It’s still too early to write off most players who were drafted just two years ago. There were some glaring misses in the 2020 NFL Draft — Isaiah Wilson and Damon Arnette come to mind — but there are also players who have been labeled as “busts” who still have time to turn things around. That makes an exercise like this seem premature, but the content train keeps moving this offseason.
Keeping in mind the rosters at the time of the 2020 NFL Draft and using the final first-round draft order, here is one example of how teams could draft if given another shot today.
1. Cincinnati Bengals: QB Joe Burrow
Original pick: QB JOE BURROW
The Burrow-Justin Herbert debate hasn’t been definitively decided after two seasons, and chances are that the two will compete for AFC supremacy with the likes of Patrick Mahomes in Kansas City and Josh Allen in Buffalo for years to come. There are certainly reasons to prefer Herbert over Burrow, but Burrow hasn’t done anything through two NFL seasons to make Cincinnati regret its choice at the top of the 2020 NFL Draft. Burrow is coming off a 2021 campaign where he led all qualifying quarterbacks in PFF grade (91.8) with his accuracy to all parts of the field driving that league-high mark.
2. Washington Football Team: QB Justin Herbert
Original pick: Edge CHASE YOUNG
There’s still time for Young to develop into one of the NFL’s truly elite edge defenders as he enters his third season while coming off a torn ACL in 2021, but Herbert has already proven to be one of the league’s top players at the game’s most valuable position. Given what Washington has gotten out of its quarterbacks over the last several years, taking Herbert to lead the offense becomes an easy choice in this exercise.
Herbert combines unique physical tools with the ability to quickly work through progressions in Joe Lombardi’s offense, and he finished last season ranked third among all players in PFF’s wins above replacement (WAR) metric.
3. Detroit Lions: WR Justin Jefferson
Original pick: CB JEFF OKUDAH
Writing off Okudah as a “bust” is premature given the injuries he dealt with and the difficult responsibilities he was given out of the gate in Matt Patricia’s defense, but it’s safe to say Detroit would jump at the chance for a do-over.
Jefferson has quickly established himself as one of the NFL’s best wide receivers at just 23 years old. There were concerns coming out of LSU about his ability to win on the outside, particularly against press coverage, but Jefferson quickly rendered those concerns foolish with a 93.0 PFF grade against press coverage since 2020 that leads all wide receivers. He would have been an immediate contributor on a Lions’ roster that had Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones Jr. and little else behind them at this point.
4. New York Giants: T Tristan Wirfs
Original pick: T ANDREW THOMAS
There was nowhere else for the Giants to go than tackle at this spot. Prior to the draft, New York had Nate Solder and Cam Fleming as the top two tackles on their roster with Solder later opting out of the 2020 season. There’s plenty of reason to be excited about Thomas’ improvements at left tackle from his rookie season to 2021, but Wirfs has established himself as top tackle in this top-heavy class.
Lowest pressure rate allowed at tackle over the last two seasons
|Player||Pressure rate allowed|
No tackle has allowed a lower pressure rate than Wirfs — who already has a strong case for being the best right tackle in the NFL — since he was drafted.
5. Miami Dolphins: Edge Chase Young
Original pick: QB TUA TAGOVAILOA
The jury is still out on Tagovailoa’s future in Miami entering a make-or-break 2022 season, which steers the Dolphins in a different direction with their first of three first-round picks in this re-draft.
Young has yet to consistently generate pressure at an elite rate in the NFL, but he has still been a high-impact player off the edge when healthy. His 87.1 PFF grade as a rookie in 2020 ranked fifth among all qualifying edge rushers, and he’s been one of the more productive players at the position against the run. Young has graded in the 92nd percentile among all edge defenders in PFF run-defense grade since 2020.
This selection would have been a continuation of Miami’s investment in the front seven during the 2020 offseason following the Shaq Lawson, Emmanuel Ogbah and Kyle Van Noy free-agent acquisitions.
6. Los Angeles Chargers: CB A.J. Terrell
Original pick: QB JUSTIN HERBERT
The Chargers are one of the bigger losers of this re-draft with Herbert jumping up the board and out of reach. Terrell doesn’t offer nearly the same value as Herbert, but Los Angeles will have to make do with one of the best young cornerbacks in the league.
Terrell’s 2021 season might not have had the interception numbers and flash of that Trevon Diggs‘ had, but the way that Terrell limited production in Atlanta’s defense was incredibly impressive. His 12.5 receiving yards allowed per game ranked first among qualifying outside cornerbacks. He’s the No. 1, shutdown cornerback with man coverage skills that the Chargers pursued this offseason in J.C. Jackson.
