The 2020 NFL Draft's first round is officially set to kick off in four weeks. Commissioner Roger Goodell and the league offices confirmed Thursday there will be no delay in this year's draft.
The draft is officially full steam ahead.
As such, executives will resume a mad scramble to finalize their preparations. This is a draft year unlike any other in recent memory. With teams trying to find the right combination of prospects and information, we may see some tendency breakers across the league. Furthermore, we may see some of the deeper teams in this year's draft elect to punt their assets all together and defer to the future.
Could an established NFL veteran on the franchise tag prompt a team to flip their first-round pick for more of a sure thing? Could a deep team elect to move their first-round pick in favor of 2021 picks for more selections that fall under the standard draft process?
It's a fascinating subplot to watch from afar as each of the league's teams looks to handle the COVID-19 lockout in their own unique fashion. These are uncharted waters. While there is no right or wrong answer, there are a number of teams that would benefit from sliding down the board and out of their current selection in April's draft.
New York Giants
The New York Giants should be the team that takes advantage of the quarterback thirsty teams in front of them in the draft order. Whether it is the Miami Dolphins or Los Angeles Chargers, the Giants are effectively guaranteed to pick the same player at No. 5 or No. 6 versus who they'd be taking at No. 4. Considering it's a swap for a quarterback, New York should be able to turn around a pretty decent return for sliding down one or two spots.
Can Dave Gettleman actually figure this out? I have no idea, but it feels like a no-brainer to try to execute this move and create some added picks — especially when there's a need to replace the early third-round pick in that odd move for defensive tackle Leonard Williams at the 2019 trade deadline.
San Francisco 49ers
The San Francisco 49ers have the luxury of two trade back options. Is it too much for them to consider trading back out of both spots? I'm mostly kidding, but whether the trade comes at No. 13 or No. 31, San Francisco should absolutely do its part to find a trade partner. Why? This team doesn't own a single pick between Nos. 31 and 156 — a brutal drought for no selections in what is a deep draft class. The 49ers could possibly be a player or two away from winning a Super Bowl, so they shouldn't go too crazy to move back. But they'll absolutely need some cheap rookies to help restock the cupboards as this team makes financial decisions in the coming seasons.
That's the only way they'll be able to effectively and consistently extend their winning window.
This team's direction in its rebuild so far has been curious, to say the least. The Carolina Panthers dropped a strong asset in guard Trai Turner in a swap for offensive tackle Russell Okung but then signed quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to a three-year, $63 million contract and added wide receiver Robby Anderson shortly afterward. So much for "Tank For Trevor," right? It's hard to say. But if this team wants to get serious about building for the future, it should absolutely push back into the back half of the 2020 draft and pick up added draft picks for 2021, including an extra 2021 first-round selection to serve as insurance to make sure its positioned to secure a face of the future at quarterback after a year of assessment under Matt Rhule.
The Panthers have Rhule under contract for the long-term, they would be well served to treat their rebuild the same way: with a long-term view.