2020 NFL Draft: Grading the First-Round Picks

Miami stood pat at No. 5 and got their quarterback

The first round of the 2020 NFL Draft is officially official and the most unique setup for picking players in league history is in the books. There are still six more rounds to go but it's been pretty clear that the future of the NFL has shifted some as a few franchises get a cornerstone piece and a few others missed out on doing the same.


Which teams did the best when they were on the clock? Which reached for somebody they could have gotten later and lost value? Which whiffed completely and will have fans questioning what the front office is doing? Here's a look at how each team did with their first-round pick and why it will — or won't — work out down the road.


2020 NFL Draft: First-Round Grades


1. Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Burrow, QB, Ohio State

The greatest season any college quarterback has delivered is capped off by being the No. 1 overall pick. The Bengals never seemed to waiver in their selection, bringing the Ohio kid back to the state in order to be the new face of the franchise.


Grade: A


2. Washington Redskins: Chase Young, DL, Ohio State

The new coaching staff will enter their first season with perhaps the best core group of pass rushers in the league when Young gets up to speed. The former Buckeye is the most talented player in the draft and landing him with the second pick sure is good value for a franchise that is often all over the map in the draft.


Grade: A+


3. Detroit Lions: Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State

It would have been interesting to hear some of the trade proposals Detroit's front office turned down for this pick. Either way, they get the top corner on everybody's board when there's a big drop-off after the former Buckeyes star. Plus they find a much cheaper — and potentially better — replacement for Darius Slay on the back end of the defense.


Grade: A-


4. New York Giants: Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia

Not many had Thomas as being the first tackle off the board but Dave Gettleman gets the "hog mollie" that he really wanted. He does not have the upside of others at his position but it's a solid enough selection in getting a longtime starter at LT for a big-time SEC team. Still, not the kind of value you like to see out of a top-five pick but that's nothing new for this franchise recently.


Grade: B


5. Miami Dolphins: Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama

Tank for Tua was a great, rousing success in South Florida. Lots of smokescreen talk about Justin Herbert and an offensive tackle but in the end, it seems like the franchise came to their senses in landing the lefty.


Grade: A


6. Los Angeles Chargers: Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon

Felt like the organization was comfortable taking whatever QB fell to them and they have to like what they can build around with Herbert going forward. Some will pan the pick but the former Ducks signal-caller will get better coaching in the NFL and has a higher floor than many think.


Grade: A


7. Carolina Panthers: Derrick Brown, DL, Auburn

Not often you can get a top-three or top-five talent to start your rebuild around at No. 7. Matt Rhule will love everything about Brown on and off the field.


Grade: A


8. Arizona Cardinals: Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson

Lots of folks had the Cards going with an OT here to help Kyler Murray but nobody knows how much it helps to actually pair the Air Raid with a defense like the team's head coach. Simmons is a versatile athlete who will fit in well going up against those other NFC West teams twice a year.


Grade: A


9. Jacksonville Jaguars: CJ Henderson, CB, Florida

Henderson was the clear second corner at the board and Duval gets their replacement for Jalen Ramsey. Not a sexy pick but more speed on defense as the re-tool continues.


Grade: B


10. Cleveland Browns: Jedrick Wills Jr., OT, Alabama

Talk about a huge upgrade for Baker Mayfield's protection this offseason. Wills is polished, still has plenty of upside and has a chance to really develop into a quality player by the lake.


Grade: A


11. New York Jets: Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville

General manager Joe Douglas got lucky the tackle run went a little later than expected and he was able to land one of the three or four elite guys in the draft at the position. Sam Darnold, like a few of his peers above, is a happy man.


Grade: A


12. Las Vegas Raiders: Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama

It's hard to be more on brand as a franchise than this, even in a new city. Ruggs adapting to Jon Gruden's route tree will be interesting to follow but the upside of a big-play threat is certainly there.


Grade: B+



13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa

Trading out of the top 120 just to move up a spot in the first round? That's questionable. If not for that, this pick would have gotten a higher grade. Still, hard to argue with a guy many thought was going No. 4 to be Tom Brady's new protector.


Grade: B+


14. San Francisco 49ers: Javon Kinlaw, DL, South Carolina

Truly incredible to think the team traded DeForest Buckner and got a younger, cheaper and potentially better replacement in a top-10 talent in Kinlaw. Oh and they picked up another top-120 pick for moving down a spot. That's winning at the draft.


Grade: A+


15. Denver Broncos: Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama

The best route-runner in the draft remarkably falls to 15 and Drew Lock has a new best friend. Great value and a great fit.


Grade: A+


16. Atlanta Falcons: A.J. Terrell, CB, Clemson

Slight reach perhaps but given the corner spot drop-off, you can understand the pressure to land somebody to compete right away given some of the offenses in the division.


