Justin Jefferson on Eagles passing him up: I’m way more happy to be in Minnesota

Justin Jefferson says he was shocked when the Philadelphia Eagles didn’t draft him, saying: I’m definitely happy, way happier, to be here than there”

During the 2020 NFL draft, everything fell into place for Philadelphia to finally land a No. 1 wide receiver, but instead of using the eye test, the Eagles went with the depth chart instead.

With Greg Ward entrenched as the slot receiver, the Eagles selected wide receiver Jalen Reagor with the 21st overall pick, and the Vikings selected wide receiver Justin Jefferson 22nd.

Hindsight being 20-20, Howie Roseman now regrets the pick, and Jefferson is among the top pass catchers in the NFL.

Now Jefferson, Reagor, and the Vikings are headed to Philadelphia for a huge Monday night showdown.

During a recent session with the media, Jefferson recalled thinking the Eagles would be his team and being shocked when it didn’t happen.

Fans will always what-if the situation Philadelphia did land DeVonta Smith and A.J. Brown, but the sting of not having Jefferson will be felt for years to come.

[mm-video type=playlist id=01eqbx4gfbwm323hbt player_id=none image=https://theeagleswire.usatoday.com/wp-content/plugins/mm-video/images/playlist-icon.png]

[listicle id=671581]

[listicle id=671494]

[listicle id=671563]

[lawrence-related id=671586,671559,671531,671511,671506]

Eagles GM on drafting Jalen Reagor over Justin Jefferson: I’d like to have that moment back

Philadelphia Eagles general manager Howie Roseman told Angelo Cataldi that he’d love to have the 21st pick in the 2020 NFL draft back and select the best available player

Life is about rebounding from mistakes; for the Eagles, that means a shift in culture and talent evaluation.

Fans can thank the 2020 NFL draft as the moment Philadelphia shifted to a culture of drafting the best available talent over positional fit. With Greg Ward having a breakout season from the slot in 2019, the Eagles entered the following spring’s draft with the approach of drafting an outside wide receiver to help elevate quarterback Carson Wentz.

Even after watching LSU dismantle opponents via a dynamic passing attack, Philadelphia GM Howie Roseman and head coach Doug Pederson felt All-American pass catcher Justin Jefferson was simply a slot receiver who benefited from an elite system and quarterback Joe Burrow.

The Eagles selected TCU wide receiver Jalen Reagor at pick No. 21, and the rest is history or the last huge NFL draft blunder Howie Roseman would ever make.

Jefferson has developed into one of the NFL’s top five pass catchers, while Reagor regressed at times and was recently traded to the Vikings for draft picks.

Roseman had such a successful offseason and summer that he had no problem telling Angelo Cataldi that he’d love a do-over on picking Jalen Reagor over Justin Jefferson.

Reagor has been a disappointment through two seasons, logging just 64 catches for 695 yards and three touchdowns in 28 games, including 24 starts, since the Eagles made him the 21st pick in the 2020 draft.

Jefferson, who the Vikings selected at No. 22 overall, has posted back-to-back Pro Bowl seasons, logging 196-catches for 3,016 yards and 17 touchdowns.

[mm-video type=playlist id=01eqbx4gfbwm323hbt player_id=none image=https://theeagleswire.usatoday.com/wp-content/plugins/mm-video/images/playlist-icon.png]

Kristian Fulton is last man standing from Titans’ 2020 draft class

Kristian Fulton is the only member of the 2020 draft class left on the Titans’ initial 53-man roster.

The Tennessee Titans appear to have themselves something special in 2020 second-round pick and cornerback, Kristian Fulton, but the rest of the 2020 draft class isn’t doing so hot.

In fact, Fulton is the only member of that group who is on the team’s initial 53-man roster ahead of 2022. Following final cuts that saw both defensive back Chris Jackson and defensive linemen Larrell Murchison get cut on Tuesday, Fulton is now the last man standing from the 2020 draft class.

Of course, not all hope is lost for Jackson and Murchison sticking in Nashville, as both could end up on the practice squad after they clear waivers.

In that case, either or both could receive a promotion to the 53-man roster at some point during the season.

