Written by Ryan Lippert
After a great weekend in Indianapolis with the Blitzalytics team, I feel like I at least somewhat have a better feeling for a very deep 2020 draft class. I say somewhat because this draft is still, in my opinion, the most unpredictable in several years. However, with the combine behind us and pro days approaching, it is time to attempt to make some predictions. With that being said, here is how I see the first round shaping out with the current order of the 2020 NFL Draft.
1. Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Burrow - QB, LSU
Out of the 32 picks in the first round of this draft, this is the only pick that I am currently 100% confident will happen. With new head coach Zac Taylor coming into his second season, the Bengals desperately need a franchise QB and Burrow is exactly that. With him in the fold, hopefully, they can make some improvements to their offensive line and add another weapon at receiver. If they can do that, we should see a much-improved Bengals team this season.
2. Washington Redskins: Chase Young - Edge, Ohio State
In the past week or so, there has been a lot of talk about the Redskins possibly being interested in quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. However, Chase Young is a prospect that you simply can’t pass up at this spot. We all saw the impact that Nick Bosa made for the 49ers this season and I honestly believe Young is a better prospect. Add Young to a front seven that already has young talent in Jonathan Allen, Da’Ron Payne, and Montez Sweat, along with Ryan Kerrigan, and the Redskins could have one of the scarier pass-rush groups in the league.
3. Detroit Lions: Jeffrey Okudah - CB, Ohio State
The Lions are another team that has been rumored to be interested in Tua. I’m not buying these rumors as I still believe Matthew Stafford has enough in him to win in Detroit. I could easily see them trading down from this spot but in this scenario, I have them taking the best corner in this draft class. The Lions secondary needs some serious help, especially if Darius Slay is moved. Okudah is a long, athletic corner with the speed and quickness to be very good in man coverage. I can see Okudah being a Pro Bowl-caliber corner for many years to come in the league.
4. New York Giants: Isaiah Simmons - LB/S, Clemson
For the majority of this off-season, I have had the Giants taking an offensive tackle and they still very well could. However, after watching him play this season followed by an unbelievable performance at the combine, I don’t see how the Giants could pass on Simmons here. As we saw at Clemson, Simmons can literally play just about anywhere on the defensive side of the ball. For the Giants, I see him playing linebacker as they need an athletic linebacker to lead this defense. Simmons can come downhill and tackle, blitz off the edge or in the gaps, and cover, what else is there to ask for from a linebacker? Simmons is my third overall prospect in this draft and is going to be a very early contributor for whoever lands him.
5. Miami Dolphins: Tua Tagovailoa - QB, Alabama
After letting Tannehill go to the Titans and struggling with veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick while having Josh Rosen on the bench, it is clear that the Dolphins don’t have their franchise quarterback. Regardless of what some reports may say, I truly believe that Tua has been and still is their guy. With his injury being addressed, I see no reason to believe that Tua won’t be able to go in Week One to lead this Dolphins team. I could honestly see the Dolphins moving up to at least the third pick to make sure that they land him but for now, I have him falling to them at the fifth pick.
6. Los Angeles Chargers: Justin Herbert - QB, Oregon
With the Rivers era looking to be officially done in Los Angeles, the Chargers will now be looking for their franchise quarterback. While they have said they like Tyrod Taylor, I don’t believe that he is the type of quarterback to get them to the playoffs. With that being said, I have them taking Herbert here. Herbert has the arm talent to be able to stretch the field with wide receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams. He also has the athleticism to escape the pocket and at least be a threat as a ball carrier. They are another team that I wouldn’t be surprised to see a trade up to make sure they secure their guy.
7. Carolina Panthers: Derrick Brown - IDL, Auburn
The Panthers are a team that underperformed tremendously in my eyes this season. This was largely due to the fact that Cam Newton missed the majority of the season and that they struggled on the defensive side of the ball. Regardless of the rumors, I believe Newton is back in a Panthers uniform this season and will bring that spark back to this offense. With that in mind, I have them get the best defensive player available at this spot with Brown. The combination of Brown with Gerald McCoy, Kawaan Short, and Dontari Poe will make for a solid defensive line for the Panthers. Brown is disruptive against the run but can also put some pressure on the quarterback. I see Brown being a true Pro Bowl talent for many years to come.
