2020 NFL Mock Draft V 2.0
With the Senior Bowl and the NFL’s annual Underwear Olympics (AKA the NFL Combine) now in the rearview mirror, we’re starting to see some movement in how players are being viewed. Some are rising (Mekhi Becton, Justin Herbert), some are dropping (A.J. Epensa, Jalen Reagor), and some are jumping up into first-round consideration (Jordan Love).
Regardless, with the first pick of the 2020 NFL Draft…
Cincinnati Bengals – Joe Burrow – QB – LSU
I know I had Chase Young going here in my first mock, and I still believe he’s the best/safest pick, however, any pick (even an in-state college star like Young) other than Burrow and you may lose the fan base for a few years. Andy Dalton isn’t the guy, likely never was, but he is a solid NFL starter who had his chances and came up short. Burrow gives the fans hope.
Previous pick – Chase Young – DE- Ohio State
Washington Redskins – Chase Young – DE – Ohio State
With Chase young available this time around, Washington doesn’t hesitate. They select Chase Young and pair him with last year’s first-round pick Montez Sweat. With new head coach Jack Del Rio’s change to a 4-3 defense, look for Sweat and Young to be a constant force pressuring the QB.
Previous pick – Jeff Okudah – CB – Ohio State
Detroit Lions – Isaiah Simmons – OLB – Clemson
Over the last few weeks, there have been a ton of rumors floating around about the Lions potentially wanting to move on from QB Matt Stafford and the possibility of selecting Tua Tagaovialoa as their future signal-caller. I don’t believe that that will happen for two reasons. First, Stafford is owed “only” 21.3 million for next season, if he were to be traded that number would jump to 32 million in dead cap money (roughly 1/6th of the total cap). That’s a lot of money for someone to not play for your team. Second, while Stafford has been in the league for 12 seasons, he’s hardly an “old” player at 32. He (and the offense as a whole) also were not the problem in Detroit last season (#10 in total offense), it was the defense, Simmons can do a lot of things and he does them well, all on the defensive side of the ball.
Previous pick – Isaiah Simmons
New York Giants – Tristan Wirfs – OT – Iowa
I’m not gonna lie; after I made Wirfs my selection here in the first mock draft I got a little anxious when I looked at other mocks and saw that very few of them had him in their Top 10. However, I knew what I had seen on tape and trusted my evaluation. Following Wirfs’ combine performance where he topped offensive tackles in the vertical leap (36.5”) and the broad jump (10’ 1”), I felt considerably better. He also posted a 4.85/sec 40-yard dash as well as 7.65/sec 3-cone drill and 4.68/sec short shuttle times and he did that while coming in at 6’5” and 320lbs. If you like your tackles big, fast, strong, and explosive, Wirfs is your guy.
Previous pick – Tristan Wirfs
Miami Dolphins – Jeff Okudah – CB – Ohio State
Admittedly, who the ‘Phins take with this pick depends on how much they like the remaining quarterbacks with an eye toward Tagovialoa, Herbert, and Love. I haven’t seen anything definitive regarding Tua’s hip and so I don’t feel comfortable taking him here. Herbert could possibly fit the bill. If they like Love they might be able to get him with their #18 pick or possibly even their #26 pick. With all of those variables, I’m choosing to keep it simple and select the best corner on the board with Okudah. His combination of size, speed, and skills make this an easy choice.
Previous pick – Joe Burrow – QB – LSU
Los Angeles Chargers – Justin Herbert – QB – Oregon
When I originally selected Herbert for the Chargers in my original mock, there was the unknown of how much longer Phillip Rivers would be their starter. That’s answered now and the Chargers are officially looking for their next starter. Herbert now feels like the pick; of course, it could also be Tua who is still on the board. We won’t get any sort of real answer regarding the health of Tua’s hip until March 9, at the earliest, or until his Pro Day workout at Alabama. Until then, I’m staying with Herbert.
