5 Burning Questions for the 2020 NFL Draft
I already did an initial article on Burning Questions for the NFL Draft at the beginning of March, that article can be found HERE. Those burning questions are still relevant, but a lot has changed in the early days of NFL Free Agency. I wanted to look at some new burning questions that have emerged since veteran NFL players have begun switching teams.
Here are five more burning questions about the NFL Draft after the early days of free agency. These questions focus on some of the new fantasy opportunities and crises that have developed because players were released from their existing teams, traded to other teams, or signed with new teams in Free Agency.
1) How Does Coronavirus Impact the NFL Draft? I do not want to talk too much about Coronavirus, I think most people are looking for content that is an escape from the pandemic. From an NFL standpoint, the good news was that the NFL Combine happened a few weeks before the pandemic, so NFL teams were able to see many of the star players participate in those drills. That at least gives them some drills to compare to the tape.
The problem is that for the players that did not participate there or had bad NFL Combine performances, they lost their chance to rebound at their Pro Day. NFL teams pulled their scouts from the road, colleges canceled their Pro Days, and players have been left to find their own way to showcase their physical skills prior to the NFL Draft. Also, the NFL Draft will go on this year, but there will be no live events in Las Vegas. The Draft will be a TV-only event this year.
I do not think that Coronavirus is going to have a huge impact this year on draft evaluation. Had this happened before the NFL Combine, I think it would have been very problematic. The majority of players had a chance to show off their physical skills and the Pro Day can be a redundant exercise for many of the players. There will be a few players that could have boosted their stock with a solid Pro Day, but I think for the most part the NFL Combine and the NCAA game tape will give NFL teams enough information to make informed decisions at the NFL Draft. I think the bigger issue is going to be OTAs and offseason programs that are going to be put on hold, which will hurt teams with new coaching staffs or large player turnover. That is a topic for another day.
2) What does the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Draft Look Like? Tampa Bay is not one of the NFL franchises that people talk about during the season, much less during the offseason. Tampa Bay ranked 30th in home attendance last year and one of the teams with less attendance was the Los Angeles Chargers. They play their Los Angeles home games in a vacant field surrounded by lawn chairs behind a shutdown Jack in the Box, having better home attendance than the Chargers is not much of an accomplishment. This Buccaneers team lacked buzz, so signing Tom Brady to a two-year contract gives them instant star power at the quarterback position.
The two problems on offense was a quarterback that threw 30 interceptions and fumbled the ball 12 times and a running game that averaged 3.7 yards per carry. Brady takes care of those quarterback problems. Brady has a career 1.8 percent interception percentage and he has not had a season over 2.3 percent since 2005. Jameis Winston is much higher for his career at 3.5 percent and last year he was at 4.8 percent. Brady gives them a player that will not give the ball away with bad reads, ill-advised throws, and costly fumbles.
Interception Percentage Leaders, Minimum 1,500 Career Pass Attempts
He also makes their NFL Draft one of the more intriguing drafts in the NFL this year. They already have big weapons at wide receiver, such as Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. Evans may take a fantasy hit as the deep threat, Brady’s arm strength was questionable to close the season. Godwin should be less impacted as he can catch those slant patterns and shorter routes. Brady loves throwing to the tight end and O.J. Howard may finally live up to his first-round potential. They also have an offensive line that was ranked seventh last season by Pro Football Focus.
That leaves them the 14th, 45th, and 76th picks in the 2020 NFL Draft to add a running back and some secondary help that can contribute this year and improve the 30th ranked pass defense in the NFL. They also have the 117th, 139th, 161st, and 194th pick to hit lightning in a bottle or provide depth to develop for future seasons. The Buccaneers went from one of the most boring teams in the NFL to one of the most exciting with the signing of an NFL legend at quarterback. Their draft will be of major interest to all NFL fans and people that play fantasy football.
3) What does the Indianapolis Colts Draft Look Like? Philip Rivers is no Tom Brady, but he still has 397 career touchdown passes and 59,271 yards passing. He is an eight-time Pro Bowl player that is among the most popular players in the NFL and he was the face of the Chargers organization. It will look strange watching him play for the Indianapolis Colts, but he had three of his best seasons when head coach Frank Reich was with the Chargers. If his decline in arm strength last year can be turned around this year, the Colts could return to being a playoff team in 2020 after Andrew Luck retired on the eve of the 2019 season.
