With the 2020 NFL Draft in full swing, fans across the country are celebrating the return of relevant sports entertainment. Mock Drafts are abundant and everyone wants to peg the right guesses for the right teams. Some teams seem destined for a type of player, whether its a quarterback in Cincinnati, a lineman in the Meadowlands or a statement in Miami. Some are bound to confuse us with their seeming lack of awareness or surprise us with picks displaying foresight.
What if, rather than using the current crop of 2020 NCAA prospects, we had the luxury of picking Miami Hurricane legends from history and placing them on the latest version of each NFL team. Vinny on the Dolphins. Ray Lewis on the Chiefs. Michael Irvin to the 49ers. Imagine filling your team needs with all pros and sure things that sharpened their skills on Greentree.
Hall of Famers.
Well, its time to put that to practice. With a roundtable consisting of Cam Underwood, Kevin Fielder, John Michaels, Marsh Thomas, Dylan Sherry, Dylan Goldman and yours truly, we took turns drafting the Miami Hurricane legend best fit for each team.
With as many great performers in Canes history, we tried to add some order to what players we used to create a big board. Plain and simple, we wanted Canes that not only excelled on campus, but also in the NFL. So whereas an all time Cane like Dan Morgan who did it in both areas being ranked in the teens, a college standout like Stephen Morris who didn’t light it up in the pros takes a back seat.
I’m sure we won’t agree on the Big Board ranking, but its a representation of current needs across the league, corresponding players, and your basic best to worst process. Its odd to not see a Gino Torretta, or to throwbacks like Ronnie Lippett in the top half of the board. At one point it was unimaginable to think Willis McGahee would be in the 30s of any list until you stack up the greats of his alma mater. Oh how great it is.
Now that we know the standard and the drafters, lets get to our first overall pick!
QB - Jim Kelly - 6’3” - 226 lbs
Prior to 2003, a quarterback had never gone first overall, consecutively, more than two years in a row. The Bengals will make this the 3rd such a occurrence since the turn of the century (01’-05’, 09’-12’).
A classic drop back passer with great pedigree, Kelly’s toughness and leadership are exactly what the Bengals need, who are moving on from “Red Rocket” Andy Dalton after a horrible 2-14. A trio of Kelly, Green and Mixon would be a great foundation heading into the new decade.
2. Washington Redskins - Dylan
LB - Ray Lewis - 6’1” - 250 lbs
The Bengals went for leadership and toughness on offense, while Washington does the same on the defensive side. Possibly the greatest LB in NFL history, Ray Lewis’ combination of talent and leadership is unmatched. The Redskins defense lacked an identity, but now boast aggressive leaders in the front seven with Lewis to couple with Landon Collins in the secondary.
3. Detroit Lions - Cam
S - Ed Reed - 5’11” - 205 lbs
My beloved (shut up) Lions desperately need help. leadership, talent, speed, playmaking, ball skills, and every other tangible and intangible asset possible to help rebuild a porous secondary. While the preference would be a cornerback, there are two TRANSFORMATIONAL Safeties available here for the Lions to choose from: Ed Reed and Sean Taylor.
There’s no wrong choice here, but Reed’s ability to cover for the missteps of others in the deep third of the defense makes him my pick for the Lions at #3.
4. New York Giants - Marsh
T - Bryant McKinnie - 6’8” - 350 lbs
The Giants have (another) new Head Coach in former New England Patriots Special Teams Coach, Joe Judge. In theory, Judge may desire a flash pick like Michael Irvin, Edgerrin James or the decorated Calais Campbell. However, at the end of the day a coach lives and dies by QB play. Couple that with GM Dave Gettleman’s affinity for linemen – (seven of 16 picks in the first two rounds have been linemen), it becomes a no brainer that the duo would settle on all time talent, Bryant McKinnie. A wall of man with athleticism surprising for his size, McKinnie can protect Daniel Jones blind side for more than a decade.
5. Miami Dolphins - Kevin
S - Sean Taylor - 6’2” - 212 lbs
Miami needs a quarterback but they also desperately need a game changing safety and Sean Taylor is there for the taking. With three first round picks, Miami can take a quarterback later in the draft.
Taylor is a game changer who made plays anytime he was on the field. His hard hits, his interceptions, it doesn’t matter, he simply creates plays.
6. Los Angeles Chargers - John
WR - Michael Irvin - 6’2” - 207 lbs
The Chargers haven’t had a true healthy number one WR in quite some time. Michael Irvin becomes the playmaker on the outside that they desperately need. While they will still need to look for a starting QB later on in the draft, with Irvin, even Tyrod Taylor can make throws.
Irvin isn’t a speedster by any means, but knows how to get open. Irvin also is a great threat in the Red Zone.
7. Carolina Panthers - John
DT - Warren Sapp - 6’2” - 302 lbs
Carolina, at their best, always had a dominant Defensive Tackle to cause havoc in the opponents backfield. Sapp is the ultimate, penetrating, 3 technique DT who will get to the QB and also free up other players to make plays.
