2020 NFL Draft Grades: AFC

DraftValue
DraftValue

The NFL Draft is mostly just a game of randomness, but there are ways to increase the odds in your favor — trade down early, draft positions that matter early, draft for need when close to a Super Bowl, and draft best player available within reason when rebuilding. My draft grades will reflect these principles and heavily weigh what a team did in the first 150 picks because that’s where most production comes from (see chart). For that same reason, you won’t see grades for the picks after No. 150. Just assume they are an F and won’t contribute meaningful snaps. Let’s dive in:

AFC East

Bills (B-)

Epenesa had some Day 1 love but rightfully slipped into the second round after showcasing 18th percentile Adjusted SPARQ athleticism at the NFL Combine (5.04 forty). His raw strength and craftiness should make him an effective run defender, but it’s hard to see him being as productive as pass rusher in the NFL as he was at Iowa. He profiles as a 5-9 sack producer who can play on the edge or kick inside depending on the personnel. Epenesa was good value at No. 54 but not an exciting pick… Moss fills a need as the “bruiser” alongside Devin Singletary but there were other “bruisers” to be found later in the draft. Plus, the Utah alum has some issues of his own, including a 4.65 forty time and a lengthy injury history with his knees. I envision him soaking up 4-10 meaningless carries per game as Singletary’s sidekick this season… Davis checks some  sleeper receiver boxes — he declared early (21 years old), was productive at UCF (72-1,241-12), and is fast enough (4.54 forty). He will compete for No. 4 receivers duties behind Stefon Diggs, John Brown, and Cole Beasley as a vertical threat on the outside… The rest of the draft was decent as well. The Bills found a backup quarterback, another productive receiver, and a potential special teamer. Definitely have questions about the kicker though. He only made 20-of-28 kicks last year as a redshirt senior. 

Dolphins (B+)

Trade Received

Trade Sent

Grade

No. 30 and 136

No. 26

A

No. 111

No. 136 and 141

B

No. 164

No. 173 and 227

B

No. 251

2021 6th

B

The Dolphins moved up and down the board with very reasonable draft day trades, which made up for some iffy mid-round picks, but all eyes are at the top of the class… Tagovailoa fell into their laps with the Chargers sold on Justin Herbert at No. 6, and the Heisman runner-up is a worthwhile risk given the current state of the Miami organization. If healthy, Tagovailoa can be a Pro Bowl quarterback capable of picking apart defenses with above-average accuracy and mobility. Dr. David Chao believes Tagovailoa can play on his hip injury in 2020 and shouldn’t face arthritic problems until way later into his career… Jackson will need to develop — he’s only 20 years old and was inconsistent at USC — but he has 89th percentile athleticism and the size of NFL left tackles. He can iron out the wrinkles of his game while the Dolphins are rebuilding and has the upside to be a perennial Pro Bowler by the time they are contending for the playoffs… A similar story can be told about Igbinoghene, who has only played corner for a few seasons but has all the speed in the world. His 6.9 yards per target in coverage from last season is quite good for an inexperienced player defending SEC receivers. He’ll play in the slot to start his career… Once again, the Dolphins are betting on upside with Hunt. He was injured last season but showed NFL skills, athleticism, and size at Louisiana. They probably hope he can play right tackle. He may have to kick inside and play guard. That’s totally fine. Miami needed to invest assets into the offensive line with Tagovailoa headlining the class… Davis was an unproductive pass rusher at Alabama and had some off-field question marks, a combination that prevented me from ranking him inside my top-100. It was a big gamble to draft him at No. 56, but he should at least be playable against the run… Jones will compete for starting duties with the Dolphins hurting at safety, but he profiled as a low-end starter and special teamer to me despite being a highly productive tackler at Texas. His overaggressive style needs to be tamed, at least in pass coverage… Kindley was inconsistent at Georgia because of injuries but has the raw strength to compete for starting reps if healthy.

Jets (A-)

Trade Received

Trade Sent

Grade

No. 59 and 101

No. 48

A

No. 125, 129, and 2021 6th

No. 101

A

Sam Darnold needed help, and the Jets handled that with quality prospects in the first two rounds with Becton and Mims. Both are elite athletes with high ceilings, although neither are there yet. Becton needs to work on not overextending, and Mims needs to get comfortable running a full route line after only running straight-line routes at Baylor. The Jets have time to work on those things, as they aren’t competing for a Super Bowl in 2020… The rest of the draft was alright. Davis profiles as a starting safety. Zuniga is coming off an ankle injury and shaky college production but has the athleticism of a Day 2 project at edge rusher. Perine is a forgettable backup to Le’Veon Bell. Morgan looks like a pro quarterback but was straight up bad at Florida International. And Clarke is a backup type, which means he might start for the Jets. 

