1. Bengals: Joe Burrow - QB, LSU
There’s no need to explain this. The Bengals are going to make this pick. Whether Burrow wants to go to Cincinnati is another question, and he might try and weasel his way out of the pick. But until that rumor becomes clearer, you’ll see Burrow at the top of almost every mock draft you read.
2. Redskins: Chase Young - EDGE, Ohio State
Young has been mocked to the Redskins almost as often as Burrow has to the Bengals. He has near-limitless upside and would give the Redskins an intimidating defensive front. However, rumor of the Lions drafting Tua Tagovailoa has begun to swirl. Depending on how strongly the Dolphins feel about Tua, they could offer a haul to trade up with the Redskins to get him. I’ll explore the implications of that in a future mock draft.
3. Lions: Jeffery Okudah - CB, Ohio State
The Lions defense is a mess, and they need an instant starter to begin rebuilding that side of the ball. Detroit’s secondary is the weakest part of the unit, and the need might become even more pressing if star cornerback Darius Slay is not there next season. Okudah would either fill Slay’s shoes or line up across from him to form one of the toughest cornerback duos in the league.
4. Giants: Isaiah Simmons - LB, Clemson
The vague consensus seems to be for the Giants to go offensive line here, since they need Daniel Jones to develop and be protected, and because there are top 5 offensive line talents in this draft. However, I think it would be a huge mistake to pass up on who I believe is the future of NFL defenses. Simmons might be the most versatile prospect I’ve ever watched, and he is the answer to the modern NFL offense. He can cover tight ends and running backs in space, play both safety spots, and rush the passer. Simmons would be a massive first-step in rebuilding the Giants defenses of old.
5. Dolphins: Tua Tagovailoa - QB, Alabama
The Dolphins have been tied to Tua since last season, and he falls right into their laps at 5. As I mentioned above, there may be trade up scenarios, but I believe the Dolphins will end up with Tua one way or another once the draft is over.
6. Chargers: Justin Herbert - QB, Oregon
With Phillip Rivers’ departure from Los Angeles and no clear replacement, this seems like the perfect fit. Herbert is a west coast kid and has the arm talent to get people excited about watching Chargers football. Herbert still needs to get better at reading the defense, going through his reads, and speeding up his internal clock, but with a year of development I think he can be a very good leader on a talented Chargers roster.
7. Panthers: Derrick Brown - IDL, Auburn
Carolina was a bottom 5 run defense in the league last year. 4 members of their starting front 7 are hitting free agency. Who better than a do-it-all defensive lineman to help fill the gap? Brown fits on any defensive front and has an incredible blend of power, quickness, and explosiveness. He’ll improve all facets of the defense.
8. Cardinals: Jedrick Wills - OT, Alabama
The Cardinals offensive line woes have been well-documented, and no matter how athletic Kyler Murray is he will not be able to win games if he’s constantly under pressure. Wills only played right tackle at Alabama so it’s unknown if he can make the move to the left, but I don’t think he’ll have any problems given his light feet and mean attitude. Regardless, the entire Cardinals line needs a makeover and Wills can slide in right away.
9. Jaguars: Javon Kinlaw - IDL, South Carolina
It feels like the Jaguars draft a defensive lineman every year but it still remains a need. They might have a need at EDGE with Yannick Ngakoue likely leaving in free agency, but 2nd year Josh Allen was outstanding last season and will slide right in across from Calais Campbell. Kinlaw’s disruptive interior presence will help the Jags pass rush and his elite athleticism gives him the potential to become a fixture on the D-line for years. I can see him becoming a defensive captain in the near future as well with his charisma and mindset towards the game.
10. Browns: Mekhi Becton - OT, Louisville
Freddie Kitchens’ play-calling and Baker Mayfield’s regression took the bulk of the blame for last season’s failure. While those criticisms are obviously justified, this team is not going to improve until they rebuild their offensive line. Mekhi Becton is my personal favorite offensive lineman of this draft. He is a giant, listed at 6’7” and 368 lbs, but is incredibly nimble and fluid on his feet. His technique still needs some polishing, but he can start right away and will become a star in 2-3 years.
11. Jets: Andrew Thomas - OT, Jets
A bit like the Browns, I can’t see the Jets offense going anywhere until they fix their O-line. They have the pieces at QB and RB, and drafting Andrew Thomas is a great first step towards making life easier for Darnold and Bell. Thomas is a shade lower on my board than Wills and Becton, but he is undoubtedly in the top tier of offensive tackles.
