For Mock Draft Monday this week, I bring you my second mock draft of the year.
Free agency is underway and the first wave is complete, with many big-name players in new places and many teams having filled needs. Or, in some cases, they may have new needs. We have a change to the draft order, too, with a pair of first-round picks getting traded and other, later picks moved as well.
This mock draft will just cover Round 1, with multi-round versions coming in the future. There won’t be any trades for me this time around, either. Additionally, unlike in mock 1.0 this year the picks don’t strictly follow the 580 Sports Talk composite big board, but will instead just use it as one of several influences.
Now, on too Round 1:
1. Cincinnati Bengals – Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
This pick will not change and no changes will be considered. Burrow is the surefire top pick in this draft and with good reason. He can make all the throws, he’s as cool as they come and he’ll have a handful of weapons to work with that will make his transition to the NFL that much easier. He’s going to fit coach Zac Taylor’s offense as well as anyone could. Coming off one of the best college quarterback seasons ever, Burrow is the easy choice.
2. Washington Redskins – Chase Young, EDGE, Ohio State
Young is the best prospect, regardless of position, in the draft, which makes this an easy pick as well. He’s a consisted rusher who can attack from a standing position or with his hand in the dirt. Plus, the tape shows he can dominate against any level of competition, even though his sack numbers didn’t show up in the final couple games of the season. His explosion, speed and consistency will be a stalwart on Washington’s defensive line for years to come.
3. Detroit Lions – Jeffrey Okudah, CB, Ohio State
Yet another obvious pick, Okudah is the best player on the board and will step right into a starting role for the Lions after they shipped Darius Slay to the Philadelphia Eagles. In fact, Okudah would have started even with Slay still on the roster. He’s long, skilled and has excellent technique on the outside, which is perfect against the likes of Davante Adams, Allen Robinson and Adam Thielen in the NFC North.
4. New York Giants – Jedrick Wills, OT, Alabama
The Giants need to protect Daniel Jones and put him in the best position to succeed possible, which means continuing to shore up an offensive line that has been a liability for years. They’ve made strides little by little, and the next step is getting a top-end tackle. Willis is the best one available. Before they added a pair of linebackers, Isaiah Simmons is good enough that he could have forced the Giants to take him instead, though.
5. Miami Dolphins – Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
If Tagovailoa is healthy, he has as good of a chance as anyone in this draft to be a superstar. He can make every throw with precision and at every distance, he’s excellent in the pocket and is as poised as they come. The medicals will be important, but combine that concern with Burrow’s insane senior season and the Dolphins should be able to take their franchise quarterback. Don’t be surprised if they need to trade up to get him, though.
6. Los Angeles Chargers – Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
I wouldn’t be surprised if the Chargers did everything they could to move up to snipe Tagovailoa. They’ve improved multiple needs through free agency, and an elite quarterback could suddenly make the AFC West very interesting. If they stand pat, though, they can add an excellent and still improving pass blocker in Thomas, who pieced together an excellent college career blocking for a run-heavy offense and still protecting his quarterback consistently well.
7. Carolina Panthers – Derrick Brown, IDL, Auburn
This year’s so obvious that it’s boring pick, the Panthers fill a gaping need along the defensive line. Brown is a great prospect who presents size and power inside that will re-establish a presence Carolina has been lacking there. Once again, Simmons is also a viable prospect here, but we’re addressing the bigger need with this pick.
8. Arizona Cardinals – Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa
Arizona doesn’t need to take one of the top three wide receiver prospects in this draft anymore because they robbed the Houston Texans blind in the Deandre Hopkins trade. Thus, the Cardinals can address another pressing need and that’s protecting Kyler Murray. Wirfs is as powerful as they come with his 6-foot-5, 322-pound frame, and while he’s got some room to develop as a pass blocker, he’s good enough to start right away.
9. Jacksonville Jaguars – Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
D.J. Chark is a good receiver, but the cupboard is bare in Jacksonville beyond him in terms of receivers. Jeudy is going to enter the league as one of its route runners. That’s how proficient he is. He’s not the fastest and doesn’t have perfect hands, but he’s an all-around receiver who will tear up defensive backs with his routes. Gardner Minshew, and whoever follows him at quarterback, will need help. Jeudy is a legit No. 1.
10. Cleveland Browns – Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville
Ask around and you’ll find plenty of Cleveland fans who aren’t thrilled by the prospect of selecting Becton. The Browns desperately need to improve their offensive line, though, and Becton is the best option available at tackle after three were taken in the top eight picks. He wowed at the combine and provides a ton of power at the point of attack. He’ll start right away in Cleveland.
