Updated: Aug 24, 2020
Welcome in for another edition of my wild and roller coaster-esque mock draft series (about as wild as that picture up there, I’d say). I’ve let you readers and my co-host, Randy Hall, bully me into moving Isaiah Simmons out of the number two overall selection. While I think that is still a possibility, I’m sick of getting yelled at by you all (and quite frankly, I can acknowledge that my bias is probably clouding my view).
This edition of the mock draft will actually scale it back. I had been adding a round with each mock draft. I think the concern with trying to make nearly 100 picks had me lost in the weeds a bit. This mock is a one-rounder. It’s full of trades and wild scenarios, because a mock without trades is pointless, in my opinion. Before we jump in, make sure you check out our NFL Free Agency episode, as it slightly impacted how I went into this mock. Let’s do it.
1. Joey Burrow, QB, LSU
Does he like being called Joey or Joe? I think that’s the only remaining question for this pick, as it is locked in. Joe(y) is the most pro-ready quarterback prospect to come out since at least Andrew Luck, and while the small sample size is mildly concerning, there’s no reason to believe this will be a bad pick.
2. Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville
Ah-ha! I told you I moved off of Isaiah Simmons at the number two, but I did not say that Chase Young was the pick. While everyone seems to think edge rusher is second only to the quarterback as the most important position in football, I tend to think protecting the most important position is equally or more vital. With news that Trent Williams is essentially out the door, the Redskins have a huge need at left tackle. Jedrick Wills remains my OT1, but in the Air Coryell scheme that many project new OC Scott Turner to run, I think Becton’s length and outstanding athleticism allow him to be more successful. Roast away.
3. Chase Young, EDGE, Ohio State
Well, this was easy. My number two prospect in this class falls to number three, and I can only imagine Matt Patricia’s face when he finds out. Putting Young opposite Flowers and adding some additional pieces in free agency and the draft would very likely save Quinntricia’s job in Detroit. Young is the safest prospect in this class and should have immediate impact in the NFL, no matter where he lands.
4. Isaiah Simmons, LB/S, Clemson
I’m all here for the Dave Gettleman hate. I understand that he’s made some bone-headed moves in his past. I also can acknowledge that most of his 2019 moves turned out positive for the Giants. Which is why I don’t think he overthinks this and picks my number one overall prospect at 4. Simmons provides versatility like no one else ever has – pairing him with Jabrill Peppers in the back of that secondary or using him as a hybrid linebacking role would do wonders for this Giants defense that gave up the 8th-most total yardage in 2019.
5. Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
The Dolphins really have the opportunity for a great draft this year. With their reported comfort with Justin Herbert, they don’t have a dire need to trade up. They can keep their crazy capital and build around their new franchise quarterback. Sure, a desperate team may be able to jump them, but it is my assumption that teams will leverage the fact that Miami can offer more than any other team, and thus, keep them informed of potential trades. Instead, Miami gets the quarterback that they “tanked” for. Sure, it may be smarter to take an offensive tackle here, but the 2021 tackle class is nearly as stacked as this one, and there’s no guarantee the Dolphins will be back at the top of the draft to get a quarterback in 2021. Here’s to hoping that Tua’s hip is truly okay.
6. Jedrick Wills, OT, Alabama
Back-to-back Bama is fun to say. I mentioned earlier that Wills is still my OT1. He wowed during his workout at the NFL Combine, and while he didn’t impress as much as Tristan Wirfs or Mekhi Becton, the pass-protecting potential he possesses is enough to sway the Chargers to select him. Remember, the Chargers just bolstered their guard position, but weakened at tackle. This makes too much sense, right?
7. Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State
We’re seven picks in and we haven’t seen a trade yet. I’ll bet you’re getting bored. The reason the Panthers don’t trade back is because the best shutdown corner prospect in years falls right into their lap. With James Bradberry’s free agency decision impending and a crazy lack of depth at the position already, corner makes a lot of sense for the team that is said to be tanking for Trevor Lawrence. Quite frankly, while I think Okudah is an impact player, I don’t think he impacts games enough to get the Panthers many more wins – meaning that this pick is perfectly aligned with the idea of tanking.
8. Tristan Wirfs, OL, Iowa
New York sends picks 1.11, 3.79, and 6.191 to Arizona for pick 1.08.
Trading up for an offensive lineman is never sexy. But, in this case, it’s actually smart (which is why it probably won’t happen – don’t want to give Adam Gase too much credit here). Watching two tackles come off the board forces his hand in this scenario. With just Wirfs and Thomas sitting there and three tackle-needy teams ahead of them, the Jets give up some capital to get their guy. The guy who broke NFL Combine records and could easily slot in as the Jets tight end and be efficient. That one.
9. Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
New England sends picks 1.23 & 3.87, as well as 2021 first- and third-round selections to Jacksonville for pick 1.09.
