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2020 NFL Draft
(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

2020 NFL Draft: Teams Without First Rounder

With the 2020 NFL Draft underway it’s time to look at teams that lack a first round pick. There are six teams that do not have a first round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers, Houstan Texans, Buffalo Bills, Los Angeles Rams, Indianapolis Colts and Chicago Bears. Today, we’ll be looking at and comparing the situations of teams without a first round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft and seeing if they’re better of without their pick.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Minkah Fitzpatrick: Steelers 2020 First Round Pick (Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

The Pittsburgh Steelers‘ first round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft was traded to the Miami Dolphins in exchange for Minkah Fitzpatrick. That pick turned into the 18th overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. In this trade, the Steelers got a 1st Team All Pro Safety for 3 years, plus a team option for a 4th year. In return, the Dolphins got a mid-first round pick, seven spots lower than Fitzpatrick’s original selection spot. This puts Pittsburgh in an outstanding situation. The Steelers are in a “win now” mode, it’s very doubtful that anyone at pick 18 would be able to make a very significant impact for the Steelers. Ben Roethlisburger is scheduled to return, and he’ll be looking to prove the doubters wrong. Newly acquired free agent Eric Ebron will be looking to bounce back from a somewhat disappointing 2019 campaign, giving Big Ben a trusty tight end along side Vance Macdonald. A dominate defensive unit is also returning, with the only major loss being Javon Hargrave who signed with the Philadelphia Eagles in Free Agency, however Stephon Tuitt is returning from injury as well. With all these factors, along with the Steelers going 8-8 last season with Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges splitting starts for majority of the year. An argument can be made that the Steelers could have used their pick for a WR as Juju Smith-Schuster had a disappoint year in the form of a drop off in production combined with injuries, however the product can be directly related to the shaky quarterback situation. It can also be said that the Steelers could have used their pick to look for a quarterback of the future, however it is very unlikely that a suitable quarterback would be available. With Jameis Winston being a free agent the Steelers have the ability to both upgrade their backup and find their future quarterback post Big Ben.

Houston Texans

Houston Texans Tackle Laremy Tunsil (Reed Hoffmann/Associated Press)

The Houston Texans traded their first round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft AND the 2021 NFL Draft to the Miami Dolphins for Left Tackle Laremy Tunsil and Wide Receiver Kenny Stills. In a vacuum this seems like a good trade. The Texans fill a glaring need on the offensive line and got Watson another solid weapon. They also got proven players instead of taking a chance on a college player with the 26th pick. However, in reality I hate this trade. It’s one thing to trade for a player and them to be a team’s first round pick for one year (Minkah). However it’s another for a player to be a team’s first round pick for two years and have to pay that player top market value. Currently an extension for Tunsil has yet to be agreed upon, who is set to become a free agent in 2021. The Texans are also left without their 2021 second round pick, so filling roster holes has become much harder. The loss of these premium picks makes it much harder for the Texans to replace those lost in free agency. The Texans lost DJ Reader to Cincinnati in Free Agency, and lost Deandre Hopkins in the disaster of a trade with the Arizona Cardinals. Not to mention Lamar Miller, Carlos Hyde, Darren Fells and Johnathan Joseph. Now, it becomes extremely difficult to replace those key players without the appropriate draft capital. Also, the Texans do not have a great cap situation. Watson and Lunsil are due for massive extensions soon. Very little draft capital plus a cap situation that’s only going to get worse spells something out. A great quarterback can only do so much. The Texans are essentially screwed with a first round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft and 2021 NFL Draft.

Buffalo Bills

Bills Wide Receiver Stefon Diggs (Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

