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Draft Grades from the 2020 Draft -- A Look Back (Picks 1-10)
By Keith Van Wagner
Special to rzl-football.com

It’s easy to give a draft grade right after the end of the rookie selection. But who really knows how good a pick will be until the player hits the field and starts developing. With this in mind, we look back at the year 2020 draft (call it 2020 Hindsight) and review that first round and grade it on the performance of the players based on their first 3-plus years of action.

1.1 – CB Morris Claiborne, GB. Coming out of LSU, Claiborne looked like a future star. His attributes and size indicated he’d be the next great Corner. Despite dedicated work from the Packer organization to develop Claiborne, it never amounted to much production on the field. In his first 3 seasons in Green Bay, he totaled only 4 picks. Before this season he was traded to the Bengals in a deal that landed Green Bay two first rounders. One of which, the Packers used on a Corner at 1.1. GRADE: C+

1.2 – WR Jagger Howard, DEN. It’s hard to imagine a better start for a WR than Howard’s first three seasons in Denver. In that span he amassed nearly 5,000 yards receiving and scored 35 touchdowns. Only 5 receivers in the league match his size (6’4”) and speed (96 SPD) combination and he looks to only improve with age. Still, the Broncos haven’t had a winning season in 7 seasons and start 2023 at 0-3, so he hasn’t yet been the difference maker he was intended to be. GRADE: A+

1.3 – MLB Melvin Ingram, JAX. Only 7 middle linebackers in the league have Ingram’s combination of speed (84 SPD) and strength (82 STR), but none weigh in at 276 lbs as Ingram does. It makes one wonder what he might have been like if he had stayed at Defensive End when he recorded 9 sacks. Ingram though has made an impact as a middle linebacker, averaging close to 100 tackles a season in his second and third year. He’s also managed as many interceptions as the CB taken at 1.1, so that’s something. GRADE: B+

1.4 – DT Dontari Poe, TB. Every year it seems that there’s an athletic Defensive Tackle that goes in the Top 10 that looks poised for greatness. There is, however, only one Dontari Poe. His attributes and size boggle the mind – 6’5”, 350 lbs, 69 SPD and 99 STR. Is there anything else you need to know? Besides the fact that he had 14 sacks as a rookie and has 27 career sacks? No, not much. GRADE: A+

1.5 – MLB Luke Kuechly, SF. The Niners got a solid pick out of Kuechly. He doesn’t have prototypical size (6’2”, 237 lbs) but he has definitely produced on the field. Since his rookie campaign Kuechly has averaged just under 100 tackles a year. He’s also managed 9 sacks, including 6 in 2021. Also worth noting he’s picked off 7 passes, more than some DBs taken in the first. GRADE: A-

1.6 – CB Stephon Gilmore, ARI. On paper, Gilmore graded out about the same as Claiborne, taken at 1.1. Some might have even preferred him as he brings more size. In terms of production, he hasn’t done much more than the first CB taken. Last year was a bit of breakthrough for Gilmore, who picked off 3 passes and now has 5 total for his career. Interesting that Gilmore has almost twice as many sacks and picks. Still, Gilmore looks like he is heading in the right direction. GRADE: B

1.7 – QB Robert Griffin III, NYG. Rookie QBs are never pretty, but RGIII’s first 3 seasons in New York were very rough. After two seasons the young QB had 25 TDs and 40 INTs. That’s pretty bad. Plus, he’s been sacked an average of over 55 times a year. Last year it seemed RGIII gained his footing and set personal bests in completion percentage, yards, TDs and passer rating. His awareness (83 AWR) and accuracy (83) remain troubling for a franchise QB in his fourth season, but time will tell. GRADE: B-

1.8 – LE Nick Perry, JAX. Nick Perry’s first three seasons in Jacksonville have been frustrating. Looking at his physical attributes (86 SPD, 78 STR), Perry seems like he should be dominant. Perry recorded 8 sacks his first two seasons, before having a respectable 7 sacks in his junior year. He’s playing outside linebacker, and so far in his fourth season has already recorded 3 sacks. GRADE: B-

1.9 – WR Alshon Jeffrey, SF. One of the best things about rookie WRs is you can often plug them into your line-up and watch them rack up the yards. Jeffrey is another example of this phenomenon. Now in his fourth year, Jeffrey has established himself as one of the more reliable WRs in the game. Average stat line through his first three seasons: 90 catches, 1300+ yards, and 9 TDs. Not too shabby. GRADE: A-

1.10 – QB Matt Barkley, PHI. Matt Barkely’s brief career has been something of a rollercoaster. A poor rookie season that featured completing only 45% of his passes and a dismal 8-to-16 TD-to-INT ratio, a sophomore season where he didn’t see the field for a single snap, an abbreviated but productive junior year that resulted in a 98.2 passer rating, and then finally a trade to Denver this year. Barkley still has the potential to be a franchise QB, but he still has some developing to do. GRADE: B
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