It hasn’t been an easy time for sports fans by any means. I’ll be sharing my experiences without sports once this whole quarantine is over. But this April, while quarantine continues, the NFL Draft is one thing all sports fans can look forward to. Today, I’ll be sharing my post-free agency mock draft, my first NFL mock of 2020. This mock draft is primarily based on player rankings and my assessment of each team’s needs. Most of the first round picks I predicted are need-filling picks. I took rumors into account but didn’t base this mock draft entirely on rumors.
I created this mock draft on an app known as Mockout. If you’d like to create your own mock and compare it against mine on draft day, you can join the Boston Sports Mania 2020 Mock Draft Contest on the Mockout app.
Today, I’ll be sharing the first round of this mock draft. In addition to the first round, I wanted to give some insight about how I think Bill Belichick will be preparing for the post-Tom Brady era, and how the Bucs will be building around Brady. So I have also included picks from Rounds 2-7 for the Patriots and Buccaneers.
Let’s kick this off with pick #1:
1. Cincinnati Bengals
Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
The Bengals appear to have their sights set on Burrow. This would be a great pick for them, as they are in desperate need of a new QB with Andy Dalton falling off. Zac Taylor helped groom QB Jared Goff in LA, so I definitely think he’s capable of preparing Burrow for NFL action. I’ve heard rumors that the Bengals would be open to trading down, but I cannot see them letting go of the opportunity to draft Burrow. Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert are also good QBs, but Burrow is on another level of greatness and with some coaching from Taylor, he should be NFL ready by Week 1.
Giants acquire: #2 overall pick
Redskins acquire: #4 overall pick, #110 overall pick, 2021 1st rounder, 2021 3rd rounder
2. New York Giants (via Washington)
Chase Young, DE, Ohio State
The Giants are in desperate need of front seven help, and they struck a deal with ILB Blake Martinez in free agency, but despite being linked to Jadeveon Clowney, they left the first wave of free agency without filling their need for an edge rusher. As one of the best NFL draft prospects in years, Young would provide the Giants elite talent at the position. Some people have even gone so far to compare Young to Giants legend Lawrence Taylor. But the Giants would probably have to trade up to pick #2 to get their hands on Young.
The Redskins have reportedly been listening to offers for this pick, and if they don’t trade down they would likely be taking Young for themselves. But I don’t feel that Young is a great fit for Washington, and there will be plenty of defensive talent still available at pick #4. The trade I included above would allow the Giants to snag the defensive star they need and allow the Redskins to find a better fit for their defense at pick #4 and pick up extra draft picks in the process. The only downside for New York: they’d have less of a chance at the top tier of offensive tackles, another position they have a need at. As a result, these tackles will begin to fall a bit, and I could see other teams passing on these top tier tackles in order to fill bigger needs. This could allow the Giants to pick up some good talent at tackle in later rounds, so trading up should be worth the risk for them.
3. Detroit Lions
Jeffrey Okudah, CB, Ohio State
The Lions already helped replace CB Darius Slay by signing CB Desmond Trufant. But the Lions could still use some young talent for their secondary. Okudah is easily the best DB prospect in this draft, and with Young and Burrow gone, he would be the best non-QB left on the board. Okudah is definitely a good fit for the Lions and I doubt they’d pick differently in this situation.
4. Washington Redskins (via NY Giants)
Isaiah Simmons, ILB, Clemson
Simmons is no Chase Young, but he can help fill Washington’s huge need at linebacker and would provide them with a strong defender of their own after allowing the Giants to take Young. Simmons was a standout player on a strong Clemson defense and played both linebacker and safety, but he’s viewed by most as a linebacker headed into the draft. He might not have the immediate impact Young will have, but with time he could become a standout on the Redskins defense too.
5. Miami Dolphins
Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
Tua’s season was cut short by injuries last year, and he’s dealt with a number of injuries throughout his college career. But according to reports he is feeling 100% and passed another medical test heading into the draft. Tua has fallen on some teams’ draft boards, but Miami is another team with a big need at QB, and I can’t see them taking Oregon QB Justin Herbert over Tua. The Dolphins could opt for a tackle here, but that would be a better investment with their later first round picks, as Tagovailoa and Herbert will both likely be gone by Miami’s next pick.
