In a time of no sports, the NFL draft is the closest thing to that we’ve had to look forward to. With hope that the 2020 NFL season will still go on, 32 (well, 31, sorry Texans fans) will get their own version of hope for the future over the upcoming weekend. So, in the yearly tradition of predicting what direction each team will go, the DC Sports section has done their very own first-round mock draft! We can’t wait to see how wrong we were less than 24 hours after this goes live, but until then, here’s what we think will go down on draft night — well, aside from the inevitable technical difficulties. Oh, and we even threw in a trade for good measure.
1) Cincinnati Bengals – QB Joe Burrow, LSU
Danny Barletta: This is too easy of a pick for any team, even the Bengals, to screw up. They seem to be finally willing to move on from Andy Dalton now, as they have been shopping him on the trading block all offseason, so they will need a new quarterback. While there is obviously no guarantee that Burrow will be better than Tua or Herbert, you can’t justify drafting either of those guys over Burrow after his historic Heisman-winning season last year, in which he led LSU to an undefeated finish and a National Championship.
2) Washington Redskins – DE Chase Young, Ohio State
Conner Gilson: Much like the first pick in this draft, Young should be a no-brainer for the Redskins at No. 2. The Ohio State alum put up insane numbers in his junior year and boasts incredible size, length and athleticism that will make an immediate impact in the NFL. The Redskins’ defense ranked bottom-10 in the league in almost every major category including second-worst in rushing yards per game last season, so something has to change and where better to start than with Young.
3) Detroit Lions – CB Jeff Okudah, Ohio State
Mike Mavredakis: I looked for any trade down offers for this pick, but there were none to be had. Therefore taking Okudah was a must. He is a bonafide stud for a defense needing a boost to their secondary after giving up more than 400 yards per game last year, second-worst in the NFL. Their defense also played the most snaps out of anyone last season, so they are going to need corners who can stay on the field. Okudah gives them just that, after starting every game in 2019.
4) New York Giants – OLB Isaiah Simmons, Clemson
Andrew Morrison: As a Giants fan, this is the pick I care about most — and therefore, the hardest to make. I’m so tired of having an atrocious offensive line that I wouldn’t mind at all if the Giants go with Tristan Wirfs here, and it wouldn’t surprise me if they do. With that said, it’s a deep O-Line class, and in terms of strictly best player available, Simmons is no-brainer here. He’s got unreal athleticism and the ability to play a number of roles in any defensive scheme. Simmons is an immediate difference maker on any NFL defense, and considering the Giants had a bottom-three defense a year ago, he’s the right choice here.
5) Miami Dolphins – QB Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama
Sean Janos: The Dolphins need talent at basically every position on the roster. Luckily for Miami, they command 14 picks in this draft, with three falling in the first round. First thing is first, Josh Rosen and Ryan Fitzpatrick definitely aren’t the answer under center. Miami needs to roll the dice and take Nick Saban’s runnin’ and gunnin’ creation we all know as Tua. During his 24 games as Alabama’s starter, he showed us his rare combination of arm strength, mobility and IQ. He threw 87 touchdowns to just 11 interceptions over his college career, adding nine more scores on the ground. He can break the pocket and throw the ball 40 yards downfield on a dime. He has all of the tools, the only area of concern is Tua’s durability. Over his three years in college, he sprained his right knee and both ankles, dislocated his hip and suffered a concussion. I think Tua has the talent to be a star in this league, it’s only a matter of if his body holds up.
6) Los Angeles Chargers – QB Justin Herbert, Oregon
Matt Severino: The Chargers are at last moving on from Phillip Rivers. Tyrod Taylor is the transitional quarterback who should be able to keep the team in playoff contention in the coming years because of his sound play. But this pick is about the future. With Burrow and Tua off the board, this was an easy pick. Herbert has risen on many boards over the past few weeks but the good news for Los Angeles is even if Herbert goes to Miami on Thursday, Tua will become available. A year ago, any Chargers fan would have been thrilled to be able to get him with the sixth pick.
