Updated: Aug 24, 2020
Scenario: you’ve decided to be smart and responsible and take part in appropriate social distancing. You’re bored. You have caught up on all of Ozark, and you have five days to kill before season three comes out. You decide to take time to continue reading this mock draft with an open mind.
Okay, maybe you don’t like Ozark (we need to have a discussion if you don’t, but hey). Maybe you’re not social distancing (we need to have a much more serious discussion here). But you should continue reading. I’m willing to bet this will be the most controversial mock to date, and I’m looking forward to you calling me stupid and ignorant. Truly – I am.
Let’s get it.
1. Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
2. Chase Young, EDGE, Ohio State
I had a lot of fun putting Isaiah Simmons here. I had less fun putting a tackle here. I have returned to Chase Young in the 5.0. The abundance of defensive linemen that this creates is not really a problem at all. The Redskins and Riverboat Ron can pick their favorites and get some assets back for the others. I feel like a sellout, but this isn’t my final mock, either.
3. Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
Los Angeles sends picks 1.06, 3.71, and a 2021 first-round pick to Detroit for pick 1.03.
I don’t think this is the first time I’ve played this scenario out, but it does make a lot of sense – especially after free agency has sort of run it’s course. The Chargers stated that they’re rolling with Tyrod Taylor in 2020 – which, to me, indicates that they plan to bring a rookie in to sit behind Tyrod. What better rookie to come redshirt on a very – and I stress, very – talented football team than Tua Tagovailoa. If the Chargers want him, I still believe they’re going to have to jump Miami, and they do so here with the trade-up.
4. Jedrick Wills, OT, Alabama
Wills and the Giants feel like a match made in heaven. Many have pushed Wirfs and Becton to the top of this tackle class based on the NFL Combine, but I still love the all-around nature that Wills possesses. He not only helps Daniel Jones, but he helps Saquon, too. The Giants have done some good things this offseason, and they continue to do so here.
5. Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State
Jacksonville sends picks 1.09, 3.73, 5.165 and a 2021 fifth-round pick to Miami for picks 1.05 & 6.185.
With Tua gone and nearly all 32 teams having a starting quarterback, the Dolphins are able to find a trade partner to move back in the draft. The Jaguars are able to effectively replace Jalen Ramsey and virtually give up a small amount of capital with respect to the volume of picks they have. Neither of these teams need more picks, but the Dolphins also don’t need Okudah, my third overall prospect in this draft.
6. Isaiah Simmons, LB/S, Clemson
From trade with Chargers.
The risk in trading out of a top-five pick is that you might not get your guy. The Lions have done a really good job at addressing needs this offseason, but with Darius Slay gone, the motive behind trading back was to pick up assets while also drafting Okudah. Instead, they settle for the most intriguing (and my favorite) player in this draft. Simmons doesn’t necessarily feel like a Patricia guy, but a good coach should be able to use an athlete like Simmons with ease. The jury’s still out on if Patricia is a “good” coach, though.
7. CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
Alright, it’s time to get a little weird. Hear me out. Matt Rhule coached opposite of CeeDee Lamb in each of the last three years. In those games, CeeDee totaled 14 receptions, 342 yards, and a touchdown. Rhule called CeeDee elite back in November. Here’s a look at what he followed that comment up with:
Image from 247 Sports (Watkins, 2019).
DJ Moore is phenomenal, but Teddy Bridgewater could use a guy more like CeeDee.
8. Tristan Wirfs, OL, Iowa
I know the Cardinals re-signed D.J Humphries. I don’t particularly care. Tristan Wirfs is an upgrade in every sense of the word. His athleticism will fare well with Kyler’s mobility and Kenyan Drake’s style of play. While I’m sad he didn’t make it to the Browns, I can’t say I didn’t see this coming (because I’m the one writing this thing).
9. Jordan Love, QB, Utah State
From trade with Jaguars.
Reports surfaced about the rushed nature in which the Dolphins brought in Jordan Love and JK Dobbins for workouts prior to the NFL restricting policies on such meetings. There’s a lot of smoke these days, but I truly believe the Dolphins are in on Jordan Love. Love is my QB3, and I know that makes some random guy on Facebook mad, but the chances that the Dolphins take BPA instead of QB in the top-ten are slim to none. Jordan Love can sit behind Ryan Fitzpatrick until the time is right, and I truly believe this will be a home run pick.
10. Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville
Easiest pick thus far. Becton isn’t the most pro-ready tackle. But I remember the days people told me he couldn’t move well, he was too big, etc. Working with Bill Callahan is the best-case scenario for Mekhi (Muh-Ky, for those who pronounce it incorrectly). A starting OL of Becton, Bitonio, Tretter, Teller (maybe?), and (newly-signed) Conklin is enough to get Baker on his way to The Cheesecake Factory (if you know, you know).
