Today, I will be presenting my official NFL Mock Draft 2.0 to celebrate NFL Free Agency.
The Combine has officially come and gone, free agency is about to get underway, and we as a community only have to endure two more months before the Cincinnati Bengals are on the clock.
There is no sense in making you all read any more introduction, so let’s go ahead and jump right into the most obvious first overall pick in recent memory.
1. Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
Is there really anything to say here anymore? The Bengals are in prime position to take their quarterback of the future after sitting in Andy Dalton purgatory for the last nine years. Joe Burrow is coming off one of the single best collegiate seasons we have ever seen from a quarterback. Poise, accuracy, leadership. Joe Burrow possesses the total package of a franchise guy. Turn the card in yesterday.
2. Washington Redskins: Chase Young, EDGE, Ohio State
The rumor mill has been running wild with endless possibilities of what Washington can do with this pick, including the potential of replacing Dwayne Haskins with Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa. However, unless this pick is traded, Washington would be unwise to not pull the trigger on Chase Young. With Ron Rivera and Jack Del Rio looking to build this team defense first, taking the best player we have seen enter the league since Myles Garrett makes too much sense.
3. Detroit Lions: Jeffrey Okudah, CB, Ohio State
As has been said for several weeks now, the 2020 draft really begins at pick three. The Lions are a prime candidate to trade down and secure extra draft capital from a team (likely Miami) who wants to secure the services of Tua. However, with no trades being made in this mock draft, the Lions elect to lock down their cornerback room with Jeffrey Okudah. Okudah is a home run pick for Detroit, whether they retain Darius Slay or choose to move him this offseason.
4. New York Giants: Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa
The Giants have needs all over their football team, and as such could go almost anywhere with this pick. With GM Dave Gettleman’s history of love for big, athletic offensive tackles, no one makes more sense in my mind right now than Wirfs, who absolutely blew the roof off of Lucas Oil Stadium at the NFL combine. Wirfs has all the tools needed to be a franchise right tackle at the next level, with the versatility to kick inside in a pinch.
5. Miami Dolphins: Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
The Dolphins stay put, keep their surplus of picks, and still land the guy they have coveted throughout the process. Tua was oft-injured during his collegiate career, and comes into the draft likely having to take a redshirt year as he recovers from hip surgery. However, he is one of the most accurate collegiate quarterbacks at every level of the field that we have seen in recent memory. Tua could be the guy that Dolphins fans have been desperate for since the day Dan Marino retired.
6. Los Angeles Chargers: Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
With the Chargers officially moving on from Philip Rivers this off-season, Quarterback has shot to the top of this team’s list of needs going into the 2020 season. While the team could also benefit from drafting one of the top offensive tackles in this class, all the signs are pointing to them taking their guy at 6 in the form of Oregon’s Justin Herbert. Herbert has the physical tools nailed down, but likely will need some time behind Tyrod Taylor as he develops the mental side of his game in the NFL.
7. Carolina Panthers: Derrick Brown, IDL, Auburn
The Panthers are another team that could be in the market for an early swing on a quarterback, depending on what happens with former NFL MVP Cam Newton. For now, the team looks to address a massive hole that sits in the middle of their defensive line with Auburn’s Derrick Brown. Brown is a stout run defender who is great at eating up double teams in the middle, which will be excellent for this team as they look to unleash Brian Burns on the league going forward. Despite his lackluster performance at the combine, Brown is far too good to slip out of the top ten.
8. Arizona Cardinals: Jedrick Wills, OT, Alabama
The Cardinals have to do something to protect their ROTY quarterback Kyler Murray going forward. After surrendering 50 sacks in 2019 (5th most in the NFL) the Cardinals cannot afford to leave this draft without one of the top offensive tackles in my opinion. In this mock draft, they just so happen to snag the best of the bunch in Jedrick Wills. Wills played right tackle this past season, but he has the versatility to come in as a blindside blocker for Murray from day one
9. Jacksonville Jaguars: Isaiah Simmons, Defender, Clemson
In the last three years, this defense has gone from one of the league’s best units overall to one of the league’s worst. Virtually no one remains from the team’s 2017 AFC Championship run, and the team has got to get better on that side of the ball. What better way to get better than to add a unicorn to your unit? Isaiah Simmons will likely be a linebacker for this team, but has the versatility to line up almost anywhere on this defensive unit if needed. This is a match made in heaven and Jacksonville should sprint the card to the podium if Simmons is there for them.
10. Cleveland Browns: Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville
Cleveland’s tackles last year were bad last year to say the least, and with Greg Robinson’s recent arrest, the hole on the offensive line is even bigger. Filling that massive hole is going to be made easier by adding in a massive player. Enter Mekhi Becton, who stands at over 6’7” tall and weighs 364 lbs, but moves like he is 6’4” 320 lbs. Becton should come in and be an immediate impact left tackle, protecting Baker Mayfield’s blindside for the next ten plus years.
