Written by Mason LeBeau
We can expect things to change drastically as teams start filling needs and adding strength in Free Agency. Before we get to that, let’s take one last look at how I expect things to shake out as we get closer to the draft.
1. Cincinnati Bengals - QB Joe Burrow
The Bengals will be selecting Joe Burrow with the first overall pick. With a 2nd year HC, Burrow is the perfect player to begin building a team around. With possibly the greatest QB collegiate season ever as well as a ton of NFL traits, this is a no-brainer.
2. Washington Redskins - EDGE Chase Young
The Tua smoke to me is just an attempt to keep other teams on their heels and to see if anyone will offer a ridiculous trade. It may be more believable if Chase Young wasn’t available, but he is. Adding a super high floor and ceiling pass rusher like Young finishes what may be the most talented pass rush in the NFL.
3. Detroit Lions - CB Jeff Okudah
Possibly the best CB prospect we’ve seen in a while in a long line of great ones. Okudah is a perfect blend of a move to win now, while also being a building block for the Lions defense for years to come. I’m not projecting trades, but I have to imagine he’ll be available assuming the switch is with the Dolphins at pick five.
4. New York Giants - OT Jedrick Wills Jr
In a fantastic OT class, GM Dave Gettleman must be salivating at getting the best one. For all his faults he sure doesn’t neglect to fortify the trenches. If Okudah is here I think there’s a lot of discussion about going that way and I know fans want Isaiah Simmons as well. While the build on that side has to start somewhere, I don’t think any defender is going to make that unit passable next season. However, Wills Jr is an excellent prospect with a high floor and room to improve and will help protect Daniel Jones and open lanes for Saquon Barkley. He ultimately gets the most value out of the last two big investments and adds the most wins for the Giants in 2020.
5. Miami Dolphins - QB Tua Tagovailoa
So no real surprises in my top five. I have my reservations about Tua and his next level ability, but I’m eager to see the Dolphins exercise patience as they build the team because we can expect Ryan Fitzpatrick to be a great mentor and start at least half of the upcoming season. I think Tua needs that’s time for both the roster to come together and to develop himself.
6. Los Angeles Chargers - OT Tristian Wirfs
There’s a lot of QB speculation here, and while the move to LA and into a giant new fancy stadium suggests a flashy pick here, I also believe the FO and HC Anthony Lynn have practiced patience well and will continue to do so. A veteran QB like Tyrod Taylor or maybe a FA like Teddy Bridgewater can help navigate this team for a season or two but there’s too many holes on the roster that keep them from reaching their potential. The Okung/Turner swap was a great start in adding talent to that OL that desperately needs it, but they can turn a league-worst unit into a good one with another move like this. Wirfs stock has been rising since the beginning of the season and a great combine only continued that trend. The reliable and patient pick makes more sense here than the flashy one.
7. Carolina Panthers - Hybrid Isaiah Simmons
Tank commander Matt Rhule is all about implementing a new culture and taking his time to do so. A new owner and a new head coach with an exciting young OC hire sure does leave us wondering what way the Panthers will go. While I highly expect them to take a hard look at Herbert or Love here as they fit what Rhule and Brady like to do, they also exercise patience if they aren’t completely sold on the remaining two QB prospects. Instead, they begin to fill the hole Luke Keuchly will leave. Simmons and Keuchly do two very different things as players, but getting that extremely high upside and the versatile centerpiece is the perfect way to start a rebuild without overdoing it next season. I think a trade down could also be very likely as they stock up to make a big move for a QB next year (Trevor Lawrence??).
8. Arizona Cardinals - WR CeeDee Lamb
Some teams will pass on a WR early knowing they can still get a great option in the second or third round. The Cardinals won’t be doing that, and get the first choice as they need this kind of threat and the true WR1 upside guys will be gone by the next time they’re up. Lamb is the perfect player for this offense having already spent a season playing with Kyler Murray in an offense Kingsbury knows how to run. Size, ball skills, YAC, everything the Cardinals have in several different receivers is packed into one young one who in return can now open up those other options by drawing coverage. Murray showed more than enough flash last year to warrant investing in him by adding an explosive weapon to the outside.
9. Jacksonville Jaguars - DL Derrick Brown
The Jaguars' run defense the back half of last season was effectively the worst in the league. Shoring that up in a disruptive presence who in return helps push the pocket for Josh Allen is a great asset the Jaguars need. With Yannick Ngakoue on his way out, it’s best Jacksonville keeps adding youth to the DL while also taking the BPA as the roster undergoes a slight rebuild.
10. Cleveland Browns - OT Mekhi Becton
A lot of risk drafting a player like Becton, but he also has what might be the highest ceiling in this whole class. With a younger team like the Browns, I think they can afford to swing for the fences, but even then Becton should still be a powerful inline blocker capable of opening lanes for Nick Chubb immediately. How soon (and if) he’ll provide quality pass protection for Baker Mayfield is another question.
