We are merely days away from the NFL Draft, and to some degree, there is less certainty than a month ago, with smoke beginning to build as teams prepare to make their move to secure their prospects of choice. Several things could change the landscape between now and next Thursday, but for now, we’re left running through the possibilities. I’m Andrew DiCecco, and this is my final 2020 NFL Mock Draft.
1) Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Burrow, QB LSU
Cincinnati ends the suspense and secures their quarterback of the future to kick off the first round.
2) Washington Redskins: Chase Young, EDGE Ohio State
Chase Young, my top overall prospect in this class, adds to a loaded Washington defensive line that already boasts Daron Payne, Jonathan Allen, and Matt Ioannidis. This move earns them consideration for the top defensive line in football.
3) Detroit Lions: Jeffrey Okudah, CB Ohio State
As if facing off against the likes of Davante Adams, Adam Thielen, and Allen Robinson twice a year isn’t daunting enough, the historically leaky Lions secondary sent top cover man Darius Slay to Philadelphia last month. With 2019 fifth-rounder Amani Oruwariye, a lengthy, albeit raw young talent, expected to start on one side, the Lions must fortify the position by taking the top cornerback in the draft.
4) New York Giants: Isaiah Simmons, LB Clemson
My favorite prospect in the 2020 NFL Draft would be an ideal fit for any defense, especially a maligned Giants unit with glaring deficiencies at each level. Simmons, a versatile chess piece, can impact a game in a multitude of ways, and is a potential Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate.
5) Miami Dolphins: Justin Herbert, QB Oregon
A mild surprise here, as Miami bypasses Tua Tagovailoa and chooses the strong-armed signal caller from Oregon. Justin Herbert doesn’t share the same durability concerns and possesses every bit of upside, and while Tagovailoa is my top-rated quarterback prospect, selecting him in the top-five is a considerable risk when factoring the medical red flags.
6) Los Angeles Chargers: Tua Tagovailoa, QB Alabama
Tua Tagovailoa’s draft day skid doesn’t last long in this scenario, as the Chargers anoint the Alabama passer to be Philip Rivers’ successor.
7) Carolina Panthers: Derrick Brown, DT Auburn
Derrick Brown, the top interior defender, is the perfect blend of size, athleticsm, and play strength. The Auburn standout plays with solid leverage and has the power to push the pocket. His ability to effectively play the run and the pass makes him the ideal three-down defensive lineman.
8) Arizona Cardinals: Mekhi Becton, OT Louisville
Arizona has surrounded Kyler Murray with plenty of firepower, and now add the draft’s premier tackle to protect last year’s first-round investment. Mekhi Becton has immense upside and has yet to scratch the surface of how good he can be.
9) Jacksonville Jaguars: C.J. Henderson, CB Florida
Absent their two starting cornerbacks from a season ago, the Jaguars pounce on Florida standout C.J. Henderson, who should instantly nail down a spot on the outside. Henderson is a lengthy match-and-mirror cornerback who is a phenomenal athlete and arguably the best pure cover man in this class.
10) Cleveland Browns: Jedrick Wills, OT Alabama
A star-studded Browns offense often stalled in 2019, due in large part to inconsistent play in the trenches. Wills, a supremely versatile offensive lineman, is a plug-and-play prospect, and adding him is the first step to ensuring that the offensive line won’t be what hinders the Browns in 2020.
11) New York Jets: CeeDee Lamb, WR Oklahoma
With Robby Anderson now in Carolina, the Jets are in dire need of perimeter playmakers. Jamison Crowder has been an excellent addition in the slot, but Lamb gives the offense an entirely different dimension — which will alleviate pressure from workhorse Le’Veon Bell and allow Sam Darnold to take the next step in his young career.
12) Las Vegas Raiders: Jerry Jeudy, WR Alabama
The Raiders sorely lack a player that can stretch the field. Outside of Tyrell Williams, the cupboard is bare in terms of a vertical threat. Free agent addition Nelson Agholor will likely be used on the outside with the Raiders after seeing the bulk of his success in the slot with the Eagles, but the need for a primary receiving option is evident. Jeudy, an elite separator, effectively builds even more anticipation for the inaugural season in Las Vegas.
13) San Francisco 49ers: Henry Ruggs III, WR Alabama
A convincing argument could be made for taking Javon Kinlaw here, but the prospects of coming away with electrifying Alabama receiver Henry Ruggs III will likely be too tempting to pass on. The 49ers add a game-breaking deep threat to complement George Kittle and Deebo Samuel.
14) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Tristan Wirfs, OT Iowa
The Buccaneers provide Brady with protection, selecting one of the top tackles in this loaded class. Tristan Wirfs, a terrific athlete and fluid mover in space, is a technically sound blocker that can step in and play from Day 1.
15) Denver Broncos: Andrew Thomas, OT Georgia
The Broncos don’t get their speed receiver here, but they do come away with an NFL-ready offensive tackle to protect Drew Lock for the next decade. Andrew Thomas, a three-year starter at Georgia, has extensive experience facing a vast array of pass rushers in the SEC, and a plays with a strong base, heavy hands, and a mean streak.
16) Atlanta Falcons: Javon Kinlaw, DT South Carolina
The Falcons add what some believe to be the top defensive tackle in the draft in Javon Kinlaw. The South Carolina product boasts superhuman strength, a lightning quick first-step off the ball, and violent hands. Kinlaw will be an instant producer opposite Grady Jarrett.
