The NFL Draft is officially upon us, with the first round scheduled for Thursday night. Considering that actual sports have been gone for six weeks with no real end in sight (no, I refuse to classify a televised HORSE or video game tournament as sports), this event should garner even more attention than usual. This year’s version of the draft will not have any of the pomp and circumstance that recent editions have had, but it will still have a significant impact. The 2020 class is headlined by some interesting quarterback prospects, and perhaps the best and deepest crop of both offensive tackles and wide receivers to enter the league in quite some time. Whatever your favorite NFL team needs, this draft class seemingly has it covered.
Much like in fantasy, marginal cost has to be factored in when trying to decide between players. Sure, Jonathan Taylor was a monster in college, but do you really want to invest significantly draft capital into a running back? With the wide receiver pool being as deep as it is, would it be wiser to wait until the middle rounds to grab one? How does a prospect’s collegiate performance translate to the NFL? All of these questions are subjective and are always up for debate. That is part of what makes mock drafts so much fun to do. With that in mind, here are my predictions for the first round of this year’s NFL Draft. Keep in mind there may be some trades involved, but I have found that trying to predict trades is often an exercise in futility. Let the debates begin!
What?! Your league is not planning on using Fantrax? Inconceivable! Check out everything Fantrax has to offer and I’m sure you’ll come around to our way of thinking.
2020 First Round NFL Mock Draft
1. Cincinnati Bengals – Joe Burrow, Quarterback, LSU
While reports have surfaced that Joe Burrow may not want to play in Cincinnati or that the Bengals would consider trading the pick, I cannot imagine the Bengals going in a different direction. Surely Cincinnati’s 2-14 record in 2019 is not solely the fault of Andy Dalton, but Burrow showed last season that he has the tools to be a potential franchise quarterback. The Bengals offense should be better in 2020 than most teams coming off such a dismal season. They are going to have to address the offensive line throughout the rest of the draft, however.
2. Washington – Chase Young, EDGE, Ohio State
New coach Ron Rivera will be quite content to select Chase Young with the second pick in this year’s draft. Young is arguably the best overall prospect in this draft, and one of the best EDGE prospects in the last decade. He posted a pass-rush grade of 96.5 per Pro Football Focus, which was the best-recorded grade in the PFF College era, which dates back to 2014. Young led the nation with 16.5 sacks in 2019 despite being a frequent target of double and even triple-teams. His combination of speed, power, and balance make him a nightmare for opposing offenses. With Rivera and Jack Del Rio at the helm of Washington’s new 4-3 scheme and the selection of Young here, Washington is set up to have one of the better defenses in 2020.
3. Detroit – Jeffrey Okudah, Cornerback, Ohio State
There is speculation that Miami or the Los Angeles Chargers could move up here to draft Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. However, with recent reports suggesting that Tagovailoa failed the physical of a team with a top-10 pick, I am not sure either team will be even more willing to mortgage the future. Instead, I think Detroit stands pat and selects Jeffrey Okudah with this pick. Okudah might as well have been built in a cornerback factory. He stands 6’1” and weighs 205 pounds. He is a physical corner who can immediately throw a receiver off his route. In the rare case he is beat off the line, Okudah has the athleticism and long arms to make up for it. Okudah should fill in nicely for Darius Slay, who was traded to the Eagles last month.
4. New York Giants – Tristan Wirfs, Offensive Tackle, Iowa
The Giants could go with linebacker Isaiah Simmons here, but I believe they will be better served to address their offensive line. Daniel Jones was sacked 38 times last season and fumbled the ball 15 times over his last eight games in 2019. Tristan Wirfs has an ideal blend of quickness and strength that should translate well into the NFL, as will his experience in Iowa’s offensive scheme. At this year’s NFL Combine, Wirfs posted the fastest time of all offensive linemen in this year’s class in the 40-yard dash. He also set a positional record in the vertical jump and tied the all-time mark in the broad jump. He has shown steady growth throughout his college career and is dominant in both the pass and run game. Wirfs has all of the makings of a franchise tackle down the road.
