2020 NFL draft tier list

February 19th, 2020 | Written by Rob Staton

Georgia lineman Isaiah Wilson should be considered one of the top prospects in the draft

I’m publishing a tier list now mainly for reference. It’ll provide an opportunity to reflect on the impact of the combine.

There’s still so much to be determined and for that reason, I’ve created a tier of players I’m ‘undecided’ on. This is a group that by the end of the combine, we’ll have much more clarity on their standing within this class.

Tier one (the elite eight)

These are the players, in order, that I believe are the very best in this class.

Joe Burrow (QB, LSU)
Jeff Okudah (CB, Ohio State)
Derrick Brown (DT, Auburn)
Chase Young (DE, Ohio State)
Andrew Thomas (T, Georgia)
Isaiah Simmons (LB, Clemson)
Grant Delpit (S, LSU)
Javon Kinlaw (DT, South Carolina)

Joe Burrow won’t do anything at the combine or his pro-day to negatively impact his stock. He had a college football season for the ages in 2019 and fully deserves to be the #1 pick. He’s supremely accurate and poised but also has the ability to improvise and throw on the run.

Jeff Okudah is the best combination of talent and athleticism at cornerback since Patrick Peterson. He has ideal size, length and height and he’s a 142.56 SPARQ athlete, capable of running a 4.4, a 4.03 short shuttle and jumping a 42 inch vertical. A lot of people refer to Chase Young as the first or second best player in the draft. I think it’s Okudah. He has everything.

Derrick Brown is a top-10 pick any year as a highly athletic, disruptive and disciplined defensive tackle with great size. In the last week I’ve watched players competing against Auburn and it’s incredible how impactful Brown is. He’s so quick and aggressive and always has to be accounted for.

Chase Young has been superb for two years at Ohio State but he’ll need to test well to warrant the hype. He was a terror as an edge rusher, showed an ability to take over games and rightly he’s considered a top-five pick. That said, he was quiet at the end of the season particularly against Clemson in the playoffs. At SPARQ he ran a 4.94 forty and a 4.46 short shuttle. He needs to do a lot better than that in Indianapolis.

Javon Kinlaw could be a Fletcher Cox-type talent in the NFL. Isaiah Simmons reportedly is going to push Okudah to be the star tester at the combine and he has great leadership skills.

I’m not buying the recent negativity about Andrew Thomas and Grant Delpit. Thomas is athletic, well sized, balanced and had a terrific career at Georgia. Delpit does everything well but his tackling is loose. So what? Earl Thomas couldn’t tackle either. His range, read-and-react, ability to come up to the line and play the run and instinct in coverage is excellent. He also has the size, length and athleticism to play corner.

Tier two (first round talents)

This is a group of players who I believe are first round talents. It doesn’t mean they’ll all necessarily go in round one. I believe they have the traits, ability and upside to warrant high grades.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire (RB, LSU)
Jerry Jeudy (WR, Alabama)
Brandon Aiyuk (WR, Arizona State)
Henry Ruggs (WR, Alabama)
Isaiah Wilson (T, Georgia)
Cesar Ruiz (C, Michigan)
Tristan Wirfs (T, Iowa)
Raekwon Davis (DT, Alabama)
Jalen Reagor (WR, TCU)
J.K. Dobbins (RB, Ohio State)
K.J. Hamler (WR, Penn State)

Clyde Edwards-Helaire is a special talent. He’s a highly explosive, sudden running back with great toughness and physicality. He is a warrior. The only reason I can think people aren’t talking about him as a top-level prospect is the fact he’s only 5-8. Yet he’s capable of a 40 inch vertical, a 4.4 forty and a 4.04 short shuttle. He’s a brilliant receiver and an excellent kick-returner. He is one of the best players in the 2020 draft.

Jerry Jeudy is a terrific route runner. Teams like the Giants, Jets, Redskins and Broncos could do with having a player with his level of polish and consistency. He’ll be a young QB’s dream — someone they can rely on to be in the right place at the right time. If he has a terrific combine, he could be a top-10 pick.

Brandon Aiyuk is the real deal. He has excellent size and turbo speed acceleration. His catching technique, control, ball-tracking, positioning, ability to create easy separation and special teams dynamism makes him a clear first round talent. He makes things happen and has the frame to be a highly dynamic playmaker. It wouldn’t be a surprise if he was a top-tier NFL pass-catcher within three years.

In a receiver class full of lightning-quick players, Henry Ruggs is expected to be the fastest runner. It shows on tape too. He has exceptional acceleration but also builds speed and separates with ease on go-routes. Teams will have to account for him on every snap and that dictates coverage. You want players who force an opponent to game-plan. He’s expected to run a 4.2 and that kind of performance secured a top-10 placing for John Ross in 2017.

Isaiah Wilson is a hulking giant of a man. He dominates in the running game and I think people have forgotten how well Wilson and Andrew Thomas pass-protected for Jake Fromm in 2019. He was a former #2 overall national recruit. There are technical flaws to work on but that’s the case for all offensive linemen coming into the NFL. I suspect NFL teams will love what they see with Wilson and believe his upside to be enormous.

Cesar Ruiz has the full package at center even at such a young age. He anchored Michigan’s line and played as big a part as anyone in helping the Wolverines recover from a slow start in 2019. In pass protection he’s assured and in the running game he’s tough, physical and very willing to progress up to the second level and finish. His backstory is full of grit and determination and he has ideal size.

