Ah, draft season. My second favorite time of the year (next to fantasy football draft season). Earlier this week, we released our NFL Mock Draft 1.0 at The Cut (you can listen to it here). Now, I will be putting out my personal 1.0. It varies pretty significantly, and I think you will find some surprises. I will not be including trades (yet). Let’s do it.
1. Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
Joe Burrow almost feels like a lock to the Bengals at this point after his historic, Heisman-winning season. His NFL-readiness is second to none in this quarterback class, and I think the Bengals should already have a hand on the phone to ring in their new franchise-saver.
2. Chase Young, EDGE, Ohio State
In his opening press conference, Ron Rivera refused to give a vote of confidence to Dwayne Haskins. The entire regime is (finally) gone, and Dwayne should be concerned about his job – but he won’t have cause for concern after this pick. I’d actually be shocked if the Redskins picked here, but I’m not working any trades in just yet. Chase Young is going to be an elite pass rusher in the NFL, and the Redskins could use quite literally anyone with the adjective of ‘elite.’
3. Isaiah Simmons, LB/S, Clemson
Simmons may be my favorite player in this class. He’s a unicorn. We don’t know what he can be in the NFL, but I’d bet a lot of money the words ‘elite’ and ‘Hall of Fame’ may enter descriptions of Simmons when it’s all said and done. He’s as big as a linebacker, has the ball skills of a safety, and is athletic enough to play press coverage against elite college wideouts. He may be a better version of Minkah Fitzpatrick, and that’s not something the Lions will pass up at 3.
4. Jeffrey Okudah, CB, Ohio State
Randy will tell you that Okudah will be gone by this pick, but in my mock draft, he’s sitting here for the Giants at 4. Okudah and Deandre Baker would be quite the young cornerback tandem, and with each of their division rivals looking to add receivers, it’s going to be necessary to compete. Jeudy would make sense here, too, but Dave Gettleman has the final say, and there’s no chance he takes a receiver over a cornerback of this caliber.
5. Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
Listen. I’m not sold that this is the pick. I’m not even sold on the Dolphins taking a quarterback this year when Trevor Lawrence is going to be there at the top of next year’s draft. But it’s a risk to think they would be bad enough to get Lawrence with their nine billion 2020 draft picks. That’s why Tua is the pick here. I am basing this off of the fact that Tua will be able to work out and clear all medicals in this pre-draft process. The Dolphins could have their guy here.
6. Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
One thing is certain: Justin Herbert drastically improved his draft stock at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama last week. I, personally, had him below Jordan Love and Jacob Eason coming into the week, and now he is very likely going to be my QB3 when I go back and watch the Senior Bowl again. I think his ceiling is a slightly more accurate Josh Allen, but that model has worked out for the Buffalo Bills, so far, right?
7. Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn
This one feels easy to me. The Panthers had one of those run defenses that fantasy football players targeted. Derrick Brown helps that, but he is also a versatile pass-rusher. He should be able to make an immediate impact, and that’s the type of guy that new head coach Matt Rhule should be targeting.
8. Jedrick Wills, OT, Alabama
This is a dream scenario for the Cardinals. Get their guy to protect their franchise quarterback. Sure, they could probably use some receiver help, but they just drafted three of them last year. I’m inclined to think they have faith that those guys will develop and produce more in 2020. Wills is the best tackle in this class, in my opinion, and for him to still be here at 8 is remarkable luck for the Kingsbury-led Cardinals.
9. Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU
I know you Jacksonville fans really want a receiver here, but I’m not convinced. DJ Chark eclipsed 1,000 yards in his sophomore year. Dede Westbrook was plagued by injury and still accumulated 66 receptions. Chris Conley had a solid year and is still under contract. The Jaguars were at their best when they had two shutdown corners. AJ Bouye is the first and insert Kristian Fulton, a guy who would be the CB1 in almost every class since I started doing this, if it weren’t for that meddling Okudah. Fulton is an immediate upgrade at the position. Rejoice, Jaguars fans.
10. Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville
I’ve seen people rising on Becton lately. I can see why. He opened my tackle scouting as the OT2, dropped a bit after hearing some concerns, and then immediately arrived back at OT2 after viewing more tape. Becton has some technical issues. He has less than ideal footwork. But he’s a mammoth of a man, and with the addition of Bill Callahan to the Browns new coaching staff, this is a dream scenario for me, a lifelong Browns fan.
