2020 NFL Mock Draft 2.0: Post-Free Agency Edition

NFL free agency is in full swing, and already numerous, high-profile players have changed teams. Tom Brady is a Tampa Bay Buccaneer, Philip Rivers is an Indianapolis Colt, Todd Gurley is an Atlanta Falcons and the Houston Texans traded DeAndre Hopkins for David Johnson and a draft pick. So with teams need changing, it’s time for another mock draft. So with everyone stuck inside due to COVID-19, let’s get straight to it: here is my 2020 NFL Mock Draft 2.0: Post-Free Agency 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. Roger Goodell might as well start practicing now: “With the first pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, the Cincinnati Bengals select: Joe Burrow, quarterback, LSU,” as this pick is all but set in stone. Cincinnati is moving on from Andy Dalton, who ranked 31st in adjusted QBR in 2019 and drafting Burrow, who put together the best statistical season by a quarterback in NCAA history, to be their franchise QB.
  2. WashingtonChase Young, EDGE, Ohio State. Most years, a freakish-edge rusher like Young would be in the discussion for the No. 1-overall pick. And while a pass rusher might not be Washington’s biggest need, their defense still ranked 24th in the NFL and 27th in ESPN’s Team Pass Rush Win Rate. Young could lead a defensive line made up of four first-round picks that could prove to be nearly unblockable.
  3. Detroit LionsJeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State. Detroit’s pass defense ranked 29th in the NFL in 2019, and that was before they traded their best corner to the Eagles, Darius Slay, for a third and fifth-round pick. And signing the oft-injured Desmond Trufant will only help so much, the Lions need a lock-down corner to replace Slay. Thankfully for Bob Quinn and Matt Patricia, whose jobs are at stake, there happens to be a potential CB1 in Okudah, at the top of this year’s draft.
  4. New York Giants: Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville. Dave Gettleman put all his chips on QB Daniel Jones, and if the former Blue Devil is going to prove his GM right, Gettleman must improve his protection. The Giants’ offensive line ranked 18th in pass blocking and the Jones’ led Giants offense finished 23rd in the NFL. At 6’7” 369 lbs., Becton is massive, but also incredibly athletic, exactly the type of right tackle prospect Gettleman could love.
  5. Miami Dolphins: Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama. Chances are, the Dolphins might have to trade up to land their QB, but its a good bet that one of Tagovailoa or Justin Herbert will hear their name called when Miami makes its selection. The Dolphins are looking for their franchise QB and can afford to take someone who might have to sit out a year with Ryan Fitzpatrick under center. Tagovailoa has all the makings of a franchise QB and could have been QB1 if not for Burrow’s breakout year.
  6. Los Angeles Chargers: Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon. The Philip Rivers Era is over for the Chargers. Rivers signed with the Colts and the Chargers moved on from a QB who significantly regressed in 2019. And while the Chargers said they’re moving forward with Tyrod Taylor, Taylor has proved time and time again that he isn’t a franchise QB. Herbert, on the other hand, certainly has the potential to be, with all the physical tools to succeed at the next level.
  7. Carolina Panthers: Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson. The Panthers could be in the mix to trade up for a QB, but after signing Teddy Bridgewater, a trade down might be the more likely move. Either way, Matt Rhule and co. need to improve a defense that finished 28th in the NFL and 32nd against the run. And with Luke Kuechly’s retirement, the versatile Simmons might be a perfect fit. Simmons could line up all across the formation for the Panthers, from EDGE to ILB and S.
  8. Arizona CardinalsTristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa. With Kliff Kingsburg, Kyler Murray, Larry Fitzgerald, Christian Kirk and now DeAndre Hopkins, the Cardinals have all the makings of a high-flying offense in Arizona. But with an offensive line that ranked 26th in adjusted sack rate and 21st in adjusted line yards in 2019, Arizona needs to upgrade Murray’s protection. Wirfs, a polished right tackle, started at Iowa since his freshman year and could slide right in along Arizona’s offensive line.
  9. Jacksonville Jaguars: Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn. By trading Calais Campbell, the Jaguars got younger and cheaper on defense. But that’s not going to help a defense that ranked 31st in the NFL in 2019, and 31st against the run. Trading Campbell makes sense only if Jacksonville replaces him with a younger, less expensive DT in the draft, someone like Brown, a plug-and-play starter at DT at the next level.
  10. Cleveland BrownsAndrew Thomas, OT, Georgia. Putrid offensive line play held the Browns’ offense back in 2019, among other things, and already Andrew Berry has gone to work this offseason, shoring up the right tackle spot with the addition of Jack Conklin. Next up for Berry is the left tackle spot, and Thomas, who was a three-year starter at Georgia in a pro-style scheme, could be a perfect fit.
  11. New York Jets: Jedrick Wills, OT, Alabama. Protecting Sam Darnold is the Jets’ top priority this offseason, as evidenced by the additions of OG Connor McGovern and OT George Fant. But two free-agent signings won’t be nearly enough to shore up an offensive line that ranked 30th in the NFL in pass blocking. Wills will be a day one starter at left tackle for the Jets, helping protect Darnold for years to come.
