The Broncos and Jerry Jeudy have a deal. The first-round wide receiver will ink his four-year, $15.192MM deal soon, as NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweets. The deal includes an $8.61MM signing bonus, of which 71% will be paid upfront.
Most of this year’s draft pick signings have come later than usual, in one giant burst. There was little doubt that Jeudy and the rest of this year’s 250+ player crop would eventually sign, but teams have been nervous about the current financial climate and the prospect of laying out millions of dollars early on. The first-round picks, in particular, have dragged, due to their larger signing bonuses.
Teammate Henry Ruggs came off the board before Jeudy, going No. 12 to the Raiders. At No. 15, the Broncos got the Alabama star that many evaluators actually preferred. Jeudy doesn’t have Ruggs’ speed, but he has the size to outstretch cornerbacks on the outside and tremendous route-running ability. The 6’1″ receiver averaged 72 catches for 1,239 yards and 12 touchdowns over his final two years on campus, and he could also see some time in the slot. In Denver, he’ll team with Courtland Sutton– mostly on the opposite side, while second-round pick KJ Hamler handles the slot.
This year’s wide receiver draft class was widely regarded as one of the deepest in recent memory. It was so deep, in fact, that teams felt they could secure immediate-impact players on Day 2 and even Day 3 of the draft. Still, a few players separated themselves from their peers and became first-round selections, the cream of a bountiful crop.
The consensus top three talents were Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb and Alabama standouts Henry Ruggs and Jerry Jeudy. It would not have been surprising to see any of those three players taken in the top-10, and ultimately Ruggs came off the board first, going to the Raiders with the No. 12 overall selection.
The Broncos were quite content with that, as they snagged Jeudy – whom they considered trading up for – with the No. 15 pick. Then, although the Cowboys perhaps had more pressing needs, they could not turn down Lamb when he surprisingly fell into their laps at No. 17.
TCU’s Jalen Reagor was the next domino to fall, heading to the Eagles with the No. 21 selection. Reagor was something of a late riser in the process, as he had been mocked as a second- to third-round choice but began garnering attention as a potential first-rounder as we got closer to draft day. Philadelphia GM Howie Roseman obviously saw something he liked, and he pounced.
But LSU’s Justin Jefferson, generally considered the fourth-best wideout in the class, didn’t have to wait too much longer to hear his name called. The Vikings took him one pick after Reagor.
All five of those players stand a good chance of becoming difference-makers for their respective clubs, as is the case with any first-round pick. But we would like to know from you which of them you think will have the biggest impact as a rookie.
With Ruggs, the Raiders added a speed merchant whose college production did not match that of Jeudy — his teammate of three years with the Crimson Tide — but who fits the Las Vegas offense nicely. The Raiders added another collegiate wideout, Bryan Edwards, in the third round, and they also took a flier on veteran Nelson Agholor. Still, it appears as if Ruggs has a good chance to start opposite Tyrell Williams, with Hunter Renfrow working the slot. Ruggs is electric with the ball in his hands, and he is not a one-dimensional deep threat; he is a solid route-runner who should only get better with coaching. His recent off-field injury seems to be a non-issue, and he will be a boost to a passing offense that performed better than one might think in 2019.
The Broncos, meanwhile, are building a strong young nucleus of skill position talent, and Jeudy will team with Courtland Sutton to form one of the most promising 1-2 punches in the game. He is a gifted route-runner whose excellent production against SEC defenses jumps off the page — he averaged 72 catches for 1,239 yards and 12 TDs over his final two years in school – and he has the versatility to line up outside or in the slot. Fellow rookie KJ Hamler, whom Denver nabbed in the second round, may get most of the slot reps, but Jeudy will be a threat no matter where he plays.
Though Lamb will have to compete with Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup for targets, the Cowboys are perfectly capable of moving the ball through the air and will have plenty of opportunities to go around. Lamb should work primarily in the slot, which will mask some of the deficiencies he has as a route-runner and against press coverage. He has terrific hands and tracking ability, and though he may lack top-line speed, he is plenty quick enough to make things happen, and his overall athleticism is off the charts. He is also a strong and willing blocker, which Ezekiel Elliott will surely appreciate.
Due to injuries and under-performance, the Eagles’ WR group provided very little production last year. Veteran DeSean Jackson played just three games in 2019, Alshon Jeffery may start the season on the PUP list, and 2019 second-rounder JJ Arcega-Whiteside failed to live up to expectations. Philadelphia tried to trade up for Lamb but was happy to pick up Reagor, whose blazing speed could pair well with Jackson. Though it took a while for his stock to rise, that may have been because the TCU offense didn’t give him the chance to show off his route-running skills, so the more scouts were able to evaluate his tape, the more impressed they became. He struggled with drops from time to time, but with his abilities as a deep target and a YAC monster, he has the potential to be a dynamic pro. On the other hand, there are rumblings that Reagor will be asked to focus on just one position in 2020 and will be the understudy to D-Jax, so he may not get as much immediate PT as we might have expected.
