Following the Senior Bowl and Shrine Game, prospects are shifting up and down draft boards. Several top prospects significantly helped their draft stock, like Javon Kinlaw at the Senior Bowl, while other prospects did not live up to their proposed hype. The NFL Combine is the next stop for 2020 prospects to improve upon their draft stock before all the attention turns to the 2020 NFL Draft in Las Vegas. Following the new information from the Senior Bowl, Andrew DiCecco goes through the first round in his 2020 NFL mock draft.
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Note: The draft order is as of Saturday, January 25th.
1) Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Burrow, QB LSU
The Bengals waste no time securing Andy Dalton’s successor with the first pick. Burrow showed remarkable poise, pocket presence, and leadership in the National Championship against Clemson, showcasing proper decision-making, elite pocket awareness, and stellar improvisational skills. Burrow was consistent all season long, didn’t flinch when faced with adversity, and delivered on the biggest stage in college football. The Bengals certainly need to address the porous offensive line via free agency or in the draft, but it’s a no-brainer pick at 1.1 for head coach Zac Taylor to develop the best quarterback in the draft.
2) Washington Redskins: Chase Young, DE Ohio State
Washington already has enough young cornerstones in place to contend for the best defensive line in football next season. Adding Young to a unit that already includes Jonathan Allen, Matt Ioannidis, Da’Ron Payne, and Montez Sweat would make them downright dominant. Bolstering an already formidable stable of pass rushers will also help to eliminate some of the big plays that plagued the Washington secondary.
3) Detroit Lions: Jeffrey Okudah, CB Ohio State
The Lions need to improve on the back end. With top cornerback Darius Slay’s name being mentioned in trade rumors around the late October trade deadline, his return is far from a guarantee. Lapses in coverage were a big factor in the 2019 Lions squandering several close games. The downfield vulnerability is especially concerning, considering the Lions face the likes of Davante Adams, Adam Thielen, Stefon Diggs, and Allen Robinson twice a year. Okudah (6’1″, 200) gives them phenomenal length on the perimeter, and his physicality and elite ball skills should eliminate many of the big plays downfield. He has perennial All-Pro potential.
4) New York Giants: Andrew Thomas, OT Georgia
Selecting Thomas, arguably one of the safest prospects in the draft would seem like a no-brainer here for the Giants. The G-men have struggled mightily to field a competent offensive line in recent years. Thomas gives the Giants what they thought they were getting in free agency with Nate Solder in 2018, and will be an instant plug-and-play as a rookie.
5) Miami Dolphins: Tua Tagovailoa, QB Alabama
Due to his gruesome season-ending hip injury sustained in November, I assumed that Tagovailoa would return to Alabama next season. Of course, Tua decided to enter the NFL Draft, and sentiment around his rehab and recovery process is good. Tagovailoa is dynamic talent and a proven winner that will almost assuredly be taken no later than pick No. 5 and could go as high as No. 2 overall in a trade-up. Tua will come to the Dolphins with the expectation of taking Miami to new heights. His mobility, improvisational skills, and deep-ball accuracy should enable him to do just that.
6) Los Angeles Chargers: Justin Herbert, QB Oregon
PFN Insider Ben Allbright has heard that the Chargers want to address the quarterback position in the early rounds, so with the sixth pick of the 2020 NFL Draft, the Chargers take Philip Rivers’ successor. Herbert really helped himself at the Reese’s Senior Bowl. The 6-foot-6 gunslinger is a quick mental processor, throws the ball with great velocity, and is unafraid of taking calculated risks with the football. He has shown remarkable adaptability under three different offensive coordinators, which should help his transition to the NFL. If Herbert carries his momentum from the Senior Bowl through the pre-draft process, things could get interesting among QB-needy teams.
7) Carolina Panthers: Derrick Brown, DT Auburn
The Panthers could use help on all three levels of the defense, and Brown is as disruptive as they come along the interior. He is a three-down defensive lineman that can effectively split double teams, rush the quarterback, and play the run.
8) Arizona Cardinals: Tristan Wirfs, G/T Iowa
Wirfs played tackle at Iowa, but I think he has the skill set to play both tackle and guard at a high level in the NFL. The Cardinals add a top-tier lineman to protect Kyler Murray for years to come.
9) Jacksonville Jaguars: Isaiah Simmons, LB Clemson
Simmons is my favorite player in the 2020 draft class. The former Clemson standout is the new age NFL linebacker with a skill set that is becoming increasingly coveted in today’s NFL landscape. As more and more teams strive to implement 12 personnel to spread teams out and take advantage of mismatches, versatile prospects like Simmons will be in high demand. Put him next to Myles Jack – or anywhere, really – and watch him work.
10) Cleveland Browns: Jedrick Wills, OT Alabama
The Browns offensive line always seems to be in a state of flux, which played a role in last season’s dysfunction on offense. Wills is a phenomenal prospect that is technically sound on the edge and will provide stability to the position for years to come.
