The 2020 NFL Draft is next month, and with the NFL Scouting Combine in the rearview mirror, we dive into a full first round mock draft.
With the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine behind us and the start of free agency less than two weeks away, I decided to take a stab at my first mock draft of the year. The Las Vegas Raiders hold two first round picks in the 2020 NFL Draft, and will be looking to target areas of need on both sides of the ball as they continue to revamp this roster.
Because this is a pre-free agency version, things will surely change, but this is a look at what I think teams will do with their first round picks as of right now. Once free agency hits, there is going to be a ton of movement, as there are a lot of big names available this season, so many needs will be addressed that way.
For the Raiders, they have their issues on offense and defense, and luckily for them, they hold two picks within the top-20 selections. The No. 19 pick came to the team in the Khalil Mack trade, a trade that has netted them not only salary cap freedom, but is also serving as a building block for the future of the franchise.
And with that being said, the 2020 NFL draft is now open. The Cincinnati Bengals are on the clock with pick No. 1 overall.
1. Cincinnati Bengals: QB, Joe Burrow, LSU
Has there ever been a more slam dunk pick than Joe Burrow to the Bengals? The southeast Ohio native had arguably the greatest season ever by a college quarterback, not only winning the Heisman Trophy, but also leading the LSU Tigers to the national title in a convincing win over the Clemson Tigers.
Burrow skipped the Senior Bowl and chose not to participate in the combine, so it appears that even he knows this is a no-brainer. Cincinnati has a second-year head coach, and plan on moving on from Andy Dalton, clearing the way for Burrow to be a Day 1 starter in his home state.
2. Washington Redskins: QB, Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama
Hear me out. Ron Rivera spoke with the media at the combine and admitted that they will be meeting with both Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa. Some might think this is nothing but I believe there is a real chance the Redskins move on from Dwayne Haskins after one season.
Haskins struggled badly in limited starts last season, which makes it easy for the Redskins management to go in a different direction. Despite being a defensive-minded coach, Rivera knows the importance of having a franchise quarterback, and while it may have only been one season, Haskins has a lot of work to do before he is that.
3. Detroit Lions: CB, Jeff Okudah, Ohio State
If my mock draft included trades, this would be a place where I think one could occur, based on the quarterback-needy teams in this draft. With Tua off the board, the Miami Dolphins and Los Angeles Chargers could try to make sure they get their guy by trading up a couple spots, but that does not happen here.
Jeffrey Okudah from Ohio State is a stud and Matt Patricia's defense puts an emphasis on having a shutdown corner. With Darius Slay likely headed elsewhere for the 2020 NFL season, this Lions defense needs a new leader at the position group, and they get one here in the person of Okudah, the consensus top corner in this class.
4. New York Giants: DE, Chase Young-Ohio State
The Giants need to protect their new franchise quarterback but their defense was an abomination in 2019. Passing on his choice of a offensive tackle with be hard for Dave Gettleman, but the opportunity to add arguably the best player in the draft at a premium position is a no brainier.
No matter how good Daniel Jones is now, or is going to be in the future, the Giants are not going to win many games if they continue to trot out the collection of players they did on the defensive side of the ball last season. Young can change the game in an instant, and for a team needing help in terms of pass rush, he is just the answer they are looking for.
5. Miami Dolphins: QB, Justin Herbert, Oregon
With Tua off the board, the Dolphins go with their next highest-graded quarterback in Justin Herbert. Herbert has flown under the radar early in the draft process, but he had a really clean week at the Senior Bowl, and a really good combine, helping to boost his draft status.
Herbert continues to check off all the boxes, he has the size, and legs to win at the NFL level, and may be the most NFL-ready quarterback in this draft class. He returned to Oregon for a final season in 2019, and it will certainly pay off on draft night in April.
6. Los Angeles Chargers: OT, Mekhi Becton, Louisville
The Chargers opted not to bring back Phillip Rivers which leaves a big void at quarterback. Tyrod Taylor has experience as a starter in the league. With the top three signal callers off the board the Chargers decide not to reach on Jordan Love based on need. They will roll with Tyrod in 2020.
Instead they take a mountain of a man in Mekhi Becton. Becton is 6 foot 7 inches, 364 pounds and has good movement skills for a man his size. He has been compared to the Raiders right tackle, Trent Brown.
7. Carolina Panthers: DT, Derrick Brown, Auburn
It sounds as if the Panthers plan to stick with Cam Newton, which means they can now take the best player available in Derrick Brown. While Brown's Combine was not spectacular, the tape does not lie, and he is going to be a special player at the next level.
