Red Zone League Articles

RZL 2020 1st Round Draft Pick Analysis (1-15)
By Matthew Davis
Special to

The 2020 RZL draft is complete, the season over a quarter of the way down, and FINALLY I have finished THE FIRST HALF Crying or Very Sad of the annual draft analysis. Sorry for the long wait to those that were actually anticipating this. It has been very busy for me, as you all are aware by now.

To recap, the draft this year featured a top 10 that was made in a much less typical way -- only two of the top 10 teams picked in their original slotted position. In fact, when draft day began and before trades were opened up, only 17 of the original 32 picks to that point were chosen by their original owner. Meaning 15 teams made moves in the first round this season (not the same as 15 first round trades) AND it lasted over the period of a few days in untimed fashion... This year was much more low-key, as the draft's biggest drama was bickering about the timed/untimed debate. Trades for the highest picks were not forced or rushed for the most part, and it showed as few truly boneheaded moves seemed to occur compared to years past. With that, it's time to stir up some more excitement once again with a personalized analysis from -Yours Truly! Twisted Evil

With that, the disclaimer goes -- These are, of course, just my ideas. They are not personal and they reflect a myriad of reasonings including, but not limited to, Team Needs, Who was left on the board, Draft History, and how the pick came to being. You may also note, although I tried to see it and mask it, I don't always value AWR and TAK or abilities that are likely to see quick progression early in their career. I tried my best to keep in mind that many draft a lot based on these attributes as they are key to production early, but I tend to overlook them, knowing if they play, they will eventually come around. I tried..

Hope you all enjoy! --

[1.1] -- Green Bay Packers --
CB Morris Claiborne - LSU
-- Attributes of Notice --
AGE: 21 OVR: 84 HT: 6'0" WT: 198lbs. SPD: 96 / STR: 68 / AGI: 93 / ACC: 96 / AWR: 65 / CTH: 68 / JMP: 96 / TAK: 60 / INJ: 90

Lots of SMOKESCREENING on this pick, but when the draft opened, the Packers landed themselves their future #1 CB for years to come. Despite the few that did vote saying DE/OLB Melvin Ingram going #1, the Packers disregarded the feedback they themselves set to find out. Nonetheless, Claiborne, while no Patrick Peterson from last year, is a solid full-package player at CB. He meets the coveted 6' mark most GMs set for "elite prototype" at the position, he has the speed/strength combination most drool over, and he has the footwork to match nearly any receiver out there. He can be a playmaker and create turnovers on any given play. The Packers need players in their secondary bad. Claiborne has the dual role of filling need and being legitimately worth [1.1]. Being at a premium position, this makes the pick all the more right.
Pros: He has height, hands, speed, and great footwork as well. Solid Strength as is trending, is icing on the cake as well as his low injury threat. He is a stud, with minimal risk and high upside.
Cons: Weight. Strange to see a 6' CB who is relatively strong be under 200lbs. Awareness is always a weak area for most rookies, but he is above most here.

DRAFT GRADE: A -- This draft had possible options at [1.1]. Claiborne is deserving and meets a need at a premium position too. He will be a stud for years. Rarely think "A+" for [1.1] picks since its generally going to be a pretty clear small group of guys in the potential pool. Love the pick, love it for the Pack. Can't make an argument against this one. For a guy who loves the dramatic spotlight, good pick James. Can't see many disagreeing with this choice.

[1.2] -- Denver Broncos --
WR Jagger Howard - U Conn
-- Attributes of Notice --
AGE: 20 OVR: 81 HT: 6'4" WT: 227lbs. SPD: 93 / STR: 66 / AGI: 92 ACC: 92 / CTH: 81 / AWR: 52 / JMP: 97 INJ: 90

[1.2] originally belonging to the Indianapolis Colts, was traded back one spot to the Denver Broncos for the 3rd overall pick and young prospect CB Joe Haden. I am one that won't question a reach up, even one spot, if there is a significant reasoning that suggests your targeted guy WON'T be there if you don't make a move. Clearly, not always can that information be known or found out, but looking at the roster of the Colts', who originally held the pick, it's more than reasonable to believe that they could have gone WR at #2 if they stayed. Ingram most definitely wasn't the target since they are covered with a plethora of DEs all drafted high in their respective classes. Thus, I say any trade getting what you want, and it filling a position of need and great importance, can usually be chalked up as a win. Even more so if you find your "hunch" was right. This trade likely will never get a real answer as the Colts have really only given out that the pick was likely moved to someone no matter what happened, so we probably will never know who it could have gone to and who they would have chosen.

As for the pick, Jagger Howard was the consensus #1 WR in most offseason mock drafts. Howard has elite size, amazing starting speed/agility/acceleration for the normal prototype possession body he is blessed with. His strength goes in accordance with the trending nature of RZL GM's coveting some good speed/str combinations out of their top guys. He has great jumping ability to battle for those rare jump ball occasions that sometimes happen in the Madden 07 engine. He isn't an injury risk, plays a premium position, and he is gifted with some amazing hands for a rookie. He isn't going to come out of the gates as one of the smarter guys in the league, but he should adjust with time and his natural abilities will mask what he lacks in brain. With some TC work that I expect Arnold to spend on him, Howard will be a force his entire career.

