We are basically a week away from Super Bowl 54 which means every team knows where they will be drafting in this year’s draft except for the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs. But we do know they’ll for sure have the last two in some order. Since we only have the Pro Bowl to entertain us this week—and I’ve got my new slumbering puppy laying right beside me—I figured now would be the perfect time to knock out another mock draft.
(Wait, sorry, quick interruption before we get to your regularly scheduled broadcast. I have to comment on the recent breaking news that the stage for the first round of the draft will be floating in the goddamn fountain that the Ocean’s 11 team starred at for thirty minutes after pulling off the greatest heist in Vegas history. The players WILL BE BOATED (is that a word?) to the stage after the pick is made. So many questions, mainly: Why? Why did the NFL feel the need to elongate the first round, something that already takes WAAAAAY too damn long to watch. Now that there’s a boat involved, this has become a full day event. Also, odds are someone gets too excited to wait for the boat and just jumps into the fountain and swims/wades to the stage and gives Roger Goodell a big wet hug? I’d put the odds at +200.)
1. Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
This pick will never change in one of my mocks because this is exactly what will happen and there is no reason to pretend otherwise. Go get your QB of the future Cincinnati.
2. Washington: Chase Young, DE, Ohio State
Unless Washington get’s some godfather offer from some team for some other player (or maybe Chase Young) this is another lock pick in my opinion. A generational pass rusher is a hard guy to pass on.
3. Detroit Lions: Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn
The Lions defense needs a bit of work everywhere but nothing helps a struggling defense quite like pressure up the middle and Brown can certainly bring that. The Lions could also trade this pick which I certainly wouldn’t doubt as they try to add quality quantity over just pure, unadulterated quality.
4. New York Giants: Isaiah Simmons, EVERYTHING, Clemson
He can play safety. He can play corner. He can play off ball linebacker. He can play edge. Simmons is a jenga piece that can line up everywhere and anywhere and succeed as we saw in the National Championship game.
5. Miami Dolphins: Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
Maybe, just maybe someone trades ahead of Miami for Tua or Miami does the unthinkable and takes someone else here but I’m thinking Tua to the Dolphins is a bet I’d like to make. You don’t spend all season hyping up your tankathon just to ignore it and not get the guy you wanted.
6. Los Angeles Chargers: Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
Philip Rivers has taken his wife and thirty children and moved out of San Diego to Florida and if that doesn’t scream “I want to be the next quarterback of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers”, I don’t know what does. As the Chargers would then find themselves quarterback-less, drafting a good one here makes sense.
7. Carolina Panthers: Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
The Panthers would love to have either Brown or Simmons fall to them at seven but while their defense needs help, they need to sure-up their offensive line which game up a league leading 58 sacks this year.
8. Arizona Cardinals: Jedrick Wills Jr, OT, Alabama
With Thomas off the board, the Cardinals go with Wills as their cure for another struggling offensive line. He can play both tackles but this gives Arizona the flexibility to keep D.J. Humphries at left if they want to.
9. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State
The last time the Jaguars drafted a cornerback early in the draft it went pretty well if I remember correctly. Okudah isn’t Jalen Ramsey, but he is a terrific player who can step in alongside A.J. Bouye and help return this secondary to what it once was.
10. Cleveland Browns: Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa
We all saw how much the Browns struggled to keep Baker Mayfield upright so it only makes sense that they grab one of the top three tackle prospects in this year’s class.
11. New York Jets: Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
In my last mock I had the Jets finally addressing their pass rushing by selecting A.J. Epenesa but with Jeudy sitting there waiting at 11, the Jets can’t say no. Jeudy will be a day one starter and day one star with his blend of route running and hands. The perfect weapon to pair with Sam Darnold and for Adam Gase to somehow ruin.
12. Las Vegas Raiders: CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
With Jeudy off the board, the Raiders get the next best receiver (maybe better even?) in Lamb. Obviously the Raiders need all the help they can get in the passing game and Lamb will instantly bring a dynamic presence.
13. Indianapolis Colts: Jordan Love, QB, Utah State
The Colts have been very non-committal when it comes to Jacoby Brissett’s future as their starter so why not take a possible QB of the future here? I could see the Colts going defensive help here, especially on the line, but QB is too important to pass on.
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: A.J. Epenesa, EDGE, Iowa
Ndamukong Suh, Jason Pierre-Paul, Carl Nassib, and most importantly Shaquil Barrett are all free agents this offseason. And after the season Barrett put together, keeping this entire group is going to be wildly expensive. Epenesa adds a pass rusher who can play inside and outside and help replace whoever leaves in free agency.
