Splash’s 2020 Shadow Draft

Before the draft, I was introduced to a new concept: a shadow draft. For shadow drafts, people roll two dice: a six-sided die and a 20-sided die to determine where they are picking in the draft.

The six-sided die gives you between Pick 1 and Pick 6. The 20-sided die gives you a pick between 11 and 30.

You draft in place of those spots (for example, in my shadow draft, I had Picks 3 and 30 in each round). If the pick is traded during the draft, you trade it during your draft. For example, Green Bay traded Pick 30 and Pick 136 to secure Pick 26. Instead of picking at 30 and 136, I was only able to pick at 26. As long as one of your picks was included in the trade, the trade goes through. This can occasionally gain picks and occasionally lose picks. After the draft, you can sign six undrafted free agents.

The idea of a shadow draft is to build a team over time. Each draft will bring about 20 new players to the depth chart.

If you are interested in trying for yourself, here is a link to a spreadsheet to get started.

In my shadow draft, I drafted 14 players and signed six undrafted free agents. As mentioned above, I rolled for Picks 3 and 30 in each round. Six of my original picks were traded. Picks acquired in trades will be denoted in asterisks.

Pick 3: Jeff Okudah, Cornerback, Ohio State

For my money, Okudah is the second-best prospect in the draft. He is effortless and smooth at corner, and he should be a perennial Pro-Bowler for the next 10 days. Ohio State has been a hotbed at defensive back in recent history, and Okudah is likely the best of the bunch.

Pick 26: Patrick Queen, Linebacker, LSU*

Thankfully, the original 30th pick was traded, so I was able to nab Queen. If the Packers had stayed at 30, I would have likely pulled the trigger on Jordan Love to solidify my quarterback position for the duration of this experiment. As it stands, Queen is a high upside linebacker, and 2021 will have some high-quality quarterback options.

Pick 35: J.K. Dobbins, Running Back, Ohio State

A second future Raven, Dobbins was the 33rd player on my board, and I decided to roll with him over D’Andre Swift. Dobbins was wildly productive in Columbus, racking up 2,000 yards and 20 touchdowns in 2019. He offers explosive hole-hitting, and he should be a good fit in a crowded Ravens backfield.

Pick 62: Ashtyn Davis, Safety, California

I had Davis just outside my top 50 prospects, so his availability at 62 was convenient. Davis is a cerebral player, and he should pair well with Jamal Adams for the Jets. Davis makes all sorts of plays from his free safety position, and he could be a future Pro Bowler.

Pick 67: Josh Jones, Offensive Tackle, Houston

I had Jones as the fifth-best tackle and a player that could have gone in the first round. He presents a high floor in both run blocking and pass protection, and he should be an immediate above average option at left tackle. I felt it was important to grab quality offensive linemen in the first year so I can see my errors early.

Pick 75: Neville Gallimore, Defensive Tackle, Oklahoma

I graded Gallimore as a first-round prospect, so finding him in the middle of the third round is a terrific value. He should be a good player from the gate. He is not the flashiest player or the most productive player, but he can collapse the pocket from the front.

Pick 88: Devin Duvernay, Wide Receiver, Texas*

Duvernay’s hands are as good as anyone’s in the class. He can make plays in space, and he has solid vertical speed. He is versatile, but he needs to improve as a route runner. In the NFL, he likely fits as a slot receiver, but one of my later picks will slot in at my slot receiver.

Pick 94: Akeem Davis-Gaither, Linebacker, Appalachian State

Davis-Gaither is a quick linebacker who can play effectively in space against the run and in coverage. He is slightly undersized, but he is very physical, and he works hard. He will take over with weak-side linebacker duties. His physicality and work ethic can work against him, but some NFL seasoning should help.

Pick 121: Kevin Dotson, Guard, Louisiana*

A four-year starter at Louisiana, Dotson is a people-mover in the run game. His pass protection technique is not as polished as I might like, but the team I am building needs to be strong in the trenches. Dotson should pave the way for consistent Dobbins runs or James Conner for the real-life Steelers.

Pick 172: Bradlee Anae, EDGE, Utah*

I had Anae as a top 100 prospect. He is likely not a superstar at the NFL level, but he works hard and can make plays on the edge. He has a tireless motor, and he can be physical at the point of attack. Next year, Anae will likely transition to a rotational player when I select another edge.

Pick 175: Netane Muti, Guard, Fresno State

In the shadow draft world, injuries do not matter as much as they do in the real NFL. Without injuries, Muti is likely taken on Friday rather than halfway through Saturday. He is well-versed in pass protection and run blocking, and he could be an above-average guard for 12 years.

Pick 197: James Proche, Wide Receiver, SMU

Proche is a great route-runner, and he should get on the field a little bit for the Ravens in real life. In the realm of my shadow draft, he can fill-in at slot. He works hard to catch passes despite a relatively slight frame. His speed is not elite, but he can get open.

Pick 209: Geno Stone, Safety, Iowa*

I had a third or fourth-round grade on Stone. He can make all sorts of plays at the backend of the defense. At the NFL level, he is likely a special teamer, but for now, he is my starting strong safety. He works diligently, and he has a good football mind.

Pick 217: Kenny Willekes, EDGE, Michigan State*

Not the best athlete in the class, Willekes has a high floor and low ceiling. While a lot of late picks are swings for the fence, Willekes is a solid player who should contribute for the Vikings in Year 1. There are better players, but the value in the seventh round is strong.

Undrafted signings: Trystan Colon-Castillo, Anthony Gordon, Hunter Bryant, Joe Bachie, Lamar Jackson, Michael Divinity.

With the undrafted group of players, I just aimed to target players that I had fourth or fifth-round grades on. I had a third-round grade on Bryant, a fourth-round grade on Bachie, fifth-round grades on Jackson and Divinity, a sixth-round grade on Gordon, and a seventh-round grade on Colon-Castillo.

I filled in my missing positions at center, quarterback, tight end, linebacker, and cornerback. Better players will come next season.

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