1.01 Cincinnati Bengals – Joe Burrow – QB – LSU
Not much more can be written about the young QB out of LSU. All the stars have aligned for the Bengals here, not only do they get a QB coming off the best season in SEC quarterback history, but he is also a hometown kid growing up less than 3 hours away. He’s a calm accurate QB with excellent mechanics and footwork. Burrow is definitely a polished passer and if he has to have a knock the consensus is that he doesn’t have elite arm strength, but at this point the “experts” are just looking for a knock on an otherwise tremendous athlete who can make every throw from any angle.
1.02 Miami Dolphins – Tua Tagovailoa – QB – Alabama
*Trade (Redskins 1.02, Trent Williams To Dolphins for 1.05, 1.26, 2.39, 2.70, Dolphins 1st next year)
Welcome to lie season boys and girls. This happens every year, a team with obvious ties to a player tries to manipulate the media to not throw away all their leverage. They are simply trying to lower the price tag from the Redskins. Tua has been their guy, Tua is their guy, and Tua will be the pick when the Dolphins go on the clock. How can you not make this pick if you’re the Dolphins? You have the easiest out ever in history (see COVID-19). No one can blame a team for simply referring to the tape. Tua is phenomenal and would be in play at the 1.01 if it wasn’t for this freak hip injury that the doctors have assured us, he will make a full recovery from. The fear of Dennis Pitta’s hip injury and how it reinjured 3 times is an understandable one especially with a QB that has already had multiple other football related injuries BUT COME ON this is Tua Tagovailoa and the Dolphins have been tied to him for literally years. I project the Dolphins send a package of at least 3 firsts to grab Tua and his “front” side protector Trent Williams who wants off the Redskins anyway.
1.03 Detroit Lions – Chase Young – Edge – Ohio State
The Lions have been taking offers for a while for the 1.03 but with the possibility of Chase Young falling to them, I believe they will hold off until they’re on the clock to deal this pick. This is a generational talent that could be a one-man wrecking crew in the NFL. Young grades out as a perennial all-pro by many scouts, there is no way the Lions pass up on a chance to get a game changer for Matt Patricia to add to his arsenal.
1.04 New York Giants – Tristan Wirfs – OT – Iowa
Wirfs projects as a RT or G and while they don’t usually go in the top 5, the Giants need a day 1 starter and Wirfs seems like the most pro ready tackle in this draft. He has freakish athletic ability and backed it up with solid production at Iowa. I think Dave Gettleman took his chances last year and now he wants to get safe solid starters to help protect his face of the franchise Daniel Jones. Yes, Daniel Jones does need to get the ball out faster in 2020 but solidifying one end of his O-line can only help.
1.05 Washington Redskins – Mekhi Becton – OT – Louisville
The Redskins walk away with a replacement for Trent Williams here in Becton and get to stock up on a few more early round picks in my projected trade. As much as the Redskins would love to grab one of the top defensive prospects here, they need to really evaluate what they have in Dwayne Haskins sooner rather than later. No QB can be properly evaluated if Ereck Flowers is starting on his OL. Grabbing an athletic specimen like Becton is tricky, his size and speed are a rare combo pair those with a 7-foot wingspan and you have all the makings of a set it and forget it LT. Becton is a bit on the heavy side at 364 pounds which creates an obvious low floor, but he appears to be a coachable prospect and one Haskins will really appreciate keeping him upright.
1.06 LA Chargers – Andrew Thomas – OT – Georgia
Many people have the Chargers grabbing a QB here, but I just don’t see it. They have so many other holes to fill before they get a signal caller that a tackle just makes more sense. Thomas’s ability to play either tackle spot truly gives him an advantage over the other tackles in this upper echelon of the draft. He’s not quite as thick as the other prospects, but he’s as fierce as they come. Thomas is a day one starter who has been well coached and while he has a few things to get cleaned up (leaning, lunging, etc), I believe he could help the Chargers solidify their run blocking for whoever is back there at QB this year.