15. Denver Broncos: Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU
Chris Harris Jr is set to be a free agent this offseason and the Broncos need to make sure they address the cornerback position, especially when they’ll be facing off against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs offense twice a year.
16. Atlanta Falcons: K’Lavon Chaisson, EDGE, LSU
The Falcons need to get after the quarterback after finishing only behind the Dolphins in pass rush. Chaisson finished 2019 on fire, racking up 4.5 sacks in four games. His explosion off the edge will bring immediate impact to the Falcons pass defense.
17. Dallas Cowboys: Grant Delpit, S, LSU
Another versatile safety, Delpit can play deep or in the box to stuff the run. He’d be a welcome addition to a defense that struggled this season.
18. Miami Dolphins (via Steelers): Yetur Gross-Matos, EDGE, Penn State
Gotta get after the quarterback in the NFL and the Dolphins certainly struggled at that this year, finishing dead last in the league with only 23 sacks. Gross-Matos can certainly get after the QB, recording 9.5 sacks in 2019.
19. Las Vegas Raiders (via Bears): Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma
The Raiders’ linebackers are a group of no-namers who desperately need an upgrade and Murray adds sideline-to-sideline potential as well as leadership on that side of the football.
20. Jacksonville Jaguars (via Rams): Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville
Becton is a monster in the run game, something the Jaguars in the past have like to emphasis. Even if Jacksonville moves on from that offensive game plan, Becton has flashed more than enough skill in pass protection, something the Jags need plenty of help on.
21. Philadelphia Eagles: Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama
I love this pick too much to ever change it. Remember when DeSean Jackson was healthy for those two games and Carson Wentz was just casually tossing him bomb after bomb downfield? Ruggs would instantly add explosion to the Eagles depleted receiving core.
22. Buffalo Bills: Terrell Lewis, EDGE, Alabama
Lewis gives the Bills a guy who can rush and contain the run on the edge. He boosts length and an explosive first step, recording 16 QB pressures in 2019.
23. New England Patriots: Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina
The Patriots could certainly go wide receiver here or some other form of offensive help given that side of the football struggled all season. But Tom Brady (if he’s back) doesn’t work too well with young guys and Kinlaw is too good to pass here. He brings interior pass rush and is stout against the run.
24. New Orleans Saints: Jake Fromm, QB, Georgia
Drew Brees isn’t getting any younger and Teddy Bridgewater might walk for a far richer contract (and a starting gig) in the offseason. Getting a QB of the future seems like a must for the Saints.
25. Minnesota Vikings: Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama
I can’t not pair Trevon Diggs with his brother Stefon Diggs. Plus, Xavier Rhodes looked washed all season—despite somehow getting a Pro Bowl nod—and is likely a cut candidate. The pairing just makes too much sense!
26. Miami Dolphins (via Texans): Austin Jackson, OT, USC
It feels right that the Dolphins take their franchise tackle with the pick they got for trading their previous franchise tackle. Jackson is very athletic for the position and is only 20-years-old, meaning there’s plenty of time for him to come into his own.
27. Seattle Seahawks: Julian Okwara, EDGE, Notre Dame
The Seahawks need for edge rushers could become even more demanding if Jadeveon Clowney leaves in free agency. Even if he stays, Okwara would be a welcome addition for Seattle: a long, explosive rusher who tallied 13.5 sacks in 22 games over the past two seasons.
28. Baltimore Ravens: Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU
The Ravens clearly need more pass catchers for Lamar Jackson and a year after taking the speedster Marquise Brown, they add savey route runner Jefferson. His strength as a route runner will be huge for his development and connection with Jackson.
29. Tennessee Titans: J.K. Dobbins, RB, Ohio State
I’m not sold one of these running backs will go in the first round, but if there’s a team that’ll take one, it’s the Titans. After running Derrick Henry to the AFC Championship game, the Titans might pull a Cowboys-DeMarco Murray situation and let him walk in free agency and draft his replacement in Dobbins.
30. Green Bay Packers: Laviska Shenault, WR, Colorado
It was pretty clear all season that the Packers passing game was Devante Adams or bust. Shenault gives Aaron Rodgers another reliable passing target, one who can use his size (6-foot-2, 225 pounds) to make plays after the catch.
31. Kansas City Chiefs: CJ Henderson, CB, Florida
The Chiefs could lose most of their starting secondary this offseason with guys like Kendall Fuller, Morris Claiborne, and Bashaud Breeland all set to become free agents. Henderson gives the Chiefs a big corner who’s athletic and strong enough to play press-man.
32. San Francisco 49ers: Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama
McKinney can play both safety spots and in the slot. He would be another swiss army knife for Robert Saleh to lineup all over the field.