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Building A 2020 NFL Expansion Team, Part IV: 2020 NFL Draft


A lot of you guys really like our NFL expansion series every year. If you have had some enjoyment from reading the 2020 version, please consider making a donation to help out our friend Jill and her family. Donations can be completely anonymous. Thank you.

 

Our 2020 NFL expansion series concludes with the NFL draft. If the NFL added a 33rd franchise, what might that team look like today? The draft is the final stage in completing the roster for the Toronto Wolves.

 

Part I: City, Branding, Staff

Part II: The Expansion Draft

Part III: Free Agency

 

Here’s the Wolves’ roster heading into the 2020 NFL Draft:

 

QB: Marcus Mariota // Robert Griffin III

RB: Melvin Gordon // Jordan Howard // Elijah Holyfield

WR: Nelson Agholor // Marcell Ateman

WR: Phillip Dorsett // Mack Hollins

WR: Keke Couteee // Deontay Burnett

TE: Jimmy Graham // Ross Travis // Demetrius Harris

OT: Cordy Glenn // Alex Light

OG: Eric Kush

C: Mike Person // Evan Brown

OG: John Miller // Aaron Stinnie

OT: Daryl Williams // James Hurst

 

DE: Margus Hunt

NT: Linval Joseph

DE: Jonathan Harris

OLB: Leonard Floyd // Clay Matthews III

ILB: Haason Reddick // Thomas Davis Sr.

ILB: Mark Barron

OLB: Devon Kennard

CB: Prince Amukamara // Darqueze Dennard

S: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix

S: Armani Watts // Blake Countess

CB: Xavier Rhodes

NB: Kendall Fuller

 

K:

P:

LS: Jake Cardona

 

2020 NFL Draft

 

The same rules for the last NFL expansion team (the 2002 Houston Texans) were used again for the rookie draft. We get the first pick at the top of each round, along with some extra selections scattered throughout. Obviously, this isn’t going to be perfect because just one different selection would cause a domino effect across the draft results from over a month ago. However, as you’ll see from my second pick, I am not going to cheat this exercise and take advantage of where players were really selected. For trades, I only did one that I think certainly could have happened if everything really played out like this, as the Dolphins clearly wanted to get to the top of the draft in real life.

 

TRADE: Wolves send Round 1, Pick 1 to the Dolphins for Round 1, Pick 6; Round 1, Pick 19; Round 2, Pick 57; and their 2020 first-round selection.

Maybe the Dolphins would have been content to stand pat and grab at quarterback at No. 6 like they did in real life at No. 5, but an added team in an expansion draft would theoretically make them more aggressive—and we would be more open to dealing the pick than the Bengals, who did not even entertain offers, were. We’ll take Miami’s first two first-rounders (No. 6 and No. 19) along with their second second-rounder (No. 57 overall) and a 2021 first-rounder (basically the price of the RGIII trade in 2012) in exchange for the top pick in the draft.

 

Round 1, Pick 6: LB Isaiah Simmons, Clemson

Interior defensive lineman Derrick Brown is close—and fits a need at 3-4 defensive end—but the Wolves go with the best overall player on their board in versatile defender Isaiah Simmons. We are extremely deep at linebacker, but pretty much the entire group has the ability to move around, and Simmons can slide back to safety if that’s best for the defense.

 

Round 1, Pick 19: QB Jake Fromm, Georgia

Jake Fromm did not go until the fifth round in real life, but I am not going to cheat this expansion draft. I would have taken him very high, and—despite the presence of Marcus Mariota—Chip Kelly knows you can never have enough quarterbacks. In real life, unfortunately Fromm probably won’t have a chance to see the field anytime soon behind Josh Allen, but you can read about why I believed he was a top prospect here.

 

Round 2, Pick 33: RB Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin

Again, going best player available here. Despite adding both Melvin Gordon and Jordan Howard in free agency (one of them could ultimately be traded in the summer of our imaginary expansion season), Jonathan Taylor is a top-tier running back prospect that I would have no problem taking in the first round, so he’s an easy choice here to start the second. Like Fromm, you can read more about why I’m high on Taylor here.