The pick solidifies two top notch targets for last yearís franchise QB drafted in the first round by the Broncos, Kellen Moore. Howard joins veteran Tiquan Underwood. Funny thing is, even though he has 8 years less professionally, Howard is just a small notch below Underwood with his catching ability.

As Moore gains arm strength, he will grow with the increasing ability of Howard to stretch the field vertically and this makes the pick more valuable to a degree. Howard, early on, can allow Moore to relax on one side of the field and not be asked to throw it over 30 yards, if he can even do that. A great fit for the Broncos here at #2, can't argue at all with the pick.

Pros: Elite size, great speed and athleticism for possession-type body, great leaping ability and amazing hands for a young guy. Not being an injury risk is always a bonus for a playmaker of his caliber.
Cons: Will struggle to read defenses for a while. May find himself in the wrong position until his natural abilities are caught up by his lack in football knowledge.

DRAFT ANALYSIS: A- -- Likely wouldn't have had to trade up and lose out on a prospect CB who has quite a bit of potential. However, if he hadn't made the move and fate would have Howard going #2 to whoever grabbed the pick, this pick gains quite a significant increase in value. Howard alone, is as great as they are made, amazing upside and will be a cornerstone for Moore's development in Denver for a decade+. Great pick Mr. Je_Arnold.

[1.3] -- Jacksonville Jaguars --
DE/OLB Melvin Ingram - South Carolina
-- Attributes of Notice --
AGE: 22 OVR: 91 HT: 6'3" WT: 276lbs. SPD: 83 / STR: 82 / AGI: 79 / ACC: 87 / TAK: 77 / AWR: 64 / INJ: 93

A_Fernandez :

The rumblings that are going on about this pick, to me, are absurd. Ingram was pretty unanimous on most boards as the 3rd best player in this draft, and because of the impact a player like him can make, he remains a strong bet to end up as Defensive Rookie of the Year. On my board, I break prospects up into five colors:: blue (elite), green (great), yellow (developable), red (huge project), dark red (don't draft). I also break the DL into numerous categories:: DE-LB, 34DE, 43DE, NT, and UT. Aside from Poe, Ingram was the only player that was "blue" in multiple categories. He had my highest DL grade since Everson Griffen came out - even passing Coples, who I really liked coming out.

Elite talent, more than worthy of the spot, and then couple in the absolute steal of a deal the Jags got to move up and you have one of the savviest draft moves in an already storied career for GM Matt Davis. Jesse Murphy has been on the trade block for a long time, and at this point will be hard to develop despite his obvious talent. Brandon Spikes is a good LB that produces, but you could argue his value is about a 2nd, which almost is offset by the 3rd the Jags ALSO got back. Then they also threw in 2.17, which turned into a 160lb 3rd down back. There isn't a team in the league (probably including the Colts now) who wouldn't rather have Ingram on the roster. Amazing move, amazing player.

Pros: Where to start? This guy will excel wherever he lines up, boasting great speed, phenomenal acceleration, paired with ample strength and tackle. He has good size, and will be a real force at LE. There are gripes the Jags might play him at LB, but having experimented with the similar Griffen, I can tell you that he will put up numbers wherever the Jags decide to play him.
Cons: Ingram is a stud that only really had two knocks on him - 1) he was going to want a massive contract, and 2) there WAS one player in the draft that had upside to look similar - OLB Upshaw. That said, the resources and time that were going to have to be put into Upshaw to make that comparison were vast, and if you are in position to grab Ingram, you do it.

DRAFT ANALYSIS: A+ -- Some people will downgrade a bit based on the uncertainty of where he might play, but not me. Ingram is a stud and will be rocking QBs this year. Add QB McPherson to a team that boasts one of the better WR tandems in the league, and you are also looking at playing ahead a bunch, giving Ingram the green light on rushing the passer. GM Davis has indicated that Ingram will probably be staying at DE, which serves well for Ingram, but which side? It probably doesn't matter. Defensive Rookie of the Year.

[1.4] -- Tampa Bay Buccaneers --
DT Dontari Poe - Memphis
-- Attributes of Notice --
AGE: 23 OVR: 83 HT: 6'5" WT: 350lbs. SPD: 68 / STR: 97 / AGI: 68 / ACC: 79 / AWR: 60 / TAK: 73 / INJ: 82

Here the Bucs moved to [1.4] just before the draft opened up. IMO the trade can be broken down to a move up from [1.21] to [1.4] for two injury risks, at positions that are asked to make plays. The very talented, but veteran FS Barstow is a great addition and is a ball-hawk, but at 7 years pro, is he worth a lot? OLB Romero is a physically gifted freak, but he is raw. If he misses any significant time and gets any weaker at INJ, being 5 years pro, he will be a severely lost cause. Given the risk of the move here for the Lions, I think the Bucs, as long as they don't select a joke, already are set to have a knockout pick at #4.

So, on the side of the Bucs, DT Poe from Memphis moves up the board. Figured by "the experts" to slip back to the middle of the draft, the Bucs did their homework and found this just wasn't going to be the case. Therefore, I implore all readers who haven't read #2 overall's prologue to do so real quick to see why I will have the stance I have on the pick beyond the player that was selected.