Patriots (C)

Trade Received

Trade Sent

Grade

No. 37 and 71

No. 23

A

No. 60 and 129

No. 71 and 98

B

No. 91 and 159

No. 100, 139, and 172

B

No. 101

No. 125, 129, and 2021 6th

B

No. 182

No. 212 and 213

B

New England had a ton of draft picks coming into the draft and predictably moved all over the board (5 trades), but the guys Bill Belichick selected have very questionable profiles. Dugger is a 99th percentile Adjusted SPARQ athlete, but his college production, especially for a D-11 prospect, was bad and he’s already 24 years old. That doesn’t scream No. 37 pick to me… Uche was a great second round pick, however. He’s a plus-level athlete and was highly effective as a stand-up edge rusher on his limited snaps at Michigan. Belichick should unlock him… Jennings doesn’t have the athleticism of most Day 2 edge rushers, but he was mildly productive at Alabama and profiles as a rotational end in the NFL… Asiasi and Keene are both tight ends, but Asiasi will play the traditional tight end position while Keene plays the forgettable H-back role. Asiasi has pedigree as a highly recruited athlete and flashed ability at UCLA (15.0 YPC). He is the tight end sleeper of the class based on talent and landing spot… Not sure why a right-wing tattooed kicker was selected at No. 159.

AFC North

Bengals (A)

Burrow is a good prospect if you haven’t heard, and he’s walking into an underrated supporting cast littered with skill-position talent and an offensive-minded head coach. He’s the 2020 Offensive Rookie of the Year favorite… Higgins’ athletic profile is concerning (31-inch vert, 4.54 speed), but he was highly productive (13 TDs) and efficient (13.4 YPT) at Clemson and is only 21 years old, the latter are more predictive of NFL success for wide receivers. His value as a rookie will depend on A.J. Green’s status and John Ross’ hamstring, but he may be going overlooked in dynasty leagues. I think he can be a nice second option in the NFL… Wilson was insanely productive (94+ tackles four times) at Wyoming, was PFF’s No. 2 linebacker against the run, and is a 64th percentile Adjusted SPARQ athlete. He should have been in my top-100 rankings to be honest. He’ll be a starter for most of his rookie contract… Davis-Gaither can be an asset as a blitzing linebacker and willing tackler against the run, as evidenced by his 101 tackles last season. He can play meaningful snaps for a rebuilding linebacker group… 

Browns (A)

Trade Received

Trade Sent

Grade

No. 44 and 160

No. 41

A

No. 88 and 2021 3rd

No. 74 and 244

A

Two quality trades were the cherry on top of a spectacular 2020 NFL Draft for the Browns. They plugged in the lone glaring hole on offense with Wills, who will transition to left tackle after playing high school and college on the right side. He’s athletic enough to make that work. Wills was my OT1 in this stacked class. Baker Mayfield has no excuses to not take a big step forward in 2020. I’ll be buying in fantasy… Delpit is a post-hype sleeper who just needs to get healthy (ankle) to become the first-round talent he showed two seasons ago at LSU… Elliott is an ascending interior pass rusher with 65th percentile Adjusted SPARQ athleticism who happened to slide into the third round. He can be a rotational defensive tackle immediately and has starting-level upside if he gets stronger… Phillips was a tackling machine at LSU (113 tackles) but his 35th percentile Adjusted SPARQ athleticism limits his upside. He’s not very agile and could be exposed in coverage… Bryant was highly productive in college — notice a trend? — but has t-rex arms and 4.73 speed. It’s hard to see where he fits in with Austin Hooper and David Njoku on the roster, although he was good value at No. 115… Harris was a very underrated pick. He’s only 21 years old, yet started four seasons at Washington. His 83rd percentile Adjusted SPARQ athleticism gives him plenty of upside. I bet he starts eventually.

Steelers (B-)

Pittsburgh didn’t have many picks to work with, but they addressed their biggest needs outside of backup quarterback. Claypool was productive at Notre Dame (66-1,037-13) and blew up the Combine with 4.42 speed and a 40.5-inch vertical while weighing 238 pounds. He’s not the most polished route runner, but he’s a physical player who is ascending. His upside is far higher than James Washington and Diontae Johnson. Claypool is a dynasty target with JuJu Smith-Schuster’s contract up in the air… Highsmith was highly productive at Charlotte (14 sacks) but is a boom-bust prospect given his undersized build (6’3/248) and age (23 years old)… Anthony McFarland has the most juice of any Steelers running back (4.44 speed), but he hasn’t been able to handle a full workload and may be destined for 5-10 touches per game in the NFL. He’ll push Jaylen Samuels and potentially James Conner on the depth chart as a rookie… Dotson was PFF’s No. 1 interior offensive lineman last season but is already 24 years old and looked like a somewhat limited athlete on tape. 

