26 Dec 2020 NFL Draft Mock 1.0
Another NFL season is nearly complete, which means, as we motor through Christmas towards 2020, football fan’s focus and attention are dialed in on the 2020 NFL Draft.
In the past, I recorded an individual player profile video series, but, this year, the theme will be a little different. I’m doing more mock drafts and adding a Top 250 Big Board, along with a few written player profiles.
I hope everyone had a great holiday season, and if you didn’t get what was on your wish list, maybe I can help with my thoughts on how the draft will play out. Below is the complete first round.
2020 NFL Draft – Round One
Joe Burrow has to be the first overall selection. Does that mean I fully trust his meteoric rise, or that I think he is the best quarterback in his class? Not necessarily, but, it also can’t be ignored. The season he put together with LSU this season was magical. The Cincinnati Bengals need help everywhere, but an opportunity of this magnitude doesn’t come around often and is the exact reason why they brought in Zac Taylor. Tua Tagovailoa might have been the original plan, but Burrow is a fantastic pivot.
Is this really a mock draft that doesn’t have Chase Young as the second-overall selection? Before you stop reading and discount my credibility, I do think Young will end up #2 somehow, even if it’s not the Redskins on the clock. This is a mock, though, and I’m trying to think objectively and not be a victim of Young’s hype. Not to mention, there is a lack of true left tackles in the 2020 NFL Draft class and a surplus of potential edge-rush difference makers. The Washington Redskins made a major investment towards their future with Dwayne Haskins and never anticipated the Trent Williams fallout. Andrew Thomas solves both problems simultaneously.
By most accounts, Jeffrey Okudah is as good for a team’s secondary as Chase Young is for their pass rush. Does Detroit focus more on pressuring the pass or preventing the pass? It’s kind of a chicken or the egg debate, to which the need for a cornerback slightly outweighs the need for an edge rusher. Successful drafts are determined down the road, not today. While this might upset some, we’ll have to just wait and see.
Finally, the Chase Young slide is over! He is off the board, and it seems (at least in this mock) that not only did the New York Giants beat the Washington Redskins, but they also won the ‘Chase.’ Bad puns aside, Young is a freak-of-nature and generational type of talent. He is similar to Jadaveon Clowney and the hype the latter generated during his draft. It hasn’t worked out entirely as planned for Clowney, but it hasn’t been bad either, and the story is still being written. If that is Chase Young’s floor, the Giants will be back in the Super Bowl in no time.
This must be good karma for Brian Flores. Everyone seems to love the Miami Dolphins’ new rookie head coach, and as someone from his former Brooklyn neighborhood, I’m a big fan as well. The Dolphins season started off as ‘Tanking For Tua,’ but after playing hard with limited talent and winning games, they could be rewarded with the quarterback they originally wanted at fifth overall. Recent news has been encouraging and a complete recovery is possible. Make no mistake, Tua Tagovailoa is a #1 talent. This mock assumes no trades, so seeing Tua fall to five is not a slight directed at the Alabama quarterback, but just a reminder once again of how incredible Joe Burrow has become.
If analysts are only looking at the statistics, they’re not getting the whole story regarding Jerry Jeudy. If analysts are falling in love with CeeDee Lamb and questioning who the best wide receiver in this class is, they’re not getting the whole story regarding Jerry Jeudy. He entered the season as the top player at his position, and he ended it in the same place, despite not even leading his own team in production. He creates for others around him, which is what teams want from their top wide receivers – dominant, attention-drawing, difference makes. Jeudy is sound across the board and displays unnatural talent and skills. To pair him with D.J. Chark is immediately forming a wide-out tandem that can dominate the league for the next decade with any quarterback under center.
The Class of 2004 is being ushered out the door, and Justin Herbert is the perfect remedy for a team looking to establish a new fan base in an old city. The Los Angeles Chargers’s fans could have suffered the most demoralizing season in league history, and for the most large part, Philip Rivers was exposed as being at the end of his strong career. In a different year, Herbert could easily be the top QB of the class, so he possesses tremendous value for a franchise in transition.
It’s not every year that a team’s biggest need can be answered with the best available player at that position, and in the eighth spot no less. Derrick Brown does exactly that for the Carolina Panthers, helping get them back to being dominant on the defensive side of the ball. There are a lot of directions this team can go, but Brown makes the most sense and should have the most immediate impact for them.
It’s no secret the Arizona Cardinals need to bolster their offensive line, especially if they want to protect Kyler Murray moving forward. While left tackle will remain at the top of the offensive-line hierarchy, it’s still a cohesive unit. Right tackle has even more weight with the mobility that Murray possesses. It’s hard to argue against Tristan Wirfs being the player that protects Murray for the next 10 years. He might be a better prospect than Andrew Thomas, but while he is capable of playing left tackle, it is probably better that he remain on the right side. Wirfs could be an immediate upgrade for an exciting and developing offense.
