NFL Draft Grades: Our Experts Debate Which Team Had The Best Draft
Keith Birmingham/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images. Pictured: Jerry Jones
- With a few days to process all the picks, our experts reveal which teams earned their top NFL draft grades.
Which team had the best 2020 NFL Draft?
Our experts Matthew Freedman, Chris Raybon and Sean Koerner make their picks below.
Chris Raybon: Baltimore Ravens
I wouldn’t be mad if you skipped over reading this — I’d be a lot more interested in anyone’s take who doesn’t think the Ravens won the draft.
With six picks in the first three rounds, general manager Eric DeCosta channeled the skills of former GM Ozzie Newsome in delivering a class that married talent, value, and need fulfillment:
- Round 1, Pick 28: LB Patrick Queen (LSU). Queen’s scouting-report strengths read more like a list of traits of the perfect NFL linebacker: Easily adjusts with motion. Excellent at aligning teammates. Sticks to running backs in the flat and tight ends up the seam in coverage. Gets home in the blitz and led all SEC middle linebackers with 11 pressures. Great instincts and discipline in the run game. Queen fills the void left by four-time Pro Bowler C.J. Mosley last year and was ranked six spots higher at No. 22 on Mel Kiper’s final Big Board.
- Round 2, Pick 55: RB J.K. Dobbins (Ohio State). Mark Ingram turns 31 in December, Gus Edwards is an undrafted overachiever who can’t catch, and Justice Hill is a change of pace — so why not draft a back who graded out 28 spots higher on Kiper’s board and was even more productive at Ohio State than Ezekiel Elliott and Eddie George?
- Round 3, Pick 71: DT Justin Madubuike (Texas A&M). Round 2 grade, Round 3 cost that can help plug up a run defense that ranked 20th in Football Outsiders’ DVOA.
- Round 3, Pick 92: WR Devin Duvernay (Texas). Round 2 graded slot receiver whose 106 catches for 1,376 yards accounted for 35% and 37% of Longhorn receptions and yardage, respectively, in 2019. For comparison, Baltimore’s No. 2/slot receiver, Willie Snead, went undrafted back in 2014 and posted just 31 catches for 339 yards last season
- Round 3, Pick 98: LB Malik Harrison (Ohio State). Run-stuffing linebacker ranked 24 spots higher by Kiper.
- Round 3, Pick 106: OT Tyre Phillips (Mississippi State). Tackle with guard experience who graded out in the top 85 and has a chance to slide into the spot vacated by the retirement of eight-time Pro Bowler Marshal Yanda.
Overall, those six picks alone netted an impressive 138 spots of value — 23.0 per player — relative to where Kiper had them graded. Put another way, it’s as if the Ravens landed three year’s worth of first- and second-rounders. And that’s before accounting for any of their intriguing Day 3 picks, such as pro-ready sixth-round wideout James Proche, who went off for 111/1,225/15 at SMU as a redshirt senior last season.
The Bengals and Browns filled holes on draft day while the Steelers will be getting Ben Roethlisberger back, but this draft class should leave the Ravens well-positioned to cash as -200 favorites to win the AFC North (DraftKings).
Sean Koerner: Dallas Cowboys
Jerry Jones captained the Cowboys’ draft from his private yacht this year. I’m sure he couldn’t “fathom” how CeeDee Lamb managed to fall to them at No. 17, but he did.
There has been some debate that the Bills may have the NFL’s best WR trio with Stefon Diggs, John Brown and Cole Beasley. But I’ll take Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and CeeDee Lamb any day of the week.
Speaking of Diggs, the Cowboys took his brother Trevon with their second pick. He’ll attempt to fill the void left by Byron Jones, who signed an $82.5 million deal with Miami. In fact, the Cowboys already allowed Diggs to claim Jones’ old jersey number (31).
Their next four picks — DT Neville Gallimore, CB Reggie Robinson, C Tyler Biadasz and EDGE Bradlee Anae (EDGE) — all appear to be great values. Biadasz in particular, could end up contributing right away given Travis Frederick’s retirement.
The Cowboys ended up with an excellent draft due to players falling to them who not only offered incredible value, but also helped fill positions of need.
Matthew Freedman: Dallas Cowboys
I must agree with Sean. As a pessimistic Cowboys fan, it pains me to be overly optimistic about what the Cowboys did in this draft, but I really don’t think it could have gone any better.
Last year, the Cowboys were one of five teams with two 1,000-yard wide receivers, and yet in Round 1, they added to the position by drafting CeeDee Lamb. Lamb realistically could have been the first receiver selected in the class at No. 12 by the Raiders, and in terms of overall ability, he might have been a top-eight prospect.
The Cowboys didn’t address a need in Round 1, but they got fantastic value in Lamb, and in drafting him, they added strength on strength: Lamb will be an immediate playmaker in an offense that last year led the league with 6.5 yards per play.
In Rounds 2-3, the Cowboys addressed defensive needs with value picks in cornerback Trevon Diggs (2.51) and defensive tackle Neville Gallimore (3.82). Diggs was often mocked in Round 1 by draftniks and was considered a Day 1 talent by many evaluators. It was a big win to get him in Round 2, and his style of play should work well within the press-heavy system in Dallas.
As for Gallimore, he went off the board as the eighth overall defensive tackle, although there’s almost no difference in ability between him and the Nos. 4-7 defensive tackles, the first of whom (Marlon Davidson) was drafted at 2.47. Gallimore was widely expected to go in Round 2, so drafting him in Round 3 was sharp. He should immediately play in a rotation with veterans Gerald McCoy and Dontari Poe.
In Round 4, the Cowboys continued to crush by drafting cornerback Reggie Robinson (4.123) and center Tyler Biadasz (4.146). Robinson will serve as depth in 2020, but he could eventually start, and Biadasz seems likely to start right away in place of the retired Travis Frederick.
It was rumored that the Cowboys might take center Cesar Ruiz at No. 17 as the first interior offensive lineman off the board, but instead of reaching for him, they let the draft come to them, and they later snagged Biadasz, who might be the No. 2 center in the draft and 90% of the prospect that Ruiz is. Biadasz won the 2019 Remington Trophy as the nation’s top center.
In Round 5, the Cowboys got value once again with edge defender Bradlee Anae (5.179), who will give the defensive line more depth and likely play as a rotational pass rusher in his first year.
I’m yet to see any talent evaluator and draft guru not give the Cowboys an A+.