2020 NFL mock draft: Projected first-round picks after LSU-Clemson
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It's that time of year, folks.
Twenty-eight NFL teams are about to spend next weekend going to see "1917" (spoiler alert: it kills), while the final four battle for a spot in Super Bowl LIV.
For those teams that won't be hoisting the Lombardi Trophy this year, it's time to shift focus to the draft and find ways to address the holes that kept them from glory's doorstep.
This year's class is deep at wide receiver and cornerback, has at least one generational quarterback and an edge rusher who might be the best pass-rushing prospect in a decade.
NBC Sports Bay Area's Josh Schrock and Dalton Johson alternated picks in the first 2020 mock draft of the season. No trades were allowed and more than a few not-so-family-friendly phrases were dropped when certain gems were swiped off the board.
1. Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Burrow
Ohio State edge rusher Chase Young might be the best prospect in the draft, but Burrow is the slam-dunk No. 1 pick. It's time for the Bengals to move on from Andy Dalton, and Burrow looks like he could be the answer.
Burrow went from a mid-round prospect to an LSU legend as a senior. He put up historic numbers and won the Heisman Trophy by a landslide. The star QB played high school ball in Ohio, and is headed home. It's Burrow Time for the Bengals. --Dalton Johnson
2. Washington: Chase Young
School: Ohio State
Washington has a ton of needs to fill. The Bengals do them a favor by taking QB1 off the board in Burrow, allowing new coach Ron Rivera to add the best player in the draft in Chase Young. He's a generational pass rusher, who most analysts believe is a better prospect than both Nick and Joey Bosa were coming out of college. Washington gets a defensive cornerstone. -- Josh Schrock
3. Detroit Lions: Derrick Brown
If it weren't for Young, and possibly Burrow, Brown would be the best player in this draft class. He's a 6-foot-5, 318-pound beast who recorded 22 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks the last two seasons while constantly being double-teammed.
Don't overthink this, Detroit. Letting Brown slip down the draft would be a big mistake. --DJ
4. New York Giants: Jerry Jeudy
Position: Wide receiver
The Giants had a No. 1 receiver and then they traded him away. So, noted football guy Dave Gettleman picks the best reciever in the draft to give quarterback Daniel Jones a go-to weapon. Jeudy is an elite route-runner with the ability to separate downfield and make contested catches. Giants should go offensive line, but they can't pass on Jeudy. --JS
5. Miami Dolphins: Tua Tagovailoa
Tank for Tua didn't turn out how many Dolphins fans expected. Nobody thought Miami would win five games and take down the New England Patriots in the season finale. But that's FitzMagic.
And somehow the Dolphins still can get Tua. His future comes down to his medicals after dislocating his hip this year, but the once-in-a-generation QB is too good to pass up if there are no red flags. --DJ
6. Los Angeles Chargers: Justin Herbert
With Philip Rivers' future in doubt, the Chargers take a quarterback with all the physical trails NFL scouts love. Herbert is 6-foot-6, mobile and has a rocket arm. He was maddeningly inconsistent during his time at Oregon, but he has the skills to be one of the next great NFL signal-callers if he can put it all together. --JS
7. Carolina Panthers: Andrew Thomas
Coach Matt Rhule first must figure out his QB situation. Then, he must protect the signal-caller. The Panthers and Dolphins each allowed an NFL-high 3.6 sacks per game. That can't happen.
Thomas is 6-foot-5, 320 pounds and a First Team All-American. Make this man a Panther and protect the passer. --DJ
8. Arizona Cardinals: Jeff Okudah
School: Ohio State
Okudah is one of the five best players in the draft, so the Cardinals jump at a chance to add a lockdown corner to improve their struggling defense. The Ohio State product is long and rangy at 6-foot-1. He is a physical corner with elite coverage skills. This is a win for the Cards. --JS
9. Jacksonville Jaguars: Isaiah Simmons
What's better than one athletic freak on defense? Two athletic freaks on defense. Pairing Myles Jack with Simmons could be a nightmare for opposing offenses. --DJ
