2020 NFL Draft: Three myths you can throw out, including a running back who doesn't belong in the top tier

Each year brings new myths about the NFL Draft. The hope is that this series opens up a new way of thinking or, at the least, creates some new dialogue around draft-related topics. 

Last week, CBS Sports attacked the idea that a team should 'Tank for Tua' or that a quarterback has to go No. 1 overall. In this installment, we look at the strengths and weaknesses of the 2020 NFL Draft class, the upside of Clemson running back Travis Etienne and the value of draft picks versus veterans.

Myth: The 2020 NFL Draft class is weak

In the beginning, an NFL Draft class always appears weak. As time progresses and more talent comes to light, the class starts to look deeper. The moment an evaluator starts to feel comfortable with the talent available, one-third of the class announces that they are returning for a junior or senior season. The final day to declare for the 2020 NFL Draft is Jan. 20; a corresponding list of those early underclassmen entrants is sent to each team four days later. As of Nov. 13, talent evaluators wearing rose-colored glasses are seeing an underclassmen class where everyone declares, and it offers hope. 

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The pool of talent expected to be available right now looks deep. There are some elite talents at the top as we discussed last month, but there is also depth into Day 3. The NFL is facing a shortage of quality offensive linemen, and last year's draft class did nothing to help the cause. Teams in the market this year will find several tantalizing options, specifically at offensive tackle. The 2020 NFL Draft class appears to be deep at wide receiver, running back, defensive tackle and potentially quarterback as well. 

The 2019 NFL Draft class offered a bevy of options to teams in need of pass rush,  and the regular season returns were quick and obvious. Josh Allen and Nick Bosa have each produced seven sacks, which is tied for 12th among all NFL defenders. The quarterback class may have been better than expected too. Daniel Jones of the Giants and Gardner Minshew II of the Jaguars have joined Kyler Murray of the Cardinals to provide some key victories for their respective teams this season. 

Myth: Etienne belongs in top tier at running back

Most assumed that Georgia's D'Andre Swift, Wisconsin's Jonathan Taylor and Clemson's Travis Etienne were in a class of their own, but that has never been the case. Etienne looks a bit more stiff and runs a little higher than his peers. He does not have that one elite trait that separates him. 

The Louisiana native is a very good player and would be a part of that second tier of running backs. To his credit, he has improved his pass-catching ability this season, which is important in today's NFL. The junior looks to be a Day 2 pick if he declares for the 2020 NFL Draft. 

Myth: Veterans should be traded for draft picks

Every time a trade is made in the NFL, reactions flow on who won. Truth be told, draft picks are worthless unless the team acquiring those picks turns them into quality players. According to The Riot Report in 2018, a first round pick has a 53 percent chance of being successful. The odds diminish drastically with each round. 

There are other variables in play as well. The Browns traded fourth and seventh round picks for wide receiver Jarvis Landry, who has been worth way more than any player that the team could have gotten in those rounds. However, they also had to pay him roughly $15 million annually, which represents about 8 percent of the team's salary cap. The team had more than enough salary cap space at the time but it may force big decisions down the road. There are not many NFL teams looking to build their roster around a high-priced wide receiver -- or two, in the case of Cleveland. On average, the NFL salary cap has increased roughly $11 million -- which is the equivalent of Emmanuel Sanders or Tyrell Williams -- annually over the past five years. 

The age and position of a player impacts value as well. The deals for Khalil Mack, Jalen Ramsey and Laremy Tunsil have been huge because of the positions they play and the length of their respective careers. When the Bears dealt for Mack, everyone hammered the Raiders and praised Chicago. Well, the Bears lost in the wild card round of the playoffs last season and were beaten by Mack's old team in 2019. 

The Dolphins traded Tunsil for two first round picks and a second round pick. What if they try to replace him with that first pick and the player turns out to be a bust? Suddenly, it took at least two of those three picks just to get back to where the team was before making the deal. 

All of that is said to say this: if a team feels that they are a piece or two away from being a contender and they have the salary cap space, then they should make the trade. When acquiring a veteran, the receiving team knows what they are getting rather than hoping a player falls to them in the NFL Draft. The once widely accepted belief that draft picks are the supreme asset and teams should "build through the draft" has been challenged more recently as teams look to fill out a more competitive roster in the present.

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