Ravens (B)

Trade Received

Trade Sent

Grade

No. 71 and 98

No. 60 and 129

B

No. 201 and 209

No. 225 and 2021 5th

B

I struggled grading the Ravens’ draft because they drafted a lot of my favorite players, but almost all of their picks were run-oriented. Queen at the top of the draft was their best pick. He’s only 20 years old, has 81st percentile Adjusted SPARQ athleticism, made 82 tackles, and only allowed 5.5 yards per target in coverage. That’s what a first-round linebacker prospect looks like, and they grabbed in at the end of the round. Queen starts immediately… Dobbins is a great running back prospect (2,003 yards as a junior at Ohio State), but I don’t think anyone watched the Ravens and thought they were a running back away from a Super Bowl. Mark Ingram, Justice Hill, and Gus Edwards were good enough to look at other positions in the second round… Madubuike was good value and fills a need on the interior defensive line. His 84th percentile Adjusted SPARQ athleticism gives him quality-starter upside. He should make starts as a rookie… Duvernay was a sleeper of mine after compiling 1,082 yards last year at Texas and showcasing 93rd percentile Adjusted SPARQ athleticism at the Combine (4.39 forty). He’s more explosive and a lot more physical than most slot receivers, but he’s a little tight. Duvernay will compete with Willie Snead for starting slot duties. He could make starts as a rookie… Harrison has 72nd percentile Adjusted SPARQ speed and had above-average production (75 tackles) at Ohio State. He’s a low-end starter or quality depth option at linebacker… Phillips and Bredeson are o-line backups. Please protect Lamar Jackson, fellas.

AFC South

Colts (C)

Trade Received

Trade Sent

Grade

No. 41

No. 44 and 160

C

No. 85, 149, and 182

No. 75 and 197

B

No. 212 and 213

No. 182

B

Pittman should immediately slide into a starting role alongside T.Y. Hilton, especially if the Colts run more 11-personnel with Philip Rivers. The USC product has sure hands, 4.52 speed at 6’4/223, and is coming off a 101-catch season. If not for his age (23), Pittman would have been discussed as a potential first round talent. Picture Pittman in the Mike Williams role… Taylor is an elite running back prospect (4.39 speed and one billion yards at Wisconsin), but are we really trading up for a running back early in the second round in the year 2020? What makes it worse is that Marlon Mack and Nyheim Hines are a good enough tandem to hold down the fort. With that said, Taylor is the rookie RB1 or RB2. He’s going to be good… Blackmon is a quality third-round flier. He was PFF’s No. 5 safety last season after playing corner at Utah in seasons prior, but he is coming off a knee sprain. If healthy, he can make starts as a rookie. Just expect some rookie mistakes as he continues learning the position… Eason’s poor accuracy and mobility are bad enough to bet against him becoming an NFL starter, but maybe Rivers can teach him a thing or two this season. Drafting a quarterback this late rarely will get a bad grade from me… Pinter has 94th percentile Adjusted SPARQ athleticism (4.94 forty) but will be 24 years old as a rookie. That’s pretty old for a project. At least he can move well.

Jaguars (B+)

If there was a team that needed to make 12 picks, it’s Jacksonville. Henderson fills a massive need and has elite upside because of his 91st percentile Adjusted SPARQ athleticism (4.39 speed at 6’1/204), but he’s not a “can’t miss” prospect based on his 2019 tape. He was a poor tackler and gave up 10.5 yards per target in coverage while arguably showing iffy effort. Henderson has shadow corner upside, but he needs to put it all together… Chaisson was a rock-solid pick given Yannick Ngakoue’s situation. He’s only 20 years old and has elite bend around the edge. Chaisson needs development with his pass-rushing plan, but the upside and traits are there… Shenault was an elite producer as a sophomore (9.6 receptions per game) but was crushed by concerning injuries as a junior and was limited to a “within 10 yards” role at Colorado. I fear he’ll be wasted in Jacksonville, but there’s no questioning his upside given his athleticism. He might start from Week 1. Please stay healthy… Hamilton was a late-bloomer at Ohio State and has questionable burst, but he was productive as a redshirt senior (6.0 sacks, 10.5 TFLs). He’s a power over finesse guy… Bartch, Scott, and Quarterman will be decent depth options and could make starts early. Nothing really notable about any of them.

