By Graham Tuck

March 24, 2020

As the sports world grinds to a standstill due to COVID-19, one of the biggest sporting events that hasn’t been taken away from us fans (yet) is the NFL draft.  With so many things changing during free agency, almost every team has a very specific need to address in the draft. In this mock draft, we are assuming, likely incorrectly, that no trades will be made.  Here’s how I think the first round will look come late April:

1) Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Burrow, QB, LSU

This is perhaps the biggest no-brainer number one pick in recent memory.  Joe Burrow is a lock to go number one, for obvious reasons.

2) Washington Redskins: Chase Young, EDGE, OSU

Any other year, Chase Young would be the consensus first overall pick.  He’s the best prospect in this draft, and the Redskins are going to be lucky to have him on their defensive front for years to come.

3) Detroit Lions: Jeff Okudah, CB, OSU

Detroit has an offense that is on the up and up.  Kenny Golladay, Matthew Stafford, and the emerging Bo Scarborough should be able to put up points, but the question is if their defense can be serviceable at least.  I can’t imagine the Lions choosing anyone other than Okudah to pair with Desmond Trufant and start shoring up that defense.

4) New York Giants: Andrew Thomas, OL, Georgia

Make no mistake, the Giants’ biggest need is offensive playmaking by players not named Saquon Barkley.  They should look to improve there later in the draft, but there isn’t a receiver that jumps off the sheet as a top-4 pick for the Giants to take them here.  Thomas has absolutely no red flags and that’s exactly what New York needs right now.

5) Miami Dolphins: Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama

Tua has been coveted by Dolphins fans for years now, and it looks like they’re finally going to get their man.  The Chargers and Colts have committed to Tyrod Taylor and Philip Rivers respectively, which takes some pressure off of the Dolphins to trade up.  I see no reason why Tua wouldn’t be a Dolphin at this point.

6) Los Angeles Chargers: Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon

I know I just said that the Chargers are committed to Tyrod Taylor, but he’s only under contract for one more year.  Tua and Herbert should be held equally in the eyes of the Chargers front office, meaning they will be content to sit tight at 6th, take Herbert should he fall to them, and let him learn the system for a year before potentially becoming the starter.

7) Carolina Panthers: Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson

Losing Luke Kuechly to retirement was DEVASTATING for the Panthers.  As they begin their rebuild, Simmons is an absolute beast of a talent that they’re lucky to be in a position to snag at 7th overall.  He is the perfect piece to rebuild the defense around.

8) Arizona Cardinals: Jedrick Wills Jr., OL, Alabama

Wills Jr. and Thomas are equally desirable OL prospects for teams in need, but with the Giants taking Thomas the Cardinals are getting a steal in Wills Jr. and he will provide some much needed help for Kyler Murray on the front lines.

9) Jacksonville Jaguars: Tristan Wirfs, OL, Iowa

With Mekhi Becton and Tristan Wirfs both still on the board at nine, the Jags can’t go wrong.  Either of them would be a great option, but Wirfs has the higher floor of the two and the Jags need to be secure in their selection.

10) Cleveland Browns: Mekhi Becton, OL, Louisville

Baker Mayfield needs to be protected at all costs if you’re Cleveland.  He is going to give them their best chance to win right now, and the more comfortable he is in the pocket, the better.  The Browns should at least think about taking Derrick Brown from Auburn, but offensive line is the more pressing need in Cleveland.

11) New York Jets: Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama

CeeDee Lamb is the only other possible option for the Jets at this spot, because the top 4 offensive lineman that would tempt them are all gone by now.  Jeudy has shone no matter who else was on the field with him, and Lamb’s numbers have an asterisk by them because he played in the Big 12, where defense doesn’t exist.  New York should be happy to get either one of these two, but Jeudy is the safer bet.

12) Las Vegas Raiders: CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma

Vegas will take whichever of the two falls to them between Lamb and Jeudy, because they need receiving talent desperately.  Tyrell Williams is good, but he can’t do it all by himself.

13) San Francisco 49ers (From IND): Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn

Brown is an elite defensive talent, but nobody with a high pick has defensive line as their most pressing need.  Pairing Brown with Bosa and Armstead on the front line for San Fran will create even more of a problem for offenses than before, and all three of them should thrive together in Robert Saleh’s system.

14) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina

Ndamukung Suh made the Buccaneers defense sneaky good last season, but his contract has taken a backseat to the likes of Tom Brady.  Kinlaw is a great prospect and a much cheaper alternative to Suh.

15) Denver Broncos: Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama

The Broncos rebuild with Drew Lock is officially underway, and another weapon outside of Courtland Sutton through the air would work wonders for the Denver offense.  Ruggs is a great value at 15 and the Broncos offense should be potent before too much longer.

16) Atlanta Falcons: Cameron Dantzler, CB, Mississippi State

After releasing Desmond Trufant and creating one of the most explosive on-paper offenses in the entire league, cornerback is one of the only glaring needs on this entire Atlanta roster.  Dantzler is the best prospect at the position after Okudah.