11. New York Jets: Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
The Jets need help on offense, simple as that. With Robby Anderson set to leave in free agency, the odds of New York taking a receiver are rather high. However, the Jets have needed a left tackle since D’Brickashaw Ferguson retired, and Kelvin Beachum just is not cutting it anymore. Andrew Thomas would provide immediate help in both the run and passing game as he anchors the left side of this Jets o-line, as the Jets elect to address wide receiver later in a stacked class.
12. Las Vegas Raiders: CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
The Raiders are hosting the draft this year in their first year in Las Vegas, and their first pick should be a splash that could change the trajectory of their franchise in a big way. They could go Jordan Love and trade Derek Carr on draft day, but with CeeDee Lamb on the board, the splash was made easier. Oakland tried to solve their receiver issues with Antonio Brown, which ended up failing miserably. Lamb will give Derek Carr a number one guy that is dynamic after the catch and has amazing body control to boot.
13. Indianapolis Colts: Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
The Colts are much better than the 2019 standings would have you believe, and are in a scenario where they are able to go BPA with Jacoby Brissett still serviceable. It also just so happens that the best player on the board is at a position that Indianapolis could use improvement in. Jerry Jeudy was the best route runner in college a season ago, and might be the best route runner there is period. He is a dynamic player that would be an excellent compliment to T.Y. Hilton in this offense.
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Javon Kinlaw, IDL, South Carolina
Javon Kinlaw has been one of the more consistent risers throughout this draft process, and all but locked himself into the top half of the first round after the Senior Bowl. Tampa Bay could use a stud next to Vita Vea on their defensive line, and Kinlaw certainly fits the bill. With the top four offensive tackles off the board, this pick should be one of the easier picks made in the first round.
15. Denver Broncos: Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama
This has been one of the most common pairings in the draft community for the last few months now, and after Ruggs blew up the combine, it became even more obvious that he is likely going to hear his name very early on April 23rd. The emergence of Cortland Sutton has given the Broncos their number one guy for the future, but they don’t have too many viable options past him in their receiver room. Giving a quarterback like Drew Lock a guy with Ruggs’ speed is going to be a nightmare for the AFC West for years to come.
16. Atlanta Falcons: K’Lavon Chaisson, EDGE, LSU
The Falcons have taken shots on first round pass rushers a few times in the last ten years, and needless to say, they have not quite worked out so far. Vic Beasley is leaving in free agency, and Takk McKinley has not lived up to his billing to this point. The Falcons have to get better at rushing the passer in order to help their cornerbacks deal with the best division of receivers in the league. Chaisson is a raw player who needs some work on his technique, but that should come with time. His physical abilities are far too good for Atlanta to pass up here at 16.
17. Dallas Cowboys: C.J. Henderson, CB, Florida
It is a painful reality that Cowboys fans are having to accept, but Byron Jones will not be a Cowboy going forward. Because of this, the Cowboys are likely to use one of their first three picks in this draft on a cornerback, and it just so happens that one of the best cover corners in the entire class has found himself on the board at 17. C.J. Henderson is never going to be the best in run support, and is nowhere close to the best tackler in this class, but his cover skills are virtually unmatched, and that will be very important to Dallas going forward as their best cover guy heads off in free agency.
18. Miami Dolphins: A.J. Epenesa, EDGE, Iowa
The Dolphins are easily one of the most entertaining teams to mock draft for this year because they are in a true BPA scenario with every pick. Despite having one of the worst combines of any potential first round prospect this year, A.J. Epenesa is still one of the best pass rushers in this class in my opinion. Epenesa is very powerful with his hands and overall solid everywhere else. The Dolphins need help in their pass rush with Charles Harris not panning out for them, and Epenesa will provide just that.
19. Las Vegas Raiders: Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU
After snapping up CeeDee Lamb at 12, the Raiders now use the 19th pick to shore up their secondary and give him a running mate for practices over the next several seasons. Fulton has quickly turned into one of the more underrated players in the class as guys like Henderson and Jeff Gladney have flown up into the spotlight, but he is still a top corner in this class. Fulton’s stickiness in man coverage, solid flexibility, and physicality in press coverage make him a perfect cornerback for the Raiders to bring in.
20. Jacksonville Jaguars: Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama
Versatility so nice, the Jacksonville Jaguars decide to grab it twice. After adding Isaiah Simmons earlier in the first round, Jacksonville grabs another guy that can do just about everything that is asked of him in Alabama safety Xavier McKinney. McKinney is an excellent cover safety that is also capable of coming up and shining as a box safety. With Jacksonville completely overhauling their defense, getting multiple players who can do whatever is asked of them will be an excellent start to their rebuild.
21. Philadelphia Eagles: Jeff Gladney, CB, TCU
The Eagles’ skill positions on the outside were horrible this season on both sides of the football. With the top three receivers off the board, and a deep class to boot, the Eagles elect to improve their secondary by grabbing TCU cornerback Jeff Gladney. Gladney shined in both man and zone coverage during his time at TCU, and he has some of the best feet and ball skills in the entire class. A guy like Gladney will fit in nicely with Philadelphia as they rebuild their secondary.