Previous pick – Justin Herbert
Carolina Panthers – Derrick Brown – DT – Auburn
Cam Newton’s future is a bit more solid than it was when I did the first mock draft. After an interview in which Newton stated "Absolutely." after he was asked if he would be returning to Carolina for the 2020 season. That seems to be backed up by what new head coach Matt Rhule said during his NFL Combine interview “…I want him to be here. I want to coach him." Nothing is a given, especially in the NFL, but it sounds like we should expect Newton to suit up for the Panthers in 2020. With that settled, I stick with Derrick Brown as the pick for the Panthers. Let me be clear, Brown had a bad combine. But don’t overthink this, the tape showed you everything you needed to see.
Previous pick – Derrick Brown
Arizona Cardinals – Jedrick Wills Jr. – OT – Alabama
With D.J. Humphries signed to a 3-year deal, the Cardinals still need to upgrade the right side of their line. Wills can be that upgrade. He lacks the “ideal” numbers you like to see from an offensive tackle, being just a little shorter, a little lighter than you like to see, but his positives should outweigh his negatives. He’s got good flexibility, displays heavy hands, good footwork, and plays with a bad attitude (yes, this is a good thing). His 20-yard shuttle time (4.89secs) was the 14th best among OL, but only two first-round tackles were better (Tristan Wirfs, Andrew Thomas).
Previous pick – Andrew Thomas – OT – Georgia
Jacksonville Jaguars – Jerry Jeudy – WR – Alabama
If one of the top defensive players was available, I would draft them here, after all, the Jags were toward the middle of the league in offense but near the bottom third in defense. None of them are available and I think that taking an Xavier McKinney or Grant Delpit would be grossly over-drafting either of them. With Jeudy, you get a skilled route-runner who is fast enough (4.45 40 at the combine) that opposing corners have to respect his speed. Throw in strong hands and an ability to win contested balls and you’re giving your QB a great weapon.
Previous pick – Jerry Jeudy
Cleveland Browns – Mekhi Becton – OT – Louisville
The Browns need help at the tackle spot. I know, understatement of the year. If they draft Becton at this spot, that all becomes a thing of the past. Becton was much lower in my initial mock draft because I felt that something would pop up from his combine workout. While he didn’t do the complete battery of tests, his respectable 23 reps in the bench press and an eye-opening 5.10 40-yard dash were enough to move him up the draft board. One concern I had about Becton was that at 365lbs, he might be struggling with a weight issue for the length of his career. If the reports from the combine are to be believed, Becton was measured at somewhere in the 17-19% body fat range, meaning that there is a lot of muscle packed onto his frame and not just late-night cheeseburgers.
Previous pick – Jedrick Wills Jr.
New York Jets – CeeDee Lamb – WR – Oklahoma
With the possibility that Robby Anderson could be wearing another uniform come the 2020 season, the Jets will probably be looking to give Sam Darnold an upgrade at the receiver spot. Lamb does this and more. With excellent hands, being a threat to score any time he touches the ball, and being able to create separation, Lamb should be able to make Sam Darnold a better, more accurate QB just by being on the field. While he doesn’t have burner-type speed, Lamb didn’t hurt himself with a solid 4.5 40 this past weekend in Indy.
Previous pick – Henry Ruggs III – WR - Alabama
Las Vegas Raiders – Tua Tagovialoa – QB – Alabama
If Al Davis were making this pick it would probably be Henry Ruggs III, ole Al had a soft spot for receivers who can outrun lightning. Instead, his son Mark is (apologies to GM Mike Mayock) and moving into both a new stadium and a new city calls for a splashy move. It won’t get much splashier than wherever Tua is drafted, you’re getting a player who came on in relief and won a National Championship, who everyone looks at as an example of a leader, and has all the physical tools to boot. It’s just that one injury that still bothers me, but if anyone in the top half of the draft is going to roll the dice on a player, it will likely be the Raiders.
Previous pick – CeeDee Lamb – WR – Oklahoma
Indianapolis Colts – Jordan Love – QB – Utah State
The Colts are in a good position, in this draft at least, as there is a top-quality player at each of their positions of need (WR, IDL, and QB) with Henry Ruggs III, Javon Kinlaw, and Jordan Love available. There are other receivers and defensive tackles that can improve the Colts roster, but nothing like what Jordan Love can do. For those of you that listened to the “Degenerate Duo” show on Score On Air, you heard me talking about Love a few months ago. I thought he was going to be a mid-high second-round pick with the possibility to get into the bottom of the first. Turns out scouts have fallen in love with… well, Love.