Brown was named SEC defensive player of the year in 2019. Brown can be a disrupter in the middle on the Panthers defense for the next 10 years. Brian Burns and Derrick Brown give first year head coach Matt Rhule a great foundation along the defensive line.
8. Arizona Cardinals: OT, Tristan Wirfs, Iowa
Kyler Murray will push very hard for former teammate CeeDee Lamb, an explosive wide receiver, but Kliff Kingsbury resists the temptation on wide receiver in round one, and pegs Iowa offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs as the pick.
Murray was the top overall pick in 2019 and won Offensive Rookie of the Year, that's an asset that needs to be protected. Wirfs dominated the combine, answering any questions that were had about his ability to play left tackle, and with Larry Fitzgerald returning, and Christian Kirk at WR2, they are good enough at wideout in 2020.
9. Jacksonville Jaguars: LB, Isaiah Simmons, Clemson
A rebuild is underway on the defense in Jacksonville, as Jalen Ramsey was traded away mid-year and just this week, fellow cornerback, A.J. Bouye was dealt to the Denver Broncos for a fourth round pick. In addition, Yannick Ngakoue is likely on his way out, leaving a big void in the pass rush.
Why not get that rebuild started with a freak athlete and jack of all trades in Clemson's Isaiah Simmons. Simmons is a rare talent, unlike anything we have seen. He can line up all over the defense and never needs to come off the field, and for a Jags defense hitting the reset button, he is best-case scenario.
10. Cleveland Browns: OT, Jedrick Wills Jr, Alabama
Baker Mayfield regressed in year two even with a star studded cast on offense, as there was a ton of hype surrounding this team to start the season. It just goes to show you the importance of a competent offense line in the NFL, and that is something this team lacked.
The new regime in Cleveland addresses the offensive line issues by selecting Jedrick Wills, a mauler from Alabama. Wills protected Tua Tagovailoa's blindside at Alabama, but in the NFL will shift over to left tackle, where he will try to help Mayfield get his career back on track.
11. New York Jets: OT, Andrew Thomas, Georgia
The Jets have a couple of different directions they could choose to go in with this pick. They have serious needs on both sides of the ball, including both lines, where they really struggled to control the line of scrimmage in 2019.
The decision to get your young quarterback a number one wide receiver or a franchise left tackle is the debate for this team in the 2020 NFL Draft. In the end, Jets general manager Joe Douglas decides to take advantage of the great depth at wide receiver and selects Andrew Thomas. Thomas is the franchise left tackle this organization is lacking.
12. Las Vegas Raiders: WR, Jerry Jeudy, Alabama
This would be a dream scenario for Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock. With the way the first 11 picks shake out, the Raiders will have their choice of the two elite wide receivers in this draft class, fixing the biggest need they have on the offensive side of the ball.
The Raiders desperately need a playmaker at wideout and they now have their pick of the litter. Jerry Jeudy is as polished a receiver to come out of the college ranks in years. He is professional route runner, has 4.4 speed, and can play on the outside as well as the slot. He slides right in as the WR1 for this team in 2020 and beyond.
13. Indianapolis Colts: QB, Jordan Love, Utah State
The unexpected retirement of Andrew Luck put the Colts in a tough spot last year. Jacoby Brissett had some good moments but struggled with consistency, and due to that, the Colts finished on the outside looking in at the playoffs.
With the No. 13 overall pick, the Indianapolis Colts select Jordan Love, a strong-armed quarterback from Utah State. The issue for Love is that evaluators have a tough time judging exactly who Love is. There is stark difference between his play in 2018 and 2019, and with this pick, Chris Ballard is betting on Love's upside.
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: OT, Austin Jackson, USC
Depending on what the Tampa Bay Buccaneers decide to do with Jameis Winston will have a major impact on what they do with this pick. Winston led the NFL in passing yards last season, but also had 30 interceptions, something head coach Bruce Arians is not going to deal with heading into 2020.
Even so, there isn't a quarterback on the board worth reaching for with this pick. The offensive tackle position falls off a cliff after the top-six, so with that being said Austin Jackson from USC is the pick. Jackson might be a little on the raw side but has athletic ability to be a dominating tackle in this league for years.
15. Denver Broncos: WR, CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma
Somehow CeeDee Lamb made it all the way to pick 15 and the Denver Broncos are thrilled about it. The Broncos want to surround second year quarterback Drew Lock with another threat alongside Courtland Sutton and Noah Fant, and they do so by bringing in arguably the best wideout in this draft class.
Lamb is a human highlight reel with explosive yards after catch abilities. He put together a nice showcase during the NFL Scouting Combine, and when it comes to this draft, he and Jerry Jeudy are by far the best two wide receivers available. With Lamb in the fold, Lock has everything he needs to build off a solid rookie campaign.