The Buffalo Bills held the 22nd overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. That pick was used to acquire Wide Receiver Stefon Diggs from the Minnesota Vikings. The Bills acquire an absolute stud at the receiver position giving Josh Allen a number one go to guy. Diggs is also on a team friendly contract, considering the current wide receiver market for the next 4 years. Diggs has a cap hit of $11.5 million for 2020 and $12 million for 2021 to 2023. He becomes a free agent in 2024 at the age of 30, which can give the Bills some decent leverage in contract negotiations. Even with a loaded receiver class, the best in quite some time, the Bills get a sure thing in Diggs. Diggs is also better than whoever the Bills may get if they held onto their first round pick. With that addition an argument can be made that Buffalo now has the best wide receiver group in the NFL. John Brown and Cole Beasley are no slouches. Beasley controls the slot, Brown is the deep threat and Diggs is the overall elite wide receiver to round out the trio. Their defensive is full of great players. With a secondary consisting of Tre’Davious White, Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer. Tremaine Edmunds and Matt Milano create a solid linebacking unit. Ed Oliver, Trent Murphy, Jerry Hughes and Star Lotulelei round out the defensive line. The Bills also had an abundance of cap space coming into the off-season in addition to a very well rounded and constructed roster. They only need to fill out depth and addressed their main need of a number one wide receiver. They don’t limit themselves, get a player with salary control for the next 4 years and address a crucial need. For all these reasons, this was an excellent move by the Bills.

Los Angeles Rams

Rams Cornerback Jalen Ramsey

Before the trade deadline the Los Angeles Rams struck a deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars for Cornerback Jalen Ramsey. The deal included LA’s first round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft and in the 2021 NFL Draft. The Rams in recent years are big spenders and make splash moves that look like it’s a Madden franchise. Now it’s finally starting to catch up to them. As I said in the Houston section, anytime a player is a team’s first round pick for multiple years it’s a terrible situation. It gets even worse if that player needs a massive contract extension. The Rams are in arguably the worst cap situation in the league. They had to cut Todd Gurley, Clay Matthews and have traded away Brandin Cooks for a second round pick. The Rams are a very top heavy team, they paid Goff a massive contract that has a cap hit of $36 million in 2020. In 2019 the Rams were unable to keep some key offensive linemen such as Rodger Saffold and John Sullivan. Goff’s production fell off a cliff without them, and without a first round pick in the next two drafts that offensive line won’t be getting many top prospects. Ramsey is an amazing player, but he won’t be protecting Goff. The Rams are far from competing again. Without a first round pick and given their current salary cap situation, this trade is not working out for them.

Indianapolis Colts

Colts Defensive Tackle Deforest Buckner (Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

The Indianapolis Colts held the 13th overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. That pick was traded to the San Francisco 49ers in exchange for Deforest Buckner. Upon the traded Buckner signed a 4-year extension worth $84 million. He has a $23.3 million in 2020, $17 million in 2021, $16 million in 2022, $19.7 million in 2023 and $20.25 million in 2024. This is a great trade for the Colts as it address their need of adding a difference maker on the defensive line. Buckner is also effective against the run and will help to keep All-Pro linebacker Darius Leonard clean so the Colts defense can dominate. Buckner joins a defensive line group with names like Justin Houston, Tyquan Lewis, Denico Autry and Kemoko Turay. While Buckner did sign a market level contract, the Colts have the cap space to give out that type of contract. The Colts have their short-term answer at quarterback in Philip Rivers, a dominant offensive line and solid weapons with TY Hilton. I view this move as a great one for the Colts, it’s unlikely that they would be able to get a defensive player of Buckner’s caliber with their first round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. It’s a great move by the Colts who are in “win now” mode.

Chicago Bears

Bears Outside Linebacker Khalil Mack (Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press)

Last but not least, pretty close but still, the Chicago Bears. The Bears traded the 19th pick in the 2020 NFL Draft for Khalil Mack last year in addition with their first round pick in 2019. It should be noted that the Bears did indeed get another second round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft which helps make this trade look a bit better. The addition of Mack last year turned the Bears into a playoff team. However, in 2020 they took a step back and came third in the NFC North. Like the trade for Tunsil and Ramsey, a player being a team’s first round pick for two years and needing a massive extension is a recipe for disaster. Similarly, the Bears sign Mack to a monster extension upon trading for him. The contract was a 6-year deal worth $141 million. While Mack is an incredible player, the loss of cost control and ability to add depth to a Chicago roster that is slowly falling apart is too big of an issue to face. The Bears’ lack of draft capital also prevents them from moving the mistake that is Mitch Trubisky. The Mack trade hinders the Bears and could throw them down the same path that hit the Jaguars after their loss in the AFC Championship game.

Teams have traded first round picks and will always continue to. However, sometimes those trades are great and other times it hinders a team for half a decade. Salary cap, cost control and capital are all major aspects of trading draft picks and players. While some of the trades above don’t seem to workout for the teams that made them, not all teams without a first round pick this year are doomed.

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