Draft season (and mock draft season) is in full swing as everyone awaits Super Bowl LIV, so now is a great time to reveal the first mock of the year.
1. CIN: Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
Burrow going No. 1 overall can be written in sharpie, as even if Cincinnati ended up trading the pick for a Godfather offer (which probably won’t happen), the Heisman winner would be the target.
2. WAS: Chase Young, DE, Ohio State
Strides need to be made on offense, but the Redskins will hope Young is able to have a similar impact to the one former college teammate Nick Bosa has had in San Francisco.
3. DET: Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn
The mystery starts here, and we may see a trade up from the Dolphins to secure Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa if he’s their guy; without predicting trades, though, Brown is a dominant defensive lineman to anchor Matt Patricia’s defense.
4. NYG: Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson
I’d say the Giants are almost certainly going to choose between Simmons and an offensive tackle, but the tendency of general manager Dave Gettleman to go best player available gives the edge to the versatile linebacker.
5. MIA: Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
If all the smoke around the Dolphins wanting Tagovailoa is true, it’s unlikely they sit tight at No. 5 to potentially allow someone to leap them—even in a very strong quarterback class.
6. LAC: Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
There doesn’t seem to be an upcoming free agent that would preclude the Chargers from taking a quarterback here, and I could see them really liking Herbert as a gifted playmaker to match Patrick Mahomes and Drew Lock in the AFC West.
7. CAR: Jeffrey Okudah, CB, Ohio State
Most consider Okudah the best cornerback in the class, and new head coach Matt Rhule would probably be in favor of getting a tough defender that will not only cover, but also come up to tackle.
8. ARI: Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
The Cardinals may decide to reunite Kyler Murray with college teammate CeeDee Lamb, but they have their pick of offensive lineman based on how this mock has played out, and Thomas will be tough to pass on as a possible cornerstone left tackle.
9. JAX: Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
I wouldn’t necessarily consider wide receiver a need after D.J. Chark emerged in 2019, but Jeudy is a crisp route runner with tremendous upside, and the current regime wants to get all the help they can for Gardner Minshew ahead of a make-or-break year.
10. CLE: Jedrick Wills, OT, Alabama
Doubling up on offensive tackle wouldn’t be a bad idea for the Browns depending on who is available when they’re on the clock again, and in this scenario, they start at right tackle by selecting the powerful Wills.
11. NYJ: Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa
The Jets have multiple needs that could be addressed here, but if keeping Sam Darnold upright is the priority, Wirfs could slide right in as a starter with 2019 third-rounder Chuma Edoga bookending him on the blindside.
12. OAK: CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
Quarterback is the wild card over the next three selections, but assuming Jon Gruden doesn’t want to roll with a rookie as the team hopes to make a leap in Las Vegas, getting a weapon like Lamb would be great for whoever is under center.
13. IND: Jake Fromm, QB, Georgia
General manager Chris Ballard didn’t fully commit to Jacoby Brissett being the team’s Week 1 starter next season, so if Indianapolis doesn’t add significant competition in free agency, that could mean they have their eyes on a prospect such as Fromm on Day 1.
14. TB: K’Lavon Chaisson, OLB, LSU
The Buccaneers have invested heavily in the secondary over the past few years, and what better way to make the young corners look good than to cut down on the time they have to cover? Chaisson and Shaquil Barrett screaming off the edge is a scary thought.
15. DEN: Henry Ruggs, WR, Alabama
If there isn’t a run on quarterbacks, this could be Ruggs’ floor in April, especially after he inevitably runs a sub-4.3 40-yard dash next month at the NFL Scouting Combine.
16. ATL: Yetur Gross-Matos, DE, Penn State
Atlanta’s coaching staff did an excellent job turning around the defense in the second half of the season, and adding a player like the rangy Gross-Matos would put them in a good position to carry it into 2020.
17. DAL: Grant Delpit, S, LSU
Perhaps the Cowboys and Jets will revisit trade talks for All-Pro safety Jamal Adams, but if not, Dallas could simply draft Delpit to patrol the backend of a defense that hasn’t played up to their talent level.
18. MIA (via PIT): Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville
Becton’s ability to move at his size (six-foot-seven, 369 pounds) puts him on the Day 1 radar based on upside alone, and Miami needs to protect Tua or whatever other quarterback they draft into 2020/2021.
19. OAK (via CHI): Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma
The Raiders will target productive players (often from big-time programs), and Murray fits the billing after 257 total tackles over the past two years for the Sooners; he would immediately boost the entire unit.
20. JAX (via LAR): Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU
Getting tougher needs to be a key for Jacksonville this offseason, but they also need to improve in coverage, and I could see them using the pick acquired in the Jalen Ramsey trade to draft his replacement.
21. PHI: Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson
Fans might lose it if the Eagles draft anything other than wide receiver or cornerback here, and Higgins gives them a No. 1 threat on the outside to grow with Carson Wentz.
22. BUF: A.J. Epenesa, DE, Iowa
Epenesa may end up going a lot higher than this as someone that was pegged as a top-five prospect just a few months ago, but Buffalo would probably forgo their receiver need (in a deep class) to get some help on the edge if the Iowa standout falls.
23. NE: Cole Kmet, TE, Notre Dame
Even if we assume Tom Brady will re-sign in a couple of months, this offseason will be very interesting for the Patriots, as there is no easy fix for the offensive issues; Kmet will at least provide the security blanket at tight end that was lacking in 2019.
24. NO: K.J. Hamler, WR, Penn State
With the ability to both take a short pass to the house or get behind the defense for six, Kamler is the perfect complement to Michael Thomas in what will likely again be a Drew Brees-led offense.
25. MIN: Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama
The Vikings need a cornerback, and Diggs—who rebounded from a broken foot suffered in 2018—is arguably the best one on the board; being the brother of Stefon is just an added bonus.
26. MIA (via HOU): Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin
Most seem to view someone other than Taylor as the top running back in the class, but head coach Brian Flores may have a preference for the Wisconsin product because of his power combined with breakaway speed.
27. SEA: Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina
Seattle is always a safe bet to trade down, but they may break the norm for the second year in a row with Kinlaw—a game-wrecking defensive tackle—still on the board.
28. BAL: Neville Gallimore, DT, Oklahoma
The interior defensive lineman will be difficult to predict landing spots for after Derrick Brown and Javon Kinlaw, but Gallimore’s ability to get in the backfield could help the Ravens become a feared defense once again.
29. TEN: Anfernee Jennings, OLB, Alabama
Tennessee will hope for Harold Landry (9.0 sacks in 2019) to become a star in his third season, but they badly need to generate pressure on the outside, and Jennings improved as a pass rusher every year at Alabama.
30. GB: Patrick Queen, LB, LSU
Queen’s performance in LSU’s win over Clemson seemed to boost his stock for most of the media, and it will be interesting to see how high he ends up going after a strong finish to the season; Green Bay could certainly use more reliability at linebacker.
31. SF: Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama
San Francisco might be targeting a versatile defensive back to create more turnovers on the backend, and McKinney fits the billing after 6.0 sacks, five interceptions, and six forced fumbles over the past two seasons.
32. KC: D’Andre Swift, RB, Georgia
Damien Williams has established himself as a game-changer for the Chiefs in back-to-back playoff runs, but he turns 28 in the spring, and Swift wouldn’t need a featured role early in his career.