2020 NFL Mock Draft – Round One

After teasing select picks, it’s time to release a full first round mock draft.  Tomorrow, a second round mock in addition to a couple positional big boards will drop as well, which is the first time we’ve done such a thing in history of this site.

Let’s get it to it.

No.1, Cincinnati Bengals: QB Joe Burrow, LSU

No.2, Washington Redskins: DE Chase Young, Ohio State

Chase Young is so good it is hard to write words about him.  He’s one of those guys that already has the stardom of someone who’s name-recognition is so strong that nothing else needs to be said.  His impact in the NFL should back that up immediately.

It seems like whispers about Washington sniffing quarterback with this pick have quelled, especially since the trade for Kyle Allen, who may or may not be the new franchise quarterback for Washington.  That’s another (depressing) story.  Unless it’s a god-father offer with two future firsts or something ridiculous, then a trade down from this spot shouldn’t be in the consideration either.  Take Chase Young.  There’s literally no way you will regret it.

No.3, Detroit Lions: CB Jeff Okudah, Ohio State

No.4, New York Giants: OT Mehki Becton, Louisvillle

David Gettleman is old-school.  He rode with Eli Manning too long.  He drafted a running back at No. 2 overall.  He took a quarterback who was a projected fourth-rounder at No.6 overall and didn’t even trade down to take him.  He also doesn’t totally understand the concept of value.

The Giants could use a tackle with Nate Solder’s contract looking rougher by the day and journeyman Cameron Fleming on the ends of the offensive line. Mehki Becton is Gettleman’s type of player.  He’s impossibly massive at 6’7 and 364 pounds, which has created some viable concerns.  His ceiling is sky high, but you have to make sure the floor doesn’t collapse underneath him first – literally.

Becton is complicated.  Reading too much into the Combine is always dangerous, but that 40-yard dash run verified a lot of what’s seen on tape: the dude can hang at a high level despite a frame that seems like it’d have zero lateral quickness or overall agility.

“Hanging” isn’t going to cut in the NFL however, where edge rushers are faster than ever.  Becton could be a force in run game regardless, but it’s in pass protection where he’s going to need even more nimble feet than he has now.  It’s a big, risky bet, because there’s still a lot of growth needed here.  It could be the difference between him being a bust or a force that we’ve never really seen before, and the middle ground might be narrow.  That’s why he’s the fourth-ranked tackle on tomorrow’s big board. It seems unlikely Gettleman will resist, though.  That is, unless Miami bails them out, but that seems to be some 3D chess-playing on their front.

No.5, Miami Dolphins: QB Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama

No.6, Los Angeles Chargers: LB Isaiah Simmons, Clemson

A quarterback could easily be the Chargers first round pick.  Whether it’s here at No. 6 or Tagovailoa at No. 3, most of the smoke about what Los Angeles will do seems to be quarterback-centered.

As written Monday, if Tagovailoa is their guy, then the Chargers are going to have to move up and outbid Miami for him, which will be tough thanks to the Dolphins three first round picks.  Los Angeles will be paying 110 cents on the dollar for Tagioviola, which, despite his raving review in Monday’s column, is risky given what we don’t know about his medicals.  

That doesn’t mean reaching for a quarterback at No. 6 should be the Plan B though. While Herbert and Love are could possible be high picks, that doesn’t necessarily mean they should be.  

In addition, the Chargers have radiated confidence in Tyrod Taylor, who seems like he could be in line to not only be the starter next year but for years to come.  Taylor played his best football in Buffalo when Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn was his offensive coordinator, and at his peak performance, Taylor is at least an average quarterback.

Taylor’s ceiling could be the case for selecting someone with higher upside here, but the Chargers have enough talent around him that it’s probably worth seeing how far  that talent can take him first.  The defense is excellent (and with this pick, even better), and the weapons just need to stay healthy.  Plus, Cam Newton is available.  The Chargers could easily just pivot there instead of drafting someone with question marks this high.  A flyer-signing with the former Panther involves a lot less risk than that.

The Chargers defense is arguably the best in the league before adding Isaiah Simmons.  If LA selects him, they’re probably the scariest group in the league – and by a large measure too.  Simmons fills their only hole at linebacker, but labeling him as just that is devaluing him.  The former Clemson star is amazing in coverage – the Tigers used him in the slot at cornerback quite a bit last season.  Against NFL receivers, that could be daunting.  But that 4.39 40-yard dash time at the combine speaks otherwise.

