2020 NFL Mock Draft 1.0: Post-Super Bowl Edition

With the San Francisco 49ers‘ Super Bowl LIV victory over the Kansas City Chiefs, it is officially NFL Draft Season. The Cincinnati Bengals are on the clock, and after brief hiatus, the Cleveland Browns are once again picking in the Top 10. But there shouldn’t be too much intrigue at the top of the 2020 NFL Draft, as you can pretty much pencil in the Bengals’, and potentially Washington’s, selection. But after that, all bets are off. So without further ado, here is my 2020 NFL Mock Draft 1.0: Post-Super Bowl Edition.

(All offensive, defensive and line rankings come via Football Outsiders DVOA. Pass block win rate stats via ESPN

  1. Cincinnati BengalsJoe Burrow, QB, LSU. You can almost write this one in pen at this point. Barring a sudden change of events, the Bengals will move on from Andy Dalton this offseason and select Joe Burrow with the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. Dalton ranked 31st among 34 qualified QBs in Total QBR and will be a free agent after the 2020 season, while the Bengals’ offense ranked 27th in the NFL with Dalton at the helm. Meanwhile, Burrow just put together the best statistical season by a quarterback in NCAA history. He’s this year’s QB1 and probable No. 1 pick.
  2. WashingtonChase Young, EDGE, Ohio State. Though Washington’s drafted Jonathan Allen, Montez Sweat and Da’Ron Payne in recent years, their defense still ranked 24th in the NFL and 27th in ESPN’s Team Pass Rush Win Rate. In most years, Young would be the No. 1 pick, and even with all that talent on Washington’s defensive line, Young is just too good to pass up. A defensive line with Sweat and Young on the outside and Allen and Payne inside might be nearly unblockable.
  3. Detroit Lions: Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson. Matt Patricia and Bob Quinn are on the hot seat, and the Lions need to see major improvement for both to keep their jobs past the 2020 season. Detroit’s defense ranked 28th in the NFL, 29th against the pass and 17th against the run and needs a major injection of talent. Simmons can lineup almost anywhere on defense, and is exactly the type of versatile, defensive playmaker Patricia craves.
  4. New York GiantsJeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State. The Giants’ pass defense was among the worst in the NFL in 2019, while 2019 first-round corner DeAndre Baker had an absolutely abysmal rookie season. If New York has any hope of turning things around under Joe Judge, it’s going to start defensively. The Giants’ defense hasn’t ranked in the Top 10 in Defensive DVOA since 2016. Adding this year’s CB1 in Okudah, a potential lockdown, man-to-man corner, could help change that.
  5. Miami Dolphins: Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama. Even after winning five games, the Dolphins still get their guy. Though Ryan Fitzpatrick finished the year as a Top 10 quarterback in Total QBR, Fitzpatrick is just a stop-gap as Miami begins its rebuild under Brian Flores. A lot will hinge of his medicals, but Tagovailoa has all the makings of a franchise QB and would have been QB1 if not for Burrow’s breakout year.
  6. Los Angeles ChargersJustin Herbert, QB, Oregon. It’s time for the Chargers to move on from Philip Rivers. The 38-year-old free agent significantly regressed in 2019, finishing 23rd in Total QBR after finishing 3rd in 2018. If the Chargers want to get back to the postseason, finding their next franchise QB would be a good start. Herbert might not be on the same level as Burrow or Tagovailoa, but the 6’6” 237 lbs. quarterback still profiles as a potential franchise QB at the next level.
  7. Carolina Panthers: Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn. The Panthers’ direction this offseason will depend a lot on whether or not they decide to move on from Cam Newton, who’s entering the final year of his five-year, $103.8 million contract. Either way, the Panthers must improve a run defense that finished last in the NFL. Derrick Brown would have been a first-round pick in 2019, but he returned for his senior season and dominated, putting himself in the Top-10 conversation.
  8. Arizona Cardinals: Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia. The Cardinals may have found their franchise QB in Kyler Murray, but they’ll have to add a lot more talent if they want to compete in the NFC West. That starts up front with an offensive line that ranked 26th in adjusted sack rate and 21st in adjusted line yards. Thomas profiles as a starting left tackle in the NFL and will vastly improve Murray’s protection.
  9. Jacksonville Jaguars: Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina. Jacksonville’s defense has fallen off a cliff in recent years, ranking 29th in the NFL in 2019 – 22nd vs. the pass and 31st vs. the run. Further, the Jaguars’ defensive line was among the worst in the NFL in run defense, and that’s not going to change if Yannick Ngakoue leaves in free agency. Kinlaw could give the Jaguars another monster on the inside to both get some pressure and stop the run.
  10. Cleveland Browns: Jedrick Wills, OT, Alabama. One of the biggest reasons for Cleveland’s offensive regression in 2019, aside from Freddie Kitchen’s play-calling, was the putrid play of the Browns’ offensive line. Both of the Browns’ OTs, Greg Robinson and Chris Hubbard, struggled in pass protection, leaving Baker Mayfield under consistent duress. A tremendous pass blocker at Alabama, Wills could slide right in at right tackle and protect Mayfield for years to come.