10. Cleveland Browns: Jedrick Wills Jr.
For all of their flashy offseason acquisitions, the Browns couldn't protect Baker Mayfield, and their season unraveled as a result. Wills is a great pass-blocking tackle, who thrived playing on the right side for the Crimson Tide. It's unknown if he can shift to left tackle, but either way, the Browns need to start beefing up their offensive line. --JS
11. New York Jets: CeeDee Lamb
Landing Lamb at No. 11 is an absolute steal. This is DeAndre Hopkins 2.0. Throw the ball up to the former Sooner and let him go get it. Sam Darnold should be a very happy man with this pick. --DJ
12. Raiders: Henry Ruggs
Position: Wide receiver
Like Mike Krzyzewski when Harrison Barnes chose North Carolina over Duke, I rifled a chair through a window when the Raiders were swooped on Lamb. No matter, though. Ruggs is the fastest receiver in the class and would give Jon Gruden another young franchise building block. It's a no-brainer. --JS
13. Indianapolis Colts: Jordan Love
School: Utah State
Someone is going to take a chance on Love, who truly is a polarizing prospect. He has the size at 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds, and the big arm to go with an ideal NFL body. Love also threw 17 interceptions as a junior and finished his career completing only 61.2 percent of his passes.
The Colts can keep Love behind Jacoby Brissett for a year and hope he hits his potential in Indy. --DJ
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Grant Delpit
After finishing the season 30th in pass defense, the Bucs need to make a change on that end to have any shot of contending in the NFC South. Delpit struggled with injuries this season, but he's got great coverage skills, is adept at attacking the ball and creating takeaways and also is a force in defending the run. --JS
15. Denver Broncos: Tristan Wirfs
The Broncos have their running backs in Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman. They have an exciting young receiver in Courtland Sutton. And John Elway might have actually found his future QB in Drew Lock.
Go protect Lock with Wirfs, who looks the part of a prototypical NFL offensive tackle. --DJ
16. Atlanta Falcons: Kristian Fulton
Much like the Bucs, the Falcons need to find a way to slow down the high-flying offenses they go against twice a year. Fulton is an elite cover corner, who makes up for his lack of length with great instincts and technique. He needs to improve as a tackler and as a run-stopper, but the Falcons get an A-plus with this pick. --JS
17. Dallas Cowboys: Xavier McKinney
After Grant Delpit, McKinney is the top safety in the draft. And he could possibly go ahead of Delpit. He can cover the slot and attack on the run.
The Cowboys badly need help at the back of their defense and McKinney could be the perfect fit. --DJ
18. Miami Dolphins (via Pittsburgh Steelers): Tee Higgins
Position: Wide receiver
The Raiders miss out on the possibility of taking another wide receiver they love when the Dolphins give Tagovailoa a top target. Higgins, 6-foot-4, 215 pounds, is a big-body receiver who is one of the best at tracking deep balls. He does a good job of using his range to high point throws and win 50/50 balls. --JS
19. Raiders: Kenneth Murray
We have hammered this over and over again. The Raiders have two huge needs in this draft: Receiver and linebacker. The Silver and Black grabbed their speedster in Ruggs with the No. 12 pick and now can get a solid linebacker seven selections later in Murray.
The 6-foot-2, 234-pounder compiled 257 tackles -- 29.5 for loss -- and 8.5 sacks over the last two seasons. The Sooners aren't known for defense, but Murray is a stud. --DJ
20. Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevon Diggs
Jalen Ramsey is gone, so the Jaguars need to find a corner to take over that side of the field. Diggs is a great zone corner, who also is impressive in press coverage. The Alabama product excels at playing downhill, but will need to become a better tackler at the NFL level. --JS
21. Philadelphia Eagles: Laviska Shenault Jr.
Uhh yeah, the Eagles need help at wide receiver ... to say the least. Alshon Jeffery will be back, but he dealt with injuries again and turns 30 years old in February. J.J. Arcega-Whiteside was disappointing as a rookie and Greg Ward, an undrafted college quarterback, was their best option at the end of the year.