The Colts have a lot of nice pieces. Pro Football Focus ranked their offensive line as the third-best unit in the NFL. They ranked seventh in rushing yards with 2,130 yards rushing and they were 11th with 4.5 yards per carry. Their big problem was passing the ball and stopping the pass, so they are likely going to be adding wide receivers and defensive backs. There is incredible depth at both positions, making the possibility they find an impact player at those positions high.
The Colts have already dealt the 13th pick in the NFL to the San Francisco 49ers for DE DeForest Buckner. That will limit their ability to add the best wide receiver or defensive back in this Draft Class. This Draft is still incredibly loaded with great values and they still have the 34th, 44th, and 75th picks in the NFL Draft. Rivers adds intrigue to a team that became very boring after Luck’s retirement and adding Rivers makes their draft an exciting event with a lot of optimism for the 2019 season.
4) Do the Los Angeles Rams Draft a Running Back Early in the Draft? Gurley has been an elite player in his first five years in the NFL. ESPN’s Field Yates summed it up best in this Tweet, “In Todd Gurley’s five seasons with the Rams, he was second in the NFL in rushing yards (5,405), first in rushing TD (58), second in the NFL in yards from scrimmage (7,494) and scored an NFL-best 70 total TD. An incredible run in LA.”
How good is that run? Just compare what Gurley did in his first five years in the league with what RB Adrian Peterson did in his first five years in the league.
|Player||Year 1||Year 5||Rush Attempts||Rush Yards||Receptions||Receiving Yards||Yards from Scrimmage||Total TDs|
Gurley’s run in Los Angeles did not end because he was unproductive, he was one of the most productive players in league history over his first five seasons. It ended due to an arthritic condition in his knee that emerged in 2018 and worsened in 2019. He averaged only 3.8 yards per carry last year. His longest run was just 25 yards and his longest reception was just 23 yards. He was owed too much money on the remaining years of his deal for that type of production, so the Rams will go in a different direction. Gurley will resume his career in Atlanta, as the Falcons signed him and released veteran running back Devonta Freeman.
That leaves a big question in Los Angeles. If Gurley is not going to be the starting running back, who do the Rams go with at running back in 2020? RB Malcolm Brown would be the starter right now and RB Darrell Henderson would be the third-down back. They could go that route for the 2019 season or they could add someone in the NFL Draft that could become an instant fantasy star. Can you imagine if the Rams drafted Jonathan Taylor or D’Andre Swift and what that would do for their fantasy value given what Gurley did in that offense in 2017 and 2018? Rams fans and fantasy owners alike will be very interested in what the Rams do at running back in the NFL Draft now that Gurley is a Falcon instead of a Ram.
5) Do the Houston Texans Draft a Wide Receiver Early in the Draft? The Texans made a blockbuster trade by sending WR DeAndre Hopkins and a 2020 fourth-round selection to the Arizona Cardinals for RB David Johnson, a 2020 second-round selection, and a 2021 fourth-round selection from the Arizona Cardinals. That move helps give the Texans a featured running back if Johnson can stay healthy, but it leaves them very thin at wide receiver. Will Fuller, Kenny Stills, and Keke Coutee are all good wide receivers, but Fuller is never healthy and the other two are not featured wide receivers.
QB Deshaun Watson is a great young quarterback, but he needs weapons in the passing game if he is going to put up great passing numbers. Many people feel like the Texans were the big loser in that trade because it is questionable if Johnson has anything left in the tank and the Texans did not even receive a first-round pick for one of the best wide receivers in the NFL. If Johnson is not able to give them a few Pro Bowl seasons and Hopkins continues to be a star in Arizona, it will be a very bad trade for the Texans.
The good news for the Texans is this is a great draft for wide receivers, so they could add a receiver in this draft that could make an impact for both their team and fantasy owners this year. The bad news is they do not have a first-round pick, so they will not be drafting until the 40th and 57th overall picks in the NFL Draft. In this draft, that could still be a very good wide receiver, so NFL fans and fantasy owners will be very interested in what the Texans add in the NFL Draft at receiver and if that player has a chance to be a fantasy star in 2020.