Many sports fans had been anticipating this year’s NFL Draft for a while as it provided some of the first live sports coverage since the coronavirus outbreak. However, as in every draft, there were clear winners and losers: Some teams most definitely improved while others made questionable decisions.
Winner: Indianapolis Colts
While many teams had amazing draft classes, including the Baltimore Ravens and Arizona Cardinals, the Colts got the best value out of their picks, even though they traded their first-round selection for defensive lineman DeForest Buckner. This in and of itself was a win for the Colts because they weren’t going to attain a player of Buckner’s caliber with that pick anyway.
The first need that the Colts filled was a wide receiver. The Colts have almost no experience or reliability in that position aside from T.Y. Hilton, who was forced to take on a heavy workload the past few seasons. Despite missing six games and losing quarterback Andrew Luck, Hilton’s stats took a nosedive: His 90.7 receiving yards per game in 2018 fell to 50.1 yards in 2019. It was clear he needed help and the Colts got exactly that by picking USC receiver Michael Pittman Jr.
With 11 touchdowns and more than 1,200 receiving yards in 2019, Pittman should make an immediate impact on the Colts’ receiving corps and should probably be the second option for quarterback Philip Rivers next season.
After Pittman, the Colts took Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor, an explosive, exciting athlete. Taylor will provide a lot of support for Marlon Mack, who is coming off of an over 1,000-yard season. Even though Mack is a solid starter, Taylor could eventually compete for his spot and become an even better player behind one of the best offensive lines in the NFL.
While these two picks were already impressive, the team’s best value pick was a fourth-round steal in former Washington quarterback Jacob Eason. With Rivers aging and nearing the end of his career, it’s possible that the Colts foresee Eason learning and growing his game under the tutelage of Rivers before eventually taking over the starting role. Eason fell very far in the draft because of his inconsistent performance, but his big arm and high ceiling should put the Colts in a great position for the future.
Loser: Green Bay Packers
The Packers hurt themselves more than they helped themselves during this draft. The team has created a lot of controversy by using their 26th pick on former Utah State quarterback Jordan Love, which didn’t make much sense. Current starter Aaron Rodgers is still performing at an elite level and seems to have several more years left in him before he starts to decline. At first, it seemed like Love would be a long-term replacement for Rodgers, but it’s not feasible to make an investment that won’t pay off for several years so early in the draft. This has raised a lot of questions about Rodgers’ relationship with the organization and whether or not there is tension.
Rodgers himself said before the draft that he’d like to see Green Bay select a skill position player and after the Packers traded up from the 30th pick with the Miami Dolphins — who selected promising Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and USC offensive lineman Austin Jackson — ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. was on air saying that Green Bay desperately needs a wide receiver to help Rodgers. It seems as if new head coach Matt LeFleur and general manager Brian Gutekunst wished to ignore both opinions by selecting Love.
The Packers made another strange choice by picking running back A.J. Dillon in the second round. With Aaron Jones proving himself as a solid starter this past season, this selection also lacks logic. Neither Dillon nor Love will make an impact this season for the Packers, and even their long-term impact is uncertain based on Green Bay’s current situation with Jones and Rodgers.
In the third round, the Packers picked tight end Josiah Deguara of Cincinnati to add further doubt to the team’s draft class. What makes this move intriguing is that there was a noticeable lack of talent at the tight end position in this year’s class and an overwhelming amount of talent in the wide receiver area.
The Packers failed to address immediate concerns by not drafting players at necessary positions as they desperately needed some help at wide receiver. Other than Davante Adams, the Packers lack the weapons they need for Rodgers and the offense to flourish outside the run game. The Packers had the opportunity to improve their team in several areas this year, and put simply, they failed to do so. They’ll pay the price for these costly mistakes in both the short and the long term.
Harrison Cho is a sophomore writing about sports. His column, “The Chosen One,” typically ran every other Thursday.