I hate to make lofty comparisons, but I can see ways that Poe becomes one of the best DT's in the league.. I know of one DT that I personally think is the best in the league, and when I look at Poe, I see him as the one guy that has the realistic potential to ever be what this guy can't be. So to compare.. for those of us that are skeptical of the importance of AGI at DT, there is no attribute that Poe can't realistically match. Essentially he is -2spd, -2str, and -2acc from being better than who I view as the best DT in the league. that isn't a small amount, and he may never match up completely with Martin as he is no sub-par player as it stands, and doesn't require any help to already be a stellar presence in the middle. But his superior size and tackling ability for such a young guy (even Martin is -5 tackle to Poe!!) puts him at a completely different level of potential greatness.

Personally I can't see a single reason to hate the pick. I have VOWED to never take a DT in the first round ever again, and I don't think I have ever whiffed or been bit by a choice I have made that would make me bitter, itís a deeper reasoning that I really won't get into in this article. To stay on subject, Poe is a serious talent that has the same versatility as Martin in that he can be a top notch 43 DT AND one of the best 34 NT's as well switching without any loss of ability in either scheme. The guy will make an impact, period. When this league has spent first round picks annually wasted too many picks on DT's that will never be elite and never make an impact that warrants such a high pick. So I am really confused to hear the general sense of thought that the Buccaneers reached here from many of the GM's in the league is absolutely baffling to me. I don't know of a single DT in recent years that I like as much as Poe. His upside is the most physically gifted DT the RZL has ever seen, and he doesn't give up anything with rawness. What more needs to be said?

Pros: Elite size. He is versatile at 34 and 43 without giving up anything in either scheme. Speed, strength, workable acceleration and great starting tackle for a rookie DT.
Cons: Awareness is usually tough on rookies, outside of that I can't think of anything with him.

DRAFT ANALYSIS: A+ -- Although a high pick that I generally wouldnít give an "A+" grade to, a mixture of the price for the pick and the sense I get Poe has the potential to be the best DT the league has ever known tends to make me think very highly of the choice. Find me one guy that he will never have the realistic potential to be better than at the DT position and I will consider the possibility I overvalue the move and choice here.

[1.5] -- San Francisco 49ers --
MLB Luke Kuechly - Boston College
-- Attributes of Notice --
AGE: 22 OVR: 79 HT: 6'2" WT: 237lbs. SPD: 84 / STR: 81 / AGI: 84 / ACC: 87 / AWR: 68 / CTH: 60 / TAK: 83 / INJ: 90

San Francisco was the second team in the top 10 to select in their original draft position. Here they shore up a very big need at MLB. Coming in to the draft, the 49ers looked in a few different places for help at LB and came to the conclusion that they were better served taking their future ILB here at [1.5]. Featuring a middle that was slated to land in the hands of former 4th round pick Horace Sparks, who eventually was picked up by the 9ers just a year after being drafted by the Patriots, the 49ers got a vast upgrade at a premium position here.

Kuechly was expected to go around the top 5, and here he lands. While not possessing the size/weight combination that most consider to be truly elite, Kuechly is no "little man" to say the least. He has the desirable speed/strength/agility/acceleration to be considered among the elite, as well as great starting ability from day 1. High tackle, and great injury are extremely important for any ILB. Kuechly offers that, and will just require time and experience at the pro level to shore up what will be his biggest weakness early in his career. He will struggle to read the offense at the rate and quickness that many of the more experienced elite can do, but that is true of almost any rookie and their struggle. Kuechly can make plays, get to the outside and create turnovers.

While he never will gain the few inches or pounds that might make him potentially one of the best MLB's ever, he has the tools already to eventually be amongst the greats, and with any extra help through TC, he could be something even more special. Great pick, very safe. He is easily the best, most complete linebacker of the entire class.

Pros: Speed/strength combo most covet in any ILB. Athleticism to be among the elite, can create turnovers and is a sure tackler from day one.
Cons: Just below the norm for your prototypical elite LB in terms of height/weight, but I won't hold that against him too much since it arguably could never effect him. Will struggle to read and diagnose plays for a season or two as he adjusts to Pro speed of the game.

DRAFT ANALYSIS: A -- The 49ers didn't reach, and stayed patient despite a few different options at [1.5]. I can't argue with filling a need, especially a premium position such as ILB, and lining it up with correct value of pick. A top 5 talent, Kuechly will be a stud for years to come, with or without any TC help.

[1.6] -- Arizona Cardinals --
CB Stephon Gilmore - South Carolina
-- Attributes of Notice --
AGE: 21 OVR: 75 HT: 6'1" WT: 195lbs. SPD: 95 / STR: 68 / AGI: 93 / ACC: 92 / AWR: 60 / CTH: 52 / TAK: 58 / INJ: 89

Another trade nets the Cardinals with the 6th overall pick. The Cards risk it all in their first season of the Post-Matt Leinart era, for the move up 12 spots, the Cards give up a future 1st and 4th. In a VERY competitive division, I don't necessarily love the move for the Cards as it "sells the house" or at least the front door and living room, for their guy. The move will have to net them with someone they feel will give them some chance of winning more THIS season, so they can keep their head above water and not lose even more value in this trade. With uncertainty at QB (compared to times with Leinart), the Cards must be more cautious with a future pick no matter how high spirits are in Arizona. The Cards also have to look at the value of the guy they want and size it up to the next best guy at that position and see if it is worth a future 1st and 4th for the difference between those two players.

