Written By Ali Jawad
The NFL draft is now just a few weeks away. It's that time of the year where we will hear of smoke screens and how every team is interested in just about every player. All seriousness like every year, specific organizations like the rebuilding one's need the draft more than others. The contenders look to the draft to ensure they are adding quality under current quality. Some picks are no brainers, while others have multiple scenarios. As you read this mock draft, know that I am basing it off potential scenarios, needs, and the best player available. Even if it means I have to break the hearts of those who wanted a particular player. Nevertheless, let's now jump into my round one 2020 NFL Mock Draft.
Round 1 Pick 1
Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Burrow QB LSU
The Bengals are up first, and barring anything crazy, Joe Burrow is the number one pick of this draft, and the Bengals get the new face of their franchise. Burrow doesn't have the strongest arm, but will bring a ton of accuracy, decent athleticism, is coming off the most proficient season ever by a QB in college football, and showed up in the big games.
Round 1 Pick 2
Washington Redskins: Chase Young Edge Ohio State
Is this even a discussion to have? It's a race to the podium pick. Kills me to see this as a Giants fan, but Chase Young will be playing in the nation's capital. What makes this pick even scarier is the Redskins have quality players already upfront on defense—players such as Ryan Kerrigan, Montez Sweat, and Daron Payne. Adding in Young would make this defensive front top three in the NFL.
Round 1 Pick 3
Miami Dolphins (VIA Detroit Lions): Tua Tagovailoa QB Alabama
The Dolphins sent the 5th pick and a trio of 2nd rounders to the Lions, including a 2nd rounder in 2021 to move up to the 3rd pick for Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa. He won't wow you with his arm strength but will slice defenses thanks to his pinpoint accuracy. Tagovailoa dominated SEC defenses over the last three years. He is now 100% recovered from his hip injury, and the Dolphins don't have to start him right away and can develop him behind Ryan Fitzpatrick until head coach Brian Flores feels like he is ready.
Round 1 Pick 4
Las Vegas Raiders (VIA New York Giants): Justin Herbert QB Oregon
Going back to week 16, Raiders head coach Jon Gruden said, "the dink and dunk pass only go so far for me" Gruden wants aggressive downfield passing and athleticism at the game's most important position. Gruden calls Dave Gettleman and offers him picks 12 and 18 as well as a late 3rd rounder. Now up to the 4th pick, Gruden selects QB Justin Herbert. Herbert possesses the arm strength and athleticism Gruden is looking for. I do question Herbert's accuracy at times, and while last season he was healthy, Herbert does still come with an injury history before the 2019 season. With Herbert, Derek Carr is now on the trade block.
Round 1 Pick 5
Detroit Lions: Jeffery Okudah CB Ohio State
So far, a good draft for the Lions increased draft capital over the next two years, and they landed their Darius Slay replacement in Jeffery Okudah, the top corner in this class. Okudah would have been my pick for Detroit even if they were still picking at number three. His combination of height, weight, length, and speed should allow him to excel pretty nicely at the next level.
Round 1 Pick 6
Los Angeles Chargers: Jordan Love QB Utah State
The Chargers opted to move on from long time starter and franchise legend Philp Rivers after 16 seasons. Tyrod Taylor is the Chargers top option as of right now at QB, and if no other moves are made at the position, say, Cam Newton, then the Chargers should take this opportunity to grab a QB. This one could likely shock some, but Utah State's Jordan Love to the Chargers seems like a great fit. The Chargers won't have to force him in right away and can sit him behind Tyrod Taylor. Love has a ton of upside. His athleticism and ability to sling it downfield stands out to me.
Round 1 Pick 7
Carolina Panthers: Isaiah Simmons LB Clemson
Back in January, Luke Kuechly shocked the pro football world and retired at the age of 29. Kuechly was the QB of that Panthers defense the moment he took the field as a rookie back in 2012. The Panthers will replace him with another QB of the defense in Clemson'sClemson's stout LB Isaiah Simmons. The draft's second-best defensive player will be the first pick for new head coach Matt Rhule. Simmons at 6-4, 238 pounds is a freak of nature. He has top-notch athleticism, size, length, 4.39 speed, and can be used all around the defense as a run stopper, pass rusher, and pass defender, making this the next race to the podium type of pick.