11. K’Lavon Chaisson, EDGE, LSU
I must admit: when I initially drafted this mock, I had Andrew Thomas here. George Fant was signed and I said it didn’t tip the scale for me. The problem is that I think the Jets believe that he is a viable option to start on Sam Darnold’s blindside. Which means Chaisson is the clear pick. The Jets have one of the worst pass rushes in the NFL and Chaisson can step in to help revitalize that alongside Quinnen Williams.
12. Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
The Raiders have done a really good job at snagging solutions to their needs. Cory Littleton and Eli Apple headline that list of solutions, but there has yet to be an impactful wide receiver signing. Jerry Jeudy is still WR1 on some analysts’ boards and there’s a very valid argument that he should be there. I do like the fit in this Las Vegas offense, and getting some weapons around Derek Carr should be the number one priority moving forward. This is a good start.
13. Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina
Trading DeForest Buckner and getting his replacement with the pick (on another rookie deal, might I add?) you got back for him sounds like a pretty solid plan to me. Derrick Brown is great. Javon Kinlaw is by far the superior pass-rusher. If the 49ers want to maintain that ferocity up front, they should go Kinlaw over Brown.
14. Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
Protect TB12. *end of analysis*
15. Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU
While I think I’ve had Henry Ruggs slotted here in every single one of my mocks, the Broncos are doing something on defense. A secondary of A.J. Bouye, Justin Simmons, Kareem Jackson, and Kristian Fulton would be something special. Vic Fangio is a defensive-minded guy, and that could mean he leans corner here.
16. Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama
Philadelphia sends picks 1.21 & 3.85 to Atlanta for pick 1.16.
I assume that if Ruggs makes it past 15, the Eagles will pounce. The notion that the Dolphins, Jaguars, and especially Cowboys could take Ruggs is too risky to the Eagles. JJAW was brought in last year, sure. That’s irrelevant. Even if they had some players at receiver, they’d need a receiver.
17. CJ Henderson, CB, Florida
Henderson is my third-ranked corner for a couple of reasons, but the main one is that he does not yet possess the instincts of a true CB1. I think what the Cowboys did with Byron Jones was pretty remarkable, and though it is a new staff, I think Henderson has unlimited potential.
18. Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn
Derrick Brown took a bit of a fall here, and the Dolphins make sure that ends with them. The Dolphins have built one hell of a defense thus far this offseason, and Derrick Brown only furthers that construction. With the AFC East up for grabs now, the Dolphins can go BPA the rest of the way and coast to a second-place finish in the division and potential playoff berth.
19. Jeff Gladney, CB, TCU
Sure, Eli Apple helps this secondary, but there are tons and tons of holes in it. Swiss cheese defense isn’t ideal, and while I still have some concerns regarding Gladney, I think the Raiders will be inclined to snag a corner here in the first. I do like the fit, and the Raiders come out quietly improving both sides of the ball between free agency and the draft.
20. Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama
The Jaguars have effectively stripped the roster of almost all defensive talent – a bold move for a team that rode their defense all the way to the AFC Championship game just two years ago. McKinney gives them a piece to build around. He’s a hard-hitter and he’s good in coverage. While I think Antoine Winfield Jr. is a better player, I think the injury concerns prevent the Jaguars from selecting him.
21. Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma
From trade with Eagles.
The Falcons have really been perplexing. They created space to bring in Dante Fowler, but the cost probably outweighs the benefit. I’m not sure the Falcons have a bigger need than corner, but Kenneth Murray should be off the board by now. And since he isn’t, the Falcons get one hell of a defensive cornerstone.
22. Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU
This feels dirty. It feels gross. The Vikings gave up a top-10 wide out to… draft a lesser wide out? I love Jefferson. I think he’s right up there with the top-three receivers in the class. He’s not Stefon Diggs. Corner is pretty clearly the biggest need the Vikings have, but with Jefferson here, I had to do it. I’m sorry, Vikings fans.
23. Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
This is truly unbelievable and I am slightly upset it happened. Last mock, the Patriots had to trade up to get their new franchise QB. This time, he slides.. and slides.. and slides. Justin Herbert could use a redshirt year, and maybe Jarrett Stidham wins the starting job. Maybe New England trades for Andy Dalton. I still think they look for their quarterback somewhere during the draft. Unreal they got one of Herbert’s caliber.
24. Patrick Queen, LB, LSU
I definitely think the Saints need help at wide receiver, but there aren’t any that rival the impact that Queen can make in 2020. The window is small for New Orleans (especially after watching Teddy Bridgewater leave in free agency), and impact players matter more than ever. Queen is exactly that.
25. Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor
Tennessee sends picks 1.29, 3.93, & 7.243 to Minnesota for pick 1.25.
This one is weird. The Titans have indicated to Corey Davis that he still needs to work in order for his option to be picked up. While I think they still could do that, they have an expensive-ass quarterback and a limited amount of weapons. Denzel Mims was on my radar (and ranked as such) before the Combine and the Titans are a fun landing spot: imagine AJ Brown and Denzel Mims together with Corey Davis and Adam Humphries.
26. JK Dobbins, RB, Ohio State
The Dolphins signed Jordan Howard, but that doesn’t really tip the scale for me (and it shouldn’t for you either) in terms of the talent in the backfield. The Dolphins watched Miles Sanders grow under Howard in Philadelphia last season, and they get a running back that is eerily similar to Ezekiel Elliott at pick 26 here.
27. Cesar Ruiz, C, Michigan
This seems like it’s locked in, provided that Ruiz makes it this far. The Seahawks have sort of prioritized their offensive line, but in the cheap, Seahawks way. That trend continues here, as Ruiz projects as the best interior offensive lineman in this draft (at least, he does on my board).
28. Jonah Jackson, OL, Ohio State
There’s always a curveball, right? Jonah Jackson probably hits his peak in the 2nd in most mock drafts, but with what the Ravens have done this offseason, they can’t be afraid to reach a little for “their guys.” Jackson has really good mobility, great hand placement, and would fit really well in the Ravens run-focused offense.
29. Noah Igbinoghene, CB, Auburn
From trade with Titans.
The Vikings lost Trae Waynes to free agency this offseason, and while Igbinoghene’s build doesn’t necessarily match Waynes’, their play style is quite similar. Igbinoghene is a great cover corner, something that fits the Vikings’ scheme extremely well.
30. Antoine Winfield Jr., S, Minnesota
Cincinnati sends picks 2.33, 4.107 and a 2021 fifth-round pick to Green Bay for pick 1.30.
The Bengals have quietly made major moves to open up free agency. They had to if they plan to be competitive – and they had to show they were serious about that so Joe Burrow wouldn’t Eli his way out of Cincinnati. One glaring weakness the team still has is at strong safety. Antoine Winfield Jr. is my favorite safety in this class and deserves to be here based on his play alone. Considering injury, he falls to the back of the first, but I fully expect him to be in a Pro Bowl early on in his career.
31. Josh Jones, OT, Houston
Miami sends picks 2.39, 4.141, and 5.173 to San Francisco for pick 1.31.
Four selections in the first round is what can happen when you have eight billion in a single draft. The draft capital is outstanding, and with the aggressive moves in free agency, I tend to think they’ll be willing to move some of their later picks to get “their guys.” I think Josh Jones could be one of those guys. Protecting Jordan Love with Josh Jones for at least the next five years doesn’t sound like too bad of a plan, huh?
32. AJ Epenesa, EDGE/DT, Iowa
Listen. I don’t know if Epenesa is going to be a traditional 4-3 EDGE, a 3-4 EDGE, a bust, or if he will fall. All I know is that the tape is good and the Combine wasn’t as bad as some say. I tend to think he fits the 3-4 EDGE mold, but if you put him opposite Frank Clark and on the same line as Chris Jones, I don’t think it matters much. If that doesn’t work, you can slide him over next to Jones as more of a 3-technique and see how it goes. A perplexing player? Yes. Am I confident in this one? No.
Some additional notes:
Justin Herbert probably deserves to be picked higher (though he is my QB4). The fact that there are multiple talented QBs in the league still without jobs shows that QBs will likely slide in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Why would the Bengals trade up for a player they could get in 3 picks? Because the 49ers could still use a safety and the prospect of bringing Antoine Winfield Jr. in to learn from his most-comped player, Tyrann Mathieu, may be too lucrative to pass up.
No tight ends: it’s rare these days, but I will admit that this tight end class is fairly weak. Cole Kmet is still my dude, but Adam Trautman could find himself off the board first in the early-to-mid 2nd.
I value both Kenneth Murray and Patrick Queen much higher than this, but the teams that had a clear need at the position were able to secure veteran starters on some pretty large deals. That level of investment indicates that maybe I am too high on the top two traditional linebackers in the class.
I’ve said this before, but only two of the last twenty-five years has there been a first round without a running back. With the lack of a market for marquee guys, I’d argue that getting one on a fifth-year option contract is more important than ever. That’s why Dobbins went in the first round here.
So that’ll do it. If you missed the latest episodes of the podcast, click here. We’ve been hitting some fun topics recently and we’ll be grading teams based on their early transactions later this week! Be on the lookout for our combined mock draft, too!
Until next time!