2020 NFL Draft

Eagles Were Split On Jalen Hurts’ Trajectory During 2020 Draft

The Eagles’ 2020 first-round decision generated some intrigue, especially as Justin Jefferson made a quick ascent to the All-Pro level and put together the most prolific three-year receiving stretch to start a career in NFL history. The Eagles were split on Jefferson and Jalen Reagor, going with the latter, who was preferred by Howie Roseman and the team’s coaching staff.

That call obviously proved incorrect, with Reagor now one of Jefferson’s sidekicks in Minnesota after an August 2022 trade. But the Eagles made a better choice, albeit an unexpected one, a round later. An extensive research effort into Jalen Hurts, which had begun during his senior year at Oklahoma, led Philly to pull the trigger on the ex-Sooners quarterback in Round 2. The move came despite the organization having extended Carson Wentz less than a year prior.

The Eagles decided on Hurts over safety Jeremy Chinn, with some in the organization preferring to add the Southern Illinois product — who later went to the Panthers at the end of Round 2 — instead of taking a quarterback so early. Again, the Roseman-Doug Pederson preference won out.

Coach Pederson and myself liked Jeremy Chinn, but our job is to determine the vision and then make sure it’s executed,” Roseman said, via The Athletic’s Dan Pompei (subscription required). “So when we were on the clock and having those conversations, it really came down to the quarterback versus safety. The quarterback we like. The safety we like. We’re going with the quarterback.”

Hurts as a second-round option came about partially because the organization did not want a repeat of 2012, when it intended to take Russell Wilson in the third round before seeing the Seahawks swoop and taking the future Pro Bowl mainstay at No. 75. With no pro days in 2020 — due to the COVID-19 pandemic — the Eagles did not have a good idea how other teams valued Hurts, with Pompei adding the team believed it was possible the ex-Oklahoma and Alabama passer fell into Round 3. But the Wilson experience helped lead to the Eagles ruling out the prospect of waiting until Round 3 for Hurts.

Philly made that pivotal pick at No. 51 overall, leading to outside skepticism due to Wentz’s presence. Some inside the Eagles’ building were not entirely sold on Hurts as well.

[Hurts] was a polarizing figure in the sense that some people liked him, some saw him as a developmental quarterback and some thought he was a backup,” former Eagles exec Ian Cunningham, now the Bears’ assistant GM, said (via Pompei). “I thought he was a developmental quarterback that had upside.”

At the time, the team based the move on wanting a better backup option behind Wentz. Teams do not exactly make a habit of choosing backup QBs in Round 2, but the Eagles have needed a number of QB2 contributions this century. Donovan McNabb went down with a broken ankle during the 2002 season, leading to A.J. Feeley and Koy Detmer seeing extensive time for an Eagles team that earned the NFC’s top seed. McNabb was lost for the year late in the 2006 season, moving UFA addition Jeff Garcia into the fray. The organization’s controversial decision to sign Michael Vick after his prison term in 2009 led to him replacing McNabb in 2010, and 2012 third-rounder Nick Foles eventually usurped Vick three years later. Foles delivered one of the NFL’s most famous fill-in performances in 2017, taking over for an injured Wentz to lead the Eagles to a Super Bowl title. The Eagles, however, soon made bigger plans for Hurts.

The Eagles cleared the Hurts move with Wentz, with Pederson calling his then-starter to inform him of the pick. But the five-year Eagle struggled in 2020, leading to a late-season benching. The Eagles soon traded Wentz to the Colts, and Jeffrey Lurie angled for the organization not to bring in a starter-caliber QB in 2021. That led to Hurts being given a legitimate opportunity. Lurie was believed to be behind Hurts, even when Roseman had questions about his ceiling, and the Eagles — after showing interest in Wilson and Deshaun Watson — stuck with the former second-rounder last year.

Philly staying with Hurts turned out to be a seminal decision, as the team booked another Super Bowl berth. The Eagles went 16-1 in games Hurts started prior to the Chiefs matchup, with the third-year QB showing significant improvement as a passer. Hurts’ 2022 season earned him a then-record-setting five-year, $255MM extension from the Eagles in April. The Eagles also greenlit their Wentz extension shortly after he became extension-eligible; they will hope the Hurts Year 4 investment turns out better.

Bengals, Joe Burrow Agree To Deal

At long last, the Bengals have reached agreement with No. 1 overall pick Joe Burrow on his rookie deal (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter). Per the terms of his slot, the LSU quarterback will receive $36.1MM over the course of four years, including a $23.88MM signing bonus. 