If you know me, you know I’m a New York Jets fan. In typical Jets fashion, they played just poor enough to leave their fans unsatisfied again this season. Could the Jets take a wide receiver here? Sure, but, Darnold is good enough to work with less-than-elite talent, so waiting on receivers makes sense if the team is addressing another major need. Are there offensive tackles the Jets’ could grab? Sure, but, an edge rusher is a better pick. A.J. Espensa of Iowa, who is considered to be the next best edge rusher after Chase Young, is a great option. It’s a steep drop off after Young, but this is a beast of a man who can draw plenty of double teams.
By April, CeeDee Lamb could be the consensus number one wide receiver in the 2020 NFL Draft class. I’ll always be on Jerry Jeudy, but Lamb is coming on strong and pushing the case for a true 1A and 1B scenario. The Denver Broncos have to add to their receiving corps at this pick, and pairing up Courtland Sutton and Noah Fant with another big weapon in the passing game won’t bother Denver fans. There are questions about Lamb’s breakaway ability, which means Henry Ruggs might also be a topic of conversation between the Broncos draft personnel.
No one expected the Cleveland Browns to draft this high in 2020 when the 2019 season started. Cleveland has the luxury of looking for any position because their team doesn’t have many holes on paper. Grant Delpit comes from the number one team in the nation. LSU has a history of producing high-level players from their secondary, and it’s a position the Browns could use. This feels like a perfect match.
Not many analysts are projecting the Atlanta Falcons to take a running back, especially in the first round, but, their current running backs haven’t exactly delivered, and drafting D’Andre Swift would make for a great homecoming (or home-staying) story. This is thought to be the year of the running back, and almost everyone has Swift at the top of the heap. He would give a big boost to the Falcons’s offense immediately, as well as be a building block for the next half decade. Swift may not be a need, but he makes a ton of sense here. XTB writer Mike Valverde profiled Swift here – D’Andre Swift: College Spotlight Series
With both the Las Vegas Raiders and Dallas Cowboys looking for help at cornerback, General Manager Mike Mayock will have to get a little creative with his sandwich of picks around Dallas. They could be targeting Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons, and Simmons’s addition coupled with last year’s selection of safety Jonathan Abram helps build a scary young core of defenders in Oakland. They could still use a strong cornerback, and Trevon Diggs can be the physical shut down cornerback they need. Since converting from wide receiver to cornerback, the younger brother of Vikings star Stefon Diggs has been a fast learner under the Alabama coaching staff. This might not be the player Oakland fans want, but their defense should shine if Mayock decides to draft Diggs.
The Dallas Cowboys were a complete roller coaster ride this past season, first looking like world beaters, then just down right confused. Their defense needed attention for quite some time, and they’re on the clock with a few top interior defensive linemen staring them in the face. They could go with Alabama’s Raekwon Davis here, as they’ll likely opt for bulk on the line, but Javon Kinlaw is the better talent.
Isaiah Simmons is the highest-graded linebacker in the 2020 NFL Draft. He’s versatile, and excels when playing in coverage, as well as rushing the passer. The problem is he is one of those ‘tweeners’ and might profile better as a safety throughout his professional career. The Raiders should be taking talent and high-impact athletes, and Simmons provides that. There is a major need to upgrade their depth and talent at wide receiver, but there are plenty of receivers available in this year’s draft. The drop off after Jerry Jeudy and CeeDee Lamb isn’t as significant and can be addressed later. The Raiders are building a real team, not a fantasy one.
The Indianapolis Colts were another team ravaged by injuries and lack of depth at the wide receiver position this year. Their defense and offensive line are still the best building blocks they have, and they seemed to be able to get past the surprise retirement of Andrew Luck. Get Jacoby Brissett some weapons, and the Colts could easily see themselves back in the playoffs in 2020. Laviska Shenault is a stud, but a risky one. He has it all, but just hasn’t put it all together yet, so it should make teams a little nervous. This is the type of gamble that Chris Ballard can and should take. This could go down as a major win for everyone involved.
A lot can change in a single off-season for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but two things that will remain are a solid receiving corps and a depleted offensive line. Jedrick Wills can be a beast in the run game at the right tackle position, and the Buccaneers could desperately use some help in creating holes for Ronald Jones. Jameis should be back, but regardless, a tackle is desperately needed in Tampa Bay.
Terrell Lewis has all the makings to be a perennial All-Pro at the professional level, but he is still a little raw heading into the 2020 NFL Draft. Having three first round picks allows the Miami Dolphins to take the chance with Lewis. The school pedigree is there and the power/speed/athleticism profile is down right scary, if it all comes together.
It feels odd making fun of the Big 12 for not playing defense, yet they have a middle linebacker going in the first round. Kenneth Murray is a top talent. The Jacksonville Jaguars need a few things to go right during their rebuild, and having locked up a stud wide receiver with their first of two first-round draft picks, they can now get the quarterback of their defense for the future in Murray.
