Updated: Aug 24, 2020
I’ve written seven other mock drafts since January. I’ve previously said that a mock without trades is pointless, but here we are. Our friendly competition of finding out who can write the most accurate mock draft (or, who can have the most luck come Thursday) has forced my hand. I promise this is the last mock I’ll write. No trades (unfortunately). Some surprise names. You know, the on-brand hot take. Let’s do it.
1. Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
Not much to say here. I still believe getting Chase Young and tanking for Trevor or Justin Fields is a solid plan, but the Bengals are going to draft Joe Burrow. Book it.
2. Chase Young, EDGE, Ohio State
I still am not convinced this pick is signed, sealed, and delivered, but I’m going to be cautiously chalky here. I saw a tweet recently that highlighted the draft strategy: “Strengthening a strength.” That’s perfectly encapsulated here.
3. Isaiah Simmons, LB/S/CB/EDGE, Clemson
I’ve had more pushback on this recently, and I don’t necessarily understand why. A do-it-all type of player is exactly what the Lions need. They filled the hole at corner (that they created themselves) by signing Desmond Trufant. Sure, Trufant is a step down from Slay, but drafting Jeff Okudah here is such a backwards move to me. Also, I don’t necessarily think a trade back will happen, because I think the Dolphins and Chargers are kind of like this:
(Image from GIPHY)
4. Jed Wills, OT, Alabama
I’m on record saying that Dave Gettleman goes best player available more often than not. I’m not convinced that Okudah would be best player available here, to him, though. Jedrick Wills is a beast. He’s amazing in pass pro (necessary for the Giants to succeed) and outstanding in run blocking (more necessary for the Giants to win). I think if Simmons is here, he’s probably the pick, but he’s not, so he isn’t.
5. Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
I hate this pick. I think Justin Herbert does a lot of things well, but he also has a lot of flaws that indicate he could be Blaine Gabbert, Marcus Mariota or Mitch Trubisky. But he could also be Carson Wentz, and I think that the Dolphins are going to be afraid of Tua’s medicals. If that’s the case, then Dolphins fans should brace for this pick. I’m sorry.
6. Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama
Whoa. Receiver to the Chargers over Tua or an offensive tackle? Yes. Definitely. This is one of my hot takes, but I think the Chargers are ready to make some luxury picks. I know they have Keenan Allen and Mike Williams. But their third receiver is Andre Patton and Williams is best served as a WR3. Ruggs would give the Chargers the offensive firepower to keep up with their division rivals in 2020, something that can’t necessarily be said about Tristan Wirfs or Tua Tagovailoa.
7. Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State
If Jeff Okudah makes it past three, I think this is where he lands. When you’re an elite prospect at a premium position, your floor is still in the top ten. The Panthers lost James Bradberry and have a clear need at corner. Getting a lockdown, put-him-on-an-island guy is a great way to kick off the Matt Rhule era in Carolina.
8. Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma
I don’t think the Cardinals make this pick, which is why I have Kenneth Murray slotted to them. I don’t think they go tackle, and if they trade back, someone like Kenneth Murray should still be on the board. I want to repeat that I don’t believe Kenneth Murray is going 8th overall. But I think the Cardinals have a lot of defensive needs, and getting a leader like Murray is vital for them to take a step forward in 2020.
9. Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina
I’ve been saying since March 10th that Kinlaw will go before Derrick Brown, and now it’s time to test that theory. Kinlaw is an elite pass rusher with bad technique – imagine what he can be when he gets some NFL coaching. I think the Jaguars could very well coach Kinlaw into the next DeForest Buckner, and that’s exciting to think about.
10. Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville
I’m honestly very confused as to what the Browns plan to do. The trade back rumors are flying, and I think that even in a trade back, the Browns could end up with Mekhi, which is why I have him going here at 10. He’s not the most pro-ready tackle in the world, but the thought of letting him toss grown men out of Nick Chubb’s way excites the hell out of me.
11. CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
I know that some Jets fans want an offensive tackle. I also know that Joe Douglas recently stated that they like who is in their receiver’s room. I don’t buy it. I think they need a clear WR1, and CeeDee Lamb is exactly that. He should be an immediate impact player and a major help for Sam Darnold.
12. Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
Jerry Jeudy, the best route runner in this class and probably the second-best receiver, heads to Las Vegas to party it up with Jon Gruden and Derek Carr. Jeudy gives the Raiders a quick-hitter, Stefon Diggs-like player that will almost surely open up the offense and keep up with the Chargers and Chiefs in the division.
13. CJ Henderson, CB, Florida
Worst-case scenario for the 49ers, as all three of the top receivers go off the board prior to their pick. Their consolation prize? The second-best corner in the class and someone who can develop into a Pro Bowl player. Does he necessarily fit their scheme perfectly? No. But will Richard Sherman ensure that he succeeds? I tend to think so.
14. Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
Protect Tom Brady at all costs. Go with the most pro-ready tackle in the class. Simple.
15. Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa
Wirfs slides a little, and if you watch his tape, it’s easy to understand why he would. He has a lot of technical issues that people tend to forget about when watching his NFL Combine performance. Wirfs is my OT4 and I think he has loads of potential, so him falling to the Broncos is really a blessing in disguise for Drew Lock and company.
16. Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn
Grady Jarrett is one hell of an interior lineman, but he’s best-suited as a 3T and Brown is the best 1T in this class. The Falcons would quietly have one hell of a defensive line with this pick, and I think they’ve indicated that as a priority this offseason.
17. AJ Terrell, CB, Clemson
There have been rumors that Terrell is regarded as a top-20 pick, despite his poor performance in the National Championship Game (it wasn’t as poor as you’d think, though). The Cowboys lost Byron Jones this offseason and have a definite need at corner, and while this isn’t the corner I’d select, it’s the one I think may go here.
18. Cesar Ruiz, C, Michigan
Reach on a tackle or pick Cesar Ruiz at a value? I think the Dolphins go with value, and they get a good one here at pick 18. Ruiz is the best center in the class, and getting a tenacious interior offensive lineman has to be priority in the first two rounds. Why not do it here?
19. Jaylon Johnson, CB, Utah
Call it a reach (I actually think it is) if you want, but Jaylon Johnson has a lot of qualities that NFL teams will like. He’s lengthy, physical, and has good ball skills. He’s instinctive and he seems like a Mike Mayock/Jon Gruden type of player. Jaylon Johnson vs. Jerry Jeudy in practice will be fun to watch.
20. Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
Is Gardner Minshew the answer? Who knows? But Tua sliding into the late 20s seems unlikely. The Jaguars could roll with Minshew for the majority of 2020 before trading him to a QB-needy team and allowing Tua to take the reigns. I don’t love this pick, but I think it may happen.
21. Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU
I want to state that if CeeDee falls, I believe the Eagles will move up to get him. I also want to state that Justin Jefferson isn’t a huge step down from the first three receivers that are off the board. Jefferson’s game fits what the Eagles do pretty damn perfectly, and while they need secondary and linebacking help, they have a drastic need at receiver.
22. Jeff Gladney, CB, TCU
Reports are that the Vikings love Gladney and if that’s the case, they can’t afford to wait for him. With the Saints a corner-needy team and the Patriots low-key a corner-needy team, taking Gladney here makes a ton of sense. He’s a smaller guy, but he’s feisty and should be able to hold his own at the next level.
23. K’Lavon Chaisson, EDGE, LSU
This may be low for Chaisson, but his production may actually scare some teams off of him. Chaisson is a trait-based pick, and despite the low hit rate the Patriots have had on first-rounders lately, I fully believe that returning to the defensive side of the ball will cultivate better results. Chaisson becomes the young cornerstone piece to build around, something the Patriots haven’t necessary had in a while.
