The 2020 NFL Draft was the league’s most unique in the 40+ years it has been a made-for-TV affair.
With coronavirus forcing almost the entire country to practice social distancing, the event was held virtually, with commissioner Roger Goodell announcing selections from his basement.
Even amid the league’s most unknown draft in years, there still were plenty of surprises from the three-day affair.
49ers forgo projected top wideouts
All the talk heading into Thursday night’s first round was centered on general manager John Lynch eyeing one of the draft’s top-of-the-line prospects at wide receiver per most NFL pundits: Alabama products Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs along with former Oklahoma Sooner CeeDee Lamb. When the Niners first came on the clock, both Jeudy and Lamb remained on the board after Ruggs went No. 12 to the Raiders.
But the 49ers went in a different direction, trading back one spot from their original No. 13 draft pick and selecting South Carolina defensive lineman Javon Kinlaw. San Francisco still got one of the receivers Lynch coveted, later drafting Arizona State speedster Brandon Aiyuk at No. 25 overall.
Raiders draft a QB … sort of
Plenty of mock drafts had general manager Mike Mayock finding the Raiders a potential new franchise quarterback in the first round, with Utah State product Jordan Love being a name many tossed around as a candidate. While the Raiders opted for speed at wide receiver and cornerback on Day 1 instead, Las Vegas did draft a player with experience playing quarterback in the third round, although he won’t be manning that position in the NFL.
Kentucky product Lynn Bowden took over as the Wildcats’ starting quarterback in 2019 after multiple injuries and had 74 pass attempts while rushing for 1,468 yards in his junior season, not to mention still accumulating almost 350 receiving yards. Bowden primarily was a wideout during his career at Kentucky, but there’s a strong possibility coach Jon Gruden will find a way to utilize his unique skillset in a variety of formations.
Packers trade up for QB
Speaking of Love, the Green Bay Packers traded up with the Miami Dolphins to draft the signal-caller at No. 26 overall. With Super Bowl champion Aaron Rodgers entering his age-36 season, Green Bay seemingly is hoping Love eventually can replace the longtime starter.
For a team with plenty of other needs along the roster, using such a high pick on Love was shocking to pundits around the league. A Northern California native, Rodgers' name already has begun surfacing in trade speculation.
Speaking of teams looking at quarterbacks a lot earlier than many thought, the Philadelphia Eagles used the No. 53 pick to draft former National champion QB Jalen Hurts from Oklahoma. The signal-caller was seen as a Day 2 pick, but with Philadelphia giving Carson Wentz a nine-figure extension in June, the move took the NFL universe by surprise.
Eagles general manager Howie Roseman emphasized that there’s “no threat to Carson here,” (h/t ESPN) but the Eagles clearly are serious about having a capable backup to Wentz.
Raiders reach for unique defender
Tanner Muse was apart of one of college football’s most elite programs during his tenure with the Clemson Tigers, and has the size to be a linebacker (6-foot-2, 227 pounds) with the top-line speed to be a safety (4.41 40-yard dash). But Muse wasn’t projected until the fourth round at the earliest by most, yet Mayock made him the No. 100 overall pick on Friday night.
The Raiders’ front office continues a love affair with the Tigers, but Muse will have a tough time cracking the linebacker rotation for Las Vegas in 2020.
49ers deal multiple veterans, acquire Pro Bowler on Day 3
Trent Williams started the draft's final day off strong, being traded from Washington to the 49ers for a fifth-round pick. Williams joins Richard Sherman in San Francisco, who the left tackle has a history with.
In a draft that featured a flurry of trades from the 49ers, John Lynch also found new homes for a pair of veterans who both found themselves on the outside looking in for coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense.
Lynch discussed finding Goodwin a new organization in the days leading up to the draft and was able to reach deals for both skill players on Saturday.