Like the Eagles, the Vikings sorely needed to upgrade their WR corps, and Jefferson steps into a great situation, as Minnesota traded Stefon Diggs earlier in the offseason and did little to replace him. So Jefferson should start opposite Adam Thielen, whose mounting injury history could open up even more opportunities. Like most of the LSU offense, Jefferson was tremendous in 2019, securing 111 catches for 1,540 yards and 18 TDs. He offers an intriguing blend of size and speed, and though he may struggle to create separation in the pros, he has good hands and runs good routes. The Vikings like to run the ball, but Kirk Cousins is a capable QB and Jefferson should see plenty of passes coming his way.
So let’s hear your thoughts. Tell us which of these five players will have the most impact on his team in 2020, and explain your reasoning in the comments.
Teams are well aware of Jerry Jeudy‘s past knee troubles, but they aren’t worried about it, according to Dane Brugler of The Athletic (on Twitter). As Brugler notes, the wide receiver is two seasons removed from his scope in April of 2018 and they’ve done ample homework on his lateral meniscus. With that in mind, Brugler hears that the Alabama star is still expected to land somewhere in the Top 20.
Two teams at the scouting combine expressed concern over Jeudy’s left knee, but his doctor has issued a letter to all 32 clubs to quell such talk. “Jeudy has not required any treatment” on the knee since his surgery, says the doctor, who expects him to progress “without limitations” from here on out. Some teams may still have Jeudy’s knee flagged to a degree, but Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter) has yet to speak with a club that believes it will seriously impact his career.
Jeudy is right up there with CeeDee Lamb in a draft that is positively loaded with exceptional WR talent. Both players are mortal locks to come off the board early – it’s just a matter of when the run will start. Some say the WRs will start flying at No. 11, when the Jets have their turn at the virtual podium. Or, the run could start earlier if teams like the Jets, Raiders, or Broncos move up to get their man.
We heard last week that the Broncos may be trying to trade up from their No. 15 overall pick in Thursday’s draft, and those reports suggested that Denver would be targeting an offensive tackle with such a move. Although LT Garett Bolles actually performed surprisingly well in 2019 according to advanced metrics, he has not come close to living up to his status as a former first-round pick, and RT Ja’Wuan James saw his first season with the Broncos almost entirely wiped out due to injury.
So a tackle would make plenty of sense for Denver, but if the team does engineer a trade-up, it would be for a wide receiver, not a lineman, per Woody Paige of The Gazette (Twitter link). Specifically, the longtime Denver-based reporter says the club is targeting Alabama WR Jerry Jeudy.
Jeudy is seen as one of the top receivers in a draft that is historically deep at the position, and the run on wideouts is expected to start no later than the No. 11 overall selection, when the Jets are on the clock. As such, if the Broncos want Jeudy, they may need to get up to No. 8 (Cardinals) or No. 10 (Browns). Both Arizona and Cleveland profile as trade-down candidates, so Denver could have a trade partner should they choose to be aggressive.
Denver’s current WR depth chart looks pretty thin beyond budding star Courtland Sutton, and while it may make more sense to wait until the second or third round to nab another pass catcher — after all, a second-rounder in this year’s draft may be a first-rounder in any other year — there’s no denying that a Sutton-Jeudy combo is sorely tempting.
Jeudy is lauded for his route-running, and he averaged for 1,239 yards and 12 TDs over his final two seasons with the Crimson Tide. With him, Sutton, and second-year TE Noah Fant, QB Drew Lock would have a young and talented arsenal at his disposal.
One way or another, Paige does not expect the Broncos to stay put at No. 15. If they cannot trade up, or if they decide the price to do so is too high, Paige expects them to explore trade-down scenarios to further bolster their draft capital. As of this writing, they have 10 picks in the draft.
It’s no secret that the Jets could use some help at wide receiver. And, with the No. 11 pick, they could have the opportunity to takeCeeDee Lamb or Jerry Jeudy, who stand as the cream of a rich WR crop. Meanwhile, they also need to protect quarterback Sam Darnold (and his spleen), so they could opt for offensive line help in the first round. As Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets, the Jets have done their homework on this year’s top big men.
Before the travel restrictions, the Jets had dinner and a private workout with Georgia’s Andrew Thomas and Alabama’s Jedrick Wills, per Pelissero. He also hears that they’ve hosted Louisville’s Mekhi Becton on a top 30 visit and Zoom-chatted with Iowa’s Tristan Wirfs. They’re the four best offensive lineman in this year’s class, so there’s no guarantee that any of them will slip to Gang Green. Thomas has also garnered interest from the Dolphins (No. 5), Pelissero hears.
