We are mere hours away from witnessing an exciting Super Bowl matchup this Sunday. And in addition to that, we are less than a month away from the NFL Combine, where draft stocks can be significantly impacted. It is a time where the NFL Draft landscape gets completely reshaped. But with everything we have at our disposal right now, I will go through the first two rounds of the NFL Draft in this pre-combine 2020 NFL Mock Draft. There will be no trades in this mock draft. And most importantly, I will be predicting what I believe will happen, not what I necessarily think of the players.
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Note: The draft order is as of Sunday, February 2nd.
#1) Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
I plead my case with the Bengals ownership, front office, and coaching staff to not deviate from this path. Joe Burrow is the easy, slam dunk pick at first overall for a Bengals team that has been stuck in mediocrity for far too long. Burrow has shown strides of improvement from his junior to senior year in just about all aspects of the quarterback position. Even with the recent rumblings of Justin Herbert impressing the Bengals at the Senior Bowl, this pick should never ever be a doubt for the Bengals. Get a guy that can give a boost of energy to your franchise for the first time since Carson Palmer. ‘
#2) Washington Redskins: Chase Young, EDGE, Ohio State
This pre-combine 2020 NFL mock draft starts in the most cliche way possible simply because that is the way it should happen. Chase Young was phenomenal every step of the way this season for the Buckeyes. He would clearly add another dimension to the Washington defense and pass rush unit with his explosiveness, violent hands, and high football IQ. Young has proven himself worthy of this selection every step of the way, and with the strides of Dwayne Haskins late in the season, Redskins fans should be excited to add the cornerstone of Young to their defense.
#3) Detroit Lions: Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State
Two Buckeyes come off the board in two consecutive picks as Detroit lands the stud cornerback prospect in Jeff Okudah. This is a guy who has the skill set that every defensive coordinator wishes his cornerbacks to have. He is lengthy, smart, athletic, fluid, and has superb ball skills. And then you get to add him to a defense that already has Darius Slay on the other side? This is a match made in heaven that immediately gives Detroit one of the more stout cornerback duos in the league. He, just like Slay, can be a top cornerback in the league for years to come.
#4) New York Giants: Jedrick Wills, OT, Alabama
Daniel Jones needs some help from Dave Gettleman here. After a season where Jones was running for his life on seemingly every other drop back, the offensive line has to be addressed, and specifically the tackle position. Jedrick Wills gives the Giants a guy with good mobility and athleticism. In addition, a serious mean streak and solid hand usage allow Wills to be a legitimate plug-and-play at a position the Giants desperately need to fix.
#5) Miami Dolphins: Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
The inevitable question of Tua Tagovailoa’s injury will come up throughout the process. The fact that he said that no one really knows how it will heal raises more red flags when it comes to the injury. However, given what we have seen on tape, Tagovailoa is an accurate quarterback with good pocket presence and the ability to extend plays with his legs and make magic happen. A healthy Tua is a legitimate franchise quarterback in this league. It feels like Tua and Dolphins are a destined fit.
#6) Los Angeles Chargers: Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
The Senior Bowl had a lot of winners, and Justin Herbert was among them. He dazzled scouts and draftniks alike with beautiful throws all week that were all extremely accurate. Teams that watch Herbert’s tape are going to love and hate some things. There is the mental side of his game that certainly shows some reason to be concerned, but make no mistake that his arm talent and athleticism will make his upside incredibly alluring. And with Phillip Rivers on his way out of town, the Chargers will bet on his upside.
#7) Carolina Panthers: Derrick Brown, IDL, Auburn
A natural pick for the Panthers with some questions along the defensive line moving forward. The Panthers could be looking for a quarterback this offseason if they move on from Cam Newton, but if they do not, Derrick Brown is a monster that can bring some serious interior pressure for the Panthers. With an explosive first step, a variety of moves, and a good pad level, Brown is going to be an impact right away on a Panthers defense that faded as the season went on.
