2020 NFL Mock Draft 3.0: The Penultimate Mock

We’re just under two weeks out from the 2020 NFL Draft, and things are going to be a little different this year. With a global pandemic shutting down much of the country, the NFL Draft will be conducted virtually this year. How that will work remains to be seen, but I, for one, cannot wait to see which GM runs out of time when their WiFi crashes. Still, though, we will have a 2020 NFL Draft, a welcome distraction from the global pandemic. So here is my penultimate, two-round mock draft, NFL Mock Draft 3.0. 

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

First Round

  1. Cincinnati BengalsJoe Burrow, QB, LSU. Burrow might be the best quarterback prospect since Andrew Luck, and even If Miami offered all 14 of their draft picks, it might not be enough for Cincinnati to pass on their potential franchise QB. The Bengals are moving on from Andy Dalton and barring a completely unexpected turn of events, drafting Burrow with the No. 1-overall selection.
  2. WashingtonChase Young, EDGE, Ohio State. Most years, Young would be in the discussion for the No. 1-overall pick. Washington’s defense ranked 24th in the NFL and 27th in ESPN’s Team Pass Rush Win Rate and while pass rush might not be their biggest need, that being offensive line or corner, Young could give Ron Rivera and co. a defensive line made up of four former first-round picks.
  3. Detroit LionsJeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State. Swapping Darius Slay, whom the Lions traded to Philadelphia, for the oft-injured Desmond Trufant, is not going to improve Detroit’s 29th-ranked pass defense. Matt Patricia built his Patriot defenses around a lock-down, CB1 in Stephon Gillmore, and he hasn’t been able to find one yet in the Motor City. Thankfully for Patricia, there happens to be a potential CB1 in Okudah, at the top of this year’s draft.
  4. New York Giants: Isaiah Simmons, LB/S, Clemson. Reportedly, the Giants have narrowed this selection down to two players, Iowa OT Tristan Wirfs and Simmons. Wirfs would improve a Giants’ offensive line that ranked 18th in pass blocking, while Simmons is a versatile, defensive playmaker that could improve New York’s 27th-ranked defense and 23rd-ranked pass rush. With a much deeper offensive line class, Dave Gettleman waits on an OT and adds a defensive weapon in Simmons.
  5. Miami Dolphins: Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama. The Dolphins might have to trade up to land their QB, and they certainly have the ammo with six picks in the first three rounds, but it’s a good bet that either Tagovailoa or Justin Herbert will be a Dolphin. While Tagovailoa has some injury concerns, when healthy, he was in contention with Burrow for the No. 1-overall pick. Miami fulfills #TankforTua and selects their franchise QB, even if he has to sit for a year behind Ryan Fitzpatrick.
  6. Los Angeles Chargers: Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon. While the Chargers may say they’re moving forward with Tyrod Taylor, Los Angeles has a win-now roster that just needs a QB. Signing Cam Newton might make the most sense, but if not, the Chargers need to find their next franchise QB. Herbert might not be on the same tier as Burrow or Tagovailoa, but he doesn’t have Tagovailoa’s injury concerns and has all the physical tools to develop into a top-flight NFL quarterback.
  7. Carolina PanthersDerrick Brown, DT, Auburn. The Panthers have a lot of needs, and Matt Rhule and co. need to improve a defense that finished 28th in the NFL and 32nd against the run. Upfront, the Panthers’ once-stout defensive line has been decimated by injuries and free agency departures. 2019 first-rounder Brian Burns looks like a keeper, but Carolina needs more help inside. Brown projects as a Pro-Bowl level talent no matter where he plays across an NFL defensive line.
  8. Arizona Cardinals: Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa. After fleecing the Houston Texans in a trade for DeAndre Hopkins, the Cardinals could have one of the best offenses in football in 2020. But Arizona must better protect Kyler Murray after their franchise QB played behind an offensive line that ranked 26th in pass protection. Wirfs was the first true freshman to start at either tackle spot under Kirk Ferentz at Iowa and could slide in at left or right tackle or even at guard along Arizona’s offensive line.
  9. Jacksonville Jaguars: Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina. The Jaguars have started to rebuild a defense that’s fallen off a cliff in recent years, finishing the 2019 season ranked 29th in the NFL. Jacksonville traded Calais Campbell and is looking to move Yannick Ngakoue as well. Replacing them with younger, interior defensive lineman is the next step, and Kinlaw fits the bill. Drawing comparisons to Chiefs’ DT Chris Jones, Kinlaw projects as an uber-talented defensive lineman at the next level.
