Tonight, the entire sports world’s eyes will be on ESPN and NFL Network’s presentation of the 2020 NFL Draft. COVID-19 has stripped away all live sports and the NFL has found a way for the show to go on through extravagant setups in the homes of general managers across the league as well as online conference calls to keep everyone socially distanced. Technical difficulties may ensue, but these players still have to be selected. Here is my first round mock draft, excluding trades, for tonight’s festivities. My picks could all be 100% wrong, but that uncertainty is the fun of the NFL Draft.
Pick 1: Cincinnati Bengals – Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
· Arm talent? Check. Leadership? Check. Winning mentality? Check. After an all-time senior season in Tiger Town, Joe Burrow will get the opportunity to turn things around and bring championship pedigree to his home state for the Bengals.
Pick 2: Washington Redskins – Chase Young, EDGE, Ohio State
· Washington has many holes to fill. They begin to build their identity here with who I believe to be the top prospect in this draft class. Young is a once-in-five years pass-rusher.
Pick 3: Detroit Lions – Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State
· Another team with many holes, Detroit could look to trade out of the #3 spot. After trading Darius Slay, Lions pick up the shutdown defensive back of the draft.
Pick 4: New York Giants – Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa
· It’s make or break time for Dave Gettleman. Instead of taking a best player available approach, NYG gets some much-needed protection for Danny Dimes. Wirfs provides versatility to move inside as well.
Pick 5: Miami Dolphins – Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
· The Dolphins easily had the most public “Tank for Tua” campaign. However, his injury concerns give the front office cold fins and cause them to select the strong-arm signal caller.
Pick 6: Los Angeles Chargers: Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
· The Chargers have the luxury of letting whichever QB Miami doesn’t take fall to them. Tua could easily end up being the best thrower when it’s all said and done, and LA takes that chance as they look to fill the seats in newly built SoFI Stadium.
Pick 7: Carolina Panthers – Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson
· The “swiss army knife” of the draft, Simmons can play at multiple levels on an NFL defense. With the sudden retirement of Luke Kuechly, Carolina lucks into a no-brainer here.
Pick 8: Arizona Cardinals – Jedrick Wills, OT, Alabama
· After allowing 50 or more sacks in each of the last three seasons, Arizona provides Kyler Murray with some edge protection to open up that air raid offense.
Pick 9: Jacksonville Jaguars – Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
· In my opinion the most pro-ready receiver in this stacked class, Jeudy puts some electricity to a Jaguars offense that could very well be in the running for Trevor Lawrence next April.
Pick 10: Cleveland Browns – Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
· In free agency the Browns signed Pro Bowl tackle Jack Conklin. Here, Cleveland balances out the line in hopes to finally push that star-studded offense into the stratosphere.
Pick 11: New York Jets – CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
· Jets wideouts were bottom six across the league in TD’s, yards, and points scored. They also lost Robby Anderson to Carolina. You cannot draft a quarterback third overall and not provide him with weapons. With Jeudy off the board, Gang Green gets a guy with big play ability here.
Pick 12: Las Vegas Raiders – CJ Henderson, CB, Florida
· The Raiders’ secondary was among the league’s worst in 2019. Henderson is an athletic freak with the ability to eliminate big plays with his blistering speed.
Pick 13: San Francisco 49ers – Henry Ruggs, WR, Alabama
· I feel like every mock draft on the planet has Ruggs headed to the bay, which means this probably won’t happen. The move just makes so much sense as Ruggs would fit right in as a vertical threat, something the team lacked in their Super Bowl run.
Pick 14: Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville
· The most penalized offense in the National Football League puts some discipline and power on the offensive line. With a 6’7 frame and elite speed for a tackle, the Bucs strike offseason gold once again.
Pick 15: Denver Broncos: Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU
· The organization seems to love Drew Lock. Denver’s receiving core combined for a bottom five finish in yards last season. Here they jump in on the wideout action and pick up Jefferson who was second in SEC receiving yards in 2019.
Pick 16: Atlanta Falcons – Derrick Brown, IDL, Auburn
· Although there is a glaring need in the secondary, Atlanta can’t pass up on pairing Grady Jarrett with the best player on the board (who falls a bit).