7) Carolina Panthers – IDL Derrick Brown, Auburn
Jorge Eckardt: The Panthers are beginning what is bound to be a long rebuild with Cam Newton departing and Luke Kuechly taking the world by surprise and retiring after the season. Whenever you lose the two pillars of your team for the last decade in one offseason, good times are not ahead. They need a lot of help, and ideally, Isaiah Simmons is here but since he’s not, Brown is the next best option being the top guy on the defensive line in the draft.
8) Arizona Cardinals – OT Tristan Wirfs, Iowa
Kevin Arnold: The Cardinals surpassed their need for a wideout when they traded for an All-Pro in DeAndre Hopkins, making it all the more obvious to draft an offensive lineman in the first round. Kyler Murray, last year’s No. 1 selection, spent a lot of time on his back last season when he was sacked 48 times — tied with Matt Ryan for third in the league. While the left side of the line is stable after D.J. Humphries resigned with a three-year deal, the right side lost Marcus Gilbert early to a torn ACL and had to play the waiver wire. Wirfs is the fourth-ranked tackle in a loaded class, and could even go earlier than this spot. He spent most of his time at right tackle (22 games in the last two seasons) and can start from day one at 6-foot-5, 320 pounds and 4.85 40 yard dash time.
9) Jacksonville Jaguars – CB C.J. Henderson, Florida
Conner: People forget that just three years ago the Jags were one score away from heading to their first Super Bowl on the backs of one of the top defenses in the NFL. But fast forward to now and after a terrible offseason they are without Calais Campbell and A.J. Bouye, Yannick Ngakoue wants out, and the Jags have decided to go full rebuild on the defensive end. Henderson has the explosive athleticism and speed to step in as their CB1, and while there still may be a couple ugly years in store for Jaguars fans Henderson is a solid start to the process.
10) Cleveland Browns – OT Mekhi Becton, Louisville
Sean: Alright Browns, don’t overthink this. You’ve committed to Baker Mayfield for another year after a sad sophomore showing. Burrow, Tua and Herbert aren’t going to make it this far, anyway. The defense is young and feisty with some holes to fill out, but that can be done later. You already have weapons for Mayfield in Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry and Nick Chubb. What Cleveland desperately needs is a sure-thing on the offensive line. While I did consider Jedrick Wills and wouldn’t be upset with the pick, I’m going with Becton. He’s 6-foot-7-inches with a rare 7-foot wingspan, and moves surprisingly fast at 364 pounds. He recorded a 5.10 second 40-yard dash at the combine, which is tied for the 13th fastest among offensive linemen. That’s pretty insane considering he was the heaviest guy there. The best move for the Browns in this first round is to go in, take the enormous offensive lineman, and get out. Plain and simple.
11) New York Jets – OT Jedrick Wills Jr., Alabama
Jorge: As a Jets fan, I’m ecstatic to make this pick. Wills is my personal No. 1 tackle in this draft, so to grab him here is a huge win. The Jets obviously need offensive line help bad, and Wills would fill a hole at tackle perfectly. The Alabama product would likely play right tackle for the Jets seeing as that’s all he played in college, making free-agent signing George Fant the starting LT. Add in the signings for the interior like Connor McGovern and Greg Van Roten and then maybe Sam Darnold won’t be running for his life every snap in 2020.
12) Las Vegas Raiders – WR Jerry Jeudy, Alabama
Matt: It is time to get Derek Carr a new weapon. After dealing Amari Cooper to the Cowboys and totally overestimating what an old Jordy Nelson could do, it is time to try again. There are concerns when it comes to Jeudy’s health making this somewhat of a risky pick but there is too much to love in my opinion. His combination of speed and efficient route running projects well to the professional game and I believe Jeudy has the potential to be the next superstar wide receiver in the league.
13) New England Patriots (49ers) – WR CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma
Patriots receive: pick No. 13
49ers receive: picks No. 23, No 98, No. 195 and a future 3rd-round pick
Danny: Here’s where we got a little bit weird. Unless Jarrett Stidham surprises a lot of people this year, it is likely that the Patriots will be very shaky at the quarterback position, but in my opinion, Jordan Love is not not the future of the franchise and it would be a mistake to draft him in the first. How do you make a shaky young quarterback look better? Surround him with talent, and that’s exactly what this move does. In exchange for a couple of extra picks, the Patriots get, in my opinion, the best receiver in the draft in Lamb, who along with N’Keal Harry could form an incredible receiving tandem for years to come, no matter who is throwing them the football.
