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2020 NFL Draft Reaches 1-5

#3 in a series of 2020 draft reports

2020 NFL Draft - Round 1 Photo by NFL via Getty Images

In every Draft there are players who get drafted earlier than most scouting services have them rated. These are called reaches. Now sometimes a team will reach for a player because it’s a position of need, and talent at the position group is dwindling quickly. There might not be a serviceable prospect on the board the next time the team has a pick. This approach is usually a mistake. You are allowing higher skilled players to be available to other teams. There are limited supplies of talent in every Draft so you need to collect as much as you can, when you can.

Sometimes a team just has a different grade on a prospect than many other teams. In 2017 I had Ryan Ramczyk as my highest rated offensive tackle (17th overall) while Garrett Bolles had a mid second round grade. The Broncos took Bowles at #20 while Ramczyk lasted until the 32nd pick. Bowles has been less than stellar while Ramczyk is a two-time All Pro. Bowles wasn’t a reach because he was the first offensive tackle taken. They had their choice of any player at the position. The Broncos just had a poor scouting grade on Bowles.

Today I am going to look at is players I think were reaches in the 2020 NFL Draft. I am putting my scouting acumen on the line by saying now (before even any practices have occurred) who I think was a reach. Last year I listed Clelin Ferrell (Raiders), Rashan Gary (Packers), Christian Wilkins (Miami), Tytus Howard (Houston) and Kaleb McGary (Atlanta) as reaches. Some of those same teams are on my list again this year.

1) Damon Arnette CB Ohio State 5’ 11 3/8” 195 lbs (Las Vegas Raiders; Round 1; Pick: 19)

Arnette was my #85 prospect in the Draft. He is a tough kid but on the small size for an outside corner in the NFL. Under 6’0” and below 200 lbs is now considered small with all the giant receivers in today’s game.

He has short arms that may be below the threshold some teams have in their corners. He has poor long speed (4.56/40). Arnette likely will need safety help against faster receivers when he is in press man coverage. He is physically best suited as a zone corner although that is his worse discipline. He doesn’t read receivers or route combinations well. His play style is much better suited in tight man where he can try and stay in the receiver’s hip pocket, but he is not fast enough to play it effectively.

He played on an all-star team whose front dominated a lot of overmatched opponents so he didn’t have to hold his coverage for extended periods of time.

Arnette can be late on in breaking, slant, and dig routes in off man coverage not seeing the routes develop in front of him.

Here he lets the receiver cross his face as he is not physically strong enough to play quality press coverage. This will only be exacerbated in the NFL. His lack of length gives him no option to play quality coverage once his man is in front of him.

This leads to grabbing and holding to disrupt the pass which leads to the inevitable flag for pass interference like on this play. Arnette is a tough kid who played with a broken wrist all last year, but his size and length issues are difficult to ignore as the #19 overall pick. I had Kristan Fulton, Bryce Hall, Jaylon Johnson, Jeff Gladney, Cameron Danzler and Trevon Diggs all in front of him, but even they would have been a reach at this spot in the draft.

Mike Mayock was supposed to be known as a Draft guru, but after two years I would have to question his acumen. I know he reached for Clelin Ferrell (#4) last year and now Arnette this year. It is okay to like these prospects, but at least trade down to gain some extra capital if you like these players. Arnette (who will be 24 years old to start the season) at #19 was a head-scratcher for me.

2) Jordyn Brooks ILB Texas Tech 6’ 0” 240 lbs (Seattle Seahawks; Round: 1; Pick: 27)

Brooks is a player I really liked, but I had him as my #60 prospect. He is a solid physical specimen with great speed, great length, and lean powerful muscle. He is a great tackler who is well-versed running sideline to sideline. He has a quick first step and is a reactionary player who trusts his eyes then hits what he sees. He is relentless in pursuit and plays to the echo of the whistle.

Brooks played in a conference that threw the ball an inordinate number of times yet he never developed any true ability in coverage. He has the requisite physical skill to be great in both man or zone coverages, but he had only 2 INTs and 6 passes broken up in 4 years with zero INTs and zero passes broken up in 2019. He will need a crash course in coverage by his position coach if he expects to be anything more than a situational player in the NFL.

Linebackers now more than ever need coverage skills yet we have no idea what his skills are.

Brooks also gets stuck on blocks and never developed an ability to stack and shed blockers. He missed some opportunities for tackles because he lost his run fit trying to slip blocks.