12. Raiders: Jerry Jeudy - WR, Alabama
If I were to put my money anywhere, it would be on the Raiders taking a wide receiver with this pick. In this scenario, they luck into the near-consensus top receiver in the class in Jerry Jeudy. The Alabama product is close to being a complete prospect, and I only see him falling due to the insane amount of depth at receiver this year. If Derek Carr can get it together, or if they bring in a QB (Tom Brady?), watch out for this offense.
13. Colts: Jordan Love - QB, Utah State
When Andrew Luck retired right before last season, I will be the first to admit that I thought Jacoby Brissett would be good enough to still get them to the playoffs. He was solid for a few games, but it became clear that he’s not a franchise QB. Jordan Love is one of this year’s most fascinating prospects, with immense upside but also a lot of work to do. On the Colts, Love can sit and learn behind the experienced Brissett. And when it’s time for him to play, he will come in behind arguably the best offensive lines in the NFL.
14. Buccaneers: Tristan Wirfs - OL, Iowa
The Buccaneers roster is quietly quite talented. If Jameis Winston’s problem really was his eye sight, then upgrades at just a couple units will make this team a force to be reckoned with. Wirfs fills a massive need along the Bucs offensive line, regardless of whether he plays tackle or guard. It’s unclear where he fits best, but he will be an instant starter with versatility.
15. Broncos: Henry Ruggs III - WR, Alabama
Such a dynamic receiver, Ruggs seems like he could fit on pretty much any team. The Broncos were very pleasantly surprised by what they saw out of rookie QB Drew Lock towards the end of last season, and they will prioritize getting him weapons this offseason. While most view CeeDee Lamb as the better wide receiver, Ruggs is the perfect complement to Courtland Sutton and will really open up the playbook for Pat Shurmur’s offense.
16. Falcons: K’Lavon Chaisson - EDGE, LSU
2019 was a tale of two halves for the Falcons, as they went 6-2 following their bye after winning just 1 game prior. The Falcons have failed to generate a pass rush for a long time, and they hope Chaisson can become what Vic Beasley was in 2016. Chaisson is a lightning-quick edge rusher who has the unique ability to drop into coverage in the flat or man-up against TEs. Atlanta will need to get QB pressure if they’re going to win the division over the Saints and Bucs.
17. Cowboys: Grant Delpit - S, LSU
Delpit is one of the most polarizing prospects in the draft, but the Cowboys will be sprinting to the podium if he’s available for them. Delpit’s one and virtually only issue is his tackling, which was abysmal in 2018 but improved to average in 2019. While Xavier McKinney may be viewed as a slightly safer prospect, I think it would be a mistake to pass on the immense talent of Delpit.
18. Dolphins: CeeDee Lamb - WR, Oklahoma
Lamb falling to #18 would be a surprise because he’s so close to being the top receiver in the draft (and actually is thought to be so by some). As with Jeudy, I can see it happening because teams know they can get great receivers in later rounds. But now that the Dolphins drafted their QB at #5 overall, they will want to get Tua a bona fide weapon on the outside. They have many needs, but Lamb is by far the best player available at this point.
19. Raiders: Kristian Fulton - CB, LSU
After addressing a gaping offensive hole with Jeudy, the Raiders will be sure to address the back end of their defense. What they do in free agency will affect this pick, but right now I think Fulton is exactly what they need. He’s an outstanding athlete and has the skillset to lock-down any offense’s #1 target
20. Jaguars: Patrick Queen - LB, LSU
After addressing the D-line with their first pick in the round, the Jaguars will take a hyper-athletic linebacker that has the potential to bring their defense back to its glory days. Queen has outstanding range to get sideline-to-sideline and is physical the entire way. He will still develop due to lack of experience, but he will start right away on sheer athleticism.
21. Eagles: Xavier McKinney - S, Alabama
Philly was desperately hoping that Ruggs or Lamb would fall to them because their receiving corps is in shambles. They’ll be more than happy with McKinney though, because he and Malcolm Jenkins could form a dynamic safety duo and really help prop up a weak cornerback depth chart. McKinney can play all over the field and has few holes in his game. Jenkins is also a free agent, and it’s not a sure thing that he and the Eagles will come to an agreement.