Texans (C+)

Trade Received

Trade Sent

Grade

No. 136 and 141

No. 111

A

No. 126

No. 136, 248, and 250

B

2021 6th

No. 240

B

If I included the offseason trades, Bill O’Brien would have received an F from me, but I didn’t want to double count after he was roasted all quarantine… Blacklock has a lot of supporters from highly reputable media analysts like Daniel Jeremiah, but I just didn’t see the same things. He only had 3.5 sacks and 9.0 TFLs as a redshirt junior after coming off an Achilles injury, and tested in the 21st percentile at the NFL Combine. Not exactly the profile of a top-40 player to me. Expect Blacklock to start as a three-tech immediately… Greenard will be a 23-year-old rookie and only has 34th percentile Adjusted SPARQ athleticism, but he plays with a lot of energy. He profiles as a rotational edge rusher in the NFL. Learning behind J.J. Watt should be helpful… Heck is a towering offensive tackle (6-foot-7) and tested in the 80th percentile at the Combine. He needs development — he played tight end in high school — but is a worthwhile gamble on Day 3… Reid is only 5’10/187 pounds and ran the forty in 4.49 seconds, a combination that resulted in a 25th percentile Adjusted SPARQ ranking. He’ll try to compete for a starting job as a slot corner. I have my doubts that he can hang.

Titans (B)

Trade Received

Trade Sent

Grade

2021 6th

No. 237

B

Wilson received a second-round grade from me and many other analysts because he’s a below-average athlete, but I rounded up his grade for the ideal team fit. He will start immediately as RT Jack Conklin’s replacement and has always been better as a mauling run-blocker than pass protector, which fits the Titans’ culture and offensive identity… Not only is Fulton good (6.6 yards per target allowed in coverage) and athletic (4.46 speed), but he also fills the Titans other massive need at corner. He walks into a starting role with CB Logan Ryan likely gone and offers a more physical presence to their undersized secondary… Evans has been a running sleeper of mine all draft season because he’s young (21), productive (1,480 rushing yards), and fast (4.41), and I can’t complain about the landing spot. He’s an ideal complement to Derrick Henry and is skilled-enough as a receiver to play passing downs as a rookie. With Henry playing on the franchise tag, Evans has a lot of sleeper appeal in dynasty leagues. 

AFC West

Broncos (A-)

Broncos GM John Elway had one objective this draft: Give Drew Lock enough weapons in 2020 to figure out if he’s the long-term starting quarterback. Mission accomplished. I personally would have drafted CeeDee Lamb instead of Jeudy but still find the pick a great one. He can play inside or outside, win downfield or underneath, and can be a go-to target or complementary option. Jeudy’s route running is elite, and the fit is good enough for Jeudy to be in the rookie WR1 discussion… Hamler is undersized (5’9/178) and tied for the FBS lead in drops (12), but he has 4.3s speed, was productive at Penn State (904 yards, 8 TDs), and is only 20 years old. He can win vertically from the slot or outside, plus return kicks. He’s the perfect No. 3 receiver behind Courtland Sutton and Jeudy… Ojemudia played right corner at Iowa and mostly played in zone coverage, so his transition to the NFL could be tricky. He does have the speed (4.45) and size (6’1/202) of a starting corner and did only allow 5.0 yards per target as a senior. He will be a depth option as a rookie… Cushenberry was voted as LSU’s MVP last season and is a 61st percentile Adjusted SPARQ athlete. He is a mauler in the run game and pass-blocked a lot more than most interior offensive linemen in college. Cushenberry profiles as a quality NFL starter. Getting him at No. 83 was great value… Agim didn’t live up to his high school recruiting rank but tested in the 88th percentile at the NFL Combine and lands in a great spot with Vic Fangio in Denver. He could develop into a decent starter within a few seasons… Okwuegbunam led the SEC in receiving touchdowns (11) as a freshman three years ago with Lock as his quarterback at Missouri. Albert O wins downfield because it takes a minute for his big body to get moving, but this is another weapon for this aerial offense. He’s a quality backup to Noah Fant, who is going to be a star.

