We got word that the NFL Draft will remain April 23-25th (although I would be in favor of making it seven nights with one round per night). However it happens, I am very excited for the next big football tentpole. I wanted to wait until the first big wave of Free Agency to plateau until releasing, so figured this was a good time to do so. It also coincides with the latest drop of the Going Deep podcast featuring Colts All-Pro & Pro Bowl Linebacker Darius Leonard. Listen here or wherever you consume pods: Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher.
1) Cincinnati Bengals – QB Joe Burrow (LSU)
The scuttlebutt that the Bengals are trading this pick just will not die. COVID-19 makes this an interesting pick because the Bengals did get to sit with Burrow at the Combine, but it can’t compare to the week they got with the signal caller that won MVP of the Senior Bowl, Oregon’s Justin Herbert. I’m going to have Cincy keeping this pick, but it wouldn’t surprise me for them to move down if a team is willing to offer a HAUL for them to move down and select Herbert.
2) Washington Redskins – EDGE Chase Young (Ohio State)
Some around the league are of the belief the Redskins should draft Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa here and just pawn him off to the highest bidder. Here’s the problem with that, Chase Young is on the board! He’s regarded by most as the best player in the draft and is more polished than former blue chipper’s Jadeveon Clowney, Nick Bosa, and Joey Bosa. The Redskins would have a stacked arsenal of pass rushers featuring FIVE first rounders (Ryan Kerrigan, Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne, Montez Sweat, and now Young). A scary
3) *TRADE* Los Angeles Chargers (via Detroit Lions) – QB Tua Tagovailoa (Alabama)
Here is where the draft really starts this year with the first two selections basically universally known at this point. Detroit is in the cat bird’s seat in the draft with the first two picks being known for some time now. I’ve had Tua going 3rd overall in each mock, but this time I’ve got the Chargers dealing up for the talented southpaw (GM Tom Telesco gives up their 2nd (#37) & 4th (#112) in addition to #6 overall to move up three spots). The Chargers are moving into a new stadium this year and I can’t fathom them moving in trying to sell Tyrod Taylor on a fairly apathetic pro football market. The Chargers are definitely going to get someone else and I think Tua is the right fit.
4) New York Giants – OT Mekhi Becton (Louisville)
When you’ve got a group of blue chip Offensive Tackles with similar strengths and weaknesses, the logical tiebreaker would be size. Becton is going to win that vs. almost anybody at 6’7” 370 lbs. Daniel Jeremiah first thought up this match in his first mock and Becton has been making the way up draftnik’s board’s ever since. Jeffrey Okudah, Tristan Wirfs, and even a receiver could be a sneaky play here, but I’m going with the big Tackle that plays with a nasty streak at #4.
5) Miami Dolphins – QB Justin Herbert (Oregon)
There has been chatter that the Dolphins actually prefer Herbert to Tua and I’m going to have them sticking at #5 and letting their guy fall right in their lap. By not trading up, they’ll have all THREE of their 1st round picks to build a competitive roster.
6) *TRADE* Detroit Lions (via Los Angeles Chargers) – CB Jeffrey Okudah (Ohio State)
The Lions get the guy they’ve been linked to all along in Okudah along with a 2nd & 4th rounder. Okudah is a talented press man corner that can really do it all. He’s a sticky guy on the outside that would fill a need for a team that just dealt their best cover guy in Darius Slay.
7) Carolina Panthers – OT Jedrick Wills (Alabama)
The Panthers have a bunch of needs and there will be even more turnover with Matt Rhule and his guys taking over. Looking at how Chip Kelly built his roster, his first pick was a talented Right Tackle in Lane Johnson. That turned out to be a great pick and I could see the Panthers following suit with Wills. Wills played on the right side (which was his QB’s blindside) in college but has the ability to switch to the left. He is a punishing run blocker with great feet that protects well. He’s rarely on the ground and will help protect Teddy Bridgewater.
8) Arizona Cardinals – DT Derrick Brown (Auburn)
The trade for Nuk Hopkins solves their immediate need for a #1 WR. Derrick Brown would have been a top 15 pick last year had he come out. He returned to finish his senior season and is a 320 lbs. disruptor in the middle of the defense. Those type of guys don’t grow on trees and that’s a definitely an area that’s due for an upgrade out in Glendale.