Sapp isn’t the biggest DT, but he has one of the best first steps in the history of the NFL. With the Panthers in a rebuild, Sapp will be the cornerstone of the defense for years to come.
8. Arizona Cardinals - Kevin
DE - Calais Campbell - 6’8” - 300 lbs
Outside of Chandler Jones (19 sacks), the Arizona Cardinals failed to generate much pressure on the quarterback. With Calais Campbell on the board, they get a big-time defensive end who has 88 career sacks to this point.
Combining Jones and Campbell is the exact solution the Cardinals need. With a relatively young secondary, a strong defensive line will help alleviate the pressure put on the secondary.
9. Jacksonville Jaguars - Marsh
QB - Vinny Testaverde - 6’5” - 235 lbs
After jettisoning new minted yet oft injured Nick Foles, Jacksonville is yet again searching for its signal-caller. Vinny Testaverde, a big QB with a bigger arm would be the best quarterback for the Jags since Mark Brunell.
10. Cleveland Browns - Cam
T - Leon Searcy - 6’4” - 312 lbs
Cleveland needs a tackle to help improve the offense, create holes for the running game, and protect Baker Mayfield. Searcy is a 6’4” 312 lb franchise cornerstone at Left Tackle, and with McKinney understandably off the board already, he’s a no-brainer here for the Browns at 10.
11. New York Jets - Dylan
DT - Vince Wilfork - 6’2” - 325 lbs
Improving the defensive line is near the top of priorities for the Jets this offseason, also needed better results in pass rush. Vince Wilfork isn’t an ‘edge rusher’ by any means, but the space he occupies is massive, forcing the opposing line to give him attention, and opening up seams for the rest of the defense. Weighing in at 325 lbs, Wilfork will cause nightmares for opposing big men in the trenches.
12. Las Vegas Raiders - Stephan
WR - Reggie Wayne - 6’0” - 198 lbs
Las Vegas Raiders. WHEW. That’s weird just typing it. Oh well.
Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock hit a home run their first year together, getting solid year one returns on most of their picks. However, the biggest miss of their first year is now their largest need, at wide receiver. Antonio Brown had the goods on the field, just not off of it. Enter Reggie Wayne. As smooth as AB, but with even more talent and size, the Miami legend is one of the greatest receivers to grace the turf, and a consummate team player.
13. San Francisco 49ers (via IND) - Stephan
WR - Andre Johnson - 6’3’ - 230 lbs
John Lynch has made quite the start in San Francisco, featuring a worst to first finish in the NFC for the resurgent franchise. Lynch’s focus has been on turnkey players that can plug and play out of college. Enter Andre Johnson. A physical specimen, at 6’3 and 230 out of college with 4.4 speed, Johnson is as ready as they come at the WR position. A no nonsense type player, he is the perfect drama free, go to receiver for Jimmy Garrapolo to upgrade and replace Emmanuel Sanders.
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Dylan
RB - Edgerrin James - 6’0” - 220 lbs
Tampa Bay has used somewhat of a ‘committee’ in the backfield in recent years—none of them surpassing 1,000 yards. Edgerrin James is just what this franchise needs, an efficient, powerful back that’ll give the team its ‘feature’ rusher. James displays the ‘full package’ of what it takes to be a great NFL running back, and will be a great option for the Buccaneers, whose offense is now led by Tom Brady.
15. Denver Broncos - Cam
WR - Santana Moss - 5’9” - 184 lbs
If there is one receiver in Miami history that can light up a field with just one touch its Santana Moss. A big play receiver with a bigger heart, his stature is the only thing undersized about the Canes legend. His 4.3 speed should play well in the Mile High stadium, giving headaches to opposing defenses, one long score at a time.
16. Atlanta Falcons - Kevin
DT - Cortez Kennedy - 6’3” - 306 lbs
The Atlanta Falcons probably wanted Vince Wilfork but he went five picks before. Although Wilfork is more talented, Cortez Kennedy is the perfect consolation prize for a Falcons team that has needs on the defensive line. Kennedy will pair excellently next to Grady Jarrett, one of the league’s best interior defensive linemen. Expect those two to wreck havoc for years to come.
17. Dallas Cowboys - Marsh
DT - Jerome Brown - 6’2” - 292 lbs
The powerful and savvy Jerome Brown was one of the most disruptive defensive tackles of our generation. His ability to attack the backfield and play the run so well displays a well rounded monster to star in the middle of a Dallas defense.
18. Miami Dolphins ( via ) PIT - John M.
RB - Frank Gore - 5’9” - 212 lbs
The Dolphins were historically bad running the ball in 2019, and no better way to proctect a mediocre passing game than a great RB. Gore has some of the greatest vision in the history of the game, and would immediately upgrade the ground game.
The only question is can Gore’s knees hold up for a full NFL season.
