News & Analysis

Biggest needs for top Super Bowl contenders and potential fits in the 2020 NFL Draft

I had to make a cutoff somewhere here, and I knew wherever I did was going to make some fan base upset. In an effort to remain free from any bias, I used the 10 franchises with the best Super Bowl odds at the moment according to Bovada. While there are solid arguments to be made for teams outside this top 10, just know it’s nothing personal. These are each top Super Bowl contender's biggest positional need along with potential fits in the 2020 NFL Draft.

[Editor's Note: PFF's Post-Combine Edition of our 2020 NFL Draft Guide is LIVE! Subscribe to PFF EDGE or ELITE today to download your copy.]

Kansas City Chiefs — Cornerback

Early: Kristian Fulton, LSU
Later: Jaylon Johnson, Utah

The Chiefs' cornerback group was smoke and mirrors last season, but with Kendall Fuller gone and Bashaud Breeland still unsigned, that unit is more likely to get smoked with its current pieces. The Chiefs should be in the market for an all-around corner, and LSU’s Kristian Fulton is one of our favorites in that regard. He played more off-zone in 2018 and earned an 89.7 coverage grade that year. LSU played a ton of press-man this past season, and Fulton still earned an 86.8 coverage grade. Evaluations of him have been all over the map, but if he falls to No. 32, it would be a steal in my eyes.

Johnson would be a similar slam dunk if he falls to the back end of the second round. Few have slotted him into the first round despite checking in at 28th on PFF’s latest draft board. He’s the type of ballhawk who can get Patrick Mahomes back on the football field quickly.

Baltimore Ravens — Linebacker

Early: Zack Baun, Wisconsin
Later: Jordyn Brooks, Texas Tech

With how much the Ravens blitz (54.3% of passes last year, most in NFL), adding an off-ball linebacker who can add as a pass-rusher could provide a ton of value. That’s Wisconsin’s Zack Baun, as he earned a 91.0 pass-rushing grade going against offensive tackles off the edge last year at Wisconsin. He also blazed a 1.54 10-time, which was tops among edge players at the Combine.

With two picks at the end of Round 2, one of them could be Texas Tech’s Jordyn Brooks, who racked up 44 pressures on 117 pass-rushing snaps as an off-ball linebacker last season. While not quite as adept as Baun at beating offensive linemen one-on-one, Brooks comes downhill with reckless abandon and will blow up running backs en route to the quarterback.

San Francisco 49ers — Wide Receiver

Early: Jerry Jeudy, Alabama
Later: Lynn Bowden Jr., Kentucky

With Emmanuel Sanders gone, Dante Pettis falling out of favor in Year 2, and the newly acquired 13th overall pick in tow, the 49ers look like a lock to address the receiver position early on. If Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy falls to them, John Lynch and company should be sprinting that card to the podium (or whatever it will be this year). Jeudy fits the dynamic route-runner mold that the 49ers have coveted in recent years.

Jan 7, 2019; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide receiver Jerry Jeudy (4) runs after a reception against Clemson Tigers linebacker Isaiah Simmons (11) during the 2019 College Football Playoff Championship game at Levi's Stadium. Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

While the 49ers value route-runners, they’ve also coveted versatility. Not many guys have proven more versatile in college football than Kentucky’s Lynn Bowden, who switched from wide receiver to quarterback midway through last season. They don’t currently have a pick in Rounds 2-4, but Bowden could feasibly be on the board near the top of Round 5 in this deep receiver class, or the 49ers could pick up some mid-rounders by trading down.

New Orleans Saints — Wide Receiver

Early: Laviska Shenault Jr., Colorado
Later: Devin Duvernay, Texas

The Saints covet playmakers, and there isn’t a better playmaker with the ball in his hands than Colorado’s Laviska Shenault when healthy. He broke 29 tackles after the catch as a sophomore back in 2018 and would be yet another headache for opposing defensive coordinators.

A similar player who could be available in the third round  — where the Saints are set to pick next — would be Texas’ Devin Duvernay. He broke 23 tackles on 105 catches this past season and is built like a running back at 5-foot-10, 200 pounds. Even though he played almost exclusively slot for Texas, Duvernay has legit 4.39 speed to feature as a vertical threat for New Orleans.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Offensive Tackle

Early: Andrew Thomas, Georgia
Later: Ben Bartch, St. John's

Tampa Bay signed Joe Haeg in free agency, but in his only two full seasons as a starter for the Colts, he allowed a total of 99 pressures between right guard and right tackle. With how much the Buccaneers have riding on Tom Brady, they need to protect that investment a little more in Bruce Arians' deep dropback/passing offense. They have to be praying Georgia’s Andrew Thomas falls to them. He’s the highest graded Power-5 tackle in the draft and played right tackle well as a true freshman.