Hybrids like Simmons haven’t lived up to the hype so far in the NFL.  Shaq Thomspon and Deone Bucannon haven’t been the swiss army knife at linebacker/safety that we expected them to be.  But Josh Allen made a massive impact last season for the Jaguars, and Simmons is on a whole other planet athletically compared to those two.  Simmons is the type of guy that could change a defense single-handily.  The Chargers selecting him would just add to their embarrassment of riches.

No.7, Carolina Panthers: DT Derrick Brown, Auburn

Carolina’s struggle to defend the run despite having one of the more talented front sevens in football was a major reason why Ron Rivera lost his job last season.  Now, the Panthers can finally fix that issue by selecting Brown, who easily has a case to be a top five pick.

Part of what makes Brown special is that he’s not just a one man wall against the run.  He’s incredibly good at rushing the quarterback from the inside, which is impressive at 6’5 and 326 pounds.  Teaming him up with Kawaan Short and second year pass rusher Brian Burns could make Carolina a hassle for opposing offensive lines.

No.8, Arizona Cardinals: OT Andrew Thomas, Georgia

Thomas has been flying up boards and it doesn’t make much sense as to why it took this long.  He’s the most consistent, most NFL-ready offensive tackle in this draft class.

Iowa’s Tristan Wirfs can have the same claim be made about him, but there are questions as to whether he’s actually a tackle or a guard.  Some teams see him as an inside presence.  With Thomas, there’s no question about his position, and it’s why he’s the No.1 ranked tackle on tomorrow’s big board.

Why Thomas over Alabama’s Jedrick Willis?  Thomas is just an inch taller, but that extra length shows up in his arms and legs.  The Georgia product has better feet due to those long legs, and with Kyler Murray’s dual threat ability, Arizona needs someone who can get to the second level of the defense quick.

Murray was under siege last year, and because of his small size, that needs to taken care of immediately to prevent injury.  Willis might have a higher ceiling, but Thomas’ floor is higher due to consistency in run and pass protection.  Arizona needs an answer now with Marcus Gilbert an unknown coming off an ACL tear.

No.9, Jacksonville Jaguars: WR Jerry Jeudy, Alabama 

There’s a case for the Jaguars to trade down here, as defensive end, linebacker and safety all are needs.  It’s a little high for K’Lavon Chaisson, and who knows – maybe Yannick Ngakoue changes his mind (End is only a need if he’s traded).  The same goes for the linebackers not named Isaiah Simmons, and safety is a seen as a back-of-the-first-round selection in this draft.

The Jaguars also have a young quarterback who they need to make sure is truly their guy, and there’s no better way to do that than taking the best wide receiver in the draft.

Jerry Jeudy is a craftsman.  He’s an absolutely pristine route runner who doubles as a big play threat.  In college, he was the country’s Antonio Brown (this is strictly an on-the-field comparison): a do-it-all receiver whose number one skill was his feet, but could separate for deep balls, make plays after the catch and become a nightmare for secondaries to have to game-plan for.

If there’s an extra concern about Tagovailoa besides the medicals, it’s the insane surrounding cast he had around him, which could have made him out to be more than he truly is.  That seems like an overreaction, but it’s certainly fair to say that Judy and Tagovailoa definitely helped one another out the past two years.

Jeudy can be a quarterback’s best friend in the NFL, and if he’s not Gardner Minshew’s, then the Jaguars might have to start over at quarterback yet again.

No.10, Cleveland Browns: OT Tristan Wirfs, Iowa

A lot of smart people have Wirfs ranked as the best tackle in this draft.  That isn’t a crazy opinion whatsoever, especially if you consider his versatility important in that thinking.

As mentioned in Thomas’ scouting report, there are teams that view Wirfs as a guard, which hurts his value as a tackle immensely, especially for a team like the Cardinals who desperately need someone outside.

The Browns could use either position on the offensive line, which is why Wirfs is perfect for them. When Cleveland went out and signed Jack Conklin, that moved Chris Hubbard – the team’s big get in the 2018 offseason – to the left side.  Hubbard’s contract has been a disaster, and he essentially got benched for Conklin. Cleveland could even release him this offseason, since his struggles on the right side of the line won’t translate well to the left.

