2020 NFL Mock Draft 3.0: Countdown to free agency
We'll know more soon. Free agency will soon be upon us (whether or not it's delayed), and after the initial wave of signings we'll have a better idea of what types of players teams will be seeking in the draft. Your team need a tight end but got one when the new league year hit? On to other positions. Needed a quarterback but your club pounced on a market that is oddly overflowing with potential starters? Time to focus elsewhere.
This is our last chance though to try to address — for all 32 teams — a high-end need with a high-end player before the news of new contracts flood your timelines on Twitter. We'll know more soon, but this exercise is still one that's worthwhile since it'll get us thinking about what teams might want in the draft if they can't get it in free agency.
1. Bengals: Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
There was a point in time when I considered Burrow and the next quarterback in this tier to be in the same league.
Even though his sample size of collegiate dominance is small, after talking to a number of people in the last few weeks about this class of passers, it's pretty clear that Burrow is in a league of his own. (And would be even if this next guy was healthy.)
2. Redskins: Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
Now, even if Burrow is the clear No. 1, that's not to say Tagovailoa isn't worthy of being the very next choice in this year's draft.
If healthy, he's a polished option who will allow the 'Skins to cut ties with Dwayne Haskins if the new coaching staff there isn't enthralled with the incumbent. This pick allows two of the most talented players in the class — both defenders — to slide a bit.
3. Lions: Chase Young, Edge, Ohio State
With Tagovailoa off the board, the Lions lose an opportunity to sell off their No. 3 selection to a team desperate for his services.
Justin Herbert's availability probably won't yield the same kind of compensation in a trade down for the Lions. So they stick. Their consolation prize? Perhaps the best overall player in the class.
4. Giants: Tristan Wirfs, OL, Iowa
I know there's an incredibly talented cornerback still on the board. I know that's one of the most valuable positions in the game.
But I know offensive tackle isn't all that far behind. And I know Dave Gettleman loves him a monster offensive lineman. That's Wirfs, who compiled one of the most absurd set of combine test results we've seen in a while.
5. Dolphins: Jeffrey Okudah, CB, Ohio State
The Dolphins pass on an opportunity to draft a high-upside quarterbackin order to land a much safer player in this year's consensus No. 1 cover man.
Brian Flores will be much better equipped to call as much man-to-man as he wants with Okudah in the fold. For a team that has a long runway from ownership to rebuild, no sense in taking a quarterback who might be a coin-flip to pan out.
6. Chargers: Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
This coaching staff's leash might be a tad shorter. Even though Anthony Lynn just signed a contract extension this offseason, that doesn't mean expectations won't be high in the next year or two.
It's a talented roster in need of a quarterback after parting ways with Philip Rivers. Their best bet is to sign one in free agency, but we're not there yet. So they get Herbert and hope he can make the most of his big arm and athleticism.
7. Panthers: Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson
Is he a linebacker? Is he a safety? He's a freak is what he is.
At 6-foot-4, 238 pounds, he ran a 4.39-second 40 and jumped 39 inches in the vertical at the combine. His versatility makes him the queen-on-the-chessboard type that defensive coaches dream about. In Carolina, he has a chance to give the Panthers a Luke Kuechly fill-in with even more God-given talent.
8. Cardinals: CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
He's not the fastest receiver in the draft. He's not the shiftiest. But he might be the best.
His size and coordination allow him to go up and over defenders at will. He's a menace after the catch. And he'll work his way into Arizona's pass-happy offense as one of their primary threats to help them prepare for life after Larry Fitzgerald. Eventually.
9. Jaguars: Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville
Wirfs might've had the best combine of any offensive lineman this year, but Becton's still might've been the most impressive.
To run a 40-yard dash in just over 5.0 seconds when approaching 370 pounds? How is that even possible? Not sure. But Beckton did it, running a 5.10 at 6-foot-7, 364 pounds.
10. Browns: Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
We're in the middle of a bit of a run on tackles here. No surprise. It's one of the deepest positions in this year's draft.
Thomas has worked against the best of the best in the SEC, and he overwhelmed the majority of them with his power. Combine that strength with light feet and you have a first-round player built to protect Baker Mayfield for the foreseeable future.
11. Jets: Jedrick Wills, OT, Alabama
At one point in time, Wills was considered the best tackle in the class. He very well may be. Certainly in the running game. That might make him best suited to play on the right side in the NFL, but there's still plenty of value there.
