We live in an Information Age, with all the access that we have through the internet and the general interest in sports that drives major networks to give us what we want, which is more sports info. However, I have found in recent years that in the rush to break stories or uncover information and get it out, the old principle of “fact check” has suffered in the process. Quite frankly, I have found that the more you search, the more disparate some of the reporting tends to be.
For instance, I am always curious about, (but not obsessed with), some of the detail information that can be derived to help us understand how a situation or story evolved. I have always been curious to know what trends and anomalies develop over time in a process such as the NFL Draft. For instance, I like to know how many trades occurred during each NFL Draft. That number can be a clear indicator of how many teams are “Working The Draft” as opposed to those who let the Draft come to them. My dilemma this morning is trying to decipher what information to give to you, dear reader. Info was provided yesterday, through an ESPN network outlet, that 29 trades transpired during the course of the 2020 Draft, which is the least number of such transactions since 2016. Then this morning on NBC Sports, I get a number from a reliable source of information for me, that 33 trades took place. Sure would be nice to know, with more assurance, that major sports information outlets are getting and checking their info carefully. The NFL might help here by being more forthcoming with detailed info, for all to see.
In either case, it indicates a not overly active trading trend relative to the Draft, but I would defer before joining in that assertion. I say that because it felt to me like the trading of Picks in the final month leading up to the Draft itself was very active… abnormally so, in fact. If felt like every other day, the early evening NFLN crawl line had a Pick or two changing teams. The biggest was when BUCKNER was traded from the 49’ers to the Colts for their First Round Pick, but there were multiple other transactions with moves of lesser players for lesser Picks.
So for now, I will try to relay info to you that I am able to verify with my own eyes and ears. For instance, only 13 QB’s were taken in the 2020 Draft. A little oddity while compiling that number was the disparity between the high end guys and the bottom end. Of the 13, 4 were First Rounders, while 4 were Round 7 draftees. In the 5 Rounds in between, only 5 QB’s were drafted.
As projected by just about all, the WR group was talented and deep. A total of 36 WR’s were taken in 7 Rounds, 13 of them in the first two rounds. 10 teams selected 2 or more WR’s, so I guess Packers GM GUTEKUNST and his scouting crew were the exception when they said that they just couldn’t find the quality they wanted that would force them to use a Pick for a wideout. So they drafted NONE.
17 RB’s were drafted in Total, which was the lowest number since 2010 when 15 were selected. If the Chiefs had not used their final Pick in Round One for CLYDE EDWARDS-HELAIRE, there would have been no first round RB’s again this year. A fact that may explain quite a bit about today’s RB in the big scheme of things around the NFL, is that EDWARDS-HELAIRE is more highly regarded by most NFL folks as a receiver out of the backfield, more so than a ball carrier.
For the first time in NFL history, a team owning it’s full compliment of Draft Picks (7), drafted 7 players who all play on the defensive side of the ball. New HC MATT RHULE clearly felt compelled to patch things up within his defense.
Most college football experts will tell you that the strongest conference, with the best athletes, is the SEC year-in and year-out. Not many NFL talent evaluators would disagree with that sentiment. Once again, the SEC topped all conferences providing 63 of the total 255 Draft Picks. They led with 64 in 2019. In fact, they have led all conferences the past 14 Draft sessions.
Another little something I think that we should all pay more attention to during the announcement of Picks is what position teams show for their drafted player. To avoid confusion with identical, or similar prospect names, teams when handing in their Pick to the League are required to give first/last name, college affiliation (last school only) and position. The first time in this Draft that this detail caught my attention was when the Raiders made the third round selection of LYNN BOWDEN, who was originally a WR at Kentucky, but played QB last season because of injuries within their QB group. The Raiders in making the Pick identified him as a RB. They can play him anywhere they want to, and my guess is that they will move him around as an Offensive weapon, but that designation at the time of the Pick may give you an idea of what position group meeting room that player will be in when Training Camp opens. Nothing etched in stone here, but a sometimes telling little detail.
The Saints brought up the rear when it came to adding players through the 2020 Draft. They moved some Picks around and ended up adding 4 players to the roster during the Draft proceedings. On the other end of the spectrum, RICK SPIELMAN, GM of the Vikings, was the Trader Joe of this Draft. He ended up with 15 Picks that he exercised, which is a record for a team within one Draft, in what is often referred to as the Common Draft Era. The Common Draft, which began in 1967, refers to the agreement to combine the NFL and AFL Drafts into one as a part of the merger between the two leagues. Point of reference here: I graduated from High School that June.
I have felt for some time now that SPIELMAN, who is the brother of former Buckeyes and NFL LB CHRIS SPIELMAN, is one of the best GM’s in the league when it comes to utilizing the Draft as his team’s primary tool for roster building. He works the Draft process to avoid Salary Cap hell that so many teams back themselves into. Then uses VFA’s and a few other tools to fill gaps in said roster.
Just a reminder that the signing of undrafted players is off to a flying start. And our man Larry Parker is tracking things for us all. I will make one disclaimer on Larry’s part. The announcements you hear at this stage are not final. Contracts must be signed, so do NOT be surprised if a few names eventually end up on different rosters than those you read about this week. Kinda like college verbal commitments. They are not binding until the official paper work is signed.