Here he is (player #1) against Oklahoma as he gets held up with a mediocre blocking attempt by the play side tackle. You can also see that even though Brooks is a muscular player he is still a little small too play inside against the big boys.

His lack of height doesn’t allow him to see over the bigger lineman so he loses sight of the ball carrier. A slight hesitation as he loses sight of the runner could mean the difference between a tackle for loss and a huge gain.

I understand why Seattle liked Brooks so much as he has great speed (4.54/40) for an ILB, and his 20 TFL this season get your attention. Yet Brooks got those numbers by being ultra aggressive. He also misread and took the wrong path to the ball numerous times which led to big plays. I had Brooks as more of a developmental prospect with a high ceiling. To take him over Patrick Queen or even Malik Harrison (my #55 player) is questionable. Queen was faster with better coverage skills and more athleticism than Brooks. I am sure the Ravens were appreciative as they took Queen with the next pick.

Again I liked Brooks, but I would have traded way down to picked up more Draft capital and picked Brooks later. I would never have thought that both Kenneth Murray and Jordyn Brooks both would be selected before Patrick Queen in the first round.

3) Noah Igbinoghene CB Auburn 5’ 10 3/8” 198 lbs (Miami Dolphins; Round 1; Pick: 30)

I still have no idea what scouts see in Noah that make them so excited. He was my #71 prospect as a total traits based prospect. He is short and under 200 lbs which is a red flag to me as an outside corner. He does have great speed (4.48/40) with long arms (31 3/4”) to help him in coverage, but he is very raw.

Noah is a wide receiver who converted over to cornerback in his sophomore year. He was a highly-recruited receiver prospect in high schoo,l but he has surprisingly poor ball skills for someone who prided himself on catching the ball. He has only been a corner for two years, and sometimes it really shows. He has a hard time deciphering route combinations, and he hesitates when he is unsure what to do which puts him behind in coverage.

He doesn’t get his head around a lot in man coverage. He face guards a lot. and smart receivers will draw penalties on him by working back to the ball. At times he takes some false steps which again gets him behind in coverage. He will get very handsy downfield in coverage which will draw PI penalties frequently. Had only 1 INT for his entire career and only 18 passes defended in 25 games. He doesn’t always wrap as a tackler, just throws his body.

Here he is playing against Terrance Marshall on the outside. He is up in man coverage but lets his man run right past him. Once Marshall gets a step in front of Noah, Joe Burrow instinctively throws the ball to the corner.

Noah never has position, doesn’t stay with the receiver, doesn’t know where the ball is, and gets beat for the TD. He is also called for pass interference on the play. Like I said he is a raw prospect, and you get exactly what you would expect. This is not Ja’Marr Chase or Justin Jefferson. This is Terrance Marshall who beats him with relative ease.

You had Jaylon Johnson, Jeff Gladney (who went with the next pick), and Trevon Diggs all still on the board so if you really like Noah you could have traded down again (They got to pick 30 by making a trade with the Packers.) and picked up more picks.

Also this was a strange pick anyway. You just selected a QB, and you are drafting a corner when you have Xavien Howard and just severely overpaid for Byron Jones. You are now paying over $30 million for two players at the position, and you pick another (who has never played in the slot). Meanwhile you have Allen Hurns and Albert Wilson as two of your three outside receivers. Tee Higgins, Michael Pittman, Denzel Mims are all available to help out your new QB. Also you have Jordan Howard (he of no hands) as you featured back when you had your pick of every RB available.

The Dolphins also selected a long snapper in the 6th round and a UDFA type RB in the 7th round, Malcolm Perry. This is just bizarre team building with a plethora of picks. This just continues to prove former coach Jimmy Johnson right when he said (paraphrasing) it’s not how many picks you have. It’s who you pick with them.

4) Kyle Dugger Safety Lenoir Rhyne 6’ 0 7/8” 217 lbs (New England Patriots; Round: 2; Pick: 37)

This is another traits based prospect but one who is taking 3 or 4 steps up in competition. Dugger is an uber athletic safety prospect who is coming from a Division II school in the South Atlantic Conference. He has excellent closing speed with great size for a safety. His play at the Senior Bowl elevated him to a status as a Daft darling, but he is untested. He has excellent length for a safety and should be able to handle coverage duties with tight ends and running backs. He is strong which makes him a candidate for a box safety or a 3rd down linebacker (or even a WILL) in certain circumstances. His lateral agility is a question mark as are his coverage skills.