Tristan Wirfs could easily go in the top-10. The NFL needs offensive linemen, across the board. This class has a decent number of excellent, well-sized athletes. That’s what they want — upside, size and ability. Wirfs is 6-5, 320lbs, comes from Iowa where they coach up offensive linemen as well as anyone and he’s capable of a highly explosive 35 inch vertical and 9-5 broad jump. Coaches will love to get hold of him.

Traits matter. Teams know you need at least a collection of players in your core who look the part. Very few look more destined for the NFL than Raekwon Davis. Yes, his pass-rush production in 2018 and 2019 was a big disappointment. Here’s the thing though. He’s 6-7 and 310lbs. He’s built like Calais Campbell. He plays with terrific leverage, absorbs blocks and defends the run superbly. He can play DE or DT and he has attitude, toughness and he’s difficult to move. Teams will look at his frame, upside, power and athleticism and back themselves to get more pass-rush from him.

Jalen Reagor might not run a 4.2 like Henry Ruggs but he could easily crack the 4.3’s. He can burn off defenders on go-routes but he also catches the ball brilliantly away from his body. He has explosive lower body power which enables him to out-jump cornerbacks and high-point better than anyone else in this class. He jumped a 38 inch vertical at SPARQ.

J.K. Dobbins has everything physically you want in a runner. He’s perfectly sized at 5-10 and 220lbs. He jumped a 43 inch vertical at SPARQ, ran a 4.44 and a 4.09 short shuttle. He’s explosive, has the burst to exploit lanes and a deadly jump-cut to avoid tacklers and break off big gains. His pass-protection is better than most and he can catch the ball out of the backfield.

K.J. Hamler is a diminutive yet rare talent. He has electricity in the open-field and can avoid tackles and make magic happen. He appears to have disproportionately long arms and he’s a threat to score as a returner. He’s such a dynamic receiver.

Tier three (R1-2 picks)

These players warrant grades in the first or second round. Some will clearly go in round one but I feel there are enough question marks to drop them into tier three.

Justin Herbert (QB, Oregon)
Tua Tagovailoa (QB, Alabama)
Jonathan Taylor (RB, Wisconsin)
C.J. Henderson (CB, Florida)
Trevon Diggs (CB, Alabama)
Patrick Queen (LB, LSU)
Kenneth Murray (LB, Oklahoma)
Anthony McFarland (RB, Maryland)
D’Andre Swift (RB, Georgia)
Damon Arnette (CB, Ohio State)
Kristian Fulton (CB, LSU)

I put the two quarterbacks in this tier. Justin Herbert is big with a good arm and he can create, improvise and deliver exceptional plays. He’s too erratic though and I think he’ll need a strong supporting cast and a quality offensive mind as a coach to get the best of him. Tua Tagovailoa would be higher but it’s as simple as this — nobody is going to know the full medical picture by the draft and I can’t rank him higher than this with major question marks about his future and his ability to play at the same level we saw pre-hip injury.

Jonathan Taylor fumbles too much but is otherwise a terrific runner with a great second gear and excellent cut-back ability. He has ideal size and ran a 4.42 at SPARQ. He could easily run a 4.3 at the combine and that will make some headlines on day one. He has to fix the ball-security issues though.

C.J. Henderson didn’t have the turnovers at Florida and that will raise question marks on his ability to find and track the football. Yet his coverage ability is second to none and when he runs a sub-4.00 short shuttle at the combine, teams will fall in love with his potential.

Trevon Diggs is an excellent athlete and does a great job tracking the ball in the air. You can work on flaws but generally you can either track the ball or you can’t and Diggs is ready to play. We know he’s a great athlete — just look at his brother.

Patrick Queen and Kenneth Murray both fly around the field with speed and quickness. They’re modern day linebackers. If they run well, as expected, teams will covet them. Murray in particular provides an element of aggressive tone-setting to the field too.

I think Anthony McFarland is one of the most underrated players in the draft. He’s so quick, so electric. He destroyed Ohio State in 2018. He won’t fit every scheme but if he lands in the right place — watch out. D’Andre Swift is regularly listed as the top runner in the class. He’s good — and there’s enough on tape to justify a reasonably good grade. There just aren’t many ‘wow’ moments though and the running backs listed ahead of him all deliver those ‘wow’ moments.

I like everything about Damon Arnette’s game. He’s excellent in coverage. He has the size. He plays the ball in the air. And he’s very willing to deliver a jarring hit or tackle in the running game. Kristian Fulton similarly is a physical corner who loves to get after it. He can line up outside or at nickel.

The ‘to be determined’ tier

This group has the potential to jump into any of the tiers above. I/we just don’t have enough information yet. They’ve all produced in college but there are question marks such as speed, measurables and agility. The combine will provide answers.

Jedrick Wills (T, Alabama)
Mekhi Becton (T, Louisville)
Austin Jackson (T, USC)
Ceedee Lamb (WR, Oklahoma)
Tee Higgins (WR, Clemson)
Laviska Shenault Jr (WR, Colorado)
K’Lavon Chaisson (LB, LSU)
A.J. Epenesa (DE, Iowa)
Yetur Gross-Matos (DE, Penn State)
Zack Baun (LB, Wisconsin)
Joshua Uche (LB, Wisconsin)
Xavier McKinney (S, Alabama)
Josh Jones (T, Houston)
Willie Gay Jr (LB, Mississippi State)
Bryan Edwards (WR, South Carolina)
Julian Okwara (DE, Notre Dame)
Hunter Bryant (TE, Washington)
Denzel Mims (WR, Baylor)
Ross Blacklock (DT, TCU)

Jedrick Wills is said to be looking great during combine prep and there are flashes of real athleticism on tape. Even so, he doesn’t have an orthodox long tackle frame and we need to see how he tests. Does he have the traits? Yes he’s talent but let’s see his workout to judge just how good he can be. A great combine could secure a very early round one grade. A modest workout will leave some question marks about his ability to be more than a right tackle or guard.

