#17. Philadelphia Eagles: Henry Ruggs, WR, Alabama
With Desean Jackson on the mend, the Eagles aerial attack has been easy to defend. Star quarterback Carson Wentz has been forced to play with one hand tied behind his back, quarterbacking a largely compressed offense that labors its way down the field each week. Ruggs is an explosive playmaker that can thrive both in the slot or split out wide. A threat to score any time he touches the football, Ruggs will open things up for the entire offense. The 6-foot, 190-pound pass-catcher has 29 receptions for 581 yards (20.0 YPC) and six touchdowns through nine games.
#18. Indianapolis Colts: Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina
I am impressed with how the Colts defense is constructed. There aren’t many big names or All-Pros, but they tend to play cohesively as a unit. While the strength of the defense is on the backend, the defense line could certainly use some retooling, particularly at defensive tackle — where the aging Margus Hunt and Denico Autry reside. Kinlaw is a raw specimen that displays an impressively quick first-step off the ball to fire into the backfield, and violent hands to disengage from blockers. His improved pad level to regularly overpower offensive lineman and get into the backfield should lead to early success as a rookie.
#19. Carolina Panthers: Tyler Biadasz, C, Wisconsin
Matt Paradis currently grades out as the worst starting center in the NFL. It’s become commonplace to see Paradis get bull-rushed into his quarterback’s lap, often resulting in a lost down or stalled drive. Biadasz is a road grading mauler in the interior, who plays with a mean streak. He has outstanding footwork and the lateral agility to get out on screens and running plays.
#20. Jacksonville Jaguars: C.J. Henderson, CB, Florida
The local product doesn’t have to travel far. Henderson will help soften the blow of losing standout cornerback Jalen Ramsey. Paired with A.J. Bouye, the lengthy cover tandem should feast on opposing quarterbacks. Henderson offers the versatility to fit any NFL defensive scheme, but his length should enable him to excel as a press-man corner at the next level. Henderson is a smart, instinctual defender that demonstrates outstanding eye discipline and is well adept at challenging the catch-point.
#21. Dallas Cowboys: Jaylon Johnson, CB, Utah
I’m admittingly a bit higher on Johnson than most at this stage. He has the length and physicality to play the boundary but demonstrates the quick-twitched fluidity to man the slot against smaller, quicker receivers. The Cowboys secondary always seems to be under constant scrutiny, sometimes overshadowing a dominant offense, so adding a player like Johnson to play alongside the rapidly ascending Chidobe Awuzie makes sense here.
#22. Oakland Raiders: Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson
The Raiders’ offense endured a much-needed facelift last offseason. Gruden’s well-balanced offense is only lacking one thing: speed. Tyrell Williams and Hunter Renfrow are solid possession receivers — and Trevor Davis has shown the occasional ability to make plays down the field — but Higgins needs to be the pick. Much like how the addition of Josh Jacobs invigorated what felt like a pre-historic offense, selecting Higgins will open things up for everyone on offense.
#23. Kansas City Chiefs: Yetur Gross-Matos, DE, Penn State
As electric as the Chiefs’ offense has been, their leaky defense has been what’s holding them back from being legitimate Super Bowl contenders. While the team added Frank Clark in hopes of boosting a stagnant pass rusher, the veteran has been banged up for most of the season. Nearly 15 years ago, the Chiefs selected former Nittany Lion Tamba Hali in the first-round (20th overall). If all goes according to plan, Gross-Matos will enjoy a similar career.
#24. Minnesota Vikings: Laviska Shenault, Jr., WR, Colorado
If you remember, Stefan Diggs was the subject of several trade rumors around the October trade deadline, even going as far as saying, “There is truth to all rumors.” It’s no secret that Diggs is unhappy in Minnesota, and will likely have multiple suitors in the offseason. Here, I have the Vikings adding another perimeter threat in the form of Shenault. The Colorado wideout is a hulking 6-foot-2, 220 pounds, and is something of a swiss army knife, often lining up all over formations — including the backfield, as a running back/Wildcat quarterback.
#25. Buffalo Bills: Alex Leatherwood, OT, Alabama
Protection breakdowns have been the key component behind Buffalo’s mid-season spiral. Second-year quarterback Josh Allen has taken far too many hits this early in his career, and Leatherwood should add stability on the edge.
#26. Miami Dolphins: D’Andre Swift, RB, Georgia
The Dolphins land the quarterback of the future (and his top receiver), and now add the premier running back in the draft class. Swift is a three-down runner that has the speed to bounce runs outside and the power to find success running between the tackles.
#27. New Orleans Saints: Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma
The Saints add the uber-athletic Murray to fortify the second-level of their fast-flowing defense.
#28. Seattle Seahawks: Julian Okwara, EDGE, Notre Dame
With the offensive side of the ball nearly set, the focus shifts to rebuilding the defense to resemble the ‘Legion of Boom’ days. Okwara is a long, wiry edge rusher that will complement Jadeveon Clowney, Ziggy Ansah, and L.J. Collier. He’ll need to add some weight to his 248-pound frame, but with the talent in front of him, he will likely be a key rotational pass rusher in sub-packages as a rookie.
#29. Baltimore Ravens: Dylan Moses, LB, Alabama
The Ravens continue their rich history of adding prolific, game-changing linebackers, coming away with the best of a talented group. Moses, coming off a torn ACL, will be eight months removed from the injury by draft night. Though he may have to be brought along gradually in the early-going, Moses is a three-down linebacker with All-Pro potential.
#30. Green Bay Packers: Creed Humphrey, OL, Oklahoma
The Packers add the versatile Humphrey, who slides a bit in this mock. The former Sooner lines up next to left guard Elgton Jenkins to give the team a youth infusion along the interior.
#31. New England Patriots: Jared Pinkney, TE, Vanderbilt
It’s not often that you see a tight end land on John Mackey and Biletnikoff Award watch lists, but Pinkney offers a unique skill set. Armed with the route running prowess of a wide receiver and the ability to post defenders up like an NBA power forward, Pinkney is the logical choice to replace former Patriots all-world tight end Rob Gronkowski.
#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 been a top-three cornerback in this draft had it not been for the leg injury. The 6-foot-1, 200-pound cornerback is a sound tackler and offers inside-outside versatility. San Francisco gets great value to close out the opening round.
So where does Tua Tagovailoa land?
In this mock draft, Tua Tagovailoa drops out of the first round because of the injury he suffered in Week 12’s game against Mississippi State. After being rushed to the hospital for tests, it was determined that he had a dislocated hip and would miss the remainder of this season.
Team doctors are expecting a full recovery, but this will be three surgeries in three years. This may make teams wary of Tagovailoa and banking their future on him.
That said, Tagovailoa has terrific pocket awareness and has demonstrated a knack for effortlessly fitting the ball in tight windows; he also possesses plenty of athleticism to extend plays when the pocket collapses. In this scenario, I expect a team to select him the early part of the second round, taking a gamble on an elite talent.