7. Carolina Panthers: S Antoine Winfield Jr.
Original pick: DI DERRICK BROWN
This might seem early for Winfield — or any safety given the draft history at the position — but Winfield has proven himself to be a special, well-rounded player through two seasons with the Buccaneers. He’s coming off a 2021 season with 85.0-plus PFF run-defense and coverage grades above, and he posted the second-highest overall grade (89.5) at the position — behind only Kevin Byard.
Brown hasn’t had the same kind of impact on Carolina’s defensive line, and Jeremy Chinn has yet to be drafted, so the Panthers target Winfield as the best defender on the board, passing on a tackle after trading for Russell Okung earlier in the offseason to man the left tackle spot.
8. Arizona Cardinals: WR CeeDee Lamb
Original pick: LB ISAIAH SIMMONS
Wide receiver wasn’t a glaring need for Arizona entering the 2020 draft. The Cardinals had just added DeAndre Hopkins to a receiving corps that also featured Christian Kirk, Larry Fitzgerald and 2019 second-round pick Andy Isabella. However, they would have been wise to target a receiver like Lamb rather than Simmons (49.7 PFF grade in 2021), in hindsight.
Lamb improved his PFF receiving grade from 72.6 as a rookie to 84.8 in 2021 (eighth among qualifying wide receivers) and could be in store for a massive 2022 season in Dallas following Amari Cooper’s departure. He would give his former college quarterback Kyler Murray another high-quality receiving option to pair with Hopkins.
9. Jacksonville Jaguars: WR Tee Higgins
Original pick: CB C.J. HENDERSON
It was somewhat lost in the attention that Ja’Marr Chase’s rookie season (rightfully) generated in Cincinnati, but Higgins had a breakout season of his own for the Bengals. The Clemson product finished the 2021 season with a top-10 PFF grade at wide receiver and converted his targets into first downs at one of the highest rates in the league.
Highest % of wide receiver targets resulting in a conversion (min. 100 targets)
|Player||% of targets resulting in a 1D/TD|
Reuniting Higgins with his former college quarterback would have to intrigue the Jaguars in this re-draft, especially considering that Henderson is no longer on the roster after just two seasons.
10. Cleveland Browns: T Andrew Thomas
Original pick: T JEDRICK WILLS JR.
The Browns have their choice of three of the top four tackles available to them here, just as they did in the 2020 NFL Draft. It’s a different three, though. Cleveland misses out on Wirfs in this scenario, but it does get the chance to draft Thomas.
Thomas was one of the more improved left tackles in the NFL last season, particularly in pass protection. After taking some lumps as a rookie and allowing 57 pressures (second-most in NFL), Thomas improved his PFF pass-blocking grade by nearly 30 points to 82.1 in his second season out of Georgia. Thomas’ 2021 performance is enough for Cleveland to target him over Wills in this scenario.
11. New York Jets: T Jedrick Wills Jr.
Original pick: T MEKHI BECTON
The Jets almost had to add a starting-caliber tackle in the 2020 NFL Draft. They brought in George Fant but had a glaring hole at the other tackle spot. Their original pick in this spot (Becton) showed the kind of impact he could have as an explosive, fluid athlete at his size when healthy during his rookie season. However, Becton now finds himself in a competition with Fant for the starting left tackle job following missed time due to injury in both 2020 and 2021 in addition to concerns about his conditioning. For that reason, the Jets target Wills here instead.
Wills hasn’t been the dominant run blocker in Cleveland that he was projected to be coming out of Alabama, but he’s been a middle-of-the-pack pass protector (50th percentile in PFF pass-blocking grade among qualifying tackles) since 2020 and has been more reliable overall than Becton through two seasons.
12. Las Vegas Raiders: WR Michael Pittman Jr.
Original pick: WR HENRY RUGGS III
With Henry Ruggs remaining on house arrest for felony DUI and reckless driving charges, the Raiders go a different direction at wide receiver. Pittman took a clear step forward in his second season out of USC last year for the Colts despite inconsistent play at the quarterback position, raising his PFF grade from 62.8 as a rookie to 79.9 in 2021. He’s an impressive route runner — particularly for his size — and is coming off a season where he caught 64.3% of his contested targets (second among wide receivers with at least 25 contested targets).