9) Jacksonville Jaguars – LB/S Isaiah Simmons (Clemson)
There may not be a more versatile player in college football than Simmons. He can blitz, play in the box, roam the middle of the field, cover tight ends, whatever you need really. In today’s NFL, the “money backer” is becoming a real thing (shoutout Mark Barron). Simmons could slot right in to the LB spot that had been suddenly vacated by Telvin Smith who took a year off and whose future with the team is in doubt.
10) Cleveland Browns – OT Andrew Thomas (Georgia)
The Browns really need to protect their investment in Baker Mayfield and they did a poor job of that last season. They need help all across the line even after signing Jack Conklin to a monster deal and Thomas can play both tackle positions. He’s a very good run blocker who is effective checking his assignments off in pass protection as well. While he doesn’t have the highlight tape of a Mekhi Becton, he is steady and reliable which is exactly what the Browns need.
11) New York Jets – OT Tristan Wirfs (Iowa)
The Jets tried to sign every Tom, Dick, & Harry that can execute a reach block. They also lost WR Robby Anderson in free agency and even though they replaced him with Breshad Perriman, they still need some more talent at that position. But the game is won and lost in the trenches and GM Joe Douglas goes with Wirfs who can play Right Tackle or kick inside to Guard at the next level.
12) Las Vegas Raiders – WR Jerry Jeudy (Alabama)
The Raiders need help outside at Wide Receiver. Tyrell Williams cannot be a #1 Receiver. Jerry Jeudy has the route running and speed to translate immediately. With the Raiders lacking a true #1 WR, this is an easy choice for Gruden and GM Mike Mayock.
13) San Francisco 49ers (via Indianapolis Colts) – DT Javon Kinlaw (South Carolina)
The 49ers lost Emmanuel Sanders and have the chance to nab Alabama WR Jerry Jeudy here, but GM John Lynch has really built through the trenches and they just traded one of the best Defensive Tackles in football in DeForest Buckner. So they supplant him with another talented, but cheaper DT. Kinlaw is a muscular 6’6” 310 lbs. and put on a show at the Senior Bowl practices in front of coaches and execs.
14) *TRADE* Philadelphia Eagles (via Tampa Bay Buccaneers) – WR CeeDee Lamb (Oklahoma)
Bucs GM Jason Licht has shown a penchant for moving back if the price is right. The Eagles need some help at receiver and Licht previously worked in Philadelphia and those connections help this deal get done. The Eagles give up #21, their 2nd rounder (#53) and get back a 4th (#117) & a 6th (#194) in addition to #14. With that pick, the Eagles take Lamb who while he didn’t time like he hoped in the 40, has great game speed and is very tough to corral after the catch. He is a big asset on 50/50 balls and will help Carson Wentz & crew stretch the field.
15) Denver Broncos – WR Henry Ruggs III (Alabama)
Courtland Sutton had a Pro Bowl season in Denver but in a receiver-rich draft, John Elway looks to get another toy for Drew Lock to hopefully accelerate his development. Ruggs has a lot of juice and can flat out go on the outside. He’ll take the top off of defenses and afford Lock bigger windows underneath.
16) Atlanta Falcons – CB C.J. Henderson (Florida)
The Falcons need some help at Cornerback after Desmond Trufant’s departure and Henderson is the #2 CB after Okudah in the draft. He’s got good size and great feet which will help his transition to the pros immensely. There were four Pro Bowl receivers on the other three teams in the division so GM Thomas Dimitroff needs to beef up the secondary.
17) Dallas Cowboys – EDGE A.J. Epenesa (Iowa)
Dallas needs another rusher opposite of Demarcus Lawrence and Epenesa has some versatility. He can play with his hand in the turf and he can also kick inside on rush downs.
18) Miami Dolphins (via Pittsburgh Steelers) – WR Justin Jefferson (LSU)
Jefferson plays primarily in the slot but has the long speed to play outside based on his times in Indy. He will be an immediate security blanket for their new signal caller in South Beach.
19) Las Vegas Raiders (via Chicago Bears) – LB Patrick Queen (LSU)
LSU has gone from being DBU to LBU with recent studs like Kwon Alexander, Deion Jones, and Devin White. Queen is the next in line from that group and will help the Raiders day one. Mayock loves to draft out of championship caliber schools and finishes his 1st round with both an Alabama & LSU player.
20) Jacksonville Jaguars – OT Josh Jones (Houston)
The Jags took Jawaan Taylor last year in the 2nd round and he played more snaps than any rookie Tackle. They still need help protecting the Gardner Minshew at QB and Jones played himself into the 1st round after a really successful week in Mobile at the Senior Bowl.