16. Atlanta Falcons: DT, Javon Kinlaw, South Carolina
Defensive end is a bigger need so A.J. Epenesa and K'Lavon Chaisson will get some consideration here, but in this scenario, Javon Kinlaw from South Carolina is the best player available. When it comes to Kinlaw, he has the ability to play up and down the line, and this Falcons defense needs help all over that side of the ball.
The combination of Kinlaw and Grady Jarrett on the interior will wreck havoc in the NFC South division, a division known for explosive offenses. If the Falcons want to get back to the top of the division, they have to bolster the defense this offseason, as they have the talent on offense to put up points in bunches.
17. Dallas Cowboys: CB, C.J. Henderson, Florida
With Amari Cooper and Dak Prescott still needing to get paid, star cornerback Bryon Jones is the odd man out. It was reported this week that the Cowboys will let the corner test the free agent market, and with the No. 17 overall pick, they do their best to fill the void of him leaving.
C.J. Henderson will step in as a starter on day one, and for this Dallas Cowboys defense, they cannot afford to take a step back in the secondary with Jones leaving. Henderson showed out at the NFL Scouting Combine, and outside of Jeffrey Okudah from Ohio State, he is the best cornerback in this draft class.
18. Miami Dolphins: OT, Josh Jones, Houston
The Miami Dolphins picked up their quarterback with the first of three first rounds picks, and now they pick up a left tackle to replace Laremy Tunsil, who they traded away last year. The good news for the Dolphins is the fact that this draft class is loaded with talent at the offensive tackle position, and they get a cornerstone player at pick No. 18.
Josh Jones from Houston, like Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert, had a good showing at the Senior Bowl. He is not a finished product like some of the other tackles drafted ahead of him but he has the tools to be a future starter, and this is a Dolphins football team that is building for the long run.
19. Las Vegas Raiders: LB, Kenneth Murray, Oklahoma
Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock are again faced with a decision, but this time they turn their attention to the defensive side of the ball. Is it Kenneth Murray or Patrick Queen to be drafted at pick No. 19 to be their franchise linebacker, which this franchise has been lacking for some time.
The Las Vegas Raiders continue to build to their already strong foundation from the 2019 NFL Draft class with another high character, alpha male, who loves the game of football. Kenneth Murray has sideline to sideline speed, the athleticism to match up against tight ends, and oozes leadership.
20. Jacksonville Jaguars: CB, Kristian Fulton, LSU
As I mentioned earlier, cornerback A.J. Bouye was traded earlier this week, so there is a major void at cornerback for the Jacksonville Jaguars heading into next season. There are a handful of cornerbacks who are worthy of first round consideration this year, and one happens to come from the national champs.
Kristian Fulton showed his dominance all season for the LSU Tigers, and is someone who can come in and fill the void left by not only Bouye, but also Jalen Ramey. Fulton excels in press man coverage but needs to clean up his tackling, and on a Jaguars defense that will have a brand new look in 2020, he becomes a leader in the secondary.
21. Philadelphia Eagles: WR, Henry Ruggs III, Alabama
Desean Jackson was brought in last season to give Carson Wentz a viable vertical threat, and that plan went by the wayside when Jackson was plagued by injuries. With the No. 21 overall pick this April, the Eagles get Wentz the fastest prospect in this draft class, selecting Henry Ruggs III from Alabama.
The Eagles won't waste anytime making this pick, as he fits an immediate need in this offense. Ruggs III is an absolute burner and a much younger, healthier version of Desean Jackson, and after winning the NFC East last season, the Eagles are looking to fit the pieces in place for another run at a division title.
22. Buffalo Bills: WR, Justin Jefferson, LSU
John Brown had a career year with the Bills in 2019 going over 1,000 yards receiving, but there is still a need for prototypical number one receiver on the roster. In his second season as the starter, quarterback Josh Allen took a step forward, and the franchise is looking for him to continue in that direction in 2020.
Justin Jefferson is a sure-handed receiver with great ball skills, and a combination of size (6'1") and speed (4.43). During his final season at LSU, he became a favorite of quarterback Joe Burrow, and after his Combine performance, he is definitely slated for the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft.
23. New England Patriots: DE, A.J. Epenesa, Iowa
This just feels like a typical New England Patriots pick. A.J. Epenesa was being mocked as a possible top-15 pick when the season ended, but after a less than stellar combine his stock has taken a hit.
Bill Belichick once again outsmarts the NFL and gets a very good pass rusher to fall in his lap at pick No. 23. Epenesa has the versatility to rush off the edge and kick inside if necessary, and this Patriots defense needs reinforcements this offseason.