11. AJ Epenesa, EDGE, Iowa
Jets fans will very likely hate this pick, but I’m not entirely sure why. I’m on record saying that Epenesa is definitely an edge rusher (some have him pegged as a guy to transition to tackle) and that is a clear need on this New York Jets defense. The way Epenesa dominated Austin Jackson, a projected second-round tackle, was what solidified him as a top-fifteen kind of guy for me.
12. Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
The ‘slide’ ends. Jerry Jeudy goes to a team with a clear need for a number one receiver. As Randy put it, this pick gives Derek Carr one last shot to prove that he is the guy for Jon Gruden, and puts this Oakland offense in the top-half of the league. Jeudy’s separation mixed with Waller’s space-eating and Tyrell Williams’ downfield speed will surely be electric to watch.
13. Jordan Love, QB, Utah State
This right here is my ideal situation for Jordan Love. A stable organization with a history of draft successes and an established offensive line to keep him upright. I truly do believe that Jordan Love could end up the best quarterback out of this class. I also can acknowledge that his 2019 tape is bad and he could be Deshone Kizer. I hope the former is true, and if he goes to the Colts, I think the chances of that significantly increase.
14. Tristan Wirfs, OL, Iowa
Here’s a guy that many are split on. If he’s a tackle in the NFL, then he’s probably third- or fourth-best in the class. If he’s a guard, he is far and away the best. I think he makes the move to guard, and I think the Buccaneers could use an interior guy to help the run-game, as well as Jameis, succeed.
15. Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama
This seems like a match made in heaven, and although I have CeeDee Lamb slotted into my WR2 spot, Ruggs’ speed and ability to stretch a defense gets him the nod. Ruggs and Courtland Sutton would immediately give Drew Lock a chance at success, and I think that is John Elway’s priority right now.
16. Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina
Javon Kinlaw is a top-ten player in this draft, for me. The way the board falls, he’s available at 16 for the Falcons, and I think they’d be ecstatic to make that call. There is very little variance between Kinlaw and Derrick Brown, and I think there’s a real possibility that the Falcons walk away with the best DT in this draft.
17. CJ Henderson, CB, Florida
Florida players, and specifically, corners always tend to burn us at The Cut. Putting a Florida cornerback in the top-twenty is terrifying to me. But he has all of the traits of a great corner. He’s big, he’s physical, and while I think he could stand to have a bit more speed, he seemingly fits the mold of what the new defensive coordinator, Mike Nolan, wants.
18. Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
I know that a lot of people are cooling on Thomas. I think he does have his fair share of concerns and the difference between him and Josh Jones minimizes with every extra game tape I watch. I also think that, right now, he’s the third best tackle (assuming Wirfs makes the transition to guard). The Dolphins get some protection for their new franchise quarterback, and Thomas’ transition to Tua’s blindside may actually benefit his success.
19. Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma
Patrick Queen is getting a lot of love. Because of that, people are forgetting how good Kenneth Murray is, and while they will probably finish back-to-back on my big board (because I am a coward and that is the safest thing to do), I have Murray as the second LB off the board. The Raiders get some help on the defensive side of the ball – a requirement if they want to battle for a division title in 2020.
20. Grant Delpit, S, LSU
This feels like a bit of a slide for Delpit. He had a 2019 season to forget, but I think that was tactically calculated. Stay healthy, emerge when you need to, and secure the bag seems to be a solid model for success. I still believe Delpit is the best safety prospect in this class, though I think his margin for error is minimal. For now, he provides this defense with a Jamal Adams-esque playmaker.
21. CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
Who would have thought that CeeDee would be the second Oklahoma star taken in this draft. We’ve said it before – the receiver class is so deep that it seems likely everyone will get pushed down. CeeDee is a top-twenty talent (I’ve compared him to Odell Beckham Jr.) and he slides in at 21. Carson Wentz stock skyrockets up.
22. Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU
I think this is the dream scenario for Brandon Beane. Sure, the Bills could use some additional protectors for Josh Allen, but what he desperately needs is weapons. Justin Jefferson is both a big-bodied receiver and a technically-sound receiver. He stood out at times while playing with the receiver touted as 2021’s best prospect. Put Jefferson with John Brown and Cole Beasley and Bills fans should expect a division title in 2020.
