Written by Ryder Moore and Kayla Perez (Sports Writers)
The National Football League Draft, also called the NFL Draft, is an annual event that serves as the league’s most common source of player recruitment. Each team is given a position in the drafting order in reverse order relative to its record in the previous year, which means that the last-place team is positioned first. From this position, the team can either select a player or trade their position to another team for other draft positions, a player or players, or any combination thereof. The round is complete when each team has either selected a player or traded its position in the draft. The first draft was held in 1936, and has been held every year since.
The NFL Draft takes place on Thursday, April 23rd (1st round), Friday, April 24th (2nd & 3rd rounds) and Saturday, April 25th (4th, 5th, 6th & 7th rounds).
The San Francisco 49ers selected defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw from South Carolina and WR Brandon Aiyuk from Arizona State in the 1st round. The Las Vegas Raiders selected WR Henry Ruggs III from Alabama and CB Damon Arnette from Ohio State in the 1st round.
This year, many sportswriters did mock draft projections, among them ESPN writer Bill Barnwell, who did a mock draft on April 13th leading into the NFL Draft and had some surprising results.
Barnwell projected that eight receivers would be taken during the first round, and there were several surprising trades in his mock draft, including the Bengals trading out of the No. 1 overall pick. There were also some shocking transactions, with Cam Newton signing with the Bengals after Cincinnati traded Andy Dalton to the Patriots for a third-round pick. Tua Tagovailoa suffered a steep fall before landing with the Raiders, who traded up to grab him at No. 8 overall. The Vikings, with former NFL quarterback Brady Quinn serving as Minnesota’s general manager, made several eyebrow-raising trades. The Vikings acquired receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and cornerback Patrick Peterson after trading away the 22nd and 25th overall picks.
Many other experts who took part in mock drafts included: ex NFL players in Quinn, Bryant McFadden and Danny Kanell. Former NFL executive Scott Pioli, NFL insiders Jonathan Jones and Jason La Canfora. Senior NFL analysts Pete Prisco and Will Brinson, NFL fantasy analysts Jamey Eisenberg and Dave Richard, and NFL Draft analyst Ryan Wilson.
Make no mistake, there will be plenty of drama remaining as opening night nears its conclusion. One team at the center of it will be the Patriots. For the first time this century, New England won’t enter a regular season with Tom Brady on the roster. He’s now a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the Patriots are left with second-year man Jarrett Stidham and journeyman Brian Hoyer. Many experts believe Brady’s successor will be picked in the first round. As previously mentioned, Trapasso projected New England will pick QB Jordan Love from Utah State. Frelund had QB Justin Herbert falling to the Patriots, while Brinson wrote New England will trade up to No. 16 to grab the Oregon quarterback. “I don’t think we’re going to see Bill Belichick give up a future first to move up, not with the questions about this team, but he can get seven spots up for cheaper than that,” Brinson noted. One former Patriot, however, forecast Stidham will be the heir to Brady. “He had a chance to learn under arguably the greatest quarterback to play the game,” Ben Watson told FS1’s First Things First. “He soaked that in for a year. Patriots fans should be confident that he wouldn’t be in that room if Coach Belichick didn’t think he could help the team.” Expect the Patriots to give Stidham an opportunity to start this season and possibly add a quarterback in a later round to compete with him.
One position that hasn’t garnered a ton of first-round buzz is running back. Ball-carriers aren’t frequently targeted early, though at least one back has been drafted in the first round in each of the past five years. Many experts foresee that trend continuing in 2020. Prospects such as Georgia’s D’Andre Swift and Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor are popular first-round options. Miller mocked Swift to the Dolphins at No. 26. “I know Dolphins fans are tired of this; they hate me for it. I’m going to keep doing it,” Miller said. “… Jordan Howard’s not the answer at running back, fellas. He might be part of the answer, but he is not the answer. … By the second half of the season, [Swift’s] your No. 1 back.” Some draft analysts, Jeremiah for one projected a running back won’t land in the first 32. Given the resurgence of the running game in recent years, with teams such as the Ravens and San Francisco 49ers leading the charge, expect at least one squad to pick a rusher before Day 1 wraps up.