IT’S FINALLY DRAFT WEEK!!! (UPDATED ON 4/23)
This is the one and only mock draft that I will publish, although I reserve the right to alter it prior to 8pm on Thursday. This is a combination of what teams SHOULD do and what they WILL do based on the evidence we have.
1. Cincinnati Bengals – Joe Burrow (QB, LSU)
Mark this pick in sharpie, there’s no way the Bengals trade away a bonafide franchise quarterback, even for multiple 1st rounders. Burrow was the highest graded QB by PFF in the past 6 years. He finished last season with 5,671 yards, 76.3 completion percentage, 60 touchdowns and 6 interceptions en route to a national championship. Case Closed.
2. Washington Redskins – Chase Young (EDGE, OSU)
The Skins have a decision to make: do they move back and collect a kings random of picks or select the best EDGE since Myles Garrett? I suspect they will opt for the latter and upgrade their pass rush by selecting a generational player in Chase Young. He led the nation last year with 16.5 sacks and 6 forced fumbles while also amassing 21 tackles for loss in only 12 starts.
3. [DET TRADE] Miami Dolphins – Tua Tagovailoa (QB, Bama)
Book it: someone will trade with the Lions to ensure they get the second best quarterback in the draft class – Tua Tagovailoa. The Lions could use the extra draft capital and I suspect the Dolphins and Chargers will both be in the running. Everybody knows that the Dolphins are going to draft a QB this year, the only question is “which one?” Tua started 24 games over the course of his sophomore and junior seasons, finishing with 7451 yards and nearly an 8:1 TD-to-INT ratio. If not for a season ending injury, there might be more of a controversy at #1. But due to his injury and some concern about his long-term durability, Tua will be the second QB taken.
4. New York Giants – Tristan Wirfs (OT, Iowa)
I literally finished the first draft of this mock on Friday, just hours before the news broke about Becton failing a drug test at the combine. Soooo I had to reorder my first 15 selections because that changes EVERYTHING. The Giants aren’t going to risk taking Becton at #4 overall, since he is now in stage 1 of the substance abuse program. While the first three picks were pretty easy, this is when the draft really begins. The Giants could absolutely use an upgrade on the offensive line. They could also use an upgrade at linebacker…and cornerback. With Okudah, Simmons and a slew of offensive tackles all available at 4, the Giants could do in a variety of directions. Gettleman has a history of drafting trench players early, and with his choice of hog mollies here, I think he opts to protect his investment in Daniel Jones. Even with Becton off the board, they still land a prized franchise tackle in Wirfs. Wirfs didn’t allow a sack his entire sophomore season and his natural position at Iowa was right tackle, although he has experience playing both sides. He will be groomed to replace Solder when it is appropriate. Wirfs crushed the combine, demonstrating the agility and athleticism that every team covets.
5. [MIA TRADE] Detroit Lions – Jeff Okudah (CB, OSU)
The Lions move back a couple of selections and still land the player that fills the greatest position of need for them. The Lions have a massive need at CB after trading Slay to the Eagles and Jeff Okudah is a perfect replacement. Okudah is another stud in a long line of Ohio State defensive backs drafted in the first round. He was a 3-year starter who finished last season with 3 interceptions, 9 pass breakups, 35 tackles and 2 forced fumbles.
6. LA Chargers – Justin Herbert (QB, Oregon)
The Dolphins have more draft capital to give up, but the Chargers are in win-now mode and have very few needs outside of QB. Herbert isn’t nearly the prospect that a “healthy” version of Tua would be, but is a decent consolation prize and a long-term solution at the position. Herbert played at least 8 games over the course of his four-year career at Oregon. The past two seasons he started every game, amassing 3151 yards/ 29 TD and 3471 yards/32 TDs. The major blemish this past season was the 6 interceptions that he threw in 2019, which is extremely uncharacteristic, considering he threw 0 on 610 attempts in 2017 and 2018.
7. Carolina Panthers – Derrick Brown (DT, Auburn)
In last years’ draft, Brown would be a surefire top-5 selection, but he will fall slightly this year because of the top-heavy class full of QBs and OT (both with greater positional value than IDLs). He has been characterized as a more one-dimensional run stopper who can push the pocket, Brown is still an elite talent in this draft class who finished his junior year with 55 tackles (12.5 for loss), 4 sacks and 2 fumbles. It just so happens that the Panthers were horrid at run defending last season and Brown is a great player to rebuild your defense around.