  12. Las Vegas RaidersCeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma. Though the Raiders had, surprisingly, one of the better offenses in the NFL last season, ranking 11th, Derek Carr has few weapons that opponents are forced to gameplan for. 2019 first-rounder Josh Jacobs looks like a solid running back, but Tyrell Williams, Nelson Agholor and Hunter Renfrow aren’t top-flight wide receivers. Lamb, with the tools to develop into one of the best receivers in football, certainly could be.
  13. San Francisco 49ers (via Indianapolis): Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama. Without Emmanuel Sanders, who signed with the New Orleans Saints in free agency, teams will load up the box against the 49ers and force Jimmy Garoppolo to beat them. Garoppolo needs another target alongside Deebo Samuel and George Kittle, and Jeudy might be a perfect fit. The Alabama product comes from a long line of fundamentally sound Crimson Tide receivers – Amari Cooper, Calvin Ridley – with terrific hands and footwork.
  14. Tampa Bay BuccaneersJosh Jones, OT, Houston. With Tom Brady under center, priority number one for Tampa Bay now becomes protecting their 42-year-old QB. The Buccaneers offense line ranked 22nd in pass blocking and 23rd in run blocking, and if Brady is going in South Florida, Tampa Bay has to get better. Jones needs a little polish and might not on the same level as the Top 4 OT prospects, but he’s still got impressive tools and profiles as a starting, NFL offensive tackle.
  15. Denver BroncosHenry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama. John Elway’s moving forward with Drew Lock as his next potential, franchise QB, and what better way to set up Lock for success than adding one of the best deep threats in the draft. Ruggs III ran a 4.27 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine while posting a 42” vertical jump and 131” broad jump. Ruggs is an instant impact receiver that’d give Lock a huge, vertical threat to go along with Courtland Sutton and TE Noah Fant.
  16. Atlanta Falcons: C.J. Henderson, CB, Florida. The Falcons turned things around down the stretch, saving Dan Quinn and co.’s jobs, but there’s still plenty of work to be done in Atlanta. Oft-injured corner Desmond Trufant was cut, and the Falcons must now find his replacement to help shore up a pass defense that ranked No. 25 in the NFL in 2019. Similar to 2019 second-rounder Greedy Williams, Henderson might not provide much in run support yet, but he’s the best cover corner in the draft after Okudah, with the potential to be an impressive man-to-man defender.
  17. Dallas Cowboys: Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU. The Cowboys weren’t able to keep their top corner, Byron Jones, in free agency and that will only hurt a pass defense that ranked 23rd in the NFL. Dallas could be a Super Bowl contender if they can put things all together under Mike McCarthy, and that starts with replacing Jones. No first-rounder is going to be able to that right away, but Fulton profiles as a potential replacement, capable of being a prototypical, man-to-man corner.
  18. Miami Dolphins (via Pittsburgh): K’Lavon Chaisson, EDGE, LSU. Not only did the Dolphins have the worst defense in the NFL in 2019, but they also had the worst pass rush, with a 4.4 percent adjusted sack rate. Miami added Emmanuel Ogbah and Shaq Lawson in free agency, but neither is the caliber of pass rusher Miami needs to build around. Chaisson is explosive off the edge, with sky-high potential.
  19. Las Vegas Raiders (via Chicago): Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama. Mike Mayock and Jon Gruden have slowly begun to revamp the Raiders’ defense, which ranked 30th in the NFL in 2018 and 31st in 2019, but there’s still plenty of work to be done. Among the remaining holes is a secondary and pass defense that ranked 30th in the NFL. Las Vegas added CB Eli Apple and SS Jeff Heath in free agency, but the Raiders still need another safety. Coming from Alabama, McKinney is a versatile defender that could play from day one in Las Vegas.
  20. Jacksonville Jaguars (via LA Rams)Grant Delpit, S, LSU. After bolstering its front seven, Jacksonville can continue to get younger and reshape a defense that ranked 29th in the NFL by adding to its secondary. The Jaguars had the 22nd-best pass defense in the NFL in 2019, and it didn’t get any better after trading CB Jalen Ramsey. While Delpit probably can’t replace Ramsey, the two-time All-SEC First-Team safety could help begin to shore up the back-end of Jacksonville’s defense.
  21. Philadelphia EaglesJustin Jefferson, WR, LSU. The Eagles badly need to add a wide receiver or two. Alshon Jeffrey and Desean Jackson are too often injured, and Philadelphia has little depth behind the two. Carson Wentz had to rely on Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert all too often, as the Eagles’ passing attack ranked 17th in 2019, as compared to 11th in 2018. While not as flashy as his LSU teammate Ja’Marr Chase, Jefferson led the nation in receptions this past season with the Tigers and should be an incredibly productive wide receiver at the next level.
  22. Minnesota Vikings (via Buffalo): Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina. After cutting DT Linval Joseph and letting DE Everson Griffen walk in free agency, the Vikings need to restock what was one of the better defensive lines in football. Minnesota’s defensive line ranked fifth in adjusted sack rate, but just 25th in run defense. And if Kinlaw is still available, the Vikings might sprint to the podium. Arguably a Top-15 prospect, Kinlaw has the potential to be a Pro Bowl DT at the next level.
