We are now just a day away from the Cincinnati Bengals going on the clock to kick off the 2020 NFL Draft. That said, below is my final mock draft of 2020 – finally! The picks for round one specifically are based more on what I am hearing around the league and what I think will take place rather than what I think should happen. Potential alternative picks are sprinkled throughout the analysis.
You’ll also notice an analysis from my scouting reports with each pick. To view my rankings, as well as reports for over 800 players, head on over to my 2020 NFL Draft Rankings and Scouting Reports landing page.
Make sure you also check out PFN Insider Ben Allbright’s first and final NFL Mock Draft, which he released on Wednesday afternoon.
Tony Pauline’s Final 2020 NFL Mock Draft – Round 1
1. Cincinnati Bengals – Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
This is probably the worst-kept secret with the first pick of the draft in a long, long time; well since last year anyway. Burrow comes off a tremendous campaign where he displayed himself to be a great leader on the field and played better as the lights got brighter.
Like any other player, Burrow is by no means a sure thing and must prove 2019 was not the exception to the rule. Burrow comes with outstanding talent, great moxie and football intelligence and should be successful at the next level if properly coached and developed.
2. Washington Redskins – Chase Young, EDGE, Ohio State
Unless someone blows the Redskins away with a package of picks similar to the one Washington gave away to move up and select RGIII, “the Predator” will be a Redskin.
Young is an explosive athlete who showed terrific development as a pass rusher the past two years. He offers rare quickness and explosiveness and the ability to make plays in every direction of the field if focused on the task at hand, Young should develop into a complete player as he physically matures and adds strength to his frame.
3. Detroit Lions – Jeffrey Okudah, CB, Ohio State
The Lions want to trade down, but they’ll find few takers for this selection. Okudah immediately improves the secondary. He possesses the size, skill, and overall awareness to develop into a starting cornerback at the next level. He shows a great feel for coverage and has great upside, which will make him an early pick in April’s draft.
4. New York Giants – Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa
Right now, the primary debate is between Wirfs and Andrew Thomas. Word is the Giants are slightly more bullish on Wirfs. Wirfs was a consistent force for Iowa the past two seasons and has enough skill to quickly start at right tackle in the NFL, and he could also get looks on the left side. He possesses size and upside and should be a dominant starter at the next level in time.
5. Miami Dolphins – Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
It all comes down to Tua Tagovailoa’s medicals and what the medical staff is telling the front office. If it’s not Tua, then the Dolphins fill a need at left tackle. Thomas possesses rare ability and upside and is a terrific left tackle prospect who shows skill both as a run blocker and in pass protection. He comes with great upside and should be an immediate starter at the next level, and he will only get better as he improves and polishes his game.
6. Los Angeles Chargers – Justin Herbert, QB Oregon
The Chargers desperately need a quarterback, and many feel this is a great fit for both team and player. Herbert has been highly rated by scouts the past two seasons and has top-10 ability. And while he possesses the physical skills to be a starter at the next level, Herbert’s inability to consistently play at a high level and come through during important moments is troubling.
His reserved personality may not be a fit for every coach or in every city, but the person able to tap into Herbert and teach him to play to his utmost ability will have a very good NFL quarterback.
7. Carolina Panthers – Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson
Everyone expects the Panthers to take Derrick Brown at this slot, and that makes the most sense. But I’m told the organization absolutely loves the athleticism, speed, and versatility of Simmons.
While he needs to improve his instincts and overall ball skills, his ability to force turnovers and cover huge amounts of area on the field will be attractive to defensive coordinators. He possesses rare athleticism, comes with a great upside, and will have a long and productive NFL career if coached properly.
8. Arizona Cardinals – Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn
The Cardinals would prefer Tristan Wirfs, but they’ll be just as happy with Brown, who is a steal at this spot. Brown is a big-bodied lineman and a terrific athlete who plays with a nonstop motor. He offers scheme versatility and the ability to line up at several positions up front, and he should make an immediate impact for whichever team selects him in the draft.
9. Jacksonville Jaguars – Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina
A lot of people around the league tell me they have dropped Kinlaw down their board, but the latest word is that the Jaguars have few concerns. C.J. Henderson will also receive heavy consideration at this spot.
Kinlaw displayed terrific development in both his game and his conditioning the past two seasons. He comes with upside, possesses scheme versatility and, if coached properly, offers big-time potential at the next level.
10. Atlanta Falcons (projected trade w/ CLE) – C.J. Henderson, CB, Florida
The Falcons let it be known that they want to trade up. They like Henderson, and he fits a big need on defense. Henderson is a physically talented cornerback with solid ball skills. Though he was rarely challenged by opposing quarterbacks, he possesses tremendous upside and could develop into a starter if the coaching staff can keep his focus on the field and he matures as a person.