Jackson and Murchison were two of the final three picks from a class that also included offensive lineman Isaiah Wilson, running back Darrynton Evans and quarterback Cole McDonald.

McDonald failed to make the initial 53-man roster in 2020, and Wilson lasted just one season on the team before being traded to Miami following a disastrous tenure in Nashville.

Evans lasted longer than those two but was cut earlier this offseason after a pair of injury-plagued seasons in Tennessee.

Chalk it up to whatever you like, but outside of one player the Titans’ 2020 draft class was a major swing and a miss.

[pickup_prop id=”25235″]

[mm-video type=playlist id=01eqbyh7crnrcs3ypf player_id=none image=https://titanswire.usatoday.com/wp-content/plugins/mm-video/images/playlist-icon.png]

[lawrence-related id=95708,95705,95698]

[listicle id=95712]

Mike Furrey is the reason Darnell Mooney was drafted by the Bears

Darnell Mooney likely isn’t a Chicago Bear without former receivers coach Mike Furrey

[mm-video type=playlist id=01eqbve7kb6he6scwe player_id=none image=https://bearswire.usatoday.com/wp-content/plugins/mm-video/images/playlist-icon.png]

In the lead-up to the NFL draft, there are scouts, coaches, and other front office personnel pounding their fists on the table for one player or another from colleges around the country.

Ultimately, the general manager has final say over who the team winds up choosing when they are on the clock, but behind that decision is conviction from any number of the front office or coaching staff who believe they found the next great NFL player.

In the case of Chicago Bears wide receiver Darnell Mooney, it was his former position coach that pushed hard for general manager Ryan Pace to draft him two years ago.

Mooney was drafted by the Bears in the fifth round of the 2020 NFL draft. Coming out of Tulane, Mooney had success in college, but was viewed as a backup receiver and wasn’t expected to make a significant impact for multiple reasons. But Mooney burst onto the scene in a hurry and became the team’s WR2 his rookie year. He took even more strides last season to cement himself as the unquestioned WR1 now heading into his third season. None of it would have happened if not for former wide receivers coach Mike Furrey.

In a piece written by Dan Pompei in The Athletic that details Mooney’s hard-working attitude and relentlessness to be great, one nugget stood out about the process in drafting the 24-year old receiver. According to Pompei, Furrey was doing homework on the receivers coming out of the 2020 NFL Draft and paused when he got to Mooney. Furrey was enamored with him as a prospect and even compared him to Hall of Fame wide receiver and former teammate Issac Bruce when it came to his mindset.

“His desire and passion are rare,” Furrey told Pompei.

Furrey was the Bears wide receivers coach under Matt Nagy from 2018-21, his first coaching stint at the professional level. He was previously a wide receiver in both the arena football league and NFL and coached in college, where he is again after being let go from the Bears earlier this winter. Towards the end of his Bears tenure, Furrey became an easy target for fans given the lack of development of many of his receivers, but willingness to fight opposing defenders. He was known for hyping players up on the sideline more than anything.

Furrey won’t be on anyone’s list for favorite Bears position coaches anytime soon, but he seemed to have an eye for talent. Without him, Mooney would be producing with another team instead and if his workouts this season are any indication, he’s on the cusp of greatness.

Follow The Bears Wire Podcast:
Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google Podcasts

[listicle id=510582]

[listicle id=510376]

Where do A.J. Terrell and Tee Higgins land in PFF’s 2020 NFL redraft?

If a redraft was possible, PFF has A.J. Terrell and Tee Higgins falling inside the top 10 after the former Tigers had breakout sophomore campaigns.

Looking back at the 2020 NFL Draft with the benefit of hindsight, some teams should regret passing on a pair of Tigers.

Although linebacker Isaiah Simmons was the first Clemson player to hear his name called in 2020, arguably the most productive Tigers from that draft class are cornerback A.J. Terrell and wide receiver Tee Higgins, who were drafted at No. 16 and No. 33, respectively.

In his second year in the league last season, Higgins was an integral part of the Cincinnati Bengals’ postseason run, leading his team in receiving yards and touchdowns against the Rams in the Super Bowl. Meanwhile, Terrell was named a Second-Team All-Pro as the unquestioned leader of the Atlanta Falcons’ secondary.