6. Los Angeles Chargers
Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
The Chargers have said they will not be signing any free agent QBs and that they’ll be rolling with QB Tyrod Taylor. That could change with QB Cam Newton on the open market, but it would be a better choice to take a QB with this pick, especially if Herbert is still on the board. Herbert, ex-Oregon QB Marcus Mariota’s successor, has impressed throughout his career. He was primed to be a top prospect in last year’s draft but opted to return to Oregon for his senior season, joining a stronger 2020 QB class. The Chargers can use Taylor as their bridge QB, giving him a shot to prove himself while giving Herbert the chance to learn from a more experienced player. Plus, if Taylor struggles, having Herbert ready to go will allow the Chargers the flexibility to change course during the season.
7. Carolina Panthers
Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn
With veteran d-linemen Dontari Poe and Gerald McCoy gone as well as young DT Vernon Butler, the defensive line should be Carolina’s #1 priority in this draft. After opting to play out his senior season, Brown is one of the best d-linemen in this draft class and would be a great start in Carolina’s efforts to fill this need. I don’t see a better option for them at #7 unless CB Jeffrey Okudah falls, which is unlikely considering the Lions will probably snag him first.
8. Arizona Cardinals
Tristan Wirfs, T, Iowa
This draft has a lot of elite o-line talent, and o-line help is arguably Arizona’s top need. At #8, without a single offensive lineman off the board, the Cardinals will have plenty of options. T Andrew Thomas is falling on draft boards, so Wirfs seems to be the most likely pick for Arizona if he’s still available like I think he’ll be. Wirfs backed up a strong career at Iowa with an impressive combine, which should be enough to make the case for him as the top o-line prospect in this draft.
9. Jacksonville Jaguars
Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina
I’ve heard rumors that teams are looking to trade down for Kinlaw, as they would be interested in drafting him, but know he would be available later in the draft. However, Jacksonville doesn’t have much of a need to trade down. They already have a pair of first round picks and a good amount of picks overall. DT is Jacksonville’s top positional need in my book, and Kinlaw appears to be the best player for them. Even if it’s a bit of a reach, I don’t think they’ll be hesitant to take Kinlaw here.
10. Cleveland Browns
K’Lavon Chaisson, OLB, LSU
This is similar to Jacksonville’s pick in the fact that it is on the borderline of a reach, but fills a top team need (linebacker in this case). Chaisson was an elite talent on the LSU defense and a key contributor and leader on this year’s NCAA championship team. With such a big need at linebacker, it’s hard to pass on a talented linebacker like Chaisson, or even risk missing the opportunity to draft him by trading down. There may be a lot of talent at tackle still on the board here, but Cleveland’s need at linebacker is much more significant, and the hole at tackle can be addressed in a later round.
11. New York Jets
C.J. Henderson, CB, Florida
The Jets have been eyeing top WR options with this pick. But I think addressing New York’s defensive holes would be a better use of the pick. Henderson didn’t have the strong season Okudah did. But he has had a great college career overall and his elite talent should not be overlooked. With CBs Trumaine Johnson and Darryl Roberts gone, the Jets need some more talent at that position. They already brought in CB Pierre Desir, but Henderson could be the star corner they need, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he outperforms Desir and stands out in the Jets secondary from the very beginning.
12. Las Vegas Raiders
CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
The Raiders added WR Nelson Agholor this off-season, and QB Derek Carr utilized TE Darren Waller as a top target last season. But the Raiders need a true WR1 if they want the chance to contend, and Lamb has the potential to be that guy. I feel like Lamb is the most NFL-ready of the top WRs in this class, and I expect the Raiders to opt for Lamb over Alabama WRs Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III.