 

Round 2, Pick 50: WR Denzel Mims, Baylor

In the real 2020 draft, Denzel Mims easily could have been a first-round selection, but he went toward the end of the second. We did not have to trade up to get a potential No. 1 receiver, and Mims should slide in as an immediate Day 1 starter along with Nelson Agholor and Phillip Dorsett. If we did not go with Jake Fromm already in Round 1, quarterback Jalen Hurts would have been the pick here.

 

Round 2, Pick 57: CB Kristian Fulton, LSU

Kristian Fulton is another guy that easily could have been selected in the first round, and the Wolves are very happy to get him at No. 57. Fulton can play any cornerback spot, and he’ll push Xavier Rhodes and Prince Amukamara to play well in front of him to start his career.

 

Round 3, Pick 66: S J.R. Reed, Georgia

J.R. Reed surprisingly went undrafted in the real 2020 NFL Draft, but again we are not going to cheat this—we like him here to begin Round 3. At the very least, Reed should be a major factor on special teams; but it won’t be a surprise if the older rookie (25 years old) wins a starting job on defense out of camp.

 

Round 3, Pick 83: CB Darnay Holmes, UCLA

This selection would ultimately come down to Coach Kelly, who would have his pick of UCLA players. Joshua Kelley would have been a selection by the Wolves, but it’s difficult to have four stud running backs that wouldn’t play special teams. This was between tight end Devin Asiasi and cornerback Darnay Holmes, but Holmes gets the nod—the defense gets even more versatility, and the secondary will be extremely deep and competitive, hopefully ensuring we get phenomenal play at corner and safety.

 

Round 4, Pick 107: OT Prince Tega Wanogho, Auburn

Prince Tega Wanogho is an experienced offensive tackle prospect that could push Cordy Glenn for a starting job at left tackle in 2020. Grabbing a potential long-term blindside protector with our eighth selection is big.

 

Round 5, Pick 147: WR James Proche, SMU

Receiver James Proche was a human highlight reel when it came to spectacular catches at SMU, and he’ll have an opportunity to compete for an immediate role on an expansion team.

 

Round 5, Pick 153: WR Tyler Johnson, Minnesota

Tyler Johnson might ultimately need to play almost exclusively in the slot at the next level, but he was a highly productive receiver at Minnesota, finding the end zone 33 times in his career. Johnson could have been a Day 2 pick, but we get him late on Day 3.

 

Round 6, Pick 180: WR Donovan Peoples-Jones, Michigan

The 2020 receiver class was seen as an all-timer in part because of how deep it is. The Wolves go with three consecutive undervalued weapons in Rounds 5 and 6, ending with physical target Donovan Peoples-Jones from Michigan. The only concern is that we might want to hold seven or eight receivers on the final roster after the preseason. Peoples-Jones has the toughness to play on special teams.

 

Round 6, Pick 190: CB Lavert Hill, Michigan

Back-to-back Michigan guys here, as we’ll take competitive cornerback Lavert Hill, who might be able to move to safety if it helps him make the Wolves roster this year.

 

Round 7, Pick 215: S Geno Stone, Iowa

Toward the end of the draft, we add another competitive defensive back in Iowa safety Geno Stone. Safety was a relative weakness entering the draft, but there are plenty of options there after the weekend.

 

Round 7, Pick 267: DL Raequan Williams, Michigan State

With the final pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, Raequan Williams fits a need at defensive end—the board just didn’t work out to where we bolstered up front on defense. Williams produced at Michigan State, and he makes it five consecutive Big Ten selections to end things for us.

 

Recap

*TRADE: 1.1 -> 1.6, 1.19, 2.57, 2021 first

1.6: LB Isaiah Simmons, Clemson

1.19: QB Jake Fromm, Georgia

2.33: RB Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin

2.50: WR Denzel Mims, Baylor

2.57: CB Kristian Fulton, LSU

3.66: S J.R. Reed, Georgia

3.83: CB Darnay Holmes, UCLA

4.107: OT Prince Tega Wanogho, Auburn

5.147: WR James Proche, SMU

5.153: WR Tyler Johnson, Minnesota

6.180: WR Donovan Peoples-Jones, Michigan

6.190: CB Lavert Hill, Michigan

7.215: S Geno Stone, Iowa

7.267: DL Raequan Williams, Michigan State

 

Final Roster

 

This would not be done until after the preseason, but the Wolves must make a few cuts to get the roster to 54. Also, we must add more than the four defensive linemen currently rostered after the draft, along with a kicker and punter. The team releases wide receiver Mack Hollins, offensive lineman Alex Light, running back Elijah Holyfield, and wide receiver Deontay Burnett. Defensive lineman Mike Daniels, defensive lineman Hassan Ridgeway, kicker Cody Parkey, and punter Matt Bosher have been signed.