11) New York Jets: Jerry Jeudy, WR Alabama
Top receiver Robby Anderson is expected to leave via free agency, and besides an aging Demaryius Thomas and slot receiver Jamison Crowder, the cupboard is fairly bare in terms of playmakers for Sam Darnold. Jeudy is the best route runner in the draft; he is super smooth in and out of his breaks, consistently separates at the top of his routes, and has the speed to take the top off a defense. He can be a bona fide WR1 for Sam Darnold to grow with.
12) Las Vegas Raiders: CeeDee Lamb, WR Oklahoma
I like Jeudy’s fit better with the Jets, but the Raiders add, in my opinion, the best receiver in the 2020 NFL Draft. Lamb will add a much-needed spark to a Raiders receiving corps absent of speed and explosiveness. Lamb pairs with Josh Jacobs to give the Raiders two of the NFL’s rising stars on offense.
13) Indianapolis Colts: Jordan Love, QB Utah State
Jacoby Brissett played admirably, considering the situation he was thrust into merely weeks before the season. However, the Colts are in need of a new, long-term solution at the quarterback position. Love is far from a finished product but offers the upside and intangibles to make this a potential home-run pick at thirteen. A stellar Senior Bowl performance will make Love a sure-fire first-round pick and an intriguing storyline leading up to draft night.
14) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: A.J. Epenesa, EDGE Iowa
Epenesa gives Tampa Bay a blue-chip prospect along the defensive line. At 6-foot-6, 280 pounds, Epenesa has excellent size to anchor as an edge defender and boasts a vast array of pass rush moves in his arsenal. The Bucs have several deficiencies on defense, but here they fortify the trenches with the former Hawkeye.
15) Denver Broncos: Javon Kinlaw, DT South Carolina
The burly defensive tackle had a standout performance at the Senior Bowl, impressing evaluators with his superhuman strength and explosiveness off the ball. Kinlaw has violent hands and plays with outstanding leverage. Derek Wolfe and Mike Purcell are unsung veterans that play their roles well, but the unit could use a spark. If Kinlaw sustains his momentum from the Senior Bowl, his draft stock is only going higher.
16) Atlanta Falcons: K’Lavon Chaisson, EDGE LSU
The Falcons need help getting to the quarterback, which happens to be Chaisson’s forté. The LSU edge rusher is an instinctive pass rusher with violent hands, has an elegant bend around the corner, and comes armed with a vast array of pass rush moves.
17) Dallas Cowboys: Xavier McKinney, S Alabama
One could easily make a case for a cornerback here, with Byron Jones expected to have multiple offers in free agency. While a cornerback would make sense, safety is arguably as big of a need, if not greater. Jeff Heath has his limitations and is far too inconsistent to be a 16-game starter. Adding an impact player like McKinney to patrol the back end, along with Xavier Woods, should help to solidify the deep middle of the field.
18) Miami Dolphins: Henry Ruggs III, WR Alabama
Though DeVante Parker is coming off a breakout season, the Dolphins select the uber-speedy Ruggs to complement the 27-year-old, as the team continues to add to what is shaping up to be an explosive, new-look offense. Tagovailoa will have a familiar face to throw to.
19) Las Vegas Raiders: Kenneth Murray, LB Oklahoma
The Raiders add another first-round stud. Murray is an athletic specimen that plays a physical brand of football. The explosive linebacker has remarkable range and tirelessly roams sideline-to-sideline in pursuit of the football. The Raiders add another instant-impact player to reinforce a defense that is suddenly loaded with an intriguing, young nucleus of NFL talent.
20) Jacksonville Jaguars: Kristian Fulton, CB LSU
Though he had a night to forget in the National Championship and opted to withdraw from the Senior Bowl, Fulton is still my second-rated cornerback in this draft. In Fulton, the Jaguars regain the physicality they lost when Jalen Ramsey was shipped to the Los Angeles Rams at the trade deadline. Fulton has an innate football IQ and has proven to be a fundamentally sound player during his time in Baton Rogue.
21) Philadelphia Eagles: CJ Henderson, CB Florida
With starting cornerback Ronald Darby almost assuredly gone, Henderson could be the solution to Philadelphia’s ongoing cornerback conundrum. Henderson is an instinctive defensive back that possesses the versatility to fit any defensive scheme. He has excellent size for the position (6’1″, 202), long arms to challenge the catch-point, fluid hips, and is known as a ball magnet. Henderson notched a sack and 11 pass breakups last season.
22) Buffalo Bills: Tee Higgins, WR Clemson
While the Bills made it to the Wild Card round with a solid supporting cast of pass-catchers, they lack a true difference-maker at the wide receiver position. Higgins gives them an explosive perimeter threat that will go up and battle for contested balls, has terrific body control, and is slippery after the catch.
23) New England Patriots: Cole Kmet, TE Notre Dame
Nothing against Ben Watson, Matt LaCosse, or Ryan Izzo, but they don’t exactly add much to an offense. If Tom Brady does return in 2020, his declining arm strength will likely limit him to mostly short and intermediate throws – a spot where having a dynamic tight end could work wonders.