21) *TRADE* Tampa Bay Buccaneers (via Philadelphia Eagles) – OT Austin Jackson (USC)
Jackson is a talented Right Tackle but had some bad tape in 2019. However, it should be noted that he gave bone marrow to his sister just before the season. It caused a lot of issues this season as he wasn’t even able to squat until the 4th game of the season. But looking at his body of work as a whole and the obvious character plus, Jackson is the choice for the Bucs. He can plug in a Right Tackle with the potential to move to Left Tackle if needed down the line.
22) Minnesota Vikings (via Buffalo Bills) – EDGE K’Lavon Chaisson (LSU)
This was the pick traded for Buffalo to acquire Stefon Diggs and while some have them pegged to draft his replacement, they've still got Adam Thielen and just signed Tajae Sharpe. But I have them taking Chaisson who only has 9.5 sacks in his entire college career but came on strong with 4.5 in his final two games. He’s got the size and twitch you want out of the position and they need to replace Everson Griffin's production off the edge.
23) New England Patriots – EDGE Yetur Gross-Matos (Penn State)
Gross-Matos has the size, length, & athleticism you look for in a pass rusher. He's raw, but plays all over the line and can be the next major defensive weapon for Bill Belichick.
24) New Orleans Saints – QB Jordan Love (Utah State)
Yes, Drew Brees is coming back. Taysom Hill has said he doesn’t mind sitting another year either. But Teddy Bridgewater is gone and Sean Payton has been looking for another full-time QB toy for years. I’m just not buying the fact that they are banking on Hill as a franchise QB. Love is very raw and will need some seasoning. But he’ll get 1-2 years to sit on the bench while Brees rides off into the sunset and Hill gets a crack at the gig.
25) Minnesota Vikings – CB Jaylon Johnson (Utah)
Minnesota loves drafting cornerbacks high and with the departures of Trae Waynes & Xavier Rhodes, Johnson’s selection makes sense. He is physical at the line and will need to step in immediately.
26) Miami Dolphins (via Houston Texans) – LB Kenneth Murray (Oklahoma)
Brian Flores was the Linebackers Coach in New England and now that they've got a QB and WR, they draft their Quarterback of the defense in Murray. He's got sideline to sideline speed and can play all three downs.
27) Seattle Seahawks – C/OG Cesar Ruiz (Michigan)
The Seahawks are focusing Russell Wilson and the running game and Ruiz could help solidify the interior of that line and protect their investment in #3.
28) Baltimore Ravens – RB D’Andre Swift (Georgia)
Last year the Ravens got bounced by the Titans in the Divisional Round and Mark Ingam’s injury was a big reason. They struggled to run the ball and GM Eric DeCosta chooses to address that need in the late 1st round with Swift who is a do-it-all back with homerun speed. He’s also a solid pass blocker which elevates him into Round 1.
29) Tennessee Titans – DT Ross Blacklock (TCU)
Blacklock came back from an achillies injury this past season to post good numbers from a Defensive Tackle spot. His game and effort translate to the next level and we’ve already seen the Titans are not afraid to take a DT off of injury taking Jeffrey Simmons Round 1 last year. They still need help in that area so take a similar approach to last season.
30) Green Bay Packers – WR Brandy Aiyuk (Arizona State)
A dynamic receiver who attacks the ball in the air, Aiyuk will need to work on his route running, but possesses the type of competitive toughness that Aaron Rodgers craves in his receivers. The Packers need to get more weapons in addition to Davante Adams and Aiyuk is just the ticket on the outside.
31) *TRADE* Indianapolis Colts (via San Francisco 49ers) – WR Tee Higgins (Clemson)
The 49ers are a logical trade candidate as they don't have any picks after #31 til Round 5. They drop back 3 spots here to #31 and pick up an extra 5th. Higgins didn’t run at the Combine and his stock has fallen because of it as scouts wanted to see his long speed. His size will help give Philip Rivers a bigger target like the ones he’s succeeded with throughout his career.
32) Kansas City Chiefs – EDGE Zack Baun (Wisconsin)
The Chiefs have an elite pass rusher in Frank Clark, but opposite him they were dependent on Terrelle Suggs and others who provided enough to win the Super Bowl. But they go with a youth infusion here getting Badger Baun. He's a versatile rusher who can lineup all over and pressure the QB.