  23. New England Patriots: Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson. Sure the Patriots now need a quarterback, but Jordan Love just doesn’t seem like a Bill Belichick QB. Instead, Belichick might opt to build around Jarrett Stidham or a veteran free agent (maybe Andy Dalton?). And if that’s the case, whoever is under center needs more talent to work with at wide receiver. New England drafted N’Keal Harry in the 2019 NFL Draft and can add another vertical, downfield threat in Higgins here.
  24. New Orleans Saints: Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma. Drew Brees is back as the Saints reload for another Super Bowl run. Sean Payton found Brees his WR2 in Emmanuel Sanders, so New Orleans can turn its attention to a defense that suffered a bit of a dropoff over the last two years. LB Alex Anzalone looks like a bust and Kiko Alonso is a free agent after 2020, so the Saints could use an upgrade alongside DeMario Davis. Drafting Murray would give the Saints another physical linebacker than seems to have a nose for the ball and making plays.
  25. Minnesota Vikings: Jeff Gladney, CB, TCU. Mike Zimmer loves his corners, and after cutting Xavier Rhodes and letting Mackensie Alexander and Trae Waynes leave in free agency, Zimmer finds his next favorite CB here. Yes, Minnesota also needs a wide receiver after trading Stefon Diggs, but in a deep receiver class, the Vikings can find good receivers on Day 2. Gladney projects as a psychical, high IQ corner at the next level, capable of stepping in and playing right away for Zimmer.
  26. Miami Dolphins (via Houston)Austin Jackson, OT, USC. No matter who’s under center for the Dolphins in 2020, Miami has to better protect him. The Dolphins’ offensive line ranked dead-last in pass block win rate and 29th in adjusted sack rate in 2019. Miami shored up the interior by adding Ereck Flowers and Ted Karras in free agency, but upgrades at both tackle spots are needed. Jackson is raw and will need to improve his technique, but he has the athleticism to succeed in the NFL.
  27. Seattle Seahawks: Yetur Gross-Matos, DE, Penn State. It doesn’t look like Seattle will re-sign Jadeveon Clowney, further hurting a pass rush that ranked 16th in pass rush win rate and 30th in adjusted sack rate. Seattle’s defense ranked 18th in the NFL in 2019, and if Pete Carroll and co. ever want to get back to the days of the “Legion of Boom,” upgrades on the edge and in the secondary are needed. Gross-Matos tallied 17 sacks and 34.5 TFLs over two seasons at Penn State and profiles as a dynamic pass rusher the Seahawks need.
  28. Baltimore RavensPatrick Queen, LB, LSU. EDGE Matthew Judon’s status is up in the air, even after the Ravens placed the franchise tag on him, while LJ Fort and Chris Board aren’t going to cut it at linebacker if the Ravens want to improve the 19th-ranked run defense in 2019. Adding DL Calais Campbell and Michael Brockers is a good start, but Baltimore needs another sideline-to-sideline linebacker in the middle of their front seven. With a high football IQ and great range, Queen profiles as just that, an impact inside linebacker at the next level.
  29. Tennessee Titans: Neville Gallimore, DT, Oklahoma. So far this offseason, the Titans signed former first-round pick EDGE Vic Beasley and traded away DT Jurrell Casey for basically nothing (a seventh-round pick). That certainly won’t help a pass rush that ranked 20th in the NFL in pass rush win rate and a defense that struggled to stop the pass. Jeffrey Simmons looks like a stud, but Tennessee needs another disruptor alongside him. Gallimore, with his three-down ability, could be just that.
  30. Green Bay Packers: Laviska Shenault Jr., WR, Colorado. Even with only one reliable receiver in Davante Adams, Aaron Rodgers still guided the Packers to the NFC Championship and the 8th-best offense in the NFL. But if Rodgers is going to do it again, he needs more help. Green Bay can’t rely on Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Geronimo Allison anymore. Though injuries are a concern, Shenault Jr. would give Rodgers a versatile playmaker capable of making all the contested catches.
  31. San Francisco 49ers: Cesar Ruiz, IOL, Michigan. While the 49ers had one of the better rushing attacks in the NFL, their offense line only ranked 26th in pass block win rate. Joe Staley and Mike McGlinchey are two rock-solid tackles, but the 49ers could use some help on the interior, especially with C Weston Richburg coming off a torn patellar tendon. Having started at both center and guard at Michigan, Ruiz could slot in at any of the three interior offensive line positions for the 49ers.
  32. Kansas City Chiefs: Ross Blacklock, DT, TCU. Even after placing the franchise tag on him, the Chiefs will only be able to afford DT Chris Jones for so long. Jones was a one-man wrecking crew for Kansas City, especially in the postseason, and an already lackluster defense will only suffer more without. So even if Jones suits up for the Chiefs for another year, Kansas City must find a replacement-in-waiting. Blacklock has drawn comparisons to Gerald McCoy and has the potential to develop into a three-down lineman.

 

 

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