1.07 Carolina Panthers – Derrick Brown – DT – Auburn
While it would be tempting for the Panthers to trade out of this spot, I believe the thought of getting the best DT in this class is just more important to them. The Panthers have always prioritized the DL and I don’t think a new regime changes history. Kawaan Short is 31 and is coming off season ending shoulder surgery. Brown would pair fantastically with Short and help convince Panthers new DC Phil Snow to switch to Head Coach Matt Rhule’s 4-3 defense. While it’s tempting to take Simmons here, I just don’t see him fitting in with Matt Rhule’s vision for this team.
1.08 Arizona Cardinals – Isaiah Simmons – S/LB – Clemson
Vance Joseph is back as DC for Arizona and needs to fix his defending the TE problem. The Cardinals allowed 16 TDs to TEs last year. Simmons is the perfect person to match up with today’s style TE. Its rare that a team can fix its biggest problem with one player. Simmons is hard to project because he really is a better prospect than Jabrill Peppers, but he could play a similar role. He can do it all playing more than 100 snaps at five different positions at Clemson in 2019. Isaiah Simmons is like having a second queen while playing chess. Arizona would fill a huge void with this pick, and Simmons could lock TEs down and almost seriously be listed as the back up to every player standing up on the Cardinals defense in 2020.
1.09 Jacksonville Jaguars – Jeff Okudah – CB – Ohio State
Every single year a big-name defensive stud falls to the Jaguars. This year I’m projecting Okudah to slip to them. This is a no brainer for a team that has recently lost both big name CBs (Jalen Ramsey, A.J. Bouye). Okudah projects as a day one starter with tremendous athletic ability and size for the position. Okudah brings all the potential with even more of the drive (motivated to honor his late mother). He can’t be beat over the top and trusts his speed and ability enough to squeeze coverage tight and eliminate yards after the catch. Jeff Okudah will be the 13th CB taken in the first round out of Ohio State since 1991(see Cornerback-U).
1.10 Cleveland Browns – Jedrick Wills – OT – Alabama
The Browns are in a tough position here. In my mock they were unable to find a trade suitor to move up to grab one of the top 3 at the position they are forced to take Wills here. Wills falls slightly undersized, but not enough to make it a problem at the next level. He makes up for his literal shortcomings with his quick, well timed, and varied approach to pass blocking. He seems to have an answer to most pass rush moves, and projects to be day one starter. While he played RT at Bama, I could see him making the switch to protect Baker’s blind side (though maybe not in a shortened off-season). Wills is a bulldozer who wants to win so bad he can sometimes be caught leaning too far forward, and when he’s beat you see a theme of him overextending. With solid coaching from the Brown’s new OL Coach Bill Callahan I think Wills could be a day one starter helping to shore up one side for Baker in 2020.
1.11 New York Jets – K’Lavon Chaisson – Edge – LSU
Chaisson just seems like the most likely early “reach” in 2020, and while he’s slightly smaller I think he comps out as a Ziggy Ansah like prospect. While he didn’t participate in drills at the combine, he projects as a similar athlete. He’s raw like Ansah was but is getting better and really seemed to have put it together in 2019. The Jets seem like they’re in a swing for the fences type situation with me projecting an early run on tackles. With so much WR talent deep in this draft I believe they will wait and take a pass rusher if the draft were to fall this way, and of what’s left, Chaisson makes a lot of sense here.
1.12 Las Vegas Raiders – CeeDee Lamb – WR – Oklahoma
The Raiders are thrilled to get their guy and not having to give up capital to move up makes this even sweeter. Lamb projects as a De’Andre Hopkins type, yet is better with the ball in his hands than that comp makes it sound. He can be a star from any of the wide receiver positions with his skills translating very well in today’s NFL. He’s big enough to get separation from the bigger corners and quick enough to get separated from many of the fastest cover guys in the league. Lamb has been phenomenal with the Schooners for three years now, with three different QBs. Lamb is going to be a monster at the next level, and this gives the Raiders a true number one to start opposite Tyrell Williams who is much better suited as a number two.