Billy B from the top rope! Randy is going to hate me. Quite honestly, though, I’m pretty sure he did already. Justin Herbert is my QB4. I think he’s less accurate than Jordan Love. But where Herbert is accurate is short and intermediate. Sure, he has a bomb of an arm, but I don’t think that he was put in positions to make too many tough throws over the course of his Oregon career. Short and intermediate are the staple of the Patriots offense, and while I think that offense will have to evolve to continue having success, there aren’t many prospects better-equipped to lead that evolution than Justin Herbert.
10. Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina
Indianapolis sends picks 1.13, 3.75 & 7.227 to Cleveland for pick 1.10.
If Philip Rivers heads to Indy as many expect him to, drafting a quarterback doesn’t make a ton of sense. If the team truly is in win-now mode, then they need to bolster up the interior of their defensive line. Insert Javon Kinlaw, my favorite defensive tackle prospect and one with the most upside, in my opinion. His technique needs some work, but there’s not much about his current game that can be seen as detrimental. Kinlaw slides in to make the most intriguing middle-thirds in the league (Kinlaw, Darius Leonard and Malik Hooker).
11. CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
From trade with Jets.
Whew. The Cardinals started to sweat when the Colts traded ahead of them. Their target is whoever will help Kyler Murray succeed, and if Kyler Murray keeps publicly saying he wants CeeDee, I think this pick is all but secured. CeeDee is my WR1 this year and I think him, Christian Kirk, and what’s left of Larry Fitzgerald (plus the ninety-two receivers the Cardinals drafted in 2019) make up a pretty talented wide receiver room.
12. Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma
Back-to-back Oklahoma is much less fun to say than Bama, but Mike Mayock has shown us that he likes players from successful programs. He also showed us with the Clelin Ferrell pick that he doesn’t necessarily care about value – only getting his guy. Here, he does just that. Waiting until pick 19 and expecting a linebacker as good as Murray to be there is too risky, so they get LB2 in this class.
13. Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
From trade with Colts.
Man. The goal of the Browns trading back was to get them Kenneth Murray. But sometimes, this happens. The consolation prize is the most solid of the offensive tackles whose arm length actually rose his stock, despite public assumption heading into the Combine. Thomas has a lot of phenomenal tape. He also has limited mobility and might not fit the zone scheme that Kevin Stefanski intends to run. The Browns decide that getting Baker protection is more important than scheme fit and the big man from Georgia goes.
14. Jordan Love, QB, Utah State
As much as I want to give the Bucs Derrick Brown here, a quarterback of Jordan Love’s caliber being on the board nearly halfway through the first round is shocking to Arians and company and they capitalize. Maybe Jameis is back on a short-term deal (and boy, oh, boy are my fingers crossed for that scenario). Maybe they sign Teddy Bridgewater. That doesn’t prevent them from going quarterback in the first here, and they get the third QB on my board.
15. Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama
It’s possible that this is a trade-back scenario. With only one receiver gone in the first 14 picks, the Broncos could capitalize on availability and move back a couple of spots. Instead, they choose what has to be their WR1 this year in Henry Ruggs. Henry Ruggs is not even the next receiver on my board, but I can understand the enamor that teams reportedly have for him. Courtland Sutton and Henry Ruggs give the Broncos the weapons to contend quicker than people expect. Sign me up (even for fantasy – and I hope someone gets this reference).
16. K’Lavon Chaisson, EDGE, LSU
It’s not often that teams get a do-over on their edge rushers. Vic Beasley and K’Lavon Chaisson have a lot of similarities, and that’s why I’ve shied away from this pick in the past. But upon further study, Chaisson is simply too good to pass up. Even if Beasley were returning, Atlanta would have a need at edge. Now, it’s glaring. Is this the best thing for Chaisson? Well.. we’ll see, right?
17. Antoine Winfield Jr., S, Minnesota
Based on tape alone, Antoine Winfield Jr. was by far the best safety in college football in 2019. Sure, there are injury concerns. There are also size concerns. But the Earl Thomas comparison will not get out of my head and the Cowboys could definitely use an Earl Thomas type of player. Say what you want about this pick, but I think it’s probable (as opposed to possible).
18. Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
I mean, honestly. How did this happen? Getting Tua his favorite target at value? I told you the Dolphins have a chance to make major moves with this draft capital. I understand they have needs everywhere else, and most of them are more dire than the wide receiver position, but the value is too much to pass up. I’m sorry if this is poorly written. I am truly excited at the prospect of this happening (and I’m not even a Dolphins fan).
19. Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU
Another guy to be taken at value: Kristian Fulton. He’s still my CB2. I know you CJ Henderson stans will get on me for this, but I see some pretty glaring weaknesses in CJ’s game that I don’t necessarily see in Fulton’s. Plus, as I said before, Mayock likes successful schools. No offense, Florida.
20. CJ Henderson, CB, Florida
That previous pick wasn’t meant to be a knock on Henderson, and the Jags prove it by selecting Henderson with the 20th overall pick. Henderson is pretty great in man coverage. He’s one hell of an athlete, and there’s potential that he becomes a great corner in the NFL. But it may take a little bit of work for that to happen. The Jags find their Ramsey/Bouye replacement with CJ Henderson.