#8) Arizona Cardinals: Ceedee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
The common pick to mock the Cardinals is a tackle. I will admit they do need a tackle, but based on what we saw this season, Kyler Murray needs some weapons on the outside for him to really take advantage of in Kliff Kingsbury’s explosive system. So, why not link him up with his former target in Sooner teammate Ceedee Lamb? Lamb is a do-it-all technician that will be able to do great things in the open field as well. He would open up this offense for Murray, and you would see that impact early in the season. The fit is too good for the Cardinals to pass on this one.
#9) Jacksonville Jaguars: Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
Isaiah Simmons is extremely tempting here for the Jaguars to steal for the middle of their defense. However, another difference-maker alongside DJ Chark in this wide receiving corps would be a welcomed addition to the Jaguars offense. Jeudy is a natural slot receiver that can still play outside with natural route-running abilities and yards-after-catch skills. A receiving corps headlined by Jeudy and Chark alongside Dede Westbrook would be a tremendously fun unit that would make the Jaguars receiving corps feared.
#10) Cleveland Browns: Tristian Wirfs, OT, Iowa
Cleveland desperately needs a tackle. The crux of their issues this season started upfront on the offensive side of the football. With Chris Hubbard not having lived up to expectations after he was signed to a deal in 2018, they need to find a replacement. Tristian Wirfs, to me, is the best pure tackle prospect in the draft. He has great athleticism, violent hands, and fantastic hand usage. It all molds together to create a guy that has the potential to be one of the best tackles in the NFL for years to come, and that is just what Cleveland needs.
#11) New York Jets: Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
This might be one of those “ideal scenarios” that every fan and analyst will talk about for the Jets. Andrew Thomas is incredibly polished with excellent movement skills in the open field. His footwork and functional athleticism will be big pluses for him around draft time that will see him as a Top-15 pick with ease. Thomas is simply too good for a tackle-needy team like the Jets to pass up here, especially with two top wide receivers off the board.
#12) Las Vegas Raiders: Isaiah Simmons, ILB, Clemson
Truth be told, there is no real position Isaiah Simmons plays. He has played everything from linebacker to slot corner to free safety, and he seems like a real ‘Raiders’ type of player. His freakish athleticism is duly noted, but Mike Mayock will love the college football factory that he comes from in Clemson. Simmons allows this Raiders defense that has struggled in the middle of the field to have a big patch against tight ends and really switch up their defense schematically because of him. It is a natural fit for Simmons and the Raiders.
#13) Indianapolis Colts: Jordan Love, QB, Utah State
A guy who had up-and-down reports from the Senior Bowl was Jordan Love, but if there is any team that has been linked to him from the start, it is Chris Ballard and the Colts. Jacoby Brissett was just another guy at the quarterback position this year and did not push the ball consistently at all. Love is a gunslinger who lets it all go with dazzling arm talent and yet head-scratching decisions as well. He is the double-edged sword of the quarterback class, but his upside is tremendous, and a perfect place to develop would be under a coach like Frank Reich.
#14) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Javon Kinlaw, IDL, South Carolina
The offensive line needs attention, but Ndamukong Suh is headed out the door. After a spectacular week in Mobile, Javon Kinlaw has helped his draft stock tremendously. He is massive, explosive, and his ceiling is as high as the sky. The Chris Jones comparisons are extremely apt when you look at his overall game. Kinlaw can wreak havoc on opposing offenses, and he is exactly who the Buccaneers need on the defensive side of the football.
#15) Denver Broncos: Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama
This is Henry Ruggs’s floor. Stamp those words and screenshot it all you like, he will not get past the Denver Broncos here in the first-round. Drew Lock is known for his strong arm, and even with the upstart Courtland Sutton breaking out, they still need that true burner to be a deep threat and take the top off the defense. Ruggs is that guy, and Lock will love throwing those bombs to him deep down the field. it is a natural fit for both sides.
