NFL Draft First Round Winners

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Will Locklin, Staff Writer

The first round of the 2020 NFL Draft has come and gone without many surprises.  There were no trades in the top ten and most prospects went within the range they were projected to go in.  As with any draft, there are always teams that seem to have won, and teams that appear to have lost.  This draft had fewer head-scratching picks than years prior and more teams came away with an upgrade at a position of need than usual.  The obvious winners are the teams that have one of the first picks in the entire draft.  However, franchises that can grab a steal later in the first round should also be recognized as draft winners.  

The Sec was a big winner from last night’s draft.  A new record for most picks from one conference in the first round was set with fifteen players from the Sec being drafted.  Breaking the previous record of twelve players drafted also set by the Sec.  The Sec has had the most picks in the first round for over a decade and it seems like that trend will not stop soon considering the Sec dominance in college recruiting.  47% of the first round came out of the Sec and six out of the ten first-round picks were from the Sec.  LSU had the most first-round picks with five, followed by Alabama having four.  Georgia and Auburn both had two each with one each going in the top ten.  Florida and South Carolina added to the overwhelming totals with one first rounder each.   The Sec continues to be the conference where the NFL scouts the best talent to draft and develop into stars at the next level.            

The Cardinals were able to snag Isiah Simmons from Clemson, a consensus top three prospect on defense and top five overall players with the 8th pick in the draft.  Simmons can play both Linebacker and Safety and be impactful at both positions.  His elite instincts and athleticism allow him to play exceptionally well against the run and in coverage.  The Cardinals made a big-time splash by drafting the best player available with the 8th pick.  

Tua Tagovailoa was drafted by the Dolphins at pick number 5, giving them a future franchise quarterback.  Tua is an extremely high-risk high reward because of his abundance of injuries in college.  The potential reward for the Dolphins makes this pick worth it.  The Dolphins desperately need a game-changer who can turn their fortunes around and Tua can be the player to do it.  Tua was not only one of the best players in college football for 2 straight seasons but also constantly flashed elite arm talent making lots of throws into tight windows.  Without the injuries, he may have been the first pick in the draft so the Dolphins grabbing him at five could reep lots of reward.  The Dolphins also drafted Austin Jackson an Offensive Tackle from USC and Noah Igbinoghene a Cornerback from Auburn.  The Dolphins drafted a lineman to protect Tua is smart considering his injury history and Igbinoghene has great speed and upside to become a solid starter on defense.  

The 49ers made two very good selections with their two first-round picks.  Their first selection was Javon Kinlaw, a Defensive Tackle from South Carolina.  The Niners could have taken a great wide receiver talent but chose to add to their strengths on the defensive line.  Kinlaw is a disruptor up front and dominated against elite competition in college like Alabama and Georgia.  The Niners need to replace Deforest Buckner who left in free agency and Kinlaw will be asked to fill that hole upfront.  With their second pick in the first round, the Niners chose Brandon Ayiuk, a Wide Receiver from Arizona State.  The Receiver class this year is one of the deepest in the entire history of the draft.  Kyle Shanahan will add another weapon with great hands and lots of run after catch ability.  Both picks add value to a super bowl contending team, making them even more formidable.