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Green Zone League Articles

St. Marie's Grades: 2020 Draft
By Nic St. Marie
Special to gzl-football.com

1.1 HB Ezekiel Elliott - A-
Once in a while, teams will draft a player that makes everyone confront their biases. Why is it conventional wisdom to avoid running backs in the top 3, top 5, top 10, 1st round. How high is too high?

Adrian Peterson has played with some very good Vikings Defenses, but he never sniffed a SB without a QB (and still fell short with the Favre magical season). Barry Sanders seemed to retire from the stress of trying to carry a team that couldn't win.

LaDainian Tomlinson is who Elliot reminds me of. Ezekiel is fast but no Chris Johnson, powerful but no Adrian Peterson or Jim Brown. He comes complete with good running back skills and no weaknesses. He's big and fast. I am giving a good grade, because this is a player that blows most of his position away. He's very similar to Vince Rogers. You could also look at Doug Martin, a 2nd round pick, and say Elliot is a bigger more agile Doug Martin.

Those names have produced some of the best running games this league has ever seen. Elliot can be that guy, and may be the player most able to carry a franchise in the draft. Maybe my biases are wrong. Maybe this is what a 1st overall pick should look like.

1.2 LT Laremy Tunsil - B+
The Dolphins like to do the Belichick thing and trade down to get additional picks with high-value positioning like this. But this year they stuck around to see if they could get Elliot, and I think because the trade market for the top 3 was watered down.

Tunsil is going to get a lot of money to play one of the 5 OL positions on the team from Miami. And yet this is the type of talent that is rarely available outside of the top 5, or top 10 in a stacked draft. A beast with little development time needed, Tunsil is equally elite at mirroring an elite pass rusher, blasting a fatty directly in front of him, or getting to the second level and cutting off a linebacker or safety.

Michael Millen is the currently untouchable standard at OT for super-athletes with the strength to handle anyone. Looking at the list of players like Tunsil, I could argue that he's second on that list with 68 SPD and 81 ACC.

1.3 WR Tyler Boyd - A+
The Vikings have drafted WRs high before with mixed results. They didn't overthink it, and there are no mixed results here, as Sammy Watkins and Tyler Boyd are going to make the job of the defensive-minded coaches really hard. I only have one CB with SPD over 93, what am I going to do against this?

Boyd is a stud at 6'2" and will probably become the most dangerous streak-runner in the league. Along with having the athletic tools to beat corners on every other route in the book.

1.4 WR Laquon Treadwell - A
There is a pervasive belief amongst some of the more respected GM's that strength matters during the WR/CB battle for the ball in the air. In my head, I picture one guy getting moved off the spot less with higher strength, but no one has described how it applies.

It's tough to know because the strong guys are usually the tall guys and the heavy guys. So which part of all of that brings the advantages during a contested ball? Treadwell brings all three, and will be a deep threat. Also, he'll certainly benefit from that strength while breaking the tackles of the weak CB's fast enough to run with him.

1.5 WR Armani Chance - A
In the tradition of many others, I wanted outside opinion for my own pick.

T_Miller :
First, he is 6'3". For all the improvements you can do in this league, you cannot improve a player's height. Speed, agility, and acceleration are all in the 90's and you could end up with a 96 SPD, 99 AGI, and 94 ACC man which is great for any player but 6'3"... wow!

I like his strength. Also some hidden things that he excels at: 95 INJ and 93 TGH. My only very slight knock is that his jumping is at 89. For a guy that tall, it would really take the cake if he had 90+ jumping. However, since he will probably be running past everyone and not have a lot of jump balls, what is the problem?

Overall grade: A

1.6 CB Vernon Hargreaves I - A
I gave a very similar player an A+ draft grade at 1.2 in 2015. Hargreaves is better in pass coverage than Taylor was, was the first CB off the board, the consistently highest rated CB, and picked at 1.6.

Looking at Taylor's career, and the 49ers great season last year, I see no evidence that his stature has been a liability. And Hargreaves will be better, except in run support. Not a problem for this writer.

1.7 MLB Reggie ragland - C+
Reggie Ragland the player is outstanding. I've been having an agility revolution (brought on by a new WR perhaps) as it is an attribute I've overlooked. Reggie shouldn't have much problem getting to 86 SPD, and already has immense strength, short area quickness, good skills ratings, and a strong injury rating. This is the centerpiece of any good defensive front 7.

The position is one that doesn't warrant such a high pick in my opinion. Reggie will counter running backs rather well, and may even contribute a 10 takeaway season in a few years. But no MLB makes the impact on the opposing offense that a top CB makes (there were at least 3 left on the board), and I would argue a top pass rusher means more as well.