1.13 San Francisco 49ers – Jerry Jeudy – WR – Alabama
Jerry Jeudy is the most refined route runner in the class. There I said it, while this may be true, I feel like we are going to hear this 4,000 more times between now and when he’s drafted. Jeudy is an exciting prospect out of Alabama, a school that has put out WRs like Julio Jones, Amari Cooper, and Calvin Ridley. Ridley projects similarly to Cooper, better than Ridley but not as good as Jones. In 2019 Jeudy really switched into a more complete receiver role from his exclusive deep threat role in previous years for the Crimson Tide. Jeudy at 1.13 may be too much for Lynch and Shanahan to pass up on after a Super Bowl loss that made it clear that they need another option at pass catcher for Garoppolo to get over the hump.
1.14 Tampa Bay Buccaneers – D’Andre Swift – RB – Georgia
While most scouts have Jonathon Taylor ranked above Swift as an overall prospect, Bruce Arians demands superior pass blocking out of his RBs and I can’t see him nor Brady wanting to teach a RB how to pass block in a shortened offseason. Swift immediately makes this team better. Aptly named swift, Swift is a speedy back who averaged 6.2 yards per attempt, and 9 yards per catch. The Bucs would love to grab a tackle here, but I just think Swift is ranked higher on their board than any of the tackles left. Brady loves to throw to the running back, and Swift would fill that role nicely for the Bucs in 2020 and beyond.
1.15 Denver Broncos – Henry Ruggs – WR – Alabama
Ruggs just seems like the perfect complement for Courtland Sutton. The Broncos don’t project to have enough targets to go around for Sutton, Lindsay, Fant, and Ruggs, but Ruggs is the type of receiver who doesn’t need a ton of targets to have an instant impact. He is the type of receiver that forces safeties to be honest respecting his ability to take the top off a defense, take a slant to the house, or take a backwards pass 75 yards to the house like he did against New Mexico. Ruggs projects as an offensive weapon in the mold of Tyreek Hill.
1.16 Atlanta Falcons – C.J. Henderson – CB – Florida
Henderson is just the type of player that the Falcons like to put on the field. He’s fast, smooth, and has that twitchy acceleration to jump a route and take it the other way. He is fully capable of becoming a CB1 at the next level, but we’ll look for him to become a better open field tackler, and to improve his zone awareness before we give him that title. Good not great size but excellent in press and processes the patience to read the QBs eyes.
1.17 Dallas Cowboys – Yetur Gross-Matos – Edge – Penn State
A bit of a boom or bust prospect here, but Gross-Matos’s arrow seems to be pointing up. He has all the prototypical size and athleticism but could use a more complete pass rush move arsenal. The Cowboys need to replace Robert Quinn’s production. CB Jourdan Lewis can’t be second in sacks behind DeMarcus Lawrence in 2020. Yes, Aldon Smith and Randy Gregory are fighting their way back to the lineup in 2020 but how much production can you really expect from players that are this removed from football? Gross-Matos would benefit greatly from rotating out to keep him fresh and the Cowboys could be in great position to do that in 2020.
1.18 Miami Dolphins – Austin Jackson – OT – USC
Even with my projection of the Dolphins trading for Trent Williams they still need more help up front keeping whoever they draft to play QB. Jackson possess all the physical traits teams covet at LT, he checks all the physical boxes and seems like a prospect that could succeed if properly coached. Sitting behind Trent Williams could be huge for this young man’s potential. He could potentially swing inside at guard or over to the other tackle spot, but either way Jackson has all the talent needed to be a strong starting tackle and could develop to even be a great one.
1.19 Las Vegas Raiders – Kenneth Murray – LB – Oklahoma
Kenneth Murray is too good for this world, and we don’t deserve him. Remove all the off-field stuff, the whole being a great leader, the whole helping his parents raise three adopted siblings with special needs, remove all of that, and he is still a great football player. Murray is a very decisive and smart football player. He’s the type of player who really shows up when you watch the tape, he just seems to be in on every play. While he projects to play outside, the Raiders are in a unique position to use him wherever he seems to fit. The addition of Murray really could make the Raiders LB spot a huge strength going into the 2020 season.