8. Arizona Cardinals: Mekhi Becton - OT, Louisville
Last season, the Cardinals finally seemed to find their guy at quarterback with Kyler Murray and gave him some nice young talent to throw to with the likes of Andy Isabella, KeeSean Johnson, and Hakeem Butler to pair with Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk. With that in mind, their top priority this off-season should be finding some protection for Murray. Becton is a player who has been soaring up the boards lately. He is a 6’7”, 364 pound giant with a seven-foot wingspan. On top of that, he has shown that he can flat out move for his size. His combination of size, athleticism, and strength will make him an immediate starter at left tackle.
9. Jacksonville Jaguars: Javon Kinlaw - IDL, South Carolina
Jacksonville is a team with plenty of young talent that just couldn’t seem to pull it all together this past season. They have one of the more impressive pass rushes in the league with last year’s first-round pick Josh Allen and Calais Campbell, along with Yannick Ngakoue if he remains a Jaguar. However, they could use some help on the interior. Kinlaw is my second best interior defensive lineman in this class and would be a great compliment to Marcell Dareus on this defensive line. Kinlaw was a force at South Carolina this past season and has the strength and physicality to continue to be a headache for interior offensive linemen at the next level.
10. Cleveland Browns: Andrew Thomas - OT, Georgia
As we all saw, the Cleveland Browns failed to live up to their very high expectations in the 2019 season. However, not all hope is lost as they still have an abundance of talent on both sides of the ball. If they want their talent on the offensive side of the ball to be able to shine, they must address the offensive line. Thomas, like all of the top four offensive tackles in this draft, could easily go higher or lower than this pick. However, I still have him no lower than my second-best offensive tackle in this class. Thomas would be an immediate starter at left tackle for the Browns with Greg Robinson facing serious legal issues and would be an upgrade from him in my opinion.
11. New York Jets: Jedrick Wills - OT, Alabama
You can say what you want about the struggles of quarterback Sam Darnold and running back Le’Veon Bell in 2019, it starts upfront and you can only be as successful as your offensive line will allow you to be. With that being said, this Jets offensive line was horrendous this past season and is in serious need of some upgrades. Wills is the best offensive lineman available at this spot and would be an immediate starter at right tackle for this offense while also having the ability to move to left tackle if needed.
12. Las Vegas Raiders: Jerry Jeudy - WR, Alabama
Regardless of who the Raiders have at quarterback next season, whether it be Derek Carr, Tom Brady, or someone else, they will need a true WR1 to throw to. If Jeudy is here at this spot, the Raiders should sprint this pick to the podium. He is the best route runner in this class and has the athleticism to be a headache for opposing corners. Jeudy would be the immediate WR1 and Las Vegas would have a promising arsenal of weapons on offense with him, Tyrell Williams, Hunter Renfrow, Zay Jones, and tight end Darren Waller in the passing game along with running back Josh Jacobs in the backfield.
13. Indianapolis Colts: CeeDee Lamb - WR, Oklahoma
Some people would argue that quarterback makes sense here with a player like Jordan Love or Jacob Eason available. However, I believe that Philip Rivers will be a Colt next season so that position will be addressed. With that in mind, I have them taking another weapon to pair with T.Y. Hilton in this passing game. The argument between Lamb and Jeudy for WR1 is very close and I believe that you won’t go wrong with either one. Lamb has outstanding athleticism to go up and win jump balls but is even more dangerous in the open field once he has the ball in his hands. With an upgrade at QB and now multiple reliable weapons to throw to, this Colts team could be very dangerous in 2020.
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jordan Love - QB, Utah State
Minus the disappointing 2019 season, I still believe that Jameis Winston still has some potential in there. However, I don’t think that Bruce Arians necessarily does and Winston may be asking for more than they are willing to play. With that in mind, I have the Bucs taking a chance on Love as their QB of the future here. While he had a subpar 2019 season, Love also didn’t have much to work with at Utah State and has a ton of potential. He showed at the combine that he has the arm talent and he has also shown that he has the ability to pose a threat as a ball carrier. I believe that Love could be the guy to take this offense to the next level with top-level talent in wide receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, along with tight end O.J. Howard to throw to.