 

Here’s the final depth chart, but keep in mind that we have some players that can move around—Isaiah Simmons could very well start his career at safety, Kendall Fuller could move to safety, etc.

 

Salary cap: $198,200,000

Total payroll: $194,128,260

Cap space: $4,071,740

 

QB: Marcus Mariota // Robert Griffin III // Jake Fromm

RB: Melvin Gordon // Jonathan Taylor // Jordan Howard

WR: Nelson Agholor // Tyler Johnson // Marcell Ateman

WR: Phillip Dorsett // James Proche // Donovan Peoples-Jones

WR: Denzel Mims // Keke Couteee

TE: Jimmy Graham // Ross Travis // Demetrius Harris

OT: Cordy Glenn // Prince Tega Wanogho

OG: Eric Kush

C: Mike Person // Evan Brown

OG: John Miller // Aaron Stinnie

OT: Daryl Williams // James Hurst

 

DE: Margus Hunt // Hassan Ridgeway // Raequan Williams

NT: Linval Joseph

DE: Jonathan Harris // Mike Daniels

OLB: Leonard Floyd // Clay Matthews III

ILB: Haason Reddick // Thomas Davis Sr.

ILB: Isaiah Simmons // Mark Barron

OLB: Devon Kennard

CB: Prince Amukamara // Darqueze Dennard

S: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix // Blake Countess // Geno Stone

S: Armani Watts // J.R. Reed

CB: Xavier Rhodes // Kristian Fulton

NB: Kendall Fuller // Darnay Holmes // Lavert Hill

 

K: Cody Parkey

P: Matt Bosher

LS: Jake Cardona

 

Summary/Expectations

 

I was optimistic that this could turn out to be a solid team when I started thinking about this, but the final roster is actually better than I expected—and that’s with drafting a first-round quarterback (now classified as a reach in hindsight) that shouldn’t see the field. The linebackers and secondary stand out in particular, as those two groups might be the most versatile in the league. Also, the offensive line turned out to be pretty good—Marcus Mariota will hopefully help mask any issues they might have in pass protection. The big concern is the defensive line, as there could be some long games if we are unable to stop the run.

 

Overall, the Toronto Wolves could probably hover around the .500 mark and push for a playoff spot in 2020 if all goes well. We have an extra 2021 first-round pick for more flexibility, and we’ll have cap space into the future as we look to add more reinforcements to the interior and receiver/tight end spots on offense.

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Carl
Carl
3 months ago

Well done.

gamarx
gamarx
3 months ago

Looks good until an hour after you put this up Jake Fromm is now known as a bad person

Nick F.
Nick F.
3 months ago
Reply to  gamarx

How tf was that supposed to be known Fromm comment just came out lol

Dan
Dan
3 months ago
Reply to  gamarx

He said something dumb in text messages. Idiotic yeah but he was young.

newsupporter
newsupporter
3 months ago

Check. This is great, thanks.

gingerbread man
gingerbread man
3 months ago

Fun series!

Wayne
Wayne
3 months ago

I like the team.

WWprime
WWprime
3 months ago

More sites should try this! Awesome.

Charles
Charles
3 months ago

Had to come back and say good job. The team would make the playoffs in AFC and miss in NFC

J. Dentim
J. Dentim
3 months ago

Great already waiting for next year’s.

spobreez
spobreez
3 months ago

Love the site

Fred A.
Fred A.
3 months ago

Great articles!

metriculate
metriculate
3 months ago

ESPN copied this a few days ago. This was more in depth though.

Dan
Dan
3 months ago
Reply to  metriculate

ESPN hasn’t had an original thought in 25 years.

thegambler4
thegambler4
3 months ago

Woo this was good

harvardg
harvardg
2 months ago

Good idea

Daniel
Daniel
2 months ago

So awesome read all 4 parts

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