13. San Francisco 49ers (via Indianapolis)
Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
The 49ers also have a big need at WR after the departure of WR Emmanuel Sanders, and they should be able to fill it with this 1st rounder they received in the DeForest Buckner trade. Jeudy, one of Tua Tagovailoa’s top two receivers at Alabama, would be the 49ers best option with Lamb off the board. Jeudy would play next to second year WR Deebo Samuel, who should improve with more targets from QB Jimmy Garoppolo. TE George Kittle is easily Garoppolo’s top target, and Samuel will be a big help for the Niners next year too. But after struggling to find a good receiver in free agency, the 49ers need a guy like Jeudy as an additional option for Garoppolo in order to stay on top of the division and contend for the Super Bowl once again.
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (see rest of mock draft below)
Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin
The Bucs could take a top tackle prospect here. But Tampa failed to address their backfield needs in free agency after signing QB Tom Brady. Brady is already surrounded with some good receivers, but he’ll need a top RB in the draft and some o-line help to lead the Buccaneers back to the playoffs for the first time in a while. There’s plenty of good o-line options in this draft class. Elite RBs will come in smaller numbers. I think it would be in Tampa’s best judgement to get their top RB in Taylor with this pick, waiting on offensive line help till later rounds. Plus, there’s still plenty of offensive line options in free agency and on the trade market. It’s hard to say the same about free agent running backs.
15. Denver Broncos
Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama
Assuming Lamb and Jeudy are gone by this point, this pick makes a lot of sense. QB Drew Lock needs another reliable receiver to pair with Courtland Sutton, and the free agent market is running low on receivers, so drafting someone like Ruggs appears to be Denver’s best option. In addition, the Broncos have been repeatedly linked to Ruggs and rumors have pointed to Denver taking a WR here. Ruggs was the WR2 behind Jeudy at Alabama. He’s is a well rounded player and one of the fastest in this draft class. Pairing him up with Sutton will set the Broncos offense up for success in years to come.
Titans acquire: #16 overall pick
Falcons acquire: #29 overall pick, #93 overall pick
16. Tennessee Titans (via Atlanta)
Jedrick Wills, T, Alabama
I have the Titans trading up to get in on this elite tier of tackles and the Falcons trading down to get good value on a linebacker (their top need) later in the first round. Wills has a proven track record and is practically a lock to go in the first round, so the Titans would need to trade up to get a guy like Wills to replace T Jack Conklin.
17. Dallas Cowboys
Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson
Higgins has fallen down many draft boards after he skipped the combine due to a disappointing Pro Day. Teams are increasingly worried about his athleticism and are suspecting his success is primarily the result of QB Trevor Lawrence. However, Higgins was outperforming WR Hunter Renfrow at Clemson, and Renfrow has been successful on the Raiders. Teams like the Cowboys, who would want an immediate difference maker at WR, might be intrigued. The Cowboys have their top two WRs in Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup. But they lack depth at the position, and having Higgins around can help them fix that. The Cowboys have been linked to a number of CBs with this pick, but I think WR depth should take priority here.
18. Miami Dolphins (via Pittsburgh)
Andrew Thomas, T, Georgia
At one point, Thomas was much higher than this on most draft boards. But the Dolphins are one of a few teams with a serious need for a tackle, and with the stock of Tristan Wirfs and Jedrick Wills rising, I could see Thomas slipping to this pick. The Dolphins might need o-line help more than they need a new QB, and with Tua Tagovailoa headed to Miami, the Dolphins will need to find a good tackle to protect him. Tagovailoa, unlike many QBs, throws the football lefty, so Thomas will have to play right tackle to protect Tua on his blind side. It would be nice for Miami to bring in Wills, Tua’s right tackle for most of his college career, and if Wills is available here, Miami should take him. But otherwise, Thomas will have to do, and the Dolphins still have plenty of opportunities in this draft to bring in some of Tua’s Alabama teammates.
19. Las Vegas Raiders (via Chicago)
Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama
With the Eli Apple signing falling through, the Raiders are left with a hole at corner. This pick seems like a good spot to address that, especially if the Raiders go WR like I think they will with their earlier first round pick. This pick was sent to the Raiders in the Khalil Mack trade, so it would be fitting for them to use it for defensive upgrades. Diggs, Alabama’s top corner from this season, should be a big help. Diggs and ex-Clemson CB Trayvon Mullen will make for a talented young CB duo that will set up the Raiders secondary for success in years to come.