5. Miami Dolphins – Tua Tagovailoa, Quarterback, Alabama
While there are plenty of stud players at other positions here for the taking, the Miami Dolphins did not trade away the likes of Laremy Tunsil and Minkah Fitzpatrick to simply draft their replacements. Miami has acquired all of its draft capital to ensure that they will draft a potential franchise quarterback in 2020. And Tua Tagovailoa is that player. Over the last two seasons, he has completed 70 percent of his passes and thrown 75 touchdowns against just nine interceptions. He has averaged 11.2 yards per pass attempt during that span. His health is a concern, but the upside is too high to ignore. Miami will likely have Ryan Fitzpatrick back in the fold heading into 2020, so they can take it easy with Tua and make sure he is 100 percent healthy before he steps onto an NFL field.
6. Los Angeles Chargers – Justin Herbert, Quarterback, Oregon
The Chargers let Philip Rivers walk after a 16-year career in San Diego and then Los Angeles. Head coach Anthony Lynn sounds content to roll with Tyrod Taylor in 2020, but the team will need to seek a long-term answer at the position. Justin Herbert seemed destined to possibly be this year’s number-one overall pick after a tremendous sophomore season in 2017. However, inconsistent play in the two years since has caused his draft stock to take a bit of a hit. Still, Herbert has a huge arm and top-end athleticism. Herbert must get better at going through his progressions and holding onto the football, but he is certainly a first-round talent. If the Chargers decide to pursue a tackle here instead, Herbert could drop much further in the first round. Luckily for him, there will be no green room for him to sit nervously in if this happens.
7. Carolina Panthers – Isaiah Simmons, Linebacker, Clemson
Simply labeling Isaiah Simmons a linebacker is a bit of a disservice. Simmons has shown the versatility to play multiple positions on the field. He played at least 100 snaps at five different defensive positions for the Tigers in 2019. The NFL Combine proved to be a personal playground for Simmons. He posted positional bests in the 40-yard dash, 10-yard split, and the broad jump. Simmons should have little difficulty covering tight ends over the middle, though he will need to prove he can take on blocks on an every-down basis in the NFL. The Carolina Panthers certainly need all the help they can get along the defense. They were one of the most porous defenses against the run last year and longtime standout linebacker Luke Keuchly announced his retirement following the season. Simmons feels like the perfect fit to try to fill that void.
8. Arizona Cardinals – Jedrick Wills, Offensive Lineman, Alabama
The Cardinals addressed one of their primary offseason needs with the fortuitous acquisition of Pro Bowl wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins via trade from the Houston Texans. Now it is likely they will address their offensive line early in this year’s draft. Enter Jedrick Wills. The 6’4” junior was one of the best all-around right tackles in the nation in 2019. His strength and explosiveness off the line allow him to pancake defenders in the run game. He still needs to work on some of his footwork and technique in pass protection, but he gets out of his stance very quickly and keeps opposing rushers at bay. He allowed just one sack in 970 career pass-blocking snaps at Alabama. Wills should be a stout offensive tackle for years to come.
9. Jacksonville Jaguars – Derrick Brown, Defensive Tackle, Auburn
Derrick Brown has been one of the SEC’s best linemen over the past three seasons. He has recorded 20-plus run stops and five sacks in each of the last three years. Brown can easily use his size and strength to shed blocks and get to the ball carrier. Once he does, the play is virtually over. Brown’s tackling is superb. He has just five missed tackles on his college resume in 139 attempts. Brown will need to improve his consistency to become a dominant interior lineman in the NFL. His performance at the NFL Combine was also a bit worrisome. However, Jacksonville is desperate for help along the line, so Brown fits a major need. His floor should be safe enough as a prospect to warrant being selected in this spot.
10. Cleveland Browns – Andrew Thomas, Offensive Tackle, Georgia
Andrew Thomas excelled in three seasons at Georgia. He started at right tackle as a true freshman in 2017. He switched over to the left side of the line in his sophomore season and was even more dominant. Overall, Thomas allowed just five sacks and 37 pressures in 1,075 pass-blocking snaps during his college career. Thomas has a look of a franchise tackle in the NFL. He stands 6’5” and weighs 315 pounds. He has tremendous strength and surprising agility for a man his size. This pick will fit a need for Cleveland along their offensive front. The Browns have a pretty good track record taking left tackles with the surname Thomas in the first round of the draft. If Andrew can have half the career that Joe did, the Dawg Pound will be quite content with their 2020 first-round pick.