Nov 9, 2019; Athens, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs offensive lineman Andrew Thomas (71) blocks against the Missouri Tigers during the first half at Sanford Stadium. Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

After Round 1, the Buccaneers' prospects of filling that need grow slimmer. But given their history of drafting Division III linemen, it’s likely they’re higher than most on Ben Bartch out of St. John's. Bartch won over half his reps in the one-on-ones at the Senior Bowl. That’s an impressive rate for any tackle, let alone one who’s never faced FBS competition.

Seattle Seahawks — Cornerback

Early: Trevon Diggs, Alabama
Later: Bryce Hall, Virginia

While I know John Schneider has never coveted cornerbacks highly in the draft, I believe this is the year that has to change with how desperate they are at the position. There are some long corners near the top of the draft who fit their type and would be immediate upgrades. Alabama’s Trevon Diggs is an obvious candidate with his work in press coverage. His 84.0 grade in press last year was the highest of any corner in this draft class with at least 100 such snaps.

If that’s not the pick in the first round, Virginia’s Bryce Hall offers a similar skillset in Round 2. He didn’t allow a single catch on his 52 press coverage snaps this past season before going down with an ankle injury. He also had the second widest wingspan of any cornerback at this year’s combine.

Green Bay Packers — Wide Receiver

Early: Denzel Mims, Baylor
Later: Tyler Johnson, Minnesota

The Packers need an influx of any sort of dynamic ability they can find at the receiver position. With a sub-4.4 40 and 6.66 3-cone, the 6-foot-3, 207-pound Baylor receiver Denzel Mims certainly qualifies as that. He earned the highest grade we’ve ever given to a receiver in this year’s Senior Bowl one-on-ones.

Johnson isn’t nearly as dynamic, but he fits the mold the Packers look for in terms of shifty slant-runners. All he’s done at Minnesota is get open and that helped him earn the highest receiving grade in the country last season. Despite that, Johnson should still be on the board for the Packers at the end of Round 2.

New England Patriots — Quarterback

Early: Jordan Love, Utah State
Later: Anthony Gordon, Washington State

I’m not sure how the Patriots are even still among the top 10 Super Bowl favorites without a quarterback at the moment, but I don’t want to tempt fate by doubting Bill Belichick. Picking at No. 23, it’s doubtful they’ll be able to get one of the top three signal-callers even if they make a huge play to move up. That leaves Utah State’s Jordan Love, who I believe is the perfect quarterback for them. He’s been very boom or bust, and that’s kind of what the Patriots need at the moment. If he starts 16 games, it could very well result in them getting in the Trevor Lawrence/Justin Fields sweepstakes in 2021.

Dec 20, 2019; Frisco, TX, USA; Utah State Aggies quarterback Jordan Love (10) throws a pass in the first quarter against the Kent State Golden Flashes during the Frisco Bowl at Toyota Stadium. Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

If they want to take their swings in the mid-rounds again, Anthony Gordon has the quick decision-making ability to execute the Patriots' offense. Gordon had a 119.9 passer rating on throws within 2.5 seconds of the snap last year compared to 93.3 on passes longer than that.

Philadelphia Eagles — Linebacker

Early: Patrick Queen, LSU
Later: Willie Gay Jr., Mississippi State

While the Eagles may look elsewhere early on with the positional value of linebacker, it’s still easily their most glaring need. LSU’s Patrick Queen is a player who burst onto the scene after not even starting to begin this season. He eventually racked up six stops in a monster National Championship game. His 4.5 speed at the combine makes him a versatile piece in a modern defense.

If the Eagles do choose to address the position later, Mississippi State’s Willie Gay has first-round-type traits but could slip all the way to Day 3 after cheating on a chemistry test and punching a teammate this past season. Still, Gay earned a 93.9 coverage grade for his career and smoked a 4.46 40 at the combine.

Pittsburgh Steelers — Nose Tackle

Early: Neville Gallimore, Oklahoma
Later: John Penisini, Utah

After free agency, Pittsburgh has arguably the most complete roster in the NFL when it comes to a ‘need’ perspective. Now, simply being complete doesn’t always win you games, but there’s no one spot the Steelers have to address when they finally are on the clock in the second round. With Javon Hargrave gone to Philly, Oklahoma’s Neville Gallimore could fill those shoes with a similarly explosive skillset in Round 2. Gallimore ran a blazing 4.79 40 at 304 pounds at the Combine.

Later in the draft, Utah’s John Penisini is one of PFF’s favorite pure run-stuffing nose tackles. He earned a higher run-defense grade (90.6) than more highly touted teammate Leki Fotu for the Utes last season.

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