you think short-term in the draft, you’re all but hammered.
Drafting Brees’ successor could be a play here if they’re in love with Jordan Love, the Utah State product, but they might have to trade up to get him – and they’re hardly loaded with picks after reaching for Marcus Davenport in a previous draft.
The smart play here is a linebacker to add a bit of firepower against tight ends. Akeem Davis-Gaither projects as a weak-side linebacker in this scheme and he’s a perfect fit athletically to get after running backs, as well as his wicked quick feet in zone coverage to react to underneath routes.
This could be the playmaker to send them over the edge.
The Dallas Cowboys are paying a lot of money to their quarterback of the future soon. They’ve just paid a fortune to Amari Cooper. Even if this wasn’t a need, you have to see what other premium-salaried positional group you can address here to not land you in cap hell soon – and to ultimately extend your Championship window.
They don’t need an edge player as much as people are suggesting – and there’s definitely not a standout hand-in-the-ground rusher after Chase Young in this class – so the attention must turn to the cornerback position.
And while I understand that Dallas may have to trade up here, CJ Henderson is the player I’d love to see in Dallas, locking down receivers on third down for the foreseeable future.
Some people think he’s closer to Jeff Gladney in terms of ability; I think he’s closer to Jeff Okudah – and if you’re trading up to get someone close to the Ohio State star’s production level, you won’t hear too many complaints.
Other Super Bowl bubble team picks:
- Buccaneers (14/1) – OT Josh Jones
- Seahawks (17/1) – EDGE Yetur Gross-Matos
- Packers (18/1) – TE Kmet Cole
- Colts (20/1) – WR Denzel Mims
- Bills (20/1) – CB Kristian Fulton
*All odds correct at time of publication