11. New York Jets – Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson
It seems crazy that a player as talented, physically gifted and versatile as Simmons will slip to 11, but that’s how the board falls sometimes. He doesn’t fit a most-pressing need in New York, but the Jets can’t pass on this talent. He doesn’t have a perfectly defined position on the defense can play numerous ones at a good to great level. His athleticism instantly improves a Jets defense that was already top 10 in DVOA last season.
12. Las Vegas Raiders – CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
CeeDee Lamb is good at everything. That should be more than enough for the Raiders to take him at No. 12. He wins matchups constantly and has breakaway speed after the catch that makes him a huge threat for chunk plays. Las Vegas already has a great young running back and a deadly tight end; provide Derek Carr a real No. 1 receiver and that’s one of the scariest trios in the league.
13. San Francisco 49ers (from IND) – Javon Kinlaw, IDL, South Carolina
The 49ers sent DeForest Buckner to the Colts to get the 13th pick, and we have them replacing one defensive lineman with another. Kinlaw is a beast inside, with aggressiveness, power and explosion that is going to keep San Francisco’s defensive line among the top few in the NFL at worst. Plus, he’s as high-character as they come.
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
You may have heard the Bucs already established who their starting quarterback is. But he won’t be there forever and likely won’t be there beyond two years. Justin Herbert, in my opinion, is not NFL ready. He’s got the physical tools, but has a long way to go before he could be a good NFL starter. Tampa Bay coach Bruce Arians works phenomenally with quarterbacks, though, and could be just the right guy to turn Herbert in a quarterback of the future. Admittedly, this is a bold pick.
15. Denver Broncos – Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama
Denver needs to get Drew Lock more weapons, it’s as simple as that. Courtland Sutton is the No. 1 option, but adding Ruggs would not only give Lock a competent pass catcher but an absolute burner. Ruggs’ speed, which is the best in this unreal wide receiver draft class, overshadows his excellent contested catch ability.
16. Atlanta Falcons – K’Lavon Chaisson, EDGE, LSU
Chaisson is a more natural fit in the 3-4 front, but his athleticism is so good that he can make it work in a 4-3. He didn’t have great production his final year at LSU, but his explosion and attacking ability off the edge jumps out when you watch the games. He may not be elite Week 1, but he’s the kind of athlete than can quickly develop into a highly productive pass rusher for any defense.
17. Dallas Cowboys – Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU
With Byron Jones out in Dallas, the Cowboys need a starting cornerback. Enter Fulton, CB2 in this class behind Okudah. He’s not flawless and isn’t a sure tackler, but his coverage skills are undeniable. The Cowboys must add young, cheap talent, and they’ll get a long-term starter on a palatable contract with Fulton.
18. Miami Dolphins (from PIT) – A.J. Epenesa, EDGE, Iowa
In terms of scheme fit, Epenesa and Chaisson would actually mesh more naturally if they flipped teams. Chaisson is the hotter prospect, though, so here we are. Epenesa is still a baller though, one who looked phenomenal in his final college game (more on that later) and has plenty of tape showing why he’s a first-round talent. He didn’t have a good combine, but the tape is there.
19. Las Vegas Raiders (from CHI) – C.J. Henderson, CB, Florida
A 6-foot-1, long cornerback, Henderson is a prime candidate to step in for the Raiders when new acquisition Eli Apple inevitably falls out of favor. Mean, but following a trend. Henderson is great in coverage and has tremendous speed, running a sub-4.4 40-yard dash at the combine, although he won’t be considered an asset in run defense.
20. Jacksonville Jaguars (from LAR) – Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama
Can you name Jacksonville’s safeties? If not, it’s OK, it’s not a group you should write home about. McKinney would change that, bringing ball-hawking ability and an aggressive nature to a secondary (and a defense as a whole) that has hemorrhaged talented lately. A slightly better showing in 2019 gave McKinney this pick instead of LSU’s Grant Delpit, though either would make sense.
21. Philadelphia Eagles – Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU
There’s no consensus on which wide receiver Eagles fans or media members want the most, outside of the Jeudy-Lamb-Ruggs triumvirate. But Philadelphia needs a receiver badly, and Reagor has the kind of explosion that should spark the Eagles’ offense. His production was poor his last season at TCU, but that’s a direct result of abominable quarterback play. Find a way to get him the ball on offense and in the return game, and he’ll make something good happen.