Pittman might not be the vertical threat that Las Vegas was searching for with the Ruggs’ selection, but he has a case as the best receiver left on the board in a talented class.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: T Mekhi Becton
Original pick: T TRISTAN WIRFS
The Buccaneers miss out on the best tackle in the draft class in this exercise, leaving them with a decision on whether to stick at the position or look elsewhere. Becton isn’t without concerns entering his third season out of Louisville, but he showed enough promise during his rookie season with New York for Tampa Bay to take the risk with the 13th overall pick.
Becton moved defenders with ease in the run game as a rookie, ranking in the 94th percentile among qualifying tackles in positively-graded run plays. A healthy Becton would have made for an intriguing fit on a loaded Buccaneers’ offensive line.
14. San Francisco 49ers: CB L’Jarius Sneed
Original pick: DI JAVON KINLAW
Sneed is the type of versatile defensive back who would fit nicely into San Francisco’s defense. Looking at the 2022 roster, he could fill K’Waun Williams’ nickel role, where he’s allowed just an 82.3 passer rating into his coverage as an explosive, bigger nickel and willing run defender. That’s the direction that the position is trending with offenses moving bigger bodies into the slot.
Sneed can also play on the outside, though. His 74.4 PFF grade from outside alignments over the last two seasons is a top-20 mark among all cornerbacks who have played at least 400 snaps in such alignments. This might seem early for Sneed to come off the board, but he’s been one of the more underrated players in this draft class.
15. Denver Broncos: QB Jalen Hurts
Original pick: WR JERRY JEUDY
At this point in time, the Broncos were still willing to give Drew Lock a chance at quarterback following five up-and-down starts during his rookie season in 2019. The benefit of hindsight tells us that Lock wasn’t the answer.
Hurts certainly hasn’t solidified his status as a franchise quarterback in Philadelphia, but he has shown that he can provide value on a rookie contract. He ranked 15th among all quarterbacks in PFF’s WAR metric last season. The odds are still stacked against Hurts being a long-term answer — particularly given what he showed in the Eagles’ postseason loss to Tampa Bay — but he would have likely allowed Denver to be competitive with a strong roster around him over the last two years. And there wouldn’t have been as much pressure to make a massive move for Russell Wilson.
16. Atlanta Falcons: OL Michael Onwenu
Original pick: CB A.J. TERRELL
Onwenu has had an interesting first two seasons in the NFL. He’s taken snaps at left guard, right guard and right tackle but still graded well at pretty much every position he’s filled in at.
Onwenu’s snaps and PFF grade by position since 2020
|Position||Snaps played||PFF grade|
However, Onwenu never found a permanent home on the Patriots’ offensive line, as he wasn’t even starting at the tail end of the 2021 season. Still, his performance when on the field is worth a mid-first-round pick for Atlanta, which has had question marks at multiple positions on its offensive line over the last several seasons.
17. Dallas Cowboys: CB Trevon Diggs
Original pick: WR CEEDEE LAMB
Dallas’ first-round pick (Lamb) isn’t available in this exercise, so the Cowboys “settle” for their second-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Diggs was one of the most polarizing players in the NFL last season because of how often he made and allowed big plays in coverage. His 11 interceptions were three more than any other defender, but Diggs also allowed a league-high 1,016 passing yards into his coverage on the season. The value that he can offer as a defensive playmaker who returns the ball back to the Cowboys’ offense keeps him in Dallas in this re-draft.
18. Miami Dolphins: QB Tua Tagovailoa
Original pick: T AUSTIN JACKSON
It’s safe to say that the Dolphins wouldn’t be spending this pick on Jackson in a re-draft. The question is whether they would target Tagovailoa again 13 picks after they took him originally in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Tagovailoa has been far from impressive across his first two NFL seasons. His 68.2 PFF grade ranks 25th among 32 qualifying quarterbacks, and he’s recorded just 17 big-time throws (32nd in NFL) since 2020. However, he’s also been in one of the worst offensive environments in the league, stemming largely from Miami’s ineptitude on the offensive line. The 2022 season will be a test that Tagovailoa has to pass to remain in place as the starter following the moves that the Dolphins made this offseason to surround him with more talent.
19. Las Vegas Raiders: CB Kristian Fulton
Original pick: CB DAMON ARNETTE
Arnette is the second Raiders’ first-round pick in this draft who is no longer with the team. Las Vegas would have been better off targeting Fulton, who fell to the Titans at the back end of the second round.
Fulton has missed some time due to injury in both the 2020 and 2021 seasons, but he had a fairly strong showing across 14 games last year, as the second-year cornerback out of LSU allowed just a 69.6 passer rating into his coverage with two interceptions and 11 pass breakups. Fulton could have helped tighten up some of the cornerback issues that the Raiders have had over the last two seasons.