15. Denver Broncos: Henry Ruggs III - WR, Alabama
This pick has been one of my favorite prospects to team fits in this draft class. Ruggs showed us at the combine that he has the elite speed that he was said to have by running a 4.28 forty-yard dash. He is also a very talented route runner and his speed makes him a threat to take a slant or any type of short pass to the house at any given moment. He and Courtland Sutton would be a very dangerous duo at wide receiver for this offense. Now it will be all up to second-year starting quarterback Drew Lock to step up and perform.
16. Atlanta Falcons: A.J. Epenesa - Edge, Iowa
One main thing that stuck out in the disappointing 2019 season for the Atlanta Falcons is that they need some serious help in their pass rush. With Vic Beasley and Takkarist McKinley not living up to their expectations, the Falcons will once again be looking to draft a top-level edge rusher. Epenesa is my second best edge rusher in this class and I believe it could be a steal for the Falcons at this spot. He would be an immediate upgrade and starter in this defense as he would provide the Falcons with the strong presence that they need to set the edge in this front seven.
17. Dallas Cowboys: Kristian Fulton - CB, LSU
The Cowboys are a team that I believe is a few pieces away from being a serious contender in the NFC. One of those pieces involves some help in the secondary. I have them taking the best corner available at this spot in Fulton. Fulton is an athletic corner that will be truly suited for playing on the outside. If the Cowboys move on from Byron Jones, he would be an immediate starter in this defense. However, even if Jones stays, he could possibly start alongside Jones and would still be a key contributor right away in this secondary.
18. Miami Dolphins: Tristan Wirfs - OT, Iowa
After taking Tua with their first pick in this draft, the Dolphins will need to give him some more protection. Miami should feel very lucky that Wirfs, or any of the top four tackles for that matter, would fall to them at this spot. While there was some talk about Wirfs possibly moving inside to guard, he showed at the combine that he has the athleticism to stay at tackle. For the Dolphins, I would have him as the immediate starter at right tackle but he could also slide over to left tackle if they feel like that is where they need him.
19. Las Vegas Raiders: Kenneth Murray - LB, Oklahoma
While they addressed their offense with their first pick, I have the Raiders taking an inside linebacker to be the future leader of their defense here. Murray to the Raiders is another one of my favorite fits for this draft class as he is the type of fast, downhill linebacker that would thrive in this system. He can fill the gaps and run sideline to sideline to make tackles which is huge for any linebacker in the league. This addition would make this young Raiders defense even more dangerous in years to come.
20. Jacksonville Jaguars: Patrick Queen - LB, LSU
After adding some help to the defensive line with their first selection in this draft, I have the Jaguars taking a linebacker to stack behind Kinlaw here. Queen is a player that has jumped up draft boards after the outstanding season by the Tigers. He was a huge part of the successful run for LSU, especially late in the season. Queen has shown that he has the true speed needed to get to the ball and cover tight ends in pass coverage but also has the strength to get off blocks. While I still believe he has room to improve, Queen would be an excellent complementary piece to Myles Jack in this linebacker core.
21. Philadelphia Eagles: Grant Delpit - S, LSU
While the Eagles won their division in 2019, they unfortunately still didn’t have enough to compete for the NFC Championship. The one area that stuck out for me that they need to improve on is in the secondary. With that being said, I have them taking the best available defensive back at this spot. Delpit is a player that underperformed in 2019 but still won the Jim Thorpe Award for best DB in college and has a ton to offer. He can come downhill and support against the run but can also cover. If he can improve on his reaction speed/range in the deep passing game, he will be a very good safety at the next level.
22. Buffalo Bills: Tee Higgins - WR, Clemson
The Bills were one of the most-improved teams in 2019 as they made the playoffs. They have a very good defense and I am a huge believer in quarterback Josh Allen as their franchise quarterback. With that being said, he needs a big outside receiver to add to the smaller slot receivers that Buffalo already has. Tee Higgins fits that description perfectly as he is a big outside receiver that has the speed to pose as a huge threat in the deep passing game.
23. New England Patriots: K’Lavon Chaisson - Edge, LSU
While the Patriots also have needs on the offensive side of the ball, their biggest need is at edge rusher. In this scenario, the Patriots end up with a huge steal at this spot as they add one of the best edge rushers in this class to a defense that could be losing some key pieces this off-season. Chaisson has a solid combination of speed and power that makes him a very dangerous pass rusher. Regardless of if he is an immediate starter or a rotational player, he should make an immediate impact on this defense.