Mekhi Becton is expected to weigh about 360lbs. In 2018, many were touting Orlando Brown to be a solid first round pick. He had similar size and ran a 5.85 forty then jumped a 19.5 inch vertical. His stock plummeted and he ended up being a late third round pick. It’s very difficult to test well at 360lbs. If Becton pulls it off, he’ll earn those high grades. If he struggles, we’ve seen what can happen.

Austin Jackson looks the part of a NFL left tackle. His movement, size and length and general athleticism are tailor made for the pro’s. Like most college linemen though he’s raw and needs refinement. He had off moments, such as a rough day against Iowa in USC’s bowl game. There might be some growing pains early in his career but teams will live with it if he has the upside.

Ceedee Lamb is very exciting and creative with the ball in his hands. Every WR screen turns into a kick return. He can make magic happen. There are some legitimate concerns though about his speed. He ran a 4.60 at SPARQ. You need to be quick and sudden at the next level especially when some of those crazy YAC plays are taken away by bigger, faster defenders at the next level. If he runs a 4.4 he will rightly be ranked among the top wide outs but we have to wait and see.

Tee Higgins is in the same boat. Technically he’s very good. His body control, contested-catch win rate and smooth route-running are all pluses. Unlike a lot of receivers in this draft though, he doesn’t create much easy separation. So he needs to run in the 4.4’s to allay some fears.

Laviska Shenault Jr is caught between a running back and receiver. Teams are going to have to have a plan for him. It’ll be easy for someone to justify that if he has a sensational combine. At SPARQ he only ran a 4.59 and a 4.50 short shuttle. He has to do better than that in Indianapolis.

For all the love K’Lavon Chaisson gets in the media, his pass-rush production was limited at LSU and a lot of the pressures he did have came on stunts. He looks incredible in terms of his frame and there’s quickness on tape. But you’re drafting him based purely on upside and what he could turn into, not what he’s shown at LSU. He only ran a 4.69 at SPARQ and had a 34 inch vertical. We’ll need to see a better performance at the combine including a great 10-yard split.

A.J. Epenesa finished 2019 strongly but he’s big and sometimes looked a bit sluggish. He’s not a speed rusher but has he got sneaky agility and can he combine explosive power with a great short shuttle? If he can, he’ll really promote his stock into round one. If he doesn’t, teams might wonder about his fit and upside.

Yetur Gross-Matos looks the part. He’s long, lean and pretty much what you want a dynamic 4-3 pass rusher to look like. He doesn’t look particularly twitchy though and that’ll matter for his stock. A great combine could get him into round one. Check for the 10-yard split and his agility testing.

Zack Baun and Joshua Uche are very similar. Both played a SAM linebacker type role on paper but at Wisconsin and Michigan respectively they were really aggressive and attacked as pass rushers. Neither is big enough to be a long term EDGE so it’s vital they test well to have teams believing in their ability to play linebacker on early downs and then more into situational pass-rushing roles.

Xavier McKinney was used as a blitzing safety at Alabama so often and he won’t be able to do that as much at the next level unless he’s playing for Todd Bowles. He has to prove he has speed and range. At SPARQ he only ran a 4.59.

Josh Jones had good and bad moments at the Senior Bowl. Like the other offensive tackles here, the way he tests is so important. If he has upside, teams will take a chance on ironing out the kinks.

Willie Gay Jr jumped a 40 inch vertical at SPARQ, pushed his forty towards the 4.4’s and ran a 4.26 short shuttle. He’s such a playmaker and a good combine will get people talking about him.

Bryan Edwards should be talked about more. He’s excellent and a big part of this ace receiver class. He recently tweeted about people thinking he’s slow. He isn’t and he’s very capable of running a 4.4. If he does it, he will shoot up boards.

Julian Okwara looks so quick on tape. With this draft severely lacking in speed rushers, he can jump into a round one grade with a great workout.

Hunter Bryant ran a 4.35 short shuttle at SPARQ and he looks incredible in pre-combine testing. With this being a weak draft for TE’s, he could lock himself into the top-50 with a great combine.

Denzel Mims is a contested catch dynamo with a pissed off for greatness attitude. The question is — can he run at this size? He needs to run a 4.4 to max out his stock.

Ross Blacklock is almost too busy at times at the LOS looking for entry points into the backfield but his quick feet and athleticism are on show. Can he convince teams of his upside with a good forty and short shuttle?

Value players in rounds 2-4

This is a group who could provide some value between rounds two and four.

Kyle Dugger (S, Lenoir-Rhyne)
Rashard Lawrence (DT, LSU)
Damien Lewis (G, LSU)
Logan Stenberg (G, Kentucky)
Prince Tega Wanogho (T, Auburn)
Lloyd Cushenberry (C, LSU)
Matt Hennessy (C, Temple)
Shane Lemiuex (G, Oregon)
Tyre Phillips (G, Mississippi State)
Hakeem Adeniji (G, Kansas)
John Simpson (G, Clemson)
Solomon Kindley (G, Georgia)
Lucas Niang (T, TCU)
Alex Taylor (T, South Carolina)
Zack Moss (RB, Utah)
Devin Asiasi (TE, UCLA)
Jabari Zuniga (DE, Florida)

Kyler Dugger has the size, he’s expected to test well at the combine, he’s a star special teamer and most importantly — he’s a true alpha. The Seahawks need some dogs and Dugger fits the bill. Expect a top combine performance.

