Sports

2020 NFL Draft: Teams will virtually select players

The hometown Bengals own the No. 1 pick; QB Joe Burrow is the surefire choice

After posting Heisman-like numbers in his senior season at LSU, quarterback
Joe Burrow appears to be the likely No. 1 pick in Thursday’s virtual NFL Draft.

Contrary to the trend of large sporting events being postponed, the NFL draft will continue on as scheduled, taking place virtually instead of in Las Vegas. 

The 2020 draft during COVID-19 has several stipulations from the league. Teams must gather no more than ten people per group in a war room that must be in a private house instead of a public location. All 32 teams will be on one video conference, and there is also a separate conference for league officials. 

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has said that he will announce the picks from his basement, though it may seem a bit odd that fans will not have the ability to boo the commissioner every time he speaks, as is tradition in person. 

As the first round, scheduled for Thursday night, inches closer, talk of prospects and storylines for the draft has consumed sports talk shows across the nation.

As always, there are several big prospects for the 2020 draft, but the man who everyone is talking about is quarterback Joe Burrow, the headliner and LSU product. 

Burrow finished his college career with a dream 2019 campaign, which featured the top honors in college football, the Heisman Trophy and a College Football Playoff Championship. 

During the season, he threw for 5,671 yards and an NCAA-record 60 touchdown passes while completing 76.3% of his passes. 

While his college success is undeniable, the biggest question that remains for Burrow is if he can bring it at the next level. 

He is a smart player who places the ball in good spots with good timing and anticipation, and he can even make some plays with his feet. However, some scouts believe he has below average arm strength and just an average release time. 

Professional comparisons have ranged from two-time MVP quarterback Kurt Warner and longtime Cowboys signal caller Tony Romo to current Rams signal-caller Jared Goff. 

The Bengals have reportedly already informed Burrow he will be the No. 1 pick in the draft tomorrow. 

Even so, some still speculate that the Miami Dolphins could trade up for the coveted prospect.

That being said, Burrow is not the best prospect in the draft. Instead, that honor belongs to Ohio State defensive end Chase Young. 

Young was a disruptive force for the Buckeyes. He had 16.5 sacks, six forced fumbles and 21 tackles for loss in a stellar junior season (for reference, 2017 No. 1 overall pick Myles Garrett  — considered the clear number one selection that year — had 11.5 sacks, five forced fumbles, and 19.5 tackles for a loss in his best college season). 

Scouts project Young’s best NFL comparison is Julius Peppers, and state he has the perfect size and great speed to make an impact at the edge position. Pro Football Focus (PFF), an NFL stats database, even suggested that Young is the best edge prospect they have ever analyzed, putting him above recent top three picks Garrett, Jadeveon Clowney and brothers Nick and Joey Bosa. 

After Burrow and Young, there are a plethora of high tier quarterbacks and wide receivers that could come off the board. 

Other projected top quarterbacks off the board include Oregon’s Justin Herbert, Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa and Utah State’s Jordan Love. 

One storyline that many will be following on draft night is if Tagovailoa slides down the draft board. 

Many teams are rumored to be wary of the College Football Playoff winning QB’s injury history, which includes multiple high ankle sprains and a hip injury that cost him the final three games of the 2019 season.

The highest number of receivers to be taken in the first round in the last decade was six in 2015, but the 2020 draft could surpass this number. 

NFL.com lists eight receivers in the top 40 draft prospects and PFF has 10 in their top 40. From small and speedy receivers like Alabama’s Henry Ruggs III and Texas Christian University’s Jalen Reagor, to tall and physical receivers like Clemson’s Tee Higgins, there is a large crop of NFL-ready receivers in this draft. 

Other storylines in the draft to watch out for include whether the Patriots use this draft to find Tom Brady’s long-term successor and if top-four pick holders, the Detroit Lions and New York Giants, will make blockbuster trades down the draft board, as rumors suggest.

The virtual draft figures to add a different dimension to one of the most anticipated events of the sports year.

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