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Final Mock Draft
Published at 4/20/2020 10:39:28 PM
This time I'll go five rounds. I didn't think I'd be able to do it, but somehow managed to pull it off. There are some interesting picks and trade ideas that went down in this mock that will most likely not happen, but I had fun with those. Best of luck to everyone's teams on Thursday through Saturday. Hopefully you end up happier with your team's haul in real life than they ended up getting in my mock draft. Or if they somehow get the exact same haul in real life as they got in my mock, hopefully you're happy with that!
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Looking for drama? You likely won't find it here. Joe Burrow is basically locked in to be a Cincinnati Bengal at this point, heading back to the state of Ohio where he starred in high school and began his college career at Ohio State before having arguably the best season ever this past season for a college QB, throwing for 60 TD passes against just 6 interceptions. He won the Heisman Trophy en route to a national championship game win. Outside of a rocket arm, Burrow just about has all you look for in a franchise NFL QB.
Drama likely won't be happening with this selection either, as the Redskins also appear to be locked in on their man, Ohio State's Chase Young. The Buckeye pass rusher is next in line after the Bosa brothers to post a double digit sack total as a rookie. He and Montez Sweat will be terrorizing NFC East backfields throughout the 2020s.
Dolphins get: Picks 3 and 149 (5th round)
Lions get: Picks 6 and 39 (2nd round)
Eugene, Oregon born and bred, Justin Herbert could be calling the East Coast in Miami his new home during football season. This is where the real drama appears set to begin as nobody really seems to know for sure what the next four teams are thinking. From what I gather, it seems like Herbert appears to be the slight favorite in Miami's war room, so they move up to make sure to nab him. He's got excellent size and all the natural talent in the world, but wasn't always consistent with the Ducks. Maybe he can develop more consistency at the NFL level as a member of a different sea animal-themed team. Detroit is pretty actively looking to move out of this spot, and they do find a taker, getting to swipe their fifth round pick for the first of Miami's second round picks.
Call this pick either a gut feeling and a what I would do pick. Most will have either Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons or Iowa tackle Tristan Wirfs here. I get it, those have long been my Giants picks as well. But Jedrick Wills is probably the way I would go if I were Big Blue. He's very technically proficient, and while he's only played right tackle, does have experience protecting a QB's blindside since Tua Tagovailoa is a lefty. The Giants could start him out at right tackle and have him take over for Nate Solder in a year if they choose to do that, or maybe he shows enough right away and beats Solder out for the left tackle spot. Regardless, I don't think the Giants can go wrong with this pick. I do believe he can be an excellent left tackle at the NFL level, but at worst, we've already seen him play at an extremely high level at right tackle.
Detroit is starting to get some cold feet with their selection. They appear to be struggling between selecting Jeff Okudah, Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown and Clemson hybrid safety/linebacker Isaiah Simmons. The easy choice would be to take Okudah and pair him opposite of newly signed Desmond Trufant. But you could certainly understand a Derrick Brown selection since there's a need at the position and could also understand a pick of Isaiah Simmons since a lot of people essentially see him as a bigger version of Derwin James.
While no team is obviously going to come out and spell out their draft strategy before the draft has begun, a lot of people seem to believe the Chargers like both Justin Herbert and Tua Tagovailoa enough to just sit back and take whichever of the two falls to them. Tua is the one who falls to them in this mock as injury concerns, poor combine interviews and talent surrounding him at Alabama have a lot of folks concerned about his long-term future. The Chargers have struggled to get a big following in Los Angeles. Perhaps a big name like Tua could help them gain some steam there. He could also provide a long-term answer for them in the post-Philip Rivers era under center if he can stay healthy.
Baylor was rebuilt by now Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule, and he's a coach who embraced the concept of position-less football. It'd be interesting to see how that translates to the NFL if he keeps that method up, but Clemson's Isaiah Simmons fits position-less football to a 'T' as people seem torn as to whether to call him a safety or a linebacker. He just calls himself a defensive player. This defensive player makes plays all over the football field and would give the Panthers a new face of their defense after the retirement of Luke Kuechly. If Simmons is here, I can't see Carolina passing him up. If he's gone, defensive tackles Javon Kinlaw and Derrick Brown would be possibilities as would Florida corner C.J. Henderson.
Picks 1 through 7 playing out like this would leave Cards GM Steve Keim with a tough decision to make. Tons of people believe Tristan Wirfs will be the pick, and it would certainly make a lot of sense. Some people feel like Auburn defensive lineman Derrick Brown could be the preference, though. Arizona's defense was not good last year and this team has never really replaced Calais Campbell since he left in free agency. Brown would be about as close to Calais as they could get in this draft. Like Calais, I don't know if Brown will ever be a consistent double digit sack guy, but he could have an outlier season or two while just being a terrific all-around performer both as a pass rusher and run stuffer on the D-Line. I love his fit in Arizona in their 3-4 scheme.