  11. New York Jets: Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa. For Sam Darnold to reach his potential, the Jets have to improve his protection. And the Jets’ offensive line, which ranked 30th in the NFL in adjusted sack rate and 31st in adjusted line yards, needs a lot of help. Neither Kelvin Beachum nor Brandon Shell played stood out at either tackle position, so New York can find an upgrade here with the selection of Wirfs, a polished and pro-ready right tackle who started at Iowa since his freshman year.
  12. Las Vegas Raiders: Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU. Don’t discount the potential of Jon Gruden moving on from David Carr and selecting a quarterback. But improving a defense that ranked 31st in the NFL and 30th against the pass has to be more of a priority, especially in a division with Patrick Mahomes. Fulton was one of the many standouts on LSU’s championship defense, profiling as a No. 1 corner in the NFL.
  13. Indianapolis Colts: Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama. Whether or not the Colts stick with Jacoby Brissett for another season, Indianapolis has to improve its offensive weaponry. T.Y. Hilton is constantly hurt, while the rest of the Colts’ receiving core is doesn’t scare any defense. That’s something Jeudy, an elite wide receiver prospect who’s drawn comparisons to Amari Cooper and OBJ would certainly change.
  14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: K’Lavon Chaisson, EDGE, LSU. After leading the NFL in sacks in 2019 and accounting for 19.5 of the Buccaneers’ 47 (43%), Shaq Barrett is going to want to get paid this offseason. Whether or not Tampa Bay ponies up, they could certainly add to their pass rush to improve a pass defense that ranked 12th in the NFL. Chaisson made several big plays in the College Football Playoff and could slide in at either EDGE position either opposite or to replace, Barrett. 
  15. Denver Broncos: CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma. What better way to help Drew Lock take a step forward in year two than to add one of the best receivers in college football. Even with Lock, Denver’s pass offense ranked 27th in the NFL, and the Broncos don’t have a whole lot of receiving talent outside of Courtland Sutton and 2019 first-round pick Noah Fant. Adding Lamb, who’s coming off back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons with the Sooners, would give the Broncos a dynamic, young trio.
  16. Atlanta Falcons: A.J. Epenesa, DE, Iowa. Atlanta’s defense just hasn’t been the same since Super Bowl LI, struggling to generate a pass rush, ranking 28th in the NFL in adjusted sack rate in 2019. Somehow, Dan Quinn and co. kept their jobs with an impressive, late-season turnaround, but they’ll need to show more to avoid the chopping block in 2020. To do that, they’ll have to improve the defense and pass rush, something Epenesa, who tallied 11.5 sacks in 2019, could surely help with.
  17. Dallas Cowboys: Grant Delpit, S, LSU. If Grant Delpit is still on the board when the Cowboys are on the clock, Jerry Jones and co. shouldn’t need much time to make their selection. Both CB Byron Scott and S Jeff Heath are free agents, and as the Cowboys also need to pay Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper, there might not be enough money for everyone. And even with Scott and Health, Dallas’ pass defense only ranked 23rd in the NFL. Delpit wasn’t himself for much of 2019, playing through injury, but he has all the makings of an impact safety at the next level.
  18. Miami Dolphins (via Pittsburgh): Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville. Having found their franchise QB in Tagovailoa, the Dolphins now must improve his protection. Miami ranked dead-last in pass block win rate, 29th in adjusted sack rate and traded away a potential cornerstone tackle in Laremy Tunsil before the 2019 season. A monster of a man at 6’7” 369 lbs., Becton could protect Tagovailoa’s blindside for years to come.
  19. Las Vegas Raiders (via Chicago): Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama. Oakland (now Las Vegas) had a surprisingly good offensive season, with an offense ranked 9th in the NFL: 7th in pass offense and 20th in rush offense. But outside of Josh Jacobs, the Raiders don’t really have a weapon that scares defenses. Hunter Renfrow and Tyrell Williams are decent wideouts, but neither is a speedster that can stretch a defense like Ruggs. Ruggs just feels like a Raiders pick, projected to run a 4.2 40-yard dash, after averaging almost 18 yards a catch the past three seasons at Alabama.
  20. Jacksonville Jaguars (via LA Rams): Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama. The Jaguars boxed themselves in and almost had to trade Jalen Ramsey. But replacing one of the best cover corners in the NFL isn’t easy, and Jacksonville’s pass defense suffered, finishing the year ranked 22nd in the NFL, a far cry from 2018’s 6th-ranked pass defense. Diggs is no sure-fire prospect like Ramsey was, but he’s an impressive and talented corner that played in a variety of different roles and coverages at Alabama.
  21. Philadelphia Eagles: Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson. Near the end of the 2019 season, with Alshon Jeffrey and DeSean Jackson hurt, Carson Wentz was throwing to the likes of Greg Ward and Shelton Gibson at wide receiver. The Eagles badly need to add talent at the wide receiver position to improve a passing offense that finished 17th in the NFL. Higgins would give Wentz and the Eagles another downfield threat, to really open up and improve the offense.
