The most surprising picks of the 2020 draft

No NFL draft ever goes according to the plans of the general managers or lines up perfectly with any analysts mock draft. I mean seriously, go put the lottery numbers on right now if you nailed even the first round. That’s exactly why we love it though, the drama, the suspense, and the outright shocks.

It really is sport’s answer to a soap opera. There’s the pantomime bad guy in Roger Goddell, even if he now seems to find the funny side of the booing. The late-round picks are everyone’s favourite underdog, we’re all desperate to see them succeed. Then of course there are the stars of the show, which this year as in most years, were the quarterbacks – Burrows, Tua, and Herbert.

Why focus on the stars though, we pretty much knew where they were going (okay my predictions on Tua and Herbert didn’t work out, all part of the fun) and we know their story. I’m going to delve into this year’s plot twists, the picks that had us scratching our heads, or cheering for how lucky our favorite teams were.

Before I start though, a quick disclaimer. I know the Jordan Love pick was one of the biggest storylines of the 2020 draft, but my fellow writer here at Football Fanatics, Alex Morrell has already covered that. So I’m going to leave that to him and give you my other most surprising picks of the NFL Draft 2020.

Eagles use their 2nd Round Pick on Jalen Hurts

This one caught a lot of people by surprise and rightly so. I think we can all see the logic here, Jalen Hurts is a born winner, a tremendous athlete and turned into a terrific quarterback prospect last year at Oklahoma. Carson Wentz is also one of the more injury-prone quarterbacks in the NFL.

However the Eagles just paid Wentz top 10 money and 2 years removed from a Super Bowl win are still in “win now” mode. So why use such a high draft pick on a player that you hope you don’t need to play, over some of the high-end talent still available.

This is an extremely talented Eagles team, but there are also some big holes in the roster. I know they traded for Darius Slade to boost the cornerback position and drafted a Wide Receiver in the 1st round, but they could definitely still use as much help as they can get at both positions.

High-end backup quarterbacks are hard to come by and on a rookie contract Hurts is cheap. Perhaps he becomes the Eagles answer to Taysom Hill and they find other ways to utilise Hurts when Wentz is fully fit. I can see the thought process here from Doug Pederson and Howie Roseman.

Who knows, in 2 or 3 years when Wentz inevitably goes down injured in the postseason, Jalen Hurts wins a Super Bowl MVP, we’ve seen that story before.

Ceedee Lamb falls into the lap of the Dallas Cowboys

It wasn’t a surprise when the Cowboys couldn’t believe their luck and pounced at the chance to select Ceedee Lamb 17th overall. What was a surprise is that he was still left on the board for Dallas to take that chance.

Assumed by a lot of analysts to be the number 1 wide receiver in this very talented class, he ended up coming off the board as the 3rd selected. Now I know this doesn’t seem like a big slide considering the 1st Receiver went 5 picks earlier at number 12, but with the talent of this class it was a shock to see him in the bottom half of the first round.

I think the immense talent in this draft at wide receiver is actually the reason he ended up where he did. Teams were so confident of finding receiver help in the 2nd, 3rd, or even 4th round that they were willing to pass on the top talent in favour of a more limited position group.

Time will tell if the teams that passed on Lamb will regret it or if the depth in this class justifies the decision.

Patriots first selection, Kyle Dugger, Safety, Lenoir-Rhyne

Now I know the rules of the NFL, don’t question the almighty and powerful Bill Belichick. This could’ve been a masterstroke that we look back on with admiration. Then again, without a clear starting quarterback heading into the 2020 season, the Patriots traded out of the 1st round and with their 2nd round pick selected a Division 2 college player.

I have nothing against Kyle Dugger as a player, he could turn out to be a star. However this just seems to be a case of Belichick trying to prove to the world of pro football that he knows better than everyone. If they didn’t love any of the quarterbacks remaining on the board at the end of round 1, I’m on board with them trading back and collecting more picks. If they see Dugger as a future star then drafting him is great. I’m also aware this isn’t the highest position a Division 2 player has ever been drafted, but it’s the highest since 1999 and it was a huge shock.