20. Jacksonville Jaguars (via LA Rams)
Grant Delpit, S, LSU
The Jaguars received this pick in the Jalen Ramsey trade, and heading into this draft, Jacksonville’s secondary needs a lot of help. Drafting Delpit here could be smart, as he has the potential to emerge as Jacksonville’s next secondary star. Delpit disappointed a bit in his final season at LSU, but overall, he’s been a stud throughout his college career, and it’s evident that he has insane potential. Many teams have taken Delpit out of first round consideration, but I think the Jaguars should take a gamble on him, as they have two first round picks this year (the first of which they can use on a DT) and this could potentially pay off big time.
21. Philadelphia Eagles
Kenneth Murray, OLB, Oklahoma
With Nigel Bradham and Kamu Grugier-Hill leaving, the Eagles need an outside linebacker more than ever. Philly has been linked to a variety of wide receivers and secondary members with this pick, as flaws at those positions prevented the Eagles from success last year. But if they don’t address their linebacker situation adequately, it will come back to bite. The free agent linebacker market is dwindling down, and this draft class is packed with linebackers. Murray, a leader on the Sooners defense, can emerge as a leader of this new, younger group of Eagles linebackers.
22. Minnesota Vikings
Mekhi Becton, T, Louisville
The Vikings have bigger needs in this draft, but with any kind of o-line need, it’s hard to pass up on one of the four elite tackles of this draft class this late in the game. Becton has seen his draft stock rise, but I still can’t see him going before Wirfs, Wills, or Thomas. Most think all four of them will be gone by this point. But with very few teams needing o-linemen this early and even teams like the Vikings hesitant to pull the trigger on one this late in the round, Becton could realistically fall this far, or potentially even further.
23. New England Patriots (see rest of mock draft below)
Patrick Queen, OLB, LSU
There’s been a lot of talk about Bill Belichick trading up or down from this pick, and he’s usually pretty active in the draft day trade market in hopes of gaining extra picks for the Patriots. But this year, I think New England has plenty of picks already and the best decision for them would be to stick with this pick. It’s too early for any tight end in this draft class, and if they want to pair Jarrett Stidham with another QB it should be a veteran QB. So the best choice here would be to take a linebacker. Queen stood out at LSU despite playing in the same LB corps as fellow top prospect K’Lavon Chaisson. He can help fill the need that LBs Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins left the Patriots with. He’ll be able to learn a thing or two from veteran LB Dont’a Hightower and become Bill Belichick’s star linebacker of the future.
24. New Orleans Saints
Zack Baun, OLB, Wisconsin
The Saints don’t have many positional needs right now; they’re a pretty well balanced team. I could see them opting for the best player available. But the LB corps is one weak spot that New Orleans could address here. With Murray and Queen off the board, I don’t have a problem with the Saints taking Baun in Round 1. Baun projects as an early 2nd round talent, but the Saints can fill there only major positional need by taking Baun here. I think that’s worth reaching a little bit.
25. Minnesota Vikings (via Buffalo)
Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU
The Vikings got this pick in the Stefon Diggs trade. Before that trade, the Vikings had two WR1 caliber players in Diggs and Adam Thielen, and neither was reaching their full potential because they battled with each other for reps. With Diggs gone, Thielen is the clear #1 guy for Kirk Cousins. But the Vikings suddenly lack WR depth behind Thielen. Bringing in Reagor gives the Vikings a young, talented #2 receiver that should be NFL ready from the very beginning. Reagor stood out on a below average TCU squad, and he’ll stand out on a Vikings team that’s on the verge of a rebuild.