Grade: B-


17. Dallas Cowboys: CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma

Many folks' No. 1 receiver improbably makes it all the way here. The folks in Dallas have to be ecstatic at adding this kind of playmaker to the already stacked offense. Dak Prescott might have been right to wait for getting that contract done.


Grade: A+


18. Miami Dolphins: Austin Jackson, OT, USC

Jackson's upside is off the charts and he's a great fit to grow as Tagovailoa's long-term solution at right or left tackle. The Dolphins offensive line desperately gets the building block they've lacked since trading Laremy Tunsil.


Grade: A-


19. Las Vegas Raiders: Damon Arnette, CB, Ohio State

GM Mike Mayock's first pick for the team last year was a bit of a reach but it turned out okay. He has to hope that is the case here as it's way ahead of what most projected Arnette to land. He's a quality corner who is as competitive as the front office wants out of the position but they could have found extra value moving down while still landing their guy.


Grade: C


20. Jacksonville Jaguars: K'Lavon Chaisson, DL, LSU

Yannick Ngakoue appears on his way out and the franchise just confirmed that for sure by landing his successor. Chaisson was just starting to scratch his potential late while at LSU and has a bright future in Duval if he stays healthy.


Grade: A-


21. Philadelphia Eagles: Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU

Reagor didn't have the best QB play in college but he's a monster of a wideout who can provide a big boost for Carson Wentz and the Eagles' offense. Bit of a reach but a quality fit whose toughness will make him a favorite in Philly.


Grade: B


22. Minnesota Vikings: Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU

Lot of draftniks thought this national champ should have gone a pick before but Minnesota delights in landing him here. He'll be a terrific replacement for a certain wideout now in Buffalo.


Grade: A


23. Los Angeles Chargers: Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma

A second- and third-round pick is a lot to give up in this draft but that's what it was going to take moving up this far. Love the aggressiveness and that's quite the core in LA to build around on defense with Murray, Joey Bosa and Derwin James headlining every level.


Grade: B+


24. New Orleans Saints: Cesar Ruiz, C, Michigan

The lack of good interior linemen in this draft pushed the value of guys like Ruiz up quite a bit. The team is clearly all-in on making a run with Drew Brees and gets him some added protection up the middle.


Grade: B+


25. San Francisco 49ers: Brandon Aiyuk, WR, Arizona State

Gave up some ammo to move up and get their guy but Aiyuk can be dynamic in Kyle Shanahan's offense. His ability to grab yards after the catch and help out his QB will endear him to Niners fans for years to come.


Grade: A-


26. Green Bay Packers: Jordan Love, QB, Utah State

Aaron Rodgers can't like this pick! Great long-term move, but for a team that made it to the NFC title game last season, you do wonder about the immediate need. If it pays off though, talk about being set for three decades at the most important position in the field.


Grade: B


27. Seattle Seahawks: Jordyn Brooks, LB, Texas Tech

The Seahawks staying put was a surprise and so was this pick. It's a reach but you can at least understand the fit a bit. Still, surprising to see them not go back a few spots and still easily land this Big 12 defender. Brooks is certainly built for today's game and can really flourish in Pete Carroll's system.


Grade: C+


28. Baltimore Ravens: Patrick Queen, LB, LSU

How is it possible Baltimore keeps landing these terrific talents with their first-round picks? There's being smart about the draft and getting lucky. Ravens continue to be both in landing Queen, who could be a special player on that great defense.


Grade: A+


29. Tennessee Titans: Isaiah Wilson, OT, Georgia

Lose your right tackle, bring in another. Wilson is a great fit for what the Titans want to do offensively, even if they'll need to develop him some in the passing game.


Grade: B


30. Miami Dolphins: Noah Igbinoghene, CB, Auburn

Not a name many had heard of outside of the Plains but a solid enough scheme fit. That said, a big reach at the end of the first round and doubles up on a position that really isn't that big of a need in Miami after free agency. Might pay off down the road but a questionable move for the rebuild in the short term.


Grade: C


31. Minnesota Vikings: Jeff Gladney, CB, TCU

Such a Mike Zimmer pick. Gladney is going to be a great fit in the Twin Cities if healthy and really fits in well with what the defense will do. Opposing wideouts better get used to seeing him at the line of scrimmage.


Grade: A-


32. Kansas City Chiefs: Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, LSU

Is there a ton of value with this pick? No. But you want to talk about a perfect fit, this is it. The most dangerous offense in the league got that much more dangerous when they begin their defense of the Lombardi. Good luck opposing defensive coordinators…


Grade: B+


— Written by Bryan Fischer, an award-winning college football columnist and member of the Athlon Contributor Network. You can follow him from coast-to-coast on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat at @BryanDFischer.


(Top graphic courtesy of miamidolphins.com)

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