In a year turned upside down, it's fitting that much of the attention during the 2020 NFL season has been on the bottom of the standings as opposed to the top. No less than 11 teams have two or fewer wins, putting nearly a third of the league in play for generational QB prospect Trevor Lawrence. However, there can only be one winner- err, loser. Here's what the first ten picks of the 2021 NFL Draft might look like if it were held today.
1. New York Jets- QB Trevor Lawrence
Everyone expected the Adam Gase-led Jets to be a basement dweller, but they've managed to find several new subterranean layers over the course of their dismal 0-8 season. Let's put aside the harrowing thought that even Lawrence might not be enough to save the franchise; he's the perfect building block, and will be well-protected if 2020 11th overall pick Mekhi Becton has anything to say about it.
2. New York Giants- OL Penei Sewell
While the Giants may not be sold on Daniel Jones as their QB of the future, they'll never know if he continues to be one of the most sacked signal callers every week. New York invested in their offensive line at the draft just last year, but 2020 4th overall pick Andrew Thomas has already been benched once this season as he continues to struggle with the jump to pro football. Sewell not only possesses a much higher ceiling but buys the Giants time to understand what they have in both Jones and Thomas- an ideal situation for everyone.
3. Miami Dolphins (from Houston)- EDGE Gregory Rousseau
So far, so good for Tua Tagovailoa. Following up brother Taulia's first win in his first collegiate start with a W of his own, the Dolphins 2020 first round pick looked solid in his NFL debut against the LA Rams. While Tagovailoa should continue to inject some life into the team's offense, Rousseau fills a major weakness- defending the pass. At 6'7 and over 260 lbs, there's little real estate either above or below the Miami sophomore, which would no doubt help a team that's surrendered some of the longest plays every week.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars- DL Kwity Paye
Although Gardner Minshaw Mania has waned a bit thanks to a poorly-handled thumb injury, the Jaguars are not without options at quarterback thanks to the pro-ready arm of 2020 6th round pick Jake Luton. A far more pressing problem is the team's porous defense, which has allowed the second-most yards against all season. Paye could instantly solve that; while ranked in the mid- to-late first by most, he has electrifying athleticism for a 6'4 edge and should shoot up draft boards despite Michigan's very un-Michigan struggles so far this season.
5. Dallas Cowboys- QB Justin Fields
While Dallas will continue to lose no matter who is throwing the football if they continue to give up an NFL-worst 33.2 points per game, things are somehow even more dire in the pocket. Already on their fourth quarterback of the 2020 season thanks to Andy Dalton's trip to the IR, the franchise simply can't progress without stability at the position. As a dual threat who can both rush and pass the ball with impunity, Fields is all that and more. He has the ability to start right away and be a force for the next fifteen years.
6. Atlanta Falcons- LB Micah Parsons
Although there's every possibility Atlanta could look to the future at quarterback with cornerstone Matt Ryan eligible for free agency in 2023, they are more likely to extract every bit of value they have from one of the game's highest-paid players. Closing out games would be a big help, and the Falcons have failed to do so all season by allowing the fifth-most points per fourth quarter. Parsons is a freakish athlete who has shown an affinity for playing any spot on the DL, perfect for a defensively-oriented coach like Raheem Morris.
7. Los Angeles Chargers- CB Patrick Surtain II
Despite entering the year as an after-thought due to unanimous first overall pick Joe Burrow's hold on the 2020 NFL Draft, rookie quarterback Justin Herbert has quickly captured the imaginations of Chargers fans with 15 touchdowns in his first 6 games. Alas, Los Angeles has still struggled to win, and that's because Herbert can't also play defense. Thankfully, there are a ton of options in this year's class- especially off the corner. Surtain- yes, the son of the three-time Pro Bowler- has not only the right genes but the experience to frustrate offenses from Day 1.
8. Washington Football Team- QB Trey Lance
Another year, another quarterback controversy for Washington. Despite investing a first round pick in 2019 on the position via Dwayne Haskins and then a fifth in 2020 to acquire Kyle Allen, the team is no further ahead than 2018 when they first acquired Alex Smith. Fourth time's the charm, right? Lance is an unfinished product, to be sure, but an enticing one; given that Washington still has Smith under contract until 2024, they'll have plenty of time to groom a player who has perhaps the most upside in the Draft outside Lawrence.
9. Minnesota Vikings- EDGE Jayson Oweh
Who could have foreseen the Vikings struggling on defense with only one returning player at corner having ever played an NFL game? While it might seem that adding even more youth is not the answer, Minnesota is capped out and needs all the young, high-end help they can get. Enter Oweh, a 6'5 monster off the edge who can disrupt plays with aplomb.
10. New England Patriots- QB Kyle Trask
FOUR quarterbacks in the top ten? In some years, that many wouldn't go in the first round total; however, a combination of aging stars, disappointing top prospects, and an overall lack of depth at the position around the league has forced teams to act more aggressively. While some might suggest risers Zach Wilson or even Mac Jones here, Trask has something both lack: high-level accuracy. Completing his passes at a stunning 72% rate so far this season, Trask isn't the sexiest player in terms of pure arm strength or agility, but neither was former lynchpin Tom Brady; rather, it was dependability and consistency from the pocket that helped the Patriots stay on top for so long, and Trask has that in spades.