Wow. Everyone is so, so excited for the NFL Draft, as all sports have been on hold. As we all sit on our couches on Thursday night, the world will watch the first all-digital sports draft, as we put absolutely all of the excitement of our sport into where our favorite college players land, or who our favorite pro teams take on. Will the Bengals bungle another draft, or will they take sure thing Joe Burrow out of LSU to lead their team out of the AFC? Where will all the dynamic pro-ready wideouts land and will there be plenty of expectations, or will they have a year or two to land on their feet? Let’s dive in, and take a look at all the best players in round one, the ones who would inevitably end up on most of our teams, and if they’re worthy of the aplomb being received.
Joe Burrow, LSU
Unless something crazy happens over the next 48 hours, where one of Chase Young’s parents end up becoming the GM of the Bengals, or something akin to Little Big League happens, Joe Burrow will become the next starting quarterback of the Cincinnati Bengals. Burrow, fresh off leading the LSU Tigers to the prize of the collegiate football world, will look to bring a team that is ranked 29th in overall offense and 28th in overall passing offense, per FootballOutsiders, out of the ditch. That said, out of the inevitable teams that could even look to take him, Cincy is absolutely the landing spot that would fit him best, as it can be molded specifically FOR him. Tyler Boyd, in the wake of finally powering down the entity in AJ Green, came out of the second round of Pitt as a steal and has led himself to back to back above 1000 yard receiving seasons (1,028 in 2018, 1,046 in 2019). While Boyd may profile less as a star wide receiver, the Bengals could draft Burrow AND take a potential #1 wideout with the depth available at wide receiver. They also have a top-five dynasty running back in Joe Mixon at Burrow’s disposal. Burrow would have some projecting him just around the top 10 at quarterback out of the gate if he had a more stout offense at his disposal.
Best landing spot: Bengals
Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama
Tua Tagovailoa was the heir apparent to the #1 quarterback drafted overall game until a dislocated hip ruined both his college career and draft stock. It’s unfortunate because Tua was an absolute dynamo on the field. Able to step out of the pocket if need be, he’s also seen as the best pocket passer in the college game, and may now see his draft stock slip (or not), due to the “injury-prone” moniker he’s received after this Mississippi State pile up endured. Tua finds himself in the best fantasy fit going somewhere where he’s able to stand in the face of defenses without pocket pressure. While the contract situation may find him best in Miami, the best situation would find Tua in New England Patriots’ apparel ( I say this half as a fantasy player, half as a Patriots fan). The Dolphins will have the first chance to pass up Tua, but Tua likely would benefit from Miami letting him go, as they had the lowest-ranked offensive line, allowing a worrying 56 sacks against their quarterbacks. Tua could benefit from an offense building from the ground up with Tom Brady gone, Rob Gronkowski a year removed and reunited with Tom, and youth upside projects Sony Michel, Damien Harris, and N’Keal Harry. There’s talent aplenty to be unlocked, and Tua could best mesh with an offensive line that was ranked 9th overall in comparison to the leagues worst in Miami (I say this even with long time offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia retiring). Let Tua slip anywhere near the middle/end of round one, and I think the potential of Tua in New England could cause Bill Belichick to jump for joy.
Best landing spots: Dolphins, Pats, Chargers
Justin Herbert, Oregon
Justin Herbert has almost as many detractors as he does fans, leading his draft position to be somewhere between “After Burrows” and before the end of the first round. He profiles as a big, burly quarterback who can stand in the pocket and chuck it, but there’s also some worry he may just be a professional quarterback, but nothing special. Some even find themselves comparing him to someone as controversial as Mitch Trubisky. The NFL combine scores have him rated out as a “boom or bust” prospect as well. A lot here seems to suggest that the best landing spot for Herbert is a team that is very similar in their pro-style as Herbert’s profile gives him. Let the boy chuck it. With the departure of Phillip Rivers, the Chargers have said they’ll go into the season ready to rely on Tyrod Taylor, but will likely look to take Herbert off the board when they pick at six and give him a year to build some rapport with the Chargers weapons (Keenan Allen, Austin Ekeler, Mike Williams). The Chargers line is middle of the pack but could benefit from a quarterback who made most of his hay from bubble screens and pocket dump-offs, as Ekeler is known to be an immensely dynamic running back capable of breaking off large chunks of yards in receiving. Just last year, Ekeler was just a few yards short of eclipsing 1,000 yards receiving. Let Herbert land in Los Angeles, and he may just end up in the best place to succeed.
