2020 NFL draft: Round 1 instant grades

The trades everyone was expecting didn’t heat up until later in Thursday’s first round, but there were still plenty of noteworthy selections at the top.

1) Cincinnati Bengals: QB Joe Burrow, LSU — The pick everyone has expected since January — and it's the right one. It'll be interesting to find out what kind of ransom Miami (or anyone else) offered for the pick. But barring it being something absurd, the Bengals were right to stick here and pick a potential franchise changer.Grade: A.

2) Washington Redskins: EDGE Chase Young, Ohio State — This feels like a bit of a luxury, given that the front seven might be one of the sturdier areas of the team. But Young is a potential game changer, especially in the hands of Ron Rivera and Jack Del Rio. The Redskins didn't overthink it. Even with the temptation of Tua, or a trade possibility, sticking here and picking Yahoo Sports' No. 1 overall prospect is a winning move. Grade: A.

3) Detroit Lions: CB Jeffrey Okudah, Ohio State — After much speculation that Detroit would trade out of this pick, the Lions stayed put and picked arguably the best defensive back in the draft. Long, highly athletic coverage ace who is just starting to hit his peak and profiles as a future All-Pro at one of football’s most demanding positions. Grade: A-.

4) New York Giants: OT Andrew Thomas, Georgia — Dave Gettleman and company select the third overall tackle on our board to protect Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley. Thomas' issues with pass-protection technique are worrisome, but he’s an NFL-grade run blocker from Day 1 at either OT spot. Grade: B.

5) Miami Dolphins: QB Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama — The Dolphins are rolling the dice on greatness. Durability questions cloud — and dominate — Tagovailoa's evaluation, but he's a quick processor with uncanny accuracy who should find ways to thrive if healthy. Grade: A.

Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa went fifth overall to the Miami Dolphins, while his teammate Henry Ruggs III was the first wide receiver off the board at No. 12 to the Las Vegas Raiders. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa went fifth overall to the Miami Dolphins, while his teammate Henry Ruggs III was the first wide receiver off the board at No. 12 to the Las Vegas Raiders. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

6) Los Angeles Chargers: QB Justin Herbert, Oregon — The Chargers take their QB of the future to replace Philip Rivers. Herbert possesses ideal arm strength, athleticism and character for the position, but does he have the keen instincts and temperament to be great? Grade: B.

7) Carolina Panthers: DT Derrick Brown, Auburn — Smart, safe, foundational pick for new head coach Matt Rhule, who wants to create a new identity on the Panthers' defense. Brown is an interior dominator who enters the NFL as an excellent, scheme-diverse run stopper, and could develop as a pass-rush talent. Grade: B+.

8) Arizona Cardinals: LB-S Isaiah Simmons, Clemson — Simmons is a rare athlete with elite versatility who can impact games in coverage, as a blitzer and in run support. The Cardinals are already loaded on offense, and now they get the perfect man to fix their struggles vs. tight ends, a position where NFC West offenses are loaded. Grade: A-.

9) Jacksonville Jaguars: CB CJ Henderson, Florida — The Jaguars add a defensive piece to their rebuild with Henderson, a confident, smooth cover corner whose pre-2019 tape showed the best of what he can be, even with some tackling and playmaking worries. Grade: B+.

10) Cleveland Browns: OT Jedrick Wills Jr., Alabama — The Browns get exactly what they needed, an elite tackle to play in front of Baker Mayfield, and not having to trade up for him was a gift. Wills is an explosive, aggressive run blocker and emerging pass protector who has few obvious shortcomings. Grade: A-.

11) New York Jets: OT Mekhi Becton, Louisville — We had Tristan Wirfs rated higher, and Becton's weight control will be an issue, but new GM Joe Douglas' first pick is a massive gamble on upside. Becton has a rare, generational combination of size and athleticism – with elements of his game that need cleaning up. Grade: B-.

12) Las Vegas Raiders: WR Henry Ruggs III, Alabama — Al Davis would approve. But what won over GM Mike Mayock was Ruggs' hyper-competitive spirit, which sets him apart from other track stars in football, not to mention his world-class speed. Grade: B.

13) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (from 49ers): OT Tristan Wirfs, Iowa — First Tom Brady gets Gronk, now he gets a stud tackle. Tampa Bay trades up and surprisingly nabs LT/RT flexibility and an athlete of Wirfs' caliber at 13. He has the finesse and power to succeed in the NFL, if he can fix a few technical flaws. Grade: A-.

14) San Francisco 49ers (from Buccaneers): DT Javon Kinlaw, South Carolina — Kinlaw is a massive, powerful rusher capable of collapsing the pocket from several alignments, but he must fix his technical flaws. If the medicals are clean, this is a great pick. The 49ers wanted more DL talent after trading DeForest Buckner to the Colts, which landed them the extra first-rounder to begin with. Grade: B.

15) Denver Broncos: WR Jerry Jeudy, Alabama — Not having to trade up was key; John Elway was confident his guy would be there, and it paid off. Jeudy is a smooth operator who already runs routes better than some pros, and should overcome a few physical shortcomings to be great in the NFL. Grade: A-.

16) Atlanta Falcons: CB A.J. Terrell, Clemson — Terrell had one bad game really, the national title game against LSU, and it shouldn't undercut his pro potential. He's a talented, long cornerback who's fluid and good in man coverage. He's also our 46th overall prospect and lacks great ball skills. Grade: C+.