With Terrell and Higgins entering their third season in the league, here’s where Pro Football Focus’ Ben Linsey thinks the two dynamic playmakers would end up in a redraft, knowing what we know now.

PFF’s 2020 NFL draft redo holds surprise for the Bills

PFF’s 2020 NFL draft redo holds surprise for the #Bills:

[mm-video type=playlist id=01eqbw1j59gmjw5gdj player_id=none image=https://billswire.usatoday.com/wp-content/plugins/mm-video/images/playlist-icon.png]

Pro Football Focus did a redo of the first round of the 2020 NFL draft.

It concerns the Buffalo Bills in one of the most interesting ways you could figure.

First off, you might have realized already why this is so different. It’s because of what happened prior to this draft.

Once slated to hold a first-round pick, Buffalo did not make that selection. Rather, it was traded to the Minnesota Vikings for wide receiver Stefon Diggs.

That worked out in more ways than one.

Not only did the Bills get their No. 1 guy in Diggs, they also got their man at the 2020 draft. In the fourth round, Gabriel Davis was taken by Buffalo.

Fast forward two years and the Bills have a promising duo out wide for quarterback Josh Allen in Diggs and Davis.

However, PFF’s draft redo alters that picture.

The Bills still don’t hold a Round 1 selection in the exercise. But they do lose a player and it’s Davis.

After the way he preformed over the first two years of his career, the football analytics outlet thinks he was worthy of a first-round pick. In the redo, the Kansas City Chiefs take Davis with the final selection of the round.

Here’s PFF’s breakdown on the change:

32. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS: WR GABRIEL DAVIS

Original pick: RB CLYDE EDWARDS-HELAIRE

The Chiefs got a first-hand look at the kind of impact that Davis could have when he put up over 200 receiving yards and four touchdowns against their defense in the 2021 postseason. Davis made the most of the opportunities he was given last season in Buffalo (80.0 PFF receiving grade) and should see an increased workload in 2022. He would be a welcome addition to a Kansas City receiving corps that is attempting to throw numbers at the problem of the best way to replace Tyreek Hill’s production.

[lawrence-related id=102406,102435,102423]

What is next for the Houston Texans 2020 draft class?

The 2020 draft class is the last group of Houston Texans not drafted by GM Nick Caserio. What’s next for them in the 2022 campaign?

2020 was supposed to be the ultimate chapter in the Bill O’Brien saga with the Houston Texans.

After years of a power struggle with former general manager Rick Smith and an unfortunate series of injuries, O’Brien had seemingly acquired everything that he wanted.

Quarterback Deshaun Watson was healthy, J.J. Watt was healthy, a franchise left tackle in Laremy Tunsil had been acquired, and O’Brien finally had full control of the roster. He just needed to execute that off-season to put the finishing touches on a team that many in Houston thought had the potential for a Super Bowl. Besides they had only been one epic collapse against the Kansas City Chiefs away from the AFC Championship.

Unfortunately, as everyone is now well aware, O’Brien historically fumbled that off-season.

Forgotten in the wake of a 4-12 campaign and the trade of former star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, there has been perhaps no worse repercussion of what happened that off-season that the 2020 draft class. Houston was able to trade one of their second round picks for Brandin Cooks, an absolute overpay at the time but now one that fate has somehow allowed to work out extremely well.

Otherwise, the scene is pretty grim. Of the five players drafted, only three remain. Second-round defensive tackle Ross Blacklock, third-round defensive end Jonathan Greenard, and fourth-round offensive tackle Charlie Heck. Three players that represent the first and only draft run entirely by O’Brien.

Since then, Nick Caserio has stepped in beautifully to the general manager position and has reeled off two extremely favorable drafts in a row. As Caserio begins to reshape the roster, this raises an important question for the 2020 class: where do they fit in?

As things stand today, the upcoming 2022 season under new coach Lovie Smith looks like a “sink or swim” situation for all three of these players.

Blacklock, despite his top-50 draft status and two whole years under his belt, is not projected to enter training camp as a starter in Smith’s 4-3 scheme. Second year sixth-round pick Roy Lopez is assumed to start at the 1-technique while veteran Maliek Collins serves in the 3-technique defensive tackle role.