Ryan Tannehill proved more than anything that Marcus Mariota isn’t staying in Nashville. This is a talented team trending in the right direction, and the energy Tannehill infused in them is likely unsustainable. They need a new franchise quarterback, regardless of what they do with Tannehill, and Jake Fromm can give them something to build around. One can argue Fromm is similar to Mariota, so perhaps a swing to Jacob Eason is preferred, but this class has five first-round talents at QB, and the teams with quarterback needs aren’t going to be hesitant.
For everyone who has watched Josh Allen put a little too much helium in his deep throws, a burner like Henry Ruggs could be the perfect selection in Buffalo. The Bills are a renewed franchise, and adding weapons on offense for Allen should be at the top of their priority list.
A top-five talent at his position, Kristian Fulton could give the Minnesota Vikings a shut-down cornerback to matchup with any receiver every Sunday. There are some favoring Fulton as the top cornerback this year, so to see him on the board this late should be a joy to Minnesota fans.
This pick comes down to coaching. Yetur Gross-Matos fills a need for the Seattle Seahawks, and is as freakish of an athlete in many regards as Chase Young is. There is still plenty of work needed to uncover that upside, though. He has power, moves, and a motor, but consistency and counter attacks are standing in his way. Gross-Matos could be one of the steals of the first round when we look back on the 2020 NFL Draft.
The 2020 NFL Draft is a great one for cornerback-needy teams, which happens to be one of the Philadelphia Eagles’s most-needed positions. Paulson Adebo makes sense here. There are a couple of other candidates in this range, but Adebo shows length, toughness, and smarts that are still just developing. He can come in and help the Eagles on day one, and grow into a star.
It’s kind of fun knowing that the Miami Dolphins positioned themselves with three picks in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft, after a year that wasn’t as bad as what was expected. The Dolphins can go in so many different directions here, but replacing Laremy Tunsil at left tackle is an absolute must, and USC’s Austin Jackson is starting to rapidly rise up draft boards. He may not last this long, but if he does, he could be a cornerstone of the Dolphins’s offensive line for the next decade. Tua Tagovailoa is going to need protection.
Jonathan Taylor is a favorite at the running back position in the 2020 NFL Draft. Statistically, he and Travis Etienne don’t show up frequently in the passing game, but Etienne would look so good as an Andy Reid running back. The Kansas City Chiefs seemed to challenge the public this year by saying they can take any running back and make it work in this system, and to some degree, they did just that. That strategy is not a recipe for sustainability, though. This would be a gluttonous pick, but one I would love to see happen.
Analysts can make the case for several players here, but the Green Bay Packers have a type, and Tee Higgins fits that type to a ‘Tee’ (sorry, sometimes I can’t help myself). Aaron Rodgers and Matt LaFleur need offensive help. Rodgers should have another run in him, so addressing one of the biggest weak spots on the roster is crucial, and that is finding a running mate for Davante Adams. Higgins offers length, speed, and big-play ability. He is a field stretcher in the body of someone who can eventually be a top wide receiver in this league. It’s a nice fit for both player, and team.
A borderline first rounder, who would’ve generated more buzz if his season hadn’t been lost to injury. This feels like a New England Patriots pick, doesn’t it? New England doesn’t draft who anyone expects. They take who they think is going to fit their system best. Julian Okwara is the mystery man this year, and that’s just the way Bill Belichick likes it.
It’s almost like it never happened, but Drew Brees did miss time this season, and is probably nearing the end. Remember, Teddy Bridgewater held the fort down in New Orleans in his absence and was stellar. Bridgewater likely ends up staying in the ‘Big Easy,’ but that doesn’t mean the Saints don’t need to address their future, and of the QB’s not named Tua or Joe, Jacob Eason is in the mix for best of the 2020 NFL Draft Class.
There aren’t a ton of needs for this evolving San Francisco 49ers roster, but the secondary could use help. Xavier McKinney fits the mold of what people expect from an Alabama Crimson Tide product and can be moved around in the secondary, adding a major splash for an already dominant defensive group.
It’s a little hard to imagine the Baltimore Ravens investing this much into wide receivers in back-to-back drafts, but Lamar Jackson has proven to the world he is not only a quarterback, but maybe the best one in the league. Find this man as many options as you can! Jalen Reagor is a sleeper in the 2020 NFL Draft. He is a phenomenally explosive playmaker. Imagine Marquise Brown with some additional size. What a scary thought for anyone facing the Ravens.
That is it for now. I will be updating the 1st round periodically, and adding up to as much as the first four full rounds. Additionally, will be adding a Top 250 Big Board, and some scattered individual profiles. Stick with the entire Expand The Boxscore team throughout Bowl season, the Senior Bowl, and the 2020 NFL Draft.
Andy is a jack of all trades in the Fantasy Sports industry, covering football, baseball, and the NFL Draft. He has written, edited, podcasted, and produced over 1,000 videos for his various series, in addition to dozens of guest appearances and collaborative pieces.
A top ranker on Fantasy Pros for both Football (23rd in 2018) & Baseball (7th in 2018), avid fan of mining for MLB prospects, and former D1 College hoops player, Andy is a native New Yorker, who has served as a firefighter in the FDNY for the past 18 years and counting.