Noah Igbinoghene

2020 NFL Draft winners and losers: Who did best, worst in first round

2020 NFL Draft winners and losers: Who did best, worst in first round

The 2020 NFL Draft's first round was one for the history books.

Not only did the league conduct a (mostly) successful virtual first round, but the SEC broke its own record with a whopping 15 selections. That's right, nearly half of Thursday's picks came from one conference. I'm not suggesting NFL general managers are calling into "The Paul Finebaum Show" under aliases, but it's at least worth investigating.

The SEC wasn't the only entity to make its mark on draft night. Here are the winners and losers from Thursday's first round.

Winner: 49ers

The 49ers played their cards just right Thursday night. They wheeled and dealed to move up and move down, but they still ended the first round with two picks and two of their biggest needs filled.

Joe Staley’s uncertain 49ers future surely helped convince the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to move up one spot to No. 13, and San Francisco was able to move back and select South Carolina’s Javon Kinlaw, a natural replacement for departed defensive tackle DeForest Buckner. The 49ers then included the Bucs’ fourth-round pick (No. 117 overall) in a package to move up to No. 25 overall, where they selected rangy Arizona State wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk.

General manager John Lynch recently said late-round picks would have a tough time making the 49ers' roster next season, so it wasn’t necessarily imperative that the team hang onto all of its selections. Getting immediate contributors was more important, and Kinlaw and Aiyuk certainly qualify.

Losers: Running backs

Plenty of others who are smarter and more qualified than this author have written about the NFL draft’s de-emphasis on running backs. As recently as 2014, there were no running backs selected in the first round.

Still, something seemed oddly fitting about the first running back -- LSU’s Clyde Edwards-Helaire -- being taken with the final pick of the first round. That’s especially true when you consider that Todd Gurley, who was first-team All-Pro as recently as 2018, was cut this offseason.

Running backs’ careers are, on average, the shortest of NFL players. Front offices clearly recognize that now, and you need not look any further than the fact that only one team -- the Kansas City Chiefs -- deemed a running back worthy of even having the option to sign for a fifth year.

Winner: Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins didn’t exactly tank for Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa last season, but they were able to have their cake and eat it, too, after he fell to them at No. 5 overall. He might not have been there if not for his hip injury last season, but Miami has its most promising signal-caller since Dan Marino was playing.

The Dolphins drafted a tackle (USC’s Austin Jackson) to protect Tagovailoa, but their best bit of business might’ve been trading the No. 26 overall pick to the Green Bay Packers for the 30th and 136th overall selections. The Dolphins took Auburn cornerback Noah Igbinoghene with the Packers’ pick.

Miami entered the draft with an NFL-high 14 picks and needs all over the field. The AFC East cellar-dwellers ended it with a franchise QB, an offensive lineman, a lockdown corner with room to grow, and an additional pick. That’s how you build a foundation to capitalize on Tom Brady’s divisional departure.

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Loser: Aaron Rodgers

The similarities are eerie to when the Packers drafted Rodgers to replace Brett Favre, and time will tell if Utah State’s Jordan Love can follow in Rodgers’ footsteps. You can’t help but feel for the incumbent, however, given his clear lack of offensive support in Green Bay.

Rodgers carried countless subpar supporting casts in his prime, but the probable Pro Football Hall of Famer will turn 37 this season, and the Packers’ NFC Championship Game loss to the 49ers made it clear he no longer can do it on his own. The QB made his draft preferences known in a Thursday interview with Pat McAfee.

This draft does have a deep crop of wide receivers, but trading up to pick Rodgers’ successor in the first round doesn’t reek of confidence in Green Bay’s 2020 chances. Perhaps the Packers didn’t want to double down on a season in which they won about three more games than expected based on point differential. Good luck selling that to one of the best QBs of all time, though.

Winner: Roger Goodell’s outfit change

Goodell wore a suit jacket sans tie to start Thursday’s first round, swapping it out for a v-neck sweater around the midway point.

Both looks are far too formal for most -- if not all -- work-from-home settings, but changing was a weirdly relatable move. He’s at home, so why wouldn’t he swap the jacket for a sweater if he was uncomfortable, camera setup be damned?

Of course, most people working from home at this point are switching one pair of sweats for another, so it’s not like Goodell is a People’s Champion for changing into other professional clothing. Still, I liked how he leaned into the strangeness of it all.

[RELATED: Grading 49ers' 'home run' Kinlaw pick]

Losers: Roger Goodell’s note cards

The commissioner read from note cards. That isn’t too strange to read on its own, until you remember he was by himself because of the draft’s virtual nature.

