The 2020 NFL Draft is here and there's a different feeling around the draft this year because it serves as a sports oasis in a desert caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The three-day escape the NFL Draft provides will be therapeutic for sports fans.
The most talked-about positional group heading into the draft is this year's class of wide receivers. A bunch of receivers were drafted in the first round, with another handful expected to come off the board in Round 2. NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah has 18 WRs ranked in his personal Top 100.
There's an elite group at the top headlined by Oklahoma's CeeDee Lamb, Alabama's Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III, and LSU's Justin Jefferson. After that, rankings vary with a handful of talented receivers expected to come off the board between picks 20-60.
So where does USC's Michael Pittman Jr. fit into the equation? Here's where the oddsmakers have his over/under for draft position:
If there's one word that can be used to describe Pittman, it's "solid." He lacks the speed and separation skills to be a true WR1 in the NFL but does so many other things well. He's a strong special teams player, eager run-blocker, has a good grasp on the full route tree and has strong hands to make contested catches.
He's been slapped with the "possession receiver" label, which is both fair and not reflective of the poor connotation that phrase sometimes carries. Pittman projects as a WR2 that contributes in the red zone and on special teams. The son of a former NFL running back, Pittman has been around the game his entire life and has been coached up on what's expected from him at the next level.
Which teams could be interested?
Let's take a look at a few teams that need to add a receiver and are in a position to do so on Day 2 of the draft.
Philadelphia Eagles (No. 53)
I'm starting to think more and more than Justin Jefferson isn't going to fall to Philadelphia at pick No. 21, so they'll be forced to pivot and go defense with that pick if they don't trade up. That'll leave them receiver-needy here in Round 2. Assuming they can patch things up with Alshon Jeffery, they have their No. 1 already, DeSean Jackson for another season, and the emerging Greg Ward in the slot. Pittman can compete with J.J. Arcega-Whiteside for the role of true No. 2 WR in 2021.
Baltimore Ravens (No. 55)
This is where SI's Kevin Hanson has Pittman landing in his latest mock draft. The need is obvious, especially with so many analysts (myself included) mocking a defensive player like LB Kenneth Murray to Baltimore at pick No. 28. They can pair Pittman with the flashy Marquise Brown, with the former serving as a pseudo safety blanket for Lamar Jackson.
Houston Texans (No. 57)
The Texans are an intriguing landing spot despite the addition of Brandin Cooks via trade and Randall Cobb via free agency earlier this offseason. While many Texans fans would likely prefer help along the OL or the defensive side of the ball, Cooks and Will Fuller are major injury risks. Plus, Fuller and Kenny Stills are both playing on expiring contracts. They also need to do anything and everything to keep Deshaun Watson happy after moving on from DeAndre Hopkins.
Here's what SI Texans Publisher Patrick Starr said about this possible selection back on April 6:
With our second pick of the second round, we were hoping that our receiver of choice was still on the board and he was. The addition of Michael Pittman Jr. from USC helps with our outside threats behind Kenny Stills and Will Fuller.
Seattle Seahawks (Nos. 59 or 64)
The Seahawks are a prime candidate to trade out of Round 1 to pick up more Day 2 capital. Considering they already have two second-round picks, it'll allow them to make a semi-luxury pick here by going with a receiver. Tyler Lockett is a great talent, but not a true No. 1. D.K. Metcalf is an exciting WR2. Pittman adds another "solid" pass-catcher to the group. Seattle can make up for its lack of a true superstar receiver with volume.
Tennessee Titans (No. 61)
A.J. Brown looks like a superstar in the making, but the Titans need to find him a long-term tag team partner. This could be Corey Davis' last season in Tennessee, and they can get out of Adam Humphries' contract easily after the 2020 or 2021 season if they choose. With Brown holding down the fort as the WR1, Pittman can be a reliable second option for Ryan Tannehill with a focus on special teams in Year 1.
So many wide receivers are expected to fly off the board in the top 60, and I fully expect Pittman to be one of them. There are going to be a few teams that mocked a Round 1 WR that will trade back or take a different position. Look for them to be in the market for a receiver in Round 2. That plays to Pittman's advantage and the advantage of under bettors.
The Play: UNDER pick 58.5 (-130)
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