1.20 Baltimore Ravens – Patrick Queen – LB – LSU
*Trade (Jaguars 1.20 to Ravens for 1.28, 2.28, 2021 5th)
The Ravens and the Jaguars already made a trade this offseason involving Calais Campbell, and I project if Murry is gone by this pick, they will do it again. The Ravens have got to be happy with either Queen or Murray. Both players offer excellent upside and should be great leaders at the next level. Queen doesn’t have the experience that Murray has, but he’s every bit as explosive and offers a truly sky-high ceiling.
1.21 Philadelphia Eagles – Justin Jefferson – WR – LSU
Eagles fans may want a receiver here so bad that the team will be forced to do this to prevent riots. Justin Jefferson is a natural pass catcher that excels at moving the chains. He can make an acrobatic catch look routine but benefited from a spread scheme that saw him unlikely to get punished for such catches in college. Jefferson has the size to play outside but didn’t really excel until he was moved inside in 2019. He ran faster at the combine that his tape suggests, but he’s still fast enough to get the job done at the next level.
1.22 Minnesota Vikings – Josh Jones – Houston – Houston
Josh Jones is climbing up everyone’s draft boards and could go to the Vikings with the 1.22. Josh Jones is a raw developmental type of prospect, but his tape suggests that he’s slightly more refined than most people have him ranked. He’s not perfect but he has all the size and ability of any tackle in this draft and could be coached into being the best tackle in this draft. Riley Reiff has not played up to his contract and adding Jones here could give them the flexibility to move on from him if needed.
1.23 LA Chargers – Jordan Love – QB – Utah State
*Trade (Patriots 1.23 to Chargers for 2.37, 4.112, 2021 2nd)
The Chargers move up in front of the Saints here to grab a signal caller, but it isn’t Justin Herbert. Jordan Love may not be as polished or as pro ready as Herbert but he offers a far higher ceiling than Herbert does and I think the Chargers can’t risk playing it safe with the Kansas City Chiefs in their division. Playing Patrick Mahomes twice a year is a great reminder of how big a difference an elite signal caller can make. Jordan Love struggled in 2019 due in no small part to a coaching change. Love can make all the throws and I feel the Chargers will fall in love with his potential enough to move up and grab him before the Saints can.
1.24 New Orleans Saints – Tee Higgins – WR – Clemson
While it makes sense to put Justin Herbert here, I am a believer that team means it when they put a first-round tender on a player, and I believe they fully intend to hand the reigns over to Taysom Hill when Brees walks away. Tee Higgins’s tape jumps off the screen. He is a big dominate force on the outside and is the type of player who may not have faced elite corners at the collegiate level, but that I believe has another level to his game that is just waiting to be challenged. Higgins is a rare contested catch machine, with experience playing from all three wide receiver positions. He scored a touch down on 20% of his receptions during his career at Clemson, that’s 1/5 (don’t worry I used a calculator, its right). Higgins would make an excellent number 3 to Michael Thomas, and Emmanuel Sanders. The Saints get the luxury of taking a best player available pick here because they don’t have any pressing needs on their team. When your biggest need is third receiver you’re sitting in good position.
1.25 Minnesota Vikings – A.J. Terrell – CB – Clemson
A.J. Terrell killed his draft stock in the National Championship Game against LSU. National Championship aside, Terrell is too big, too fast, and too smooth to fall out of the first round. He has all the makings of a shutdown corner, and with some decent coaching and going to a team that won’t expect him to be a CB1 his rookie season, I believe it could happen.
1.26 Washington Redskins – A.J. Epenesa – Edge – Iowa
The Redskins could have had Chase Young at 1.02, but I have to believe they prefer to walk away with a haul of picks and a top tier tackle to combine with an edge rusher this year. A.J. Epenesa is a polarizing prospect coming out of Iowa. On one hand he’s got the production (49 tackles, 14.5 for loss, and 11.5 sacks along with four forced fumbles in 13 starts in 2019) and the measurables (6’ 5”, 275lbs) but on the other he doesn’t jump off the page as a superior prospect. His best trait is his production sometimes that enough, and other times it’s a recipe for a player who gets overwhelmed with the speed of the game at the next level. I think Ron Rivera would covet Epenesa’s production and college tape enough to grab him here towards the end of the 1st.
