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How does the 2020 NFL Draft work and who needs what?

Drew Goodsell | 7 April 2020

We preview this year’s draft proceedings from the National Football League

The NFL offseason has been in full swing since the first week of February, after Kansas City Chiefs beat San Francisco 49ers in Miami, Florida to win Super Bowl LIV.

With free agency in full flow too, we’re seeing league veterans being shipped from pillar to post in order to fill rosters for head coaches to work with. However, they’ll have to factor in those up and coming stars who are yet to taste the big time of the National Football League.

Ahead of this year’s draft, which takes place over three days, starting on Thursday 23rd April, we look at what the draft entails, and which positions the big teams are looking to fill with future stars…

How does the draft work?

The draft is made up from seven rounds, with 32 draft picks per round, or one per team per round. The initial order of the draft is based on the final league standings from the previous season.

Of course, it’s not that simple, as regular season roster transfers often include draft picks, so certain teams could go a few rounds without a pick, with others having more than one selection in a round.

Before considering draft selection trades, it’s Cincinnati Bengals who have the first pick in the 2020 draft, their first since 2003, after propping up the standings with two wins and 14 defeats. Reigning Super Bowl champions Kansas City Chiefs will have the final pick in each round.

Typically, the NFL Draft would be held on stage in a selected host city, in front of a packed-out crowd of league presidents, team owners, general managers, head coaches, draftees and fans.

The 2019 event was held in Nashville, Tennessee after they successfully bid to become the host city, beating the likes of Denver, Kansas City, Las Vegas and Cleveland.

This year, the draft was scheduled to be hosted in Las Vegas, to coincide with the Raiders’ move to the city. It was due to take place in front of Caesars Forum convention centre, with draftees being presented on a floating platform in front of the Bellagio’s fountain.

However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced that all 32 NFL clubs would proceed with a fully virtual format of the draft, with draftees, general managers and head coaches all announcing their picks through a remote video link.

Who needs what from the 2020 draft?

With the first pick, it’s widely expected that Cincinnati Bengals will draft 2019 Heisman Trophy and National Championship winning quarterback Joe Burrow to their squad, straight from LSU.

Burrow led the NCAA in yards thrown and pass completion percentage while in the process racking up a record number of touchdowns thrown (60) and passer rating (202). He’ll replace Andy Dalton, after the 32-year-old put up some of his worst figures in his ninth season.

Elsewhere, Super Bowl LIII champions New England Patriots will be hoping to get back on track after a below-par season by their standards, while also looking to overcome the loss of Tom Brady.

They’ll also be looking to pick up a new quarterback and have been rumoured to be looking to trade up for a higher selection. They hold the 23rd pick of the first round at present. It’s worth remembering, Tom Brady was drafted back by the Patriots in 2000, in round six with the 199th pick.

They may have made the Super Bowl, but San Francisco 49ers will be rueing the loss of wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders in the offseason, after the 33-year-old veteran signed with New Orleans Saints.

However, 49ers may choose to exercise their acquired draft pick from Indianapolis Colts, after they traded for defensive tackle DeForest Buckner. Should they utilise the newly acquired 13th pick, they’ll likely look to fill the void left by Sanders.

As for last season’s champions, Kansas City Chiefs, their squad isn’t as perfect as winning the Vince Lombardi trophy suggests.

They’ll hope to pick up a highly-rated cornerback with their first-round pick, after Kendall Fuller left for Washington Redskins, and Bashaud Breeland and Morris Claiborne are yet to resign with the Chiefs.

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