11. New York Jets – Jedrick Wills, OT, Alabama
The Jets have been tight-lipped on the players they like at the top, but not the position. I also expect Jerry Jeudy to get consideration at this spot. Wills is a dominant right-tackle prospect who is an overwhelming force when he blocks with proper fundamentals. While he’s highly considered in many quarters, I see him solely as a right tackle at the next level with no potential to move to the left side. Wills will have a productive career at the next level if he keeps his focus on football, but he’s no sure thing.
12. Las Vegas Raiders – Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
I continue to hear Tua could fall out of the top-20, which I can’t fathom. I can’t see Gruden passing up the opportunity to coach a potential franchise quarterback. If Tua is gone, I expect the Raiders to select Jerry Jeudy.
When healthy and on the field, Tagovailoa was a productive quarterback who naturally led the Alabama offense up and down the field. While he lacks pocket stature, he possesses all the other traits and qualities necessary to be a starting quarterback in the NFL. The hip injury suffered late last season is a big question mark and will be viewed differently around the league, but from a passing and intangible point of view, Tagovailoa is the top quarterback in this year’s draft.
13. San Francisco 49ers – CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
The debate here is between Lamb and Jeudy. The Oklahoma junior is a better fit. Lamb was very productive for Oklahoma the past three years and possesses a lot of natural receiving skills. While he’s everyone’s favorite wideout in this draft, he still lacks a complete game and may have some bumps in the road at the next level. Lamb comes with upside, and if developed properly, he will be very productive in the NFL.
14. Tampa Bay Bucs – Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville
Like Derrick Brown, this could be one of the biggest steals in the first round. Becton is a massive lineman who showed consistent progress and comes with big upside. He’s an athletic right tackle who should be effective in pass protection and as a run blocker, but he’ll be minimally effective in motion or if placed in a zone-blocking scheme.
15. Denver Broncos – Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
Denver may trade up to ensure they are able to select Jeudy. If the Broncos don’t land Jeudy, the pick is expected to be Henry Ruggs III. Jeudy is a sensational athlete with home run hitting speed that he uses at receiver and as a return specialist. He’s not stout or strong, and I’d like to see Jeudy step up the physical nature of his game, but he will be very effective in the proper system at the next level.
16. Cleveland Browns (projected trade w/ ATL) – Ezra Cleveland, OT, Boise State
I’ve written about the Browns’ interest in Cleveland since the NFL Scouting Combine. It’s just a matter of trading down and finding a place to select the left tackle.
After an outstanding three-year career at Boise State, Cleveland turned in a tremendous workout at the NFL Combine and now moves towards the draft as a potential first-round pick. He’s a solid prospect with big upside and can be used at left tackle or potentially guard. He’s a zone-blocking prospect who should only improve as he physically matures and gets into an NFL weight-training program.
17. Dallas Cowboys – K’Lavon Chaisson, EDGE, LSU
If they can’t swing a deal for Jamal Adams, the league-wide consensus has the ‘Boys selecting Chaisson. When healthy and on his game, Chaisson impacts contests with big plays. He’s a terrific 3-4 outside linebacker prospect with big upside, but I expect bumps in the road for Chaisson as he will need proper coaching. More than anything else, he must stay healthy.
18. Miami Dolphins – Jordan Love, QB, Utah State
The Dolphins have had Love highly rated since his freshman season. They may have to maneuver up to secure his services. Love looked like a franchise quarterback after the 2018 season, but he watched his game take a step back last year. He pressed and tried to take too much on his shoulders throughout the 2019 season, which ended up in disaster. Love had a solid week of practice at the Senior Bowl, tested well at the NFL Combine, and comes with great upside, but he will need to be properly coached and developed.
19. Las Vegas Raiders – A.J. Terrell, CB, Clemson
Much could depend on who the Raiders select at number 12, but everyone I’ve spoken with tells me the Raiders want to come out of the first round with Terrell.
Terrell has flashed dominance the past two seasons, but he also displayed a lot of inconsistency and was beaten badly in big moments. He possesses solid size and speed, but he must improve his techniques and learn to make plays with his back to the ball. While I like Terrell, I also feel he must play in a zone system or backed off the line of scrimmage.
20. Jacksonville Jaguars – Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU
Jaylon Johnson will get serious consideration at this spot. Fulton grades as a first-round pick at the top of this game, but he’s been inconsistent and has had lapses on the field. He possesses the size and physical skills to start at the next level, but he must consistently play at a high level, keep his focus on the field, and do the right things off the field.
