By: Robert Bishop
Back again, and it is almost a certainty that two quarterbacks go in the top five, with Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa sure to be off the board within the first few selections. There is growing thought that the Chargers could look to Justin Herbert at pick six. After those three names, there is a lot of question marks. Jordan Love is the consensus fourth-best quarterback in the class, but there are legitimate concerns surrounding his passing accuracy. Jalen Hurts will likely be the fifth quarterback off the board, and he may slide all the way to the third round given concerns about his fit under center. Jacob Eason could join Hurts in the third round, but he will likely be viewed as a long-term project rather than a potential option in the short-term.
Keeping with a focus on the upcoming NFL Draft, the Atlanta Falcons are in a curious position. The team’s offense is star-studded and built to win now. However, the defense is a question mark, and the less said about the secondary, the better. Atlanta’s woes were made greater with a self-inflicted wound, cutting cornerback Desmond Trufant earlier this off-season. The Falcons have to address its secondary during the NFL Draft, with Atlanta likely looking to add one of the many first-round cornerbacks available at selection 16. A best-case scenario has the Falcons landing C.J. Henderson. Atlanta has to do something to improve its pass defense now that, along with Drew Brees, two match-ups with the Tom Brady-led Buccaneers loom on the schedule.
Like the Falcons, the Houston Texans enter the draft in desperate need of an upgrade at cornerback. Unlike the Falcons, the Texans will not have a first-round pick to address the issue. Instead, Houston will have to wait until pick 40. Until yesterday, Houston also picked at 57, but the Texans shipped the pick to the Los Angeles Rams in exchange for receiver Brandin Cooks. Cooks is an above-average receiver, but there are serious injury concerns here. After having inexplicably dealt DeAndre Hopkins earlier this off-season, this was a move Houston likely felt compelled to make. The Texans will also need to bolster its offensive line, its pass rush, and replace defensive tackle D.J. Reader, who signed with the Bengals earlier this off-season.
Speaking of cornerbacks in the draft class, Bryce Hall, was among the best cornerbacks in college football in 2017 and 2018, and he look poised to be a high first-round draft pick. An injury suffered at midseason in 2019 ruined his draft stock, and now he is shaping up to be a massive second round steal. The Texans should be ecstatic to have him on the board at 57, though other teams in desperate need of help at cornerback could make a move to buy low on Hall. The reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs make a whole lot of sense for Hall, should he slide to the team at pick 63, or the Dallas Cowboys at 51.
Green Bay enters the draft likely in pursuit of a new target for quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Aside from the excellent Davante Adams, Green Bay’s receiving corps is far from impressive. Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Allen Lazard, and Geronimo Allison saw far too many targets within Green Bay’s system due to a lack of reasonable alternatives. With a draft class loaded with enticing options at receiver, Green Bay needs to take advantage. The Packers will have to wait until pick 30 to make a selection, but there will likely be a few worthy options from which to choose. Denzel Mims, Brandon Aiyuk are likely going to be on the board, while it is possible Justin Jefferson and/or Tee Higgins slides to the end of the first.
On the edge, pass rusher Chase Young has garnered the most attention, and deservedly so, but there is another defensive lineman coming off a elite production in college that is sliding down draft boards: A.J. Epenesa. A poor showing at the scouting combine is likely dooming Epenesa to being a late-first or early-second round pick. That is going to create a steal for a lucky franchise. Epenesa is second only to Young in this year’s class when it comes to his ability to disrupt things for opposing quarterbacks, and he also boasts enough of a versatility in his skill-set to play on the inside of the defensive line.