GZL Top 10 Class of 2020 Review
1.1 HB Ezekiel Elliot (Jets) - The Jets broke most conventional wisdom on the first overall pick when they selected Elliot and we would say the selection paid off. He was injured in his second game for four weeks, but still managed to record over 1,000 yards in his rookie season. Combine his 1,004 rushing yards with his 198 receiving yards, and Elliot produced on average 100 effective yards a game for the Jets when he was on the field.
1.2 LT Laremy Tunsil (Dolphins) - It's truly hard to gauge a linemen's efficiency easily (see Keith's attempt at a new rating system for offensive linemen) so all we can do is measure him up against the rest of the league and history. So, for a rookie, his 84 pancakes is quite impressive for a rookie and sees him ranked equal 17th for the league in this category. It also sees Tunsil ranked first amongst rookies in this category (important as the first lineman picked!). More importantly, only 4 sacks were attributed to him while starting at LT which is quite telling. Overall, these contributions would seem to make Tunsil a valued addition to a team that won the AFC East.
1.3 WR Tyler Boyd (Vikings) - Boyd has all the physical attributes one would want in a receiver but needs work on his game awareness and his catching. Boyd's season is unfortunately the result of his rookie stature while being in the team with the 31st ranked passing for the season. While his 904 receiving yards rank him 3rd overall in the rookie class, his two touchdowns are what really let him down, especially as he was the Vikings most productive receiver. While the Vikings young playcaller may be partially to blame (young quarterbacks and rookie receivers are never the most productive combination) we can only go with what we can see now.
1.4 WR Laquon Treadwell (Bills) - Many believed this was the pick the Vikings possibly should have made and the statistics might bear this out. A physically imposing player (his 9 pancakes would atest to this), Treadwell produced 1236 receiving yards and 9 touchdowns in his rookie season, statistics most teams would be happy to get from an established receiver on their roster. There's not much more to talk about here.
1.5 WR Armani Chance (Seahawks) - Chance gets a pass due to the fact he only played the first five games before being knocked out for the season. His week 2 effort against the Colts showed some of the promise the Seahawks put in him as a receiver but without the other 11 games to fill out his season, we really can't put an honest rating on Chance's selection and impact.
1.6 CB Vernon Hargreaves (Raiders) - Corners are a tough beast to rate. In a position where awareness provides such a crucial attribute for quality, it's often the case that rookie corners are recruited for their potential rather than their ability to take the field immediately. So, in this case, I'm going to rate corners against their fellow alumni. In Hargreaves case, his two interceptions for the season was double what any other rookie got but his 32 allowed catches tied him for first in this category. Combined with only 9 recorded deflections where a number of other rookies in the same bracket of time played shortened the 3.5:1 ratio offsets the brief benefit of a turnover.
1.7 MLB Reggie Ragland (Cardinals) - Ragland is a beast whose physical attributes combined with his high stamina, toughness and recovery made him a candidate for long-term GZL superstar as soon as the board went live. With only five rookie MLBers getting game time this season, Ragland's 102 tackles blitzed his nearest rookie competitor so we're better comparing his stats to the rest of the league. Anytime a linebacker gets more than 100 tackles is an excellent season, but Ragland also combined those tackles with 12 TFLs and 3 sacks. There are middle linebackers with more tackles who had less impact in the oppositions backfield.
1.8 QB Teddy Bridgewater (Colts) - Bridgewater was in for a tough ride in Indianapolis, with the Colts pretty much rebooting the franchise and his season unfortunately reflects this. An injury in Week 2 sidelined him until Week 8 and even then a good game was completely offset by a game where he would melt under pressure. When 50% of games played results in a QB rating under 50, it's going to be a struggle. While we do not expect rookie quarterbacks to become 85+ QB rating starters in their first season, this kind of regularity for triggering team collapses impacts the season more than one player should. The flipside is that when he showed what he can potentially do, the Colts faithful have to be hopeful of the seasons Bridgewater will provide them.
1.9 Jack Conklin (Saints) - Conklin unfortunately falls into a common rookie offensive tackle category with his pancakes sitting in the 60's but offset by a respectable 4 sacks allowed (compare that to his companion at the right tackle position who let in 17 sacks!!!). While this is not what one would call a shining example of rookie super-stardom, it's a solid basis for a tackle to develop into a 100+ pancake player for the future (one only has to look at the Broncos' Oliver Zebedee who went from 68 pancakes to the 90s this season).
1.10 QB Connor Cook (Cowboys) - The Cowboys had a very distinctive progression plan for Cook to succeed from Sanchez in Dallas, and this included managing his gametime carefully. For the 146 attempts Cook took, he recorded a 90.9 QB rating and this is quite an impressive feat for a quarterback to make. In fact, it ranks Cook third overall in QB rating across the league for all quarterbacks who took at least 100 pass attempts. The Cowboys are managing Cook quite well and his performance to date reflects this.
For the most part, the Top 10 2020 draft picks performed for the most (in this writer's own opinion) to a level we would hope such picks perform. There is an expectation that these picks will see major gametime in their first season. Some grades may seem a bit harsh but they are based on the available data we have now and skewed by the subjectiveness of the writer.
What I can say is that even the players whose grades might not reflect their respective GM's own opinion have the potential to backup their high selection in this year's draft and I expect to see that talent start to shine through in the seasons to come.