  10. Cleveland Browns: Andrew 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, would be a perfect fit.
  11. New York Jets: Jedrick Wills, OT, Alabama. Protecting QB Sam Darnold should be 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 projects as a long-term and day one starter at right tackle for the Jets, capable of protecting Darnold for years to come.
  12. Las Vegas Raiders: CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma. If Jon Gruden’s going to give Derek Carr one more year, Mike Mayock has to improve his surrounding, offensive talent. 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 has drawn comparisons to Cardinals’ WR DeAndre Hopkins and has the tools to develop into one of the best receivers in football.
  13. San Francisco 49ers (via Indianapolis): Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama. Jeudy is exactly the type of wide receiver Kyle Shanahan would love. And with Emmanuel Sanders off to New Orleans, the 49ers need another target for Jimmy Garoppolo. Jeudy would be a perfect fit for Shanahan’s offense, drawing comparisons to Odell Beckham Jr. and comparing favorably to a couple other former Alabama receivers – Amari Cooper, Calvin Ridley – with his terrific hands, footwork and route-running.
  14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville. For Tom Brady to have any chance to succeed in Tampa Bay, the Buccaneers have to improve an offensive line that ranked 22nd in pass blocking and 23rd in run blocking. In a somewhat similar mold to former Patriots OT Trent Brown, Becton, at 6’7” 369 lbs., is a massive and incredibly athletic offensive lineman, that would help Brady succeed in Tampa.
  15. Denver Broncos: Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama. What better way to set up Drew Lock for success in Denver than by 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. An instant impact receiver, Ruggs III would give Lock a vertical threat to go along with Courtland Sutton and TE Noah Fant.
  16. Atlanta Falcons: K’Lavon Chaisson, EDGE, LSU. Atlanta’s defense has struggled to find a pass rush ever since their Super Bowl LI loss to the Patriots. DE Vic Beasley struggled and left via free agency, while Adrian Clayborn is gone as well. Though the Falcons signed EDGE Dante Fowler Jr., he alone won’t be enough to improve a pass rush that ranked 28th in the NFL. Chaisson has explosive ability off the edge and would create a formidable pass rush paired with Fowler Jr.
  17. Dallas Cowboys: C.J. Henderson, CB, Florida. Without Byron Jones, who left for Miami in free agency, the Cowboys defense just doesn’t have a top-flight corner. The Cowboys pass defense ranked just 23rd in the NFL in 2019, and if Dallas wants to put it all together under new head coach Mike McCarthy, it starts on defense with replacing Jones. Henderson is the best cover corner in the draft after Okudah, with the potential to be a day one starter.
  18. Miami Dolphins (via Pittsburgh)Josh Jones, OT, Houston. Assuming the Dolphins take their franchise QB with their first selection, Miami’s next order of business has to be improving its offensive line. The Dolphins ranked dead-last in pass block win rate and 29th in adjusted sack rate in 2019. While not as polished and pro-ready as the top tier of offensive tackles, Jones has the traits needed to succeed at tackle in the NFL.
  19. Las Vegas Raiders (via Chicago): Jeff Gladney, CB, TCU. The Raiders have been aggressive in free agency, adding several pieces to their defense including LBs Cory Littleton and Nick Kwiatkoski and safeties Damarious Randall and Jeff Health. But a defense that ranked 30th against the pass still needs help in the secondary, especially after CB Eli Apple’s deal fell through. Gladney projects as a psychical, high IQ corner at the next level, capable of stepping in and playing right away.
  20. Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama. After bolstering its front seven with its first selection, Jacksonville can continue to 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 Jalen Ramsey. While no rookie cornerback could replace Ramsey, Diggs has the traits to be a starting cornerback at the next level.
  21. Philadelphia Eagles: Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU. The Eagles badly need a wide receiver or two. With Alshon Jeffrey and Desean Jackson oft-injured, Carson Wentz had to rely on TEs Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert all too often in 2019 and the Eagles’ pass offense ranked 17th in 2019, compared to 11th in 2018. Jefferson led the nation in receptions in 2019 and should be an incredibly productive WR at the next level.
  22. Minnesota Vikings (via Buffalo)Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor. After trading Stefon Diggs, the Vikings’ wide receiver depth chart after Adam Thielen is not great. The likes of Tajae Sharpe and Olabisi Johnson certainly don’t strike fear into the heart of opposing defenses, and if Kirk Cousins and co. want to keep up with Green Bay and remain among the Top 10 passing offenses in the NFL, they have to find Diggs’ replacement. Mims shined as the Senior Bowl and has scouts raving to the point that the former Baylor wide receiver could hear his name called on Day One.