26. Miami Dolphins (via Houston)
Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama
The Dolphins got this pick in the Laremy Tunsil trade, so taking an o-lineman would be fitting. But the Dolphins don’t need two o-linemen in this first round, and bringing in a teammate of Tua (something they couldn’t get for their o-line) at another position of significant need (safety) would be a good use of this pick. McKinney is definitely one of the most NFL-ready safeties in this draft class, and the Dolphins would be able to start him with Reshad Jones and Minkah Fitzpatrick gone. McKinney would join a talented young Dolphins secondary that also includes CBs Xavien Howard and Byron Jones.
27. Seattle Seahawks
Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU
Fulton opted to stay at LSU for his senior season, and after a big year there, he looks to be one of the best corners in this draft class. The Seahawks have had secondary problems ever since the Legion of Boom began to fall apart, and Fulton should slot in as Seattle’s #2 corner behind Shaquill Griffin. Fulton’s no Richard Sherman, but he’s a solid corner who’s worth a first round pick and worth a chance in Seattle’s starting lineup.
28. Baltimore Ravens
Cesar Ruiz, IOL, Michigan
The Ravens have three top priorities in this draft: building their LB corps around Matt Judon, giving QB Lamar Jackson some better receivers, and finding a replacement for legendary guard Marshal Yanda. The Ravens will miss Yanda regardless, and there’s nobody on the open market that can completely make up for his retirement. But Ruiz is looking more and more like the best interior o-linemen in this draft class, and he would be considered a steal in this spot. The Ravens could take a receiver like Justin Jefferson here, or a linebacker such as Terrell Lewis. But it’s hard to pass on Ruiz this late into the 1st round.
29. Atlanta Falcons (via Tennessee)
Terrell Lewis, OLB, Alabama
Lewis is a bit of a reach in the first round. But there’s a lot of teams that need serious help at linebacker this year, and the Falcons might have the biggest need for a linebacker in the entire league. Lewis will absolutely be a Day 2 selection if he doesn’t come off the board in Round 1. But it’s looking more and more like Lewis is part of the top tier of a stacked linebacker class, alongside fellow SEC linebackers K’Lavon Chaisson and Patrick Queen.
30. Green Bay Packers
Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU
The Packers still lack depth at WR behind Davante Adams. They did sign Devin Funchess this off-season, and Allen Lazard and Marquez Valdes-Scantling have shown promise. But they could still use one more quality receiver. Jefferson was Joe Burrow’s #2 receiver at LSU, so his big year is partially due to Burrow. But both Jefferson and Ja’Marr Chase (too young to be drafted) will likely have some success in the NFL if put into the right system. QB Aaron Rodgers has fallen off a bit, but he’s still capable of leading offenses to dominance when he has a good surroundings. If the Packers take Jefferson, Rodgers and Jefferson will be able to help each other perform better by working together.
31. San Francisco 49ers
A.J. Terrell, CB, Clemson
The 49ers should be able to address their WR situation with their earlier first round pick. The 49ers never really built up the secondary around CB Richard Sherman, so they should use this pick to find another corner to start alongside Sherman. Terrell was a bit inconsistent last year at Clemson, and he collapsed against LSU’s star receivers Ja’Marr Chase and Justin Jefferson in the National Championship. But he showed some insane potential, leading Clemson’s secondary by far in most metrics. I expect some of that to carry over to the NFL, but I wouldn’t trust him as a #1 corner. He’s still worth the late first rounder, and the 49ers have Sherman as a #1 corner, so Terrell doesn’t have the pressure on him to lead the secondary. He just has to put up a solid season to supplement Sherman.
32. Kansas City Chiefs
D’Andre Swift, RB, Georgia
Before Jonathan Taylor’s huge season, Swift was regarded as the top RB prospect in this draft class. Swift’s season was slightly disappointing, but it shouldn’t effect his draft stock too much. Georgia has helped many running backs on the way to NFL stardom before Swift. In recent years they’ve had Todd Gurley, Sony Michel, and Nick Chubb, and Swift had the opportunity to learn from Michel and Chubb. I don’t think Swift will be as talented as those three, but he can definitely bolster the Chiefs RB corps. It’s hard to trust an inconsistent, injury prone Damien Williams with the whole backfield to himself. Swift and Williams will make for a strong Chiefs RB duo.
