Ah, here it is. The first mock draft of the season. As it stands we have several teams vying for the number one pick in this year’s draft class, with the winless Bengals currently entrenched at the top of the board. Without further adieu, let’s get to mocking some of these picks!
- Cincinnati Bengals
Pick: EDGE Chase Young, Ohio State
This may come as a shock to some, but the Bengals are a terrible, no-good, very bad football team. They need help on both sides of the ball and the truth of the matter is this: a quarterback is not going to turn things around immediately. We’ll see how Ryan Finley does as the starter, but judging from his preseason performance, he should be a capable signal caller in Zac Taylor’s offense. I believe that the team would stick with Finley as the starter next season, instead of chasing a player like Joe Burrow or Tua Tagovailoa, and use this draft position to select the best player available. Luckily for the Bengals, that player just happens to be Chase Young, an in-state product with upside that rivals the Bosa brothers and Myles Garrett. The focus of the off-season for Cincy should be beefing up the trenches, and selecting Young at number one overall would provide a major upgrade to the team’s defense.
2. Washington FC
Pick: LT Andrew Thomas, Georgia
Thomas has been annointed as the best tackle prospect in this class for good reason. A physical yet agile lineman, Thomas would be a great fit in either a zone blocking scheme or a power blocking scheme. We have seen a mix of both of these from Washington this season, so Thomas should fit right in. His profile as a blocker is very similar to that of Trent Williams, Washington’s disgruntled left tackle, an ideal changing of the guard for a team in desperate need of offensive line help. While a player like Jerry Jeudy would be the sexy pick, Washington needs to get better from the point of attack first, making Thomas the ideal target here. The team may consider a change at the QB position, although I would be shocked if they gave up on Dwayne Haskins so soon, given his tremendous upside.
3. New York Jets
Pick: CB Jeff Okudah, Ohio State
Okudah is the next man up from “DB-U”, as the junior has been one of the best shutdown corners in college football this season. At 6’1, 200 lbs, Okudah has the ideal measurements for a boundary corner, a highly valuable commodity in today’s pass-happy league. While the Jets have a number of needs, their group of defensive backs (outside of Jamal Adams) are among the worst in the NFL. Adding Okudah would be a tremendous move for the organization, as his coverage skills will help to reestablish the defensive culture of New York football. If Sam Darnold continues to see ghosts this pick could very well be a QB, although the team should remain loyal to Darnold considering his flashes of brilliance in the past.
4. Miami Dolphins
Pick: WR Jerry Jeudy, Alabama
While this entire campaign has been labeled as the “Tank for Tua”, the Dolphins would be smart to avoid drafting a QB in this class. With a capable young signal caller on the roster (Josh Rosen) and an awful supporting cast of players, bringing in a QB for the 2020 season would be a foolish move for the organization. Rather than starting the rebuild with a rookie passer, the team must first focus on building a team for their QB of the future. Jeudy is perhaps the best receiver prospect since Sammy Watkins (at one time, this man was an amazing prospect, believe it or not), with tremendous route running and a knack for making clutch receptions. With Jeudy, Preston Williams, and Albert Wilson in the slot, the Dolphins’ receiving core may begin to look like that of an NFL team in 2020, a great start to a long rebuild.
5. Atlanta Falcons
Pick: RB D’Andre Swift, Georgia
The first outrageous pick in this mock, Swift’s transcendent talent is a perfect fit for the stale Falcons running game. A true three down back, built in the mold of Alvin Kamara, Swift has the potential to be a game changer from day one. Assuming the team invests in the offensive line this offseason, reestablishing the ground game should be a major emphasis in 2020. By selecting Swift, the team can afford to cut ties with overpaid, underperforming Devonta Freeman, and run a faster, more dynamic offense. While the Falcons are more than just a running back away from being a contender, adding a potential superstar like Swift can get the team back on track, looking at the model set by division rival New Orleans.
6. New York Giants
Pick: DE A.J Epenesa, Iowa
If it weren’t for Chase Young, Epenesa would have been the best defensive player in this class. A massive book-end, Epenesa is equally adept at stuffing the run and rushing the passer. Alongside Leonard Williams and Dexter Lawrence, Epenesa could help the Giants build a juggernaut on defense. An offensive lineman or secondary player might be more practical in this scenario, but we know that Dave Gettleman loves to invest in the trenches. As the best player available, it’s hard to argue against Epenesa here.