Previous pick – Tua Tagovialoa – QB – Alabama
Tampa Bay Buccaneers – A.J. Epenesa – DE - Iowa
A.J. Epenesa did not have a good combine workout. At all. He only completed 17 reps on the bench press, his 40 time was an ordinary 5.04secs and he was just “okay” with a 32.5” vertical leap. Not good at all. Why the hell, then, am I moving him up and not down in my draft? Mostly for two reasons. The first is that I think that the general public (fans) overreact to things like this (poor combine workouts) in a manner that borders on ridiculous; did you forget about Epenesa brutalizing linemen the last few years, the fumbles he’s caused getting in close and swatting the QB’s arm? Apparently. The second is that with Ndamukong Suh a pending free agent, the Bucs could find themselves short on the line come the 2020 season, Epenesa would be a great fit as a 3-4 end. And 2b, because I found Kent Lee Platte (@Mathbomb on Twitter), using his Relative Athletic Scoring system that while Epenesa’s score is a 4.30 as an edge defender, it’s a 9.08 as a defensive lineman. Check it out.
Previous pick - Javon Kinlaw – DT – South Carolina
Denver Broncos – Andrew Thomas – OT – Georgia
Either way, Denver was getting a Georgia product at this spot, I just feel that protecting your future at QB is a better use of a pick than a RB. Thomas wasn’t available at this spot the first go-round but he is now. A 3-year starter at Georgia, Thomas played both tackle spots in his career. An aggressive, nasty lineman that has very good footwork, good hands, and brings power to the run game. I suspect that Drew lock will be buying him many gifts in the coming years.
Previous pick – Tee Higgins – WR – Clemson
Atlanta Falcons – K’Lavon Chaisson – DE – LSU
I mentioned that the Falcons had only 28 sacks (tied for 2nd worst in the NFL) last season and now with the likelihood that both Vic Beasley and Adrian Clayborn will be suiting up elsewhere next year, adding an edge rusher goes to the top of the list for the Falcons in 2020. Chaisson’s football IQ is very high and combined with his explosion and motor should make for an instant starter. He has work to do, learning the ins and outs of the NFL and polishing his pass rush moves, but should easily be an 8-9 sacks (or better) a year player.
Previous pick – A.J. Epenesa – DE – Iowa
Dallas Cowboys – Xavier McKinney – S – Alabama
I took Grant Delpit in my first mock draft for the Cowboys, this time I’m going with Xavier McKinney. Partly (mostly) because McKinney chose to workout at the combine while Delpit is waiting until LSU’s Pro Day (April 3). It shows confidence in yourself to participate in unfamiliar surroundings and I’ll never ding a player (too much) for working out even if the results aren’t great. McKinney isn’t quite the All-World defender that Isaiah Simmons is, but he can do a lot and do it well. Shows an excellent ability to close on plays and make tackles in space. A better zone defender than man and has a nose for the ball.
Previous pick – Grant Delpit – S – LSU
Miami Dolphins – D’Andre Swift – RB – Georgia
Looking at where the Dolphins finished 2019 in rushing (32nd) it’s hard to think that they couldn’t do with a dynamic RB in the draft. Sure, they need help, a LOT of help, but a player like D’Andre Swift can do a lot to help elevate a team. Swift is a three-down back, a capable pass blocker, and doesn’t go down easily when he gets bumped. Whether Miami takes a QB in the draft, signs a free agent or decides to roll with someone on the roster, Swift should make the offense much more potent.
Previous pick – Trevon Diggs – CB – Alabama
Las Vegas Raiders – Henry Ruggs III – WR – Alabama
I nearly made this pick for Trevon Diggs, but after looking up Raiders receiving numbers last year (the top two WRs combined for fewer than 100 catches) it was easy to select Ruggs here. With the obvious connection to his college QB who the Raiders selected earlier in the draft, Ruggs upgrades the receiving corps two ways. First, by being the lightning-fast, jump-ball king that he is and second, by giving the other receivers more room to operate in. At this past weekend’s combine, Ruggs ran a 4.27 40, fastest at the 2020 NFL Combine and said he was “disappointed” with the time. Disappointed? With first place? How fast is this guy? In any case, it gives the Raiders a burner in the passing game who can do almost anything asked of him.