Blacklock’s career has been underwhelming up to this point with only three career starts with 22 tackles and 2.0 sacks during the 2021 campaign. Thomas Booker was recently drafted in the fifth-round out of Stanford and, with a similar physical profile, projects to play in the same role as Blacklock.

It will be vital this year for Blacklock to establish himself as a viable pass rusher from the interior and an important member of the defensive line rotation if he hopes to return to Houston on a second contract. Offseason conditioning could lend his profile towards either spot and it will be interesting to see how Blacklock dedicates himself.

Next, Greenard is seemingly the easiest to project of the bunch. He will enter 2022 as a full-time starter at the weakside defensive position after starting 12 games in 2021 and tallying 8.0 sacks.

Caserio has brought in veteran edge rushers like Mario Addison and Rasheem Green to play as the opposite defensive end and, entering the second year in Smith’s scheme, there is a lot of optimism this year that Greenard puts it all together.

Expectations around Greenard believe a double-digit sack season is very much within reach and nobody will be surprised if he plays his way into an early contract extension at the conclusion of 2022. O’Brien may have had some misfires, but this selection looks like a homerun.

Finally, there is Heck. Houston is likely in a bit of trouble if Heck is forced to start at either of the tackle positions but the team is high on him internally. Heck will simply be tasked to perform as a replacement level tackle should anything happen to franchise tackles Tunsil and Tytus Howard. He has performed well previously in short stints and the hope will be he can do that again.

Austin Deculus was drafted in the sixth-round from LSU and will compete for snaps with Heck this offseason. Whoever between them inspires the most confidence in the coaching staff that they can protect quarterback Davis Mills will likely got the nod for both more special teams snaps and to serve as the priority backup tackle.

These three players from the 2020 class all have remarkably different expectations entering the year. Greenard is a starter the team hopes can become a star, Blacklock is a rotational piece everyone wants to see breakout, and Heck is there to serve as a roster buffer in emergency.

Regardless of expectations, the Texans will certainly be a better team if their former general manger’s draft picks can pan out.

[listicle id=74359]

Bears’ Jaylon Johnson, Darnell Mooney are first-round picks in PFF’s 2020 re-draft

The Bears got steals in both CB Jaylon Johnson and WR Darnell Mooney, who were both first-round selections in PFF’s 2020 NFL re-draft.

[mm-video type=playlist id=01eqbve7kb6he6scwe player_id=none image=https://bearswire.usatoday.com/wp-content/plugins/mm-video/images/playlist-icon.png]

Pro Football Focus took a crack at re-drafting the 2020 NFL draft, where Bears cornerback Jaylon Johnson and wide receiver Darnell Mooney were both selected in the first round to NFC North rivals.

With the 22nd overall pick, the Minnesota Vikings originally selected wide receiver Justin Jefferson, who went third to the Detroit Lions in this re-draft. Instead, PFF has Minnesota drafting Johnson, who originally was the 50th overall selection, in this re-draft.

This selection doesn’t fill the Vikings’ need for a wide receiver to pair with Adam Thielen, but Minnesota has also had a revolving cast of cornerbacks in recent years. Johnson has responded well to the No. 1 role he’s been forced into on the outside. There’s still some room for growth, but Johnson has been active at the catch point for Chicago, as his 15.3% forced incompletion rate ranks sixth among 64 cornerbacks with at least 100 targets since 2020.

The Green Bay Packers originally drafted quarterback Jordan Love with the 26th overall selection, which spurned quarterback Aaron Rodgers. In this re-draft, the Packers give Rodgers the wide receiver he wanted in Mooney, who was originally a fifth-round selection.

Mooney isn’t best suited as the No. 1 option he currently is in Chicago, but he does represent a nice complementary piece to a passing attack that can stress defenses vertically. Mooney’s 0.4 wins above a replacement since 2020 rank sixth among wide receivers in the draft class — just behind Claypool in Pittsburgh.

Both Johnson and Mooney are cornerstones for this franchise moving forward. And it’s safe to say Chicago got a steal in both of them.

[listicle id=509362]

[listicle id=509365]

PFF’s 2020 redraft turns Panthers upside down

If the 2020 draft were to be rewound, at least how PFF sees it, the Panthers defense would look completely different than it does today.