So with the actual pick, we see South Carolina CB Stephon Gilmore come off the board. Gilmore was widely accepted as the #2 CB in this draft behind the obvious Claiborne. Mock draft "experts" saw Wisconsin's Buster Bowden and Virginia's Chase Minnifield as competitors for the #3 CB spot. Gilmore boasts some amazing starting physical attributes. He is among the leagueís elite in straight-line speed, doesn't match that necessarily with burst off the line, but isn't a slouch there either. Despite being one of the stronger CB's in the league -- a growing trend -- he weighs in less than 200lbs, but that should not be expected to make a noticeable impact. He will not be a sure tackler nor a sure turnover-creator, two areas you would like to see when reaching out for the best guy available.

The Cards have always ventured to have a deadly and respected secondary, and being in the same division as the Seahawks and the Rams, I must agree that elite CB's are essential. Although they won't be among the leagueís best in turnover expectations, paired with last year's [1.7] Dre Kirkpatrick, the Cards will feature one of the best young developing secondaries in the league. They have size and speed, and can only go up from where they are. I can't argue with the player chosen, and being in the NFC West, the Cards gain tremendous value for targeting the next best guy in the secondary on the board.

In comparison to "the next best guy at the position" Gilmore comes in an inch taller than Minnifield and an inch shorter than Bowden. However, his strength bests both players and his athleticism is unmatched as well. All-in-all, however, each has a part of their game which makes them all very viable first-round talents, and likely a case can be made for any one of them for being great young CB's with elite potential. In the end, I do not believe that the difference between Gilmore and the next best guy(s) at CB is worth a future 1/4. And my guess (hindsight helps here Wink), is that ONE of those guys would be available at the original spot of [1.18]

Pros: Great size, and speed that usually doesn't accompany the taller CB's early in their careers. Not a big injury risk, and a solid bit of upper body strength will help him in bump-and-run or press coverages.
Cons: Not the best hands, or the surest tackler. Will be caught out of position early in career when starting, as most rookies are. A little light as well for someone his size and strength.

DRAFT ANALYSIS: B -- Great player, will be elite. Definitely necessary in the pass-happy NFC West. Great choice. Big hit for the price paid here (more importantly the uncertainty of where their pick will land next season). I just can't agree, even as great as Gilmore seems he will be, that he is THAT much better than the others mentioned. He gains value from being in NFC West, but the price and the few key things he doesn't possess makes me think the reach was a little too much. If the Cards make the playoffs, this grows to a possible B+/A- range.

[1.7] -- New York Giants --
QB Robert Griffin III - Baylor
-- Attributes of Notice --
AGE: 22 OVR: 89 HT: 6'3" WT: 225lbs. SPD: 88 / AGI: 90 / ACC: 88 / AWR: 70 / CAR: 85 / THP: 95 / THA: 84 / INJ: 98

Well we all knew it had to happen at some point... The amazing potential QB that is RG3 out of Baylor. The Heisman Winner is an interesting guy, and one of the most ready rookies ever. Rivaling last years [1.1], Andrew Luck, RG3 fell this far because he will be a scrambler from day 1. He boasts a great arm, good accuracy, great awareness for a rookie, and possibly most important is, he isn't a huge risk of injury when he does escape that pocket.

As the former GM of the New York Football Giants, Joe Paglia, never feared a stellar scrambler, Maurice Heard takes his first leap of faith by solidifying his future of the franchise and ensuring New York will be a scrambling town for another decade+. Can't hate the guy, because he has every chance to be a better QB than the playoff-guarantee-QB that Tyler Thigpen was and he will LIKELY eclipse Thigpen in career marks for a lot of possible reasons. First, he will be the unquestioned starter from day 1. I am a firm believer that, if they play early, they WILL reach greatness at QB barring major injuries. Another reason beyond how quickly RG3 will be able to hit his ceiling is that he will be loaded with talent that will grow with him. Mr. Heard liquidated most, if not all, of the veteran and expensive talent he had on his team into hard picks. With the ammo the Giants have, itís possible RG3 gets some nice weapons in the coming years as he reaches the height of his game. When he fledges into his star potential, he could have a crazy good roster surrounding him potentially. Lastly, it has been proven for years that a scrambler can get to the playoffs and make a team competitive. Thigpen was not the only cog in that machine, however, so a lot will have to be done to surround RG3 with the type of talent Thigpen had in his glory days, but again.. itís definitely possible with some of the moves Mr. Heard was making.

In short, he has absolutely insane ability, it will be a lot of fun to see how he does.

Pros: Great arm strength, great size and athletic ability, non-injury-risk.
Cons: Will take a LOT of sacks as his awareness climbs and innately because of SCRAMBLER-TYPE QB. Despite great starting injury rating, will always be more susceptible to big hits because of his scrambling. Could hinder a potential Hall-of-fame-bound career if it happens early and often.
DRAFT ANALYSIS: A+ / (B-) -- I'm giving him two grades. One on the player he is and potential he can be and the other grade on the potential risk of putting eggs in such a tough basket to have faith in. If things don't "pan out" this can be a disaster. I don't think that will happen, but itís a potential issue. He is not a reach, but scramblers always have obstacles to overcome. Will be a lot of fun to see him play.

