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The Safest Picks of the 2020 NFL Draft

The Safest Picks of the 2020 NFL Draft

Beyond our fantasy football content, be sure to check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Football Tools as you prepare for your draft this season. From our free mock Draft Simulator – which allows you to mock draft against realistic opponents – to our Draft Assistant – which optimizes your picks with expert advice – we’ve got you covered this fantasy football draft season.

I haven’t played a John Madden video game since Peyton Hillis was on the cover in 2012, so needless to say, I’ve been out of the NFL GM business for a while.

Until recently, that is.

I just downloaded an Android app that’s basically a reboot of the classic Tecmo Bowl game but with modern features. In this game, you can manage the NFL draft, modify your roster mid-season, meet with coaches, and enhance the fan experience.

I’m obsessed with it. It feels good to be a GM again!

Now that I’m back in charge of an NFL franchise, I’m remembering what it takes to build a dynasty.

What’s more, I’m using these powers, plus a good deal of research and analysis, to determine which players are the safest picks in the 2020 NFL Draft.

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To pick the safest players in the draft, I am looking at five key criteria:

1. Health & Durability
Does this player have any health concerns? What is his injury history? How many touches did he get in his college career, and what was his competition like?

I’m looking for a player with the cleanest bill of health and proven durability against high-skill, heavy-hitting opponents.

2. Intelligence
The Wonderlic Test is a cognitive assessment that measures a player’s intelligence and problem-solving skills. If I could, I’d use these test scores as a definitive measurement of a player’s intelligence. As an NFL GM, I want smart kids on my team.

Unfortunately, these scores are not currently available to me. Instead, I’ll rely on information from my vast network of scouts and team managers (i.e. insights from NFL insiders and beat reporters on Twitter).

3. Character
Did this player get nabbed for rolling doobies? I’ll let it slide.

Was this player involved in some sort of domestic violence situation? Not gonna fly.

The safest draft pics don’t have any serious off-the-field issues. As a GM, I don’t want any problems to pop up and distract my football team. After all, we’ve got a Super Bowl to win.

 4. Statistics & Recognition
Show me the numbers! I want production, baby. If I’m taking a player in the first round of the NFL Draft, it isn’t because he had three good games as a junior in 2018.

I want to see stats that demonstrate sustained success over an extended period of time or at least marked progression from one year to the next. Individual award-winners and team champions also go a long way for me.

 5. The Tape
Does this player pass the eye-test? I want to see power, pop, explosion, and leadership. I want to see scoring, spin-moves, sacks, pancakes, or circus-type catches.

If you can think of a football cliché, I want my top-tier draft pick to be a living example of it.

Remember, I’m an NFL GM. I’ve met with scouts, traveled to workouts, and consulted with coaches (conducted hours of online research).

I’ve conducted thorough background checks, hosted one-on-one interviews with players, and poured over hours of film (scoured Twitter for highlights and expert perspectives).

Which players check all the boxes?

According to my research and analysis, here are three of the safest players in the NFL Draft.

J.K. Dobbins (RB – Ohio State)
J.K. Dobbins was sensational at Ohio State. In his three seasons as a Buckeye, the five-foot-nine, 217-pound cannonball exploded for more rushing attempts, rushing yards, and rushing touchdowns from year to year. Now that’s the sort of progression you love to see.

Year Rushing Attempts Rushing Yards Rushing TDs
2019 301 2,003 21
2018 230 1,053 10
2017 194 1,403 7

 
The stats are there, but what about durability? Dobbins did suffer an ankle injury in his final collegiate game-a playoff loss to Clemson-which sidelined him from much of the NFL Scouting Combine. Is this an issue? Not for me.

Instead of seeing a physical flaw, I see a smart football decision. Knowing what you’re capable of, trusting your body, and following advice from coaches and trainers are all indicators of sound decision-making from a smart young player. Besides, I already know the kid can make big plays in big games.

