We’re a few hours away from the NFL Draft and a few days of normalcy in the sports world. I’m ready to enjoy it while it lasts.
Here’s a complete mock draft of how I think the first round might play out.
1. Cincinnati Bengals — QB Joe Burrow, LSU
This has been in ink for a while.
2. Washington Redskins — EDGE Chase Young, Ohio State
Young is considered by many to be the top overall prospect in the class, and Ron Rivera will look to build his defense around the blue-chip pass rusher.
3. Detroit Lions — CB Jeff Okudah, Ohio State
Matt Patricia needs a lockdown man corner for the style of defense he wants to play, and Okudah is plug and play.
4. New York Giants — OT Jedrick Wills, Alabama
Gettleman won’t overthink this—they need to protect Daniel Jones and pave running lanes for Saquan Barkley. Wills can do both at a high level.
5. Miami Dolphins — QB Tua Tagavoila, Alabama
Tua is a better overall prospect than Joe Burrow (minus the hip and height concerns). He spins it better, has a stronger arm, is more accurate, processes better, gets the ball out faster, is more athletic, and the list goes on. Miami won’t overthink this because of a mildly-risky hip injury. They might trade up to 3, but with no real threat to leap them I think they hold tight and grab him at 5.
6. Los Angeles Chargers — QB Justin Herbert, Oregon
Herbert has good size with a big-arm and plus athleticism. Rumor has it that he’s more of their guy than Tua—so this works out well for them. Most QB’s would be jealous of the weapons he’ll start his career with.
7. Carolina Panthers — LB Isaiah Simmons, Clemson
Panthers fans rejoice as Simmons falls to this pick and Matt Rhule adds a position-less linebacker next to Shaq Thompson. They need juice along the defensive live, but Simmons helps them build a versatile, modern defense that‘ll try to keep three loaded NFC South offenses at bay.
8. Arizona Cardinals — OT Tristan Wirfs, Iowa
I’ve heard Arizona could move back, but in a tackle class this loaded Kliff Kingsbury would be wise to sure-up the line and allow the new Murray-Hopkins connection to operate in peace. Their phone should be ringing off the hook, but at the end of the day I don’t see how a team with a young (and small) QB passes on a prospect of Wirfs’ caliber.
9. Jacksonville Jaguars — DT Derick Brown, Auburn
Jacksonville considers moving back, but they ultimately won’t be able to pass up on a player as disruptive as Brown. He’s a game-wrecker who a defense can build around, and he’s considered by some to be a top-5 overall prospect in the class.
10. Atlanta Falcons — CB C.J. Henderson, Florida
*trade with Cleveland*
Atlanta will desperately try to move up to 7-9, but this spot makes the most sense. They’ll have competition with Denver and Tampa for this pick, but the Falcons reek of desperation and with Dan Quinn/Thomas Dimitroff both on the hot seat they’ll have little regard for saving future picks. Henderson helps sure up a bad secondary that’s in-line for an all-out assault in the NFC South.
11. New York Jets — OT Andrew Thomas, Georgia
Joe Douglas opts to fortify the trenches with the long and athletic Thomas. He’s safe and has a high-ceiling—when push comes to shove this organization can’t pass up this sort of value at 11. Most years Thomas would be way off the board by this pick.
12. Oakland Raiders — WR Jerry Jeudy, Alabama
Gruden and Mayock are sleepers to trade up and screw up everyone’s projections, but ultimately I think they stay put and take a wideout that Gruden can build his passing attack around.
13. San Francisco 49ers — DT Javon Kinlaw, South Carolina
This a prime trade back spot with Kinlaw, Becton, Lamb, and Ruggs still on the board; but Kinlaw falling into their lap is too perfect of a fit for a team needing a space-eater who can also shoot into the backfield. Kinlaw has the rare combination of length and explosiveness that makes him elite in both two-gap and one-gap roles. He’s also versatile enough to play all across the 49ers’ odd front.
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers — OT Mekhi Becton, Louisville
Man oh man would the Bucs be lucky if one of the four top tackle prospects is available here. Becton is a freak athlete and they need to keep Tom Brady upright at all costs.
15. Denver Broncos — WR CeDee Lamb, Oklahoma
Another stroke of luck, the Broncos would like to add some juice on defense, but with none of the premier prospects available this late they’ll be thrilled with either Lamb or Ruggs at 15. Elway will look to make things as easy as possible for Drew Lock.