[1.8] -- Jacksonville Jaguars --
DE Nick Perry - USC
-- Attributes of Notice --
AGE: 21 OVR: 81 HT: 6'3" WT: 271lbs. SPD: 86 / STR: 78 / AGI: 75 / ACC: 85 / TAK: 65 / AWR: 55 / INJ: 91

A_Fernandez :

Next up, the Jags shocked many teams by trading back up to [1.8] at the expense of one of their favorite players, DE Garrison. I will preface this by saying that Garrison is a great player, and is without doubt a better player than Perry at this point. The career trajectory of Garrison has been very consistent, and it would not surprise me if Perry's career trajectory never eclipses that of Garrison. So why then do you make this move straight up? This is an argument that most won't agree with me, but I definitely see the reasons to make the move.

First and foremost, Garrison makes $13M a year and is in the final year of his contract. He's also 30 and entering YP6. He also has a 64 injury rating. So sure, he has the potential to return to his original trajectory of 17 sack seasons, which Mr. Arnold will be quick to point out he was on pace for again as recent as last year. The fact is, injuries play a role too, and last year an injury kept him on a (talented) trajectory that appears he's hit a plateau as a 10-sack a year guy. There is nothing wrong with that at all, and most teams would kill for that production. But are you telling me that the rookie, $4M a year, with 3 years remaining Nick Perry, with an entire career ahead of him, doesn't at least have the potential to be a 10-sack a year guy? C'mon, of course he does.

Pros: Perry's speed/acceleration mix is even better than Ingramís, and his strength is not far behind. He's got comparable size, the same height, and in many ways looks like Ingram-lite, but with the potential to outpace him in sacks if he fully develops his speed and acceleration and stays on the left side.
Cons: He lacks a little in tackling, which limits him to DE. While Ingram was a blue chipper at multiple positions, Perry is a dangerous move because he lacks AWR/OVR/TAK that could slow him a bit. He would be good at LB, but unlike Ingram, Perry will clearly be the most productive at LE.

DRAFT ANALYSIS: B+ -- Unlike Ingram, this one did get downgraded just a bit. Perry is certainly worthy of the 8 spot, and I like the aggressiveness of replacing Garrison. That said, the fact Perry has already graced a trade block and did not get inked up to a long term contract seems to hint that the very smart GM Matt Davis has already realized that he has created a bit of a logjam at LE. Ingram can certainly play and produce at OLB, or even RE, but you are certainly not getting the full effects of two Top 8 picks that route. With this in mind, I may have let Ingram replace Garrison at LE, and went another direction at 8. Bryant Buchanan and Riley Reiff come to mind.

[1.9] -- San Francisco 49ers --
WR Alshon Jeffrey - South Carolina
-- Attributes of Notice --
AGE: 21 OVR: 82 HT: 6'3" WT: 231lbs. SPD: 91 / STR: 75 / AGI: 88 / ACC: 89 / CTH: 85 / AWR: 63 / JMP: 98 / INJ: 83

Not sure how this trade comes about, but the 49ers are back on the clock at [1.9], trading with the Philadelphia Eagles. The 49ers gave up what I believe to be VERY little for an amazing top 10 pick. The trade went, as I read it, Future 1st and 2nd of the 49ers in 2021, and [2.5] for [1.9] and a future 7th. Being that the future picks likely will project to the 10-20 range, I don't see how this deal makes sense at all, for the fact this is one of the ten best players in the draft potentially THIS YEAR, and there is no guarantee on the pick next year for its range and value. All-in-all, as long as the 49ers don't go for a scrub, they automatically win here. Obviously if they tank this season and end with a top 5, the Eagles won't be upset at all, but I don't see that occurring or anything near that for that matter.

As for the selection... after selecting their future ILB in Luke Kuechly with their first pick at [1.5], new GM Jay Hall (formerly of the Indianapolis Colts) chose to give himself a toy on Offense to equalize the team on that side of the ball as well. Alshon Jeffery becomes the second player off the board from the University of South Carolina in the first 9 picks. Jeffrey boasts insane strength for a WR and is almost the prototype possession WR with the capability and potential to become a deep threat as well. At 6'3" and 231lbs, he won't get pushed around by many defenders, if any. To my knowledge, Jeffrey is the strongest WR to come out of the draft. He boasts impressive hands and almost unmatched leaping ability.

Jeffrey will instantly be a #1 WR for the 49ers and has potential to be among the best. If work is done on him to increase his athleticism, he could be very similar to last yearís [1.3], Justin Blackmon of the Atlanta Falcons. A physically rare specimen, Jeffrey was hard to grade among the solid group of WRs introduced in this yearís class. Some disagree he was the next best receiver, but few can argue he is the best possession-type guy remaining. While some may prefer a tad more height, even at the expense of some of that insane strength, there isn't much debate on the impact a guy like Jeffrey can make.

I expect some work on his athleticism, as he could greatly use some help with his burst off the LoS and route running ability. I doubt it will hinder his ability too much, and he most likely will have a great impact on the running game as a bonus. With any work, Jeffrey can be a very very good WR especially since his sure hands (best in this class) will help him get over a few of his more questionable attributes early on. A great addition to a team looking to solidify its new image under GM Hall.