The Browns also haven’t recovered well from losing Kevin Zieter in the trade for Odell Beckham Jr. last offseason, which leaves a hole inside at guard.  If Wirfs’ sometimes off-balance athleticism gets the best of him at tackle, he could easily slide in and be more than effective.

Wirfs’ size and power is what makes him attractive at tackle, and it’s certainly worth a look for him there.  But for some teams, a tackle who’s just a guard is a wasted investment.

No.11, New York Jets: CB CJ Henderson, Florida 

Henderson has shot up boards, and there have been reports about some teams viewing him in the same tier as Jeff Okudah.

He’s not projected to have the ceiling Okudah does but in terms of skills, there’s really not much lacking with Henderson.  The Florida product should be a Day 1 impact guy if the Jets take him here – their secondary could very much use an upgrade, especially with rumors about safety Jamal Adams sparking up again.

Wide receiver could also be a viable option for the Jets here, but with a class this talented, that can wait.  Teams will be able to find high-impact wide receivers all the way until the third round in this draft, and Henderson fits the Jets’ needs just a little more.

Offensive tackle has also been pegged here by some.  It would certainly make sense, but after doing a lot of work in free agency on it, general manager Joe Douglas might not want to go offensive line.  He could see his moves through before considering a change there.

With so many holes up and down this roster, it could also be worth for it New York to trade back and pick up some extra picks.  The Falcons could have their eye on Henderson as well, making them a viable partner.

No.12, Las Vegas Raiders: WR CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma

The Raiders roster is sneaky good, with most holes filled aside from the secondary.  A trade-back can’t be ruled out here – No. 12 is too high for the rest of the cornerbacks remaining, though the Raiders have made it clear they are completely okay with reaching. However, Las Vegas has another pick at No. 19 overall, and by then those corners will certainly be up for grabs.

No matter what the Raiders do to address the secondary, it likely won’t overshadow the impact that Derek Carr will have on this team, for better or for worse.

Las Vegas needs to figure out whether he’s actually the guy.  Things were encouraging last season until they basically weren’t – Carr and the team fell apart right as their chances of making the playoff increased.

Tyrell Williams and Hunter Renfrow provided Carr a lot of help last year – both were excellent pickups by the Raiders front office.  But it just doesn’t seem to be enough help for Carr yet.

Enter CeeDee Lamb.  Some draft experts and scouts have him ranked as the best receiver in this class, which seems insane given the completeness of Jeudy’s game, but Lamb’s explosiveness, athleticism and size make him easily the second-best prospect available.  The Oklahoma product is hard to stop after the catch, and runs routes extremely well for someone of his length and size.  He’s silky, and slips through the cracks of a defense after the catch with ease.  He could be a reliable weapon for Carr, who with this arsenal, will be running out of excuses.

No.13, San Francisco 49ers: DT Javon Kinlaw, South Carolina

San Francisco made an interesting decision in the opening days of free agency, acquiring this pick from Indianapolis in exchange for DeForest Buckner, while simultaneously deciding to extend Arik Armstead instead of Buckner himself.

That decision leads the 49ers to draft Buckner’s replacement with the pick they shipped him out for.

Buckner is ironically a really good comparison for Javon Kinlaw.  Both are big, menacing interior lineman whose speciality is their pass rush ability rather than run defense.  Kinlaw and Buckner both use their special athleticism at around 300 pounds to be a mismatch for thicker, less mobile interior lineman.

The problem with this pick and San Francisco’s decision is that with Buckner, the 49ers knew what they had, and knew he was good.  Kinlaw could be great – the combo of his frame and explosiveness is intimidating – but he also may not be.  If Kinlaw was a sure thing, he’d be going top five.

That’s not a hit on or a projection of Kinlaw whatsoever, it’s simply comparing him to Buckner and the (theoretical) decision to replace him with Kinlaw.  Buckner is a player who’s worth top-dollar money.  If you know someone’s worth that, why wouldn’t you pay him and not the lesser guy?  Sure, the 49ers are probably prepping for the contracts extensions of Deebo Samuel and Nick Bosa in the coming years, but your window is clearly now.  Go for it, and don’t cut corners.

