With just three weeks until the draft and the whole world in some form of COVID-19 enforced lockdown, NFL fans are inundated with mock drafts. With no apology for adding to the plethora of predictions, here’s another Mock Draft with an indication of what may go down in Sin City on 23rd April.
#1: Joe Burrow, QB, LSU – Cincinnati Bengals
The world is a scary and uncertain place right now. One of the few things left that remains secure is that the Cincinnati Bengals will select the best QB in this draft class with the first pick. Burrow’s infamous comments regarding his “leverage” were wildly taken out of context in order to drum up some debate. The kid is going back to Ohio. Easiest Mock Draft pick ever.
#2: Chase Young, Edge, Ohio State – Washington Redskins
In another universe, where Tua Tagovailoa doesn’t suffer his horrific hip injury and Dwayne Haskins does not show some signs of developing into a medium term solution behind centre in Washington, the Redskins take a quarterback here. However, they settle for the best player in this draft. They’re already well stocked in this position, but a talent this good is impossible to turn down.
TRADE: The Detroit Lions trade the #3 pick with the Miami Dolphins for #5 and #26
#3: Tue Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama – Miami Dolphins
Miami have been looking at the left handed Hawaiian throughout his entire college career. There’s no way they’re going to let the Chargers come and take him from them, assuming his doctors’ reports are indeed as impressive as has been reported in recent days. Detroit has needs on both sides of the ball, and does well in this Mock Draft to get two first round picks from a franchise that enjoys three this year and two next.
#4: Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson – New York Giants
Many Mock Draft’s have the Giants take some help for the offensive line here. However, if we judge Dave Gettleman by his actions rather than one historical comment he made about “hog mollies”, Gettleman always goes for the sexy pick over safe and sensible. Taking a running back at #2 in 2018 and Daniel Jones as early as the #6 pick in 2019, the under-fire Giants GM will be looking for another game changing talent this time around. I’ve listed Simmons as a linebacker. However, anyone who knows his game will know that he is much more than that. The Giants go sexy again in 2020 and pick up an intriguing prospect on the defensive side of the ball.
#5: Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State – Detroit Lions
Detroit have been mocked to take Okudah for months now. They would have taken him at #3, instead they get to take him at #5 and can address other needs with a later Day 1 pick. Thanks, Miami.
#6: Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon – Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers will be in the hunt for that Detroit pick further up the board, but can’t compete with Miami’s draft capital. They settle in this Mock Draft for Justin Herbert instead, a divisive QB prospect that could be a player to fall into the back end of the round. Tyrod Taylor will provide a stop gap in the position as he did for Baker Mayfield in Cleveland, with Herbert waiting in the wings to be Philip Rivers’ long term replacement at the position.
#7: Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama – Carolina Panthers
Carolina could go in a number of directions here, but settle for wide receiver Jerry Jeudy. With the signing of Robby Anderson in free agency, it doesn’t seem to be a pick based on need. Rather, the Panthers roll the dice on a player that could be one of the league’s leading receivers in years to come. Anderson provides the deep threat speed, and Jeudy gets the nod over his positional rivals as a result of his superior route running. Teddy Bridgewater will have some serious talent to throw to in Charlotte next year.
TRADE: The Arizona Cardinals trade the #8 pick with the Miami Dolphins for #18 and #39
#8: Jedrick Wills, OT, Alabama – Miami Dolphins
Before you lose your collective minds and take to the comments section to dismiss Miami’s second trade up the board in this Mock Draft, hear me out. If the Dolphins want to make the most of their new quarterback, he will need protecting on his blind side. Who else would be more ideal than his Crimson Tide RT Jedrick Wills? Miami need to move up if they want him, with Cleveland and New York waiting to strengthen their porous offensive lines. Arizona will still deal with their need on the O-line (see pick #18), and get themselves an early Day 2 pick in the process.
#9: Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina – Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jaguars’ most pressing need is at corner, but with little value here coupled with their ability to address the need with their second first round selection, they go for a consistent D line prospect with the power and agility to get to the passer.
#10: Meckhi Becton, OT, Louisiana – Cleveland Browns
Cleveland will not have expected three of the top tier offensive linemen to be there by the time they put their card in. Becton is one hell of an athlete, and edge rushers will have a hard time getting past the LT from Louisville. His draft stock rocketed with an eyebrow raising combine performance, his 40-yard dash the highlight of the week in Indianapolis. Nobody will be happier than Baker Mayfield to see Becton at the Browns next year.