  22. Buffalo Bills: Yetur Gross-Matos, DE, Penn State. The Bills had one of the better pass rushes in the NFL in 2019, with an adjusted sack rate that ranked 13th in the NFL, and the eighth-best pass rush win rate. However, with Lorenzo Alexander’s retirement and Shaq Lawson hitting free agency, Buffalo stands to lose almost 20 percent of their pass rush. Gross-Matos tallied 94 tackles, 34.5 TFLs and 17 sacks over the last two seasons with the Nittany Lions and has all the tools to be both a dynamic pass rusher and an exception run defender at the next level.
  23. New England Patriots: Laviska Shenault Jr., WR, ColoradoFor the first time since 2003, the Patriots offense fell out of the Top 10 in offensive DVOA, finishing with the 14th-best passing offense and 16th-best rushing offense in the NFL. And whether or not Tom Brady is under center, New England badly needs a downfield, vertical threat to enhance their passing attack. Not a single Patriots’ WR averaged over 70.0 yards per game, and that’s something a versatile receiver like Shenault Jr. could certainly change with his ability to line up all across the formation.
  24. New Orleans Saints: Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU. The Saints need another wide receiver alongside Michael Thomas. New Orleans can no longer rely on the likes of Ted Ginn and Tre’Quan Smith if they want to get back to the Super Bowl. Brees needs another downfield threat to stop defenses from keying on Thomas and Alvin Kamara, especially in the postseason. Adding Jefferson, a versatile WR who caught 18 TDs in 2019, could be the upgrade the Saints need.
  25. Minnesota Vikings: C.J. Henderson, CB, Florida. Five Vikings’ defensive backs are set to hit free agency this offseason, while Xavier Rhodes, Minnesota’s lone starting corner still under contract, struggled mightily in 2019. If the Vikings want to remain atop the NFC North with the Packers, the Vikings have to add another defensive back or two. While Henderson will need to improve against the run, he has all the makings of a terrific cover corner in the NFL.
  26. Miami Dolphins (via Houston)D’Andre Swift, RB, Georgia. Miami’s rushing attack finished the season ranked last in the NFL. And with Patrick Laird and Samaje Perine atop their 2020 depth chart, the Dolphins could use an upgrade to help their first-round QB. Swift is a versatile, every-down running back that would help Tagovailoa’s transition the NFL and vastly improve Miami’s run game.
  27. Seattle Seahawks: Jeff Gladney, CB, TCUSeattle had one of the most efficient offense’s in the NFL in 2019 with Russell Wilson under center, but their defense took a significant step backward. The Seahawks’ secondary is a far cry from “The Legion of Boom,” with Seattle’s pass defense ranked 15th in the NFL and their run defense ranking 26th. Seattle badly needs to upgrade its corners, and Gladney, a versatile corner suited for man or zone coverage, could slide right in.
  28. Baltimore Ravens: Kenneth Murray, ILB, Oklahoma. Having lost C.J. Mosley and Terrell Suggs last offseason, Baltimore could use a talent upgrade in the front seven of their defense. Though their pass coverage was much improved, especially after trading for Marcus Peters, the Ravens’ run defense ranked just 19th in the NFL. Drafting Murray will give Baltimore an aggressive, sideline-to-sideline defender to help shore up their front seven.
  29. Tennessee Titans: Damon Arnette, CB, Ohio State. After Ryan Tannehill took over under center for the Titans, Tennessee’s lone real weakness was their secondary. While the Titans’ offense finished sixth in the NFL under Tannehill, their pass defense ranked 21st. 2017 first-round pick Adoree Jackson really hasn’t really lived up to his billing, while Logan Ryan has struggled since signing with Tennessee in free agency. Arnette may not have elite length like fellow Buckeye Jeff Okudah, but he has the skills to be a starting cornerback in the league.
  30. Green Bay PackersPatrick Queen, LB, LSU. While the Packers need to add talent at receiver alongside Davante Adams, they also need to shore up a putrid run defense that ranked 23th in the NFL. Blake Martinez, Green Bay’s top inside linebacker, is also a free agent, and whether or not they re-sign him, the Packers could use more talent in the middle of their front seven. Queen, a rangy linebacker who balled out in the College Football Playoff, is exactly the type of player Green Bay needs and could plug-in at linebacker.
  31. San Francisco 49ers: Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama. While the 49ers’ defensive line was among, if not the, best in football, their secondary is aging and could use an infusion of talent, especially with safety Jimmie Ward headed to free agency. McKinney is an experienced, versatile and hard-hitting defensive back who’s drawn comparisons to Ward, and tallied 95.0 tackles, 5.0 tackles for a loss, five passes defended, four forced fumbles and three interceptions for the Crimson Tide in 2019.
  32. Kansas City Chiefs: Neville Gallimore, DT, Oklahoma. If Kansas City wants to return to repeat as Super Bowl champs, they need to improve their 29th-ranked run defense and a defensive line that ranked 28th in adjusted line yards. Gallimore is a disruptive, potential three-down defensive tackle that’d give the Chiefs a potential replacement for free agent to be Chris Jones.

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