No.14, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: OT Jedrick Willis, Alabama

The draft’s second best tackle somehow falls to No. 14 overall, and the Buccaneers are ecstatic about it.  

With 43-year-old Tom Brady taking over under center, the Buccaneers need to ensure that he’ll be protected well.  Tampa Bay’s interior o-line is good, but the edges could use some sharpening.  

Willis is less risky than Becton, and is more valuable to Tampa Bay than Wirfs.  He’s got some issues in pass protection – mostly the nimbleness of his feet – which allows Thomas to sneak in over him on the big board, but aside from that, Willis projects as a shoe-in contributor.  With some adjustments, he’ll have Brady covered –for however long that is.

No.15, Denver Broncos: WR Henry Ruggs III, Alabama

The Broncos have a nice pair of receivers (Cortland Sutton and Daesean Hamilton) on the outside for quarterback Drew Lock to work with, and also have Noah Fant at tight end.  But after trading the speedy Emmanuel Sanders to San Francisco midseason, Denver has a hole in the slot.

Henry Ruggs III is an absolute rocket.  He’s not quite Tyreek Hill (He might be the fastest player ever), but he’s close.  Ruggs III doesn’t do much else besides run past people – he’s small and frail and doesn’t have the best route running skills in the short range of the field.  While his feet can absolutely move, the footwork just isn’t really there.  He just has to run past opposing cornerbacks, which means 7-8-9 routes (posts, corners and deep shots) will be his calling card.  While he doesn’t have the size, Ruggs III can basically be your second outside receiver with his big play and deep threat ability.

It seems hard to trust Denver’s confidence in Lock, but after next season, the answer should be clear for them.  The former Missouri quarterback will have a stacked cache of weapons and help around him, and it’ll be up to him to prove he can take advantage of it.

No.16, Atlanta Falcons: CB Kristian Fulton, LSU

Now is the time when the rest cornerbacks can start coming off the board.  It almost feels as if Okudah is in a tier of his own at the top, then Henderson has his own slightly below, and then there is everyone else in the next tier.

Atlanta’s secondary has seen change this offseason with Desmond Trufant being released.  They also tend to be ravaged by injuries every season, as Keanu Neal has gone down with back-t0-back season-enders the past two years.

Fulton would be on the same level as Henderson if not for two major issues: 1) a drug suspension that saw him miss a full season at the college level and 2) his lackadaisical tackling which plagued LSU’s secondary (and its draft prospectus) over the past two years.

Aside from that, Fulton is a fantastic cover corner who won’t get beat or blow coverages.  If the Falcons can’t move up for one of the top guys, they should be plenty comfortable landing Fulton here.

No.17, Dallas Cowboys: CB Jeff Gladney, TCU

Dallas loses out on Henderson and Fulton, so they take one of the better corners available in Gladney.  After not paying up and watching Byron Jones leave for Miami, Dallas has a hole in an area of the field that’s plagued them for sometime, even with Jones holding his own on one side.

Gladney is different than any cornerback taken so far.  He’s small and fast, and is a ball-hawk.  It’s the electricity he plays with that sticks out, not necessarily the coverage skills.  His speed makes him versatile on the back-end, which makes him even more attractive for a team like the Cowboys who can use help in all areas of the secondary.

No.18, Miami Dolphins: WR Tee Higgins, Clemson

The Dolphins are in the midst of coming home from this draft with an absolute haul.  They have a new quarterback, and now a new wide receiver.

Higgins has fallen in some mocks and it doesn’t make sense as to why.  The guy has freakishly long arms and legs, and is fluid in his routes.  He’s a big play threat, but does lack that after-catch speed.  

With Higgins, the Dolphins could have a true No.1 receiver for Tagovailoa, with DeVante Parker sliding into more of a complementary role.  Parker and Higgins would be menacing on the outside, as both can go up and get any ball thanks to their length. Tagovailoa might not be getting one of his former teammates to whip it too, but he is getting pretty close to the next best thing.

No.19, Las Vegas Raiders: CB Jaylon Johnson, Utah

After going wide receiver at No. 12, the Raiders get that cornerback they desperately need.

