Despite the United States being in lock-down given the current climate, the NFL announced during the week that the 2020 NFL draft will go ahead as scheduled on April 23-25.
With the current social distancing protocols in place, it’s likely this NFL draft will look quite different to the spectacle fans have come to know and love, likely to be performed by teleconference with all 32 teams remaining in their home cities for the event.
With the first few waves of free agency having come and gone, let’s look at how trades, free-agent acquisitions and the greater unknown could impact Round 1 in this post-free-agency mock draft.
1. Cincinnati Bengals – Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
There’s plenty of smoke and mirrors this time of year. As much as they’d love more picks, it appears Burrow is the Bengals’ man.
2. Washington Redskins – Chase Young, DE, OSU
Young won’t fill an outstanding need for Washington, but he can transform this ho-hum defence from day one.
3. Detroit Lions – Jeff Okudah, CB, OSU
Detroit would likely prefer to trade back, even if Okudah is available. A tremendous replacement for the newly departed Darius Slay.
4. New York Giants – Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa
It’s between defensive demon Isaiah Simmons and an offensive lineman here for big blue. Wirfs has a load of experience at both left and right tackle.
5. Miami Dolphins – Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
Miami would love for Tua to fall to them at five. It’s likely they’ll have to get creative and move up to make a certainty of Tua in aqua and orange next season.
6. Los Angeles Chargers – Jordan Love, QB, Utah State
Love’s enticing potential will be too much for someone to pass on in the top half of the first round. Here, Love sits behind Tyrod Taylor for a season.
7. Carolina Panthers – Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson
The Panthers need help on defence after losing a ton of talent in free agency. Simmons would be an enormous get for this franchise in transition.
8. Arizona Cardinals – Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn
Arizona desperately need help up front on both sides of the ball. Brown is a top-five pick in most other drafts.
9. Jacksonville Jaguars – Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina
The best player available for a team that could go in many directions. Kinlaw is the best interior pass rusher in the draft.
10. Cleveland Browns- Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville
There’s little doubt the Browns are going to get help on the offensive line early in the draft. Becton is a plug and play monster left tackle.
11. New York Jets – Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
This wide receiver draft class has the potential to be a fabled group for many years. Jeudy deserves to win the race to be picked first and here he supports Sam Darnold in Gotham.
12. Los Vegas Raiders – Henry Ruggs, WR, Alabama
Ruggs has world-class speed and would change the dynamic of the Raiders offence over night.
13. San Francisco 49ers (from Indianapolis) – CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
At some point there’s going to be a run on wide receivers. The Niners use this pick from Indianapolis they got in exchange for DeForest Buckner on an explosive, mercurial wide receiver talent.
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
The Bucs would benefit from a small slide and secure its quarterback situation for both the medium and long term. Herbert would have the chance to sit and learn behind the GOAT.
15. Denver Broncos – Jedrick Wills, OT, Alabama
Denver look like they’re going to give Drew Lock a chance. He doesn’t stand a chance without further investment up front.
16. Atlanta Falcons – K’Lavon Chaisson, DE, LSU
The Falcons desperately need to add juice to their defence. Chaisson really came on late in the season for the national champions and has room to grow.
17. Dallas Cowboys – Cesar Ruiz, C, Michigan
The Boys have more pressing needs, but this team lives and dies by the performance of its offensive line. Ruiz is a fine replacement for the retired Travis Frederick.
18. Miami Dolphins (from Pittsburgh) – Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama
After trading away Minkah Fitzpatrick and cutting Reshad Jones, the Dolphins have a huge need at safety. McKinney would add to an excellent secondary being built in Miami.
19. Los Vegas Raiders (from Chicago) – CJ Henderson, CB, Florida
Las Vegas continue their defensive facelift by adding the consensus number two cornerback in the draft.
20. Jacksonville Jaguars (from Las Angeles Rams) – Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama
The Jaguars need more talent at cornerback after the mid-season trade of Jalen Ramsay. Diggs has the size and feistiness of a bona-fide number one cover corner.
21. Philidelphia Eagles – Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU
Jefferson turned heads with his speed at the NFL combine in February. A shifty slot receiver for Carson Wents to throw to.
22. Minnesota Vikings (from Buffalo) – Noah Igbinoghene, CB, Auburn
Minnesota lost two starting cornerbacks in free agency (Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander) and cut veteran Xavier Rhodes. Igbinoghene is worth keeping on eye on.
23. New England Patriots – AJ Epenesa, DE, Iowa
Epenesa is not an elite talent but is a versatile workhorse that could flourish in Bill Belichick’s defence.
24. New Orleans Saints – Patrick Queen, LB, LSU
The Saints stay local and grab Queen, an undersized linebacker who would dearly upgrade the Saints back seven.
25. Minnesota Vikings – Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson
The Vikings will need to find another receiver at some point during the draft. Higgins could be a nice find towards the end of Round 1.
26. Miami Dolphins (from Houston) – Josh Jones, OT, Houston
Jones is a little green but has the athletic tools and intangibles to make it as a top-flight blindside protector in the NFL.
27. Seattle Seahawks – Yetur Gross-Matos, DE, Penn State
Seattle needs to get better on both lines. Gross-Matos should develop into a dependable quarterback hunter under Seattle’s defence tutelage.
28. Baltimore Ravens – Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma
The Ravens need help in the middle of their defence after losing CJ Mosley and Patrick Onwuasor the last two off-seasons.
29. Tennessee Titans – Ross Blacklock, DT, TCU
After the surprising trade of franchise favourite Jurrell Casey, Tennessee are in need up front on defence. Blacklock is a disruptive force capable of playing anywhere along the defensive line.
30. Green Bay Packers – Brandon Aiyuk, WR, Arizona State
The Packers need to continue to give Aaron Rodgers help while their Super Bowl window is still ajar. Aiyuk is a receiver garnering some buzz among league scouts and could ultimately sneak into the first round.
31. San Francisco 49ers – Jeff Gladney, CB, TCU
With no picks in Rounds 2, 3 and 4, it’s likely the Niners trade out here and accumulate picks. In this scenario, they take a rising cornerback prospect in Gladney to play alongside Richard Sherman as CB2.
32. Kansas City Chiefs – D’Andre Swift, RB, Georgia
Swift would be the best player available at a position of need in this scenario for the champs. Adding Swift, the next gun running back out of Georgia, would be simply unfair.