Here we are, it's 2020 NFL Draft day therefore it's time to sift through the latest buzz regarding Tua Tagovailoa, Jeffrey Okudah, and some of the other top prospects in this year's class. Thank the football gods, we're nearing the end of lying season. But before it officially ends, let's get to those juicy rumors and break down why we're buying or selling them.
Tua falling out of the top 5: Buy
This rumor is running rampant. And I stared at the blinking cursor for a few minutes before deciding to buy or sell it. That's how up in the air this scenario, which will have a seismic impact on the entire first round, truly is right now.
And for the past week, it felt like a classic, close-to-the-draft smokescreen being created by a team that secretly adores Tagovailoa but doesn't want to trade up to land him. Months of nothing but positive news then, boom, an avalanche of negativity about Tagovailoa's medicals -- and Wonderlic -- all at once, two weeks out from the draft?
But -- and this is why I've flipped -- the smoke has gotten too thick. There's got to be a fire somewhere. I, personally, think it'd be a preposterous risk for the Dolphins to take, say, an offensive tackle at No. 5 then hope Tagovailoa falls or maybe trade extra picks to get him later in the first round, but that seems more likely every day as we get closer to the start of Round 1.
Has every team failed Tagovailoa medically? No way. Yet I do believe there are a fair amount of clubs not necessarily worried about the recovery of his hip but more so his long-term sustainability in the NFL. That's an important distinction. Living in a scouting era when everything about a prospect's game and athleticism is more intricately tracked than ever before, "injury-proneness" is a phenomenon that simply cannot be quantified. And the last image many GMs have of Tagovailoa on a football field is a rather unprecedented hip injury on a decently innocuous hit. It doesn't help that he's just over 6-foot and 200 pounds with an average arm.
So, to me, that's what's giving pause for many teams on Tagovailoa especially because it'd likely take a trade of valuable draft assets to move into the top 5 to select him.
Will we see an Aaron Rodgers type plummet? No. But out of the top 10 does not seem out of the question whatsoever, and, for as much as I held the opposite opinion a week ago, I think it's most likely that Tagovailoa is not picked within the first five selections.
Giants trading out of No. 4: Sell
This rumor has been out there for a while now, and while Peter King of NBC Sports ultimately had the Giants staying put in his final mock draft, he hinted at the distinct possibility of a trade back for the G-Men. But I just can't see Dave Gettleman trading out of this pick. He's never done it in all the drafts he's run as a GM, and likely with the pick of the litter at the offensive tackle spot -- a big need -- after drafting Saquon Barkley and Daniel Jones in the first round of back-to-back drafts, it'll be too enticing for him to not just pick the prospect he and his scouting staff have as OT1.
Quickly running through some possibilities, even if we witnessed a giant smear job regarding Tagovailoa, and he does go inside the top 3 selections -- most likely via a Dolphins trade up with the Lions -- there's a chance a mystery team could be interested in getting ahead of the Chargers, Panthers, and Jaguars (picking at No. 6, No. 7, and No. 9) for a quarterback, but it's highly unlikely Gettleman would be willing to move back that far -- outside the top 10 -- when it's expected that four tackles will be gone by pick No. 11.
So, with all that, I envision New York taking its time on the clock, fielding some calls, but ultimately picking either Tristan Wirfs or Jedrick Wills -- the two best right tackles in the class -- with the No. 4 overall pick. In theory, trading back is always the "correct move," but with how quickly the NFL demands results, there are times when you just have to stay put and pick the prospect with the highest grade on your board in hopes of getting more of an immediate impact.
Falcons trading up for a CB: Buy
This rumor burst onto the scene via NFL Network's Ian Rapoport last week, and I'm all about it ultimately happening.
Today's NFL is about passing effectively and effectively stopping the pass. And check the offensive/defensive dynamic the Falcons have had over the past four seasons, the first of which was their trip to the Super Bowl. That NFC title year, Atlanta finished No. 1 in Football Outsiders pass offense DVOA. Pass defense? 18th. In 2017, the Falcons pass offense finished 10th, the pass defense, 20th.