It comes at a price though, as this might be a couple spots too high for Johnson.  Exploring a trade-down might make sense for Las Vegas here, as their roster has most of its holes filled.

Johnson was fantastic on a Utah defense that shut people down over the past couple years, and he was a large part of that.  Johnson’s long, and uses that length to keep receivers in reach of him.  

Like Fulton though, there are tackling concerns, which makes his value slide a bit and this pick possibly a reach.  His length should aide him with that at the NFL level, though.

No.20, Jacksonville Jaguars: DE K’Lavon Chaisson, LSU

With Yannick Ngakoue’s situation in a standstill that will likely come to an unhappy ending, Jacksonville finds his replacement with great value at No. 20 overall.

Chaisson isn’t the ferocious presence that someone like Chase Young is, but he is athletic and has a smooth way of getting around opposing linemen.  With Josh Allen bringing that nastiness on the other end (and all over the field), Chaisson can hopefully bring to the table what Jacksonville will miss with Ngagouke, as their other options on the edge currently are average at best.

No.21, Philadelphia Eagles: LB Kenneth Murray, Oklahoma

Murray was perhaps the singular force behind Oklahoma’s defense not being a complete embarrassment last season.  His improvement brought the unit to an at least competent level, which still didn’t help much in the College Football Playoff.

Murray couldn’t do it all though even with his ranger-like presence.  He’s got a little bit of Isaiah Simmons in him, as he’s extremely versatile as a linebacker, run stopper and pass rusher.  A better pro comparison might be Jamie Collins, though that wild-card can get the best of the now-Lion sometimes.  The same goes for Murray.

The Eagles will take that though.  After losing Zach Brown (who didn’t last a full season), Jordan Hicks, Nigel Bradham and Mychal Kendricks over the years, they need someone who they can pop in at linebacker and trust.  Limiting Murray’s responsibilities might be the key, because at Oklahoma, he was likely overtasked.

No.22, Minnesota Vikings: WR Justin Jefferson, LSU

The Vikings got an absolute haul back from Buffalo in the Stefon Diggs trade, and they’ll use one of the picks they received in it to replace him.

Jefferson has a big frame for a slot receiver.  He’s not your typical guy that plays the position, as he lacks the speed that you typically see inside.  Jefferson can catch anything though, and plays a lot bigger than he is.  A set with Brown and Adam Thielen on the same side of the field would be absolutely deadly for Minnesota, just like it was with Diggs.

Minnesota could theoretically take their No.25 overall pick here and take Jefferson three spots from now, but that brings risk.  Jefferson is the sixth-best receiver in this class, and New Orleans could be interested in the hometown guy at No. 24 overall.

No.23, New England Patriots: LB Patrick Queen, LSU

Queen is typically ranked ahead of Kenneth Murray in most mock drafts and big boards, which wouldn’t be odd except for the fact that Queen is six feet tall.

They’re extremely similar players.  LSU used Queen similar to how Oklahoma used Murray.  Both were deployed all over the field and have ranger-like skills in run and pass defense.

But Queen isn’t just short.  He’s tiny.  He only weighs 229 pounds at six feet tall – he’s basically a running back’s size.

That’s why we’re sending Queen to New England – a place that will help him overcome his natural deficiencies and pair with an absolute genius in Bill Belichick. Plus, New England could use linebacker help after losing practically their whole core to Detroit and Miami – both teams coached by former Patriots assistants – in free agency.

No.24, New Orleans Saints: QB Justin Herbert, Oregon

No.25, Minnesota Vikings: DE AJ Epenesa, Iowa

Minnesota experienced a purge of defensive talent this offseason, having to part ways with Xavier Rhodes (who seemed washed) and Linval Joseph.  Everson Griffen was also let go in a cost-cutting move, but there’s a small chance he returns back to the Vikings at a cheaper cost.

Regardless, the Vikings have to replenish talent on that side of the ball.  

Epenesa’s stock has seemed to fall a little bit in the pre-draft process; there were once top 15-20 rumors about him, so this could be considered a reach, which makes taking Jefferson above him much more defensible.

Epenesa is ironically built a lot like Danielle Hunter, his potential partner on the other edge.  Both are big and use their size to get past lineman, rather than their quickness or moves.  It leaves Minnesota with a lack of speed on the outside, but they can make up for that with the talent at hand.