Round 1 Pick 8
Arizona Cardinals: Tristain Wirfs OT Iowa
What an off-season so far for the Cardinals. Landing Deandre Hopkins in a trade with the Texans. I still have no idea how that even happened. Anyways, a defensive player here would make sense as well, but the offensive line still needs attention. The Cardinals line did show a slight improvement in 2019 compared to 2018. Nevertheless, there is always room for improvement. Tristian Wirfs seems like the guy that would best fit this line. A great athlete for his position has a wrestling background and can play both tackle spots.
Round 1 Pick 9
Jacksonville Jaguars: Derrick Brown DT Auburn
Sacksonville is no more. The whole defense is no more. The first of two picks for the Jaguars go to Auburn defensive tackle, Derrick Brown. Brown, who is a top ten prospect, will bring a combination of size, strength, and big man athleticism to a team that lost its entire defensive line. He will also play the role of being a linebacker's best friend as he will eat up double team blocks.
Round 1 Pick 10
Cleveland Browns: Mekhi Becton OT Louisville
The Browns roster has talent all around. The two things they lacked in 2019 were coaching, and offensive line play. New head coach Kevin Stefanski knows protecting Baker Mayfield needs to be the top priority. Though the Browns signed former Titans OT Jack Conklin, they are still in need of more offensive line help. Mekhi Becton out of Louisville is the next tackle off the board. Becton is an absolute monster who brings size 6-7, 364 pounds, strength, and is athletic for a guy his size. He should be able to offer ten years of excellent protection.
Round 1 Pick 11
New York Jets: Ceedee Lamb WR Oklahoma
The Jets zeroed in on offensive line help for Sam Darnold with free-agent signings such as George Fant and Connor McGovern. I still expect the Jets to make more moves to the line in the draft. However, the Jets lack offensive skill badly. The team lost Robby Anderson to the Panthers, and while they picked up Breshad Perriman, the Jets still need a pass-catching weapon with WR1 potential written all over him. Ceedee Lamb can be that WR that Sam Darnold needs and whom he can build a special connection with. Lamb would bring a skill set that features a ton of athleticism, strong hands, and big playability.
Round 1 Pick 12
New York Giants (VIA Oakland Raiders): Jedrick Wills OT Alabama
Recap the Giants traded the 4th pick to the Raiders in exchange for the 12th, 18th, and 81st picks of the draft. With the Giants now on the clock Dave Gettleman for the first time in his career drafts a first-round OL. Jedrick Wills from Alabama is by far the most NFL ready tackle in this draft. He displays incredible footwork, hand placement, and athleticism. The Giants have something going in Daniel Jones, and protecting him should be the top priority as well as ensuring Saquon Barkley has plenty of running lanes.
Round 1 Pick 13
San Francisco 49ers: Jerry Jeudy WR Alabama
The 49ers traded Pro Bowl, DT Deforest Buckner, to the Colts for the 13th selection in the draft. With the 1st of two picks, the 49ers select Jerry Jeudy. A pick like this instantly gives Kyle Shanahan and Jimmy Garoppolo a WR1 to work with. Jeudy displays some of the best routes running we will ever see and is always finding ways to get open. Jeudy, George Kittle, and Deebo Samuel are music to the ears of 49er fans.
Round 1 Pick 14
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Andrew Thomas OT Georgia
The Buccaneers have new prize possession, and his name is Tom Brady. Looking at this team, they are all in and hope to send Brady out with one last title. Protecting Brady will be a significant deciding factor in that. At 14, the Bucs are happy to see Andrew Thomas fall into their hands. Thomas can play both tackle spots, is a solid run blocker, and has excellent hands. With weapons in place, the Bucs sure things up more on the line.
Round 1 Pick 15
Philadelphia Eagles (VIA Denver Broncos): Henry Ruggs III WR Alabama
The Eagles know they need weapons around Carson Wentz. I am still amazed at how they reached the playoffs last season, with the majority of the roster banged up. WR took the biggest hit of the injuries, which is why the Eagles seize the opportunity to trade up with Denver sending picks 21 and 53 to the Broncos and take my favorite WR in this draft Henry Ruggs III. With Ruggs on the team, Wentz instantly gets a new number one wideout. His skill set that features explosiveness and speed is all too equivalent to what Tyreek Hill brings to the Chiefs offense. Ruggs also reminds me of a young but faster Desean Jackson. Eagles fans will love that.
