Hey, this is the mock draft intro that nobody reads because they are scrolling down to the good stuff, so have fun – and remember that I hate your team.
1. Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
I don’t care about Burrow’s arm not being elite. What we just saw him do in an aggressive, downfield passing attack against all of the best teams in the country was nothing short of sensational in his Heisman Trophy-winning year that was capped off with a national championship following an undefeated season. If Burrow busts, he busts. But any team needing a QB would be idiotic to pass on him.
2. Washington Redskins: Chase Young, EDGE, Ohio State
Washington will have trade partners, but can they really pass on Young at No. 2? Ryan Kerrigan showed signs of declining last year and he’ll be 32 before next season starts, while Montez Sweat struggled (understandably) as a rookie. Young is one of the better defensive prospects we’ve seen, and he still has room to improve, too.
3. Detroit Lions: Jeffrey Okudah, CB, Ohio State
I’m not doing trades in this mock draft, but even if I was, the Lions might want to stay put. The long-armed and rangy Okudah is exceptionally talented and fills a huge need for Detroit opposite Darius Slay. Moving back even two spots could mean missing out on this young, talented cornerback.
4. New York Giants: Jedrick Wills, OT, Alabama
Trusting Dave Gettlemen to make the right move here is admittedly a long shot, and I truly have no idea what the Giants are going to do at No. 4. They should entertain sliding down a spot or two if another team wants to come up for a quarterback, but if they stay put, Wills is easily the best tackle in the class, and the Giants have a gaping hole at right tackle.
5. Miami Dolphins: Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
One way or another, it’s hard to see the Dolphins failing to find a way to come away with the second-best quarterback in the draft. To me, that quarterback is easily Tagovailoa, a beautiful deep ball passer with the processing speed and accuracy to be the signal caller Miami has sought since Dan Marino retired.
6. Los Angeles Chargers: Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
I have concerns that a quarterback with Herbert’s inconsistent processing speeds, bouts of questionable decision-making and lack of elite accuracy can live up to this draft spot, but he’s going Top 10 regardless of my fears. He had a very good week in Mobile, Ala. at the Senior Bowl to help his draft momentum. The Chargers sure seem like the team to do it, with Anthony Lynn getting an extension and the team moving on from Philip Rivers, it seems like L.A. is ready for a new face of the franchise via the draft.
7. Carolina Panthers: Derrick Brown, IDL, Auburn
It sure sounds like the Panthers may stick with Cam Newton for at least another season, and given their draft spot behind three quarterback-needy teams in a class with only two passers I’m high on, I think that would be a wise decision. They can sit right there at No. 7 and get one of the best and safest players in the draft in Brown, who will immediately sure up a porous run defense.
8. Arizona Cardinals: CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
I know this is a trendy pick, but shouldn’t it be? A wide receiver seems fairly unlikely to come off the board before No. 8, and Lamb’s tape speaks for itself. The Cardinals technically have bigger needs, but this is probably the last hurrah for Larry Fitzgerald, and Christian Kirk needs a running mate. Lamb is the type of receiver Kliff Kingsbury would love to scheme the ball to, and after the Cardinals fix up their offensive line in free agency, he and G.M. Steve Keim will have the flexibility to do so through the draft.
9. Jacksonville Jaguars: Isaiah Simmons, Avenger, Clemson
Putting Myles Jack and Simmons next to each other would be a terrifying sight for opposing offenses, but don’t expect to find Simmons in the same place every snap as he played a bunch of safety in college while winning the Butkus Award as the nation’s top linebacker. The Clemson defender can play all over the defense, and he may even end up as a scheme versatile safety at the next level.
10. Cleveland Browns: Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa
Wirfs is a remarkably toolsy prospect with a rare build, but there are technique concerns that would give me a little pause this early in the draft. Some teams will love his potential at tackle while others will consider moving him to guard. The Browns will need to choose between he, Josh Jones and Andrew Thomas to find their future tackle.
11. New York Jets: Josh Jones, OT, Houston
Jones dominated his competition as a senior and took on all comers at the Senior Bowl, showing the upside to end up as the second-best tackle in this class. He does tend to win unconventionally however, and will need to refine the details of the position if he is going to experience the same win rate in pass protection that he did in the AAC.