Pros: Unmatched strength at WR. Great hands for a rookie, will inspire confidence from his QB, whoever that is at any point. Workable athletic attributes. Superior size and leaping ability to add to that as well.
Cons: Athleticism will not be on par with the elite. Ability to really mask his routes will also be a struggle early in his career. He will not be faking out the more savvy veterans or the pure athletes that he may see across from him, but he always will have a chance to flat out beat them to get the ball even if they are in the perfect defensive spot.

DRAFT ANALYSIS: A -- Normally I would give this an "A-", but the extremely good value Mr. Hall got for a top 10 pick this year without sacrificing a stud or a 1st rounder this year, it automatically gets at least a slight upgrade in value. Almost an "A+" for this reason, but I can't justify that just yet. Jeffrey still has a ways to go to be truly elite. Would be nice if he was a few inches shorter to justify the lower speed/acceleration combo he possesses which is not at the elite level. For a possession guy, he will have no trouble from day one, and should be fun to watch.

[1.10] -- Philadelphia Eagles --
QB Matt Barkley - USC
-- Attributes of Notice --
AGE: 21 OVR: 79 HT: 6'2" WT: 220lbs. SPD: 60 / AWR: 68 / THP: 92 / THA: 87 / INJ: 94

The Eagles, after trading [1.9] oddly enough trade straight back up to [1.10] in a deal with the Steelers. Moving the aging franchise QB Sam Bradford and star OLB Pavlon Demille, the Eagles gain the 10th overall pick and the 38th overall pick in the draft. I like the value they get here, for the fact that they were CLEARLY screwed on cap space and NEEDED to get rid of these guys or they wouldn't be capable of fielding a team this season. Knowing that they were in this position, I always feel value is significantly decreased on those players if there isn't a major calling to get those guys where competition will drive up the price. Clearly the Eagles felt the 10th overall pick was compensation enough for them to make the move, and so they did.

With the move they chose QB Matt Barkley out of USC. Oddly enough, not the best QB in the draft by actual attributes for a QB, but also considered by some to be the top guy nonetheless. The reason being, he isn't the scrambler that is the GAMBLE of RG3. The Eagles find themselves who they view as their Franchise QB in Barkley, and should be very happy to "close one door while opening another", so to speak. While losing Demille will certainly take a toll, and Bradford will for a few seasons as Barkley attempts to bridge the gap between the two players, I think this could be a potential AMAZING move for both teams involved. The Steelers, under BB, are content with veteran leadership continuing their surge for playoff potential, and the Eagles NEEDED cap space and a new, fresh start. They receive that with their potential franchise guy.

However, with as agreeable as I am on the actual move and pick, I do need to come back and say personally that I think it was a VERY bad move to not keep [1.9] and just go Jeffery/Barkley back-to-back. I just don't see the upside in taking a gamble on what they will get with the future 1/2 of the 49ers next season when they could get a potentially elite WR/QB combo RIGHT NOW. Let them grow together and select a #1/2 WR next season with the picks already accumulated to finish off a rebuilding team, and give them a direction and true weapons on the offense to start off the process. Also could have gone HB Buchanon/Barkley and get a running game that would allow the transition with a Rookie QB to be much less painful for the coming few years. Buchanon has the potential to be the best the RZL has ever seen. Really think the Eagles dropped the ball by not holding back-to-back top 10 picks. Again, they just didn't get enough value for 9th overall to make this work in my mind.

As for Barkley.. LOL... He has all the tools to be on the cusp of greatness for a young QB. Of course his awareness in the pocket is lacking, but he has an arm, not bad accuracy, and with that arm strength being worked at all, I think he has potential to be amongst the elite when all is said and done. Mainly, because there is no competition to his starting since Bradford was moved just before the pick, I see Barkley being THAT franchise guy within two seasons. A guy you can have confidence in and trust. I, of course, would love to see a few more inches on Barkley, but I am comfortable with him at 6'2". He is not an injury risk, and that would make him even easier to love if I were to have to choose him. Great player, will be great, can't wait to see how he and RG3 progress and compare. Being in the same division makes this all the more interesting as their two paths are bound to collide annually.

Pros: Potential to be amongst the elite ranks of QB's with any work in his arm strength. Great value from the trade IMO and he fills a major need created by that deal. Solid size and starting attributes to have faith in for a young guy. NOT an injury risk.
Cons: Will struggle a lot early on especially in a division that has solid defenses like the Redskins and Cowboys. Average height and throwing power.

DRAFT ANALYSIS: A -- Because of the situation in Philly (no QB) he is all but a lock on becoming a stud within just a few seasons barring any major injuries early in his career. Love the trade value for [1.10] for both teams, and I think, if BB is OK with developing a franchise QB, this would have been the pick regardless of a move.

[1.11] -- Washington Redskins --
SS Mark Barron - Alabama
-- Attributes of Notice --
AGE: 23 OVR: 82 HT: 6'2" WT: 218lbs. SPD: 92 / STR: 64 / AGI: 92 / ACC: 94 / AWR: 67 / CTH: 62 / JMP: 89 / TAK: 69 / INJ: 92

The fifth straight trade in a row (WTF-LOL)... The Redskins trade up with the Dolphins from [1.17]. The cost of the 6 spots is a future 2nd and a current mid-4th Rounder. I should start by announcing the 12th overall selection of the 2020 draft as SS Mark Barron out of Alabama. Word leaked that communication channels and sides wanting to wait to the last second of the pick to make the move, caused a small window to open for the New England Patriots (holders of the 13th overall pick) to make a selection if they were ready when the clock turned. Of course, they were.