8. [ARI TRADE] Denver Broncos – Jerry Jeudy (WR, Bama)
Supposedly, the Broncos are eager to move up the draft board and I believe that the Cardinals are willing to acquiesce a trade. Rumor has it that the Broncos really like Jeudy, so they have to jump Jacksonville to ensure they have the pick of the WR litter. Denver is looking for a speedy receiver to pair with Courtland Sutton and they will fall in love with Jeudy. He finished the past two seasons with 1,315 yards/14 TDs and 1,163 yards/10 TDs. He is not only the most polished route runner in this class, but also possesses respectable top-end speed.
9. [JAX TRADE] Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Jedrick Wills Jr. (OT, Bama)
Listen: Here’s what we know about the Bucs:
1. They have a gaping void at right tackle and a small window to win a championship with Tom Brady.
2. With Wirfs off the table and Becton off the board entirely, Wills Jr. is the best option.
3. The Browns and Jets could take a tackle, which means none would be left at #14.
Bottom line: If the Bucs want to ensure they get the best right tackle to protect Brady, this is the only move they have. Jacksonville has many other needs and is more than happy to accommodate their desperation in exchange for more draft capital. they still land a prized franchise tackle in Jedrick Wills, Jr., who played right tackle at Alabama against some of the toughest competition in the country. He is a plug and play right tackle that would be perfect for Brady’s offense.
10. Cleveland Browns – Andrew Thomas (OT, Georgia)
It’s no secret that the Browns are going to draft an offensive tackle in the first round. Based on the evidence we’ve seen out of the Browns this draft season, they really seem to like Andrew Thomas and Ezra Cleveland. As long as Thomas is available, the Browns won’t trade back and will take the highest graded tackle available. According to PFF, Thomas was the most productive member of this tackle class, improving his grade every season against the toughest SEC pass rush.
11. [NYJ TRADE] – Atlanta Falcons – C.J. Henderson (CB, Florida)
The Jets have some needs they could address here, but opt to slide back to 16 and collect additional capital. There’s been a ton of buzz surrounding C.J. Henderson, with the possibility he could be a top-10 selection. I think that’s a tad bit exaggerated, but I don’t see him falling past #14. Considering that the Falcons secondary has been reduced to Isaiah Oliver and Kendall Sheffield, this is a priority need. Henderson was a two-year starter at Florida that registered 38 tackles (5 TFL), 3 sacks and 2 forced fumbles in his sophomore year and 33 tackles (3 TFL) and 11 pass breakups in his junior season.
12. Las Vegas Raiders – Isaiah Simmons (D, Clemson)
Before trading for, and subsequently cutting Antonio Brown, the Raiders have been devoid of WR talent. Amari Cooper was the last true number-one option that Derek Carr has had the pleasuring of working with. Even if Gruden is thinking about moving on from Carr (*foreshadowing*), he realizes the importance of adding an elite wideout. While wideout is a bigger need, there is zero chance that Gruden lets Simmons (who is a legit grinder) fall past #12. Simmons is a heat seeking missile on defense, a chess piece that can play multiple positions at linebacker and defensive back. The past two seasons he finished with 191 tackles (12 for loss), 4 interceptions and 16 pass breakups. If the Panthers pass on him at #7, this is the most logical position for him to land.
13. San Fransisco 49ers – CeeDee Lamb (WR, Oklahoma)
This is a dream come true for the 49ers, who watch all the teams around them trade up for other players while Lamb falls right into their lap. Ceedee Lamb had 3 extremely productive seasons while at Oklahoma (807/1,158/1,327 yards) and scoring 32 total TDs.
14. [TB TRADE] Jacksonville Jaguars – Henry Ruggs III (WR, Bama)
The Jags just cut Marquise Lee and if Henry Ruggs III falls to them here, I don’t think they can pass it up. It just so happens that they are in luck this year, with one of the best WR draft classes in recent history. Ruggs III may only have posted 741 and 746 yards the past two seasons, but he has demonstrated ridiculous burst and yards after the catch.
15. [DEN TRADE] Arizona Cardinals – Kenneth Murray (MLB, Oklahoma)
The Cardinals enter the draft with the intention of providing additional protection for Kyler Murray and if a tackle falls to them at 15, this is a slam dunk. The Cards signed D. J. Humphries to play left tackle, but the right tackle position is still a priority need. I think it is still very likely that the Cardinals go with Becton here, but Kenneth Murray has been a player they have taken a strong interest in. Murray was a very productive three-year starter at Oklahoma, finishing with 78, 155 and 102 tackles each season. In the mold of the modern linebacker – Murray has the speed and twichiness that allows him to play sideline to sideline but can also lay the wood on running backs.
