Written by Ryan Lippert
Football fans, the time has finally come, draft week is officially here! While this year’s draft will look a lot different due to the coronavirus pandemic we are all living in, there is still a lot to look forward to. The 2020 draft class is very loaded with talent and can be one of the best draft classes of our generation when we look back on it. This is also one of the toughest drafts to try to predict that I can ever remember as several picks could go in many different directions. With that in mind, here is how I see things panning out in the order the picks sit today.
1. Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Burrow - QB, LSU
There’s no reason to overthink this pick. Unless the Bengals get an unbelievable trade offer that they can’t refuse, this will be the pick. Burrow is coming off one of the best seasons that we have ever seen from a college quarterback and will give the Bengals the franchise quarterback that they have desperately needed. Hopefully, they can make some improvements on the offensive line so that Burrow can reach his full potential.
2. Washington Redskins: Chase Young - Edge, Ohio State
This pick is another no brainer. Young is the best overall prospect in this class and would easily be the top pick if it weren’t for the need at quarterback for the Bengals. He comes from a program that has had success breeding edge rushers such as Joey and Nick Bosa, and I believe Young could be the best one out of the group. Adding Young to the young talent that the Redskins already have gives them a very dangerous defensive front for many years to come.
3. Detroit Lions: Jeffrey Okudah - CB, Ohio State
While I could easily see the Lions trading back from this spot with a team looking to come up for a quarterback, I’m going to keep the order the way it is for the purpose of this mock. There have been rumors that Detroit could be interested in Tua and other defensive prospects but I believe Okudah is their guy. After trading Darius Slay to the Eagles, the Lions desperately need a corner. Okudah is a long, athletic corner with the speed to be reliable in man coverage in the deep passing game. He is a player that will be an immediate starter and has the potential to be an All-Pro caliber corner.
4. New York Giants: Jedrick Wills Jr. - OT, Alabama
I can see Isaiah Simmons being the pick here as he would be my best available prospect at this point but I see Gettleman adding some much-needed help to the offensive line here. In what is a very impressive offensive tackle class, Wills is the most complete player. He is great in pass protection but is also an absolute mauler in the run game and could help open some running lanes for Saquon Barkley. They can plug him in right away at right tackle to create a very solid tackle duo with veteran left tackle Nate Solder.
5. Miami Dolphins: Tua Tagovailoa - QB, Alabama
The Dolphins have all the resources to have a very successful draft this year as they have the most picks in the draft including three in the first round. With all the needs that they have, quarterback is the biggest one. Regardless of injury, Tua Tagovailoa is the second-best quarterback in this class behind Burrow. As we have seen in many reports, he has made great strides in his recovery and should be ready to go for the start of the season. The Dolphins also still have Ryan Fitzpatrick on the roster so they can ease Tua into the starting role if needed. Whenever Tua gets to see the field, he has the talent to be one of the best young quarterbacks in the league.
6. Los Angeles Chargers: Justin Herbert - QB, Oregon
As they seem to not be interested in Cam Newton or Jameis Winston, the Chargers will need to find their quarterback of the future. While Anthony Lynn seems to like Tyrod Taylor, they still need a backup plan in case that doesn’t work out. Herbert has great arm talent and surprising ability as a ball carrier. I see him being a great fit for this offense with many weapons around him in Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Hunter Henry, and Austin Ekeler. Herbert will battle Taylor to be named the Week One starter and will eventually take the job if not right away.
7. Carolina Panthers: Isaiah Simmons - LB, Clemson
The Panthers end up with one of the steals of the draft as they have my third overall prospect in this class fall to them at this spot. After losing Luke Kuechly to retirement, they need an athletic linebacker to lead this defense. Simmons will fit that role perfectly and make an immediate impact. Along with playing inside at linebacker, Simmons has the versatility to move all over the field as he played many different positions in college. He can blitz off the edge, cover receivers and tight ends in the slot, or drop into coverage. Simmons is a player that I see taking the NFL by storm and eventually being one of the best defensive players in the league.
