NFL Draft 2020: What to Watch For This Weekend

By Saransh Sharma, Rohan Krishnan, and Pranav Thiriveedhi

The NFL Draft will commence Thursday, but instead of in the Fountains of the Bellagio in Las Vegas, it is online. Never thought I would be saying those words in my lifetime. Anyways, this year’s draft presents a lot of compelling storylines, such as finding quarterbacks that could be Drew Brees and Tom Brady’s successor, the Justin Herbert and Tua debate, Chase Young to the Redskins, and the plethora of veterans that could be traded for draft picks. Here are the storylines to watch out for in this year’s NFL Draft:

Saransh’s Storyline: Herbert or Tua? Who’s the First QB After Joe Burrow?

Joe Burrow being the Number 1 overall pick is something that has been established for quite a while now, but the quarterback contention after him is what really gets interesting. Tua Tagovailoa of Alabama was the obvious Number 1 overall choice until Joe Burrow and LSU beat them back in November, and then Tua’s chances were completely thrown out the window when he hurt his hip and his season was over for good. Since then, Tua has been fully recovered since February, and had been doing workouts and drills with teams, and was at the Combine. Despite that, scouts and analysts, including myself, still wonder how he will be able to prevent another major injury that could derail his career, as this one nearly did.

The other big-name quarterback heading into this year’s draft is Justin Herbert out of Oregon, whom many thought would have entered the draft last year and could have been a first-round pick. He has now upped his stock and could potentially be a top-5 pick in the draft. While he could not lead the Ducks to the College Football Playoff, he led them to a Pac-12 Championship victory, as well as a Rose Bowl victory over Wisconsin. Having had his best season yet as a college quarterback and winning so many big games after a very rough season for the team the year prior, that along with his Combine and Pro Day showings are having people put Herbert ahead of Tua in their draft boards.

In the top 6 picks of this draft, 3 teams, those being the Detroit Lions at Number 3, the Miami Dolphins at Number 5, and the LA Chargers at Number 6, they all need a quarterback, and Herbert and Tua will be the first guys looked at. While I believe the reports that the Lions are trading down and believe they will trade down, I see Herbert going first over Tua, and going to South Beach and quarterbacking the Dolphins and their young yet exciting offense for the next few years, and Tua going to LA. If the Lions do not trade, however, I expect Herbert in Detroit, Tua in Miami, and then Jordan Love in LA, although speaking of Love, the soft-spoken quarterback of Utah State is someone worth mentioning in this conversation. Love could potentially go higher than both Herbert and Tua, but he could also end up as a late first-rounder, or even early second-rounder, depending on how teams judge him, much like Josh Allen did in 2018, going to the Bills, yet many even thought he could surpass Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold and go first in the draft. Keep an eye out for Love, but Tua and Herbert will be the ones getting all the attention.

Rohan’s Storyline: Where Will Trent Williams Finally Be Traded to and What For?

Trent Williams has still yet to be traded by the Redskins despite publicly demanding a trade in late March, but it could happen in this year’s draft. NBC’s Peter King recently reported that Trent Williams is the most likely player to get traded during the draft. Even though the Trent Williams holdout saga has been going on since June of last year, the Redskins still hold all of the leverage in a potential trade. Under the new CBA, if Trent sits out another year, he will not be able to enter free agency and remain a Redskin. He can either play this upcoming season and show his worth, or sit out and incur a ton of fines. Furthermore, Trent is an All-Pro Left Tackle and is still one of the best offensive lineman in the league, so Washington can still get a decent return. Now, which teams in the league make the most sense to acquire Williams? I am going to go with the Cleveland Browns, Los Angeles Chargers, and the Minnesota Vikings, with Cleveland being the most likely destination. 

ESPN’s Josina Anderson tweeted this morning that Trent Williams is “still on the table” for Cleveland. If the Browns miss out on or elect to not draft one of the top tackles who include Tristan Wirfs, Mekhi Becton, Jedrick Wills and Andrew Thomas, then I think this significantly boosts the chances of a deal that sends Trent to Cleveland. Baker Mayfield took 40 sacks in 2019, and adding a top tier tackle would shore up the left side of the line for the Browns. The Browns also have offensive line coach Bill Callahan, who worked with Trent his whole career in Washington. I predict the Browns will trade for Trent since they have been the team showing interest for a while now, but as mentioned Los Angeles and Minnesota could trade for him too. I expect the Redskins to start fielding calls after the top 4 tackles in this draft are taken. JP Finlay of NBC Sports Washington reported that the Redskins will only trade him for a package of comparable value, but what would that package consist of? I think they are asking for at least a 2nd-rounder, but at this point it seems at least a 3rd-round pick is more reasonable. If a trade with Cleveland were to happen, my prediction is that Washington will receive Pick #74 (3rd-rounder) and Pick #187 (6th-rounder) in this year’s draft. 

Pranav’s Storyline: Should New England Stick with Stidham, or Find a New QB?

Tom Brady leaving New England to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was the biggest storyline of the offseason, leaving the Patriots with a huge problem: filling Brady’s shoes. After a 20 year run, Bill Belichick has to look for a new quarterback in a league with not many options. During the Brady era in New England, the coaching staff had great quarterbacks on the roster to help out when Brady was unavailable, from the 2009 season with Matt Cassel who went 10-6 (somehow missing the playoffs), to the 2016 season where Brady’s suspension from the year before came into effect, giving both Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett the opportunity to perform for New England. Both quarterbacks played well under offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels’s coaching scheme, but due to the threat that they would likely take Brady’s spot as a starter later, owner Robert Kraft shipped them out to other teams. 