20. Jacksonville Jaguars: RB Jonathan Taylor
Original pick: Edge K’LAVON CHAISSON
In general, drafting a running back in the first round isn’t the best value proposition. However, it wouldn’t have felt right to get through 32 selections without highlighting a player who has a good case for being the best at his position entering the 2022 season. Taylor led all running backs in PFF grade during the 2021 season (87.0) and has everything a team wants in a lead back — size, speed, vision, etc.
James Robinson — who Jacksonville added as an undrafted free agent in 2020 — has exceeded expectations, but Taylor would bring a different level of talent to the backfield, though.
21. Philadelphia Eagles: WR Chase Claypool
Original pick: WR JALEN REAGOR
Philadelphia was looking for a downfield threat when it drafted Reagor, but the first-round pick out of TCU has averaged fewer than one receiving yard per route run across his first two NFL seasons. Claypool would provide the Eagles with a more productive vertical threat who has size, as he’s listed at 6-foot-4 and 227 pounds.
Claypool has averaged over 14 yards per reception while tallying 18 catches on throws 20-plus yards downfield (tied for 11th in NFL) since 2020. That’s made more impressive by the fact that he was catching passes from Ben Roethlisberger, whose ability to push the ball downfield effectively was failing him late in his career.
22. Minnesota Vikings: CB Jaylon Johnson
Original pick: WR JUSTIN JEFFERSON
Jefferson falling outside of the top-20 selections and into Minnesota’s lap was one of the steals of the 2020 NFL Draft. Unfortunately for the Vikings, there’s no chance for a repeat after two seasons of Jefferson torching the NFL.
This selection doesn’t fill the Vikings’ need for a wide receiver to pair with Adam Thielen, but Minnesota has also had a revolving cast of cornerbacks in recent years. Johnson has responded well to the No. 1 role he’s been forced into on the outside. There’s still some room for growth, but Johnson has been active at the catch point for Chicago, as his 15.3% forced incompletion rate ranks sixth among 64 cornerbacks with at least 100 targets since 2020.
23. Los Angeles Chargers: DI Derrick Brown
Original pick: LB KENNETH MURRAY
Los Angeles’ interior defensive line was one of the biggest problem areas on its roster last season. Brown hasn’t yet been the dominant force that the Panthers were hoping for when they drafted him in the top 10, but he would represent an upgrade over what the Chargers have had at the position over the last several years. Brown improved his PFF run-defense grade by roughly seven points from 2020 to 2021, and his 57 quarterback pressures across those two seasons rank third among all players in the draft class.
It’s a safe bet that the Chargers wouldn’t target Murray again, as the former Oklahoma linebacker has earned a 45.9 PFF grade across his first two NFL seasons.
24. New Orleans Saints: WR Brandon Aiyuk
Original pick: OL CESAR RUIZ
The Ruiz selection was a surprise at the time the Saints made it given the strength of their offensive line. Ruiz hasn’t been a clear weak point for opposing defensive lines to attack, but the Saints would likely have been better suited targeting a difference-maker in the receiving corps, particularly given Michael Thomas’ availability over the last two seasons.
Aiyuk started out the 2021 season in Kyle Shanahan’s doghouse despite a strong rookie performance, but he was an important contributor to the 49ers’ offense again over the second half of the season. His 83.0 PFF receiving grade since 2020 ranks 18th among 104 wide receivers with at least 500 routes run.
25. San Francisco 49ers: G Robert Hunt
Original pick: WR BRANDON AIYUK
The right guard spot was a question mark for San Francisco entering the 2020 season and that remains the case entering two years later.
Lowest team PFF grades at right guard since 2020
|Team||PFF grade at RG since 2020|
|28. San Francisco 49ers||55.2|
|29. Carolina Panthers||52.1|
|30. New Orleans Saints||52.0|
|31. Arizona Cardinals||48.9|
|32. Cincinnati Bengals||46.5|
Hunt started at right tackle as a rookie before kicking inside to right guard in 2021. He’s been one of the more stable pieces on the Dolphins’ offensive line — earning PFF grades above 65.0 in both years — and that positional flexibility would be intriguing for the 49ers. Daniel Brunskill (48.2 PFF pass-blocking grade in 2021) returns as the favorite to start at right guard in 2022, and Mike McGlinchey is working his way back from a quad tear and set to play next season on his fifth-year option.