Rashard Lawrence equally just plays with a fire and intensity that you need in the trenches. As a former #12 overall recruit, he has a chance to test well.

The more I’ve watched of Damien Lewis the more I’ve liked. He’s a terror blocking in the run game, he recovers well and is very difficult to beat. He looked very polished and accomplished at the Senior Bowl. I’m also a huge Logan Stenberg fan for the simple reason that he absolutely batters opponents and is a true finisher. He reminds me of Alex Boone.

Prince Tega Wanogho has ended up becoming one of the most underrated players in the draft. With great size he was tipped to a run a 4.95 but it’s since been revealed he won’t workout at the combine. If he falls, he’ll provide value.

Lloyd Cushenberry did a good job at the Senior Bowl and along with Matt Hennessy, warrants some consideration as a possible center option for the Seahawks if they cut Justin Britt. The more I watched of Hennessy at the Senior Bowl the more impressive he looked. Thank you Jim Nagy for posting the full practise videos. Hennessy was one of the top performers in Mobile having been able to make a full assessment. He could easily go in round two. Shane Lemieux is aggressive yet controlled and was mightily impressive on tape.

Tyre Phillips is massive. He has the kind of size, length and attitude the Seahawks like. Every time I watched Hakeem Adeniji I thought he was impressive in Mobile. John Simpson has some iffy moments with his footwork but his size, tenacity and aggressive blocking style has some appeal. Solomon Kindley’s frame is a bit sloppy and he’s on the deck too often but he’s a menace in the running game and is light on his feet despite his size.

Lucas Niang is a forgotten man of the class due to injury but it wouldn’t be a surprise if he entered the league and quickly became a starting right tackle or guard. Alex Taylor is long and thin but I think there’s potential to work with.

I need to see how Zack Moss tests but on tape he’s happiest ploughing into a defender to gain yards after contact and we know the Seahawks love physicality in the running game.

Devin Asiasi is a very clean catcher of a football and while he appears heavy there’s no doubting his quickness and athletic elegance at tight end. I have a feeling Jabari Zuniga will test well at the combine and could be someone who, a few years down the line, ends up being a mid-round steal.

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132 Responses to “2020 NFL draft tier list”

  1. CHawk Talker Eric says:

    Did you Tony Pauline’s less enthusiastic opinion of Aiyuk?

  2. Jhams says:

    This is awesome, thank you! Really great work as always.

    Re Mekhi Becton, I think the Orlando Brown comparison may be apt. But didn’t Brown end up being a bit of steal and doing well in the league despite the poor combine showing? I wonder if that might be a value pick.

    Also, Tony Pauline interviewed an OT, Ezra Cleveland from Boise State. Haven’t seen his name before, have you watched any of his tape?

    • Rob Staton says:

      I’ve watched some Cleveland but haven’t been able to get an angle on him yet.

    • Henry Taylor says:

      I kinda really like Becton now, he plays with basically no technique but the dude can just bench people out the way. He makes 260lb linebackers look like children. He can move his feet in pass pro, get up to the second level in the run game, execute reach blocks, just a lot to work with.

      I really don’t see him having an Orlando Brown-esque combine, he is huge and it’ll be hard to put up gaudy numbers, but the athleticism is there on tape. I think he’ll impress enough to stay in the round 1 conversation (just not top 5 like DJ has been championing).

  3. Henry Taylor says:

    Love this, fantastic work.

    Very interesting how high you’ve moved CEH up, can’t say I disagree but it’s a bold take nonetheless, I’d probably still have Dobbins as my RB1. TBH I don’t really understand why those 2 (Dobbins in particular) isn’t in that rare tier of ‘elite’ backs that can be considered in the top 20 picks (Elliot, Barkley, Gurley etc.) they do everything well and are rare athletes.

    My other takeaway here is that it’s such a good Oline class this year (and that never comes around) I’m super curious to see what they do with Fant, Ifedi and Britt. They clearly value experience and continuity at the position, but this does feel like a rare opportunity to get some value at the position.

    • dj 1/2 way says:

      Best write up every year? hard to pick, but in the running.

      CEH! Watched the whole video and fell in love. Whatever it takes!

  4. Nick says:

    Not sure his name, but a Seahawk Twitter follow highlighted Isaiah Wilson as a potential great fit for Seattle with their first pick. And he pointed out another interesting angle: a lot of Seattle’s first round picks have been considered 2-3rd round picks by the draft analysts (Ifedi, Penny, Irvin, Carpenter were the names he listed, if I’m not mistaken.)

    I watched two games of Georgia’s O line, and Wilson really stood out to me. Great hands. Violent finisher. His wrestling experience showed. Would be surprised if he lasted to us, but stranger things have happened!

  5. Darnell says:

    Gladney, Jefferson, Terell Lewis – not liking them in rounds 2-4?

    • Rob Staton says:

      That tier was for value players in that range, not just a list of all players. But FWIW I don’t think they will draft a corner early, Jefferson might go a bit too early after the Senior Bowl and Lewis’ injury history is a turn off.

  6. Ashish says:

    Do you guys think we can get at least 2 players in first 3 picks?

  7. Submanjoe says:

    Thanks Rob! I appreciate all your work! And its fun learning about these guys too.

    • Pickering says:

      I echo Submanjoe. You know Rob’s research, information and opinions are good when corporate sites use click-bait tactics and their resources to try to catch up and compete with him.

  8. Todd says:

    Josh Jones OT from Houston, not Utah.

  9. Kyle says:

    Great work Rob. Really appreciate the effort you put into this.

  10. BobbyK says:

    Such good stuff. Thank you.