#16) Atlanta Falcons: K’Lavon Chaisson, EDGE, LSU
The Falcons need pass rush help, and they need it bad. So, why not add a guy that shows incredibly dynamic athleticism and great bend around the edge? Chaisson is a freak athlete that is going to be highly coveted due to the way he tests, and Atlanta seems to be a natural landing spot for him. With Vic Beasley on his way out, Chaisson gives them a guy that can win with speed or come at a tackle with power as well.
#17) Dallas Cowboys: Jeff Gladney, CB, TCU
Well, Cowboys fans, do not come at me for this one. Safety seems like a natural pick here, but with Byron Jones likely not getting a payday and walking in free agency, the Cowboys do happen to need a cornerback. Jeff Gladney is probably just not the cornerback you expected to see, but his draft stock is going rise very fast. Why? Well, he is very fast and has put out some great tape. His physicality and experience in press coverage are huge pluses, as are his ball skills. The polished Gladney is a plug-and-play corner that will yield results right away.
#18) Miami Dolphins (via PIT): Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville
After trading away Laremy Tunsil, the Dolphins have a gaping hole at offensive tackle. They need to address this vacancy with one of their first-round picks no matter what. Enter Mekhi Becton, who, at 6’6″ and 370 pounds, has unbelievable movement skills for his size and a knack of driving guys into the ground on tape. He seriously turns guys into rag dolls. Those traits and skills will be enticing to a team like the Dolphins, who are looking for their left tackle of the future.
#19) Las Vegas Raiders (via CHI): Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU
The Raiders are going to need some help in their secondary. After trading off the underperforming Gareon Conley, the Raiders are going to want someone that has proven themselves as a good cornerback on a very successful team. Who better than Kristian Fulton to do that? Fulton has all the ball skills and athleticism to be an excellent cornerback in the NFL, and that is exactly what Mike Mayock and Jon Gruden are looking for from their cornerbacks.
#20) Jacksonville Jaguars (via LAR): Grant Delpit, S, LSU
Grant Delpit’s stock has taken a hit as of late due to his tackling woes this season, but the value here is a bit too good for Jacksonville to pass up with. The Jaguars have a noticeable need at safety as well. Delpit’s ball skills and athleticism as a roaming free safety will be a nice, welcomed addition to the Jaguars defense that needs to infuse that back end with more playmakers with Jalen Ramsey gone. Delpit brings that to the table and more.
#21) Philadelphia Eagles: CJ Henderson, CB, Florida
I could have gone either wide receiver or cornerback here for Philadelphia, but Henderson does seem to be a very natural fit here for the Eagles. His ball skills and fluidity are going to be two big traits that will allure the Eagles to him. And with a questionable future for Ronald Darby, Henderson makes all the more sense to land in Philly.
#22) Buffalo Bills: Laviska Shenault, WR, Colorado
Josh Allen has proven enough to this Bills’ front office to the point where they need to build up the weapons around their QB. John Brown and Cole Beasley were two quality signings, but the Bills still do not have “that guy” quite yet in this receiving unit. Shenault changes this unit with a size and speed combination that the Bills currently lack. The fit is about as perfect as you can get it for both sides.
#23) New England Patriots: A.J. Epenesa, EDGE, Iowa
The Patriots need pass-rushing options, and there is no better option than a guy like A.J. Epenesa. Epenesa brings some serious power to his game, and he is far less about the ‘finesse’ part of pass-rushing than he is about dialing up a smart pass rush plan and beating guys with violent hands and speed-to-power conversion. He might not test super well, and that is why I think Epenesa might fall a bit further than people expect, but at this point, this is great value for the Patriots.
#24) New Orleans Saints: Brandon Aiyuk, WR, Arizona State
The more buzz I hear about Brandon Aiyuk going in the first round, the more I think he is destined to become a New Orleans Saint. Aiyuk is a speedster with some great skills after the catch that makes him dangerous as a deep threat and on screens and other manufactured touches. That type of speed compliment is exactly what the Saints need to help out Michael Thomas in this receiving corps.