22. Bills: A.J. Epenesa - EDGE, Iowa
I’ve pegged Tee Higgins to the Bills at this spot because he’s such a perfect target for Josh Allen, but the value of Epenesa here in a weak EDGE class is too hard to ignore. Epenesa can fit in multiple defensive fronts due to his combination of size and speed, and the one weakness on the Buffalo defense last season was their pass rush. Epenesa comes in with ___ college sacks
23. Patriots: Yetur Gross-Matos - EDGE, Penn State
After a disappointing year by New England standards, the Patriots have a fair number of holes to address before returning to glory. With four linebackers hitting free agency and limited pass rush pedigree behind them, the Patriots will take a high-upside pass rusher in Gross-Matos. His future is probably brighter than his immediate impact, but the Patriots have shown that they can get the most out of players pretty quickly.
24. Saints: Justin Jefferson - WR, LSU
With Drew Brees returning, the Saints will make sure he has the weapons to make one final Super Bowl run. Jefferson might be a slight reach in the first round, but I think his skill-set fits really nicely with that of Michael Thomas. Jefferson will take advantage of the single coverage to get open with great route-running. He’s also a pro-ready receiver with really solid hands, and Brees will consider him a trusted target right away.
25. Vikings: C.J. Henderson - CB, Florida
Starting cornerback Xavier Rhodes was abysmal last season, ranking dead last in completion % allowed amongst qualifying cornerbacks. As talented as the Vikings front 7 is, they’ve missed the presence of a lockdown corner. Henderson is built like an All-Pro cornerback that can match up with any type of receiver, and has outstanding ball skills to boot.
26. Dolphins: Austin Jackson- OT, USC
Offensive line is a must in Miami, and it becomes even more pressing if Tua is the QB. Austin Jackson still needs a fair amount of development, but has the requisite athleticism and physical ability to become a solid starter. The Dolphins can’t afford to wait on drafting a tackle and Jackson is one of the two best available.
27. Seahawks: Josh Jones - OT, Houston
Jones is similar to Jackson in that they’re both high ceiling prospects that require improved technique, though Jones probably requires more work. The Seahawks offensive line has been suspect for years, and while Jones didn’t play right tackle in college, they will hope to slide Jones him in that spot where he can take advantage of his size and length.
28. Ravens: Ross Blacklock - IDL, TCU
Baltimore’s success last season came from more than just their offense, as their defense allowed the 2nd lowest completion percentage and 5th fewest rushing yards in the NFL last year. They have the luxury of going best-player-available to an extent, and I think defense makes the most sense here with a fair number of guys hitting free agency. Blacklock is an all-around impressive DT who will become an anchor along the Baltimore defensive line. He’ll slide right into free agent Michael Pierce’s spot.
29. Titans: Tee Higgins - WR, Clemson
The Titans struggled to score points in the playoffs, and I see Higgins as an ideal fit to fix that. His outstanding contested catch ability will help mitigate some of Tannehill’s accuracy issues and will give him a true red-zone threat. Covering Higgins and A.J. Brown together will be a challenge since Higgins can win a 1-on-1 jump ball 80% of the time.
30: Packers: Laviska Shenault - WR, Colorado
There is no chance that the Packers go anywhere other than receiver with this pick, as we’ve heard reports of Aaron Rodgers being unhappy with his receiving corps for years. Shenault is going to be a legitimate receiver and has a sky-high ceiling as a prospect. It’s tough to categorize the type of receiver he is because he does a little bit of everything and does it all well. But if he reaches his ceiling, trying to cover both him and Devante Adams is going to be a big challenge for opposing defenses.
31: 49ers: Trevon Diggs – CB, Alabama
Going from 2nd worst to 2nd best in a year’s time is an astounding feat, and the 49ers should be really excited about the future of their team. Unfortunately, they only have 1 pick within the first 4 rounds, so they need to make it count. Diggs is a super physical corner that excels in zone coverage, making him a perfect fit for the 49ers cover 3 scheme.
32: Chiefs: AJ Terrell – CB, Clemson
I see Deandre Swift often mocked to the Chiefs, but the fact that they just won the Super Bowl with Damien Williams hopefully shows them that they don’t need to invest much into a running back (I’m also not nearly as big a fan of Swift as most people are). With two CBs hitting free agency, the Chiefs will slide AJ Terrell in as a starter from Day 1. He’s a long, fluid corner that looks really calm and comfortable playing the position, and he’s an asset when playing in space.