#11: Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa – New York Jets
Like Becton, Wirfs impressed at the combine with his athleticism. The Jets will hope that Wirfs is able to transition from the right to the blind side of the line, with some scouts believing that his future lies in the interior. New York has taken younger talents with room to grow in the last two drafts in the form of Sam Darnold and Quinnen Williams. Joe Douglas continues this trend with his first pick as Jets GM – the 21 year old could have a promising career ahead of him in the NFL.
#12: CeeDee Lamb, WR, Alabama – Las Vegas Raiders
Although Las Vegas are reportedly kicking the tyres of Henry Ruggs III, CeeDee Lamb edges it here with his ability to all-but match Ruggs III for deep threat speed, added to his physicality in contested catches. Defenders of Derek Carr will say that his coach Jon Gruden hasn’t given him enough time to prove his worth. And taking a future All-Pro wide receiver with their first pick this year will leave the under pressure Carr with little reason to bemoan a lack of surrounding talent should the Raiders look elsewhere in the future.
#13: Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn – San Francisco 49ers
I don’t think the 49ers had Derrick Brown in mind when trading DeForest Buckner to the Colts, but with every pick it gets harder to pass up on Derrick Brown. His stock has fallen in recent months – in November, many predicted that Brown would be a top 5 pick. With another pick at the end of the first round to address other needs, San Francisco boosts what is already an impressive defence.
#14: Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
You may have missed the news, but the Buccaneers apparently got themselves a new quarterback this offseason. Tom Brady has gone from one of the more impoverished wide receiver corps in the league to one of the most dynamic. Brady, Mike Evans and Chris Godwin will be pleased to see 3-year starter Andrew Thomas compete with former second round pick Donovan Smith, who only signed a 3-year, $41m contract extension in 2019.
#15: Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama – Denver Broncos
Like Jeff Okudah to the Lions, this pick seems carved in stone. The Broncos need for an outside threat meets Ruggs’ devastating speed here at pick 15. In the middle of the first round, taking Ruggs makes sense in terms of value, too. Drew Lock will be delighted to see Ruggs in Denver for preseason.
#16: K’lavon Chaisson, Edge, LSU – Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons need someone who can bring pressure from the edge, and they secure a long term solution here. Chaisson is an intriguing prospect. He’s a lean and agile pass rusher than enjoyed a great year at LSU, culminating in domineering performances over Georgia, Oklahoma and Clemson at the back end of the college season. He seems to find gaps where there aren’t any – the Falcons could do much worse than to select Chaisson here.
#17: Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama – Dallas Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys are desperate for a long term solution in the safety position. If recent rumours are to be believed, they are back in for Jets All-Pro Jamal Adams. If their interest is serious, it’ll cost them this pick and more. For now, I have them taking the best safety on the board, Xavier McKinney.
#18: Josh Jones, OT, Houston – Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals missed out on the top tier offensive lineman by trading back in this Mock Draft. And they may be reaching here by taking Jones so early. However, they regain a second round pick after trading their original selection as part of the DeAndre Hopkins trade. Moving back ten spots to take Jones in order to regain draft capital is the wise move here.
#19: CJ Henderson, CB, Florida – Las Vegas Raiders
The Raiders have their future WR1 by the time they come to pick #again. They enjoy two first round picks this year as a result of the deal to take Khalil Mack to the Chicago Bears in 2018. Although there are concerns about Henderson’s run support, in a pass heavy league his coverage skills make him the best cornerback remaining on the board.
#20: Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU – Jacksonville Jaguars
Jacksonville are in a similar position to Las Vegas in their need for corners with the second first round pick. With Jalen Ramsey now a distant memory in the Jacksonville secondary, Fulton can fill a significant need. There can be no better place to pick up reinforcements for the defensive backfield than DBU.
#21: Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor – Philadelphia Eagles
One thing is for sure, the Eagles will be taking a wide receiver with their first round pick. With just three off the board by the time they come to pick, they have a deep class of wideouts to choose from. Justin Jefferson is a possibility here. But, as a primarily slot receiver in Louisiana, the Eagles roll the dice with exciting speedster Denzel Mims from Baylor. No doubt the key beneficiary of Matt Rhule’s coaching at Baylor last year, Mims travels to Philly with a burgeoning reputation.
#22: Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU – Minnesota Vikings
On the surface, it doesn’t seem to make sense to replace a wideout like Stefon Diggs with Jefferson. However, his impressive work in the slot for LSU and versatility makes him a smart choice for the Vikings here. He led the country in receptions in 2019, and aged only 20, he has a promising skillset. Jefferson’s ability to line up in the X, Y or Z positions should take some of the opponent’s attention away from Adam Thielen.