7. Cleveland Browns
Pick: LT Walker Little, Stanford
The Browns are desperate to replace Joe Thomas, two seasons after his retirement. While Little is far from the most athletic tackle in this class, his technique and toughness are impeccable. A plug-and-play starter at the position, Little would immediately help alleviate the weaknesses in Cleveland’s patchwork offensive line. A secondary player would be a nice pick as well, although I feel like left tackle should be a priority for the team this offseason.
8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Pick: QB Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama
Jameis Winston is not a bust. You just can’t win with him. With an equal likelihood of throwing a beautiful touchdown pass or throwing a horrendous interception, there’s an argument to be made that Winston is the most exciting player in the league, simply because you never know what to expect from him. A change of scenery for Winston may unlock some of his good qualities, but that can not occur without the team finding his replacement. Enter Tua, a pro-ready passer, built to lead a team immediately. With a talented offense in place, Tampa could very well make a playoff push with the efficient and smart Tagovailoa under center. Hell, this team could very well be a juggernaut with a turnover avoidant passer like Tua throwing to Mike Evans and Chris Godwin.
9. Denver Broncos
Pick: QB Justin Herbert, Oregon
You have to think that John Elway likes Justin Herbert. After all, Herbert is a big, athletic, and smart QB with a west coast composure. Moreover, Herbert is a much more pro-ready passer than previous Elway draft picks Paxton Lynch, Drew Lock, and Brock Osweiler. If the team chooses to keep Joe Flacco around he could very well be a mentor to Herbert, tutoring him about how to be the best passer he can be. This is a match made in heaven and I would be surprised if the Broncos passed up Herbert, should he fall to them.
10. Oakland Raiders (Via Chicago Bears)
Pick: WR CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma
While Jerry Jeudy is the most complete receiver in this class, Lamb may very well end up as the best. An explosive vertical threat, Lamb has the upside to be a Deandre Hopkins/Davante Adams type of weapon on the boundary. For a Raider team that features journeyman Tyrell Williams and Hunter Renfrow as its top two receivers, Lamb would be a great pickup at this stage. With this pick, acquired in the Khalil Mack trade, Oakland can continue its offensive rebuild. With Lamb, Renfrow, Josh Jacobs, and Darren Waller on the roster, the Raiders offense will be looking extra spicy in 2020.
11. Arizona Cardinals
Pick: WR Henry Ruggs III, Alabama
Another receiver off the board. Ruggs is the fastest player in this class, but he is closer to Tyreek Hill than John Ross as a player. In a Cardinals offense that emphasizes speed, Ruggs could be a dynamic weapon in the slot and on deep throws. Considering the lack of young talent in the receiving core, Arizona will desperately need to draft a game changing talent at the position, so Ruggs is an excellent pick at this juncture.
12. Detroit Lions
Pick: RB Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin
Two running backs in the top 15? Say it ain’t so! While Kerryon Johnson has had moments of decent play, he is far from a franchise back. By drafting Taylor, the Lions can return to their roots, as a run-heavy offense. Taylor has been the most dominant back in college football this season, as he has single-handedly carried the Badgers offense at times. While some may perceive this as a reach, a team with playoff aspirations must be able to turn to its ground game in order to win. Entering a make-or-break season, I believe that coach Matt Patricia will realize this too.
13. Jacksonville Jaguars
Pick: CB C.J Henderson, Florida
No Jalen Ramsey, no problem. Henderson is a smooth cover corner, with smothering man coverage abilities. With Henderson and A.J Bouye in the fold, the Jags may very well be on their way to fielding yet another dominant defensive unit in 2020. Once again, best player available also happens to fill a need for J’Ville.
14. Los Angeles Chargers
Pick: QB Joe Burrow, LSU
The draft’s biggest riser finds himself in an amazing situation with the Chargers. Burrow, a pinpoint accurate pocket passer, would be an outstanding understudy for Philip Rivers, as his leadership and swagger will remind fans and teammates of Uncle Phil right off the bat. While he may not start immediately, Burrow could not ask for a better environment to learn and grow as a quarterback. Rivers is among the smartest, most dedicated players in the league, and I’m positive that he would take Burrow under his wing immediately. With pass-catchers like Austin Ekeler, Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and Hunter Henry on the roster, the Chargers offense is built to make a rookie QB look as good as possible.
