Alex Kielar | January 15th, 2020
Now that we are done with Divisional Round weekend of the 2019 NFL season, the top 28 picks of this year’s draft are now locked down. The order of the back four I am going based on how I think the conference championships and Super Bowl will go down. Those 28 teams are now looking towards the offseason and the 2020 draft as the remaining four get set for the Conference Championship round of the playoffs on Sunday.
For this mock draft, I will predict all 32 picks in the first round. Since this is my first mock, I am going straight with no trades involved; further down the line as I do more I will add some more wrinkles like trades in. For now, let’s keep this simple. The Cincinnati Bengals are now on the clock.
1) Bengals – Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
We have all known for a while that the Bengals are going to pick Burrow with the number one overall pick. The LSU quarterback has easily been the best at his position this season in College Football. After celebrating a National Championship on Monday, he now gets set to join the Bengals in April.
2) Redskins – Chase Young, EDGE, Ohio State
After a week 16 loss to the Giants, the Redskins shored up that they would get the number two overall pick, the Redskins won’t have too tough a decision to make when the best non-quarterback in the draft in Young will be sitting there. The defensive end out of Ohio State is the most high-touted player to enter the draft in some time, and if it weren’t for the Bengals major need for a franchise quarterback, he would be the number one pick.
3) Lions – Jeffrey Okudah, CB, Ohio State
The Lions finished the 2019 season with the 31st ranked defense in the league, including having the 21st-ranked pass defense, so they will need a score at third overall. With that in mind, Okudah is the best defensive back available in the 2020 NFL draft and should be the second straight Ohio State player to be selected behind Young.
4) Giants – Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
The Giants’ biggest need is their offensive line, to help protect their believed franchise quarterback Daniel Jones and stud running back Saquon Barkley. Without protection, Jones will never be able to develop, so the unanimous All-American left-tackle Thomas should be where they go. Obviously, “should” and “will” are two different words, as Gettleman may do any number of things.
5) Dolphins – Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
#TankForTua is officially on the clock with Tagovailoa officially declaring for the draft last week. There are obviously some concerns with his hip injury, but his upside is off the charts. The Dolphins have always been in love with Tua and I don’t see them letting him fall from their grip.
6) Chargers – Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
There’s no doubt Philip Rivers‘ Charger and probably overall career is over after throwing 20 interceptions last season. So the Chargers will need to think about who they want to have long-term at the quarterback position. Some have speculated that maybe they would try to make a push for Tom Brady if he wants to return to the league in 2020 but not to New England. Even if they did that, I think they would still look to pick their future franchise quarterback in the draft. That leaves Herbert, the best available QB who still has room to develop, but does have solid rushing (three rushing touchdowns in Rose Bowl) and throwing abilities.
7) Panthers– Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn
I expect the Panthers to move on from Cam Newton this offseason, so quarterback will be a position of need. But with the top three already off the board and no others worth taking, they can take care of another big need in their defensive line. Brown is a very dominant run-stuffer and great pass-rusher, and with the uncertainty at this position for the Panthers, he would start day one.
8) Cardinals – Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
The Cardinals certainly could use an offensive lineman here, as Kyler Murray was one of the most sacked quarterbacks in the league last season. But the Cardinals could use another solid young playmaking receiver to add to their already young corp on top of the returning veteran Larry Fitzgerald. Plus, head coach Kliff Kingsbury might not want to take such a high pick on an offensive lineman with an offense that relies on getting the ball out quickly. That receiver is either Jeudy or CeeDee Lamb, but I give Jeudy the slight edge. Jeudy is smooth and runs very good routes.
9) Jaguars – CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
Lamb and Jeudy lead a packed receiver class and I have them going back-to-back at picks eight and nine. Lamb is a tremendous contested pass catcher who has very good body control. With the Jaguars needing impact players on offense, Lamb is the guy they need to ignite it.