Here is Dugger covering for his MIKE LB who is so very slow and doesn’t get close to the player he is responsible for. This is a nice tackle, but the flanker stumbles and is off balance so he is a sitting duck.

Dugger was a man among boys in the South Athletic Conference and had some highlight plays that showed his physical dominance at times. Yet he didn’t really dominate like you would expect. He was 4th on his team in tackles in 2018 with 3 INT and 10 PBU. Those are good stats, but you would expect a lot more. He played only 7 games in 2019 and had only 31 tackles (3 1/2 a game) with 2 INTs. He was given latitude on his team as a playmaker but wasn’t a difference maker on the field.

A draft pick used on Kyle Dugger is a referendum on you secondary coach’s ability to redefine a player and teach him many of the traits needed for an NFL safety. Dugger cannot be trusted as of now as a single high candidate or even as a two deep safety with half the field to cover. He will need extensive work in team drills to emphasize his keys and responsibilities. He will need to learn better tackling techniques as a back end defender. He also will need to work on his hands as he was around the ball often yet only had a handful of INTs. He is also going to be the small fish in a big pond when he is used to the reverse.

Now it is possible that the Patriots had a lot more tape to watch than I did, but from what I saw (which is all I can go by) Dugger is more of an athlete than a instinctive football player. I wondered who was going to pick this guy/ I should have guessed it would be Belichick.

I would have taken Grant Delpit or Jeremy Chinn long before I would have selected Dugger. There are too many unknowns especially when you know he wasn’t able to work out for anyone before the Draft. Drafting Dugger is a huge leap of faith.

5) Austin Jackson Offensive Tackle 6’ 4 7/8” 322 lbs (Miami Dolphins; Round: 1; Pick: 18)

Jackson has the size and athleticism desired in a left tackle prospect, but there are some limitations. He has a choppy kick slide and can get pushed off balance easily when he gets caught with a hand punch by the edge rusher. His kick slide can be uneven, gaining ground with one move and hardly any with the next. His punch is erratic and off the mark which leaves him vulnerable to counter moves especially to the inside.

He often uses his hands as balancing mechanisms during pass sets which makes them way too high and ineffective. He is very susceptible to the push pull move when he misses his punch. He can get too far out over his toes and become a waist bender which causes him balance issues and power loss. He can get beat outside with quality speed by quicker players. His grip is poor and in need of strengthening; too often players slide off his block and into the play.

Here he just sets up way too far outside against a player who is not all that quick in AJ Epenesa who beats him inside for the sack.

Jackson has the size and athleticism you look for in a left tackle prospect, but he is a long way from becoming a player you could count on to protect the blind side of your QB. On the plus side he does have excellent movement capabilities with a great work ethic to clean up his technical flaws. He also can move defenders with a powerful drive block when he uses proper leverage. His feet can be quick when getting to and finding targets on the second level of the defense. His length is sufficient for a left tackle. His upper body strength and speed are excellent as well. Jackson is s developmental prospect at this point with a high ceiling and an equally low floor.

I understand why Miami drafted Jackson as he was the only offensive left tackle they felt they could bring in to start on the left side this year That may be wishful thinking as (like I said) Jackson is more of a developmental prospect who needs loads of work but will have very little time to do so given the lack of practice caused by the pandemic.

This was a reach. There is no way that Jackson was the 18th best player in this class. To come out of this Draft without a receiver is inexcusable. The Dolphins just signed then sang the praises of Ereck Flowers for his work at guard. They also drafted a guard in the 3rd round last year. Then they picked another two guards in this Draft. They now have 10 interior offensive linemen but also have Allen Hurns as a starting receiver and Albert Wilson who they made to take a massive pay cut to stay with the team.

Miami has now brought in 21 players as draft choices and UDFAs. There is something to be said for competition, but should also be concern about wasting assets. Less picks but more higher quality players might have been the way to go. Having 4 nose tackle prospects on the roster is kind of foolish considering that a nose tackle may play 60% of the snaps at most. Also having 8 RB on the roster with molasses slow Jordan Howard (who is on his 3rd team in 3 years) to be the lead back is another head scratcher of a move. They had multiple picks were every RB prospect was available. To come away with a QB coming off a hip operation, a developmental tackle, a CB who is also developmental, and another guard is a wasted opportunity in a loaded draft. Thank you Miami for doing the impossible, remaking a John Idzik Draft in a class loaded with talent.

I will now step down off my high horse.

That’s what I think

What do you think?