The 2020 Patriots are now left with Jarrett Stidham, a young quarterback from LSU, who showed promising features through various training camp meetings, practices, and mostly during the pre season games. The Patriots also hold 12 draft picks for the 2020 NFL Draft (4 compensatory picks), including the 23rd pick. Since this draft has only a few stellar quarterbacks (Joe Burrow, Tua Tagovailoa, Justin Herbert), who will be taken very early, the New England Patriots would be left with quarterback picks like Jordan Love, who is an above average quarterback from Utah State. If I was Bill Belichick, I would put my money on Jarrett Stidham, giving him a year under center, and letting the first round pick in the draft go to another position in need, such as safety or defensive end. The Patriots have had a lot of success in trusting a no name quarterback to lead the team in the most difficult situations, so maybe Stidham can outperform initial expectations and prove that he was the right choice. You never know, Jarrett Stidham could be the next Tom Brady…  

 

Which QB Will Start Week 1?

There are a lot of teams that need to decide who will be their QB. If I were the coach of the Arizona Cardinals, Philadelphia Eagles, Oakland Raiders, New York Jets, Jacksonville Jaguars, New England Patriots, Washington Redskins, Minnesota Vikings, Cleveland Browns, Miami Dolphins, or Buffalo Bills coach, here is who I would pick as my starter for Week 1 (begins September 5th).

Arizona Cardinals

Possible Options: Carson Palmer, Ryan Lindley

Week 1 Starter: Palmer is the obvious choice for this team, as he looked good during the teams OTAs by connecting with his receivers, and should have a monster season thanks to having Larry Fitzgerald and Malcolm Floyd as his top receivers.

Philadelphia Eagles

Possible Options: Matt Barkley, Mike Vick, Dennis Dixon, Nick Foles

Week 1 Starter: This is the toughest choice for any coach, but in the end, former Pac-12 QB Matt Barkley will fit in well to Chip Kelly’s offense due to the fact that at USC, Barkley had played against Kelly’s Oregon squad.

Oakland Raiders

Possible Options: Matt Flynn, Terrell Pryor, Tyler Wilson

Week 1 Starter: Matt Flynn will start Week 1 for the 2nd straight season on a team rebuilding mode.

New York Jets

Possible Options: Mark Sanchez, Greg McElroy, Geno Smith

Week 1 Starter: Geno Smith is the QB that the Jets have wanted for years. He is the franchise of the New York Jets, and this rookie out of West Virginia has the intangible to win as a starter, and he deserves it.

Jacksonville Jaguars:

Possible Options: Blaine Gabbert, Chad Henne

Week 1 Starter: Henne will get the starting job for the 1st time since he was a Miami Dolphin in 2011.

New England Patriots

Possible Options: Tom Brady, Tim Tebow

Week 1 Starter: Tebow can start Week 1, but Brady will start until Week 15, and then Tebow can play Weeks 16 and 17 due to Brady resting for the playoffs. Though from Weeks 2-14, Brady will start, and Tebow could play running back, or be a receiver in the Wildcat formation.

Washington Redskins

Possible Options: Robert Griffin III (RG3), Kirk Cousins

Week 1 Starter: RG3 is the starter, but Cousins will play Weeks 16 and 17. Griffin III may be taken out of the game due to the repaired ACL, so Cousins could get multiple snaps time and time again, but he will not be the starter during many weeks of the season, and Cousins may see more playing time against tougher defenses because of the risk of having Griffin III re-injuring that ACL or other parts of the knee, and the risk of concussions is high. Griffin III is the tentative starter for the 1st half of the season, and would like to keep that, but Cousins will see a few 1st Down or 2nd Down snaps throughout the time when Griffin III will be starting games. Griffin III should have a 5,000-yard passing campaign due to the fact that he has many new targets in Devery Henderson, Jordan Reed, Chris Thompson, Skye Dawson, Chip Reeves, and Emmanuel Ogbuehi. Kirk Cousins could throw for about 1,000-2,000 yards if Shanahan thinks that he should be able to play. With this RG3-Kirk Cousins 1-2 punch, the Redskins could win 12+ games.

Minnesota Vikings

Possible Options: Matt Cassel, Christian Ponder

Week 1 Starter: Matt Cassel wins the job, though Ponder may see some action later in the season.

Cleveland Browns

Possible Options: Jason Campbell, Brandon Weeden

Week 1 Starter: Jason Campbell is a guy that has 1 difference from Weeden. He can throw the ball deep. He is an accurate passer who would mesh well with a speedy receiver like former Dolphins WR Davone Bess.

Miami Dolphins

Possible Options: Matt Moore, Aaron Corp, Ryan Tannehill, Pat Devlin

Week 1 Starter: Tannehill, the talented 2nd year player who will shine in his 2nd season with Mike Wallace and Dustin Keller as his top WRs/TEs.

Buffalo Bills

Possible Options: Kevin Kolb, EJ Manuel

Week 1 Starter: Kolb is the more experienced, but rookie Manuel out of Florida State is the favorite, and will excel as the starter with speedster WR/Slot Receiver Stevie (Steve) Johnson.