11. New York Jets – Josh Jones, Offensive Tackle, Houston
This is where things get tricky. Maybe that is because I am a Jets fan and the NFL Draft is usually my Super Bowl. As much as one of the Big Three wide receivers would be nice, the Jets desperately need help up front. I originally had Mehki Becton earmarked for this spot. But with questions surrounding a recent failed drug test, I have him dropping a few spots. Instead, Gang Green goes with Josh Jones here. Jones may seem like a bit of a reach, but he showed that he could dominate at the collegiate level. He allowed just 18 pressures on 1,282 pass-blocking snaps throughout his tenure at Houston. Jones also vastly improved as a run blocker in his senior season. His technique needs some work, but he has the length and athleticism to be able to withstand the demands of the position.
12. Las Vegas Raiders – Jerry Jeudy, Wide Receiver, Alabama
If the Jets select a tackle at pick 11, Oakland will have its pick of the wide receiver litter. I do not think there is a wrong answer here. In fact, I have CeeDee Lamb ranked slightly higher than Jerry Jeudy. But my gut tells me that the Raiders go with the bigger name here. Jeudy is much more than a name, of course. He happens to be one of the best route runners in recent college memory. Jeudy has elite deep speed and knows how to manipulate defenders in the open field. His playmaking ability is arguably the best in this class. Jeudy will provide a much-needed target for Derek Carr, or whoever Oakland’s long-term quarterback may be. Jeudy is no gamble, and Jon Gruden will be more than happy to add such a versatile and skilled offensive weapon.
13. San Francisco 49ers – CeeDee Lamb, Wide Reciever, Oklahoma
The NFC Champions could go with a cornerback here, but I believe they are better suited to try to replace Emmanuel Sanders, who was signed by New Orleans in free agency. CeeDee Lamb should be more than up to the task. He has exhibited an innate ability to avoid defenders in the open field and is a threat to score every time he touches the ball. Over the last two seasons, the 21-year old averaged 19.5 yards per catch and scored on 19.7 percent of his receptions. He also averaged 3.42 yards per route run and 9.2 yards after the catch. The only thing missing from his game is top-end speed, but that is not a requirement in Kyle Shanahan’s offense. Just ask Marquise Goodwin. Lamb is a dynamic playmaker who can boost the 49ers into the next tier of NFL offenses.
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Mekhi Becton, Offensive Tackle, Louisville
The buzz surrounding Tampa Bay’s recent acquisition of future Hall of Famer Tom Brady will not mean much if he cannot remain upright. Jameis Winston was sacked 47 times and hit often throughout the 2019 season. The Bucs will need to protect their investment in Brady. If Becton does fall to this spot, I expect his slide to end here. Becton is a massive human being. He is 6’7” with 35 5/8” arms. Becton weighs in at 364 pounds and can pummel oncoming defenders and toss them aside with ease. He has experience at both tackle spots and would have a pretty good chance of starting at right tackle for Tampa Bay. Brady and Bruce Arians will make sure Becton has his head on straight, and I expect Becton to play a big role in his rookie campaign.
15. Denver Broncos – Henry Ruggs, Wide Receiver, Alabama
Denver has question marks throughout their receiving corps after Courtland Sutton. Sutton is a physical wideout who uses long strides to get downfield and is adept at using his body to shield defenders. The Broncos need a burner to complement Sutton, and Henry Ruggs is exactly that. Ruggs posted a 4.27 40-yard dash and 1.43 10-yard split at this year’s Combine. His speed and explosiveness are unmatched. Ruggs also has huge hands, which have helped him corral over 95 percent of on-target passes during his Alabama career. He scored on nearly 25 percent of his receptions in Tuscaloosa and can do so from anywhere on the field. The addition of Ruggs would allow Denver to form a dynamic 1-2 punch on the outside that will help Drew Lock in his first full season as the team’s starting quarterback.
16. Atlanta Falcons – C.J. Henderson, Cornerback, Florida
The Atlanta Falcons released longtime corner, Desmond Trufant, last month, which leaves the team painfully thin at cornerback. Of the three corners who played at least 300 snaps last year, none ranked in the top 50 at the position. That problem is magnified by the division in which they play. Atlanta will have to face the likes of Michael Thomas, Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and D.J. Moore twice a season. They will need to address the cornerback position in this draft. C.J. Henderson is arguably the best prospect after Jeffrey Okudah. Henderson fell off a bit last year but was outstanding as a sophomore in 2018. He excels in man coverage and has flashed the ability to be a shutdown corner. His presence would be a welcomed addition to a defense that badly needs help on the back end.