11. New York Jets - WR Henry Ruggs III
This pick has a lot to do with Robby Anderson and should he return. If he does then he and Ruggs fill the same role too closely to warrant the pick, whereas Jeudy might go here instead. While I’d love to give them Andrew Thomas, it appears that both the NFL is lower on him than most of us are, and I can’t shake the feeling the Jets may opt for an explosive weapon over line stability. I can’t say I blame them, this isn’t a ‘John Ross at 9’ type of pick. Ruggs has similar speed but a much more rounded skill set that can truly change an offense.
12. Las Vegas Raiders - QB Jordan Love
While a receiver like Jeudy makes a lot of sense as well, the moving on from Derek Carr rumors might be too much to ignore. While his weapons were certainly lacking in his time in Oakland there’s reason to believe he might not be what Jon Gruden is looking for. The Raiders also have another 1st and a 3rd round pick to add receiving talent in a very deep class. Adding Love is just what a move to Las Vegas needs, an exciting young playmaker who can grow into Gruden’s system with an offensive line capable of giving him the time he needs to develop.
13. Indianapolis Colts - QB Justin Herbert
In a weird way, I think this pick is exercising patience just like GM Chris Ballard has been since he’s taken over. I still think they sign Philip Rivers, but also add a very high upside QB to learn behind him. With a great OL in place the Colts can then move toward adding skill position talent with their pair of 2nd round picks. This QB room is a great way to try to win now while also being set for the future.
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - OT Andrew Thomas
The Bucs are expected to go all-in on QB Tom Brady. I can get on board with that, but rather it's Brady, Winston, a young QB next year, or a different FA, upgrading the OL is the best way to make sure however is back there succeeds. There's talent on this line but the tackles have needed to be upgraded for years. Thomas is likely to develop into a good pass protector but he can open lanes with the best of them right away. Kinlaw is another consideration as I'd like to pair him with Vea for a while, but the less sexy pick here might be the best move.
15. Denver Broncos - WR Jerry Jeudy
A rather ideal situation for Denver and I don’t see them missing on one of the big three receivers unless they’re traded ahead of. While that’s not too unlikely, this is such a deep class of talent and especially for receiver that it makes an equal amount of sense to take the talent that gets to you. Jeudy is a fantastic compliment to Courtland Sutton and wouldn’t have to see CB1 coverage early. He finishes off an incredible young trio of pass catchers along with Noah Fant.
16. Atlanta Falcons - EDGE AJ Epenesa
The Falcons have tried and tried again adding to the pass rush in the form of an athletic finesse rusher in Vic Beasley and Takkarist McKinley. Outside of one random elite season from Beasley, the Falcons have struck out on adding talent outside of Grady Jarrett. As much as I like Chaisson, it’s time to flip the script a bit and add a pass rusher who wins with length and strength. Epenesa is a great prospect you can move around the line and can hold up against the run.
17. Dallas Cowboys - DL Javon Kinlaw
A pretty ideal situation for Dallas. While adding a DB to replace Byron Jones also makes sense, it’s a deep class for that position too and they might be able to find a starting-caliber player later. Kinlaw however, could be the piece they’ve been looking for to match with DeMarcus Lawrence. An improvement of the pass rush should help mitigate some problems that losing Jones would otherwise cause.
18. Miami Dolphins - EDGE K'Lavon Chaisson
This pick is great for Miami. Adding help for Tua would also be ideal but the board doesn’t quite allow them to add an OL without reaching. Chaisson however, adds to a weak DL undergoing a youth movement. Chaisson adds a potential pass rush threat and also an extremely high character defender who would be great for the culture change and locker room.
19. Las Vegas Raiders - WR Denzel Mims
Grab your QB then get him some help. Mims had a limited route tree in college, so it may take him some time to get up to speed, but Las Vegas should be practicing patience with Jordan Love there anyway. Mims has blown up in the pre-draft process and adds a WR1 size and speed prospect that the Raiders need.
20. Jacksonville Jaguars - CB Kristian Fulton
Obviously the Jaguars need to add to the backfield of the defense. Not panicking and taking the BPA while letting the board fall to them should reap a good reward. I prefer Henderson but it’s a close race in that second tier of CBs and I think Fulton fits what Jacksonville wants to do better. Use this season to see if Minshew is worth building around (there’s solid weapons there already) and build the defense that can win games early.
21. Philadelphia Eagles - WR Justin Jefferson
The Eagles need to upgrade here without question. If there were a better player available at a position of need I’d stronger consider it (I like McKinney here to replace Jenkins) but Philly is in a spot where a good chunk of that receiver talent is going to go in between here and their next pick. Jefferson adds another solid sized target who can come down with contested passes. They may opt for a receiver who can separate better, but at the same time adding the best receiver available may be the better practice.
