Chicago needed an elite pass rusher. Pittsburgh and the Los Angeles Rams couldn’t pass up on two up-and-coming defensive backs. And Houston? The Texans always seem to need an offensive lineman.
Those four teams now lack first-round picks in the 2020 NFL draft after recent trades.
On the one hand, the Rams, for example, are gambling that Jalen Ramsey is better than anyone they’d nab in the first round. And that could be true, but the Rams, Chicago and Pittsburgh currently have a combined record of 12-12 thus far. Houston, on the other hand, sports a 6-3 record.
Still, that’s a lot of draft capital to give up. The Rams, for example, currently sit at 5-3 but a tough upcoming schedule could easily drop them to 8-8. Or what about Chicago? They’re last in the NFC North with a 3-5 record.
How are those fan bases goings to feel once their teams enter the draft without a first-round pick?
Not to fret, there will still be decent quality in the second round and beyond.
As much as fans are down on QB Mitch Trubisky, it’s hard to see Chicago moving on from him without a first-round pick. However, It’s possible that one of these players will still be on the board: Jacob From, Georgia; Jordan Love, Utah State; Jacob Eason, Washington; and Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma. If Chicago drafts a QB in what could be early in the second round, then they almost have to trade Trubisky – and once teams know that, his value will plummet even more.
When it comes to the draft, it’s almost always a safe bet to draft the best prospect at a given position, and it’s very possible that Chicago could do that with both of its second-round picks, as it’s possible that the best center, best guard and best tight end will still be available. Any combination of that would not only fill a need, but would also provide walk-in starters.
However, you can find quality interior linemen in almost any round, and Chicago recently spent a second-round pick on a tight end, so doing so again seems unlikely.
But the same can’t necessarily be said about some of the skill positions that Chicago needs. That’s why the focus may be on cornerback and slot wide receiver in the second round. There’s still quantity throughout the draft at those two positions, but the chances of landing a Day 1 starter are much slimmer.
Some second-round possibilities include cornerbacks Shaun Wade (Ohio State), Cameron Dantzler (Mississippi State), Jeff Gladney (TCU), A.J. Terrell (Clemson), Bryce Hall (Virginia), Jaylon Johnson (Utah), Paulson Adebo (Stanford), Lamar Jackson (Nebraska) and C.J. Henderson (Florida). Of course, some of those players could jump into the first round, but several should still be there with either Chicago pick in the second round.
Pittsburgh doesn’t have a first-rounder, so it will help if the team is awarded a third-round compensatory pick, as expected, for Le’Veon Bell. The Steelers could use help at offensive tackle, pass rusher and tight end. This seems to be a no-brainer, as this is a deep draft at offensive tackle, plus it’s hard to imagine the team taking a tight end with their first pick in what appears to be a pretty average TE class.
Pass rushers, though, are hard to come by, and if the Steelers want to draft a potential Day 1 starter opposite T.J. Watt, then they better not wait beyond the second round. Luckily, players like Curtis Weaver (Boise State), Terrell Lewis (Alabama), Darrell Taylor (Tennessee), and K’Lavon Chaisson (LSU) could still be there in the second round. Pittsburgh can find a potential starting offensive tackle in the third round and an upgrade at tight end in the fourth.
The Rams could use some help at offensive tackle, defensive line and another cornerback to pair with Ramsey. Again, this may be a case where the team waits until the third round to draft an offensive tackle, and impactful cornerbacks and pass rushers are hard to find. Since Ramsey is going to divert a lot of attention to the team’s other CB, drafting one of the previously mentioned cornerbacks may be the wise choice.
Although the Texans rank 23rd (2.3) in the league in sacks per game and 21st in the league (2.8) in sacks allowed, it’s hard to imagine Houston picking a lineman on either side of the ball after investing so much draft capital in the positions the past few years. The same goes for Houston’s secondary, even though it’s giving up 277 yards per game, good for 27th in the league.
That’s why Houston might take a hard look at the available pass rushers, if any of the “second-tier” players are left. Fourth-year OLB Brennan Scarlett of Stanford has had a solid year thus far with 3.5 sacks, but the team can probably find an upgrade at the position in the second round. Also, a better pass rush should help the secondary.