17. Dallas Cowboys – Javon Kinlaw, Defensive Tackle, South Carolina
Now that Dallas has put the franchise tag on quarterback Dak Prescott and re-signed star wide receiver Amari Cooper, they will have to address their defense. Javon Kinlaw has a combination of size and athleticism that coaches covet in a defensive lineman. He had 26 hurries and seven sacks last season to go along with an 18.1 percent pass-rush win rate. Kinlaw proved he could produce even when playing out of position at nose tackle last season. He can overpower offensive linemen with relative ease and is a handful in one-on-one situations. In Dallas, he would see plenty of those opposite Demarcus Lawrence. I do not think the Cowboys will be able to count on Randy Gregory or the recently signed Aldon Smith. Kinlaw is more polished at this stage than K’Lavon Chaisson, and Dallas cannot afford to invest in a project in this draft.
18. Miami Dolphins – Xavier McKinney, Safety, Alabama
Xavier McKinney is a lot like a smaller version of Isaiah Simmons. He is a player who can be used to fill virtually whatever role a defense needs. Last season, McKinney played at least 200 snaps at three different positions, including free safety. He can line up in the box to stop the run, and can even rush the passer with great efficiency. McKinney had 10-plus pressures in each of the last two seasons on just 71 total pass-rush snaps. But pass coverage may be McKinney’s bread and butter. He has fantastic ball skills and can cover like a cornerback. Miami needs some safety help after trading Minkah Fitzpatrick last season and cutting Reshad Jones. McKinnie will provide great versatility for head coach Brian Flores and new defensive coordinator Josh Boyer.
19. Las Vegas Raiders – Kristian Fulton, Cornerback, LSU
Kristian Fulton has had an up-and-down road to the 2020 NFL Draft. The former five-star recruit was suspended for what amounted to 18 months due to a drug test gone awry. Once reinstated, Fulton looked like he hadn’t missed a beat. He produced a PFF coverage grade of 89.7, and opposing quarterbacks had a passer rating of just 65.3. Fulton was just as good in 2019. He has 20 pass breakups over the last two years, which is quite remarkable when you consider opposing receivers have caught just 48 balls against him. He is a stout press corner who can defend any route and can recover seemingly at will. The Raiders can use some help across from Trayvon Mullen, who is not exactly Deion Sanders in his own right. Fulton makes a lot of sense considering some of the top wideouts who reside in the AFC West.
20. Jacksonville Jaguars – Trevon Diggs, Cornerback, Alabama
The Jaguars addressed their defensive front with their earlier selection in this round. Here, they look to bolster a secondary that is without 2019 starters Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye. Jacksonville needs some help behind D.J. Hayden, and they may find it in Trevon Diggs. Diggs can disrupt a receiver’s timing off the line of scrimmage. He has improved greatly in each season at Alabama, highlighted by a 2019 campaign in which he recorded 11 pass breakups and three interceptions on just 52 attempts against him. Diggs now looks poised to take the next step in his development and join brother Stefon in the NFL. He may struggle against some of the quicker wideouts in the league but should be able to hold his own due to his unparalleled length.
21. Philadelphia Eagles – Justin Jefferson, Wide Receiver, LSU
I have Justin Jefferson ranked relatively low in my recent wide receiver prospect preview, so it may seem like I am hedging my bet a bit. Truth be told, Jefferson may not have the experience as others in this class, but he showed last season that he can be an explosive receiver out of the slot. The Eagles can certainly use an upgrade over Nelson Agholor, who wore out his welcome in the City of Brotherly Love before signing with Las Vegas last month. Jefferson needs to prove he can beat man coverage in the NFL, but Doug Pederson knows how to find creative ways to get his playmakers out in space. Jefferson can make an immediate impact and be an important piece in Philadelphia’s passing attack in 2020 and beyond.
22. Minnesota Vikings – Jaylon Johnson, Cornerback, Utah
23. New England Patriots – K’Lavon Chaisson, EDGE, LSU
24. New Orleans Saints – Patrick Queen Linebacker, LSU
25. Minnesota Vikings – Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson
26. Miami Dolphins – D’Andre Swift, Running Back, Georgia
27. Seattle Seahawks – A.J. Epenesa, EDGE, Iowa
The Seattle Seahawks do not seem in any rush to re-sign pass-rushing stalwarts Jadeveon Clowney or Ezekiel Ansah, both of whom are free agents. Assuming neither is brought back, Seattle will need to fill that void. A.J. Epenesa is a workhorse who has posted double-digit sacks in each of the last two seasons. Epenesa recorded 81 quarterback hurries in three seasons at Iowa. That is a high number considering that their defensive scheme centers around defending the run. He has tremendous length and overpowers linemen with regularity. Epenesa did not exactly impress during the NFL Combine. That may lead to a slight dip in his draft stock. However, I believe he put enough positive film in actual games to still warrant a first-round grade in what is a relatively weak class at his position.