Eagles get: Pick 9, DE Yannick Ngakoue and SS Ronnie Harrison
Jaguars get: Picks 21, 53 (2nd round), 145 (4th round, a 2021 1st round pick, WR Alshon Jeffery and DE Josh Sweat
Time to get crazy! Eagles GM Howie Roseman reportedly covets Oklahoma wideout CeeDee Lamb, and we know how much Yannick Ngakoue both wants out of Jacksonville and has been sending love to the Eagles. Here we make it happen as the Eagles get both of them as well as strong safety Ronnie Harrison while the Jags move back 12 spots, acquiring more ammo this year as well as a third 2021 first round pick to help their rebuild. As for CeeDee Lamb, he makes plays down the field on all three levels and is fantastic at tracking the ball. The only minor concern is he could have a small adjustment to make from going against lousy Big 12 defenses to NFL caliber defenses, but he should adjust in short order. Jacksonville was able to net a first round pick by sending Harrison over to help the Eagles out at strong safety and for taking on Alshon Jeffery's deal. If you believe reports, the Eagles may want to move on from Alshon. Of course interest in Yannick Ngakoue may not necessarily be there on Philadelphia's part after Ngakoue just went on a Twitter war with Jags owner Tony Kahn, continuing to demand a trade out of Jacksonville.
Falcons get: Picks 10 and 74 (3rd round)
Browns get: Picks 16, 47 (2nd round), 119 (4th round) and 143 (via Ravens/Falcons)
Cleveland Browns analysis will come soon, but as for the Falcons, it appears they have their sights set on Florida cornerback C.J. Henderson and will do anything within reason to bring him to Atlanta. Moving up into the top 10 is likely what it will take at this point, so the Falcons make it happen by giving up both 4th round picks and swapping their 2nd round pick for a 3rd rounder. Jeff Okudah has long been the consensus top corner in this draft, but Henderson has closed the gap strong. He's got very good size, speed, athleticism and coverage ability. Being razor thin at cornerback, the Falcons could use him when going up against Brees and the Saints and Brady and the Bucs.
Times of mystery sure can be scary, and the world is in about as much of a time of uncertainty as can be at the moment. Amongst the three offensive tackle prospects left, the one with the most amount of certainty appears to be Georgia's Andrew Thomas, and that's the direction the Jets decide to go with this selection. Thomas began his Georgia career at right tackle before shifting over to left tackle these last two years, and he's done nothing short of a superb job protecting Jake Fromm's blindside. This pick will help Sam Darnold rest a lot easier at night and will also open up more holes for Le'Veon Bell.
Defensive tackle first, wide receiver second? This is a bold strategy for the Raiders, let's see if it pays off for them. South Carolina's Javon Kinlaw is not as polished a product as Derrick Brown, but he's a lot more athletic and has more pass rushing upside. Prior to getting injured down in Mobile, he was dominating practices at the Senior Bowl, which only affirmed the major improvement he showed at South Carolina in 2019. Some people around the league feel as though the Raiders want to improve up the middle at defensive tackle, and in a scenario like this where he's available, Kinlaw is the best option for a team without a 2nd round pick.
Shocker city here seeing both the Raiders and Niners passing on a wide receiver with their first picks here in Round 1. But the 49ers may have to think about life without longtime left tackle Joe Staley in the not too distant future and also saw their interior offensive line get pushed around by Chris Jones in the Super Bowl loss to the Chiefs. Prior to blowing up the combine, some teams felt like Iowa's Tristan Wirfs was a guard only prospect. I think teams have come around on that now, but he could certainly play guard for the 49ers now and move to either left or right tackle depending upon what they want to do with current right tackle Mike McGlinchey once Joe Staley decides to hang up his cleats.
Trouble may be brewing for Louisville tackle Mekhi Becton, who reportedly failed a drug test at the combine. Does that mean the Buccaneers would pass on him in a scenario where he's available? Sure, but Bruce Arians has been willing to take a shot on players with potential concerns before, and this is the best tackle available still on the board. Not only that, but protecting Tom Brady has to be the top priority. Becton moves unbelievably well for a man who weighs 360+ pounds. He'll be a huge asset in the run game immediately, and while he's still got work to do as a pass blocker, should at least be adequate there in his rookie season while getting better each week.
Just reading a rumor on CBS, I saw the Broncos may be trying to trade up for former Alabama star receiver Jerry Jeudy. Here, they don't even have to do that. They just held their ground at 15 and still landed their guy. He is not the speed burner his college teammate Henry Ruggs is, but amongst the top three receivers in the class (Lamb, Ruggs, Jeudy), he's the best route runner amongst them and probably the best route runner in the class. Jeudy also isn't on the level of CeeDee Lamb as an athlete, but he's got enough athleticism to be a very good pro.
Raiders get: Picks 16 (via Falcons/Browns) and 188 (6th round via Cardinals/Browns)
Browns get: Picks 19 and 91 (3rd round via Seahawks/Raiders)
Bold strategies sometimes do pay off, and it appears this one did for the Raiders as they land the last of the elite three wide receivers in Alabama's Henry Ruggs. Al Davis is smiling somewhere having this 4.27 40 speed demon who compares himself to Tyreek Hill on the team his son Mark is now the owner of. This type of speed plays anywhere, and it could open up the short passing game more for the likes of Darren Waller, Tyrell Williams, Jason Witten, Hunter Renfrow and Foster Moreau.