New England Patriots (Full Draft Class):
- Round 1, Pick 23: Patrick Queen, OLB, LSU: See description above
- Round 3, Pick 87: Thaddeus Moss, TE, LSU: It’ll likely be Jarrett Stidham (not Brady) that has the chance to throw Randy Moss’ son, but Moss is one of the better tight ends in this draft class, he’s well worth it in Round 3, and Bill Belichick may be intrigued by another member of the Moss family.
- Round 3, Pick 98: Anfernee Jennings, DE, Alabama: Jennings will be another asset for the Patriots pass rush, and it’s a good value pick this late into Day 2.
- Round 3, Pick 100: Leki Fotu, DT, Utah: Fotu will help replace DT Danny Shelton and likely compete with Adam Butler for a starting gig.
- Round 4, Pick 125: Chazz Surratt, OLB, UNC: He’s another asset for the LB corps, and could have the chance to start in 3-4 sets alongside Queen, Hightower, and Bentley.
- Round 6, Pick 195: Charleston Rambo, WR, Oklahoma: This is a bit of a reach, but Belichick could capitalize on Rambo’s success at Oklahoma to groom him into an NFL ready receiver.
- Round 6, wPick 204: Mohamed Barry, ILB, Nebraska: This will add depth to a shallow LB corps, and who knows, maybe Barry can replace Hightower someday.
- Round 6, Pick 212: Demetris Robertson, WR, Georgia: Robertson looks to be a better fit for the NFL than Rambo, and the Pats need as much receiving depth as they can get their hands on.
- Round 6, Pick 213: Justin Herron, T, Wake Forest: The Patriots offensive line looks to be in good shape this year, but with Marshall Newhouse headed out, the Patriots need more depth in case Isaiah Wynn or Marcus Cannon get hurt again.
- Round 7, Pick 230: T.J. Brunson, ILB, South Carolina: The Patriots have a boatload of picks, so drafting a fourth guy into a linebacker corps that’s in dire need of an upgrade can’t hurt.
- Round 7, Pick 235: Josh Metellus, S, Michigan: It could be a smart move to bring in another young safety with Devin McCourty getting older.
- Round 7, Pick 241: Dane Jackson, CB, Pitt: The secondary isn’t really a priority in this draft, but it seems like Belichick always likes to draft a corner at some point. Hopefully the 7th round gamble on Jackson will work out better than taking Ken Webster last year.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Full Draft Class):
- Round 1, Pick 14: Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin: See description above
- Round 2, Pick 45: Yetur Gross-Matos, DE, Penn State: I have a lot of strong defensive ends, like A.J. Epenesa and Gross-Matos falling into the 2nd round. The Bucs have a very strong front seven, but Gross-Matos is a good bargain pick this late into the draft.
- Round 3, Pick 76: Collin Johnson, WR, Texas: Texas struggled during Johnson’s senior year, but Johnson stood out on that team and is worth a Day 2 selection. The Bucs have two stud WRs already in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, but taking Johnson adds depth after the departure of Breshad Perriman.
- Round 4, Pick 117: Damien Lewis, IOL, LSU: If Brady’s going to succeed here, he needs some good protection. It would be good for Tampa to draft an o-lineman in the first two days of the draft. But taking Lewis on Day 3 can’t hurt.
- Round 4, Pick 139: Anthony Gordon, QB, Washington State: Gordon will be able to learn from Brady and potentially replace him when he leaves Tampa or retires.
- Round 5, Pick 161: Troy Pride Jr., CB, Notre Dame: The Bucs need to add depth at corner now that Vernon Hargreaves is gone; drafting Pride is a good start.
- Round 6, Pick 194: Christian Rector, DE, USC: Some expect Rector to go undrafted, but I think he’s worth a 6th or 7th round gamble. Tampa’s front seven is set right now, but it isn’t young by any means.
That’s all for my post-free agency mock draft. I’m thinking about posting one more mock closer to the draft, especially if there are any drastic changes (trades, announcements, etc) leading up to the 23rd. For now, feel free to comment with your thoughts or make your own mock draft for my Mockout contest.