8. Arizona Cardinals: Tristan Wirfs - OT, Iowa
After finding their franchise quarterback in last year’s draft in Kyler Murray and adding even more firepower to the offense this offseason by acquiring DeAndre Hopkins, the Cardinals are looking very dangerous at their skill positions. Now they must add some beef up front to create space for those playmakers to do what they do best. Wirfs is a player that has been rising up boards during the draft process. At 6’5”, 320 pounds, Wirfs showed at the combine that he is one of the freak athletes of this class, running a 4.85-second forty-yard dash, jumping a 36.5” vertical, and running a 4.68-second 20-yard shuttle. This athleticism will help Wirfs be able to start at either tackle position while his size and power could allow him to move inside to guard if asked to. Wherever he ends up playing, Wirfs has the potential to be a very good offensive lineman at the next level for many years to come.
9. Jacksonville Jaguars: Derrick Brown - IDL, Auburn
While I could also see the Jaguars going with a receiver at this pick, Brown is simply too good of a player to pass. Brown is a top-five prospect in this class that could easily fall due to a run of quarterbacks or offensive tackles. For the Jaguars, they have very good talent off the edge but could use some help on the interior of their defensive line. Brown has the perfect combination of strength and athleticism to be a force on the inside in both the run game and as a pass rusher. He would be an immediate starter and give Jacksonville one of the more dangerous front sevens in the league.
10. Cleveland Browns: Andrew Thomas - OT, Alabama
Like the Cardinals, the Cleveland Browns are a team that has an abundance of weapons on the offensive side of the ball but is lacking production on the offensive line. After signing Jack Conklin in free agency to put in at the starting right tackle spot, they need a true left tackle to play opposite of him. Andrew Thomas fits that role perfectly as he is one of the most polished offensive linemen in this class. Thomas is the big, physical offensive tackle that teams look for to protect the blindside. I see him having true Pro Bowl level potential at the left tackle spot in the league.
11. New York Jets: Mekhi Becton - OT, Louisville
The Jets are yet another team that desperately needs some improvement on the offensive line. While they could take a receiver here, protecting Sam Darnold should be their top priority. With as close as these top four tackles are in talent, any of them could fall here but I have Becton dropping to them. Becton is a raw prospect but gives you a ton of size to work with at 6’7”, 364 pounds along with a seven-foot wingspan. He is a true mauler as he simply tossed around bigger defensive linemen and edge rushers throughout his collegiate career. If he can get his fundamentals such as footwork shaped up, Becton could be one of the better offensive tackles in the league.
12. Las Vegas Raiders: Jerry Jeudy - WR, Alabama
After the Antonio Brown experiment, unfortunately, backfired on them, the Raiders are in desperate need of a true number one receiver for quarterback Derek Carr. In what I believe to be the best wide receiver class of my lifetime, Jerry Jeudy stands out as the top guy. He is one of the best route runners coming out of college in recent memory and has the deep speed to take the top off a secondary. Drafting Jeudy would give the Raiders their true WR1 and take some attention off of Josh Jacobs and the run game. I truly see Jeudy evolving into one of the best receivers in the league regardless of where he gets drafted.
13. San Francisco 49ers: CeeDee Lamb - WR, Oklahoma
After riding a very talented defense to the Super Bowl, the 49ers will now be looking to add some more firepower to the offensive side of the ball. While Jeudy is my top receiver in this class, the case can still be made for Lamb as the top guy. I absolutely love what Lamb can do in the open field with the ball in his hands as he has an elite ability to make defenders miss. He also has one of the highest catch radiuses in this class as he wins the majority of jump-ball situations thrown his way. Adding Lamb would give Jimmy Garoppolo another weapon to throw to in a season where he will be trying to prove that he is the franchise quarterback in San Francisco.
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: C.J. Henderson - CB, Florida
After unfortunately missing out on one of the top four tackles, the Buccaneers will look to add some talent on the defensive side of the ball. Tampa truly needs a top-level corner in their secondary. While they had a few different young players in the rotation last year, they didn’t really have someone to step up and be the top guy. Henderson is a player that has been flying up draft boards since the combine. He has elite speed that will help him to be dangerous in man coverage on outside receivers and has also shown the ability to come downhill to provide run support. Henderson would be an immediate starter and give the Buccaneers another promising young talent on their defense.
15. Denver Broncos: Henry Ruggs III - WR, Alabama
This is one of my favorite team-prospect fits in this draft. The Broncos seem to be confident moving forward with Drew Lock as their quarterback but need to give him another weapon to throw to. Ruggs is an intriguing prospect as he is one that some experts believe could be sneaking up even higher. He has elite speed, as he showed in his 4.27 second forty at the draft, which helps him as a deep threat but also makes him a threat to take a slant or screen pass to the end zone at any given moment. The combination of Ruggs and Courtland Sutton would give the Broncos one of the more dangerous wide receiver duos in the league.