Thus, we have the choice of Barron coming into being. A physically gifted stud, Barron has all the abilities you want in any stud Safety. He has prototypical size, speed, change of direction ability, catch-up speed, playmaker ability, and isn't an injury risk. Barron is far and above the best safety in the class. He is a freak. Personally, I wanted him at [1.8] but just COULD NOT pull the trigger. Even though the Redskins had NO need of safety, here he is coming off the board. I'm initially puzzled that Arnold wants him, seeing as how he already has MY two former 1st Round Pick Safeties in Cohen and Burnett. However, Arnold had a plan to move one, and got the job done shortly after the draft with brother Jeremy Arnold. Netting a starting MLB with the deal, and increasing Barron's immediate value, I can't hate on it too much. It was said that Buchanon was the intended pick, however Barron is a great consolation prize. A stellar safety, I can only think of guys I've drafted that compare to him, and only the infamous Rampage who is guaranteed to be better than him. That's quite a lot to say, but it's still hit-or-miss on the impact of a Safety in a solid all-around defense. The Redskins have a great defense already, so safety is a little less necessary than for some teams. Nonetheless I can say I like the Skins Safety tandem more than any other in the league right now (including the Bucs).

Without a major flaw in his pedigree and ability, I have no criticisms to the player that Barron is. Talk about complete.

Pros: All-around stud. Nearly flawless. Elite speed, acceleration, agility, and tackling ability. Above most with his hands, awareness for a rookie, and jumping ability.
Cons: Almost none. Not the strongest SS, but really.. that's just trying to reach for SOMETHING.

DRAFT ANALYSIS: B+ -- Despite the player being who he is(Grade "A" talent), it comes down to need and "who's left?" The Redskins had the shot at Buchanon and didn't get the deal in time to secure him. He is one of the best HB's the league will ever meet. Barron, while being potential to be the 2nd best the league has seen at safety, does not fill a need, and in fact comes in to an already overloaded Safety Corps. Arnold is not the most patient trader either, and went with a deal that does not end in highest value for a guy like Burnett (granted the market was non-existent I hear). Barron forces either Cohen or Burnett out, and hurts immediate value of the deal if that deal does not hit maximum-value. Could have been an "A", but for the factors given, it slips a little in value, but not a ton.

[1.12] -- New England Patriots --
HB Bryant Buchanon - U Conn
-- Attributes of Notice --
AGE: 20 OVR: 78 HT: 6'2" WT: 251lbs. SPD: 87 / STR: 85 / AGI: 86 / ACC: 86 / AWR: 52 / CAR: 80 / CTH: 59 / BTK: 87 / STA: 87 / INJ: 94

Brett "Trigger Finger" Richmond, GM of the New England Patriots, had seconds to react to the window that opened when pick #11 was being processed by the league's staff members. Richmond hits a home run with Buchanon, a massive bowling ball-of-a-man out of U Conn. At 6'2" and 251lbs, many defenders will be struggling to pull down this "baby hulk" as he bounds through the trenches. Buchanon has it all, and is fit for those that believe in the power back. I am one of those believers.

Comparable to the beast that is Sol Hogan, Buchanon fits in the discussion for "Potential to be one of the greatest" when itís all said and done. He is not the best pass-catching threat by any means, but his durability and ability to make people miss is almost unmatched. He has a lot in common with some of the best HB's that ever graced the NFL. Buchanon has the size that made Johnnie Vance and guys like Eliseo Lemus successful as well. The strength/speed/break tackle combination puts him with the elites as well. Again, he has the downside of not being a "pass-catching HB", but he most definitely has all it takes to be one of the best rushers there ever was as well. Importance of his durability cannot be understated. One of the things I have coveted most of Lemus' career is the amount of dependability I can have in him being durable and low-risk for injury. On a side note, it really makes things interesting in the AFC East to know that Hogan and Buchanon will be terrorizing their D's for years. Better stock up on the front 7 Jets and Dolphins!! Wink

Pros: Insane size, speed, strength, and break tackle ability. Non-injury risk and durability puts him on another level as well.
Cons: Sub-par pass-catcher. Will fumble a few times until he gets used to the NFL's hitters.

DRAFT ANALYSIS: A -- Great player, likely will end his career comparably to the greats like Vance, Hogan, and Lemus. Love the pick and adds a little value for the fact he was "stolen" with the quick finger of GM Richmond from the Redskins try to move up and take him at [1.11]. Can't wait to see the bodies left on the floor after games between the Bills and the Pats for years to come.

[1.13] -- Baltimore Ravens --
CB Chase Minnifield - Virgina
-- Attributes of Notice --
AGE: 23 OVR: 77 HT: 6'0" WT: 185lbs. SPD: 94 / STR: 57 / AGI: 92 / ACC: 94 / AWR: 63 / CTH: 58 / TAK: 57 / INJ: 92

At 13, the Ravens come in to take the "next best CB". As was discussed earlier when the Cardinals moved up, the big part of evaluating Minnifield is the comparison between him and Gilmore. I like Minnifield, he has the 6' frame that some set as a minimum. He has speed and athleticism that can rival some of the best in the league with any work. I am cautious over his lower-than-coveted tackling and catching abilities. He is a durable guy and isn't a total weakling, however, press coverage will not be his specialty. Getting Minnifield 6 spots later than Gilmore, and not selling the house for it makes more sense to me, but I can agree that that's debatable. With Minnifield, I see a future star in the Ravens secondary as he is given time and patience to groom into the elite player he potentially could become.