  23. New England Patriots: Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama. Both Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung are 32-years-old, and the backend of the Patriots’ secondary could use an infusion of youth. While the Patriots do need a quarterback, it’s doubtful that Bill Belichick views any of the remaining QBs as a first-round talent. Instead, Belichick can add to his defense and wait to find his successor to Tom Brady.
  24. New Orleans Saints: Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma. The Saints are reloading for another Super Bowl run and found Drew Brees a wide receiver to take some of the coverage away from Michael Thomas in Emmanuel Sanders. Defensively, New Orleans could use an upgrade at linebacker, where Alex Anzalone looks like a bust and Kiko Alonso is a free agent after 2020. Murray would give the Saints another physical linebacker than seems to have a nose for the ball and making plays.
  25. Minnesota Vikings: Yetur Gross-Matos, EDGE, Penn State. Minnesota lost a whole lot of talent on defense in free agency, including DE Everson Griffen and CBs Xavier Rhodes, Mackensie Alexander and Trae Waynes. While Mike Zimmer and co. could reach for a corner, the Vikings instead should improve a pass rush that ranked 26th in ESPN’s Team Pass Rush Win Rate metric. Gross-Matos would give Minnesota a dynamic pass-rusher to pair with Danielle Hunter who can play both on the outside and also the interior of Minnesota’s defensive line.
  26. Miami Dolphins (via Houston): J.K. Dobbins, RB, Ohio State. Miami’s rushing attack finished the 2019 season ranked last in the NFL, and to help their first-round QB acclimate to the NFL, the Dolphins need a go-to running back. Jordan Howard, whom Miami signed in free agency, certainly isn’t that guy, whereas Dobbins, with his great burst and vision, can be a three-down back in the NFL.
  27. Seattle SeahawksA.J. Epenesa, EDGE, Iowa. Chances are, Seattle won’t re-sign Jadeveon Clowney, further depleting a pass rush that ranked 30th in adjusted sack rate. Seattle’s defense finished 18th in the NFL in 2019, and if Pete Carroll wants to get the Seahawks’ defense back to its impressive, mid-2010s form, upgrades on the edge and in the secondary are needed. Drawing comparisons to former Seahawks EDGE Frank Clark, Epenesa stuffed the stat sheet over two seasons at Iowa and projects to be an early and productive starter in the NFL.
  28. Baltimore Ravens: Patrick Queen, LB, LSU. While the Ravens franchise-tagged EDGE Matthew Judon, he still status in Baltimore is up in the air as Judon hasn’t yet signed the tag. Whether or not Baltimore is able to come to a long-term agreement with their top edge rusher, the Ravens need help in the back of their front seven to shore up a run defense that ranked No. 20 in the NFL. With a high football IQ and great range, Queen profiles as a high-impact inside linebacker at the next level.
  29. Tennessee TitansZach Baun, EDGE, Wisconsin. Signing former first-round pick EDGE Vic Beasley won’t be enough to improve a pass rush that ranked 20th in pass rush win rate, especially after trading away DT Jurrell Casey. Tennessee needs an upgrade across from EDGE Harold Landry and Baun, who tallied 19.5 TFLs and 12.5 sacks for the Badgers in 2019, certainly fits the bill.
  30. Green Bay Packers: Brandon Aiyuk, WR, Arizona State. After finishing with just the 11th-best passing offensive in 2019, Green Bay needs another reliable receiver to pair with Davante Adams. The Packers can’t count on Marquez Valdes-Scantling and free-agent signee Devin Funchess. Green Bay targeted Emmanuel Sanders in free agency, but instead, the former 49er signed with New Orleans. Aiyuk has drawn comparisons to Sanders and would be a good fit next to Adams. 
  31. San Francisco 49ers: Jaylon Johnson, CB, Utah. Richard Sherman had a terrific, bounce-back season in Santa Clara, but at 32-years-old, San Francisco can’t count on him much longer. If the 49ers want to get back to the Super Bowl, San Francisco needs to add some more talent to its secondary. Johnson has been a late-riser in this year’s draft class, who projects well as a press-man corner at the next level.
  32. Kansas City Chiefs: Cesar Ruiz, IOL, Michigan. Protecting Patrick Mahomes has to be priority No. 1 for the Chiefs, especially after they make Mahomes the highest-paid quarterback in NFL history in a season or two. Pro Football Focus graded OC Austin Reiter as below average, while the interior of the Chiefs offensive line ranked just 28th in adjusted line yards. A three-year starter at Michigan, Ruiz is already an excellent pass protector and versatile enough to play guard or center.