15. Tennessee Titans
Pick: QB Jamie Newman, Wake Forest
You may be asking yourself, “who the f–k is this guy?”. Well, to be honest I’m not very sure either. Newman is a riser in the eyes of many scouts, as he has prototypical size (6’4, 225 lbs) and athleticism for the position. The starter for an upstart Wake Forest team (that has just one loss), Newman’s leadership and work ethic could lead to a Daniel Jones-esque rise. With the top three QBs off the board, the Titans will need to take a risk if they’re intent on drafting a new franchise QB. Newman possesses an upside beyond that of Jake Fromm (Andy Dalton/Derek Carr type), Jordan Love (super raw, not very exciting), or Jalen Hurts (a game manager). It’s a risk, but if Mike Vrabel wants to save his job he may very well have to take it.
16. Oakland Raiders
Pick: LB Dylan Moses, Alabama
Moses has missed this season with a knee injury, but the consensus is that he will still be the first linebacker off the board this spring. Equally adept at playing inside or outside, Moses would bring unique versatility to a Raider defense that desperately needs an infusion of talent. While a pass rusher would be ideal in this scenario, I believe that the team will run it back with Clelin Ferrell and Arden Key in 2020, possibly acquiring another edge rusher in free agency.
17. Miami Dolphins (Via Pittsburgh Steelers)
Pick: SAF Grant Delpit, LSU
Out with Minkah, in with Grant. Delpit is the best safety in this class and would be an excellent fit in Brian Flores’s defense. Considering the lack of talent on this team, best player available will likely be the method of selection at every stage of this mock.
18. Philadelphia Eagles
Pick: WR Tee Higgins, Clemson
Higgins is an Alshon Jeffery type, and his selection could very well spell the end of Jeffrey in Philly (is that cosmic irony?). While the rumors were vehemently denied, there may be some truth to the claim that Jeffery was responsible for calling out Carson Wentz in the media a few weeks ago. Regardless of whether that occurred, Jeffery’s production has tailed off these past couple of seasons, and he should be sent packing this offseason. Higgins would be an upgrade over Jeffery in both the short and long term, as his fresh legs could allow for a much more dynamic passing scheme. With Jeffery, Desean Jackson, and Nelson Agholor all potentially departing this offseason, Higgins may not be the only receiver selected by the Eagles in this draft.
19. Carolina Panthers
Pick: DL Raekwon Davis, Alabama
A versatile and tough defensive linemen, Davis would be a stabilizing addition to an already solid defensive unit. A quarterback was considered here, but I feel like the team is okay with Kyle Allen or Will Grier as the QB next season, should Cam Newton not be the starter.
20. Jacksonville Jaguars (Via Los Angeles Rams)
Pick: WR Laviska Shenault, Colorado
Once considered to be the second coming of Julio Jones, Shenault has seen his stock plummet in recent weeks, with many mocks leaving him out of round one entirely. However, I believe that Shenault will recover from this fall, as his talent is on par with the rest of the elite receivers in this class, his fatal flaw being his decision to play at Colorado rather than Alabama or Oklahoma. With Shenault, Dede Westbrook, and D.J Chark, the Jaguars could very well light the league on fire in 2020, as their vast group of playmakers could elevate Nick Foles (Or Gardner Mineshew II) to a new level.
21. Dallas Cowboys
Pick: CB Trevon Diggs, Alabama
Stefon’s little brother, Trevon Diggs is an excellent defensive back for the Crimson Tide. While the Cowboys need is more at the safety position, Diggs could allow the team to move Byron Jones back to his natural position. A player with the traits of a shutdown corner, Diggs would be a great addition to the Cowboys defense, as they look to bring home a Super Bowl in 2020.
22. Indianapolis Colts
Pick: TE Brycen Hopkins, Purdue
With Jack Doyle and Eric Ebron set to hit free agency, the Colts would be wise to start fresh at the position will Hopkins, an excellent pass catcher and blocker for the Boilermakers. While he’s not the sexiest pick, Hopkins would be an ideal fit in the Colts offense, assuming the “Zach Ertz” role as a high volume pass catcher at the H-Back position.