I have a lot of questions. Nobody handed Goodell the note cards, unlike a normal draft. Did Goodell get the picks relayed to him and then write them down so he could read off a card? Did teams fax him the answers? Was he even aware how strange it would look since the only person who could’ve handed him said card was … himself?

We’re all seeking a sense of normalcy as we adjust to difficult circumstances, but Goodell’s note cards were an unnecessary effort to make things appear “business as usual.” It’s not like anyone came into the night saying, “You know what we need for this to feel like a real draft? Note cards!”

Well, anyone outside of the league office, that is.

NFL Draft 2020: Imagining Raiders' unreal, worst-case scenario

NFL Draft 2020: Imagining Raiders' unreal, worst-case scenario

The Raiders knocked the NFL draft out of the park last year.

General manager Mike Mayock and coach Jon Gruden navigated the board and snapped up six prospects who contributed immediately. It would have been seven, but first-round pick Johnathan Abram missed all but one game with a shoulder injury.

The 2020 draft, which begins Thursday, will provide different challenges and new pitfalls for the Raiders' brass to avoid. The Silver and Black's needs are clear. They need a No. 1 wide receiver, a lockdown corner, a space-eating defensive tackle, a Josh Jacobs backup and another receiver who can play a minor role early and then take over for Tyrell Williams.

We know the prospects many have earmarked for the Raiders. We know about CeeDee Lamb's YAC ability, Henry Rugg's speed, Jerry Jeudy's route-running; CJ Henderson's cover skills, A.J. Terrell's length and Kristian Fulton's nastiness factor. The Raiders' preferred path is clear, but the draft never is that cut and dry.

Raiders insider Scott Bair and I have dissected it from every angle. We've analyzed the prospects and he offered his Raiders-centric mock, which I gave a B-plus. It was good. It could have been better.

But now let's look at the other side of the coin. A draft haul that might have fans slamming their head into TV trays and wondering why they even decided to turn on the virtual draft. (What else is there to watch?)

Here's a worst-case scenario for the Raiders on draft night(s).

First Round

Things are looking good for the Raiders after the first six picks. Henderson, Lamb, Jeudy and Ruggs all remain on the board. Then, the Philadelphia Eagles send a haul to the Carolina Panthers to move up and draft Lamb. Henderson goes at No. 9 and the Denver Broncos trade up to No. 10 to grab Jeudy. The New York Jets have their choice of three tackles or Ruggs, and they add the speedster from Alabama, throwing a lurch in the Raiders' plans.

Derrick Brown remains on the board, but the Raiders elect to trade back with the Atlanta Falcons, picking up a No. 16 pick and No. 47 overall. Passing on Brown has defensive coordinator Paul Guenther ready to offer his resignation, but his internet tanked because his wife was binge-watching Grey's Anatomy.

With two picks in no-man's land, the Raiders pass on Justin Jefferson and reach for Denzel Mims at No. 16. The big-body receiver who killed the combine is too good pass up and the Raiders hope he can help immediately on the outside.

Back on the clock at No. 19, the Raiders ignore their cornerback need and Gruden does what he's never done before: Drafts a quarterback in the first round. Gruden falls in love with Jordan Love, the big-armed quarterback from Utah State and now things are all out of whack.

Second round

The Raiders did add a second-round pick so it's not all bad.

Back on the clock at No. 47, the Raiders again go with potential instead of the sure thing.

With Damon Arnette and Jaylon Johnson still on the board, as well as Chase Claypool, the Raiders select Auburn cornerback Noah Igbinoghene, an electric athlete with raw coverage skills. He could develop into a lockdown corner but it will take time the Raiders don't have.

If the Raiders have a chance at Claypool on Day 2 and pass on him, they better be getting a sure thing at a position of need.

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Third round

Three picks in the third round is where the Raiders can make their money. The draft is off to a rough start, but they can earn it back.

At No. 80, the Raiders select Jordan Elliott a defensive tackle out of Missouri. At 6-foot, 300 pounds, Elliott has imposing size, but he has average burst and is lacking as an athlete. With Raekwon Davis and Davon Hamilton both still on the board, the Raiders again make the wrong choice. 

Back on the clock at No. 81, the Raiders get Jacobs' backup in Boston College's A.J. Dillon. A big, bruising, between the tackles throwback who was projected to be a fourth- or fifth-round pick. At No. 91, the Raiders play it smart and draft Clemson safety K'Von Wallace, a guy from a winning program who likely will be a slot corner at the NFL level.

See, it's not all bad.

Fourth round

With their fourth-round pick, the Raiders look to address the receiver position again and draft Tennessee's Jauan Jennings.