Second Round

  1. Cincinnati Bengals: Lloyd Cushenberry III, IOL, LSU
  2. Indianapolis Colts (via Washington)Jordan Love, QB, Utah State.
  3. Detroit Lions: Grant Delpit, S, LSU.
  4. New York GiantsEzra Cleveland, OT, Boise State.
  5. Los Angeles ChargersAustin Jackson, OT, USC.
  6. Carolina Panthers: Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU.
  7. Miami Dolphins: Antoine Winfield Jr., S, Minnesota.
  8. Houston Texas (via Arizona): Ross Blacklock, DT, TCU.
  9. Cleveland Browns: Jeremy Chinn, S, Southern Illinois.
  10. Jacksonville Jaguars: Terrell Lewis, EDGE, Alabama.
  11. Chicago Bears (via Las Vegas): Noah Igbinoghene, CB, Auburn.
  12. Indianapolis ColtsTee Higgins, WR, Clemson.
  13. Tampa Bay BuccaneersJonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin.
  14. Denver Broncos: Isaiah Wilson, OT, Georgia.
  15. Atlanta Falcons: A.J. Terrell, CB, Clemson.
  16. New York Jets: Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU.
  17. Pittsburgh SteelersJacob Eason, QB, Washington.
  18. Chicago Bears: Ashtyn Davis, S, California
  19. Dallas CowboysJoshua Uche, EDGE, Michigan.
  20. Los Angeles RamsD’Andre Swift, RB, Georgia.
  21. Philadelphia Eagles: Kyle Dugger, S, Lenoir-Rhyne.
  22. Buffalo Bills: Damon Arnette, CB, Ohio State.
  23. Baltimore Ravens (via New England): Laviska Shenault Jr., WR, Colorado.
  24. Miami Dolphins (via New Orleans): Marlon Davidson, DT, Auburn.
  25. Houston TexansJonah Jackson, IOL, Ohio State.
  26. Minnesota Vikings: Neville Gallimore, DT, Oklahoma.
  27. Seattle Seahawks: Lucas Niang, OT, TCU.
  28. Baltimore Ravens: Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, LSU.
  29. Tennessee Titans: Justin Madubuike, DT, Texas A&M.
  30. Green Bay PackersWillie Gay Jr., LB, Mississippi State.
  31. Kansas City Chiefs (via San Francisco): K.J. Hamler, WR, Penn State.
  32. Seattle Seahawks (via Kansas City): Michael Pittman Jr., WR, USC.

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