16. [ATL TRADE] New York Jets – Mehki Becton (OT, Louisville)
The Jets are almost guaranteed to end up with one of the last blue-chip players at WR or OT. Nothing would be better for the development of Darnold than pairing him with a top-tier tackle. The Dolphins benefited in a very similar way when Tunsil fell to them a few years ago, but that was just a picture and this is an actual positive drug test. It’s worth the risk for them though, as they have a ton of draft capital and if he can stay clean it will be a steal at #16. At 6-7 and 364 lbs, Mekhi Becton is the king of the hog mollies.
17. Dallas Cowboys – K’lavon Chaisson (EDGE, LSU)
I know they signed Aldon Smith, but he hasn’t played in over four years and the Cowboys could use another EDGE rusher to pair with Demarcus Lawrence. The only knock on Chaisson is that he only had a single year of production because of an ACL tear in 2018. He finished 2019 with 60 tackles (13.5 for loss) and 6.5 sacks.
18. Miami Dolphins (from PIT) – Josh Jones (OT, Houston)
The Dolphins pair a new shiny left tackle to protect their QB investment. Josh Jones was a four-year starter at left tackle, missing only 5 games his entire career. While his technique and footwork needs some additional refinement, he has all the skills and physical tools to be a future franchise left tackle. He would immediately step in at left tackle and would be an instant upgrade to Davenport.
19. [LV TRADE] Jacksonville Jaguars – Kristian Fulton (CB, LSU)
The Raiders trade this selection in exchange for Yannick Ngakoue. The Jags go defense with the next two selections, first upgrading the cornerback position. Insert Kristian Fulton, who was a two-year starter at Clemson, finishing with 91 tackles, two interceptions and 13 pass breakups.
20. Jacksonville Jaguars (from LAR) – Javon Kinlaw (DT, South Carolina)
Javon Kinlaw has been rising up draft boards in recent weeks and has Aaron Donald potential. There are no interior linemen in this class with the pass rushing abilities of Kinlaw, and that happens to be a position of need for the Jags after losing Calais Campbell.
21. Philadelphia Eagles – Tee Higgins (WR, Clemson)
The Eagles are in desperate need for an upgrade at WR, and I truly believe they take one of them here. I know a lot of folks keep mocking Justin Jefferson to the Eagles, but I think they will opt for the more well-rounded prospect that has legit size, speed and ball skills. Higgins put up 118 receptions for 2,103 yards and 25 touchdowns while at Clemson, finishing the 2019 campaign with a ridiculous 19.8 yards per catch. Just imagine with he will do with Wentz.
22. Minnesota Vikings – Jalen Reagor (WR, TCU)
As soon as the Vikings traded Stefon Diggs to the Bills for this pick, it left a massive hole in their roster. The good news for them is that one of the second-tier WR options will be available with this selection. I think they could go with Jalen Reagor or Denzel Mims. I’m slotting Reagor here because he is the most comparable to Diggs. Reagor performed multiple roles for the Horned Frogs, leading his team in receiving yards (1,061 and 611 yards) and YPC (13.1 and 14.2) while also contributing as a rusher and returner.
23. [TRADE NE] Baltimore Ravens – Patrick Queen (LB, LSU)
New England loves to trade back whenever possible and Baltimore is salty about losing out on Kenneth Murray. The only huge necessities for the Ravens are MLB and OG and I believe it is more than worth the cost to move up here. The Ravens managed to hold it together at linebacker last season with a patchwork of misfit toys. They never adequately replaced Mosley and are currently left with Chris Board and LJ Fort, neither of which are really that good in coverage. If they don’t move up and jump the Saints, it’s almost a guarantee that they scoop him at #24. In two productive seasons at LSU, Queen finished his sophomore season with 40 tackles (95 for loss) and 1 sack. He started 12 games in his junior season, finishing with 85 tackles (12 for loss), 3 sacks, 1 interception and 2 pass breakups. He is hands-down the best coverage linebacker in the draft and would be a great fit in Baltimore. Big Truss.