Like the league’s other 31 clubs, the Bengals were skittish about forking over millions of dollars in the midst of economic uncertainty. Ultimately, Burrow got the payout structure he wanted – he’ll get 100% of his signing bonus within 15 days of the contract being executed, per Schefter. The deal will be formally signed later this week, after Burrow takes his physical.

Burrow joined Kyler Murray and Baker Mayfield as consecutive Heisman winners to be drafted No. 1 overall. The Bengals’ Burrow infatuation was the league’s worst-kept secret. After a 2-14 finish to the 2019 season, they’re hoping that Burrow will help right the ship and put them in contention in the not-too-distant future.

An Ohio native, Burrow posted arguably the greatest quarterback season in the history of college football in 2019, completing 76.3% of his passes for 60 touchdowns. That TD total is an NCAA record, and he did it while throwing only six picks. Fresh off of a National Championship, the LSU star is now weeks away from his pro debut.

Giants, First-Round Pick Andrew Thomas Agree To Deal

The Giants have finalized an agreement with first-round pick Andrew Thomas on his rookie contract, Ralph Vacchiano of SNY tweets. Thomas will receive a fully guaranteed $32.4MM, and the fifth-year option included in his deal would tether him to the Giants through 2024.

Of the several high-end tackle prospects this year, Thomas went off the board first. The Giants using the No. 4 overall pick on a tackle, despite deploying the No. 31-ranked DVOA pass defense last season, illustrates their need for a long-term piece at this position. New York has struggled to fill its tackle spots for several years.

Thomas declared for the draft after his junior season at Georgia. He started for the Bulldogs as a true freshman, protecting fellow 2020 draftee Jake Fromm for the past three seasons. Thomas is expected to start his career at right tackle, replacing Mike Remmers, before being projected to move over to the left side after Nate Solder‘s Giants tenure ends — likely after the 2020 season.

Here is the Giants’ 2020 draft class:

1-4: Andrew Thomas, T (Georgia): Signed
2-36: Xavier McKinney, S (Alabama)
3-99: Matt Peart, OT (Connecticut): Signed
4-110: Darnay Holmes, CB (UCLA)
5-150: Shane Lemieux, G (Oregon)
6-183: Cameron Brown, LB (Penn State)
7-218: Carter Coughlin, LB (Minnesota)
7-238: T.J. Brunson LB (South Carolina)
7-247: Chris Williamson, CB (Minnesota)
7-255: Tae Crowder, LB (Georgia): Signed

Seahawks Sign First-Round Pick Jordyn Brooks

Another first-round pick in the books. On Monday, the Seahawks announced that they have agreed to terms with linebacker Jordyn Brooks. Per the terms of his slot, his four-year deal will pay $12.35MM in total, including a $6.458MM signing bonus. After that, the Seahawks will hold a fifth-year option to keep him in the fold through 2024. 

Brooks wasn’t projected to be a first-round pick, but he was pleasantly surprised when he heard from the Seahawks at No. 27. Most analysts pegged Brooks as a second- or third-round pick, but Seahawks GM John Schneider didn’t want to take any chances.

When people aren’t talking about players, that’s when you get pretty nervous,” Schneider said in a press conference following the first night of the draft. “And Jordyn was clearly one of those players. At the combine, I totally stayed away from him. I didn’t talk to him at the combine. I just evaluated all the different interviews.”

Brooks, lauded for his grit and work ethic, projects to start as the Seahawks’ strongside linebacker, joining Bruce Irvin, Bobby Wagner, and K.J. Wright in the first-string group. With the Texas Tech product now in the fold, there are now just a handful of first-rounders in the NFL left unsigned.

Chargers Sign Justin Herbert, Wrap Draft Class

The Chargers have wrapped up their 2020 NFL Draft class, per a club announcement. Quarterback Justin Herbert was the first reported signing, and the rest of the crop followed soon after. The full rundown, per our tracker:

1-6: Justin Herbert, QB (Oregon): Signed
1-23: Kenneth Murray, LB (Oklahoma): Signed
4-112: Joshua Kelley, RB (UCLA): Signed
5-151: Joe Reed, WR (Virginia): Signed
6-186: Alohi Gilman, S (Notre Dame): Signed
7-220: K.J. Hill, WR (Ohio State): Signed

Herbert was a polarizing prospect. Those that are high on the Oregon product believe that his elite arm strength will allow him to succeed as a starter. Others are concerned about his pension for holding on to the ball for too long. The debate between Herbert and Tua Tagovailoa was fierce, but, ultimately, the Dolphins made the decision for the Chargers by selecting the Alabama star No. 5 overall. At No. 6, GM Tom Telesco said that he would have been perfectly happy with either passer.