17) Dallas Cowboys: K’Lavon Chaisson, EDGE LSU
The Cowboys jump at the chance to pair K’Lavon Chaisson with DeMarcus Lawrence. While Chaisson needs some work, the intangibles are enticing enough to take him here.
18) Miami Dolphins: Justin Jefferson, WR LSU
The Dolphins snag one of the more reliable pass catchers in the draft to aid Herbert. Justin Jefferson is a polished wide receiver with good body control and an innate feel for spacing. He offers inside-outside versatility, wins contested catches, and should serve as a security blanket for Justin Herbert.
19) Las Vegas Raiders: Kenneth Murray, LB Oklahoma
Raiders GM Mike Mayock hit home runs on most of his draft picks in 2019, particularly on the defensive side, adding impact players in the back end and on the defensive line. While they’ve added Cory Littleton and Nick Kwiatkoski to the second level, drafting Kenneth Murray, a fast-flowing, run-and-hit defender, gives them one of the strongest linebacking units in football.
20) Jacksonville Jaguars: Josh Jones, OT Houston
Jacksonville added a critical defensive piece to solidify the back end, and now adds one of the more intriguing offensive tackles to shore up a largely inconsistent offensive line. Josh Jones will pair with Jawaan Taylor to give the Jaguars one of the better young pairings of offensive tackles in the NFL.
21) Philadelphia Eagles: Jaylon Johnson, CB Utah
With Jefferson off the board, the Eagles opt to add some length and size to the cornerback room for new defensive backs coach Marquand Manuel. Jaylon Johnson, who has garnered some first-round buzz late in the draft process, met with the Eagles at the NFL Combine.
22) Minnesota Vikings: Kristian Fulton, CB LSU
I originally wanted to slot Jaylon Johnson here, but Kristian Fulton is no small consolation. The LSU product gives a Vikings team, absent two starters from a season ago, a technically sound perimeter defender with length and plus ball skills.
23) New England Patriots: Jordan Love, QB Utah State
With Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer currently atop the Patriots quarterback hierarchy, there is a clear-cut need for a long-term option at the position. While I’m not sold that Stidham can evolve into that caliber of player, I feel confident that Jordan Love can. The Utah State signal caller has the prototypical size, mobility, and a big enough arm to make all the throws at the next level.
24) New Orleans Saints: Patrick Queen, LB LSU
The Saints’ linebacking corps feels like more of a MASH unit than a group that can be counted on to withstand the rigors of a full NFL slate in its current state, as Kiko Alonso and Alex Anzalone have both had their bouts with injury. Patrick Queen, a local prospect, gives the Saints a rangy, instinctive player with plus athleticism on the second level, and he should be an early contributor as a rookie.
25) Minnesota Vikings: Jalen Reagor, WR TCU
With Johnson and Fulton off the board, the Vikings address their wide receiver vacancy by selecting explosive TCU wideout Jalen Reagor to pair with Adam Thielen. Reagor gives Minnesota the vertical speed element they lost when they shipped Stefon Diggs to Buffalo.
26) Miami Dolphins: Austin Jackson, OT USC
The Dolphins bolster the protection up front for their young quarterback, adding one of the more athletic offensive tackles in the class.
27) Seattle Seahawks: Jeremy Chinn, S Southern Illinois
Deep into opening night, it’s Jeremy Chinn who becomes the first safety off the board. Built similarly to former Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor, Chinn fits the bill for what Seattle looks for in defensive backs. At 6-foot-3, 221 pounds, the versatile defender boasts the athleticism, coverage acumen, and football intelligence to play single-high, defend the slot, play in the box, or be deployed as a linebacker. The small school phenom is among my favorite prospects in this class.
28) Baltimore Ravens: Yetur Gross-Matos, EDGE Penn State
The Ravens add another edge rusher to their stable. Yetur Gross-Matos has the size and athleticism teams covet at the position, and has yet to fill out his 6-foot-5 frame. The former Nittany Lion plays with great agility, speed, and bend off the edge. He should thrive in a rotational role with Matthew Judon and Jaylon Ferguson.
29) Tennessee Titans: A.J. Terrell, CB Clemson
Five cornerbacks have now been taken, as Tennessee takes Clemson standout A.J. Terrell to invigorate a position in dire need of a top-level cover man. Terrell has the intangibles to develop into of the top cornerbacks in this class in time.
30) Green Bay Packers: Denzel Mims, WR Baylor
It is no great secret that the Packers have struggled to find an adequate running mate opposite Davante Adams in recent years, relying on the likes of Geronimo Allison and Marquez Valdes-Scantling to exceed expectations. After Jeudy, Lamb, and Ruggs, the argument could be made that Mims has among the highest upside of the remaining wide receivers.
31) San Francisco 49ers: A.J. Epenesa, EDGE Iowa
Arik Armstead’s departure leaves an immense void along San Francisco’s vaunted defensive line — both literally and figuratively. Epenesa (6-foot-5, 275) slips a little further than expected, but will be a sturdy bookend opposite Nick Bosa. The 49ers effectively address their two major needs in the first round, coming away with the draft’s premier deep threat and stumbling on value in in the latter stages of opening night.
32) Kansas City Chiefs: Zack Baun, LB Wisconsin
The reigning Super Bowl Champions have few pressing needs to speak of, but their underwhelming linebacking corps could use an upgrade. Baun, who registered 12.5 sacks in 2019, adds even more juice to a pass rush that finished 11th in the NFL in team sacks in 2019 (45).