1.8 QB Teddy Bridgewater - A
This is a QB that could have gone first overall and no one would have blinked if the team needed one. The fact that he's gone at 8 and not 1-3 may be a sign of the fact that we see franchise QB's come out every year.

But Bridgewater is swimming in elite attributes that have made guys 1st overall in the past. Love this pick, for a team that needs stability here.

1.9 LT Jack Conklin - A-
Lower risk, lower ceiling, more stability. OL player for a long time. The Saints offense will look good with ordinary players for a long time with the foundation they are building. Not sexy, a top 10 pick at this position. But we see it every year and it's a good decision. An A+ would be a home run like one of the stud CBs. Not an immediate need, but a long-term stud CB would benefit any team that doesn't have two that will last the next 5 years.

1.10 Qb Connor Cook - A
The Cowboys preferred Connor Cook over Teddy Bridgewater. I think I'd go the other way. But either way, the two QB's were so similar that the later pick to get one of the two certainly gets high marks. The Cowboys will have the standard rookie development ahead, but it's as short as they come with this high AWR/THA combo, and he has a nice live arm to go with it.

1.11 LE Joey Bosa - A+
Bosa is the best pass rusher in the draft, and yet it is not surprising he went outside of the top 10. He has ordinary strength and acceleration for the position, while being elite in size and strength for a pass rusher. That made him fall, but not less valuable.

He reminds me of Mario Williams and Allen Bailey, and those two have had great impacts on this league.

1.12 LG Landon Turner - A-

T_Miller :
I know it is because I am an old lineman myself, but... did you ever look at a draft board and have someone jump out at you? Let alone a guard? I start with ACC. An 80 ACC? Are you kidding me? I am happy when my OLB have an 80 ACC but a lineman? Now I start going through the rest. 6'4" check. 315 pounds check. SPD 65, AGI 66 - check, check. He must be weak... what? 92 STR! So he can get out in front of the running back on a sweep or he will explode off the ball and wreck the person in front of him. He has great initial skills in PBK and RBK as well. The only knock I can see is that you took a guard with the 12th overall pick meaning you missed out on Scooby and Miles Jack if you really wanted an OLB. It is hard telling what the Steelers would have done since they took a center, but no other guard was taken until 1.30, so you could have gotten away with flipflopping your OLB and LG picks.

Overall grade - A-
I think he is a stud but I think you could have gotten him later.

1.13 CB Chikae Reeder - A
I'm not as in love with him as some, and here's why. Yes, he'll completely dominate against some opponents. But no, he won't completely shut down all of them. And I wouldn't have picked Reeder over a couple of guys unless my situation allowed it. Here's why.

I plan my defense for a winning team. If I'm winning, the opponent will throw the ball two out of every three plays, and look to go deep. If the opponent can get WRs behind my primary two CBs, I make it a hell of a lot easier. So I'd pick Fuller over Reeder at this point. I'd prefer an opponent to try and complete five passes to a 6'4" guy over a 5'11" stud than 1 TD to a 5'11" speedster over a 6'4" guy.

I still love Reeder, and he's still valuable enough to earn a high grade. Just not who I'd pick here. But if I was the Patriots, I'd have to ignore this writer. Because who better to match up with the toughest WR to guard in the league?

1.14 CB Don Slade - D-
Slade is a 1st or 2nd round physical talent. He is not a top 15 talent in this draft, obviously. Jags don't fail the pick, But just about.

1.15 OT Kellen Kelmendi - B+
Kelmendi is another very sudden athlete for the OL. He has less game awareness, but still has good blocking skills for a rookie. Should be a great tackle or guard. I love seeing a big guy that has this kind of speed on the OL.

1.16 OLB Scooby Wright III - B+
Scooby is one of three OLBs that had a chance to go this high, and many people thought he was the best one. Physically, the guy is flawless, and skills-wise he has good awareness and fantastic tackling. The only flaw to consider his is relatively low injury rating, but get that fixed and this is an elite MLB at the OLB position.

1.17 CB Kendall Fuller - A+
Wow. The only thing you can say negatively about this kid is...I wish he was a little bit taller. A guy that can be a 98/98/98 athlete, that comes out with 70 AWR and 68 CTH is a star CB waiting to happen. I play a 5'10" guy with similar athleticism and hands, but the Honey Badger came out with 43 AWR. He still has averaged over 3 INTs and over 15 deflections the past 5 seasons, when he split time between the nickle and spot starts. Fuller will reach the ability Mathieu now has in three seasons or less.