  11. Zxvo3 says:

    Love it Rob, I appreciate the hard work and time you put into these write-ups.

  12. Chase Cash says:

    Thanks for putting in all the hard work, I don’t have the time to research the prospects myself, it’s awesome to be able to check in with the pieces like this during the combine. Excited to see how the OL do, I think that will play a big factor in how we attack FA. On another note, do you think it’s likely the Seahawks will trade just for Everson Griffen? If so what kind of compensation would the Vikings need? I feel the Hawks wouldn’t want to dump their first rounder and the money into Diggs. Especially with the class of receivers coming out. Not saying they wouldn’t be bold enough too, just wondering your thoughts.

  13. Nick says:

    Tony Pauline:

    “The team wants Jarran Reed back and re-signing him is a priority. After that, the expectations are the Seahawks will use their early draft picks to address both their offensive and defensive lines.”

    • Volume12 says:

      As they should.

      This class is loaded at WR. If a guy they have rated highly on their board is there, make a move to get him. Otherwise there’s a plethora of 3rd options. Or they get one in FA.

      The trenches need to be addressed. Seattle is desperate for pass rushers. They’ve never had an issue with what us fans feel is a reach.

    • Rokas says:

      Yeah, they said that they would love to keep Sheldon Richardson but only offered him 1 year 5 million deal back in a day. I don’t believe they gonna put the money where the mouth is in Jarran’s case.

    • Rob Staton says:

      I don’t want to speak for Tony but I suspect he or his source might’ve mixed up Clowney and Reed.

  14. John_s says:

    A player I’m interested in seeing at the combine is Khalid Kareem DE from Notre Dame. He reminds me of Frank Clark coming out. I hope he tests similarly

  15. Kingdome1976 says:

    So will you guys be satisfied if the Seahawks don’t get a WR in FA or in the first 3 rounds of the draft?

    • Volume12 says:

      If it means having to improve other area first, yes.

      Can you not find day 3 or UDFA contributors?

    • cha says:

      I would be OK with the Hawks not trading/signing a big name WR or drafting one early. There’s always a pretty robust secondary market they could look through to find someone to contribute.

      I personally think they’ll tender David Moore, and Ursua should have more impact in 2020. Add one more semi-solid vet and with Olsen and Dissly coming back I think they’re fine.

  16. charlietheunicorn says:

    John Clayton floated a rumor he heard in the wind on his show today. Essentially, Clowney is looking to get closer to 25M / year than 20M / year. Wowza.

    • DC says:

      If Clowney leaves that’s going to be one of the high 3rd round 2021 comp picks assuming the Hawks play the numbers game correctly. A 3rd round pick for a discounted year of service followed by a recouped 3rd round pick was the floor of this deal from the outset. It was a winner from day one.

    • Rob Staton says:

      I wouldn’t be expect him to aim for anything else a month before FA. Doesn’t mean anyone will be willing to pay that.

      • Kingdome1976 says:

        Players and agents will always shoot for the moon at first. You tell me one team in the NFL that is willing to pay a guy who had 3 sacks 25 million per year and I’ll call you a liar.

        Not trying to debase Clowney but the league does put a huge priority on sacks.

        • Rob Staton says:

          I think you’re right.

          And to be honest, I highly doubt Clowney is sat at home right now expecting $25m a year. Or is telling his agent he must have a market-setting contract. The simple fact is — he’s a rare situation. Players like him rarely reach the open market. We’ll see in the next few weeks when Chris Jones and Yannick Ngakoue get tagged. They are not former #1 picks either — but they will be tagged, then re-signed or traded.

          So Clowney gets this opportunity one time in his life. To test free agency in his mid-20’s. He’s right to aim high but I suspect he’s also very aware of the reality of the situation.

          I think we can all live without the pointless speculation, second-guessing, tossing out of random salary numbers and anything else over the next four weeks.

          • Kingdome1976 says:

            I agree. What’s the point of wrangling over his contract.

            I do believe we will end up signing Clowney for a 3-4 year deal in the 20-22 million range though.

            As we should.

            I can only imagine how much more havoc he will create when we upgrade out line, and then we won’t be complaining about how much we gave him.

          • Victor says:

            Rob,

            Which team/teams do you think is the biggest competitor to sign Clowney?
            Considering cap space/winning potential/ city/ coach.

            Nfl.com mentioned that Giants voile possible be a suitor for hos signature.

      • GoHawksDani says:

        My only concern that there are some baaaad GMs in the NFL way overpaying guys. Maybe someone will just do to make a splash. Cowboys, Dolphins, Bucs, etc. Doubt it but it’s a possibility.
        What are we thinking, which deal would Clowney take from these?
        A, Seahawks 21m APY – 5 years 60m GTD (long but a bit lower APY with a contender he likes)
        B, Dolphins 25m APY – 4 years 55m GTD (medium length biggest APY with a bad but maybe up and coming team)
        C, Bucs 23m APY – 4 years 75m GTD (medium length and APY, but huge GTD with bad team with some potential)
        C, Seahawks 22,5m APY – 3 years, 40m GTD (short with medium APY with contender he likes)

        • Chavac says:

          Fortunately he has been clear that he wants to win and isn’t going somewhere just to make money. Hopefully that will hold true and keep the desperate bottom feeders off his radar. If it does, I think he’ll still have enough competition from the contenders to get close to what he could get playing for a trash team.

        • Trevor says:

          The teams I am most concerned about are the Colts and Ravens.