26. Green Bay Packers: WR Darnell Mooney
Original pick: QB JORDAN LOVE
If the Love selection was what spurred Aaron Rodgers to two consecutive MVP trophies, then maybe the Packers make the same decision again. However, with Rodgers fresh off a new extension, there’s no path for Love to make an impact on his rookie deal, barring injury. And there is a gaping roster hole at wide receiver, even more so than back when they still had Davante Adams in 2020.
Mooney isn’t best suited as the No. 1 option he currently is in Chicago, but he does represent a nice complementary piece to a passing attack that can stress defenses vertically. Mooney’s 0.4 wins above a replacement since 2020 rank sixth among wide receivers in the draft class — just behind Claypool in Pittsburgh.
27. Seattle Seahawks: S Jeremy Chinn
Original pick: LB JORDYN BROOKS
While it was surprising at the time, the Brooks’ selection in the first round isn’t one that Seattle regrets, as the linebacker out of Texas Tech has defended the run well and is set to take on more of a leadership role on Seattle’s defense with Bobby Wagner heading to Los Angeles.
Chinn has also impressed in Carolina, raising his PFF grade from 59.0 as a rookie to 71.4 in his second season last year. He profiles as one of the bigger safeties in the league and is a tremendous athlete. Perhaps most importantly, this draft pick would have likely kept Seattle from sending multiple first-round picks to New York for Jamal Adams — a trade that has looked like a mistake in hindsight.
28. Baltimore Ravens: S Xavier McKinney
Original pick: LB PATRICK QUEEN
Queen was better in 2021 than he was as a rookie, and he brings the kind of range and athleticism that Baltimore wants at the position. However, there’s been enough negative plays through two seasons (30.2 PFF grade since 2020) to push him out of the first round in this re-draft.
At this point of the draft, Earl Thomas was still on the roster, but he wouldn’t make it to the start of the regular season. McKinney has shown himself to be a strong starting option at free safety for the Giants, ranking in the 75th percentile of all players at the position in PFF coverage grade from deep alignments. He would have been a quality addition to Baltimore’s secondary prior to the Marcus Williams and Kyle Hamilton additions this offseason.
29. Tennessee Titans: WR Jerry Jeudy
Original pick: T ISAIAH WILSON
Things may have gone differently for Jeudy if he ended up in Tennessee with Ryan Tannehill at quarterback rather than Drew Lock and receivers like Corey Davis and A.J. Brown alongside him to draw attention from opposing defenses. Jeudy has struggled to find much success in Denver, generating a 69.7 passer rating on his targets since he was drafted — second to last among wide receivers with at least 100 targets since 2020.
There’s still reason to believe Jeudy can turn things around in 2022 given what he showed at Alabama, and he’s worth the chance for Tennessee in an exercise like this, which suddenly has plenty of questions at the wide receiver position.
30. Miami Dolphins: G Jonah Jackson
Original pick: CB NOAH IGBINOGHENE
Igbinoghene represents yet another disappointment from this 2020 draft class for Miami. He struggled in limited action as a rookie (37.1 PFF grade) and appeared in just three games for the Dolphins in 2021. With Miami addressing the defensive front (Chase Young) rather than the offensive line (Austin Jackson) earlier in this re-draft, offensive line help makes sense at this spot.
Jackson is the best one left on the board, coming off a 2021 season where he improved his PFF grade from 57.0 as a rookie to 69.3 in 2021. He would help solidify a group up front that’s been among the worst in the NFL for the Dolphins over the last several seasons.
31. Minnesota Vikings: Edge Jonathan Greenard
Original pick: CB JEFF GLADNEY
Consistent pass-rushing production off the edge has been something that Minnesota has struggled to find over the last two years with Danielle Hunter missing significant chunks of time due to injury. The 2020 draft hasn’t yet yielded a high number of impact edge rushers, but Greenard’s development last season for Houston was promising. Greenard posted a borderline elite 89.2 PFF pass-rushing grade in limited action (215 pass-rush snaps). He’s a breakout candidate entering the 2022 season.
32. Kansas City Chiefs: WR Gabriel Davis
Original pick: RB CLYDE EDWARDS-HELAIRE
The Chiefs got a first-hand look at the kind of impact that Davis could have when he put up over 200 receiving yards and four touchdowns against their defense in the 2021 postseason. Davis made the most of the opportunities he was given last season in Buffalo (80.0 PFF receiving grade) and should see an increased workload in 2022. He would be a welcome addition to a Kansas City receiving corps that is attempting to throw numbers at the problem of the best way to replace Tyreek Hill’s production.