17) Dallas Cowboys: WR CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma — Jerry Jones has to be pleased Lamb fell to this spot. Wide receiver isn't a need but Lamb's talent is worth it, an explosive producer with outstanding body control and ball skills, even if he lacks elite speed and can fine-tune his approach. Grade: A.

The Dallas Cowboys had to be surprised to see Oklahoma wide receiver CeeDee Lamb sitting at No. 17, and didn't hesitate to take him. (Photo by Matthew Visinsky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images).
The Dallas Cowboys had to be surprised to see Oklahoma wide receiver CeeDee Lamb sitting at No. 17, and didn't hesitate to take him. (Photo by Matthew Visinsky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images).

18) Miami Dolphins: OT Austin Jackson, USC — We had Jackson as the No. 68 overall prospect. Others had him far higher, and he did donate bone marrow to his sister right before last season, which might’ve hindered his play. We just weren't in love with him, and believe he needs lot of development. Grade: C-.

19) Las Vegas Raiders: CB Damon Arnette, Ohio State — A bit of a shocker, but it tells us GM Mike Mayock cleared any character questions that existed at one point with Arnette. He's competitive, can play zone/off-man, and you need all the corners you can find in the same division as Patrick Mahomes. Grade: C.

20) Jacksonville Jaguars: EDGE K'Lavon Chaisson, LSU — The Yannick Ngakoue era in Jacksonville is clearly over now thanks to the selection of Chaisson, a traits-heavy pass rusher with versatile skills. Both the Jags' first-round picks are attempts to correct earlier franchise mistakes, which is the only thing we don't like about them. Are they tanking for Trevor? Grade: B.

21) Philadelphia Eagles: WR Jalen Reagor, TCU — Held back by his college offense, Reagor projects as a dynamic, shifty playmaker if he can hone his craft more. The Eagles did a lot of work on Reagor, who could be a star at a glaring position of need in Philly with his speed, toughness and versatility. Grade: B-.

22) Minnesota Vikings: WR Justin Jefferson, LSU — Not wildly athletic or big, but Jefferson is a talented slot wide receiver for a team whose depth at that position had been pretty rough after the Stefon Diggs trade. Also has terrific hands and contested-catch skills. Grade: B.

23) Los Angeles Chargers (from Patriots): LB Kenneth Murray, Oklahoma — Love this for the Chargers, even at the cost of a second- and third-round pick to trade up. Murray is a high-character selection, and he can be a key piece of a front seven needed to attack the Chiefs in the division. Grade: B+.

24) New Orleans Saints: C Cesar Ruiz, Michigan — A bit of a surprise, but a potentially great pick. Ruiz is a young, extremely solid center with the grit and power to emerge as among the best at his position. Feels like a replacement for Larry Warford. Grade: B-.

25) San Francisco 49ers (from Vikings): WR Brandon Aiyuk, Arizona State — The 49ers paid a bit of a steep price to move up here for Aiyuk, but he gives them some speed to stretch the field and has an eye-opening wingspan, though he needs polished. Fascinating move here for GM John Lynch and San Francisco. Grade: C+.

26) Green Bay Packers (from Dolphins): QB Jordan Love, Utah State — Fascinating move, but not that stunning. The cost for the Packers to move up wasn't high, and our 31st overall prospect – now a potential heir to Aaron Rodgers – is an extremely gifted (though flawed) passer who could develop into the best quarterback in this class. Grade: B-.

27) Seattle Seahawks: LB Jordyn Brooks, Texas Tech — Brooks is a litmus test for your evaluation methods. He’s a throwback linebacker with great run-stopping ability, but I don't like Brooks in coverage and that's where NFC West linebackers will get left in the dust if they're not careful. Grade: D+.

28) Baltimore Ravens: LB Patrick Queen, LSU — The Ravens made a great pick? I am stunned. This is GM Eric DeCosta following in the footsteps of his mentor Ozzie Newsome and finding a young, ascending playmaker in Queen with vast upside as a three-down linebacker. Grade: A-.

29) Tennessee Titans: OT Isaiah Wilson, Georgia — A predictable pick. The Titans are a power run team and needed a RT after losing Jack Conklin in free agency. Wilson's arrow is pointing up, though he wasn't our favorite OT in this class and some scouts secretly wished he'd have stayed in school and developed another year. Grade: C+.

30) Miami Dolphins: CB Noah Igbinoghene, Auburn — He was a little lower on our board, but scouts were all over Igbinoghene's upside and raw athletic ability. He's a former wide receiver who is just starting to learn the position, and could be the starting nickel and kick returner right away. Grade: C+.

31) Minnesota Vikings: CB Jeff Gladney, TCU — Gladney is a Mike Zimmer corner. The Vikings did a lot of work on the CB class and came away impressed with Gladney's dog mentality – even if his size compromises his ability to combat taller receivers. Grade: B.

32) Kansas City Chiefs: RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire, LSU — The highest-drafted RB in Andy Reid's career goes from a the most explosive offense in college football to the most explosive offense in the NFL. Edwards-Helaire is a compactly built powder keg of a back, and an immediate contributor. This pick is a home run. Grade: A-.

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