1.18 C Max Tuerk - A
Getting an elite athlete at C is difficult. Tuerk is a better athlete than the OL taken at 1.15, with better awareness. He can't be moved to OT, but has OT-level ability. I love the pick, because of the dearth of physical stars at the C position.

1.19 CB Anders Betancourt - A+
Betancourt himself has a case to make for best overall CB. With his also high awareness, better strength than Fuller and Hargreaves, and an inch on each, some would choose Betancourt. I had him as the next player behind those two, but nearly equal.

The Titans get a steal, a borderline top 10 talent at 1.19.

1.20 OLB Leonard Floyd - B
T_Miller :
He wasn't on my first round radar for one reason and one reason only... his STR. Incredible height and SPD and all 80's on the other areas. But (this may be because I am in the AFC West and we run, run, run) I need strong linebackers who will not get run over. As I mentioned, I had Scooby and Myles Jack ranked higher at OLB. I think you could have taken Scooby at 1.12 and still gotten Turner at 1.20. Plus you could have taken Myles Jack at this pick. If you have the time to develop him, I think Floyd will be a great pick but he will need some STR (as well as AWR and TAK). Great INJ and TGH.

Overall grade - B
Because I think Jack will be better and I think you could have flipflopped the picks.

1.21 FS Elijah Brownlee - B+
So, if Betancourt should have been picked higher, what about his near twin, FS Brownlee? I mean look at this (and note Anders got +1 ACC that Brownlee didn't)

So is a player better or worse for the position they play? Absolutely. Brownlee will be a very good safety, a good coverage guy with great skills. But no where near as important as having the same guy play man coverage against the best WRs.

1.22 OLB Myles Jack - A
Jack is nearly the same exact player as Scooby, picked six picks later. Furthermore, he's the last player of a three-person tier of OLBs that was far above the rest of their peers. All of that amounts to a high grade in this year's draft.

1.23 HB Ya'ell Lowe - B
There was a good group of backs available in the first couple of rounds. As someone who likes a back that doesn't run "too fast" Lowe was one of my favorites. The Chargers get a guy with size, strength, and good RB skills. Good player.

1.24 LT Abraham Pearl - A
6'6", 250 lbs, and strong, but still very athletic. This is the ideal for many people, and Pearl is one of the last really good OL left.

1.25 MLB Rodrigo Pippin - B-
Pippin is a good player, big, athletic, powerful. But he's not an elite athlete at MLB, and he has 75 INJ rating. Pippin good enough to be picked here, but isn't a home run for a team that already does well at linebacker.

1.26 HB Latavius Murray - B
Murray is another of this group of HBs, and is a pretty good replacement for the Dolphins after the Bell era has come to a close. Not as powerful as Lowe, but comes out with fantastic HB skills and a little more speed.

1.27 DT Robert Nkemdiche - B-
Robert is a great athlete, could play at 3-4 DE or either DT position. He's not super-powerful, but will be great in pursuit and very good at pass rushing.

1.28 DE Emmanuel Ogbah - A+
Damn, who wants to see Robert Quinn and this guy on the edges? Ogbah is a top 15 talent, picked off at the end of the round. Only the second edge rusher taken in the draft, the Falcons got really lucky to see him end up here. He lacks elite acceleration, but brings elite SPD, good athleticism otherwise, and great AWR for a rookie.

1.29 DE Edin Fuller - A+
Fuller is more powerful, a little bitter, and has more acceleration than Ogbah. But he's more raw. I don't know which of these two player's I'd have picked over the other, they are that close. But each should have gone in the top 15-20 picks, and both are steals in this division.

1.30 LG Hyperion Greene - B
Green has one of the better first names in this draft. He also comes in with a lot of power and good athleticism. He's a pretty big step down from the OL ahead of him as an athlete, won't really threaten the second level as far as the others. But he comes in with more power than many of them, will be very good against the DTs in the AFC East.

1.31 OLB Ethan Bruner - B-
Bruner is not that far behind Leonard Floyd as an athlete at OLB. Nearly as tall, nearly as athletic, not far behind in strength. But he comes in as a very raw linebacker. He can become a star, but probably would be 3-4 years behind Floyd's stardom. Meanwhile, he'll be disruptive, sometimes to his own defensive structure.

The lower grade reflects the great development job ahead, Bruner is a risk in that he could be riding the bench in 3-5 years.

1.32 QB Jared Goff - A+
Ricky Stanzi is 32 years old, and may only have 2-3 years left. The timing couldn't be better to get the next guy. Goff is pretty much the equal to the QB's that went above him. Perhaps not as live of an arm, but not by much and he has plenty. The Redskins got theirs 22 picks after the Cowboys. I don't really see much of a difference in talent.
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