N0.26, Miami Dolphins: OT Josh Jones, Houston

Like Minnesota, Miami could probably get away with flipping their previous two picks, especially considering Tee Higgins’ dropping value (They could probably take Jones high, trade down from this spot and still land Higgins).  But to continue the no trades tradition, we’ll have Miami take their Laremy Tunsil replacement with one of the picks they received from the Texans in the deal.

Jones has shot up boards.  There had been concerns about his pass-blocking ability, but those seem to be alleviated with his rise.  Miami landing Tagovailoa means they’ll have to protect him, especially with the injury risks he brings. Tagovailoa’s left-handedness means that Jones playing on the left takes some of the pressure off him in pass protection, which will lead to greater success at the next level.

No.27, Seattle Seahawks: CB Trevon Diggs, Alabama

Seattle’s secondary was one of the most frustrating positions groups in football last year.  What seemed to be a ton talent could just not come together.  

Enter Diggs, who’s one of the best cornerbacks remaining (Someone coming shortly is ranked higher, though) in a round where a ton have gone.

Like Jeff Gladney, Diggs has great ball skills but is bigger than the TCU product.  He should be excellent in Seattle’s scheme, which usually features more than two corners.  That way the coverage skills he’s still working can be sheltered a bit.

No.28, Baltimore Ravens: LB Zack Baun, Wisconsin

A diluted sample at the combine that was reported last week figured to slide Baun’s value a bit, but as more has came out, it seems to be the result of a last-minute weight gain attempt from the Wisconsin linebacker.

The Ravens roster, especially their defense, is pretty loaded.  But linebacker could stand to use some reinforcements.  Baun is your classic Wisconsin player: big, strong and nasty.  Some draft experts have mentioned that he could be a pure pass rusher, but it seems like a waste to have that be the case when you factor in his impressive athleticism for his size.  

No. 29, Tennessee Titans: DE Yetur Gross-Matos, Penn State

The Titans roster is sneakily loaded, so much so that it was hard to find the right player for them at such a high pick.  At this point in the draft, their needs can perhaps wait a bit.

Despite that roster talent, Tennessee is stuck in a precarious situation where it’ll only go as far as their quarterback can take them – you can argue that position is the only one that needs upgrading.

However, edge-rusher could use some juice.  The Titans signed Vic Beasley Jr. in free agency, who was literally a non-factor for the Falcons the past two seasons.  Gross-Matos can provide them with some extra oomph from the outside, as most of their pressure generators are tackles who lineup in the A or B gaps.

No.30, Green Bay Packers: WR Jalen Reagor, TCU

Green Bay is devastated that Justin Jefferson didn’t last till No.30, which means that trading down could be an option here.  Receiver is the position that makes the most sense for them at this point in the draft (For their other holes, it’s too early), but as stated prior, teams can wait if they want to.  The talent will be there.

Reagor would be ideal for Green Bay, complementing Davante Adams nicely from the inside and providing Aaron Rodgers help.  Reagor doesn’t have Ruggs III’s speed but he’s not lagging behind him either.  Like the Alabama speedster, Reagor isn’t the best route runner, but he played much bigger than his 5’11 frame by going up and making incredible catches in college.  Like CeeDeeLamb, he was a Big-12 caliber play-maker, which is impressive for a little guy in an explosive league.

No.31, San Francisco 49ers: WR Denzel Mims, Baylor

Mims shot up boards thanks to a good combine in Indianapolis.  The guy is absolutely massive at 6’3, 207 pounds, and would give San Francisco two specimens at wide receiver in combination with Deebo Samuel.  Mims is a go-up-and-get-it guy who’s also quick.  He’s reminiscent of N’Keal Harry from last year’s draft, where the big play ability is there but the route running is not.  San Francisco made out well with the limited receiving talent last season, but Mims would be impactful in making sure quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is truly the guy and takes the next step. 

No.32, Kansas City Chiefs: CB Bryce Hall, Virginia

This might be high for Hall, but the guy has the potential to be a mix of Jaylon Johnson and Jeff Gladney: a long ball-hawk corner with absolute shutdown potential. Kansas City’s secondary has long been the armpit of an at-times disgraceful defense, and Hall would help fill the gap left by Kendall Fuller in a hurry.