24. New Orleans Saints: S, Xavier McKinney, Alabama
Eli Apple and Vonn Bell are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents, so with their future is up in the air. With the No. 24 overall pick, the New Orleans Saints take Xavier McKinney as a contingency plan at safety in this pre-free agency mock draft.
McKinney played in multiple spots for Nick Saban at Alabama getting snaps in the slot, at free safety, and in the box. The Saints have all the talent they need on offense to make another run in 2020, but if they do not upgrade the back-half of their defense, their ceiling is likely limited to the Divisional Round.
25. Minnesota Vikings: CB, A.J. Terrell, Clemson
With Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander set to hit free agency, the Minnesota Vikings have some work to do in the secondary. With the No. 25 overall pick, the Vikings select Clemson standout cornerback A.J. Terrell, filling an immediate need on their defense.
Don't let his performance from the 2019 championship game scare you off, as A.J. Terrell has all the tools to be a Pro Bowl caliber cornerback. Starting with his length and speed, and his ability to mirror and match in coverage, this is a guy who excels in press man coverage.
26. Miami Dolphins: RB, D'Andre Swift, Georgia
When Ryan Fitzpatrick leads the team in rushing, you know there is a major problem with your run game. Having already drafted a quarterback and left tackle, now it's time to fix that issue with the run game.
D'Andre Swift is the guy to do that. Swift is the latest of a string Georgia running backs to find his way to the NFL. He is a decisive, one-cut runner who can also be a threat in the passing game, and this Miami offense is in desperate need of playmakers.
27. Seattle Seahawks: DE, K'Lavon Chaisson, LSU
With the likelihood that Jadeveon Clowney could walk in free agency, the Seattle Seahawks need to shore up the pass rush. They do so by selecting a pure first-round talent at pick No. 27, picking the dynamic K'Lavon Chaisson from LSU this late in round one.
Chaisson is a pass rushing specialist, who plays his best football in the biggest of circumstances. Four and a half of his sacks came in the final four games of the season, which included the SEC championship game and the College Football Playoff, so when the season is on the line, he can be counted on.
28. Baltimore Ravens: LB, Zack Baun,Wisconsin
With Mark Ingram turning 31, I think the Baltimore Ravens could go with a running back here, but in the end, they have needs at edge rusher and linebacker. With the No. 28 overall selection, they add Wisconsin linebacker Zack Baun, who can fill both void immediately.
Baun is a twitchy guy in the mold of a Clay Matthews or Anthony Barr, and should have an instant impact at the NFL level. During his time at Wisconsin, he became one of college football's premiere pass rushers with 12.5 sacks and 19.5 tackles for loss.
29. Tennessee Titans: DE, Yetur Gross-Matos, Penn State
Harold Landry has 13.5 sacks in two seasons with the Tennessee Titans, but he needs a running mate. Yetur Gross-Matus is a bit of a project, but on the opposite side of Landry, he could give the Titans dominant edge rushing bookends for years to come.
This is a prospect who needs to develop physically to fill out and add strength to his long frame, and that will help diversify his array of pass moves. He might not make an instant impact at the NFL level, but with proper coaching, like having Mike Vrabel as his head coach, his ceiling is high.
30. Green Bay Packers: WR, Tee Higgins, Clemson
Aaron Rodgers isn't exactly getting any younger, so the window for the Green Bay Packers to win now is getting smaller and smaller. The Packers must get some weapons besides Davante Adams in the passing game, and they do so here with Tee Higgins.
Higgins is a tall, lanky receiver who uses his long frame to create mismatches against smaller defensive backs, and would be a perfect compliment to Adams. Look for him to find work early in his career as a red zone target.
31. San Francisco 49ers: S, Grant Delpit, LSU
The 49ers do not have a second, third, fourth, or fifth round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, so it's important they nail their first round pick. They have needs at interior offensive line, and in the secondary at both corner and safety.
I don't see a first round guard on the board so instead the pick is Grant Delpit, a standout safety for LSU. Delpit entered 2019 as one of the best prospects in the class, but dealt with a high ankle sprain that effective his level of play. He is the kind of safety who is physical and will help in the run game.
32. Kansas City Chiefs: CB, Trevon Diggs, Alabama
The Chiefs announced that they will be using the franchise tag on defensive tackle Chris Jones, so they can now shift their attention to the secondary. Although the defense played better down the stretch, the unit could use some more help.
Trevon Diggs is the brother of Vikings receiver Stefon Diggs, and is a big corner at 6'1", 205 and because he is a former wideout, he possess excellent ball skills. One of the negatives of the change of position he is not as polished as some of the other cornerbacks taken in round one, but he would be a great find to close out the first round.