21. Patrick Queen, LB, LSU
Green Bay sends picks 1.30, 5.175 and a 2021 second-round selection to Philadelphia for pick 1.21.
I am sorry Packers fans. This may not be the trade up that you want, but when you have a shot to get a replacement for Blake Martinez on a rookie deal, you give up some assets for that. Patrick Queen is very close to Kenneth Murray on my board, and Kenneth Murray is a top-15 player for me. You can do the math.
22. Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU
The back-to-backs are getting pretty blasphemous, am I right? Justin Jefferson was my WR3 for a time period this week, and I had to go back and watch some tape on the others to bump him back down to where I wanted. He was fast at the Combine, but he may be the most well-rounded receiver in this class. He provides Josh Allen with a different type of target and enhances this Buffalo offense immediately.
23. Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama
From trade with Patriots.
How about adding CJ Henderson and Xavier McKinney to your defense while also picking up future picks to help return the Jaguars to relevance? McKinney is a hard-hitting safety with a good amount of range that should be able to make an impact on the field in 2020. Jacksonville comes out big winners in this mock.
24. Damien Lewis, G, LSU
The knock on Damien Lewis is that he’s scheme-specific. Well, he fits the Saints scheme pretty damn well and he’s one hell of a player. He isn’t the most mobile human in the world, which doesn’t make Alvin Kamara feel too much better, but he’s incredibly solid in pass pro and his blitz-recognition is second to none for the guards in this class. Erik McCoy had a pretty good rookie year and placing Damien on his right shoulder for the next 10 years probably sounds pretty good to Sean Payton.
25. Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn
The Vikings get pretty damn lucky, as Derrick Brown falls all the way to the back end of the first round. While I see some holes in Brown’s game and his testing wasn’t phenomenal, I still think he’s pretty clearly DT2, and for that, the Vikings have one of the best defensive lines in the league (assuming they work something out with Everson Griffen).
26. JK Dobbins, RB, Ohio State
JK not testing at the Combine has moved him down most people’s boards. On my board, he actually moved up. I tweeted out that there have only been two drafts in the last 25 years that didn’t have a running back drafted in the first round. A running back class this talented will surely reach the first, and the Dolphins’ need at the position is so outstanding that this is nearly a perfect fit.
27. Cesar Ruiz, C, Michigan
I know the Seahawks don’t necessarily value this position. I also don’t like too many edge rushers at this spot (though AJ Epenesa is pretty damn close here). The Seahawks are just a few pieces away from Super Bowl contention, and Cesar Ruiz could very well be one of those pieces.
28. Zack Baun, LB/EDGE, Wisconsin
I still can’t figure out what position this guy is going to play in the NFL. What I know is that the Ravens are going to have a need at both of them. I have a second-round grade on Baun, but his versatility gives him the nod over some others here. I think his production may mirror that of Chase Winovich’s 2019 campaign (B1G guys with above average athleticism and high motors) and I think the Ravens would be pretty happy with the idea of that.
29. Josh Jones, OT, Houston
I’m not sure how this happened, but the guy just outside of the ‘big four’ falls all the way to the Titans at 29. Their Jack Conklin replacement steps in immediately, though I think we saw pretty clearly with Andre Dillard that not everyone can play on both sides of the line. Josh Jones may have a more fluid transition to the right side… or he may be a first-round tackle that flames out because he’s behind a guy like Taylor Lewan. Time would tell.
30. Jeff Gladney, CB, TCU
From trade with Packers.
The Eagles held out hope that one of the big three receivers fell to them. When that didn’t happen, they decided to go with their other detrimental need in corner. Gladney has some smooth footwork, is pretty damn fast, and can be a day one starter for the Philadelphia Eagles.
31. Noah Igbinoghene, CB, Auburn
I’ve been prepping you for this name for weeks, and the more well-known names are finally catching up. Noah Igbinoghene is a good ass corner. Sure, he doesn’t have elite ball skills. That doesn’t matter when he’s draped all over receivers and as physical as he is. I suspect Igbinoghene and Richard Sherman would make quite the tandem for the Super Bowl runners up.
32. AJ Epenesa, DT, Iowa
I tried finding a trade partner for the Chiefs here. I think they could stand to pick up some additional assets. I also think they have a bit of a need all over the defensive line. This is the first time I’ve listed Epenesa as a DT, but I truly believe his best position in the NFL is going to be 3-tech. I also think he’s going to be one hell of a 3-tech. The Chiefs may be losing Chris Jones, and while Epenesa isn’t even remotely close to his level, he’s a better stop-gap than their current options.
So there it is. I am a little sad I wasn’t able to do a few more rounds, but it’s probably for the best (at least until free agency has run it’s course). Preliminary shoutout to the Redskins fans who are going to be upset with me. That’s okay. The NFL Draft never goes how you expect it to, and I’m just trying to prep you for the letdown that is sure to come. And I’m basically an expert in Draft Day letdowns – I’m a Browns fan.
Until next time!