12. Las Vegas Raiders: Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
Jeudy is the exact type of player the Raiders desperately need to complete their pass-catching corps, but unfortunately he’ll go to waste until the team moves on from Derek Carr. The vertical, speed dimension of Jeudy alongside Tyrell Williams and Hunter Renfrow would be a sight to behold, but they need a quarterback who will A) throw the ball down the field and B) throw the ball to wide receivers in order to reach their potential. Oh well, that’s a problem for next year’s Raiders draft.
13. Indianapolis Colts: Laviska Shenault, WR, Colorado
The Colts tried to add a gadget/speed/YAC threat to the offense last year in Parris Campbell, but that move didn’t pan out in Year One. Indy simply needs more weapons on offense, and adding Shenault to a receiving corps with Campbell, T.Y. Hilton, Zach Pascal and Jack Doyle would make them a lot of fun to watch – provided they get one of the available quarterbacks in free agency.
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Javon Kinlaw, IDL, South Carolina
Kinlaw to the Bucs has been a trendy fit – he was Tampa Bay’s selection in PewterReport.com’s initial 2020 Bucs’ 7-Round Mock Draft in early January – but with good reason. He fills a big position of need even if Ndamukong Suh does return (it’ll only be on a short deal, and his pass rush prowess is all but gone), and he completes what will be a fearsome defensive line when/if Shaq Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul get re-signed. The Bucs desperately need that with a young secondary that is still gelling together in the defensive backfield.
Some would consider a safety here, but I’m still holding out hope for Justin Evans’ return in 2020. Let’s wait a bit to see how he’s faring before we go all in on Xavier McKinney at No. 14. Others might want a tackle, and I’m open to that strategy for sure, but it’s a deep class at the position and Demar Dotson can likely be brought back pretty easily on a one-year deal.
I love the pick of Kinlaw because he’s the exact type of penetrating player the Bucs would want next to Vita Vea long-term, and he won’t have to play major snaps as a rookie, which gives him time to develop from the neck up under the tutelage of defensive line coach Kacy Rodgers.
15. Denver Broncos: Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama
The Broncos desperately need a quality No. 2 threat opposite Courtland Sutton, and Ruggs is the perfect complement. Elite speed, underrated ball skills and the ability to house call underneath touches if afforded even a sliver of space. Ruggs will give Drew Lock the deep ball connection that Emanuel Hall once did in college – only without all of the drops.
16. Atlanta Falcons: Joshua Uche, EDGE, Michigan
I know this one is out of nowhere, but there are always 1-2 picks like this in the top 20, and I think Uche is going to be a riser. The Falcons need edge help and Uche is the type of high-motor athlete they love at the position. His flexibility to play multiple spots is something Dan Quinn has coveted before, but Uche is more physical than the player he’d be replacing in Vic Beasley.
17. Dallas Cowboys: Grant Delpit, S, LSU
I know this is a trendy pick, but the Cowboys are usually fairly predictable in the draft, and Delpit is exactly what their defense needs. He possesses much of the coveted versatility and leadership abilities of another former LSU safety in Jamal Adams, who Dallas tried to trade for this past season. Until new information comes to light, I’ll have a hard time moving off this connection.
18. Miami Dolphins: Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
I think Thomas ends up falling a little bit as teams worry about how he’ll handle the elite athletes off the edge in the NFL, but he’s a good player who would start right away for a lot of teams in the league. Miami needs help just about everywhere, but the offensive line is a great place to start.
19. Oakland Raiders: Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma
Despite a huge need at linebacker, the Raiders have restrained themselves from Tremaine Edmunds, Leighton Vander Esch, Rashaan Evans, Fred Warner, Devin White and Devin Bush over the past two drafts. They finally wise up in 2020 and take Murray, who is on a level athletically with any linebacker I’ve scouted in these past two classes. Murray can absolutely fly to the football and hits like a load of bricks, but he needs refinement in coverage and can over-pursue at times as well.
20. Jacksonville Jaguars: C.J. Henderson, CB, Florida
Henderson is one of the more fluid athletes in the class and has coveted man coverage ability to go with ideal size. Still, his game leaves something to be desired as a tackler and a finisher on the football at times. But the Jaguars need corner help and Henderson’s upside is considerable if they can coach him up.