23. Minnesota Vikings
Pick: OL Creed Humphrey, Oklahoma
The Vikings need some “hog mollies” up front, and Humphrey is the ideal fit at either center or guard. With Garrett Bradbury and Humphrey in the interior, the Vikings run dominance could continue in 2020 and beyond. There is an outside chance that Humphrey can even swing out to one of the tackle spots, although this may be wishful thinking.
24. Kansas City Chiefs
Pick: RB Chuba Hubbard, Oklahoma State
Hubbard has been one of the most exciting backs in the Big 12 this season, rushing for 1,604 yards and 18 touchdowns thus far. An explosive runner, Hubbard has three-down back written all over him, and while the transition from the Big 12 offense to NFL offense may be tough, his fit would be ideal in Kansas City. With a mediocre stable of backs currently crowding the backfield, the Chiefs could use a home run hitter like Hubbard, who’s speed would be a great complement to the rest of the team’s playmakers.
25. Miami Dolphins (Via Houston Texans)
Pick: OT/OG Trey Smith, Tennessee
A replacement for Laremy Tunsil with the pick he was traded for, very fitting. Smith is another tackle with great physical traits, his only downside being concerns about the blood clots that slowed his development these past couple seasons. A naturally dominant guard, Smith could be used effectively at almost any spot along the offensive line, and he would be a big help in the Dolphins rebuild.
26. Buffalo Bills
Pick: WR Gabriel Davis, Central Florida
Davis is an interesting name to monitor during the pre-draft process, as he has absolutely balled out this year for the Golden Knights. A tall receiver at 6’3, Davis’s ability to win on contested catches and stretch the field will do wonders in Buffalo’s offense, where we have already seen John Brown thrive.
27. Green Bay Packers
Pick: DT Derrick Brown, Auburn
While he’s not the perfect fit with Green Bay’s defense, Brown is as good of a defensive tackle as there is in this class. While he may be a little big to take over the role vacated by Mike Daniels, Brown could be a very solid 3-4 defensive end with some training. If this experiment does not pan out, the team can use him to spell Kenny Clark, assuring that they field a stout run defense on every down.
28. Seattle Seahawks
Pick: OG/C Daryl Williams, Mississippi State
This team always needs offensive line help, so why not take Williams, a player with proven versatility and a mean streak.
29. Baltimore Ravens
Pick: WR Jalen Raegor, TCU
Speed is the name of the game in Baltimore. Putting a player with 4.3 speed like Reagor into the same offense as Lamar Jackson and Marquise Brown could result in one of the most dynamic offenses in NFL history. Reagor is a flat-out burner, who could very well develop as an underneath receiver at the pro level if given the reps. Let’s dream about this pick before the Ravens go out and draft another defensive back or something.
30. New Orleans Saints
Pick: QB Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma
Given his great performance this season, I doubt Teddy Bridgewater will stick around in New Orleans to carry Drew Brees’s golf clubs again in 2020. Unless Brees retires, the team is going to lose Bridgewater, thus making them a candidate to take one here. Hurts has been excellent this season, looking very comfortable as a passer and showing great leadership once again. He profiles very similarly to Bridgewater as a player, with just a little bit less arm strength. His fit would be great in New Orleans, as he could learn from Drew Brees for a year or two before assuming the starting job.
31. New England Patriots
Pick: QB Jake Fromm, New England Patriots
Somehow the most New England passer in the class slips to the Patriots. While I referred to Fromm as a Derek Carr/Andy Dalton type earlier in this mock, I do like him as a player. A model of consistency, I feel like the Patriots could really bring out the best in Fromm, who would be reunited with former Bulldog teammates Sony Michel and Isaiah Wynn in New England. Whether or not Tom Brady is still a Patriot in 2020, Fromm is an excellent qb of the future for a team like the Pats.
32. San Francisco 49ers
Pick: LB/SAF Isaiah Simmons, Clemson
An extremely versatile defender, Simmons could fill a variety of roles for the 49ers defense, acting in the Telvin Smith role.