14) Tampa Bay Buccaneers – OT Andrew Thomas, Georgia
Danny: The Tampa Bay offense could be lethal this season, especially with the late addition of Rob Gronkowski, but one thing that they will have to make sure they do in order for that to happen is protect Tom Brady. Never mobile to begin with, Brady will be 43 this season, so if he doesn’t get time in a clean pocket, it could get ugly. The Bucs are a little light at the tackle position, and Thomas, a former All-American, is the best one available. It’s as simple as that.
15) Denver Broncos – WR Justin Jefferson, LSU
Kevin: It’s no secret that this draft class is loaded with wide reciever talent. It’s also no secret that the Broncos have their work cut out for them in the AFC West. With offseason additions of A.J. Bouye and Jurrell Casey, they boosted their defense enough to allow them to take a complimentary wideout to rising stud Courtland Sutton. Jefferson is an explosive talent with 4.43 speed and his numbers at LSU reflected that. While Joe Burrow’s jump from 2018 to 2019 was spectacular, Jefferson followed suit by tripling his touchdown output (18), more than doubling his total catches (111) and nearly doubled his total yardage (1,540). If Denver is as locked in on Drew Lock as they seem to be, he’s going to need some help after trading away Emmanuel Sanders. Jefferson is a great choice here.
16) Atlanta Falcons – EDGE K’Lavon Chaisson, LSU
Matt: The Falcons seemed to have had an issue at every position last season. While I don’t think this pick is going to change much right away, I do believe this is the right pick. Everything about Chaisson’s game is steady. He is a constant force and is praised for his football IQ. In order to turn around a losing team, this is exactly the kind of player you would want to bring in. There are lingering injury-related concerns, something that has haunted Atlanta as of late. If he can stay healthy, Chaisson could end up becoming a staple on the defensive side of the ball for many years to come.
17) Dallas Cowboys – S Xavier McKinney, Alabama
Kevin: The Cowboys underperformed in 2019. No way around it. There were shortcomings in all three facets of the game, but free agency has crippled the Cowboys’ defense. Additions of Gerald McCoy, Dontari Poe and Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix helped fill some holes, there are still needs in the defensive backfield and at pass rusher. I think K’Lavon Chaisson may be the actual selection here at draft night, but since he was taken a pick before me in this mock, I’m going with Xavier McKinney out of ‘Bama. Mel Kiper Jr. called McKinney “the best pure safety in this class,” and at this spot, with this need, Dallas needs the best available. Clinton-Dix is a temporary source of relief on a one-year deal and instead of trading for an established, and expensive, safety of the future (yes, I’m talking about Jamal Adams), drafting one here makes the most sense.
18) Miami Dolphins – WR Henry Ruggs III, Alabama
Sean: Miami is going to be rolling tide for the second time in two picks here in the first round. Their best receiver is DeVante Parker, a bonafide 6-foot-3-inch deep threat. A good foil to him would be the 5-foot-11-inch speedster Ruggs. This class is pretty loaded towards the top with wide receiver talent, and after seeing Jeudy and Lamb fly off the board, Ruggs became a must-pick. He ran the fastest 40 at the combine with a 4.27, becoming just the eighth player in combine history to reach or surpass that mark. He has sure hands and can take the top off the defense with his speed, or he can catch the ball short and make guys miss. Plus, Ruggs already has an established rapport with Tua, with both of them leaving Alabama after their junior years.
19) Las Vegas Raiders – DT Javon Kinlaw, South Carolina
Matt: With this pick, I believe the Raiders will have to address the void left by Khalil Mack. While they do not technically play the same position, I believe this could be a good landing spot for Kinlaw. His disruptive play demands attention, making life easier for the rest of the defense. His numbers will never be as good as his play, but this is the case for almost every elite pass rusher. With the right coaching, Kinlaw’s talent could be refined and lead to a huge payoff for Las Vegas.