#23: Yetur Gross-Matos, Edge, Penn State – New England Patriots
Jordan Love is still on the board here. Love is an exciting prospect to sit behind an experienced bridge quarterback. However, Bill Belichick doesn’t select quarterbacks in the first round. A move for a QB here is too obvious. All the attention on New England this offseason has been on the Brady departure. In the background however, the Patriots defence has got significantly weaker, and will particularly miss Miami-bound Kyle Van Noy. I expect Belichick to have something up his sleeve when it comes to the game’s most important position, whilst Gross-Matos comes to Foxborough with 17 sacks in his three years at Penn State.
#24: Patrick Queen, LB, LSU – New Orleans Saints
The Saints’ greatest need is at linebacker, and Patrick Queen is an exciting fit. Queen is ready to plug in and play on Day 1 of the 2020 season. He is adept in both coverage and the running game. Although on the smaller side, New Orleans can be confident that they’ve plugged a hole immediately by taking Queen over Oklahoma’s Kenneth Murray, who may need more time to sit and develop.
#25: Jeff Gladney, CB, TCU – Minnesota Vikings
Although it would be fun to send mini-Diggs to Minnesota, Gladney is the superior player. Gladney is competitive, physically gifted and a talented all-round athlete. By taking a corner with their second pick of the round, Minnesota have solved two pressing issues going into the new season.
#26: Zack Baun, Edge, Wisconsin – Detroit Lions
Baun has crept up draft boards since the new year. He is now considered a valuable pick later on in the first round. At 6’ 3” and 240 lbs, he has impressive speed. He is a smart and versatile addition to a Detroit Lions side in desperate need of improvement on both sides of the ball. They’ve gone with defensive additions in the first round, giving them freedom to explore some exciting receiver talent in the later rounds.
#27: Cesar Ruiz, IOL, Michigan – Seahawks
Seahawks resist the temptation to stick with tradition and trade back and into the second round by taking the strongest offensive lineman in the draft class. Able to play at both centre and guard, Ruiz will be able to improve a shaky Seattle offensive line. This is certainly music to the ears of quarterback Russell Wilson, who is coming off a great 2019 season.
#28: Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma – Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens have been vulnerable at linebacker since CJ Moseley left Baltimore in free agency in 2019. Murray may not be ready to play a central role from the off. However, he has the necessary skillset to be a long term fixture in Wink Martindale’s defence. A former linebackers’ coach, Martindale knows the position. All he needs to do is convince the top brass that Murray is the pick here.
#29: AJ Epenesa, Edge, Iowa – Tennessee Titans
Epenesa’s draft stock has plummeted since the combine. It would have been unthinkable to see him fall this far when the college season ended. Epenesa will be disappointed to be the fifth edge rusher off the board. Especially considering his consistent level of performance in Iowa. This should put a fire in Epenesa to prove the doubters wrong, and Tennessee are the beneficiaries. Epenesa amassed 22 sacks in three years. The Titans can expect more of the same in the year to come.
#30: Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU – Green Bay Packers
Reagor joins Jeff Gladney as the second TCU alumni off the board in the first round. This is a deep receiver class. So don’t be surprised if Reagor doesn’t find himself a home in the NFL until Day 2 of the draft. However, his explosiveness and vertical threat could tempt Green Bay here at #30.
#31: Noah Igbinoghene, CB, Auburn – San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco strengthen their secondary here with Igbinoghene. He is a former wide receiver that can also contribute to special team plays in returns. Although he is new to playing cornerback, Igbinoghene knows the mind of a receiver. This should serve him well in stalking them in the NFL. At 32, 5 time All-Pro Richard Sherman showed his age in the Super Bowl when Sammy Watkins burned him on the outside on a game-deciding drive. The 49ers know that they need a younger model in the position sooner rather than later.
#32: D’Andre Swift, RB, Georgia – Kansas City Chiefs
As a general rule, running backs shouldn’t be taken on Day 1. However, the Kansas City Chiefs are fortunate in that their team is impressive everywhere. Although a trade back could be possible here. After all, Jordan Love, Laviska Shenault Jnr and Trevon Diggs still on the board. Either way, the Chiefs are better off taking the best running back on the board. If any criticism can be made of Andy Reid’s explosive offence, it’s that they lack a top class back. The aptly named Swift is twitchy and slippery. He is also able to catch passes from Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes out of the backfield. That concludes this 1 Round Mock Draft in style.
– Tom Winrow (@downthemannyrd)
I watched my first ever NFL game at a friend’s home in North Carolina in 2013. The Indianapolis Colts were thrust upon me as the team to support. A casual follower of the NFL for some time, I watched the game more closely from the 2017 season onwards. I switched allegiance to the Jets after a trip to New York and fell in love with the team after watching Josh McCown throw a deep ball TD to Robby Anderson at the Hard Rock Stadium that same season. I can be found on Twitter at @downthemannyrd.