The Jets need to do a better job protecting their young quarterback if they want him to have a chance. Having a better running game, with Wills as one of the focal points, would go a long way in accomplishing that goal.
12. Raiders: Henry Ruggs, WR, Alabama
This pick would make even more sense if Al Davis was still in charge. He loved speed. And with good reason. In today's NFL, speed is as important as it's ever been.
Ruggs ran a 4.27 40-yard dash at the combine. Best in Indy this year. Still, he was disappointed. His presence in Vegas should open things up for middle-of-the-field options like tight end Darren Waller and slot man Hunter Renfrow.
13. Colts: Derrick Brown, DL, Auburn
A disastrous combine still won't allow Brown to fall out of the top-15.
Perhaps the most physically imposing defensive player in this year's crop, Brown has the ability to completely blow up opposing running games from the interior. The only question is will he be enough of a factor in the passing game to warrant a pick this high?
14. Buccaneers: Jordan Love, QB, Utah State
Another team. Another quarterback need. Another mock draft pick that could be rendered moot depending on what happens in free agency. (Like, say, should Bruce Arians lure Tom Brady to Tampa Bay.)
But if the Bucs still need a passer going into late April, Love's live arm and his ability to extend plays behind the line of scrimmage could work perfectly in their down-the-field passing attack.
15. Broncos: Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
Courtland Sutton offers the Broncos one of the best young receivers in football. Pair his long-ball ability with Jeudy's route-running prowess and Denver might have one of the best young pass-catching duos in football.
Second-year quarterback Drew Lock will love this one.
16. Falcons: K'Lavon Chaisson, EDGE, LSU
There's some projecting required here for any team in the middle of the first round looking to buy in on what Chaisson can do.
There's no doubt he has impressive physical tools to rush the passer at 6-foot-4, 250 pounds, but he had just 35 total quarterback pressures. The Falcons will be back in the edge defender market after letting Vic Beasley hit free agency this year.
17. Cowboys: C.J. Henderson, CB, Florida
We'll see how the Dallas defense looks under new coordinator Mike Nolan, but whatever they do, they'll be able to use a corner like Henderson.
He's the type of athlete (4.39 40, 37.5-inch vertical, 127.0-inch broad) who will excel at the next level. Cowboys will need those, especially after they're likely to lose Byron Jones to free agency.
18. Dolphins: Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU
Miami continues to stack up sure bets in the first round with this pick. Jefferson might not be the top separator at the receiver position in this year's draft, but he's a crafty route runner on the interior and has plenty of athleticism (4.44-second 40) to be a productive starter in the NFL for years to come.
NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah has compared his skill set to that of Chargers technician Keenan Allen.
19. Raiders: Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU
Another Tiger at a premium position off the board here.
Fulton might not be the most physically gifted corner in this year's class, but he posted a 29 percent forced incompletion rate (targets that were broken up or picked), which was third-best in the country.
20. Jaguars: Javon Kinlaw, DL, South Carolina
One of the biggest steals in the draft to this point, Kinlaw is a mountain of a man at 6-foot-6, 302 pounds. His length and power should destroy protection schemes from anywhere along the line of scrimmage between the tackles.
If he's here at No. 20, the Patriots might want to think about trading up to land him. He'd fit their scheme perfectly as a 3-4 end with the versatility to align in a variety of different techniques.
21. Eagles: Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU
There's no denying the fact that the Eagles are in desperate need of receiving help. Lucky for them, this is such a deep class that a player with Reagor's talent level is still available to them into the 20s.
He has the speed to beat corners deep, the quickness to break off routes and separate underneath, and the leaping ability to explode up and over taller corners. Lot of athleticism in this 5-foot-11, 195-pound package.
22. Bills: Josh Jones, OT, Houston
This 6-foot-7, 310-pounder is not yet a finished product, but he was so dominant for the Cougars (18 total pressures in three years, per Pro Football Focus) and at the Senior Bowl that there will be a team that calls his name in the first round.
The Bills could use some tackle help after Cody Ford struggled there last season.