28. Baltimore Ravens – Kenneth Murray, Linebacker, Oklahoma
Baltimore has the reigning MVP in Lamar Jackson and now has a defined offensive identity. Their defense has always been the club’s calling card, but they can use some more speed at linebacker. Kenneth Murray, with his 4.52 speed, feels like a good fit for the Ravens here. The 6’2”, 241-pounder averaged 91 tackles during his final two seasons in Norman. He can run sideline to sideline in a flash and explodes when closing on a running back out of the backfield. Murray still needs to improve his reads in zone coverage, and he seems to be more comfortable pursuing a ball carrier in front of him than trying to run up the seam with a tight end. But he flies to the football and can shut down an opponent’s underneath passing attack.
29. Tennessee Titans – Yetur Gross-Matos, EDGE, Penn State
The Tennessee Titans lack an elite pass rush. They did sign Vic Beasley to a one-year contract, but he graded just 88th of 107 qualifying EDGE rushers in 2019, per Pro Football Focus. Yetur Gross-Matos has the physical tools to be a terrific pass rusher in the NFL. He has incredibly long arms (34 7/8”) which allows him to get to the quarterback. He did so 11 times in his junior season in Happy Valley. Gross-Matos needs to get better at the point of attack. Some added strength and more efficiency will be necessary for him to take his game to the next level. But head coach Mike Vrabel certainly is equipped enough to help Gross-Matos improve those aspects of his game.
30. Green Bay Packers – Jalen Reagor, Wide Receiver, TCU
Jalen Reagor is perhaps the best deep threat in a wide receiver class that is chock full of talent. He took a step back in terms of production in 2019, but that was largely the byproduct of having poor quarterback play. Reagor showed what he could do in 2018. He caught 71 passes for 1,040 yards and nine touchdowns as a 19-year old true sophomore that season. Poor quarterback play will not be an issue in Green Bay, where Aaron Rodgers is looking for a receiver to step up behind Davante Adams. Reagor is dynamic with the ball in his hands and shows a knack for cutting effectively without losing a step. He can get behind a defense and can get up for a receiver who is under six feet tall. His presence would benefit Green Bay’s entire passing attack.
31. San Francisco 49ers – A.J. Terrell, Cornerback, Clemson
The 49ers have a trio of solid cornerbacks, but none are guaranteed to be on the roster beyond the 2020 season. A.J. Terrell would be a solid reinforcement as a potential position of need. The former top-100 recruit allowed just a 50 percent completion rate during his three-year college career at Clemson. He played 9.4 snaps per target in coverage, which was the highest mark among this year’s draft-eligible cornerbacks. Terrell has great length and is very fast and agile for a player his size. He can afford to add some strength, but he would have the luxury of learning the ropes from the likes of All-Pro Richard Sherman. If San Francisco selects Terrell, he would likely play in sub-packages as a rookie before stepping into a full-time role in 2021.
32. Kansas City Chiefs – Jeff Gladney, Cornerback, TCU
The Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs have an all-world offense. Their defense can use some more able bodies, especially in the secondary. Though they re-signed Bashuad Breeland, the veteran had a mostly down season in 2019. They also lost Kendall Fuller via free agency. Jeff Gladney could be a nice fit for Kansas City here. The TCU product has excelled in deep coverage in large part due to his quick feet and top-end speed. He is strong for a player who stands just 5’10” and attacks the football. Gladney forced 46 contested throws over the last two years, which was the second-most during that span. Of those, just 10 were completed versus 27 pass breakups. Gladney plays with a mean streak and a swagger that is befitting the World Champions.
Fantrax was one of the fastest-growing fantasy sites of 2019, and we’re not letting our foot off the pedal now! With multi-team trades, designated commissioner/league managers, and drag/drop easy click methods, Fantrax is sure to excite the serious fantasy sports fan – sign up now for a free year at Fantrax.com.