17) Dallas Cowboys: K’Lavon Chaisson, EDGE, LSU

The Cowboys made sure they retained their big three on offense, and their young linebacking corps will help lead the defense back in the right direction, but Robert Quinn’s departure opens up a spot to be filled by the best pass rusher in this draft not named Chase Young.

18) Miami Dolphins (from Pittsburgh): Josh Jones, OL, Houston

Now that Miami has their QB of the future, their goal should be to protect him.  His health is a question going into the draft, but if they’re going to go all in on him, they need to use their draft capital to build a wall in front of him.

19) Las Vegas Raiders (from Chicago): CJ Henderson, CB, Florida

Signing Eli Apple was a step in the right direction, but the Raiders secondary needs help in a big way.  Letting the defensive backfield be a weak spot isn’t going to work playing in a division with the Chiefs receiving corps, Keenan Allen, and Courtland Sutton.

20) Jacksonville Jaguars (from LA Rams): Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama

Everyone on the Jaguars defense is gone.  Their lockdown group that was in debate for being one of the greatest of all time just two seasons ago is nothing but a memory in Duval county, and rebuilding that group has to start somewhere.

21) Philadelphia Eagles: Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson

If I worked for the Eagles front office, my top priority would 100% be to try to move up and take one of the top three receivers in this draft.  While Higgins is not a member of that group, he’ll still be some much needed help on the offensive side of the ball for a struggling Eagles receiving corps.

22) Minnesota Vikings (from Buffalo): Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU

Vikings fans are most certainly hoping they’re able to land one of the top wide receivers in this draft either by moving up or through luck, but they’re all off the board by now.  Revising the terrible pass defense from last season has to be a priority beyond replacing Stefon Diggs.

23) New England Patriots: Netane Muti, OL, Fresno State

It’s tempting to say the Patriots will take a quarterback here, but I doubt it’ll happen as they currently have three under contract and the Belichick system typically only runs with two. Similar to Minnesota, I could see the Patriots opting to go receiver here, but bolstering the offensive line with one of the most fundamentally sound guards in the draft seems like the Patriot way.

24) New Orleans Saints: Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama

The Saints will now have to face the revamped Falcons offense twice a year, and Tom Brady another two times.  They let Eli Apple walk, and PJ Williams is on the market. Cornerback is a necessity.

25) Minnesota Vikings: Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU

While Reagor isn’t Lamb, Ruggs, or Jeudy, he has the most upside of any wide receiver in this class.  His ability to create separation will at the very least begin to fill the hole left by Diggs.

26) Miami Dolphins (from Houston): Grant Delpit, S, LSU

Trading away Minkah Fitzpatrick had its pros and cons, but it unquestionably left a void in the defensive backfield.  Look for the ‘phins to take the best defensive back available at 26.

27) Seattle Seahawks: Austin Jackson, OL, USC

Seattle’s top need in the draft is pass rush, but they’d be kicking themselves if they passed on Austin Jackson at this position.  He’s one of the top prospects at the position, but if he slips this far he’ll be a Seahawk for sure.

28) Baltimore Ravens: Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma

The Ravens defense was an afterthought for much of the 2019 season due to Lamar Jackson playing out of his mind, but if they can straighten out their front seven, they’ll be a force to be reckoned with on both sides of the ball.  Murray can be the guy to lead that turn-around.

29) Tennessee Titans: Bryce Hall, CB, UVA

The Titans locked up their offensive weapons this offseason, but the defensive side of the ball is a bit of a question mark.  Even if Logan Ryan comes back, cornerback depth is never a bad thing to have.

30) Green Bay Packers: Julian Okwara, DT, Notre Dame

The Packers defense was their downfall last season.  Aaron Rodgers, Aaron Jones, and Davante Adams were able to will them to the NFC Championship game but Raheem Mostert ran them over like a freight train.  They’ll start making sure that doesn’t happen again by drafting an interior guy early.

31) San Francisco 49ers: Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU

The 49ers don’t look primed for a Super Bowl loss-hangover (see 2019 Los Angeles Rams) but they could easily fall into that trap if they don’t make offensive weapons a priority, especially after losing Emmanuel Sanders.  Justin Jefferson produced on a ridiculous level at LSU, and catching passes from Jimmy G will only make things better.

32) Kansas City Chiefs: Cesar Ruiz, OL, Michigan

If Damien Williams hadn’t put together an MVP-worthy performance in Super Bowl LIV, D’andre Swift would be the clear-cut choice for the Chiefs here.  But he did, and he’s not, so the offensive line should be a concern for Kansas City come April.

Best Players Remaining After Day One:

Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin

Jordan Love, QB, Utah State

D’Andre Swift, RB, Georgia

Neville Gallimore, DL, Oklahoma

Ross Blacklock, DL, TCU

Antoine Winfield Jr., S, Minnesota

Patrick Queen, LB, LSU

Laviska Shenault Jr., WR, Colorado

J.K. Dobbins, RB, OSU

Bradlee Anae, DE, Utah