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Christmas in April

Today feels like Dec. 22. The feeling of excitement as a kid leading up to Christmas Day is unmatched by most things in life.

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For fans of the NFL, this week feels like Christmas because of the NFL draft.

April 23 will be round one of the three day draft, with rounds two and three on April 24, and rounds four through seven  on April 25.

The draft will be held virtually, which could be a mess, but it will be the most watched and exciting mess in the history of sports messes.

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There are many storylines surrounding this year’s draft, so here’s a few to watch out for as you get ready for the big day.

How many quarterbacks in the top five? 

There could be three quarterbacks taken in the top five. The obvious number one is Joe Burrow, the Heisman Trophy Winner from LSU. The Cincinnati Bengals own the number one pick, and are all but certain to select the Ohio native to be their franchise quarterback. 

 

Tua Tagovailoa (Alabama), Justin Herbert (Oregon) and even Jordan Love (Utah State) all have a chance to be selected in the top five as well. The Redskins, Lions and Giants own picks two through four, but none of them are in need of a quarterback. All of those teams could trade their pick if another team wants to get ahead of the Miami Dolphins at number five, in order to get the quarterback they want. Watch for the Chargers, Jaguars, or maybe even the Patriots to move into the top five.

Where will Isaiah Simmons be drafted?

The name might not sound familiar yet, but Isaiah Simmons is possibly the best player in this draft. He’s listed as a linebacker, but at Clemson, he proved he can be used as a safety, cornerback, and edge rusher. He’s a swiss army-knife on defense.

 

From the outside looking in, it seems like he should be drafted in the top three, but he might fall out of the top ten. Some teams are concerned about how they would use him. That thought is ridiculous, but I see where they’re coming from. Other teams in the top ten could decide to draft a top offensive lineman, defensive lineman, and maybe even a top receiver, instead of Simmons.

Who will be the first receiver picked?

This is the deepest wide receiver class in recent memory… maybe even in the history of the league. 

There are three receivers who have been deemed the “Big 3.” CeeDee Lamb (Oklahoma), Jerry Jeudy (Alabama) and Henry Ruggs III (Alabama) are likely to be the ones drafted early. Each has different skill sets. Lamb was a cog in the explosive offenses of Oklahoma that had two Heisman winning quarterbacks (Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray). He is as explosive as they come.

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Jeudy and Ruggs both excelled at Alabama. Jeudy has the most complete skill set and can play at any of the three receiver positions. Ruggs ran the fastest 40 yard dash time (4.27 seconds) at the combine, and can be used on special teams as a returner as well. 

It’ll come down to who each team believes is the best fit for their system, but I believe Jeudy will be off the board first. 

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Who will be the biggest steal in the draft?

It’s difficult to project who will be a sleeper before a draft happens, but through my research, Tyler Johnson, wide receiver from the University of Minnesota, stands out to me as a player that is better than his pre draft grade, which is somewhere in the middle rounds.

 

Johnson led the Big-10 in catches and receiving yards in 2019 and won All Big-10 honors three times. He played on the outside as a deep threat and in the slot as a route runner. He’s 6 foot 3 inches and 207 pounds, so he is able to use his size to gain leverage against corners. Scouts think he is too slow and not agile enough to be a top receiver in the league, but his skill set doesn’t require top end speed. He’ll come into the league as a red zone threat, which every team needs. It’s a deep receiver class, but he could be a candidate to be redrafted higher in a look back on the 2020 draft five years from now.

What will the Patriots do?

This question never has a good answer, because no one has ever cracked the code of Bill Belichick.

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This year will be different for the Patriots because they lost legendary quarterback Tom Brady in free agency. This team should be in a rebuild now, but they still have a top ten defense.

Their slated starting quarterback is Jarrett Stidham, who is heading into year number two in the league. However, rumors have been swirling that they could trade up into the top five to draft Tua Tagovailoa. They currently hold pick 23, they could also trade that pick to acquire other picks later in the draft. They could use a top receiver, but they drafted N’Keal Harry in round one last year. It’ll be interesting to see their approach.

You can watch the draft from April 23-25 on ESPN and NFL Network. Round one begins at 8:00 p.m. 

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