Quarterbacks and wide receivers dominate the headlines of 2020 NFL draft


Tammy Anthony Baker | Flickr

Kyle McKee

The first round of the 2020 NFL draft was unusual to say the least. There were moments of awkward silence, undeniable cringe with commissioner Roger Goodell telling fans to boo, analysts and athletes talking over each other and Trey Wingo, the host of the draft on ESPN, interrupting his colleagues to get back to the commissioner. However, sports are being revived and there was finally something to talk about.

The first two picks went as expected: Joe Burrow to the Cincinnati Bengals and Chase Young to the Washington Redskins. After the first two picks is where the draft really started, as ESPN’s “draft guru” Mel Kiper Jr. predicted on the telecast.

The biggest question heading into the draft was Tua Tagovailoa. Would he drop in the draft because of his injury history, or would a team try to trade up to get the former University of Alabama quarterback? As a result of the current pandemic taking over the world, teams were not able to bring Tua into their own facilities to get him evaluated by their own doctors. If it were not for his injury history, Tagovailoa could have been the first pick in the draft. The unparalleled circumstances concerning Tagovailoa is the reason he has been the most-talked-about prospect. With all the drama and possibilities that analysts and top football posited for where Tua would land, sometimes the most obvious choice is the right one, as the Miami Dolphins selected Tua with the fifth pick.

Back in 2001, the Miami Dolphins passed on a somewhat injury-prone quarterback from Purdue University, and instead drafted a cornerback and signed quarterback Daunte Culpepper in free agency. The quarterback they passed on was Drew Brees. The Dolphins were not about to make that same mistake nineteen years later. It is ironic because several of draft experts compare Tagovailoa to Brees due to their similar size and play style.

Right after the Dolphins selected Tagovailoa, the Los Angeles Chargers drafted quarterback Justin Herbert to begin a new era in L.A. The Chargers needed a quarterback after Philip Rivers departed in free agency after 16 seasons with the franchise. Herbert now has great offensive weapons to work with. A top-10 receiving duo in Keenen Allen and Mike Williams, Hunter Henry as one of the best tight ends in the league and running back Austin Eckler who proved last season that he is one of the best pass-catching backs in the league. Herbert is known for his great arm strength and ability to move outside the pocket. However, Herbert will struggle, like every rookie does, as the biggest flaw in his game is his inconsistency. At the University of Oregon, Herbert would look like a top draft pick one week, and seem like he should not be drafted at all other weeks. It will be interesting to see if Herbert can claim the starting spot at the start of the season, or if he will be a backup to Tyrod Taylor.

The last quarterback taken in the first round was the biggest surprise of the draft. The Green Bay Packers decided to take Jordan Love with the twenty-sixth pick, even though all football fans know that the Packers have the “bad man that is Aaron Rodgers,” according to ESPN’s Stephen Smith. Instead of drafting an offensive weapon in the first round to help Rodgers, such as one of the many talented receivers that were available, the Packers decided to plan for their long-term future. Rodgers is still one of the best in the game, but he is getting up there in age. In fact, when Rodgers was drafted back in 2005, Brett Favre was 36 years old, the same age as Rodgers is now. It will be fascinating to see how Rodgers views this selection and how he will treat Love in the locker room. Nonetheless, Love will have the opportunity of a lifetime. He will get the chance to learn the game through the eyes of one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history. It goes without saying that Love will be the backup until Rodgers retires and have all the time in the world to become a franchise guy.

Besides the quarterback, the next interesting position of the draft was the receiver. A lot of NFL analysts differed on their opinions regarding the top receivers in this draft, but everyone believes this class is stocked with future Pro-Bowlers. Henry Ruggs III was the first receiver taken, selected by the Las Vegas Raiders at 12. Shortly after that, Ruggs’ former teammate, Jerry Jeudy was the next receiver taken at 15 by the Denver Broncos. CeeDee Lamb, who many believed to be the top receiver in the draft, was the third receiver taken, selected two picks after Jeudy by the Dallas Cowboys. Those three are in a class of their own compared to the rest of receivers in this draft. Along with that trio, three more receivers were selected in the first round. The Philadelphia Eagles took Jalen Reagor from Texas Christian University, the Minnesota Vikings took Justin Jefferson from Louisiana State University right after the Eagles and the San Francisco 49ers took Brandon Aiyuk from Arizona State University.

The most interesting pick of the first round was the last pick. The Kansas City Chiefs drafted running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire. The Chiefs have depth at running back but nothing quite like Edwards-Helaire. It was an interesting decision to take Edwards-Helaire instead of Jonathan Taylor or DeAndre Swift since Helaire is 5’7” and weighs 207 pounds. It is clear that he is not built to be an every-down back. Having said that, Helaire has shown that size does not matter, running over everyone including Alabama while at LSU. The Chiefs get even more help for their MVP quarterback Patrick Mahomes. An already-ruthless offense may get even scarier if Edwards-Helaire can produce at the same level that Kareem Hunt and Jamaal Charles had for the Chiefs in the past.