If the Carolina Panthers had another shot at the 2020 NFL draft, would they select Derrick Brown again with the seventh overall pick? Frankly, probably not.

And neither would Ben Linsey of Pro Football Focus. The NFL analyst reran the event from two years back and didn’t go, despite Carolina’s original first-round choice still up on the board, with the Auburn defensive tackle.

Instead, he opted for University of Minnesota safety Antoine Winfield Jr.—whom the Panthers have seen plenty of over the past few seasons.

“This might seem early for Winfield — or any safety given the draft history at the position — but Winfield has proven himself to be a special, well-rounded player through two seasons with the Buccaneers,” Linsey writes. “He’s coming off a 2021 season with 85.0-plus PFF run-defense and coverage grades above, and he posted the second-highest overall grade (89.5) at the position — behind only Kevin Byard.”

Antoine, son of Antoine, kicked off his pro career with a bang—finishing fourth in AP Defensive Rookie of the Year voting. He’d then be selected to his first Pro Bowl in 2021 after recording 88 tackles, 2.0 sacks, two interceptions, two forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.

So, what happened to Brown? Well, he and another standout Panther would be scooped up a bit later in the mock.

Linsey goes on to settle Brown in with the Los Angeles Chargers at No. 23:

“Los Angeles’ interior defensive line was one of the biggest problem areas on its roster last season. Brown hasn’t yet been the dominant force that the Panthers were hoping for when they drafted him in the top 10, but he would represent an upgrade over what the Chargers have had at the position over the last several years. Brown improved his PFF run-defense grade by roughly seven points from 2020 to 2021, and his 57 quarterback pressures across those two seasons rank third among all players in the draft class.”

And then he has the Seattle Seahawks using the draft’s 27th pick on safety Jeremy Chinn, who was selected at the final slot of the second round (No. 64 overall) in the real-life version.

“Chinn has also impressed in Carolina, raising his PFF grade from 59.0 as a rookie to 71.4 in his second season last year. He profiles as one of the bigger safeties in the league and is a tremendous athlete. Perhaps most importantly, this draft pick would have likely kept Seattle from sending multiple first-round picks to New York for Jamal Adams — a trade that has looked like a mistake in hindsight.”

All in all, 2020 wasn’t actually a bad draft for the Panthers. They may not have hit a home run at No. 7, but they got themselves a pair of first-round talents who have proven to be pretty solid starters thus far.

[pickup_prop id=”19640″]

[lawrence-related id=654500,653815]

[listicle id=653985]

Seahawks take Jeremy Chinn over Jordyn Brooks in this 2020 redraft

Any idea that might have prevented the regrettable Jamal Adams trade is probably a good thing.

[mm-video type=playlist id=01eqbycpfe4qgv9nf6 player_id=none image=https://seahawkswire.usatoday.com/wp-content/plugins/mm-video/images/playlist-icon.png]

The Seattle Seahawks will be relying a lot more on Jordyn Brooks in the post-Bobby Wagner era beginning next season. Brooks has been named the team’s new defensive play-caller and will have his hands full trying to live up to the high standard that No. 54 set over the last 10 years.

A new 2020 NFL redraft from Pro Football Focus has Seattle going in a different direction though – one that has a different back-seven defender heading to the Pacific Northwest. Instead of Brooks going to the Seahawks with the No. 27 overall pick in the draft, they had Seattle selecting SIU safety Jeremy Chinn.

“Chinn has also impressed in Carolina, raising his PFF grade from 59.0 as a rookie to 71.4 in his second season last year. He profiles as one of the bigger safeties in the league and is a tremendous athlete. Perhaps most importantly, this draft pick would have likely kept Seattle from sending multiple first-round picks to New York for Jamal Adams — a trade that has looked like a mistake in hindsight.”

Any idea that might have prevented the regrettable Jamal Adams trade is probably a good thing – and even though Brooks also improved a lot in his second season we’d definitely prefer to have Chinn. His athleticism and overall playmaking ability makes us believe he’ll have a better future in the NFL than Brooks, no offense intended.

The Seahawks will get to see Chinn in action live this year. They’re scheduled to host the Carolina Panthers at Lumen Field in Week 14.

[vertical-gallery id=90531]