Jennings, 6-foot-3, 215 pounds, has good size and hands but lacks elite athleticism and struggles to separate at the top of routes.

In a loaded receiver class, coming away with Mims and Jennings is a nightmare scenario.

Fifth round

By this point, Mayock's internet connection has died and Gruden is running on 72 hours without sleep while grinding tape.

After watching LSU throttle Clemson in his title game re-watch, Gruden decides he needs more Tigers on his team. So, he selects LSU linebacker Michael Divinity with the Raiders' final pick. Divinity had some maturity issues/red flags at LSU, where he spent some time away from the team, and has trouble processing plays. He's got length and is versatile -- can play linebacker or come off the edge -- but the character concerns and lack of elite athleticism are troubling.

The dust settles and the Raiders' no good, very bad, turn your head and throw your computer out the window draft has finished.

Here's where we landed:
First Round (No. 16 after trade with Falcons): Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor
Passed on: Derrick Brown (at No. 12), Javon Kinlaw and Justin Jefferson
First Round: (No. 19): Jordan Love, QB, Utah State
Passed on: Just about everyone
Second Round (No. 47 via Atlanta): Noah Igbinoghene, CB, Auburn
Passed on: Chase Claypool, Damon Arnette, Jaylon Johnson
Third Round (No. 80): Jordan Elliott, DL, Missouri
Passed on: Raekwon Davis, Davon Hamilton, Bryan Edwards
Third Round (No. 81):  A.J. Dillon, RB, Boston College
Third Round (No. 91): K'Von Wallace, S, Clemson
(This is a good pick and I expect him to be high on the Raiders'  board)
Fourth Round (No. 121): Jauan Jennings, WR, Tennessee
Fifth Round (No. 159): Michael Divinity, LB, LSU

[RELATED: How Becton, Tua, Kinlaw dropping could impact Raiders]

The good news is: None of this is likely or even plausible. It's a fun exercise to imagine the wheels coming off.

Mayock and Gruden proved themselves to be a formidable draft duo a year ago, and as long as Gruden learns how to work Zoom and get the picks in, the Raiders are primed for another solid class.

Programming note: Don't miss NBC Sports Bay Area's coverage of the 2020 NFL Draft! Stream "NBC Sports On the Clock: NFL Mock Draft" on the MyTeams app and on on Wednesday at 2 p.m. to get all of the latest information on the 49ers and Raiders.

Mel Kiper NFL mock draft 2020: 49ers get CeeDee Lamb, Noah Igbinoghene

Mel Kiper NFL mock draft 2020: 49ers get CeeDee Lamb, Noah Igbinoghene

Mock draft season is coming to a close with the 2020 NFL Draft only nine days away, but the exercise still is ramping up. 

In NBC Sports Bay Area's latest NFL mock draft, Josh Schrock and myself have the 49ers taking Alabama receiver Jerry Jeudy at No. 13 and then trading their No. 31 pick to add a pick in the second and fourth round. ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. released his latest mock draft Tuesday morning, and while he wasn't able to do any trades, he did address two of the 49ers' biggest needs. 

Kiper handed Oklahoma receiver CeeDee Lamb to the 49ers at No. 13 and Auburn cornerback Noah Igbinoghene with the 31st pick. Landing Lamb would be a dream scenario for the Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers. 

"Lamb is a big-play threat and a technician as a route runner, and he'd be a great complement to the versatility of Deebo Samuel," Kiper wrote. 

Exactly. While Jeudy and fellow Alabama receiver Henry Ruggs certainly are viable options for the 49ers, Lamb should be the most desired.

The former Sooner is 6-foot-2 and 198 pounds with sticky paws able to haul in any pass. He can turn a quick pass into a 50-yard gain, or you can throw it up and have him out-jump any cornerback. 

Lamb, who often is compared to DeAndre Hopkins, had 62 receptions for 1,327 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns while averaging 21.4 yards per catch (!) last season. He could completely change Shanahan's offense as Jimmy Garoppolo's top target. 

[RELATED: Ruggs better fit for 49ers in draft than Jeudy, Simms says]

Igbinoghene also fits the 49ers. The former receiver-turned-cornerback is raw but full of potential. San Francisco needs a young corner opposite of Richard Sherman, especially with Sherman entering the final year of his contract. 

The Auburn product is explosive -- he ran a 4.48 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine -- and extremely physical. The 49ers could use some of that physicality, but he will need some grooming. Sherman could be a great mentor for him. 

If the 49ers are able to select Lamb, though, San Francisco will come out of Round 1 as winners.

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