23. Patriots: Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor
The Patriots were desperately in need of some speed on the offensive side of the ball last season. Mims has that in spades. The 6-foot-3, 207-pounder had one of the fastest 40-yard dash times at this year's combine (4.38 seconds) to go along with some gaudy jump numbers (38.5-inch vertical, 131-inch broad) and a ridiculous 6.66-second three-cone. For a team that has historically drafted rare athletes to play on the outside, Mims fits the bill. His acquisition might seem unlikely after the Patriots went with a wideout in the first round last season, but N'Keal Harry's skill set as a physical after-the-catch player is different enough to make this make sense.
Harry can take on more of a short-area, get-the-ball-in-his-hands type of role while Mims forces teams to stay honest over the top. According to Pro Football Focus data, Mims had the best Senior Bowl practice performance of any receiver over the last five years. He also showed off a willingness to get physical in the run game, which Bill Belichick will surely appreciate. In another year, Mims would go higher in the draft but because of the depth of this group, the Patriots had an upper-echelon talent fall to them in the 20s.
2020 NFL Draft Highlights: Denzel Mims
24. Saints: Laviska Shenault, WR, Colorado
Is he the most precise route-runner in the draft? Nope. Is he someone who is going to seek out and exploit soft spots in zone coverages? Maybe not.
But in a creative offense, Shenault is the type of explosive athlete who will serve as a big play waiting to happen. In New Orleans, Sean Payton will have a blast drawing up plays for this 6-foot-1, 225-pounder.
25. Vikings: Cesar Ruiz, OL, Michigan
Another year, another pre-draft season that has the Vikings zeroed in on offensive line help.
Ruiz might be the best center/guard prospect in this year's class. If he can help keep Kirk Cousins clean and help open up holes for Dalvin Cook, he could be one of the under-the-radar keys that helps the Minnesota offense reach another level.
26. Dolphins: Xavier McKinney, DB, Alabama
Miami's put together a draft here that even Belichick might be proud of, loading up on sure things in the first round.
With Okudah and Jefferson already in house, Flores and his front office dip back into the talent pool in the secondary to land their Patrick Chung. McKinney is a jack of all trades who can play in the box and cover tight ends — someone who, like Chung, should be starting in the AFC East for a number of years.
27. Seahawks: Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama
The Seahawks have a type. Everyone knows it. And everyone knows that Diggs fits that type like a glove.
The 6-foot-1, 205-pounder has almost 33-inch arms that should make him a perfect match in their Seattle-style Cover 3 coverages.
28. Ravens: Zack Baun, OLB, Wisconsin
Matt Judon was slapped with the franchise tag this week, and if he's not traded he'll provide Baltimore a legitimate pass-rushing option off the edge. But there's a chance he's traded.
And even if he's not, the Ravens could use someone opposite Judon to provide a little more in the way of pass-rushing punch. Baun is a versatile player on the outside — a nice fit in New England, maybe, as someone who can rush the passer, play the run and cover — John Harbaugh will trust with a heavy workload quickly.
29. Titans: Ezra Cleveland, OT, Boise State
With Jack Conklin headed for free agency, the Titans will have the opportunity to add to their offensive line with one of the most athletic prospects in this wildly gifted class.
The 6-foot-6, 311-pounder ran a 4.93-second 40 (96th percentile for offensive linemen), a 30-inch vertical (75th), 111-inch broad (90th), a 7.26-second three-cone (98th) and a 4.46-second short shuttle (94th).
30. Packers: Austin Jackson, OT, USC
Bryan Bulaga should be testing the free-agent waters soon, which means the Packers will be among the many teams in the market for tackle help via the draft.
Jackson is only 21 years old, and his frame is impressive at 6-foot-5, 322 pounds with 34-inch arms. It might take him a year or two to develop into a quality starter, but there's ability there.
31. 49ers: Grant Delpit, DB, LSU
Delpit earned the Jim Thorpe Award as the country's top defensive back for his performance in 2019. He has the size (6-foot-2, 213) to play up in the box in run support. But he also has enough range to play deep.
If he can clean up some tackling inconsistencies, then San Francisco will have an upgrade at safety after watching Jimmie Ward hit free agency.
32. Chiefs: Yetur Gross-Matos, EDGE, Penn State
Frank Clark will hold things down on one edge for the Chiefs moving forward, but they could still use help on the opposite end. They had to bring in Terrell Suggs midseason in order to provide themselves with a second representative pass-rusher.
Gross-Matos might not be ready to come in and dominate right away for defensive line coach Brendan Daly, a former Patriots assistant, but he's got all the tools at 6-foot-5, 266 pounds and with 35-inch arms.