Round 1 Pick 16
Atlanta Falcons: Javon Kinlaw DT South Carolina
A steal here at 16. The Falcons brought in Dante Fowler Jr. to replace Vic Beasly and now will sure things up on the defensive line with South Carolina's Javon Kinlaw. At 6-5 324, Kinlaw is an intimidating force with great physical traits. He is a menacing bull rusher, will require two blockers on him, and has violent hands.
Round 1 Pick 17
Dallas Cowboys: CJ Henderson Florida
While I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Cowboys move up in this draft possibly for a WR, rumors of bringing back former Cowboy WR Dez Bryant are heating up. If that’s the case and with very few needs, the Cowboys should take this opportunity to address the secondary. Dallas takes Florida’s CJ Henderson to replace the recently departed Byron Jones. Henderson brings to the corner position 4.39 speed, size, athleticism, and unlike Jones can play the ball.
Round 1 Pick 18
Miami Dolphins: Kenneth Murray OLB Oklahoma
With their 2nd first-round pick, the Dolphins turn to the defense and select OU's, Kenneth Murray. He has excellent playmaking speed, can play sideline to sideline, is very decisive, and when watching him play, he moves like a safety. He should be able to make an immediate impact on the Dolphins defense. A unit that was dead last in 2019.
Round 1 Pick 19
New York Giants (VIA Oakland Raiders): K’Lavon Chaisson OLB LSU
The Giants used their first of two round one picks to address the offensive line. With their 2nd first-round pick, they turn back to the defense and select LSU OLB K’Lavon Chaisson. With Chaisson, the Giants add a player who possesses multiple pass-rushing moves. His fluidity and agility allow him to dip, corner, and change direction. He also wears the number 18 jersey, which is given to a player who has excellent character and is a great leader. Chaisson is also a very smart player on and off the play.
Round 1 Pick 20
Jacksonville Jaguars: Kristian Fulton CB LSU
The Jaguars continue to address their depleted defense. This time they look to the secondary with LSU corner Kristian Fulton. A solid athlete who is well built and has allowed just a completion rate of 40% since 2018. Pretty good for the SEC corner.
Round 1 Pick 21
Denver Broncos: Patrick Queen OLB LSU
The Broncos earlier received picks 21 and 53 from the Eagles. With their first-round pick, they add to the defense and select LSU OLB Patrick Queen. With Queen, the Broncos add a player who plays fast, physical, and with confidence. He also can cover TEs and RB’s. Queen is next up from the Tigers LB factory; he possesses the same three-down ability to hunt, cover, and tackle just like the previous ones. He’s an early starter with a sky-high ceiling.
Round 1 Pick 22
Minnesota Vikings: A.J. Epenesa DE Iowa
Although his 40-time was a concern that shouldn’t stop teams from going for Epenesa, the Vikings have moved on from some critical pieces to their defense. With Everson Griffen gone, the Vikings turn to Iowa’s AJ Epenesa as his replacement. Epenesa possesses excellent size with length and power. He can also play in both a 4-3 and 3-4 defense. With more work on skill and technique, Epenesa could go from a good player to a great player.
Round 1 Pick 23
New England Patriots: Yetur Gross-Matos DE Penn State
The team that I believe is going through the most significant set of changes. The Patriots lost several players on defense, and also that Tom Brady guy is gone. I could see the Patriots making a move for a QB, which would likely require a trade, but several teams need a first-round QB. So, for now, let’s go defense. In the last draft, Belichick took Michigan’s Chase Winovich from Michigan in the 3rd round. The result was a rookie season full of potential and promise with 26 tackles, 5.5 sacks, FR, and a special teams TD. This time the coach pairs him up with Penn State’s Yetur Gross-Matos. As Chris Collinsworth would say, “now here’s a guy” who possesses a combination of size, athleticism, and agility. In the last two years, he posted 17.5 sacks and 35 TFL. Now with a pair of cheap edge rushers, Belichick won’t have to worry about the position for four years.
Round 1 Pick 24
New Orleans Saints: Trevon Diggs Corner Alabama
The Saints are another team with very few needs. Malcolm Jenkins is back. Chauncey Gardner-Johnson had a promising rookie season, which means safety is checked out. They could go WR, but the team signed Emanuel Sanders and could look to day two in this stacked WR class to keep adding more help for Michael Thomas. Instead, the Saints will look to add help opposite of Marshon Latimore. Eli Apple is gone, and the city of New Orleans would throw a parade, but right now, we can’t since we are all quarantined. The Saints take the next best corner in Alabama’s Trevon Diggs. At 6-2, Diggs has a long wingspan that he can use to his advantage and force QBs to throw into tighter windows. He is also fluid and athletic when it comes to matching WR routes.