#25) Minnesota Vikings: Josh Jones, OT, Houston
Here is one of the big winners out of Mobile. I believe Josh Jones will continue his momentum throughout the combine and all the way to the 2020 NFL Draft stage in April. Jones was a massive winner after he stalled just about everyone he faced at the Senior Bowl, thus showing off that great mobility and footwork. Jones will have some serious questions to answer regarding his hands and pad level, but his tools are fantastic. And in an outside zone scheme that relies on those movement skills, Jones is a perfect fit.
#26) Miami Dolphins: Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama
Three slam dunk picks here for the Dolphins in this pre-combine 2020 NFL mock draft. In this case, they simply select the best player available in Xavier McKinney. McKinney is a rangy free safety with top-notch ball skills that will make him a playmaker at the next level. And after trading Minakh Fitzpatrick this past season, the Dolphins get a guy who can do it all and is a perfect fit in Brian Flores’s scheme.
#27) Seattle Seahawks: Yetur Gross-Matos, EDGE, Penn State
I am bullish on Yetur Gross-Matos. For one, this is a guy who has all the tools in the world. Athletically gifted to the core, he has great physical tools, and he has to develop an incredibly vast toolbox for him to grow and leverage at the next-level. Those tools are exactly why he lands here. The Seahawks have standards for their picks, and truth be told, they might trade out of this one, but Gross-Matos is still alluring to add that pure upside that he offers.
#28) Baltimore Ravens: Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU
A pass rusher is tempting to give the Ravens here, but you are really not going to get a significant amount of value out of anyone here. No one is “traitsy” enough to plug-in and live up to the upside the Ravens will want out of their blitz heavy scheme. However, giving Lamar Jackson another weapon is extremely plausible, and adding a guy that can do a lot of damage underneath and out of the slot in Justin Jefferson is a more than welcome addition for the Ravens offense.
#29) Tennessee Titans: Neville Gallimore, IDL, Oklahoma
This is an aging interior defensive line unit that needs some youth injected into it. And what better man to do that than the athletic, standout Canadian himself in Neville Gallimore. You can expect Gallimore to blow the roof off of the combine in Indianapolis with his explosive and dynamic athleticism. And on the field, Gallimore is a guy who has good hand usage and a mean bull rush to his game. Alongside Jeffery Simmons, the Titans feature a fierce defensive front for Mike Vrabel’s defense heading into 2020.
#30) Green Bay Packers: K.J. Hamler, WR, Penn State
The Packers lack the deep speed receiving element in this receiving corps, and Devante Adams needs some serious help around him. K.J. Hamler can become a top-tier deep threat in the NFL by taking the top off of defenses. The Packers do not have anyone quite like Hamler, and that is why he lands in Green Bay and will be doing Lambeau Leaps next season, catching deep balls from Aaron Rodgers.
#31) San Francisco 49ers: Damon Arnette, CB, Ohio State
The one area that has been the crux of the 49ers’ issues this season is the second cornerback spot. Ahkello Witherspoon has been disappointing, and while Emmanuel Mosley has filled in well, they still need more support and depth there. Damon Arnette gives you a guy who can excel in any scheme as an excellent athlete with high football IQ. This is a polished guy that can step in and start from day one. And that makes him incredibly alluring to a team like San Francisco that wants to be competing for Super Bowls.
#32) Kansas City Chiefs: D’Andre Swift, RB, Georgia
Every year we are going to get at least one running back in the first round. It seems to happen even if you really do not think it will happen, but there is no one better to receive that honor than D’Andre Swift. Swift is a marvel on tape and has great athletic ability, phenomenal receiving ability, and of course, the deadly dead-leg cuts that have become synonymous with his name. Swift opens up an already explosive Chiefs offense even more as a threat out of the backfield.
NEXT: Round 2