          If the Colts can address the QB spot early in free agency the rest of their roster is really good. They need a pass rusher and have an incredible amount so could easily sign a top end QB and make Clowney the highest paid DL in the league. Even after that they would still have a ton of cap space left. Last year they were not big spenders but if they pick up a veteran QB they will be in win now mode changing things completely.

          The Ravens are also clearly contenders and could let Judon walk or tag and trade him then use those savings to easily fit Clowney in their cap structure.

          I have my fingers crossed he is a Hawk but I am a lot less sure of that happening than I was before the end of the season.

        • Simo says:

          How many times have you heard top players like Clowney say that they “aren’t concerned about the money” and “just want to play for a winner” over the years? They believe this is the right thing to say, and probably even mean what they are saying on some level. The reality is that money talks, for most people not just athletes! If a competing business was willing to pay most of us 20% more to do the same job, many of us are going to pack up and move on!

          Teams know that Clowney brings a lot more to the table than just sacks, and they may be willing to pay him top dollar.

          I have always appreciated that John/Pete are good negotiators and rarely seem to significantly overpay for players. No question they have a number in mind for Clowney, and they aren’t likely to go well beyond it. They will move on to plan B if he prices himself out of Seattle, and this is entirely possible.

          • jujus says:

            Have to remember the Tax Situation WA has vs other states. So technically we can be 5-10% less on the cap and be in the exact same $ in the players pocket.

            Between that and choosing a winner i am optimistic. But I would prefer a 4-6 year deal.

          • TatupuTime says:

            It’s pretty easy to speculate when a FA signs with a poor team that it was for money. When they sign with a contender it rarely comes out how much they left on the table to do that – but I always assume its a bit. Very few are willing to leave substantial money on the table – but if the Hawks or another contender in a desirable place for your family are close you have to expect the player to take the more favourable situation for his legacy and for his family.

    • Steve Nelsen says:

      Clowney may see his situation as a bit like the defensive equivalent of Kirk Cousins. It is very rare that a successful player at a position of importance becomes a free agent in his prime. He was chosen first overall in the draft. What is the top overall pick worth?

      He is certain to receive interest from many teams and have multiple serious bidders. A lot of analysts and fans are projecting him to many different teams. The cap rises every year and we see star players reset the market at one position or another almost every year. Clowney could become the highest paid defensive player in the NFL even if he is not the best defensive player in the NFL.

      At this point, it is just his agent starting negotiations. But depending on Clowney’s market, this could play out for a while.

    • cha says:

      There was also a rumor floated that Bridgewater could land $30m a year. It’s crazy-making season. Let the rumors fly and the Hawks’ culture and success will speak for itself.

  17. Trevor says:

    Thanks for this Rob amazing work as always!

    I don’t always agree 100% with your player assessments and grades but the quality of your research, articulation and knowledge of the Hawks current situation and past tendencies is absolutely off the charts and second to none.

    This is the time of the year I check your blog 4-5 times a day just hoping to see some new content or a podcast from you. Thanks again for everything you do. I have no idea how you do it all to be honest but it truly is a gift to us Hawks fans.

  18. Trevor says:

    Since Day #1 of the offseason my option #1 for the Hawks was to sign Clowney and Fowler to long term deals and build the defense around them (Assuming Chris Jones gets tagged).

    What about this as a fall back option if they can’t get a Clowney / Fowler deal done.

    Backup Option

    -Trade a 5th round pick to the Vikes for Everson Griffin (sign to a 1 yr extension to increase guaranteed $ and reduce cap hit.

    -Trade a 3rd this year and 3rd next year for Calais Campbell. (Sign to a 1 yr extension to increase guaranteed $ and reduce cap hit)

    -Sign Robert Quinn (3 yrs /36 mil with $20 mil guarenteed)

    -Draft Raekwon Davis with 1st pick and Josh Uche with 2nd pick.

    2020 Front 7 starters
    DL Griffin, Campbell, Davis, Quinn
    LB KJ, Wagner, Uche

    • Simo says:

      This is a really nice Plan B, if Clowney and Fowler price themselves to high. The only rub is that it feels like a pretty short term option– and maybe that’s okay. Although they are very good and still producing, Campbell, Griffen, and Quinn are all older players.

      At least you have them drafting Davis and Uche, in hopes they can contribute some right away and hopefully develop into starters over the coming years!

      • It will for sure be interesting if we lose out on Clowney. Your proposal has us completing reshaping the DLine. Continuity is nearly as important as the OLine but it would just be odd if it ended up something like that.

  19. Kingdome1976 says:

    I don’t get feeling that we will sign D. Fowler.

    Just a thought.

  20. ZHawk says:

    Everson Griffen is voiding the remainder of his contract. Does this mean that he is available to sign immediately?

    • Malkavian says:

      I do believe you can sign him as soon as he is released. This is from Rotoworld (Yeah, I know)…

      EVERSON GRIFFEN

      “Courtney Cronin reports Vikings DE Everson Griffen will void the remainder of his contract.

      Per Cronin, “Griffen met two figures that voided the final three years of his contract (2020-22) by tallying six or more sacks and playing 57% or more of the snaps last season, and he exercised the right to opt out of his deal.” The Vikings’ stud DE racked up 66 pressures in 2019 and formed one of the league’s most-fearsome duos among edge rushers alongside Danielle Hunter. Minnesota has done a great job maintaining continuity on the defensive side of the ball in recent years, but it might cost them a pretty penny to do so this time around.”

    • jujus says:

      YESSIR! We no longer can trade for Griffen. I wonder what kind of market he has.

      • He did not get released. He voided the remaining years on his contract which I believe makes him an unrestricted free agent. That would mean everyone but the Vikings could negotiate with him until free agency starts. He pretty much has to hi free agency though as the Vikings couldnt really resign him until then anyways. This kind of sucks as he would count against the comp picks now.