1.27 Seattle Seahawks – Xavier McKinney – S – Alabama
At this point in the draft I think GM John Schneider and HC Pete Carrol would prefer McKinney’s versatility over some of the other DBs left. McKinney split time evenly between slot, free safety, and in the box last season for the Crimson Tide and with the Seahawks having an uncharacteristically low ranked pass defense in 2019 this is the exact type of player the Seahawks could use to fix that. McKinney is that coveted chess piece that could almost fill a Minkah Fitzpatrick role. Every year teams quickly find out if they’re built to stop top shelf receiving TEs and the Seahawks could make a move here that sets them up to not be a team regretting not doing more in the offseason to stop the NFL’s new style of TE.
1.28 Jacksonville Jaguars – Kristian Fulton – CB – LSU
I wouldn’t be as fond of this pick if Fulton was the only CB the Jaguars drafted, but in my mock I have Okudah falling to them with their first pick and I think they’d be thrilled to grab Fulton here to start opposite Okudah. Fulton played well for LSU in 2019, but a career 40% completion rate against him is not helping him here. The skinny of it is that Fulton makes plays and with some confidence and the ability to learn against opposing team’s number two and three receivers could help get the best football out of him.
1.29 Tennessee Titans – Damon Arnette – CB – Ohio State
Arnette made the right decision returning to school for the 2019 season. He has the ability to play both inside and outside with the size to match up well at the next level. While HC Mike Vrabel prefers to leave his corners on an island with man coverage outside, I’m still going to mock Arnette here. Arnette projects as a better zone corner than man to man, but he’s the superior prospect left and has all the experience in big games. While he was definitely boosted with the help of the phenomenal pass rush at Ohio State, he’s able to ride receivers tight and challenge them at the catch time and time again. I think Vrabel will be able to put him in position to succeed and Arnette would make a great addition to the Titans’s secondary.
1.30 Green Bay Packers – Isaiah Wilson – OT – Georgia
It was tempting to put a QB here, but I think the Packers would rather wait and spend the capital on something to help them win now. Isaiah Wilson is a bit early here, but I just don’t think the Packers will have many choices at OT after their pick here. Unfortunately, Isaiah Wilson only has two years of collegiate experience after redshirting in 2017, but Wilson has all the prototypical size and a ceiling that is off the charts. He has a few technical flaws but with some more coaching Wilson projects to be a solid RT in the NFL. The Packers need to get better up front and I believe they do so with this pick.
1.31 San Francisco 49ers – Javon Kinlaw – DT – South Carolina
Javon Kinlaw is the type of player whose stats (35 tackles, six sacks in 12 starts in 2019) don’t do him justice. He shows up on tape as a dominant presence up the middle. The 49ers are constantly drafting top shelf DL prospects and turning them into super stars, I suspect more of the same for Kinlaw if he falls there. Kinlaw immediately fills the void of Deforest Buckner and saves them a ton of cap space (Buckner was handed an $84 million contract by the Colts this offseason, following a trade from the 49ers). Kinlaw definitely has some developing to do to replace Buckner’s production, but with Dee Ford, and Arik Armstead to groom him I believe it’s a real possibility for Kinlaw to produce early in his NFL career.
1.32 Kansas City Chiefs – Jeff Gladney – CB – TCU
Gladney is a rough, ball hawking, instinctual corner coming out of TCU and his tape suggests he plays a little bigger than his listed size (5’10”, 191lbs). Surprisingly he ran faster than his tape suggests at the combine with a (4.48) 40 time. Gladney needs to get better with his hip commitment because his tape suggests he’ll be vulnerable to double moves at the next level. He does well getting into position to pick off passes but too often can’t secure the catch and it led to drops that could have changed the outcome of many games for TCU in 2019. The Chiefs brought back Bashaud Breeland, and Charvarius Ward to play corner in 2020 and Gladney could be worked into the rotation slowly to help foster a healthy development for the young cover man.