Pick 17: Dallas Cowboys: Grant Delpit, S, LSU
· An experienced winner with ball-hawking ability, Jerry Jones aims to fill the void left by Byron Jones who skipped town for a payday in Miami. Some might call the pick a reach at 17 as Delpit does need to work on tackling.
Pick 18: Miami Dolphins (via PIT) – Austin Jackson, OT, USC
· Miami is another team with a mess of an offensive line. After spending big on defense in free agency, the foundation of their young offense continues with their new starting left tackle.
Pick 19: Las Vegas Raiders (via CHI) – Patrick Queen, LB, LSU
· It’s no secret that GM Mike Mayock and HC Jon Gruden love picking guys who played on New Year’s weekend. Patrick Queen is an every-down linebacker who can command Vegas’ second level. Raiders push their WR need to the second night of the draft.
Pick 20: Jacksonville Jaguars – Javon Kinlaw, IDL, South Carolina
· The Jags complete a dynamite first round with a slipping Kinlaw who was borderline top ten among many big boards heading in. Jacksonville gets a guy who can immediately make an impact on a defensive line that, in 2019, looked nonexistent in the middle.
Pick 21: Philadelphia Eagles – Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma
· Everyone expects Philly to go WR in round one, but the top five guys are off the board at this point. Here they take a tackling machine to shore up the second level of their formidable defense.
Pick 22: Minnesota Vikings (via BUF) – K’Lavon Chaisson, EDGE, LSU
· With Everson Griffin out of Minny, another national champion Tiger gets scooped up here. Paired up with Danielle Hunter, NFC North QB’s will have a hard time in the pocket.
Pick 23: New England Patriots – Ross Bladlock, IDL, TCU
· No, the Patriots will not be taking Jordan Love. Belichick picks up a diamond-in the-rough interior guy who can get to the quarterback with quick hands and solid speed for a nose tackle.
Pick 24: New Orleans Saints – Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU
· The Saints have one of the more well-rounded rosters in the entire league. What they do lack, though, is that vertical threat with elite speed. That is where Reagor specializes, and he could fit seamlessly in one of the league’s best offenses.
Pick 25: Minnesota Vikings – Jaylon Johnson, CB, Utah
· Yes, Minnesota lost Stefon Diggs, but they can wait until the second round to address that need. They also lost Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes, and Mackenzie Alexander. Depth is needed in the secondary and the disruptive Johnson adds to that.
Pick 26: Miami Dolphins (via HOU) – Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama
· With the outsides covered by Xavien Howard and the newly acquired Byron Jones, Miami finds a center fielder with ball-hawking ability and experience at both safety spots.
Pick 27: Seattle Seahawks – Yatur Gross-Matos, EDGE, Penn State
· We aren’t doing trades in this mock. But if we were, I would find a way for John Schneider to move down. However, with Jadeveon Clowney’s foot further out the door than in, an already abysmal Seattle pass rush gets a gritty, athletic pass rusher who can make an immediate impact for Pete Carroll and co. on day one.
Pick 28: Baltimore Ravens – Zach Baun, LB, Wisconsin
· Another team with a well-rounded roster, Baltimore has a bit of a hole at linebacker. Baun provides great burst when rushing the passer and can elevate a team sack number that was in the bottom third of the league in 2019.
Pick 29: Tennessee Titans – Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama
· With 2017 first rounder Adoree Jackson yet to break out, could very well see the Titans grabbing an uber-athletic corner with great size at 6’1. Provides depth for a defense that allowed over four thousand yards through the air last season.
Pick 30: Green Bay Packers – Brandon Aiyuk, WR, Arizona State
· The sixth and final wideout taken in the first round gets paired up with Davante Adams in hopes of getting Aaron Rodgers his second ring. Aiyuk has great speed and possesses the ability to make defenders miss in the open field.
Pick 31: San Francisco 49ers – Jeff Gladney, CB, TCU
· Could definitely see someone swooping in here to take Jordan Love (Looking at you, Indy). If not, Gladney is the best corner on the board and will blossom under Richard Sherman, who isn’t getting any younger
Pick 32: Kansas City Chiefs – A.J. Epenesa, EDGE, Iowa
· A high-motor guy completes a solid defensive line for the defending SB champs. Can do many things from the edge spot, but also has the ability to move inside if a Chris Jones departure comes after this season.
By: Tyler Smith- Sports Director