Two years ago, Atlanta's pass offense was seventh-best by DVOA. The team's ability to stop the pass? 29th. And last year, Dan Quinn's club had the 12th-best pass offense by DVOA and the -- you can probably guess -- 25th-best pass defense.
In short, Atlanta's pass defense has hindered the team recently, and with Dante Fowler signed in free agency along with the recent extension for ultra-disruptive defensive tackle Grady Jarrett, it's time for the Falcons to go hard after a cornerback. After all, Desmond Trufant's strong run in Atlanta came to an end this offseason.
And we know shot-caller Thomas Dimitroff is unafraid to take a big swing to move up in a draft. Remember the Julio Jones trade? Dimitroff vaulted from No. 27 overall to No. 6 to get him. Oh, and Dimitroff traded up for Trufant in 2013 too. Other first-round, draft-day ascensions under his watch include a jump to grab Takk McKinley in 2017 and last year to leap back into Round 1 to take offensive lineman Kaleb McGary.
I think Dimitroff makes a move for C.J. Henderson -- or maybe Okudah if he falls -- on Thursday.
Okudah could fall outside the top 10: Sell
While there hasn't been any concrete report precisely stating this, there have been many subtle insinuations it could happen from NFL insiders. And while it's a rumor veiled in smoke right now, I just can't buy it. The Lions are sitting pretty at No. 3 overall and very much in need of a long, press-man corner. That's precisely what Okudah is. Heck, Matt Patricia got to stand on the sidelines and watch Darrelle Revis, Malcolm Butler, and Stephon Gilmore lock down one side of the field for the Patriots. He has to be into Okudah in a big way.
But even if the Lions don't pick him at No. 3 -- or after a trade back -- there's the Panthers at No. 7 and the Jaguars at No. 9, two clubs who moved on from stud starters at the position this offseason -- James Bradberry and A.J. Bouye -- and would seemingly jump at the opportunity to pick him after a slight fall.
And last year, we didn't have a corner off the board until No. 30 overall. I can't imagine that happening again. Okudah checks all the boxes.
Henry Ruggs will be the first WR drafted: Buy
After months believing receivers would fly off the board early and often in this class, we've collectively realized the receiver madness is most likely to begin at No. 11 overall with the Jets. But who could be first off the board?
Our very own Pete Prisco believes it'll be Henry Ruggs, and I do too. Had either Jeudy or Lamb exploded at the combine, that wouldn't be the case. But neither did. And, hilariously, Ruggs "disappointed" in the 40 with a time of 4.27 but had a 42-inch vertical and a 131-inch broad jump, measurements in the 97th and 94th percentiles respectively at the position.
He has a Tyreek Hill level of explosiveness. Despite Jeudy and Lamb living on the draft radar longer, Ruggs has the get-up-and-go I think will catapult him in front of those prospects on night No. 1 of the draft. And it wouldn't shock me if a team traded up to get him. That's the type of game-breaking talent Ruggs has, because he's not just a burner, he boasts a large catch radius relative to his size and runs crisp routes. The Raiders at No. 12 overall seem like the most likely sweet spot for Ruggs. And, yes, it wouldn't surprise me in the least if the Jets just took him a pick before that.
49ers trading out of No. 13: Buy
I'll end on an easy buy. Yes, the thought of Lamb or Jeudy would be tantalizing for Kyle Shanahan, but after the club's two first-round selections, they don't have a pick until the fifth round.
We are talking about the reigning NFC champs here, yet every team needs those middle rounds to build roster depth with young, cheap talent.
And San Francisco's first Round 1 selection resides smack dab in the middle of a (likely) run on receivers, so they'll probably get plenty of calls, or in the case for this draft, private messages on Microsoft Teams. And as a club still loaded defensively with an absolute genius of a play-caller in Kyle Shanahan -- not to mention some explosive pieces on offense -- the 49ers will gladly just grab the best player available after moving back a few slots in Round 1 while netting a pick or two on the second day of the draft.