Chargers (D)

Trade Received

Trade Sent

Grade

No. 23

No. 37 and 71

D

I’m conflicted with the Herbert pick. On one hand, he plays the most valuable position and has high-level tools including mobility, but he also lacks the accuracy and decision-making of the top quarterback prospects. He profiles as an average starter in my opinion — getting to play with all of the Chargers’ weapons raises his ceiling and floor — but I have to ding the pick because they were in striking distance of drafting Tua Tagovailoa, who by every measure is in a tier above Herbert. Getting Tua with the third pick was a better alternative… The Chargers traded their starting left tackle for a guard this offseason, and then drafted a quarterback at No. 6 who plays much better in a clean pocket than while under pressure. When they traded up, I thought it was going to be for an offensive tackle (Ezra Cleveland), but they instead draft a linebacker when the defense is already loaded with talent. Murray is going to be a quality starter. He’s just not a true difference maker and didn’t fill the biggest need on the roster (LT), which went completely unaddressed the entire draft… Kelley will operate as the 1b to Austin Ekeler in the Chargers’ never-ending committee backfield. He was a productive runner at UCLA (1,000+ yards twice) and has enough speed (4.49 forty) to win that 5-12 touch role as a rookie. He’s a late-round handcuff and could even be a goal-line vulture.

Chiefs (B-)

Trade Received

Trade Sent

Grade

No. 237

2021 6th

B

I’m very conflicted with the Edwards-Helaire pick at No. 32 overall. I’m against running backs in the first round because there are quality options in Rounds 2-4, but I can’t lie, this fit is dreamy and the Chiefs don’t have many needs — they are returning 20-of-22 starters. Edwards-Helaire has more value than just about all running back prospects because he’s so wicked as a receiver out of the backfield. I’m not talking about just turning check downs into first downs either. I’m talking as a legit route runner, not to mention his ability to run between the tackles. Edwards-Helaire will probably finish as a fantasy RB1 in this offense and will be seen as an “A” selection by the common fan, but the reality is a prospect like RB Darrynton Evans would have produced similar results and is a whole lot cheaper… Gay is a complete wild card — he literally punched one of his college quarterback teammates — but he has quality-starter upside and could make rookie year starts. His 4.46 speed and 39.5-inch vertical are quite rare for someone his size (6’1/243), and he brings the wood as a tackler… Niang could have been a first round left tackle prospect if he was healthy. He didn’t allow a sack in 44 games at TCU and moves well for a 6-foot-6 player, but Niang had hip surgery a few months back. If he rebounds, the Chiefs got a starter at a premium position at No. 96 overall… Sneed played safety and corner in college but best profiles at corner in the NFL. He has 4.37 speed and a 41-inch vertical, and doesn’t have safety size. His athletic profile alone makes Sneed a worthwhile Day 3 selection, especially because it’s a major position of need for the Chiefs. There’s a non-zero chance he makes starts this season.

Raiders (C+)

Trade Received

Trade Sent

Grade

No. 100, 139, and 172

No. 91 and 159

B

No. 109

No. 121 and 172

B

Ruggs is going to be a good player in Las Vegas. His value will be more than his box score production because his 4.27 speed will make things easier for the rest of the offense, but I had to ding the Raiders for the opportunity cost with this pick. WR CeeDee Lamb would’ve been my preferred selection here, especially for this offense that was 31st in percentage of passes that traveled 20+ yards… I gave Arnette a Round 3 grade because he will be 24 years old as a rookie, tested in the 30th percentile athletically (4.56 forty), and has had maturity issues in college. However, his on-field play last season was really, really good, as evidenced by his 5.5 yards per target allowed in coverage. He’s a classic boom-bust pick, but one that should have been made on Day 2, not Day 1 when CB Jaylon Johnson and others were on the board… Bowden has a Swiss-army knife skill set with experience at just about every offensive position, but it sounds like he will be a pass-catcher out of the backfield after the Raiders announced him as a running back. It’s a bad pick if he takes Josh Jacobs off the field… Edwards was a record-setting receiver at South Carolina, but he’s a boom-bust player given his injury history (broken foot, meniscus, concussions, etc). If healthy, he can work his way into the starting 3-WR lineup as a gadget-like target that fits well with check down machine Derek Carr… Muse was Clemson’s Special Teams Player of the Year a few years back and has the speed (4.41 forty) and on-field energy to be a decent backup as a hybrid linebacker/safety… Simpson is a big guard with long arms, but his agility and overall speed are questionable. If he starts, Simpson will be more effective as a run-blocker than pass protector… Robertson is way undersized (5’8/187) but plays with a ton of heart and confidence. He only allowed 6.4 yards per target in coverage at Louisiana Tech and picked off 14 passes. He’s a special teamer and depth option at corner.

NFC grades will be posted Monday. Check out my top-100 rankings and scouting reports in the meantime.