Of that quintet, Wirfs is widely viewed as the most NFL-ready. He also offers serious athleticism for his size (6’5″, 320 pounds), plus versatility. At Iowa, he played primarily at left and right tackle. Pro scouts also believe that he has the ability to move inside and play guard.
The Cardinals have themselves a star wide receiver after trading for DeAndre Hopkins, but this year’s WR class is talented enough to tempt every team. Even though the Cardinals may like Kyler Murray‘s one-time teammate CeeDee Lamb and other WR talents, they’re not expected to use their No. 8 pick on a receiver, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter) hears.
With Hopkins installed as the Cardinals’ new WR1, Arizona will likely address larger needs with that pick – perhaps a stud defensive player or an offensive lineman. Then, somewhere around Nos. 11 or 12, where the Jets and Raiders pick, Rapoport expects the WR run to take flight. In that scenario, CeeDee Lamb and Jerry Jeudy stand out as likely candidates – they’re the consensus top receivers in this wildly talented crop, Rapoport hears.
Further down the board, the Eagles have been heavily connected to LSU wide receiver Justin Jefferson. But, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (on Twitter) cautions that several teams could jump ahead of the Birds at No. 21 to land him. The Vikings (Nos. 22 and 25), Patriots (No. 23), and the Saints (No. 24) are all lurking, and they could make a play for a big-time WR like Jefferson.
Long tabbed one of the best players eligible for the 2020 draft, Jerry Jeudy will forgo his final Alabama season to enter the draft. The junior wide receiver announced he will declare on Saturday (Twitter link).
This comes after Jeudy’s six-catch, 204-yard showing in the Citrus Bowl. The 6-foot-1 talent has been on NFL radars for a while and is a likely top-10 pick. Both ESPN.com’s Todd McShay and Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller have Jeudy listed as a top-five prospect. The five-star 2017 recruit sits third on Scouts Inc.’s ranking of draft-eligible prospects.
The shifty route-runner heads up a wide receiver class that’s long been rated as a potential impact group. Two other Crimson Tide wideouts — Henry Ruggs and Devonta Smith — could well join Jeudy. Both have been tabbed as first-round-level prospects. Both Ruggs and Smith have 2020 eligibility, but the possibility of each going on Day 1 points to both declaring for the draft.
Jeudy submitted two 1,100-yard seasons, combining for 24 touchdown receptions over the past two years, and has been compared to Odell Beckham Jr. The Crimson Tide have seen three receivers — Julio Jones, Amari Cooper and Calvin Ridley — go in the first round in the past nine drafts. Jeudy will run that number to four.
D’Andre Swift would be in the running to be the first running back taken in the 2020 draft, and a report surfaced Tuesday indicating the junior Georgia back will leave school early. But Swift, taking to Twitter, denied that report and indicated he has yet to make a decision. Swift said he will not decide his draft status until after the Bulldogs’ Sugar Bowl game. The modern norm has been for running backs to declare early to conserve mileage for the NFL, so it remains a good bet Swift will try to become a first-round pick rather than return to Athens next season. Swift has rushed for a career-high 1,216 yards this season and has averaged north of six yards per carry in each of his three years. Recent Georgia ball-carriers Todd Gurley and Sony Michel were first-round picks; Todd McShay’s initial 2020 mock draft has Swift going 21st overall.
Here is the latest from the draft world:
Despite neither being seniors, Georgia is in line to lose both of its starting tackles. Shortly after left tackle Andrew Thomasdeclared for the draft, Bulldogs right tackle Isaiah Wilson revealed (via Twitter) he will leave school early as well. Wilson is just a sophomore but was Georgia’s starting right tackle for two seasons. Both Bulldogs will skip the Sugar Bowl. A five-star recruit in 2017, the 6-foot-7 Wilson stands to be an early- to mid-round draft pick.
Long projected to be a top-10 pick, Alabama wide receiver Jerry Jeudy may be seeing his stock dip a bit. Due to his size (listed by Alabama as 6-1 and 192 pounds) and the depth of the receiver pool four months ahead of the draft, Albert Breer of SI.com notes Jeudy may no longer be a top-10 lock. Both Clemson’s Tee Higgins and Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb are now threats to become the first receiver taken, per Breer. For what it’s worth, McShay mocks Jeudy at No. 3 overall. The junior Crimson Tide playmaker’s yards-per-catch figure dropped by five-plus yards this season, to 13.5.
Alabama defensive back Trevon Diggs is not participating in pre-Citrus Bowl practices and looks set to head to the NFL. The younger brother of Stefon Diggs slots as Scouts Inc.’s No. 39 overall prospect. He intercepted three passes, taking one back for a touchdown, as a junior this season.
Miami wide receiver Jeff Thomas will leave school early, the junior announced (via Instagram). The 5-10 wideout did not surpass 600 yards in any of his three Hurricanes seasons and is not rated as a top-150 prospect, per Scouts Inc.