22. Buffalo Bills - EDGE Yetur Gross-Matos
I wouldn’t be surprised to see Gross-Mato’s stock rise between now and the draft, but with a solid pass rush class ahead of him the Bills may luck into a great talent later in the round. The youth movement alongside Ed Oliver could give Buffalo a young duo who can add speed to the line and benefit from an excellent secondary.
23. New England Patriots - LB Kenneth Murray
In a weak LB class, the Patriots strike first getting an explosive and productive Oklahoma prospect. I believe Murray would fit in well with the Belichick defense as a versatile piece with sideline-to-sideline speed, pass coverage upside, and an effective blitzer. Very high motor player who should be very attractive to a defense that needs to get younger.
24. New Orleans Saints - WR Jalen Reagor
I didn’t think I’d go receiver here for New Orleans but I don’t think it’s a bad idea to add extra firepower with Brees on his final lap. Ted Ginn has been effective as a deep threat but entering his age 35 season I think it’d be best to invest in a younger option. A field stretcher is a huge part of this offense as Michael Thomas requires so much attention, Kamara eating at the early parts of the field, and an offensive line that can hold up to allow more developed routes. Taking the top off of the defense makes it extremely difficult to cover every aspect of their attack, and Reagor is one of the best at doing so.
25. Minnesota Vikings - OT Austin Jackson
With the exile of older defenders, they could opt to start to replace those they’ve lost in the secondary and defensive line. At the same time, that means if Minnesota wants to win in 2020 it’ll be through Kirk Cousins and the offense. The weapons are in place but the line is still a problem. There’s already investment into the interior with Elflein and Bradbury (who still need to develop) so adding tackle talent is a priority. Jackson is a great fit into the Kubiak offense who should be able to make dynamic run blocks for Dalvin Cook.
26. Miami Dolphins - DB Xavier McKinney
Same story here where I want to add offensive talent but it’s the other side of the ball that has the best players available. McKinney is an excellent versatile DB prospect with a role similar to Isaiah Simmons and.. Minkah Fitzpatrick. If McKinney can grow into a player close to Fitzpatrick’s caliber then Miami makes out extremely well, effectively resetting how long they’ll have such a player on a cheap contract who will better fit the upcoming timeline.
27. Seattle Seahawks - CB CJ Henderson
We can always expect the Seahawks to do something weird, right? So it’s really hard predicting which way they’ll go. The Germain Ifedi experiment failed and he’s not likely to be retained, so attempting to get a new starting tackle might be in the best interest for Seattle, they just seem to prefer building the defense first. CJ Henderson isn’t quite the mold of CB Seattle goes for, but has a great athletic profile with a lot of upside that should be too tempting for them to pass on.
28. Baltimore Ravens - iOL Cesar Ruiz
The trade for Calais Campell and tagging of Mathew Judon alleviates the pressing need for a pass rusher. While getting younger makes sense, they seem to take BPA fairly strictly. Tee Higgins would be an excellent complement to Marquise Brown, but Marshal Yanda retiring leaves a huge hole in the middle of the offensive line that made the Ravens rushing attack so potent. Ruiz is the best interior prospect in a not very strong class but is still a higher floor player who can start and contribute early.
29. Tennessee Titans - OLB Zach Baun
Tennessee is all in on QB Ryan Tannehill and can now start attacking other needs. They don’t have many. The Titans roster is one of the best built-in the league right now so they can really take whoever they like best. Bruan is an interesting versatile OLB prospect that should grow into multiple duties along the Titans DL. With a strong interior duo of Jurrell Casey and Jeffrey Simmons adding to the edge would be the perfect way to compliment them.
30. Green Bay Packers - WR Brandon Aiyuk
The Arizona State prospect is one of my favorite players in the draft and he’s exactly what Green Bay is looking for. An explosive threat with a huge catch radius should be a great compliment to Davante Adams who does what Aiyuk can’t yet and vice versa. With the loss of Bryan Buluga a tackle might be in play here too, but an explosive threat opposite of Adams might help get the ball out quicker.
31. San Francisco 49ers - DB Grant Delpit
Delpit is a great safety prospect I really like, but the NFL doesn’t seem to quite value them the same way and Delpit’s business decisions with tackling while recovering from an injury didn’t do wonders for his stock. He still is a very athletic true center fielder and the 49ers need to get younger in the secondary. This move depends on Jimmie Ward, but with Arik Armstead and George Kittle extensions on the horizon it may be best to move on. A corner is a more pressing need but Delpit is too good of a player to pass on, and having that backend safety with that incredible pass rush should pay dividends as San Francisco tries to return to the Super Bowl.
32. Kansas City Chiefs - LB Patrick Queen
The Kansas City defense took the step forward it needed to to get them the Super Bowl victory. However, it still greatly benefitted from an offense that could do whatever they want, so continuing to add to the defense while the offense has no holes is the move here. Queen is a very high upside LB who didn’t get much playing time at LSU waiting behind Devin White, but was a key contributor in their run to a Championship. The athletic LB is a perfect long-term move who can become an excellent centerpiece opposite Mahomes.