    • Coleslaw says:

      I don’t think so. I also think he counts against comp picks.

      • Only the Vikings that is.

      • J says:

        The renegotiation of a contract that leads to the contract ending after the current league year is excluded from comp pick calculations, while a renegotiation of a contract that ends after a future league year is included. 

        Mike Iupati had his contract voided last year but it was because of a renegotiation in 2017. So that is why he cost us a comp pick.

        Griffen renegotiated on March 14. 2019. The first day of the league year was March 13, 2019. Thus he would fit in the first scenario and not cost a comp pick.

        • Coleslaw says:

          Wouldnt that be the other way around? If the contract ends the same league year it was renegotiated, it counts, correct?

          It’s still the 2019 league year, and he renegotiated in the 2019 league year.

          • J says:

            No. It only counts if the new contract ends after a future year.

            Iupati last year renegotiated in 2017-18 and his contracted ended after 2018-19. So he counted against comp picks.

            Griffen renegotiated in 2019-20 and the deal ended in 2019-20. The deal did not end in a future year so it doesn’t count.

    • Sea Mode says:

      He voided the final 3 years:

      2020: $13.9m
      2021: $14.4m
      2022: $15.5m

      I’m not sure whether he thinks he can get more than that in FA. The catch was that almost none of that was guaranteed. He could have been cut at any time. So I suspect that is what he will be looking for: similar numbers, but higher guarantees.

      • Ukhawk says:

        If true, I think the hawks sign him with a least a year or 2 of guarantees abs the benefit of no draft capital nor comp pick implications. Perfect win now move

        • If you look at the Seahawks contracts though they never guarantee past the first year. So most likely if we signed him Im guessing it would look something like Justin Houston’s deal. 2 years $24 million and maybe $15 million guaranteed.

          • It is odd that he voided his last three years probably knowing he was going to be released anyways. If he gets released he can talk with any team. Its been reported that he really wants to stay in Minnesota so this reason to void is the only thing that makes sense.

            • Steve Nelsen says:

              This was a smart move by Griffin. He was almost certainly going to get cut as a cap casualty given Minnesota’s terrible cap situation and Griffin’s age and his 2019 production relative to his salary.

              Now he gives teams needing edge help an option prior to the draft. He should be able to get at least a 2-year $25 million deal with half guaranteed somewhere.

              • Rob Staton says:

                He can’t sign until FA can he?

                • But he is an unrestricted free agent so he cant sign with a team (except the Vikings) until March 18th. They couldnt really sign him either as they dont have any cap space. If they would have released him he could have signed with anyone. It sounds like he doesnt want to leave Minnesota so it feels like he wants to give them every chance to figure out a way to keep him. I could see him being unsigned for a while which could end up hurting him.

                  • Rob Staton says:

                    I read something on twitter about his desire to ‘go full circle’ and finish his career with Pete.

                  • cha says:

                    Wonder if the Vikings approached Griffen and said ‘hey we want to keep you, but we need to get under the cap first. Can you help us out? Once we get into the league year with more flexibility and make our moves we can work out a new deal.’

                    And seeing as how he loves the team and they were very cool with him working out his mental health issues, he’d agree to work with them.

                • Steve Nelsen says:

                  He can’t sign but now any speculation about his availability is over and his agent can start trying to sniff out potential suitors.

                  Maybe he wants to stay in Minnesota like he said but if he was willing to trade salary for guarantees and maybe even take a pay cut to help Minnesota out of their salary cap spot, they could have just restructured his existing deal. This feels more like he knew a breakup was coming and wanted to get on with his future.

  21. Sea Mode says:

    I don’t have a subscription or the app installed on my phone, but this might be interesting:

    https://theathletic.com/1620082/2020/02/20/stefon-diggs-trade-vikings-reasons-arguments-deconstructing

    • With the addition of Greg Olsen I just dont see the Hawks spending anymore big money on the offense except for Right Tackle (Fant/Ifedi)

      • Ralphy says:

        I don’t disagree with you because the strength of this draft is the WR class and they could find a potential #3 WR with one of their first three picks. What we don’t know is what RW has been promised and we’ve seen them go after Harvin and Graham when we weren’t suspecting it. I do think that its interesting that Josh Gordon has apparently stayed in the PNW and still has a profile pic of him as a Seahawk. Who knows how the new CBA could affect him.

  22. Ralphy says:

    Great list Rob. I know you aren’t a fan of Jacob Eason but he is going to fly up the boards once he throws at the combine. He has a better arm than half of the starters in the NFL, he’s accurate and he’s huge. Teams will be drooling over him and I don’t think he gets past the Bucs at 13. I know we disagree on this one but that’s my opinion.

    • Rob Staton says:

      The arm has never been in doubt. The incredible errors, flat footed immobility, inability to play off script and a couple of other things are the issue. Whoever takes him will end up with Brock Osweiler.

      • Ralphy says:

        Ouch! We’ll see. I’m predicting top 15 with 13th to the Bucs as the likely spot.

        Have you seen that Caesars is offering odds on where Tua gets drafted?

        • Bmseattle says:

          Ralph & Rob…
          It is likely that you *both* will be correct with your Eason predictions.

          • Ralphy says:

            You are right. One thing to keep in mind regarding Eason is that he has had no coaching consistency in his entire time in college. He signed with Richt and never got to play under him. Instead he got Kirby Smart and got just over one season end before being injured and losing his job to an undefeated Fromm. He left and got Peterson’s depression year as his only season playing at UW. We all saw the play calling and the non stop drops. Thats not Eason’s fault. The team all took on Peterson’s personality and looked defeated all season.