Shenault needs polish, however, but he's an offensive weapon who can take the top off the defense. He's a big play waiting to happen. --DJ
22. Buffalo Bills: A.J. Epenesa
Epenesa has incredible length and power, using it to bull rush successfully from the outside. He's not a bendy, speed rusher, but his strength and ability to get on the same level as the passer makes him a top-tier prospect. --JS
23. New England Patriots: Yetur Gross-Matos
School: Penn State
Sure, Tom Brady -- or whoever is the Patriots' quarterback -- needs more weapons. But for how great New England's defense was this season, they still could use help rushing the passer.
The Pats' defensive ends don't terrify QBs. Gross-Matos could. He had 34.5 tackles for loss and 17 sacks the last two seasons. --DJ
24. New Orleans Saints: A.J. Terrell
In a class of great corners, Terrell might end up being the best of the bunch. He's long and athletic with incredible cover skills and elite ball-tracking ability. The Saints pair him with Marshon Lattimore to give them two stud corners. --JS
25. Minnesota Vikings: C.J. Henderson
Henderson entered his junior season as the top corner on many big boards, and since has fallen a little bit. His downside is missed tackles and an ankle injury. In a deep corner class, Henderson could be a draft-day steal.
The Vikings need to get younger at cornerback. Henderson could form a great group of DBs with Xavier Rhodes and Harrison Smith. --DJ
26. Miami Dolphins (via Houston Texans): J.K. Dobbins
School: Ohio State
Position: Running back
The Dolphins got their quarterback and wide receiver of the future earlier in the first round, so why not hit the trifecta? Dobbins is a powerful back with good hands and route-running ability. It's a new day in Miami. --JS
27. Seattle Seahawks: K'Lavon Chaisson
The ceiling is the roof -- or whatever MJ said -- when it comes to Chaisson. The sky truly is the limit. He's an athletic freak who can move all over the field as a linebacker and pass-rusher.
Seattle ranked 29th in sacks this season, ahead of only Miami and Detroit. If Chaisson hits his potential, he'll be a star. --DJ
28. Baltimore Ravens: Justin Jefferson
Position: Wide receiver
As was evident in the Ravens' stunning divisional-round loss to the Tennessee Titans, Lamar Jackson needs some weapons on the outside. Jefferson is an athletic receiver who can play in the slot or out wide. He's a polished route-runner who excels at making contested catches. He'll fit nicely in the Ravens' offense. --JS
29. Tennessee Titans: Cole Kmet
School: Notre Dame
This probably would have been a perfect pick for the Patriots, so hey, why not give him to Mike Vrabel? The Titans can easily get rid of Delanie Walker's contract and need an upgrade at tight end.
Kmet is a bully who also scored six TDs as a junior. He could be a goal-line nightmare. --DJ
30. Green Bay Packers: Javon Kinlaw
School: South Carolina
Do the Packers give Aaron Rodgers a new weapon to make his waning years more productive? With the top six receivers already off the board, the Pack pass on a WR and instead choose to beef up the interior of their defensive line with a 6-foot-6, 310-pound Gamecock who will make Mike Pettine's defense even more of a force. --JS
31. Kansas City Chiefs: D'Andre Swift
The Chiefs' offense can drop a 50-spot any given game and give up 49 points all in the same day. Adding Swift to the offense, however, would almsot be unfair.
Swift can cut on a dime and rushed for nearly 2,300 yards the last two seasons. He also fits in the passing game and had 73 receptions in his college career. Put him in the same backfield as Patrick Mahomes and let the former Georgia Bulldog get to work. --DJ
32. 49ers: Ashtyn Davis
The 49ers have a decision to make with Jimmie Ward, but either way, they need to add another safety. Davis is a solid tackler with good deep range and the ability to play man-to-man in the slot. He'll have to work on his run support and angles to be an effective NFL safety. -- JS