Best landing spots: Chargers
Jordan Love, Utah State
There’s not much the Patriots can do to hide their intrigue in Jordan Love, a prospect who over the last few weeks has seen his stock rise immensely. In 2018, Love ended up completing 64 percent of his passes, on his way to second-team all-pro honors. The potential for Love and size may just be enough for the Patriots to wait and avoid trading up and losing large portions of draft capital to get to Tua. The worry is that Love is pretty erratic, and will often throw jump balls and not take time on his passing situations. Can he end up being coached up by potentially the best of all time? The optimistic side says that Love could be a project well worth the late first-round draft pick. There’s also worry that he could be a massive bust. There’s not a pro quarterback draftee with a larger boom or bust offering. Love could step into a team seeing the last gasps of the pro bowler and close to hall of fame Julian Edelman, pass-catching maven James White, and projects with sizzle Damien Harris and N’Keal Harry. This would be the best landing spot for Love (Among all of the quarterbacks in this draft, given the coaching staff and reliable if unexciting offensive line)
Best landing spots: Patriots, Saints
Jerry Jeudy, Alabama
Jerry Jeudy is exciting to watch. It’s really that simple. Some say he’s the “best” pro prospect at his position since Amari Cooper. Some say that he may end up finishing his pro career the best wide receiver to ever come out of Alabama (Julio Jones may just take some offense to this). Either way, this is one of the best non-quarterbacks in this class and could be the best fantasy rookie of the draft. He has top tier speed, but also can run routes as well as anyone else in this class. The best landing spots will be anywhere that they need a potential number one wide receiver, so it’s not surprising to see the Raiders as the team to take Jeudy. This may not be the best spot for Jeudy to fall though, as he could thrive somewhere where the offense has a touch more talent, and the ball can be spread around. Jeudy can separate from defenders, and give the Raiders some hope if he lands with them, but the best landing spot for him would be if he fell to thirteen and San Fransisco took him, as they’re already a playoff win/player or two from being a legitimate championship threat. Please, stack the box for a Matt Breida/ Tevin Coleman/Jeff Wilson/any of the other 30 backs the Niners have employed, and watch as Jeudy shakes and bakes the defenders who aren’t able to either zone defend or double team him.
Best landing spots: Jets, 49ers, Broncos
Henry Ruggs III, Alabama
Henry Ruggs III may not be as well known by name as Jeudy, but he is absolutely the fastest player coming out of Alabama in this year’s draft. Able to shed defenders almost immediately off the line, Ruggs is a devastating pairing of quick and mistake-free, as he only dropped a single pass in 2019. ONE. Uno. The man who is as fast as the flash also doesn’t drop passes. You’re looking at the second coming of Ted Ginn Jr. without the whoopsies. Likely heading to San Fransisco, Ruggs would benefit anywhere he won’t be relied on to be the number one weapon, able to slip free behind on heel defenders and burn some for some amazing end zone receptions. In an offense like that of San Fransisco, or Denver, there will be wide receivers or running backs ahead of him that will need to be covered, allowing Ruggs ability to thrive. You want to cover Deebo Samuel or Courtland Sutton? Ruggs has the speed to burn and endzone to pursue. Only playing in 12 games in 2019, Ruggs averaged just under 20 yards per reception, and would greatly benefit from a quarterback who’s willing to also let him go up the ladder in safety and defensive back matchups. I’d love to see Ruggs in SF, and it looks like this just may happen. This offense is going to be fun to watch.
Best landing spots: Niners, Broncos
CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma
Is CeeDee Lamb a player? You tell me. Winning the Biletnikoff award in 2019, Lamb averaged 21.4 yards PER reception, as he helped anchor the Oklahoma offense, while also averaging over a touchdown per start (14 in 13 games). Lamb will likely fall somewhere between picks 10 and 20 and could see his draft become much higher than expected, as Jon Gruden may appreciate the physicality and ability CeeDee carries in his ability to get to the ball. While not the sexiest place to land for a pro-ready wide receiver, Lamb may be the best wide receiver of this class to be forced into a number one role, as he can clean up against strong matchups, and shows up any time he is on the field. While playing with Derek Carr could likely cause some overthrown passes, and hinder his top-end value, he’s possibly the second-best wide receiver for fantasy purposes from this class, and could potentially carry the highest ceiling. Lamb will shed defenders, and seek yards after the catch like no one else in the wide receiver pool. His best fit is likely going to the Raiders and attempting to make himself a top 20 wide receiver out of the gate. Lamb is a legit YAC monster, and a player I’d love to see schemed by Gruden.
Best landing spots: Broncos, Jets, Raiders
Justin Jefferson, LSU
Justin Jefferson partnered with Burrow to the tune of an NCAA championship, and will more than likely follow that up with a first-round draft spot on Thursday’s board. Jefferson is able to find himself in the middle of most pass plays, able to cover large swaths of field. He’s not the flashiest, nor fastest wide receiver on any field, but he’s always going to find himself open for his quarterback, and his hands will likely assist on many poor passes, or quick quarterback throws. Jefferson does not have the upside, nor top-flight speed some of the others may, but he will be consistent, reliable, and around for his quarterback. His best landing spot would be anywhere that has a quarterback who will take chances but also needs another wide receiver at his disposal for check-downs, short routes, and some underneath throws. This would be a position where depending on how the draft shakes down, Jefferson could be a great number two to Courtland Sutton in Denver for Drew Lock. He could slot in amazingly if Love ends up with New England, at the spot New Orleans has at the end of round one (Michael Thomas is an absolute demon) , or in a secondary role to sudden breakout Devante Parker in Miami.
Best landing spots: Denver, New Orleans, Miami
There is a large amount of talent here for running back, but most drafts have projections for most of them falling in the second round and after, as the upside lands mostly in the offensive line, quarterback, and wide receiver. Check out our NFL Combine What We Saw for our running back writeups.
(Photo by Todd Kirkland/Icon Sportswire)