Herbert will have the unenviable task of eventually stepping into Philip Rivers’ shoes. For now, the 6’6″ rookie will likely begin the year as the QB2 behind Tyrod Taylor.

Raiders Sign Damon Arnette, Wrap Draft Class

The Raiders have wrapped up their 2020 NFL Draft class. Following their reported agreement with first-round wide receiver Henry Ruggs, the Raiders formally announced deals for the rest of the class. Here’s the full rundown, via PFR’s tracker: 

1-12: Henry Ruggs III, WR (Alabama): Signed
1-19: Damon Arnette, CB (Ohio State): Signed
3-80: Lynn Bowden Jr., WR (Kentucky): Signed
3-81: Bryan Edwards, WR (South Carolina): Signed
3-100: Tanner Muse, LB (Clemson): Signed
4-109: John Simpson, OL (Clemson): Signed
4-139: Amik Robertson, CB (Louisiana Tech): Signed

Per the terms of his slot, Arnette will receive a four-year deal worth $13.4MM, including a signing bonus of ~$7.3MM. Beyond that, the Raiders will hold a fifth-year option to keep him under club control through the 2024 season. Arnette wasn’t expected to go in the middle of the first round, but the Raiders aren’t afraid to buck conventional thought.

Arnette took a while to develop and reach Ohio State’s starting lineup, but once he got there, he provided the Buckeyes with a solid partner opposite star Jeff Okudah. With the ability to play on the inside or the outside, the Raiders believe that Arnette has what it takes to make it at the next level. His 4.56 second 40-yard-dash didn’t necessarily impress evaluators, but his ability to jam receivers at the line is a major plus.

Broncos Sign Round 2 WR K.J. Hamler, Finalize Draft Class Deals

The Broncos signed all 10 of their 2020 draft picks this week. They concluded the stretch of deals by agreeing to terms with second-round wide receiver K.J. Hamler on his four-year contract Friday, Mike Klis of 9News notes.

Denver became the first team to select wide receivers in both the first and second rounds since the Cardinals chose Bryant Johnson and Anquan Boldin in 2003. The Broncos drafted Jerry Jeudy at No. 15 overall and took Hamler 46th, equipping Drew Lock with an intriguing set of weapons alongside Courtland Sutton and 2019 first-round tight end Noah Fant.

A hamstring injury prevented Hamler from participating at the Combine, but the Penn State product was viewed as one of the draft’s fastest players. A 5-foot-9 wideout who declared for the draft after his sophomore college season, Hamler is expected to see action in the slot for the Broncos. He showed high-level playmaking ability with the Nittany Lions, totaling 98 receptions for 1,658 yards and 13 touchdowns as an underclassman. He averaged 18 yards per catch as a freshman.

Hamler will join former Penn State teammate DaeSean Hamilton in the Broncos’ receiver group but will be expected to surpass him and man the slot in Denver’s three-wideout sets.

Here is the Broncos’ full 2020 draft class:

1-15: Jerry Jeudy, WR (Alabama): Signed
2-46: K.J. Hamler, WR (Penn State): Signed
3-77: Michael Ojemudia, CB (Iowa): Signed
3-83: Lloyd Cushenberry, C (LSU): Signed
3-95: McTelvin Agim, DL (Arkansas): Signed
4-118: Albert Okwuegbunam, TE (Missouri): Signed
5-178: Justin Strnad, LB (Wake Forest): Signed
6-181: Netane Muti, G (Fresno State): Signed
7-252: Tyrie Cleveland, WR (Florida): Signed
7-254: Derrek Tuszka, LB (North Dakota State): Signed

Jets Sign Ashtyn Davis, Wrap Draft Class

That’s a wrap. The Jets have inked third-round safety Ashtyn Davis to his rookie contract to round out their 2020 draft class (Twitter link via Manish Mehta of the Daily News).

[RELATED: Jets Willing To Trade Adams]

Davis, a Cal product, underwent core muscle surgery just before the draft. However, he’s expected to be 100% healthy by Week 1.

Safety seems to be Davis’ most likely position in the pros, but he also spent time at cornerback early in his collegiate career. The former walk-on is ready, willing, and even eager to line up at different spots in Gregg Williams‘ defense.

I think I can contribute anywhere they put me. I’m comfortable on the outside and inside, whatever the case may be,” Davis said. “After my first year of playing safety, I wanted to know every position and not just my responsibility. That way if someone went down they could put me in.”