16. Atlanta Falcons: Javon Kinlaw - IDL, South Carolina
As we have seen in recent years, the Falcons have had one of the more talented offenses in the league. Unfortunately, you can’t say the same about the defensive side of the ball. With that being said, I have them taking the best defensive players in the draft and what I believe would be a steal with Javon Kinlaw. Kinlaw was a force in college as he was the main standout player on what was a very mediocre South Carolina team. He has the power and athleticism to wreak havoc on the interior but also has the versatility to come off the edge as a five-technique and rush the passer. He would be an immediate starter alongside Grady Jarrett on the interior and the two would be a very dominant duo together.
17. Dallas Cowboys: K’Lavon Chaisson - Edge, LSU
The Cowboys have many needs on the defensive side of the ball and I could easily see them going with safety or corner at this pick. However, Chaisson is too good of a value pick to pass up at this spot. Chaisson is an athletic edge rusher that does a great job of getting to the quarterback but also has the ability to drop into coverage if asked to. I see him being an immediate role player off the edge and eventual starter for this defense. If he is used the right way, Chaisson could be a very solid player in the league and have a lengthy, successful career.
18. Miami Dolphins: Xavier McKinney - S, Alabama
After finding their franchise quarterback with their first pick, I have the Dolphins addressing the defensive side of the ball here. After acquiring Byron Jones, Miami has a very promising cornerback duo with him and Xavien Howard. Now they will need to add a piece to the back end of the secondary. McKinney is my top safety in this class and will be an immediate impact player for this defense. The thing that I love about McKinney is that he has the versatility to play all over the secondary, whether it be as a box safety, true free safety or in the nickel. For Miami, he will likely see time at free safety first alongside Eric Rowe but I see him having a very successful career regardless of where he ends up playing.
19. Las Vegas Raiders: Kristian Fulton - CB, LSU
While they added a playmaker on the offensive side of the ball with their first pick, the Raiders have needs to fill on defense as well. Their biggest need is at corner where they need to find a true top guy at the position. Fulton was a key piece of a very talented LSU secondary and has the perfect build for a true outside corner. He is my best remaining player at the position and would be an immediate starter alongside Trayvon Mullen, giving them two young players with solid potential at the position.
20. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jeff Gladney - CB, TCU
After losing A.J. Bouye this offseason, the Jaguars have a huge need at the corner position. Gladney is a talented prospect that will benefit from several teams having a need at the position. While he doesn’t have the best size, Gladney makes up for it with his great instincts and ball skills in coverage. He has shown the ability to be successful in both man and zone coverage, and he will compete for a starting spot or be an immediate role player at the very least in a secondary that is in rebuild mode.
21. Philadelphia Eagles: Justin Jefferson - WR, LSU
This is a pick that could go many different ways as I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Eagles address the defensive side of the ball here. However, they need to add another weapon for Carson Wentz to throw to and this receiver class is too good to ignore. Jefferson is a player that earned himself a lot of money with an outstanding 2019 season. He showed in his time at LSU that he has the ability to play from both the outside and the slot. Jefferson has solid hands and a very high catch radius which helps him pose as a very reliable target in tight coverage. I see him being best suited for the slot and thriving in this offense.
22. Minnesota Vikings: Tee Higgins - WR, Clemson
I see the Vikings being in a very similar situation to Philadelphia. They could address multiple positions on defense here but this wide receiver class is special. After trading Stefon Diggs this offseason, they draft his replacement in Higgins. Higgins is a prospect that I believe has been unfairly slept on or forgotten about in this class as he has the potential to be an outstanding receiver at the next level. His ability as a deep threat will make him a great fit for this offense as he will be their outside receiver paired with Adam Thielen working out of the slot. That combination should make quarterback Kirk Cousins a very happy man in 2020.
23. New England Patriots: Jordan Love - QB, Utah State
The biggest fear that fans of opposing fan bases should have in the first round of this draft is that the Patriots find a way to land one of the top four quarterbacks. Love is a player that a team will likely trade up for if he starts to fall but for this mock, I’m leaving the order as-is. While he had a shaky final season at Utah State, we also must take into account that he didn’t have much to work with. I still see Love as having the highest potential ceiling in this class as he has elite arm talent and athleticism to escape the pocket and become a threat as a ball carrier. Pairing him with Bill Belichick would be very, very dangerous.