24. New Orleans Saints – Laviska Shenault Jr. (WR, Colorado)
With Queen off the board, the Saints go back to what they are best known for: Offense. Sure they signed Sanders this offseason, but he is slightly past his prime and the Saints are trying to win before Brees retires. If you draft Shenault and throw Sanders in the slot, you can roll 3-WR packages all day and good luck to opposing defenses. Shenault was most productive in 2018 when he ranked fourth in the nation with 112.3 receiving yards per game. He regressed slightly in 2019, finishing with 764 yards in 11 games. His draft stock somewhat slid after the combine, where he didn’t produce eye popping results like some of his counterparts.
25. Minnesota Vikings – A.J. Terrell (CB, Clemson)
Talk about a mass exodus on defense, especially in the secondary. The Vikings are depleted at a position they were considered deep in past seasons. Now they are reduced to Mike Hughes and Nate Meadors, ugh. A.J. Terrell has only gotten better his final two seasons at Clemson, elevating from third-team to first-team All-ACC honors in his sophomore and junior seasons. He finished his career with 106 tackles, 3 interceptions and 20 pass breakups.
26. Miami Dolphins – Xavier McKinney (S, Bama)
They traded Minkah Fitzpatrick to the Steelers, why not draft another safety from Alabama? The Dolphins have plenty of needs, but have addressed many of them through free agency. On defense, their most glaring weakness is safety, with Rowe, Fejedelem, Parker and Colbert as starting safeties. McKinney was a two-year starter at Alabama finishing with 168 tackles (11.5 for loss), 6 sacks and 5 interceptions during those two seasons. He was extremely versatile on defense, playing multiple positions, including slot corner, free and box safety.
27. Seattle Seahawks – Yetur Gross-Matos (EDGE, Penn State)
The Seahawks don’t have many needs, but the ones that they do have are glaring. If Clowney moves on to another team, EDGE becomes a high priority. Otherwise, I think they draft offensive line, whether Ruiz or Jackson. Yetur Gross-Matos had several productive seasons at Penn State, his last year finishing with first-team all-Big 10 conference honors with 15 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks.
28. [TRADE BAL] New England Patriots – A.J. Epenesa (EDGE, Iowa)
The Pats lost both Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins this offseason. A.J. Epenesa would replace the former – with the kind of scheme versatility that Belicick covets for his hybrid 3-4/4-3 defense. Epenesa is a 275 lb tweener that can play both inside and outside on the defensive line. During his sophomore season, he led the Big 10 with 10.5 sacks as a rotational player and added 16.5 tackles for loss. As a starter his junior season, he had 49 tackles (14.5 TFL), 11.5 sacks and 4 forced fumbles. Once thought of as a top-20 pick, a poor combine performance drops Epenesa right into the Pat’s lap.
29. Tennessee Titans – Trevon Diggs (CB, Bama)
The Titans are a well-rounded team, but they did suffer a few losses at RT (Conklin), CB (Ryan) and DL (Casey). They could address any of those needs here, but there is some good value position at the CB position. Trevon Diggs is elite in zone and press-man coverage situations and would be a natural fit for the Titans. He was a starter his final two seasons and finished 2019 with 37 tackles, 3 INTs and 8 pass breakups.
30. Green Bay Packers – Justin Jefferson (WR, LSU)
The Packers should surround Rodgers with as many weapons as possible to maximize the remainder of his prime. A quality WR prospect should fall to them here, in this case that prospect comes down to Denzel Mims or Justin Jefferson. Justin Jefferson led the Tigers the past two seasons with 875 and 1,540 yards. Jefferson has the proven route running and possession abilities necessary to fill any void at the X, Z or E receiver positions.
31. [TRADE SF] Miami Dolphins – D’Andre Swift (RB, Georgia)
Fun Fact: The 49ers don’t have another selection until 5:156. After they addressed their WR need with their first pick, they slide back and collect some second and third day selections. The Dolphins could use an upgrade in the running game and Swift earned All-SEC honors rushing for 1,218 yards and 7 TDs with an average of 6.2 yards/carry.
32. [TRADE KC] Somebody – Jordan Love (QB, Utah State)
Anyone who doesn’t believe that Love will go in the first round, just remember that Josh Allen went 7th. Love has many of the same physical attributes as Allen, with a cannon for an arm and a good improvisational runner. Love finished with 3,402 yards/20 TDs and 3,567 yards/32 TDs the past two seasons. The biggest concern is the increase from 6 INTs in 2018 to 17 in 2019.