23. K’Lavon Chaisson, EDGE, LSU
Initially, this pick was Jacob Eason. I pondered and pondered and eventually came to the conclusion that Jarrett Stidham has promise. I expect Brady back next season, and if that’s the case, the Patriots remain in win-now mode. Insert K’Lavon Chaisson. This guy is quite clearly the third-best edge rusher, and the Patriots have a ton of positional needs. I think because Chaisson is the best player available, he goes to the Patriots to contribute to the tail-end of the dynasty.
24. Laviska Shenault Jr., WR, Colorado
If there’s one team that could maximize Shenault’s abilities, it is the New Orleans Saints. This may allow the Saints to move on from fan-favorite Taysom Hill and put Shenault in a similar role. Oh and also, Shenault playing opposite of Michael Thomas could convince Drew Brees to come back for one more Super Bowl run.
25. Ross Blacklock, DT, TCU
I’ve seen him mocked as high as 27 so far, and after my initial two-game tape review, I think I can safely say he is the DT3. He’s best suited in a 4-3, as there’s no chance he succeeds in a nose tackle role. He seems smaller than he’s listed, but plays with ferocity. A good pass-rushing DT can make the Vikings a favorite in the NFC North.
26. D’Andre Swift, RB, Georgia
Part of me expects the Dolphins to use this pick to move up to 2 or 3 to get their quarterback. Another part of me questions if they can even afford that with the endless list of needs. I’ve never seen a team with such bad running backs, and D’Andre Swift immediately fixes that. I think JK Dobbins has a chance to take the RB1 slot, but for now, Swift is the guy.
27. Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama
This isn’t the biggest positional need for the Seahawks, but I think Pete Carroll will be trying to build that defense back up for a few more Super Bowl runs. If that’s the case, McKinney should be their guy. His range is outstanding, his coverage is better than every other safety in the draft, and he fits what the Seahawks try to do with their defensive backs.
28. Patrick Queen, LB, LSU
The sixth LSU Tiger taken could prove to be the best one and I’m not sure how the Ravens always luck out in finding elite defensive prospects in the draft. They definitely need a receiver, but I’ve cooled on Tee Higgins a bit and with Queen sitting here, I don’t think the Ravens pass up the chance to add maybe the best mike in the draft. Browns fans should be sad.
29. Cole Kmet, TE, Notre Dame
Delanie Walker is at the end of his career. Jonnu Smith was valiant in his replacement of Walker, but he’s nothing more than a solid target. Kmet has the chance to be a great tight end, and the correlation between Super Bowl teams and elite tight ends is pretty astounding. The Titans, after retaining Derrick Henry and Ryan Tannehill, emerge as clear-cut favorites to win the AFC South.
30. Josh Jones, OT, Houston
Hear me out. I know the Packers need a receiver. I know they could use a tad bit of help on defense. But, as I stated in Episode 2.02, I think they are going to start building around their future quarterback (the one they don’t have yet). Josh Jones is the perfect start, as there is a very real possibility that he slides above Andrew Thomas for me before the end of the pre-draft process. His pass blocking is phenomenal and his footwork allows him to be effective when run-blocking, as well. Packers fans won’t be excited as this isn’t sexy, but it’s the best scenario for them.
31. Jeff Gladney, CB, TCU
This is a guy I could see reaching the first round because of his sheer speed and ability to stick to guys. Don’t worry, Chiefs fans, I know this pick might be 32, but I don’t think it changes either way. The Chiefs secondary is pretty darn bad, and Gladney immediately comes in and fixes that. Just imagine: Gladney vs. Jeudy twice a year for the foreseeable future.
32. Antoine Winfield Jr., S, Minnesota
I’m not entirely sure why Winfield isn’t getting more buzz entering this draft. If you watch his tape, he emits some major Earl Thomas vibes. He’s undersized, but he makes up for that by being literally everywhere on the field at all times. He steps into this defense with the opportunity to create a Hall of Fame-level career and 49ers fans should yelp with joy.
There you have it. Let me know your thoughts in the comments!
Until next time!