Previous pick – C.J. Henderson
Jacksonville Jaguars – Trevon Diggs – CB – Alabama
After filling their biggest need at #9 with Jerry Jeudy, the Jags look to Tuscaloosa for another big need in CB. After last Tuesday's trade of A.J. Bouye to Denver, the Jags have a hole on the back end of their defense and taking Trevon Diggs to fill it should work out just fine. A tall, strong, fast, and physical corner, Diggs doesn’t get lazy after contact and his closing speed should be good for an INT or two every year all on its own.
Previous pick – Kenneth Murray – LB – Oklahoma
Philadelphia Eagles – C.J. Henderson – CB – Florida
With the Eagles top starters as pending free agents (and you have to figure at least one leaves) that moves a top corner to the top of the “need” list, though if there was a receiver I felt was a good fit here, it could have just as easily been that. Henderson made money for himself this past weekend in Indy with an exceptional 4.39 40 time (T-6th fastest) as well as looking polished and catching anything close to him in on-field drills.
Previous pick – Kristian Fulton – CB – LSU
Buffalo Bills – Tee Higgins - WR - Clemson
I had the Bills taking Laviska Shenault at this spot originally but Shenault aggravated an injury he played with this season and will have surgery to repair a core muscle injury (these used to be called sports hernias *rolls eyes*). Recuperating from that surgery will prevent him from working out prior to the combine. While he has similar limitations as Shenault, his positives are, perhaps, a bit better. He has a huge catch radius, highpoints the ball well while shielding defenders away, and rarely makes the wrong adjustment to a thrown ball.
Previous pick – Laviska Shenault – WR – Colorado
New England Patriots – Zack Baun – Edge/LB – Wisconsin
With no TEs worth the 23rd pick (in my opinion), the Patriots turn to shore up one of their other positions of need, edge rusher. Baun has the explosiveness, quick hands, and motor to be a very good 3-4 edge rusher. His ability to cover RB/TEs as well as use his fluid movement and agility to expand his coverage is a big plus. He doesn’t have ideal size and doesn’t seem like he’ll be heavy enough to set the edge in the NFL, he’ll also need to polish his pass rush moves.
Previous pick – K’Lavion Chiasson – DE – LSU
New Orleans Saints – Kenneth Murray – LB – Oklahoma
A lot of the mock drafts I’m seeing for the Saints have them taking a receiver to complement Michael Thomas. I already view Alvin Kamara (81 REC / 2019) as that 2nd receiver and am looking to give them a weapon on defense. With his (literal) sideline-to-sideline range and his explosive athleticism, Murray makes plays all over the field and makes them fast. He’ll need to grow both as a decision-maker and in coverage before he reaches his potential, but a two-down SLB, he’ll make you a lot of plays.
Previous pick – Tyler Biadasz – C – Wisconsin
Minnesota Vikings – Javon Kinlaw – DT – South Carolina
The Vikings still get an upgrade to their interior defensive line in this mock, they just get a higher rated one. Kinlaw is a day-one starter and should be a three-down player for the next ten years. Has explosive get off at the snap as well as the ability to penetrate in either one- or two-gap schemes. A disruptor of both the run and pass game when you combine the above attributes. A smart player who sniffs out screens and stops them dead. Will sometimes get too focused on penetrating and let a play run by him.
Previous pick – Neville Gallimore – DT – Oklahoma
Miami Dolphins – Laviska Shenault – WR – Colorado
We already covered the bad for Shenault a few picks ago. Anytime you can’t workout prior to the draft, it’s going to cost you, in this case, it cost him a slide of five picks. The upside is that he would be going somewhere that needs playmakers and needs them now, and if there’s one thing Shenault is, it’s a playmaker. A home-run threat any time he touches the ball, he played every offensive position for the Buffalos except for the offensive line, which coincidentally, is one of his bigger knocks, he’s not a polished receiver and needs to work on both his release at the line and his route running. That said, his biggest plays came at WR and even getting him the ball on a simple bubble screen could get you six.