10) Browns – Jedrick Wills Jr., OT, Alabama
Baker Mayfield severely regressed in year two which had a lot to do with him feeling a lot of pressure on most of his snaps. There is a very close evaluation between Wills and Thomas as to who the top tackle is in this draft. So if Wills falls to the Browns, they should not have any hesitation in selecting him to shore up protection for Mayfield.
11) Jets – Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa
Like a lot of teams picking high in the draft, the Jets need to start protecting their franchise quarterback in Sam Darnold. In no particular order, the top three offensive linemen in the draft, are Thomas, Wills, and Wirfs. If any of them are on the board at pick 11, the Jets will probably be very quick to pick them. Here they get Wirfs, who has great strength, reach, and can physically dominant rushers.
12) Raiders – Isiah Simmons, LB/S, Clemson
The Raiders will be making the move to Las Vegas and need to start improving their defense. The most glaring hole they have is at linebacker and Simmons is the exact guy they need to build their defense around. He has a ton of range and can move back in coverage; it’s also somewhat likely he falls to the Raiders given the needs of the teams picking ahead of them.
13) Colts – A.J. Epenesa, EDGE, Iowa
The Colts need to make improvements to their defense, especially to their edge rushers and getting pressure on the quarterback. Veteran Justin Houston led the team with 10 sacks. Epenesa is a great place to start, who made an impact from day one at Iowa and would do the same with the Colts.
14) Buccaneers – Yetur Gross–Matos, EDGE, Penn State
The Buccaneers could see an overhaul to their defensive line next season, as Ndamukong Suh, Jason Pierre-Paul and Rakeem Nunez-Roches are all impending free agents. A great place to start in rebuilding it would be selecting a raw, strong, and nimble edge rusher in Gross-Matos, who only will get better with more experience.
15) Broncos – Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU
Chris Harris Jr. is an impending free agent which puts cornerback as a top need for the Broncos. Fulton is a very polished and skilled corner who would start from day one for Denver. Fulton plays man-to-man very well and that is the type of player the Broncos need.
16) Falcons – Grant Delpit, S, LSU
Getting Keanu Neal back next season will be big for the Falcons, but they will still need another starting quality safety. Delpit has been a huge piece to the LSU defense and won the Jim Thorpe award this season, given to the best defensive back in the country. Delpit can play up in the box and plays outstanding in coverage while being able to read the play very quickly.
17) Cowboys – Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama
Alabama is known for developing very strong NFL talent, especially on the defensive side of the ball. The Cowboys need to improve their defense and the secondary is definitely their biggest need, with 2015 first rounder Byron Jones also entering free agency. Diggs is one of the best cornerbacks in the draft and would be a great fit for Dallas, as he would make an impact immediately.
18) Dolphins (via Steelers) – Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama
Adding a fast and explosive Ruggs to pair with Alabama teammate Tagovailoa would be a great first two picks for the Dolphins. They would start off having great chemistry and give the Dolphins a deep threat. Miami would have a great duo of receivers with Ruggs and DeVante Parker on opposite sides.
19) Raiders (via Bears) – Javon Kinlaw, DL, South Carolina
With the Raiders taking care of their linebacker need with their first pick, they could go any number of routes with their second first rounder. Receiver is another position of need, but with it being the most stacked in the draft, they go with another defensive playmaker. The Raiders could always use an upgrade on their pass-rush, and Kinlaw has all the talent and on-field production needed to give solid and immediate production.
20) Jaguars (via Rams) – C.J. Henderson, CB, Florida
The Jaguars need a cornerback after trading away Jalen Ramsey this past season. Henderson is one of the best cornerbacks in the draft, and a top corner in coverage. The junior corner is always right there to make a play on the ball when targeted.
The Eagles have two huge needs – wide receiver and cornerback. They will definitely go with one of those positions with their first pick. With DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery on the decline and their health a big concern, they need to give Carson Wentz a weapon other than his favorite target Zach Ertz. The big-play Higgins would be a steal this low in the first round, and as a former basketball player gives them basically another Jeffery, a receiver who plays “above the rim”.