19. Las Vegas Raiders (via CHI) - John M.
LB - Michael Barrow - 6’2” - 245lbs
The Raiders could use a LB to man the middle, and Barrow fits the bill perfectly. A player who can run sideline to sideline and be an intimidator, which fits the motif of what the Raiders represent. Barrow was the leader of the famed “Bermuda Triangle” and his hit on Tammarick Vanover is one the legends are made of. Plug Barrow in as a starter for at least 10 years.
20. Jacksonville Jaguars (via LAR) - Kevin
T - Orlando Franklin - 6’7” - 330 lbs
After selecting quarterback Vinny Testaverde with their first pick in the round, the Jaguars add some protection for him in Orlando Franklin.
Franklin is a versatile offensive linemen, who can play either guard or tackle, which seems more likely at the next level. Franklin is a big, nasty offensive linemen who makes the Jaguars offense that much better .
LB - Dan Morgan - 6’3” - 230 lbs
With an early run on wide receivers, the Eagles turn to the best remaining defensive player left in Dan Morgan. The tireless linebacker plays with a contagious reckless abandon, and loves to attack at the line of scrimmage. But don’t be fooled, he can excel dropping in coverage as well in this high scoring NFL.
22. Minnesota Vikings (via BUF)
CB - Ronnie Lippett - 5’11” - 180 lbs
Another team affected by the wide receiver run, the Vikings shift gears and look to cornerback. Ronnie Lippett, though slightly undersized, played with oversized aggression as a tackler and ball hawk. This is a great first step to rebuilding the Vikings secondary.
23. New England Patriots
TE - Jimmy Graham - 6’7” - 265 lbs
A fresh trade of Rob Gronkowski is a reminder of the lack of tight end production since his retirement. The Patriots look to jump back into elite tight end territory by drafting Jimmy Graham, a unique blend of size and speed at the position. His ability to line up everywhere across the line plays right into what Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels like to do with misdirection.
LB - Jessie Armstead - 6’1” - 238 lbs
The Saints ability to score has never been in questions. However their ability to defend, has. The best way to stop an offense is to get to the quarterback, and Jessie Armstead can do just that. A legendary hitter and leader, the speed demon at linebacker is a scary sight of the edge getting into the backfield.
25. Minnesota Vikings
DE - Olivier Vernon - 6’2” - 261
After addressing the departure of Xavier Rhodes with Ronnie Lippett, they now do the same with Everson Griffen and Olivier Vernon. Arguably the most successful defensive end in Miami history, Vernon brings great strength, get off and overall athleticism to the Vikings front line defense.
26. Miami Dolphins (via HOU)
QB - Bernie Kosar - 6’5” - 210 lbs
Though the Dolphins could take a legend at RB with Otis Anderson, its a play for quarterback that is the pick. Bernie Kosar, at 6’5 has prototypical size and a ability to get it done on the field without having any truly elite traits. Dolphins get their QB and top off a great first round.
27. Seattle Seahawks
Rush End - Winston Moss - 6’3” - 245
The Seahawks pass rush was deplorable last season. In order to remedy that the pick is the versatile Winston Moss, who can play with his hand in the dirt or upright. Consistent on and of the field, Moss will be a reliable force in the front 7 for the Hawks.
28. Baltimore Ravens
LB - Jonathan Vilma - 6’1” - 230 lbs
NFL U seems to be the Baltimore Ravens as they have hosted Miami legends in every decade of their existence. Jonathan Vilma adds to that legacy as a big time leader and student of the game with a big IQ and bigger hits. The versatile linebacker can do just about everything and will recover a Ravens defense that struggled, surprisingly, on the defensive side of the ball last year.
29. Tennessee Titans
DT - Russell Maryland - 6’1” - 308 lbs
The upstart Titans rode a bend don’t break defensive performance through Foxborough and to the AFC Championship last year. After trading standout defensive tackle Jurrell Casey it makes sense to reload at DT. Imagine doing just that with a former first overall pick and College Hall of Famer in Russell Maryland? The stat stuffing trench bully is a steal with the 29th pick.
LB - Jon Beason - 6’0” - 238 lbs
With needs at WR and Tackle a reach at this point, Green Bay goes with Jon Beason to help bulk the off ball linebacker duties. A physical freak, Beason’s athleticism works perfectly in this offensive environment and allows the defense to deploy multiple looks to attack passing games.
31. San Francisco 49ers
Phillip Buchanon - 5’11” - 190 lbs
The NFC Champs make their second pick of the first round. With much uncertainty surrounding the secondary, the Niners select Phillip Buchanon. The playmaking back has a knack for being in the right spots and never one to shy away from a challenge. Another plug and play player for John Lynch.
32. Kansas City Chiefs
RB - Clinton Portis - 5’11” - 218 lbs
The Reigning Champs did everything they did last year with a running back by committee. Clinton Portis is a perfect fit for this offense with his big play speed, ability to catch out of the backfield and nose for the endzone.
It’s amazing to think that one school can feature so much talent that they could fill a first round draft with ease and half plenty leftover. But that is the legacy the U brings and shows off everywhere.
How do you like your favorite teams pick? Let us know! And as always, Go Canes!!!