  23. This is very good detailed work Rob. Very informative stuff that Im sure took you a long time to create.

  24. UPHawk says:

    Cooled some on Nick Harris after senior bowl? Seems we discussed him quite a bit early but reports from the senior bowl suggested he got pushed around. Wondering if his size will limit his effectiveness and draft status ie Joey Hunt

    • Rob Staton says:

      Yes, he wasn’t as good as hoped at the Senior Bowl.

      • CHawk Talker Eric says:

        Harris looked good in scrimmage but not so much in 1vs1’s which suggests his success as a pro will depend more on the rest of the OL he plays on and less on his own capabilities.

        • drewdawg11 says:

          Nick will always struggle with bigger guys, and the NFL has a lot of them. If you weren’t a fan of watching Joey Hunt get blown back by DT’s, you won’t like Nick. He’s more agile for sure, but he has physical limitations.

  25. Volume12 says:

    A bunch of new drills at the combine.

  26. RWIII says:

    Rob: Everson Griffin is opting out of his contract. Just curious. If the Seahawks did sign Griffin would the signing have an effect on the comp statis.

  27. Ashish says:

    Anyone got chance to read fieldgulls
    “It was less than a week ago that criticism rained down on Field Gulls and myself as an author for spreading doom and gloom regarding the potential for the Seattle Seahawks to trade for Stefon Diggs.”

    Guy is taking stuff very seriously 🙂 hey SBD means something great going Rob and guys

    • Rob Staton says:

      😂😂😂😂😂😂

    • John_s says:

      Did that idiot really combine two different stories and twist them in to one narrative?

      • Hawkster says:

        Yup, falsely glued two unrelated posts together and declares victory. The dude is shameless. Have always thought he was all about cherry-picking to support a narrative, but it has morphed into routine falsification. Just amazing.

    • cha says:

      And he’s written two articles completely downing comp picks. I particularly liked the post the other day where he screenshot all of his “detractors” when he said the Hawks should 5th year option Ifedi. Including one who called him a douche. Dude gotta let it go.

      Rob – please just ignore these people. Don’t engage them anymore. Let them say whatever they want. It’s just not worth your time and words. The great majority of those who read your work appreciate your tremendous efforts.

  28. Michael P Matherne says:

    I’m a big fan of fieldgulls, but SDB is second to none. Still my favorite site on the internet. Can’t wait for the combine and FA to hit! Thanks for the tireless work you put in here Rob!

  29. Sea Mode says:

    Lol. Surprise, surprise. Who would have thought…?

    Chad Forbes
    @NFLDraftBites
    ·1h

    Text from League Executive on current CBA Negotiation… “At this point only 2 people could screw up an agreement. Richard Sherman & Russell Okung. Everyone involved recognizes Owners have the leverage and are winning the negotiation. Okung & Richard are the most vocal.”

    BTW, it looks like the NFL is using the media to push the narrative that it’s all the players’ fault now if something doesn’t get done soon. Interesting…

  30. Volume12 says:

    Is there a receiver in the country that suffered from poor QB play more than Michigan’s Donovan Peoples-Jones?

    IMO he’s gonna have a big combine.

  31. Brazilian Hawk says:

    Terrible news that Everson Griffen voided his contract, that makes Diggs + Griffen for an 18 mm cap hit impossible.

    Would you guys trade a 1st for Von Miller?

  32. Volume12 says:

    His medical red flags are troublesome, but good lord is Purdue LB Markus Bailey excellent in zone coverages. He’s a tough guy that can do a bit of everything. Has a nose for the ball and a great feel for the game.

    Big, big fan of his.

  33. JD says:

    Hey Rob great post,

    Question about how you view Justin Jefferson. I understand receivers we are waiting for the combine to see if they run in the 4.4s and want to see how reliant he was on Burrow but where would you slot him on the Hawks board for wide receivers at this point?

    • Rob Staton says:

      I probably should’ve included Jefferson in my wait and see tier. I think he’s good — very consistent, if somewhat unremarkable. The question is, how much did he benefit from Burrow/CEH/Chase being on the same field drawing so much attention? He needs to show he has upside by performing well at the combine.

  34. Eburgz says:

    Stoked on the Olsen signing. Safety valve for Russ. Only 4 drops in last 5 years is a crazy stat. And it looks like he can still run! Hoping Cam Newton’s grandma is still saying prayers for his health.

    Also stoked Griffen is going to be a FA. Him and clowney would make a menacing duo. I think he might be my top option to bring in as an outside pass rusher. Last couple years I’ve “zeroed in” on a couple guys like Fluker and Ansah before they were hawks because it just made too much sense. Olsen was on my short list and Griffen is too. 2 years $26 million with the first year and change guaranteed is what I’d offer as an armchair GM.

    Clowney, Reed, Poona, Griffen looks like a good front 4 on paper. Still need some more pieces though and the draft has limited options. The quality options that look like year 1 impact players are scarce. Wish we could pay for offensive players and keep our defense young and hungry but things just don’t look like they will line up that way.

    Watched a bunch of DL the last couple days and I’m back on the Gross Matos train, hoping he tests well and I think he will (Thinking he runs in 4.6s with a 34 inch vert or so) . Blacklock is another guy that has really fun tape but he’s had injuries and makes me think about Collier so I’m scared off a little. Raekwon Davis looks like a quality option too but I’m not totally sold just yet. Hoping the combine highlights a couple more good options.

  35. […] If you missed yesterday’s 2020 draft tier list, check it out here. […]