Although the 2019 NFL season kicks off this Thursday night with the Green Bay Packers visiting the Chicago Bears, it’s never too early to look ahead at the 2020 NFL Draft. With preseason and one week of college football finished, the first rounds of NFL mock drafts are upon us. Here is my first look at what next year’s top ten picks could look like:
1. New York Giants (3-13): Chase Young, DE, Ohio State
While Daniel Jones shined in preseason play with an 85.3% average and 137.3 QBR, Dave Gettleman has made it clear that Eli Manning isn’t going anywhere (yet). Saquon Barkley will look to live up to the standard he set during his rookie season, but the Giants will start the season with three of their starting receivers. Defensively, New York doesn’t look strong either. They gave up over 6,000 total yards last season, with 4,044 coming through the air. New York needs to bolster its defensive line early, and Chase Young is the best pass rusher of the 2020 draft class. All that being said, it also would not surprise me if the Giants traded this pick down to seek value elsewhere.
2. Miami Dolphins (3-13): Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
Whether head coach Brian Flores wants to admit it or not, the “Tank for Tua” is in for force. The Dolphins traded their veteran left tackle Laremy Tunsil and wide receiver Kenny Stills for two first-round picks and one second-round pick. With little luck in recent free agency periods, Miami is looking to gain young talent in the next few drafts. Their starting place: quarterback. Ryan Fitzpatrick is a short-term solution and newly acquired Josh Rosen still hasn’t seemed to show much improvement during the preseason. However, if Rosen does take a big leap this season, look for the Dolphins to take a weapon to pair him with.
3. Cincinnati Bengals (4-12): Jake Fromm, QB, Georgia
The Andy Dalton era in Cincinnati needs to come to an end. The Bengals have been in the same position of mediocrity in the NFL for the better part of 16 years and Andy Dalton has not been the answer to take them to the next step. The Bengals have great, young talent on offense in running back Joe Mixon and wide receiver John Ross, but they need a new leader. Jake Fromm is arguably the best play-caller in this class and has a natural ability to read defenses. What he lacks in arm strength he more than makes up for in efficient passing.
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-11): Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn
The Bruce Arians era in Tampa Bay begins this year, but it will take a year or two to get settled into a strong NFC South. With the departure of veteran defensive tackle Gerald McCoy this past offseason, the Buccaneers need help strengthening their defensive likes against the likes of Alvin Kamara and Christian McCaffrey. I also believe he would be the best available player at fourth overall as he resembles Quinnen Williams (taken third overall by the New York Jets in the 2019 NFL Draft) in his ability to get to quarterback from the interior line.
5. Washington Redskins (5-11): Andrew Thomas, OL, Georgia
Trent Williams has been the buzz around the Washington Redskins organization during the 2019 offseason. Williams has been holding out for a new contract (the new standard for disgruntled players), but could return to the field as early as Week Two, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapaport reported this week. Even if he does return, the Redskins likelihood of trading him before the trade deadline remains high. They need to bolster their offensive line for their upcoming quarterback-running back duo in Dwayne Haskins and Derrius Guice, and Andrew Thomas is the best overall offensive lineman in a star-studded class.
6. Arizona Cardinals (5-11): Walker Little, OL, Stanford
If the Arizona Cardinals expect to have any success with rookie quarterback Kyler Murray, they have to protect him in the pocket. Already “undersized”, Murray will more than likely be throwing on the run often this season, which is not a sustainable, long-term gameplan. The Cardinals beefed up their weapons in the passing game with several picks in the 2019 NFL Draft, now they need to be able to use them effectively. Adding Walker Little would be a great start to turning the tide in Arizona.
7. Tennessee Titans (6-10): Jacob Eason, QB, Washington
Marcus Mariota is a big-time talent who has unfortunately been injury-prone during his short career. The Titans have hovered around .500 for the better half of ten years and Mariota’s constant injuries have only furthered it. Although they claimed a stunning playoff victory during the 2017-18 Playoffs against the Kansas City Chiefs, Tennessee needs to find a better longterm solution at quarterback. Jacob Eason is ready to prove he’s a top ten talent this season and work his way up everybody’s draft boards.
8. Oakland Raiders (6-10): Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
The Oakland Raiders find themselves in a similar situation to that of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Los Angeles Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs sit strongly atop the AFC West and show little sign of slowing down (I’m honestly not even sure if the Raiders are better than the Broncos). Jon Gruden may have a ten-year contract, but he needs to turn it around much faster. Oakland needs to take the best off the board at this spot and Jerry Jeudy would be an absolute steal at number eight. Although undersized, he and future hall-of-fame wideout Antonio Brown would quickly become one of the NFL’s top wide receiver duos.
9. San Francisco 49ers (6-10): Grant Delpit, S, LSU
The San Franciso 49ers are yet another team struggling to find their way in a strong division. It’s still too early to say what Jimmy Garrappolo will become, but either way, the 49ers need to become a stronger unit overall to topple the Los Angeles Rams and Seattle Seahawks. Grant Delpit could be another great defensive back to come out of LSU and help San Franciso return to former glory.
10. New York Jets (7-9): CJ Henderson, CB, Florida
The New York Jets should take a big leap this season. Budding star Sam Darnold, All-Pro running back Le’Veon Bell, and new head coach Adam Gase are ready to compete for a wild card spot this offseason. Defensively, the Jets added former Baltimore Ravens linebacker C.J. Mosley and Atlanta Falcons defensive back Brian Poole. Their defensive line should have no problem disrupting play so look for New York to add to their defensive secondary. CJ Henderson is a bit undersized, but he’s had no problem making big plays during his time at Florida.