Pros: Combination of size/athleticism that is coveted in elite-prospects. Minnifield is a very solid CB that has few holes in his future picture.
Cons: He can BE a speed CB, but isn't there yet. While having no true weaknesses, he also has almost no TRUE separation of a strength.

DRAFT ANALYSIS: A- -- He will be a future star, given time to get out the kinks. He isn't the highest of ceilings, but he is a solid mid-first-round-talent. Given the price of Gilmore, I feel a slight value increase in Chase.

[1.14] -- New York Jets --
WR Dwight Jones - North Carolina
-- Attributes of Notice --
AGE: 22 OVR: 73 HT: 6'4" WT: 225lbs. SPD: 92 / STR: 52 / AGI: 85 / ACC: 89 / AWR: 53 / CTH: 72 / JMP: 93 / INJ: 89

Another WR off the board, and here we see last yearís [1.1] QB Andrew Luck gain a viable weapon to build around during the future transition. At 6'4" Jones offers a body that can eventually fill PART of the void left by All-World WR Calvin Johnson when he soon departs this virtual wonderland.

Jones has a weird hybrid pedigree that can be very elite, however, he is very raw. He is so raw, in fact, that I would label him as the first potential bust of the draft. Without quite a bit of work on his speed and athleticism, Jones is a decent Possession-type receiver, but he lacks whatís most important for the pedigree, hands. The price of his ceiling comes with the tag of potential severe growing pains. To deeper analyze, Jones' athleticism when it comes to change-of-direction or off-the-block speed was highly questioned at the combine. But Jones has straight line speed that can be developed with a bit of work. At 6'4" his average leaping ability is easier to mask as well, but he will need to shore up his game quite a bit to make the transition for Luck a little smoother.

If he is capable of working on those ball skills and becoming a solid choice for Luck, look for Jones to be a real threat 3 or 4 years down the road, but don't be fooled, a tough road does lie ahead here.

Pros: Big body, great straight line speed. High ceiling with intense work early in his career.
Cons: Sub-par hands and athleticism (if he is looking to be a "speedier" big guy at some point). Will require a bit of work and patience for him to reach potential. Has "bust" potential too.

DRAFT ANALYSIS: B- -- For the first guy I mark with "bust potential", it's a good sign of the draft class at almost the halfway point in the first round. I like Jones for what he can be with some work. I don't like his rawness if he is never invested in the meantime. Jones has high ceiling but will definitely require patience. If he can get some good experience and progress early, he can and most likely will be a stud.

[1.15] -- New York Giants --
WR Brian Quick - Appalachian State
-- Attributes of Notice --
AGE: 22 OVR: 73 HT: 6'4" WT: 216lbs. SPD: 91 / STR: 61 / AGI: 86 / ACC: 90 / AWR: 49 / CTH: 74 / JMP: 95 / INJ: 88

Amazingly enough we have the 4th team in a row to choose in its original slotted position the morning of Draft Day. The Giants had a very busy offseason leading up to the draft, and came away with 4 first round picks. The 15th overall choice is the 4th WR taken in the top 15. A solid group of guys indeed, and each has his own potential to be something special. Quick, out of the small-school Appalachian State brings a big target for rookie QB and 7th overall pick of this draft, RG3. So he has the body and strength, but can he catch the ball? As was the knock against the previous choice in Dwight Jones, Quick also will have growing pains when it comes to consistency in the passing game. While the two are comparable , I find any small advantage in their pure position attributes (WR=cth, HB=car, QB=thp/tha/awr, etc.) to be the key factor when determining the better player in these analyses. Thus, the small advantage of a few CTH points for Quick makes me initially react that the Giants got the better deal on the receivers. In deeper analysis, I like Quick even more. He is a little better as a jumper, has a point up on agility and acceleration, 9 strength, 5 toughness and only at the cost of 9lbs., 1 speed, 1 injury, 5 stamina, and 8 break tackle. I'll take Quick here, but I am not giving this a ton of value (or taking away a ton of value from Jones for that matter) because of these slight differences. I can understand that this more accurately may relate to what a GM feels comfortable with rather than a "him or him" scenario. If Quick can get faster and quicker, he can be a real star as well. With a LITTLE bit more consistency out of the gates, I think he is a slightly less risky option than Jones, but they are otherwise so similar its like analyzing the same guy. One pick away from each other, makes this statement even more true.

Pros: Elite size. Workable speed and athleticism to become elite within a few seasons. Good jumper, and good strength.
Cons: Poor hands, not a speed guy yet either. Has bust potential due to the same reasons as Jones above - Young QB behind his team could hinder early success and give him bust potential.

DRAFT ANALYSIS: B -- Personally I like him more than I do Jones. He has the capacity to become a major contributor down the line, but it will take some grooming. His bust potential keeps him from receiving any value for his positive potential, like Jones above.

Discuss this Article in our Forums Replies - 35 :: Views - 588

Red Zone League Articles

Powered by League Pulse.League Pulse was written by Brad Mallett (btmlltt). Design by Odawg. Copyright © 2007.