As for character, Dobbins knows what it means to work hard and do the right thing. In an article by Bill Landis of cleveland.com, Dobbins says, “My dad taught me a lot of things through actions and through words… Seeing what he was doing, and the trouble he got in, I didn’t want to be like that and he told me he didn’t want me to be like that. So that’s how I see it. I didn’t want to go to there.” That’s exactly what I want to hear from my future running back.

Dobbins, in his own words, isn’t “just a fluke.” His incredible tape, skill set, and smarts are all on full display in this interview clip from Yahoo! Sports.

Needless to say, I want Dobbins in my running back room. He’s one of the safest picks in the 2020 NFL Draft.

CeeDee Lamb (WR – Oklahoma)
Is there anything we don’t already know about CeeDee Lamb? If you’re new to the game, just look at his numbers.

Year Receptions Receiving Yards Receiving TDs
2019 62 1,327 14
2018 65 1,158 11
2017 46 807 7

 
Yes, the six-foot-two, 191-pound wideout can produce from anywhere on the field. But what about his work ethic? Drive? Determination? What about his character?

The “worst” you’re going to see from CeeDee Lamb is some on-the-field showboating. As a GM, what does that tell me? It tells me he can score. I’d rather see my player celebrate excessively in the end-zone than throw his helmet in frustration on the sideline.

As a bonus, you know which wide receiver draft prospect isn’t working out with Antonio Brown? CeeDee Lamb. You can’t say the same for fellow top-tier wide receiver prospect Jerry Jeudy. (Yikes.)

CeeDee Lamb is widely regarded as the top receiver in this year’s draft class and has the best chance to produce right away. With only a shoulder injury and a head injury to speak of throughout his tenure at Oklahoma, the former Sooner’s injuries are too infrequent to be worrisome. It’s football. People are going to get banged up.

Some critics say that playing in the Big 12 and not, say, the SEC, means Lamb didn’t play against the highest level of talent. I say the film speaks for itself. Lamb’s impeccable physical prowess and brilliant football IQ shine through each one of his mind-bending highlights, regardless of whom he’s lined up against, SEC be damned.

In the 2020 NFL Draft, CeeDee Lamb is as safe as it gets at the wide receiver position.

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Jedrick Wills (OT – Alabama)
It’s hard not to trust an offensive tackle who draws comparisons to Jason Peters, the veteran All-Pro lineman for the Philadelphia Eagles.

What are we getting with the six-foot-three, 320-pound behemoth from Alabama? Let’s pinpoint some key figures from his standout college career to get a good idea of his durability and performance:

  • Started 29 games for the Alabama Crimson Tide
  • Started 28 consecutive games to close out his collegiate career
  • Allowed only 12 sacks in 406 pass attempts in 2019
  • Averaged .92 sacks per game in 2019
  • Missed only seven assignments in 771 snaps
  • Anchored an offensive line that ranked third in the nation in 2019
  • Protected an offense that ranked second in the nation in scoring in 2019
  • Created opportunities for running backs who averaged 5.5 yards per rush

Oh, and did we mention he’s fast? Like, super, freakishly fast, even for an offensive lineman?

Fundamentally, Wills knows his stuff. Man protections. Slides. Awareness.

When I listen to Wills’ talk about the game and his teammates, I don’t hear a college kid talking base-level chalk-talk. I hear a professional who speaks with confidence, intelligence, and respect. From an IQ and character perspective, Wills is the real deal. And when you look at the caliber of quarterback talent he’s supported, well, you can’t help but be impressed.

If I’m a Miami Dolphins fan, I am salivating over the prospect of selecting Jedrick Wills with the fifth overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. Why? Because he’s one of the safest players on the board. That and he can fill a critical need on my football team straight out of the gate.

Which players do you think are the safest draft prospects in the 2020 NFL Draft? Let us know on Twitter!

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Jim Colombo is a correspondent at FantasyPros. For more from Jim, check out his archive and follow him @WideRightNBlue.

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