20) Jacksonville Jaguars – LB Kenneth Murray, LSU
Conner: In a perfect world Kinlaw would have been available for the Jags at 20, but after missing him by just one pick they will have to settle for the next best option in Murray. Jacksonville brought in middle linebacker Joe Schobert through free agency, so pairing Murray (who can play any linebacker spot) makes perfect sense to help a Jags defense that ranked second worst against the run in 2019. Murray has elite athleticism and has shown sideline-to-sideline abilities that will help right the ship for this now-young D line.
21) Philadelphia Eagles – LB Zack Baun, Wisconsin
Mike: Ideally the Eagles would be able to pick up the tail end of the deep first round wide receiver talent, after the loss of Alshon Jeffrey. However, there was a run on wideouts in the 10 picks leading up to this, so I opted for an upside play in Zack Baun. He was super productive at Wisconsin, with 12.5 sacks, tied for 9th in the nation, and 19.5 tackles for a loss in 14 games senior year. He tested positive for a diluted sample at the combine, but he attributes it to overhydration, according to ESPN.
22) Minnesota Vikings – WR Lavishka Shenault, Colorado
Andrew: Minnesota needs some receivers, and this draft class is chock-full of ‘em. Assuming the top four (Jeudy, Jefferson, Lamb and Ruggs) are all off the board here, I’m a big fan of Shenault. Significant (and justified) injury concerns have diminished his draft stock quite a bit, and I was also tempted to take Brandon Aiyuk out of Arizona State. But if Shenault can stay healthy, he’s easily one of the most talented wideouts in the class.
23) San Francisco 49ers (Patriots) – LB Patrick Queen, LSU
Patriots receive: pick No. 13
49ers receive: picks No. 23, No 98, No. 195 and a future 3rd-round pick
Mike: Before I get into the pick, let’s talk the trade. The 49ers are without a pick after No. 31 and I saw this offer as their best opportunity to accumulate picks in this draft and next year’s draft when the Patriots are likely to struggle. I would have taken a wide receiver with that pick, but since Juedy was off the board I decided to trade down. For the pick, I wasn’t crazy about reaching for a wideout here so I went with LSU linebacker Patrick Queen. He’s a smart player who has been lauded for his fluidity and speed, despite a lack of power. He should be a really solid NFL middle linebacker to pair well with the 49ers lethal defense front of Nick Bosa and Arik Armstead.
24) New Orleans Saints – WR Tee Higgins, Clemson
Jorge: After a run on wide receivers in the first round, the Saints end up with Clemson product Tee Higgins. A big 6-foot-4 target to throw to, Higgins will slide right into the No. 2 wide receiver role right next to some bum who broke the single-season receptions record, Michael Thomas. That’s not to mention that they also brought in Emmanuel Sanders in the offseason and still have Alvin Kamara in the backfield. Oh, and yeah, Drew Brees. So before people go crowning the Buccaneers the best offense in football, if the Saints take Higgins (or really any receiver here), the Bucs won’t even have the best offense in their division. At the moment there’s not a lot behind Thomas and Sanders in terms of receivers, so adding a top-flight one like Higgins should be a huge plus.
25) Minnesota Vikings – S/CB Antoine Winfield Jr., Minnesota
Andrew: With the need at WR checked off with the 22nd pick, I say the Vikings boost their secondary after losing several pieces this offseason including the declining Xavier Rhodes. The stars all align here: Winfield would be playing in the same state that he played college ball, his father was a three-time All-Pro selection as a Viking and Jr.’s rare versatility and decisiveness make him exactly the type of player to fit Mike Zimmer’s scheme.
26) Miami Dolphins – OT Josh Jones, Houston
Sean: After a pretty exciting first two picks, it’s time for Miami to get nice and boring (I don’t think anybody has ever said that before). Like I said earlier, the Dolphins need help everywhere. They patched some holes on the defense in free agency with signings like Byron Jones, Shaq Lawson, Kyle Van Noy and a few other guys, so I’m going to put defense off until later. That really just leaves running backs and offensive line. Miami was able to sign Jordan Howard, who people forget was second in the league in rushing yards as a rookie in 2016. While Howard should get the job done, he is by no means the future of the franchise. I’m going to hope one of D’Andre Swift, J.K. Dobbins or Jonathan Taylor are available when Miami is on the clock with pick seven of the second round. So here, the move is to take the best offensive lineman available. Jones is big and strong at 6-foot-5-inches, 319 pounds and loves to get to the second level of defenses quickly. He will make an immediate impact in the ground game, but he has a lot to learn about pass protection. The good news is, scouts say that his weaknesses are very coachable.
