SEC sets NFL Draft record with 15 first-round picks

LSU QB Joe Burrow and RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire were two of 15 SEC players who went in Round 1 of the 2020 NFL Draft.

Led by LSU QB Joe Burrow going to the Cincinnati Bengals with the No. 1 overall pick, the SEC set a record for a conference with 15 players going in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft.

Burrow will start right away for Zac Taylor’s team. He has one of the NFL’s premier wide receivers in A.J. Green, and the Bengals took Clemson WR Tee Higgins with the No. 33 overall selection to start Round 2. I also like the club’s starting RB, Joe Mixon.

FanDuel currently has Cincinnati with a season win total of 5.5 flat (-110 either way). Burrow’s ‘over/under’ for passing yards in the 2020 season is 3,800.5 (-112 either way).

Cincinnati added Wyoming linebacker Logan Wilson with its third-round pick, Appalachian State LB Akeem Davis-Gaither in Round 4, Notre Dame DE Khalid Kareem with its fifth-round selection, Kansas offensive lineman Hakeem Adeniji in the sixth round and Purdue LB Markus Bailey in Round 7.

With the exception of Wilson (B-), CBS Sports gave every other Bengals’ pick a grade of at least an A-.

After Ohio State DE Chase Young and CB Jeff Okudah went to Washington and Detroit with the second and third overall picks, respectively, the New York Giants selected Georgia OT Andrew Thomas. The Bulldogs’ other OT, Isaiah Wilson, went 29th overall to the Tennessee Titans.

Bettors taking Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa to go ‘under’ 5.5 in Round 1 cashed tickets after Miami selected the southpaw fifth. It says here that there will be no buyer’s remorse for the Dolphins in taking Tagovailoa, who many teams were down on due to injury concerns.

Tagovailoa will compete with Ryan Fitzpatrick for the starting job. FanDuel has Fitzpatrick as the -270 ‘chalk’ to be Miami’s starter in Week 1 of the 2020 season. Tagovailoa has +200 odds and Josh Rosen is a 25/1 longshot.

Oregon’s Justin Herbert was the second QB off the board, going sixth overall to the Los Angeles Chargers.

Auburn DL Derrick Brown went seventh to the Carolina Panthers, who are rebuilding with new head coach Matt Rhule and new QB Teddy Bridgewater.

After Arizona picked versatile Clemson LB Isaiah Simmons with the No. 8 selection, the Las Vegas Raiders went with Florida cornerback CJ Henderson. Next, Cleveland took Alabama OT Jedrick Wills with the No. 10 overall pick.

The Jets went with Louisville OT Mekhi Becton at No. 11, followed by Alabama WR Henry Ruggs to the Raiders. The Robert E. Lee High School product out of Montgomery ran a 4.27 in the 40 at the NFL Combine.

I think my favorite part of the entire draft was watching Ruggs’s sick dunks from high school. Dude has ups!

South Carolina DT Javon Kinlaw went to San Francisco with the No. 14 overall pick. Next, Alabama WR Jerry Jeudy was picked 15th by the Denver Broncos. ESPN’s Todd McShay, who missed the network’s Draft coverage while recovering at home from COVID-19, has called Jeudy the best route runner he’s scouted in 20 years in the business.

With the No. 16 pick, Atlanta reached for Clemson CB A.J. Terrell, who had an ‘over/under’ of 32.5. The Falcons probably could’ve traded down and still got their man later.

With that said, I like the rest of GM Thomas Dimitroff’s work in this draft. Atlanta scored a playmaker in DL Auburn Marlon Davidson, who can play inside or outside. The Falcons added offensive line depth with center Matt Hennessy from Temple in Round 3.

In the fourth round, Atlanta picked up more defensive help with Fresno State LB Mykal Walker and California safety Jaylinn Hawkins, who had 10 career interceptions for the Golden Bears, including six as a junior in 2018.

Most books had Oklahoma WR CeeDee Lamb as the favorite to be the first WR taken, but he slid to the Dallas Cowboys at No. 17.

Miami used its second of three first-round picks on USC OT Austin Jackson with the No. 18 overall selection. The Dolphins also added Auburn CB Noah Igbinoghene at No. 30.

The rest of the SEC players going in Round 1 included LSU EDGE K’Lavon Chaisson to Jacksonville (No. 20), LSU WR Justin Jefferson to Minnesota (No. 22), LSU LB Patrick Queen to Baltimore (No. 28) and LSU RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire to Kansas City (No. 32).

I love the fit with Edwards-Helaire in Kansas City. Andy Reid loves throwing the ball to RBs, and Edwards-Helaire is great at catching the ball out of the backfield in open space.

**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**

–LSU led all schools with 14 players selected in the 2020 NFL Draft. Alabama had nine players picked, followed by both Florida and Georgia with seven apiece. Ole Miss was the lone SEC program that didn’t have a player selected.

–San Francisco OT Joe Staley has retired at the age of 35 due to injury concerns. He let the club know ahead of the draft, prompting the 49ers to trade for Washington OT Trent Williams.

–DraftKings has Nick Foles as the -150 favorite over Mitch Trubisky (+117) to be the Week 1 starter for the Chicago Bears.

–Arizona got good value with its third-round selection of Houston OT Josh Jones, who many had pegged as a first-round pick. I thought the Cardinals got outstanding late-round value with their sixth and seventh-round picks, California LB Evan Weaver and Arizona State RB Eno Benjamin.

–After WR Van Jefferson went to the Rams in the second round, Florida’s two best pass rushers went in Round 3. DE Jabari Zuniga went No. 79 overall to the Jets, while DE Jonathan Greenard was Houston’s pick at No. 90. The next Gators that came off the board were RB Lamical Perine (Jets, No. 120 in Round 4), WR Freddie Swain (Seahawks, No. 214 in R6) and WR Tyrie Cleveland (Broncos, No. 252 in R7). Zuniga and Perine will join UF alums Marcus Maye and Brian Poole in New York.

–Vanderbilt WR Kalija Lipscomb, who led the SEC in catches in 2018, went undrafted but signed with Kansas City, where he’ll reunite with former college teammate Kyle Shurmur. Another one of Shurmer’s favorite targets at Vandy in 2018 was TE Jared Pinkney, who signed an undrafted free agent contract with the Falcons. Pinkney had 50 receptions for 774 yards and seven TDs as junior in 2018.

–Former Alabama and Oklahoma QB Jalen Hurts went No. 53 overall in Round 2 to the Philadelphia Eagles, who reportedly want to use him in a role similar to that of Taysom Hill with the Saints.

–Washington TE Hunter Bryant was the highest-rated player who didn’t get drafted. Bryant signed a free-agent deal with the Lions.

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