22) Bills- Laviska Shenault Jr., WR, Colorado
Josh Allen has some solid playmakers like Cole Beasley and John Brown in his receiver corp, but neither is a number one target. Shenault has the size, athleticism, and physicality needed, also with an impressive YAC ability. He would give Allen a complete receiver and boost the numbers of the others.
23) Patriots – K’Lavon Chaisson, EDGE, LSU
The Patriots could go any number of ways with their first pick and are unsure whether Tom Brady will return. But if they go based on the big board and their needs, pass-rush is a pretty viable option. Chaisson is an animal off the edge and has all the intangibles to perform at the next level. He can play in any scheme and has a lot of quickness to set him apart.
24) Saints- Jordan Love, QB, Utah State
The Saints need to start thinking about their future at quarterback with Drew Brees getting up in age and Teddy Bridgewater a pending free agent. Love isn’t a guy that would be able to make an impact right off the bat. Going to the Saints would be an ideal situation for Love, as he would sit behind Brees on the bench while learning and developing from him. Developed the right way with an already explosive arm and lots of confidence, Love will give the Saints a promising future after Brees hangs it up.
25) Vikings- Jeff Gladney, CB, TCU
The Vikings were one of the most inconsistent teams in 2019 in their secondary, which will only get worse. Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander are pending free agents, while Minnesota will be moving on from Xavier Rhodes. This puts cornerback as a top need, and Gladney certainly has the experience against top offenses in the offense-heavy Big 12. He is great in coverage and using his hands to defend passes.
26) Dolphins (via Texans)- Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville
The Dolphins have major needs at all positions, and one of the top needs is at offensive line. With their third and final pick in the first round, they address that need by getting the monster, quick-footed and strong Becton. He is very powerful at the point of attack as he can knock off strong defensive lineman at the snap.
27) Seahawks- Tyler Biadasz, iOL, Wisconsin
As long as he is given enough time, Russell Wilson is always dangerous to make plays. The Seahawks desperately need more consistency on the offensive line. Biadasz was a huge piece to the Badgers success on the ground and would give the Seahawks much needed protection and depth.
28) Ravens- KJ Hamler, WR, Penn State
One of the major holes and uncertainties of the Ravens that was exploited during their playoff loss to the Titans was receivers. Baltimore had a number of dropped passes in the game, one that led to an interception on the opening drive. Lamar Jackson is in huge need of weapons, and Hamler from Penn State would give him an explosive and speedy receiver. One knock is his size at 5’9” but that has happened with a lot of guys who turned out to be great receivers at the next level (i.e. Wes Welker). This early may be a bit of a reach, but Hamler is just as talented as the other receivers.
29) Titans- Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama
Yet another Alabama defensive player with huge stock in McKinney. While the Titans have star safety Kevin Byard locked up, they could use the depth and another great safety on the other side. McKinney gives them that, and can also play up in blitz packages, and line up as a linebacker while playing great in man-to-man and as a deep safety. He can be used in any number of ways and the Titans wouldn’t just be tied down to using him as a safety.
30) Packers- Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU
Aaron Rodgers needs more weapons besides Devante Adams and after a huge 2019 season, Jefferson would be a great target for the veteran. He holds the very sawed after ability to grab any ball out of the air and make a play through tight coverage. As much as Rodgers loves to throw the ball up for grabs, Jefferson is the perfect receiver for him.
31) 49ers- D’Andre Swift, RB, Georgia
The 49ers don’t have feature running back and could use just that. Swift is elusive and agile out of the backfield in handoff and catching plays. He can make defenders miss with ease and would give San Fran a great playmaker.
32) Chiefs- Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin
The Chiefs haven’t had much of a run game since they cut Kareem Hunt, as Patrick Mahomes has led the team in rushing. Taylor had a great three-year career at Wisconsin, starting in all three years. He would make an immediate impact in Kansas City and give them consistent production to help Mahomes.
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