Notebook: Putting a wrap on the 2020 NFL Draft
With the 2020 NFL Draft now done, we have much on which to reflect.
Here are the topics of great interest:
RUNNING IN PLACE
The trend to find talent at running back outside of the first round and even outside of the draft continues.
There were just 17 running backs chosen in the 2020 draft, the fewest since 2010.
There was only one running back chosen in the first round and that was the final pick of the round when Super Bowl champion Kansas City chose former LSU and Catholic High star Clyde Edwards-Helaire.
SEC is TOP
Not surprisingly, the SEC led all conferences with 63 players chosen, one short of the all-time record set in 2018 by, you guessed it, the SEC. There were 40 SEC players taken in the first three rounds.
It was not even close.
The next conference in terms of players selected this year was the Big 10, with 48 players drafted. Then came the Pac 12 with 32 players picked. The only school in the SEC with a player not drafted was Ole Miss.
LSU WINS TITLE, WINS DRAFT
Of course, LSU had a record setting draft, with 14 players chosen. That equaled the record of 14 Ohio State players picked in the 2004 draft. A total of 10 Tigers went in the first three rounds.
Michigan and Ohio State each had 10 players chosen, tying for second. Alabama was next with nine players selected. Clemson, Florida, Georgia and Utah each had seven players picked.
Those picks further illustrate that is all about recruiting, that you win with talent, based on the seasons all of those teams had in 2019.
ON THE RISE
Getting rave reviews for their drafts by a variety of analysts nationwide are the Ravens, Dolphins, Bengals, Cowboys, Broncos, Lions, Buccaneers, Cardinals, Colts, Jets, Giants, Bills, Browns, Vikings, Jaguars and 49ers.
While the quantity was not there, the quality was there for the Saints with their first three picks. The move to trade a future draft pick for Tommy Stevens was the only questionable move.
Carolina had seven draft picks and used all of them on defensive players. While Teddy Bridgewater may not have gotten any weapons, he got help with possibly getting more snaps and possessions.
Another surprise included New England not selecting a quarterback so Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer will compete for the starting job with a pair of undrafted free agents.
In what everyone knew was a terrific class of wide receivers, eight receivers were chosen in the first 35 picks in the draft. The Raiders and Eagles invested heavily in receivers with three each and the Broncos drafted a pair of receivers.
CATCH AND CHASE
In all, there were a whopping 37 wide receivers chosen among the 255 players chosen. A total of 20 percent of the players chosen in the first two rounds were wide receivers and 15 percent of all players chosen were wideouts. Only nine of the 32 NFL teams did not draft a wide receiver and the New Orleans Saints were one of them.
While wide receiver was a popular choice, there were 39 linebackers chosen, the most of any position.
Blake Ferguson of LSU earned the distinction of being the only long snapper chosen in the draft. There were two punters chosen and three kickers selected.
QUESTION OF BALANCE
There was real balance with 124 offensive players picked and 125 defense players chosen.
COMING UP SHORT
Many felt the Raiders reached more than once and came up short, while most did not like the draft of the Packers, including the peculiar pick of Jordan Love in the first round on a team that lacked receiving weapons for a still gifted Aaron Rodgers.
A number of reviews felt Philadelphia did not draft well, that the Eagles reached in the first round with wide receiver Jaelen Reagor and made an unnecessary pick with Jalen Hurts in the second round. Houston did not appear to get much help, outside of Ross Blacklock.
The Bears were criticized on many fronts for drafting a tight end first in Cole Kmet, despite having just invested in Jimmy Graham and with nine other tight ends on the roster.
In terms of state products, Texas led the way with seven players from Texas high schools chosen in the first round with Florida second with four selections. Louisiana had three picks in the opening round.
BOOT STILL KICKING
Overall, 12 players from Louisiana high schools were drafted, including 11 from in-state schools: Justin Jefferson of Destrehan, Patrick Queen of Livonia, Clyde Edwards-Helaire of Catholic High-Baton Rouge, Kristian Fulton of Archbishop Rummel, Lloyd Cushenberry of Dutchtown, Rashard Lawrence of Neville, Kevin Dotson of Plaquemine, L’Jarius Sneed of Minden, Amik Robertson of Thibodaux, Raymond Calais of Cecilia High School and Stephen Sullivan of Donaldsonville. The 12th was Cameron Dantzler of Mississippi State by way of St. Thomas Aquinas.
According to national college football writer Bryan Fischer, Louisiana ranked fifth among states in players drafted, behind only Texas (34), California (24), Georgia (21) and Florida (18).
There were 21 players drafted from Louisiana universities.
As mentioned, there were 14 LSU players chosen: Joe Burrow, K’Lavon Chaisson, Jefferson, Patrick Queen, Edwards-Helaire, Grant Delpit, Fulton, Damien Lewis, Cushenberry, Jacob Phillips, Saahdiq Charles, Lawrence, Ferguson and Sullivan.
The Ragin’ Cajuns had three players chosen in Robert Hunt, Dotson and Calais.
Louisiana Tech had two players chosen in Sneed and Robertson while Tulane also had two players selected in Darnell Mooney and Thakarius Keyes.
BIG STATES, SMALL SAMPLES
Burrow is the first player from Ohio to be chosen first overall in the draft since Orlando Pace went first overall to the Rams in 1997.
The biggest state in the country, California, had just one product chosen in the first round and that was Jordan Love of Liberty High in Bakersfield, picked by the Packers.
Following the draft, the five teams whom I now view as contenders to reach the Super Bowl in 2020 include San Francisco (favorite), New Orleans, Dallas, Minnesota and Tampa Bay in the NFC. In the AFC, those teams are Baltimore (favorite), Kansas City, Buffalo, Tennessee and Seattle.
WHO’S ON FIRST?
Looking ahead, the favorite to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 draft, at this point, is Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
Others who should be in the mix are Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields is next on the list while others include Miami quarterback D’Eriq King, linebacker Micah Persons of Penn State, tackle Penei Sewell of Oregon, Travis Etienne of Clemson, quarterback Jamie Newman of Georgia and tackle Alex Leatherwood of Alabama. Do not discount Ja’Marr Chase of LSU.
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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Sports Media Association, National Football…