24. New Orleans Saints: Kenneth Murray - LB, Oklahoma
New Orleans is another team that could jump on one of the talented receivers in this class but I see linebacker being the biggest need for them. Murray is a player that would give them a lot of flexibility as he could be their true mike or play as an outside linebacker as well. He is one of my favorite players in this class as he plays with a very high motor, getting to the ball and finishing on his tackles. Murray would be an immediate impact player for this defense and will have a very successful career regardless of where they play him.
25. Minnesota Vikings: Trevon Diggs - CB, Alabama
As I mentioned with their first pick, the Vikings have several positions to address on defense and I have them doing that here. After losing three of their top players at the position this offseason, the Vikings must find a corner in the draft. Diggs is my best corner available at this pick. He has a great combination of size, ball skills, and strength that will help him thrive at the next level. I see him being a player that will come in and be an immediate starter on defense for Minnesota with the ability to move all over the secondary.
26. Miami Dolphins: Josh Jones - OT, Houston
When you draft a franchise quarterback that has some past injury concerns, it only makes sense to add some protection for him. With that being said, the Dolphins will address the offensive line at some point, possibly with multiple picks, in this draft. With three first-round picks, it makes sense to do it earlier rather than later. Jones is one of the best available tackles outside the top four and would give Miami a long, athletic tackle that could be plugged in at the left or right side.
27. Seattle Seahawks: A.J. Epenesa - Edge, Iowa
Unless something changes, I fully expect the Seahawks to take an edge rusher at this pick. Epenesa is a prospect that has unfortunately fallen on some draft boards due to other players at the position rising late in the process. However, he is still a first-round talent in my eyes. He has a great combination of length and power which helps him both as a pass rusher and setting the edge. I see him being an immediate impact player as a rotational guy in this defense and eventually earning a starting role.
28. Baltimore Ravens: Patrick Queen - LB, LSU
Over the past few offseasons, the Ravens have been rebuilding their defense back to what it used to be. One of the only things missing is a true inside linebacker to take leadership. Queen is my best available linebacker here and would be a great fit for this defense. He had a great final season for the Tigers as he was a key piece in their National Championship run. He has great play recognition and speed along with finishing ability once he gets to the ball carrier. Queen has the potential to have a very successful career if put behind a great front line as they have in Baltimore.
29. Tennessee Titans: Yetur Gross-Matos - Edge, Penn State
After a surprising playoff run to end the 2019-20 season, the Titans still have some holes to fill if they want to continue to compete. One of the pieces they can fill is with a true edge rusher. Gross-Matos is my best available edge rusher at this spot and would be a great addition to this Titans defense. His outstanding combination of size and athleticism will make him a prototypical edge rusher at the next level as he has shown that he can use it to his advantage to wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks and ball carriers in the backfield. He will be a great rotational piece for this Titans front seven with the potential to eventually earn a starting role.
30. Green Bay Packers: Denzel Mims - WR, Baylor
If the Packers want to continue to compete at the top of the NFC, they must add another weapon to pair with Davante Adams. Mims is another talented receiver in this loaded class that could sneak into the first round. He started to rise up draft boards after a very impressive showing during the Senior Bowl week. Mims is a prototypical outside receiver with great size, speed, and a very high catch radius. The combination of him and Adams could help Aaron Rodgers get back to where he needs to be to make another run at the NFC Championship.
31. San Francisco 49ers: Cesar Ruiz - IOL, Michigan
After getting a go-to receiver with their first pick, I have the 49ers staying on the offensive side of the ball with this selection. They could use some improvement on the offensive line to keep Garoppolo protected and continue their success on the ground. Ruiz is the best interior offensive lineman in this class and the only one that I see worthy of a first-round selection. He played center at Michigan but has the versatility to move to guard as well which would help give the 49ers a “plug and play” lineman that they could move around based on what they need.
32. Kansas City Chiefs: A.J. Terrell - CB, Clemson
This is another selection in this draft that I could see going in multiple directions. I could easily see them going with a running back to add to their already explosive offense. However, cornerback is a bigger need here and they are falling off the board quickly. Terrell is my best available corner at this position and would fit in nicely in this defense. He is a long, athletic cornerback that plays well in press-man coverage. I see him earning immediate playing time and potentially landing a starting job eventually in an improving Kansas City secondary.