Another week of NFL football is in the books, which means draft positioning has once again been altered. The glaring weaknesses that have plagued teams have been revealed by now, but many now find themselves in prime position to address those inefficiencies with blue-chip talent. This piece examines some of the best fits for the 2020 NFL Draft’s top talents.
Chase Young, EDGE, Ohio State
New York Giants (2nd)
As of Monday evening, the New York Giants are slated to pick second in the 2020 NFL Draft. While the Giants are a largely flawed team with holes evenly dispersed throughout the roster, Young is the correct choice at two.
Ranked twenty-fourth in the NFL in sacks per game, the Giants don’t exactly have an answer to their pass rush woes in the pipeline. Leonard Williams hasn’t given the team much in the pressure department since his early-season arrival via trade, Dexter Lawrence — mostly known for his strong play against the run — was a head-scratching first-round selection a year ago, and Davin Tomlinson has just three sacks to his name in 44 career games. Outside linebacker Markus Golden is the team’s top sack specialist with 7.5 but will be 29 years old in March.
Chase Young, who currently boasts an astounding 16.5 sacks and six forced fumbles in 2019, would instantly provide a much-needed talent infusion to the trenches. The 6-foot-5, 265-pound phenom comes with a relentless motor on every play and violent hands to disarm any would-be offensive tackle in his path. On a defense that lacks top-end talent on all three levels, adding Young would effectively help improve a leaky secondary as well.
Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
Washington Redskins (3rd)
A few weeks ago, I had Washington selecting Young at two in the first version of my mock draft, and that could still very well be the case, given the current outlook over the next few games. While the Redskins have a rather stout defensive line chock-full of young talent, the offensive line continues to be an area of long-overdue retooling.
I actually like Morgan Moses’ game at right tackle; he’s not a flashy player by any means, but he’s a competent starter on most teams. Moses’ bookend on the left side, however, Donald Penn, could stand to be replaced. The 14-year veteran has predictably struggled, and at 36 years old, it’s fair to wonder if 2019 will be his final season.
I’ve pegged Georgia’s Andrew Thomas as one of the safest players in the 2020 NFL Draft. The 6-foot-5, 320-pounder will be a rock-solid pillar for Dwayne Haskins for years to come. The mammoth-sized blindside protector is a surprisingly fluid mover and has an overpowering punch and hands that act as vice grips to match. His footwork is tremendously sound. If Washington picks at three, investing in Thomas to protect their quarterback of the future seems like a no-brainer.
Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa
Arizona Cardinals (6th)
The Arizona Cardinals haven’t had a decent offensive line in what feels like over a decade. Whether it was Kurt Warner, Carson Palmer — or Matt Leinart — the team has failed to field a competent group of protectors around their quarterback.
For an offensive line largely comprised of cast-offs and backup players, Iowa’s Tristan Wirfs would help fortify the left side of Arizona’s line, providing a long-term solution to their long-standing issues. Wirfs, a 6-foot-5, 322-pound junior, moves very well in space, but his calling card is his efficiency as a mauler in the running game. He has shown he can handle athletic edge rushers, oftentimes winning with good leverage and pad level. Snagging Wirfs at six makes sense here as Arizona continues to build around rookie sensation Kyler Murray.
Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn
Jacksonville Jaguars (7th)
Over the past four weeks, the Jacksonville Jaguars have surrendered an average of 37 points per contest, struggling against both the run and the pass. The notable players that once graced a well-stocked defense have either departed or regressed. What remains is mostly comprised of street free agents and core special teams players. In an effort to restock a gutted defense, they should seriously consider adding Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown.
Brown is tailor-made for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Jacksonville has seemingly tried everything possible to solve their porous run defense this season, but nothing has seemed to work. Adding a player like Brown, who can affect the game against both the run and the pass, would be one of the best fits of the 2020 NFL Draft next to 2019 first-rounder Josh Allen, as the Jaguars look to add another young cornerstone to the trenches.
Jeffrey Okudah, CB, Ohio State
Atlanta Falcons (8th)
Despite fielding a secondary that features the talented Desmond Trufant and Isaiah Oliver, the Falcons are among the league-worst in interceptions. They’ve also surrendered an alarming amount of big plays in 2019. The latter is especially problematic, considering they play in a division that features the likes of Michael Thomas, Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and D.J. Moore.
Okudah has the potential to become a generational talent, and Atlanta should run to the podium if he is without a team by the 8th pick. At 6-foot-1, 200 pounds, Okudah offers exceptional length for the position. A quick-twitch cornerback with elite ball skills, the Ohio State standout also has the versatility to line up inside or on the perimeter. His long arms and physicality at the catch-point will make him a force in the red zone, and one of the 2020 NFL Draft’s best fits for Atlanta.
Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU
Philadelphia Eagles (13th)
Now, I originally had the Eagles selecting Alabama’s Henry Ruggs in my mock draft a few weeks ago, as they currently field one of the least explosive offenses in the NFL. Don’t get me wrong; Ruggs would be a perfect fit and instant fan favorite in Philly — but if you happened to catch their lapses in coverage against the Miami Dolphins or the New York Giants, you would probably agree that selecting a premier cover man at 13 should be the priority.
At six-foot, 200 pounds, Fulton possesses the desired build to hold up on the perimeter at the next level. His long arms and physicality at the line of scrimmage enable him to often re-route receivers and impede their timing with the quarterback, and his football intelligence is top-notch. The LSU star is a fundamentally sound player that rarely makes mistakes, and when he does, he has the long speed to make up for it. With starting cornerback Ronald Darby almost assuredly gone after the season, Fulton could prove to be the solution to Philadelphia’s cornerback conundrum.