21. Philadelphia Eagles – Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama
Great spot for both the player and the team. Ruggs is a physically gifted receiver with game-breaking speed who impacts contests at receiver and return specialist. He benefited from so much talent around him at Alabama and was more opportunistic than a consistent playmaker. Ruggs has tremendous upside, but he’s not a sure thing and will need to improve all areas of his game before he’ll be able to consistently see the field in the NFL.
22. Minnesota Vikings – Yetur Gross-Matos, EDGE, Penn State
Another terrific pass rusher to bookend Danielle Hunter. Jaylon Johnson is also receiving heavy consideration at this spot. Gross-Matos is an explosive pass-rushing prospect with a high upside, but he needs to round off the edges of his game. He shows terrific movement skills to make plays in space as well as bend the edge, but he must get stronger and consistently play at a high level. Gross-Matos comes with tremendous upside, though there may be bumps in the road early in his NFL career.
23. New England Patriots – A.J. Epenesa, DE, Iowa
Epenesa is a great fit for the Pats’ scheme and instantly improves the defensive line. Epenesa presented himself as an overwhelming force at times over the past two years. He’s a well-rounded defensive end rather than a pure edge rusher and could grow into a starter in either a three or four-man line. Epenesa possesses terrific upside and should only improve with more experience and technique training.
24. New Orleans Saints – Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma
I think the pick could be Justin Jefferson, but sources close to the team tell me the Saints are leaning towards Murray as they feel they will get several good receivers later on. I continue to hear that if Love slips to the Saints, he will be the pick.
Murray has been a tremendous linebacker the past two years for Oklahoma and is the type of defender teams desire at the position these days. He plays with great speed and violence and covers a tremendous amount of area on the field. Murray must improve his play against the pass, but he comes with upside and offers scheme versatility.
25. Minnesota Vikings – Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU
If Jefferson is not available, this selection will be Denzel Mims. Jefferson was a major threat for the LSU offense and Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Joe Burrow. He possesses solid receiving skills and solid physical skills, but he’s by no means an elite prospect. While Jefferson may end up in this spot, I think he’s best suited as a No. 2 receiver at the next level.
26. Miami Dolphins – Isaiah Wilson, OT, Georgia
The Dolphins are now set at offensive tackle for years to come. D’Andre Swift will be part of the conversation with this pick. Wilson is a traditional right tackle who can be an overwhelming force at the point of attack. He’s a dominant run blocker who holds his own in pass protection, but he’s not suited for a zone-blocking system.
27. Seattle Seahawks – Jaylon Johnson, CB, Utah
I expect the Seahawks to trade out of this spot. If they can’t, sources tell me they love Johnson’s size and physicality. Johnson is a talented athlete with next-level size who flashes ball skills. He must improve the nuances of his position, but he comes with tremendous upside and could develop into a starter at the next level if properly coached.
28. Baltimore Ravens – Patrick Queen, LB, LSU
Unlike the Ravens, I have my doubts about Queen. He comes off a tremendous campaign in which he doubled his production numbers in almost every area last season, which prompted him to turn pro. He’s more of a two-down defender and while I think Queen can produce at the next level, I don’t see a prospect with a high upside.
29. Tennessee Titans – Marlon Davidson, DE, Auburn
The Titans will work the phones hard to try to move down. Ross Blacklock will get consideration here, but Davidson is a better scheme fit. Davidson was a solid defensive lineman on a team that was stacked at the position, but he was still able to make his mark. He offers possibilities in a variety of schemes and could eventually grow into a two-gap end as he physically matures and improves his strength.
30. Green Bay Packers – Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor
I reported last week that the Packers are very high on Mims. If he’s not available, the pick is likely to be Ross Blacklock or Marlon Davidson. Mims was a consistent threat for the Baylor offense and had an exceptional week of practices at the Senior Bowl. He’s a big-bodied receiver who can be an effective third-down or red-zone target and possesses all the skills necessary to develop into a number one wideout.
31. San Francisco 49ers – Austin Jackson, OT, USC
The Niners want to trade out of this spot, as I first reported last week. If it’s not Jackson, then Cesar Ruiz could be the pick here. Jackson was a terrific left tackle for the Trojans the past two seasons and displayed good athleticism during combine testing. He comes with big upside and starting potential and should only improve as he physically matures.
32. Kansas City – D’Andre Swift, RB, Georgia
This shores up the Chiefs running game and will be a steal for Andy Reid. Swift possesses the football skills and athletic ability to be a feature runner at the next level and should be the first ball carrier selected in the draft. He’s well-rounded in all facets of the position and should make an impact as a rookie in the NFL.