Round 1 Pick 25
Minnesota Vikings: Jeff Gladney Corner TCU
The Vikings gained another first-round selection after trading away WR Stefon Diggs to the Bills. They could go WR here but, I think they go with value more than need even though corner is a need, especially across from the promising Mike Hughes. Jeff Gladney from TCU should develop into a quality starter for a defense that opted to move on from All-Pro Xavier Rhodes. Gladney shows excellent instincts, does a good job using his eyeing QBs and WRs and is a very competitive player.
Round 1 Pick 26
Miami Dolphins: Ezra Cleveland OT Boise State
The Dolphins so far have come away with their QB of the future, help on defense, and now more than ever help on the OL. Dolphins OL was ranked by PFF dead last in the NFL in 2019. The average time to pressure allowed was 2.22s. The worst in the league. They also allowed quick pressure of 2.5s on 33% of dropbacks. Ezra Cleveland is the pick here. He is a very athletic tackle who excels in zone blocking, and his athleticism lets him play as a swing tackle. If he can add more strength to his game, he should accelerate in protecting Tagovailoa.
Round 1 Pick 27
Seattle Seahawks: Xavier Mckinney Safety Alabama
Seattle has an MVP caliber QB, a solid group of WRs, the best MLB in football, and they traded for Quandre Diggs mid-season. Still, Seattle could use more help in the pass defense, a unit which ranked 29th in the NFL in yards allowed. Pairing Diggs with Alabama's Xavier Mckinney might be what they need. He can play both safety and corner, has been deemed as an all-around playmaker in coverage, and as a pass rusher around the edge.
Round 1 Pick 28
Baltimore Ravens: Cesar Ruiz C/G Michigan
The Ravens are the next team in this draft who have very few needs. Baltimore will be around for a while. The biggest hit they took was the recent retirement of future HOF guard Marshal Yanda. Now let's be real, replacing a HOF is something we rarely see. Still, Yanda can be replaced with another good player. Cesar Ruiz is the best IOL this draft has to offer. A great athlete who has the skill set to play in multiple blocking schemes plays from whistle to whistle and has the versatility to play guard and center.
Round 1 Pick 29
Tennessee Titans: Josh Jones OT Houston
The Titans lost Jack Conklin in a free agency. Josh Jones would be a great replacement. The Titans can take advantage of his size and athleticism. Jones will have the opportunity to learn from Taylor Lewan and will provide a significant boost to the Titans run game as he is known as one of the better run blockers in this draft.
Round 1 Pick 30
Green Bay Packers: Justin Jefferson WR LSU
Green Bay was back on track in 2019, reaching the NFC championship game. A big issue last season was trying to establish the WR2 spot. The Packers know they need to provide help opposite of Devante Adams. LSU'sLSU's Justin Jefferson is the next WR off the board. He can become a QBs best friend with his ability to win contested catches and his excellent ball skills. He should be able to complement Rodgers and Adams in the passing game.
Round 1 Pick 31
Houston Texans (VIA San Francisco 49ers): WR Denzel Mims
The 49ers already added a big-time playmaker in Jerry Jeudy. If the 49ers stay put and make a selection at 31, then the next time they pick will be in round 5. Trading back is the best scenario as GM John Lynch will look to add more draft capital. The Texans who don't have a first-round pick have a ton of picks outside the first round. This leads to a trade as Houston sends the 57th and 111th picks to the 49ers to get into the 1st round. The Texans shockingly traded Deandre Hopkins to the Cardinals in a questionable move. With that being said, the Texans trade up to select Baylor's, Denzel Mims. Mims possess a good combination of size and speed. He is a threat to score in the red zone and has excellent body control to finesse and finish catches.
Round 1 Pick 32
Kansas City Chiefs: A.J. Terrell CB Clemson
Wouldn't be surprised to see a trade back here. If the Chiefs decide to stay put they should look to their defense. Kendall Fuller is a significant loss at the cornerback position who is now in Washington. The Chiefs will look to Clemson's Clemson's A.J. Terrell to fill in that need. He is a long press-man corner, with good overall size for the position. He is also an above-average athlete and has a quick burst to close out in tight space.