Per the terms of his slot, Davis has received a four-year, $4.9MM deal. Here’s the full rundown of the Jets’ nine-man freshman class, via PFR’s tracker:

1-11: Mekhi Becton, T (Louisville): Signed
2-59: Denzel Mims, WR (Baylor): Signed
3-68: Ashtyn Davis, S (California): Signed
3-79: Jabari Zuniga, DE (Florida): Signed
4-120: Lamical Perine, RB (Florida): Signed
4-125: James Morgan, QB (Florida International): Signed
4-129: Cameron Clark, OT (Charlotte): Signed
5-158: Bryce Hall, CB (Virginia): Signed
6-191: Braden Mann, P (Texas A&M): Signed

Vikings Sign CB Jeff Gladney, Wrap 15-Player Draft Class

The largest draft class in the seven-round era is now under contract. The Vikings agreed to terms with first-round cornerback Jeff Gladney on Thursday, closing the book on negotiations with their 15-man draft class.

Chosen 31st overall, Gladney will be expected to compete for a starting job right away. While the COVID-19 pandemic eliminating onsite offseason work (and threatening training camps’ start date) will make the TCU product’s climb more difficult, the Vikings lost three corners — Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander — this offseason.

Minnesota made Gladney its second first-round corner chosen in three years, following Mike Hughes, and fourth since 2013. Gladney spent five years with the Horned Frogs. He finished as a first-team All-Big 12 selection last season and graded as Pro Football Focus’ top Big 12 corner in passer rating allowed in 2018.

The Vikings made three corner selections this year. They will join Hughes, Holton Hill and 2019 seventh-rounder Kris Boyd in attempting to fill the void left by the Rhodes release and the Waynes and Alexander free agency defections.

Here is the full Vikings 15-man draft class:

1-22: Justin Jefferson, WR (LSU): Signed
1-31: Jeff Gladney, CB (TCU): Signed
2-58: Ezra Cleveland, OT (Boise State): Signed
3-89: Cameron Dantzler, CB (Mississippi State): Signed
4-117: D.J. Wonnum, DE (South Carolina): Signed
4-130: James Lynch, DT (Baylor): Signed
4-132: Troy Dye, OLB (Oregon): Signed
5-169: Harrison Hand, CB (Temple): Signed
5-176: K.J. Osborn, WR (Miami): Signed
6-201: Blake Brandel, T (Oregon State): Signed
6-203: Josh Metellus, S (Michigan): Signed
7-225: Kenny Willekes, DE (Michigan State): Signed
7-244: Nate Stanley, QB (Iowa): Signed
7-249: Brian Cole II, S (Mississippi State): Signed
7-253: Kyle Hinton, OL (Washburn): Signed

NFL Draft Pick Signings: 7/23/20

Here are Thursday’s draft pick agreements, with the list being updated throughout the day.

  • The Vikings picked an interesting year to make 15 draft choices, given the pandemic’s impact on developmental work. But the team is nearly finished with rookie contract agreements. Minnesota signed third-round cornerback Cameron Dantzler (Mississippi State), fourth-round defensive end D.J. Wonnum (South Carolina), fifth-round corner Harrison Hand (Temple), fifth-round wideout K.J. Osborn (Miami), sixth-round tackle Blake Brandel (Oregon State), sixth-round safety Josh Metellus (Michigan), seventh-round defensive end Kenny Willekes (Michigan State) and seventh-round safety Brian Cole (Mississippi State). Minnesota lost Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander this offseason and tripled up on corners in the draft. First-round corner Jeff Gladney is the Vikes’ lone unsigned pick.
  • Top 2020 Steelers pick Chase Claypool, a second-rounder, is now under contract. The Steelers have their latest Day 2 wide receiver investment signed, along with Round 6 safety Antoine Brooks (Maryland). Claypool’s addition means the top four Pittsburgh wideouts — JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington, Diontae Johnson and Claypool — came from the second or third rounds. The Notre Dame product has quite the SPARQ profile, going 6-foot-4, 238 pounds and running a 4.42-second 40-yard dash at the Combine.
  • Washington wrapped up its 2020 draft class by signing Round 4 tackle Saahdiq Charles, Round 5 linebacker Khaleke Hudson, Round 6 safety Kamren Curl and Round 7 defensive end James Smith-Williams.
  • The Bengals signed one of Claypool’s former Fighting Irish teammates, fifth-round defensive end Khalid Kareem. He is the first of Cincinnati’s seven 2020 picks to agree to terms.