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NFL Draft 2020 Grades: Analyzing All 32 Teams’ Picks

Which teams had successful NFL drafts, and who could be struggling next season? Handing out grades for every team’s draft.

The 2020 NFL draft was like no other, with the commissioner and team evaluators (and their kids, and their dogs) checking in from their homes to make the 255 picks from Joe Burrow to Mr. Irrelevant, Tae Crowder.

Which teams fared the best over the past three days? Our draft grades below:


1 (8). Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson
3 (72). Josh Jones, T, Houston
4 (114). Leki Fotu, DT, Utah
4 (131). Rashard Lawrence, DT, LSU
6 (202). Evan Weaver, LB, California
7 (222). Eno Benjamin, RB, Arizona State

The Isaiah Simmons pick does not address a major need for Arizona, but it was a chance to add supreme, diverse talent. The question is, Where will he play? We know the uber-versatile Clemson star can operate at almost any position—that’s why he was drafted as high as he was. But in Arizona’s 3-4, one-gap-based scheme, will he be seen more as a cover linebacker or as a hard-hitting safety? The Cardinals themselves may not yet fully know (though they wouldn’t have drafted Simmons No. 8 overall if they didn’t at least have a hunch). Pairing him with Budda Baker gives Arizona two dynamic movable chess pieces, which will help a defense that has struggled mightily on third down.

Offensively, if we treat DeAndre Hopkins as Arizona’s second-round pick, that boosts their draft by a whole letter grade. And it shouldn’t be a bad grade to begin with considering they found a new right tackle in Josh Jones. The third round is much later than many expected the Houston product to go. With Marcus Gilbert being 32, having some injury history and entering the final year of his contract, Jones was a no-brainer selection for Cardinals GM Steve Keim.

It was also a no-brainer to restock Arizona’s defensive line depth, which Keim did in the fourth round, taking Leki Fotu and Rashard Lawrence.

Grade: B+

Watch: Cardinals Select Isaiah Simmons With No. 8 Pick in NFL Draft

AllCardinals: Fixing the Defense Has Consumed GM Steve Keim

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1 (16). A.J. Terrell, CB, Clemson
2 (47). Marlon Davidson, DE, Auburn
3 (78). Matt Hennessy, C, Temple
4 (119). Mykal Walker, LB, Fresno State
4 (134). Jaylinn Hawkins, S, California
7 (228). Sterling Hofrichter, P, Syracuse

A.J. Terrell fits the long-bodied, rangy athletic profile of a cornerback in Dan Quinn’s Seahawks-style Cover 3 scheme. He changes directions soundly and can win through physicality or finesse. (In Atlanta, he’ll likely be encouraged to go with physicality.)

This selection could be viewed as a mild admission of underachievement from 2018 second-rounder Isaiah Oliver, who likely will now be cemented into the nickel outside corner role that he was demoted to down the stretch last season. Second-year pro Kendall Sheffield becomes the likely full-time slot defender. If all goes well, Atlanta will have three quality corners, which would allow them to maximize those Cover 3 zone concepts and continue to quietly dabble in more man-to-man than people realize.

Atlanta’s biggest need entering this draft was pass rusher—preferably an edge guy to align opposite free agent pickup Dante Fowler, which would enable Takk McKinley to slide inside. But this draft is light on ready-made first-round caliber pass rushers, and so Quinn and GM Thomas Dimitroff took the fuller value player. But they managed to find a defensive end they liked in the next round.

In some ways, Marlon Davidson—who played in Derrick Brown’s shadow at Auburn and was somewhat underappreciated—gives the Falcons another, more innately versatile version of Takk McKinley. He is a defensive end who has the tools to work off the edge or slide inside and play defensive tackle. That’s for 2020. For 2021 and beyond, Davidson potentially fills the role that the 2017 first-rounder McKinley, whose fifth-year option has not been picked up, has yet to fully maximize. After quietly going 6-2 in the second half of this season, this talented team is in “win now” mode. It needed more defensive line depth. A versatile player like Davidson can potentially solve multiple problems.

The other defensive picks—fourth-rounders Mykal Walker and Jaylinn Hawkins are here to add depth.

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