22. Buffalo Bills: Laviska Shenault Jr., WR, Colorado
Laviska Shenault has quickly become one of the most polarizing players in the entire draft, not because of his on-field abilities, but rather due to his extensive list of injuries that he has accumulated throughout college. After injuring himself during the Combine, there are significant questions about if he will ever be able to stay healthy long enough to justify a risk being taken on him in round 1. I believe the answer is yes, and the talent and fit are too good here for Buffalo to pass up. Josh Allen will be a happy man throwing to Shenault.
23. New England Patriots: Jordan Love, QB, Utah State
No one knows exactly what is going to happen with Tom Brady, but the signs are all pointing to him taking snaps for a team outside of Foxborough next season. The Patriots have not needed a quarterback in 20 years, but that will be the case soon whether Brady stays or goes. Love has extremely enticing physical tools, but could use a lot of work on his consistency above the shoulders. Who better to unlock Love’s potential than Bill Belicheck? This pick would be an absolute home run.
24. New Orleans Saints: Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU
The Saints likely would have taken Jordan Love if he had gotten past New England here. Since he is no longer on the table for them, New Orleans elects to improve their receiving corps outside of Michael Thomas with a familiar face. Hometown hero Justin Jefferson shined at LSU catching passes from Joe Burrow this season, and with Drew Brees committed to returning to NOLA for another season, this is an excellent fit for Jefferson as he transitions to the pros.
25. Minnesota Vikings: Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama
The Vikings are set to let Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander test free agency, and they recently released Xavier Rhodes after he struggled mightily in 2019. Obviously, cornerback is a huge need for this team going forward. Trevon Diggs is a solid option here, and he already has a connection to the Vikings due to his brother Stefon. Although Stefon has been the center of trade rumors for a few years now, adding his brother to the squad could be a great move nonetheless.
26. Miami Dolphins: D’Andre Swift, RB, Georgia
The NFL draft community has begun to undervalue running backs over the last few years, to the point where most would shun the idea of selecting one in the first round. However, Miami can afford to take the best in the class here and secure a fifth year option on Swift with their third first round pick. Although the Georgia back was severely underutilized during his time in college, Swift has incredible open field ability and is strong in the receiving game as well.
27. Seattle Seahawks: Lucas Niang, OT, TCU
The Seahawks are a prime candidate to trade down from this pick, seeing as they are a team who consistently moves around on day one of the draft. However, with no trades in this mock, Seattle opts to feed another yearly tradition and take someone out of left field with their top pick. Niang is a strong talent, but was sidelined the majority of his last year at TCU due to a hip injury. It might seem like a bit of a stretch here, but Seattle loves to surprise us on draft day.
28. Baltimore Ravens: Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma
Baltimore needs to improve the middle of their defense somehow after losing C.J. Mosley last offseason to the Jets. Oklahoma’s Kenneth Murray is one of the better linebackers in an overall weak class, and would bring a strong presence in the middle of this Ravens front. Murray is tenacious off the snap and has a great nose for the football. Baltimore would be a perfect team to groom Murray into the player that he can be at the next level.
29. Tennessee Titans: Yetur Gross-Matos, EDGE, Penn State
Tennessee was one of the biggest stories of 2019 as they made an impressive run to the AFC championship game. Despite the emergence of Harold Landry and the consistency of Jurrell Casey, one of the team’s biggest weaknesses was pass rush. YGM is a very raw pass rusher, but he has all the tools you could ever ask for in a strong edge rusher. His overall lack of polish alongside a currently unresolved off-field issue has pushed him to the back of the 1st, and Tennessee benefits from it here.
30. Green Bay Packers: Brandon Aiyuk, WR, Arizona State
It would be in the Packers best interest to provide Aaron Rodgers with a few strong weapons this offseason as the team finally has a solid defense built up. Brandon Aiyuk is one of the most electrifying playmakers that the college football world saw in 2019, and his speed would be an excellent compliment to Davante Adams in Green Bay. Aiyuk would add a dynamic deep threat to this offense that has not been seen in a long time.
31. San Francisco 49ers: Grant Delpit, S, LSU
After a season that no one could have predicted that ended in a Super Bowl loss, the San Francisco 49ers continue to build their roster well by adding the steal of the first round in LSU’s Grant Delpit. Delpit slid due to a down year that was plagued by injury alongside tackle struggles, but he has excellent range on the back end and is great in coverage across the board. A trade back is definitely possible for the team as they don’t have another pick until round 5, but they elect to grab Delpit here.
32. Kansas City Chiefs: Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin
The defending Super Bowl champions have a few needs on defense, but they could also elect to go for the “let’s score 50 a game and forget about defense” mentality by grabbing a true #1 running back. In this scenario, that is exactly what they do by grabbing Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor. Taylor improved throughout his career as a receiving threat and was a dynamic runner with legit track speed who carried Wisconsin the last three years. Now he gets to be the bellcow for Patrick Mahomes? The NFL has been put on notice.
Thank you for taking the time to read this mock draft. Try not to put me on blast too much as free agency begins and these picks quickly become irrelevant with new signings league wide.