Previous Pick – Mekhi Becton – OT – Louisville
Seattle Seahawks – Yetur Gross-Matos – DE – Penn State
With no news on whether or not Jadeveon Clowney will be returning to the Seahawks for the 2020 season, I’m sticking with my pick of Gross-Matos at pick 27. He didn’t run a 40 at the combine and he did fewer reps on the bench press than I like to see (potentially attributable to his 34 7/8” arms), but he showed some explosiveness with a 34” vertical leap and a 10’ broad jump so there are natural talents to work with. His tape backs that up with three-step quickness off the snap that OTs found difficult to deal with. I still feel he is a “high ceiling, high floor” player who could move up through the draft process.
Previous pick – Yetur Gross-Matos
Baltimore Ravens – Denzel Mims – WR – Baylor
A good combine workout can do wonders for your stock. When I was prepping my first mock draft Mims wasn’t really in the mix for the bottom third of it, but a month later, here he is. A tall, strong receiver who has legit burner speed (4.39/40 @ combine), strong hands, and a huge catch radius that makes under, over, or just poorly thrown passes still catchable. He’s still learning the position but is a good stalk blocker and uses his legs well to stay engaged, so even if he isn't catching passes, he still has value. Has a somewhat low floor, but, with proper coaching could develop into a perennial double-digit TD threat.
Previous pick – Terrell Lewis – LB – Alabama
Tennessee Titans – Neville Gallimore – DT – Oklahoma
Gallimore sort of falls into the Titans’ lap in this draft with me selecting CB, WR, and pass rushers ahead of interior line players. However he gets to Nashville, I’m sure the Titans don’t care, they’re getting a very good player regardless. Gallimore is a player whose motor never seems to shut off and is going to chase opposing rushers and QBs down the line and downfield. He has a good punch with his hands and will use them while he works to find an edge to get through. Quick feet and twitchy. Not a true NT, but can play that position for stretches.
Previous pick – Raekwon Davis – DT – Alabama
Green Bay Packers – Patrick Queen – LB – LSU
Another example of the combine forcing me to rethink how I’ve ranked players a bit, Queen wasn’t a first-rounder to me, mostly because of his position. Inside linebackers don’t generally strike me as being high priority players in the first half of the draft (last year’s 2 in the Top 10 notwithstanding) and while Queen is a very good player, sometimes even very good players slip a bit. A good combine workout helped Queen a bit (excepting his bench press) showing speed and explosion (4.5/40 and 35” vertical leap). We knew he possessed those qualities looking at his tape though. What you want from an ILB though is his ability to make sure his teammates are aligned correctly and ready for the play. He does every bit of that and brings plenty of “pop” when he arrives at the point of attack.
Previous pick – Jalen Reagor – WR – TCU
San Francisco 49ers – Grant Delpit – S – LSU
This is less of a knock on Delpit than it is Xavier McKinney showing out at the combine and taking the top safety spot from him. Regardless, Delpit is a ball-hawking safety who can cover in man or in a zone as well as take care of coverage in the slot. Always trying to pop the ball loose for a turnover, Delpit is a solid tackler and is capable of playing the LB for spells. A competent pass rusher on the blitz, he attacks downhill like few others.
Previous pick – Xavier McKinney – S – Alabama
Kansas City Chiefs – Jalen Reagor – WR – TCU
Reagor is getting a serious downgrade from some analysts after posting a disappointing 40 yard dash time at the combine. He ran a 4.47 40, people, calm yourselves. Reagor did perform as well or even better than expected finishing in the Top 10 for receivers in the bench press (17 reps), the vertical leap and broad jump (42”, and 11'6" respectively, second in each) so I’m thinking the few hundredths of a second over his expected time? They might not be that important. He runs the route tree well and has good double moves. If he can get over his concentration issues and remember to secure the ball before running, he should have a pretty good career catching passes from Patrick Mahomes.
Previous Pick - DeAndre Swift - RB - Georgia