22. Minnesota Vikings (from BUF) – Yetur Gross-Matos, EDGE, Penn State
The Vikings acquired the 22nd pick from the Buffalo Bills in exchange for Stephon Diggs, and they’ll use the pick to restock a diminished pass rush. Gross-Matos is a good fit in a 4-3 front and will fill in nicely across the line from Danielle Hunter with Everson Griffen out of the picture in free agency.
23. New England Patriots – Jordan Love, QB, Utah State
Are the Patriots willing to take a quarterback this year? Are they willing to take one this early? New England’s quarterback situation looks dire, with Jarrett Stidham currently the presumed starter. Love has a lot of skills and a lot of potential, but his production in 2019 wasn’t what anyone hoped for after the splashed on the scene in 2018. He’s a bit of a project starter, but there’s a lot of potential here if New England is willing to pass on filling another need. The Patriots are also a prime candidate to trade down.
24. New Orleans Saints – Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma
New Orleans has done a good job of filling their needs through free agency, adding a real No. 2 receiver and working on their secondary. The Saints can now focus on another need, which is improving the front seven. Murray has the speed and athleticism to be a three-down linebacker, and can make plays from sideline to sideline. He’s a do-it-all player who could start immediately for almost any defense.
25. Minnesota Vikings – Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama
Minnesota’s cornerbacks were terrible last year. Their secondary coach has since moved on and Xavier Rhodes was unceremoniously dumped, so it’s time for a change in the Vikings’ secondary. Diggs is the best cornerback available and has strong ball skills, which fits in with an excellent pair of safeties in Minnesota.
26. Miami Dolphins (from HOU) – Josh Jones, OT, Houston
All three of the Dolphins’ biggest needs will be met after this selection, adding a starting tackle to a quarterback and edge rusher. Jones is OT5 in this class, but experts point out that he showed improvement throughout the season and has a bright future. He should immediately start for Miami, replacing either Julie’n Davenport or Jesse Davis, both of who had PFF grades under 60 in 2019.
27. Seattle Seahawks – Austin Jackson, OT, USC
This is a tough pick. The Seahawks may just trade down and stockpile picks like they often do, but they need to find a way to, once again, improve their offensive line. Jackson was crushed by A.J. Epenesa in this year’s Holiday Bowl, but had a good season overall and is a late-first round, early second round option for a reason. He may be too much of a project for a win-now Seattle team, though. In that case, despite being a need, he may not fit the team’s timeline.
28. Baltimore Ravens – Patrick Queen, LB, LSU
A lot of analysts rate Queen over Murray, and it’s understandable why there’s plenty of debate over the two of them. Both project to be every-down linebackers with the ability to make plays all over the field. Queen could be a strong piece next to L.J. Fort in the Baltimore linebacking corps, possessing good tackling ability while also being able to drop into coverage.
29. Tennessee Titans – Neville Gallimore, IDL, Oklahoma
The third interior defensive lineman off the board, Gallimore is a natural inside fit in the Titans’ 3-4 base defense. He was a constant impact player at Oklahoma, though did disappear at times. Still, his potential is promising. Adding him would make Tennessee’s already good defensive front even more potent.
30. Green Bay Packers – Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU
Aaron Rodgers needs some more help. With the Murray and Queen off the board, taking a wide receiver here is the only option. It came down between Jefferson and Baylor’s Denzel Mims, but we’ll go with the more holistically complete player in Jefferson. He’s not an elite route runner like Jeudy or a speed demon like Ruggs, but he’s versatile and is able to both make tough catches and separate, both of which are things Green Bay was lacking in 2019.
31. San Francisco 49ers – Laviska Shenault, WR, Colorado
Nobody wants to see Kyle Shanahan get his hands on Shenault because he would turn the former Buffalo into a monster. Shenault has injury concerns after getting constantly dinged up at Colorado, but he’s a good receiver who can run traditional routes or be used to run the ball, run out of the backfield and do essentially anything asked of him. Plus, he can be a return man.
32. Kansas City Chiefs – Cesar Ruiz, IOL, Michigan
Stefan Wisniewski is out, Austin Reiter is simply OK and Laurent Duvernay-Tardif is a cap casualty waiting to happen. It’s a weak year for interior offensive linemen, but it’s arguably the most pressing need for the high-powered Chiefs offense. Ruiz can start right away at center if Kansas City moves on from Reiter, or can slide to either guard position and offer an upgrade.