24. Jordan Love, QB, Utah State
I don’t condone Jordan Love falling this far. I also think there’s a pretty good chance he falls all the way out of the first. However, I have a bet with Randy that the Saints will take a 1st-round quarterback, and I’m not going to be contradictory. Love sitting behind Drew Brees for a year or two sure would be something, and I think this is the perfect situation for a guy like him.
25. Jeremy Chinn, S, Southern Illinois
I quite literally just changed this pick from Denzel Mims to Chinn on the spot. Chinn is a guy I’ve mocked in the first round for quite some time, and I don’t want to take him out of the first with the prospect of telling people “I told you so.” The Vikings have a need at safety, with Harrison Smith on the decline and Anthony Harris on the franchise tag. It’s not the sexiest pick, but Chinn is Isaiah Simmons-lite, and Simmons-lite is pretty damn good.
26. JK Dobbins, RB, Ohio State
I promise you, a running back will go in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Promise. If it doesn’t happen, I will be thoroughly shocked (and you can see my reaction on our live stream Thursday night). The Dolphins’ running back need is drastic, and I think they roll offense for the entirety of the first round (based on their heavy presence in signing defensive free agents). Dobbins is my RB1 and he could be RB1 on a lot of boards.
27. Isaiah Wilson, OT, Georgia
A developmental guy that can’t really play in 2020? Sign the Seahawks up. Wilson does have a lot of potential and sitting for the majority of 2020 will be beneficial. He’s Mekhi Becton-lite, and that sounds pretty good to me.
28. Jordyn Brooks, LB, Texas Tech
No Patrick Queen? No. Jordyn Brooks is getting first-round hype for a reason. He’s an elite tackler. He has some work to do in coverage, but the Ravens are elite at drafting guys you have questions about who end up phenomenal football players. I hope that Brooks over Queen is a mistake, because if he reaches his potential, that’s a scary thought.
29. Cole Kmet, TE, Notre Dame
Return to the roots of these mocks. The last time a tight end wasn’t taken in the first was 2016. The last time the Titans didn’t have Delanie Walker was 2012. While I think Jonnu Smith offers a lot in the receiving game, Cole Kmet is more of a do-it-all, Jason Witten-type of player. Do I think Kmet garners this type of investment? Probably not, but I think someone will pick him in the first. This time, it’s the Titans.
30. Michael Pittman Jr., WR, USC
This is the hottest take I have. NFL lineage? Check. Big, strong, possession receiver? Check. Much, much faster than expected at the Combine? Check. He checks nearly every box and was productive in college. I think he’s sneaking into Day One. He truly fits the mold of a Packers receiver, too. Call me crazy today, but we’ll find out for sure on Thursday.
31. Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor
Denzel Mims may fall out of the first round. DK Metcalf got the same type of buzz after the NFL Combine last year, and was just barely a second round pick. Reports have also surfaced that Mims played through a broken hand, contributing to his issues with drops and bringing his 2019 performance down a notch. An offense with Deebo Samuel, George Kittle, Denzel Mims, and a flurry of running backs sounds like one hell of a young core.
32. Robert Hunt, OL, Louisiana
Robert Hunt, eh? I think that Hunt is the second best interior offensive lineman, and I think the Chiefs have a fairly large need at guard. Can Hunt eventually play tackle in the NFL? I think so. Will he also be a phenomenal guard? Definitely. I think this is the surprise pick that we’ll see toward the back of the first round on Thursday.
There you have it. You may not agree, and that’s okay. I’m not even sure I agree. I’ve written so many of these that the picks are starting to feel chalky, even though this is the least chalky mock you’ll find out there (except for the nonsense that Maurice Jones-Drew writes). All I know is I’m incredibly excited for the draft on Thursday.
Don’t forget that we at The Cut are doing a live stream during the draft! Follow us on Twitter (@thecutffl) for more details.
Enjoy the draft, folks.