The Patriots probably know what they’re doing, but we’re entering a new era at Foxborough and that is a strange start.

No Trades in the Top 10

Okay, this isn’t a surprise pick as such, but it still felt like a big shock in this draft to me.

With some very highly rated quarterbacks predicted to go in the top 10, maybe top 5 and some quarterback-needy teams sat just outside of that, surely somebody would panic and trade up. It didn’t happen. The Chargers held their nerve and selected Justin Herbert at number 6, who knows if they favoured Herbert or Tua, but they stuck to their draft position and took the Oregon man.

The Lions were sat at number 3 and need to plug a lot of holes in their roster, surely they’d trade down. It didn’t happen. Bob Quinn and Matt Patrica also stuck to their guns and went with the cornerback out of Ohio State, Jeff Okudah, at pick number 3.

The first trade of the draft didn’t come until pick 13, when the Buccaneers traded with the 49ers to move up 1 spot and draft Tristan Wirfs, an offensive tackle. Hardly the kind of blockbuster trade that we’re accustomed to seeing in the first round of the NFL draft.

Maybe this shouldn’t be such a big shock. Maybe I’m just disappointed we were robbed of the soap opera drama we all know and love from the draft.

Ravens select J.K. Dobbins, Running Back, Ohio State

The best running team in the history of football just drafted a running back who went for 2,000 yards in a single college season. How is that even fair? Surely they broke some kind of unwritten rule here.

One of the reasons I love the concept of the NFL draft is that the poorest teams from the previous season are able to pick the top talent. They’re given a platform to catch up with the top teams and it creates great parity in the league. Although the draft doesn’t always deliver on that promise, sometimes the rich just get richer.

This could be not only one of the bigger shocks, but also one of the most exciting picks of the entire draft. A team that already has Lamar Jackson, Mark Ingram, and Gus Edwards and last year broke the record for most rushing yards in a single season drafting Dobbins is amazing. I love seeing a team go against the grain, while the rest of the league is passing like their life depends on it, the Ravens are pounding teams into submission.

This big bad Ravens team was the real deal in 2019, now they have a chip on their shoulder after being one and done in the playoffs and re-upped the running game with Dobbins. Look out NFL.

Jake Fromm waits until Round 5

Last but not least, this was maybe the biggest shock of the draft to me. Jake Fromm has gone from being a Netflix star as a high school player, to leading Georgia to the doorstep of a National Championship in college. Then he ends his journey to the NFL by being a 5th round pick.

Fromm wasn’t seen as one of the absolute can’t miss prospects in the draft and the fact he didn’t go in the 1st or even 2nd round is not a surprise. But come on, round 5?! One of the explanations I heard during the draft as to why he fell so far was the Coronavirus pandemic limited his ability to speak with teams. This was a huge detriment to a player whose greatest characteristics are his leadership and high football IQ. You can’t measure that on tape the same way you can measure arm strength and athletic ability, the areas he admittedly does fall down in comparison to others.

The other big shock to me when it came to Fromm’s draft weekend was that when he was finally drafted, he was drafted by the Bills. Buffalo is hardly in need of a quarterback with Josh Allen still only midway through his rookie deal. Then there’s the difference in playing style between Allen and Fromm, which is about as drastic as is physically possible.

If you are drafting someone to be a backup, it makes sense to go the route of the Eagles and pick a comparable player. Allen is an athletic, strong-armed freak, who lacks some consistency and poise at times. Fromm is an intelligent and measured quarterback, who lacks the athletic ability as mentioned earlier. It just doesn’t fit.

I truly felt a huge amount of sympathy when I heard Fromm’s name called in this draft. I suppose there is no better example of the unpredictability of this entire process than that of the former Georgia Bulldog.

With all that and so much more, draft week in the NFL is over. The 2020 edition was the first virtual draft in NFL history, something I didn’t even touch on throughout my biggest shocks, and it didn’t disappoint. The next episode of this soap opera is tuning in each week to see how all the draftees make it in the NFL. Now more than ever, I can’t wait for the season to start.

Article written by Scott Glynn and first published on 29/04/20.

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