If Brady doesn’t return next season, however, young quarterbacks tend to lean on their tight ends as a safety blanket when under duress. Recent history has shown that Kmet, a versatile chess piece, fits the prototype of what New England looks for at the tight end position. The former Golden Domer is a savvy route runner with enough speed to pick up yards after the catch and consistently win down the seam.
24) New Orleans Saints: K.J. Hamler, WR Penn State
Ted Ginn turns 35 in April and is merely experienced depth at this stage of his career. Tre’Quan Smith has flashed on occasion but has yielded far too many stretches of inefficient play to be relied upon as a viable number two option opposite Michael Thomas. Hamler gives the Saints a dynamic receiving threat that possesses tremendous short-area quickness and can stretch the field. The former Nittany Lion is electric with the ball in his hands and will open things up for the entire offense.
25) Minnesota Vikings: Grant Delpit, S LSU
Delpit seemingly has a wide range on NFL draft boards and in mock drafts, but he would be a tremendous value pick if he tumbles this far. Delpit has a solid all-around game but is at his best coming up to defend the run. The former LSU standout is a very instinctive centerfielder, in addition to being an exceptional tackler. With the emerging Anthony Harris expected to draw significant interest in free agency, that potentially leaves a massive void opposite Harrison Smith.
26) Miami Dolphins: Mekhi Becton, OT Louisville
Miami adds a franchise left tackle to protect their franchise quarterback for the next decade. Becton is extremely quick off the ball and his strong base, sound technique, and long arms enable him to keep some of the quicker edge rushers at bay. The Dolphins add a trifecta of a franchise QB, dangerous playmaker, and quality protection in the first-round of their 2020 NFL Draft class.
27) Seattle Seahawks: Yetur Gross-Matos, EDGE Penn State
The Seattle secondary struggled to slow Aaron Rogers in the Divisional Round, but perhaps even more alarming, was the amount of time allowed to Rodgers in the pocket. With star edge rusher Jadeveon Clowney poised to cash in on a lucrative free-agent deal, they need to add some juice to their pass rush. Gross-Matos is remarkably polished as a pass rusher, demonstrating good bend, active hands, and a relentless motor. If he falls this far, it would be a perfect match.
28) Baltimore Ravens: Terrell Lewis, EDGE Alabama
At 6-foot-5, 252 pounds, the lengthy Lewis would be an ideal prospect to fit in Baltimore’s fast-flowing scheme as a 3-4 outside linebacker. The former Alabama star offers good burst and bend off the edge, to go along with his long arms to sift through traffic and attack downhill. Lewis had a quality week at the Senior Bowl in Mobile and is trending upwards.
29) Tennessee Titans: Raekwon Davis, DL Alabama
With DaQuan Jones and Jurrell Casey approaching their seventh and tenth years, respectively, the Titans could opt to get younger on the defensive line via the draft. At 6-foot-7, 312 pounds, Davis has the size and athleticism to wreak havoc on opposing offensive lines with regularity. Davis withdrew from the Senior Bowl with injury but will have a great chance to improve upon his draft stock at the NFL Combine. Pairing him next to 2019 first-round draft pick Jeffrey Simmons would give the Titans two essential building blocks for the future.
30) Green Bay Packers: Laviska Shenault, WR Colorado
Once you get past Davante Adams on the depth chart, there are plenty of names, but none that can consistently produce as a steady number two receiver at the NFL level. Shenault is a dynamic, big-play threat that can line up all over formations. A bigger receiver prospect at 6-foot-2, 220 pounds, Shenault is a load to bring down and deadly after the catch. He would be an ideal complement to Adams.
31) Kansas City Chiefs: Patrick Queen, LB LSU
While there aren’t many holes on Kansas City’s loaded roster, the linebacker position is one that could use some retooling. Starters Anthony Hitchens and Damien Wilson have been serviceable, but taking Queen here gives them impact players on all three levels of the defense. Queen garnered recent buzz for his stellar play in the College Football Playoffs and has been a late riser in 2020 NFL mock drafts and draft boards as a result. The athletic linebacker racked up 16 tackles and four tackles for loss in two playoff games.
32) San Francisco 49ers: Bryce Hall, CB Virginia
Though they selected his teammate Tim Harris last April, the 49ers gamble on a player coming off an injury and add another Cavalier to their roster. Hall, a physical, hard-nosed defender, would have likely been in the conversation as a top-two cornerback in this draft had it not been for the leg injury. The 6-foot-1, 200-pound cornerback offers inside-outside versatility, good ball skills, and a sound tackler in the open field. San Francisco finds the heir apparent to Richard Sherman and gets great value to close out the opening round of our 2020 NFL mock draft.
Andrew DiCecco is a writer for PFN covering the NFL Draft. You can follow him on Twitter @ADiCeccoNFL