16. Cleveland Browns — OT Ezra Cleveland, Boise State
The Browns could very well hang at 10 and grab their choice of Thomas and Becton, but their reported to be high on Ezra Cleveland, and I understand why—he’s just as strong, quick, and technically sound as the top four tackles. The Browns analytics-driven front office is always a candidate to hunt for value and trade down to add more picks.
17. Philadelphia Eagles — WR Henry Ruggs, Alabama
*trade with Dallas*
DAL receives 1st (21), 2nd (53) 4th (127)
PHI receives 1st (17), 3rd (82)
With Fulton, McKinney, and Chaissan all on the board Dallas would love to trade down and add a pick while still being able to get one of their guys. With Ruggs on the board it turns out the Eagles make a ton of sense. I almost had them trade up to 16 to grab him but the Browns likely won’t risk losing their tackle with a few teams who need pass protection in between 16 and 21.
18. Miami Dolphins — OT Josh Jones, Houston
Grabbing a quarterback and a tackle in the first 20 picks is a great way to build your franchise. With a lot of other solid pieces already in place the Dolphins could be sleepers in an AFC East that is suddenly attainable.
19. Minnesota Vikings — CB Kristan Fulton, LSU
*trade with Oakland*
The Vikings need a corner and with Jacksonville lurking at 20 they trade up and grab the third best prospect at the position.
20. Jacksonville Jaguars — WR Justin Jefferson, LSU
The Jags need weapons bad, and Jefferson could be that guy. The Vikings steal their ideal choice in Fulton, so Jacksonville turns around and steals the receiver Minnesota eyed for 22.
21. Dallas Cowboys — S Xavier McKinney, Alabama
The Cowboys hold the Eagles over a barrel for Ruggs, take our second round pick, and still get their replacement for Byron Jones in the secondary in the process.
22. Minnesota Vikings — WR Jalen Reagor, TCU
Reagor is the perfect replacement for Diggs.
23. New England Patriots — OLB/Edge Zack Baun, Wisconsin
I think they would prefer to trade back and add a second here, but considering the board they’ll have a tough time finding a partner (maybe Green Bay if a WR they like is available). Nonetheless, Baun is a versatile defender tailor-made to fill the Pats’ void in the linebacker group.
24. New Orleans Saints — LB Patrick Queen, LSU
Queen is a popular pick here and while I’m hearing the Saints could be sleepers to move up in the draft, they’ll roll with plugging an electric backer in the middle of their already loaded defense.
25. Oakland Raiders — CB A.J. Terrell, Clemson
Terrell is rising up draft boards and it’s possible he goes well before this, but if he’s around at 25 he feels like the exact player Gruden and Mayock would love to add.
26. Miami Dolphins — DE K’Lavon Chaissan, LSU
Chaissan could have gone with a lot of the recent picks, but if he’s around here I think Brian Flores would love to develop a pass rusher with blue-chip traits.
27. Seattle Seahawks — DE Yetur Gross-Matos, PSU
Chaissan almost slipped to this spot but Gross-Matos is a similar project with blue-chip tools and athleticism. Seattle needs a major pass rush upgrade and while I know they’ll consider trading back, this pick makes too much sense.
28. Baltimore Ravens — LB Kenneth Murray, Oklahoma
Baltimore needs someone to play pac-man in the middle of the field and eat up whatever leaks through their dominant defensive front. Murray gives them sideline-to-sideline speed and plenty of pop up the middle—great value at 28.
29. Tennessee Titans — CB Jeff Gladney, TCU
Gladney is the sort of physical corner Vrabel is likely looking to add. They may look to trade this pick and move back into the early second round, but that’ll be more tricky to pull off this year compared to most.
30. Green Bay Packers — WR Brandon Aiyuk, Arizona State
I wanted to trade up for the Packers but the run on WR made that fairly pointless. They may look at Mims but I think the quick-hitting, big-play ability of Aiyuk is what they’ll look to pair with Rodgers.
31. Los Angeles Chargers — OT Isaiah Wilson, Georgia
*trade with San Francisco*
The 49ers aren’t looking to add multiple picks this year, so the Chargers could theoretically hang on to 37 this year and give up 71 and their second rounder in 2021. They need to be aggressive to get the tackle they want, and despite ending his career on the right side for UGA, Wilson shouldn’t have trouble developing on the left side.
32. Kansas City Chiefs — RB D’Andre Swift, Georgia
The Chiefs are hoping a linebacker or cornerback will slide to this spot, but in this mock they’re all long gone. Swift has been a popular pick here, and he’s the most complete back in the class. Somehow this offense keeps getting more explosive.