24. New Orleans Saints: Justin Jefferson - WR, LSU
With Brees likely returning, the Saints will need to give him some more weapons to try to make a run at the NFC Championship. I have them taking a receiver that is very familiar with the area here. Jefferson isn’t a true WR1 but will be a great WR2 in the league. That is exactly what the Saints need to pair with arguably the best receiver in the league in Michael Thomas.
25. Minnesota Vikings: C.J. Henderson - CB, Florida
The Vikings are another team in my opinion that is simply a few pieces away from truly competing for the NFC Championship. One area that they need help in is at the corner position. Henderson is my best available corner at this spot and will be an immediate contributor to this defense. He is a long, athletic corner that impressed at the combine with a 4.39 forty-yard dash. Henderson is a player that could definitely push for a starting spot.
26. Miami Dolphins: D’Andre Swift - RB, Georgia
With their third selection in the first round of this draft, I have the Dolphins getting an offensive playmaker to pair with their new QB. While I personally have Jonathan Taylor as my top running back, I think the Dolphins will fall in love with Swift for their system due to his vision and ability in open space, along with being a solid threat in the passing game. Swift would lead a solid rotation of young talent in the backfield along with Kalen Ballage, Myles Gaskin, and Patrick Laird.
27. Seattle Seahawks: Yetur Gross-Matos - Edge, Penn State
While the Seahawks had a solid 2019 season, they still have some room to improve if they want to continue to compete in the crowded NFC West. One of their areas they can improve on is in the pass rush. With Jadeveon Clowney possibly moving on in free agency, they will need to add another threat off the edge. Gross-Matos is my best available edge rusher at this spot and will make an immediate impact on this defense. He is a long, athletic defensive end that uses those traits to beat offensive tackles and has the motor to get to the ball. If Clowney leaves, he will be one of the faces of this defense but will still be a key piece if they were to resign Clowney.
28. Baltimore Ravens: Zack Baun - Edge, Wisconsin
The Ravens were a team that dominated the regular season but were unfortunately upset early in the playoffs. Surprisingly, it was their offense that led them to their impressive record. With that in mind, they will need to address the defense. Baun is a great fit for Baltimore as he would give them the need that they have for help off the edge but could also be a true linebacker if asked to. Baun’s impressive combination of explosiveness and athleticism will help him to become an immediate contributor to this defense.
29. Tennessee Titans: Marlon Davidson - IDL, Auburn
Tennessee was the biggest surprise of the season down the stretch in 2019 as they made a run all the way to the AFC Championship Game. While that is great, they still have some areas of improvement. If Derrick Henry were to move on elsewhere in free agency, I would have them taking a running back here. However, I don’t see them letting that happen so I have them addressing the defensive line here. Davidson combined with Derrick Brown to create one of the best defensive line duos in college football last season. He has the quickness to be able to play off the edge as a defensive end but his size could help him make the move inside. Davidson would be a very good rotational piece on this defensive line along with Jeffery Simmons, DaQuan Jones, and Jurrell Casey.
30. Green Bay Packers: Laviska Shenault - WR, Colorado
As long as Aaron Rodgers is behind center for the Packers, they will remain a contender in the NFC. With that in mind, it is important to give him as many weapons as possible. That is why I have them taking the best receiver available here in Shenault. Shenault has a great combination of size and speed to make him a threat anywhere on the field in the passing game. He also has the versatility to play on the outside or in the slot which could create trouble for secondaries. Shenault would give the Packers a very good WR2 option behind Davante Adams and take some attention away from him in coverage.
31. San Francisco 49ers: Xavier McKinney - S, Alabama
After surprising the world with their run to the Super Bowl, I have the 49ers getting a steal to add to an already impressive defense at this spot. As good as their front seven was, they could use some help in the secondary and McKinney gives them exactly that. McKinney would give the 49ers a true center fielder at safety in the back end of this defense that can cover and also come downhill to support against the run. I see him impressing in training camp and becoming a Week One starter for this defense.
32. Kansas City Chiefs: Jeff Gladney - CB, TCU
As the defending Super Bowl champs, I don’t see too many desperate needs for the Chiefs. I thought about running back here but they already have a few options on their roster and could address the position later in the draft. Another position that they could add some depth is at corner and Gladney is my best available at that position here. He is a solid zone coverage corner that has great ball skills. Although their secondary played better than expected down the stretch, Gladney is a player that I can see being right in the mix for a starting spot down by the end of training camp.