21. Philadelphia Eagles: Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU
It wouldn’t surprise me to see Fulton fall out of the first round if his measurables and testing don’t go well in Indy. For now, one of the scheme fits I could see him operating best from is Jim Schwartz’ off-man alignments in Philly, where the Eagles desperately need help on the outside. Fulton has always played better working top-down on the ball, which describes the corners the Eagles tend to acquire, but I worry that he continues a troubling trend of struggling to find the ball vertically in Philly’s secondary.
22. Buffalo Bills: A.J. Epenesa, EDGE, Iowa
Epenesa doesn’t have the athleticism to be a Top 10 pick in April, but I don’t think the Bills will care that much. His polished game and power rush ability will fit in nicely as the team finally prioritizes an edge pass rush that has not produced much for them during Sean McDermott’s tenure.
23. New England Patriots: Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama
Always tough to figure out what the Patriots will do, but Patrick Chung looked cooked last season and Devin McCourty is an aging free agent. McKinney’s versatility to play deep, match up in the slot and provide strong run defense will be a perfect fit in Bill Belichick’s defense.
24. New Orleans Saints: Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU
The Saints should be doing backflips if Reagor is on the board at No. 24, as his speed, tracking ability and ball skills all show up in a big way on tape. That’s exactly what this offense needs to complement Michael Thomas and replace Ted Ginn, while Reagor can also provide some razzle dazzle in the trick play packages that Sean Payton is always cooking up.
25. Minnesota Vikings: Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama
I had a hard time mocking for Minnesota in this exercise, as the players available at each slot just didn’t really seem to fit the Rick Spielman/Mike Zimmer mold at their key positions of need. I wish Diggs was a better tackler, but he has impressive ball skills and plenty of man coverage experience. He should be ready to start early if the team opts to move on from Xavier Rhodes this offseason.
26. Miami Dolphins: K’Lavon Chaisson, EDGE, LSU
Chaisson didn’t produce enough in college, but his age and athleticism are going to convince someone to bite. Why not the team with three first round picks in desperate need of edge pass-rushing help in a draft where it’s pretty hard to find any? Chaisson’s ability to drop and cover will be appealing to Brian Flores’ versatile defense.
27. Seattle Seahawks: Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville
The Seahawks are likely going to lose Germain Ifedi this offseason, and Becton makes sense as a replacement. I think some people are getting caught up in the hulking tackle’s ability to move at his size, instead of examining how functional his movement skills are for the position. Becton rarely took vertical or 45-degree pass sets at Louisville, so his footwork and technique in pass protection will need plenty of work in the NFL.
28. Baltimore Ravens: Patrick Queen, LB, LSU
The Ravens don’t have a ton of holes, and I’m not convinced they will go wide receiver early again after a first-round pick at the position last year. That offense runs through NFL MVP Lamar Jackson, the tight ends and the running game, and wide receivers just aren’t as important in Baltimore. Queen is still learning the position, but his peak plays are up there with any true linebacker in the class. He’ll help out on coverage downs right away while he learns the rest.
29. Tennessee Titans: Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson
The Titans could have a few needs depending on how free agency goes, but I think another wide receiver could really help their offense. A.J. Brown played mostly on the outside last year, but it would behoove Tennessee to move him around when defenses start keying on him in 2020. Enter Higgins, who can play inside or outside, but has the vertical ability to be a splash-play machine in contested catch situations down the field. He and Brown could be a blast together.
30. Green Bay Packers: Zack Baun, LB, Wisconsin
The Packers really need help at linebacker, and although Baun will be making the switch from edge defender, his physicality, smarts and athleticism should make the transition a smooth one. Green Bay’s roster is really limited at linebacker; ignoring the position for another year just isn’t an option.
31. San Francisco 49ers: Brandon Aiyuk, WR, Arizona State
I really have no clue what the 49ers are going to do in the draft because they are pretty loaded everywhere until we see who they lose in free agency. Aiyuk isn’t even a favorite of mine in this class, but I just think he, Deebo Samuel and George Kittle are a perfect long-term trio for the way San Francisco’s passing attack currently operates. Kyle Shanahan will get him touches underneath and Aiyuk’s speed and run-after-catch ability will be featured beautifully.
32. Kansas City Chiefs: Jeff Gladney, CB, TCU
Man coverage ability is a coveted asset, and Gladney has it in droves. If he tests/measures well at the Combine, he could be a big riser. The Chiefs could be losing Kendall Fuller and Bashaud Breeland from their already undermanned secondary, so adding another cornerback should be the priority in Round 1.