27) Seattle Seahawks – DE Yetur Gross-Matos, Penn State
Andrew: Maybe it’s just me, but I’ll always think of Pete Carroll’s Seahawks as a defensive-minded team. Seattle seems to have moved on from Jadeveon Clowney, and it would be pretty easy to do so if Gross-Matos is still on the board here at No. 27. Yes, this isn’t a particularly strong class of edge rushers, and Gross-Matos had somewhat of an underwhelming final season in Happy Valley. However, he’s lightning-fast with great endurance, and is exactly the type of build that GMs love in a defensive end these days.
28) Baltimore Ravens – C/G Cesar Ruiz, Michigan
Kevin: Lamar Jackson’s rise to league MVP boosted the Ravens back into the upper echelon of the NFL. Their loss to the Titans in the divisional round of the playoffs showed there’s still room for improvement. They already brought in Calais Campbell and Derek Wolf to bolster their front seven, but still have yet to replace C.J. Mosely since his departure to the Jets. Since they seem fine with a plug-and-play insider backer compared to a staple and with Marshall Yanda retiring, it makes sense to build on a strength here and select Ruiz, who can slide over to guard after starting the past two seasons at center for the Wolverines. With the top ILB already taken in our mock, Ruiz is an easy choice as the top rated center prospect in the draft and can help dominate the line of scrimmage for a Ravens team that loves to run the ball.
29) Tennessee Titans – CB Kristian Fulton, LSU
Danny: One of Tennessee’s biggest needs is at cornerback, especially with Logan Ryan leaving in free agency. Fulton is considered the third best cornerback in the draft according to multiple rankings. I was actually surprised to see that Fulton was still available, as some mock drafts had him going earlier than this. Fulton is a great athlete who can make big plays on the outside. When you have the opportunity to take someone with this much upside at a position you need, it becomes a very easy decision.
30) Green Bay Packers – WR Jalen Reagor, TCU
Conner: For what seems like eternity, Packers fans have been begging their front office to get Rodgers a WR2, and while the defense could clearly use some work after giving up 230 and four touchdowns to Raheem Mostert in the NFC Championship, I decided to prioritize the former with this pick. Reagor’s time at TCU was plagued with bad QB play causing his stock to fall a bit, but the talent is clearly there. With his great speed and solid hands he’s one of the best slot receivers in the entire draft and offers big-play ability that Aaron Rodgers loves to capitalize on. Mix that in with being able to play special teams and I’m pretty much sold on this guy as a great pick at the end of the first.
31) San Francisco 49ers – WR Brandon Aiyuk, Arizona State
Mike: Since this receiver class is so talented we have six going in the first round, with Aiyuk rounding it out at No. 31. I felt using a high-value first round pick on one would have been a shaky decision, so I waited until the end of the first round. After making it to the Super Bowl this past season, Kyle Shanahan really needed a receiver with big play potential to bridge the gap. Aiyuk is just that, averaging 18.3 yards per catch in 2019 with the Sun Devils. He is also a dangerous returner, averaging nearly 32 yards per kick return and 16 per punt return. He’s the burner they need in San Francisco.
32) Chiefs – CB Jeff Gladney, TCU
Jorge: What more help could the reigning Super Bowl champions need? Well, with Pat Mahomes, Tyreek Hill and company, certainly not on the offense. However, as many know, the Kansas City defense has not been at the same standard as their offense the last couple of years, the offense has just been so good it never mattered. It wasn’t bad last year — finishing No. 17 in the league in yards allowed per game — but they are definitely lacking some talent at cornerback. Here, I have them taking TCU product Jeff Gladney, and he could very well be starting for the Chiefs come Week 1 as they look to make it two in a row.
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