2020 NFL Mock Draft 6.0: Patriots add needed help at linebacker
This is our final chance to try and map out how it will go Thursday night as the NFL begins the most unusual draft in its history in these days of sheltering-in-place and stay-at-home orders. There will be no Vegas glitz and certainly, no handshake with Commissioner Roger Goodell as the draftees will be home, just like the drafters.
For the Patriots, it's perhaps the most important draft of the Bill Belichick Era. Twenty years ago, in his first draft as New England's head coach, he found a sixth-round pick at quarterback, No. 199 overall. You know the rest.
Now, there are plenty of needs to be filled as the Pats begin the post-Brady Era. Do they trade up from No. 23 overall? Trade down and sit out the first round, hoping to package that pick with others for value later?
Here is Phil Perry's final first-round mock draft prior to Thursday's festivities.
1. Bengals: Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
Best player available at the most important position in sports. And it’s not really close.
2. Redskins: Chase Young, EDGE, Ohio State
Best player available. Period. And it’s not really close.
3. Lions: Jeffrey Okudah, CB, Ohio State
Best player available at the most important position on the defensive side of the ball. It’s close with C.J. Henderson. But Detroit goes with the more complete player.
4. Giants: Andrew Thomas, OL, Georgia
Best player available at the most important position along the offensive line. (Sensing a theme here?)
5. Dolphins: Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
The Dolphins could’ve waited to get Herbert, in all likelihood. But that’d be a gamble. He’s a “prototype,” and the head coach in Miami came up in a system that values those.
6. Chargers: Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
Steal of the draft or unnecessary risk? The medical portion of the equation here is massive, but the business portion of the equation — throwing their fans a bone in the form of the draft’s biggest name — could be a motivator.
7. Panthers: Derrick Brown, DL, Auburn
Run stuffer. Pocket pusher. Maybe the easiest projection to the pro game.
8. Cardinals: Jedrick Wills, OL, Alabama
The Cardinals want to get five receivers into routes on every passing play. Getting the offensive line solidified will allow for that.
9. Jaguars: Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson
Generational talent, perhaps. Jags need a quarterback, but they could hit that later in the round... or on Day 2
10. Browns: Tristan Wirfs, OL, Iowa
Baker Mayfield needs a tackle. Maybe they end up with Trent Williams. Maybe not. If they do, a receiver would be ideal here.
11. Jets: Mekhi Becton, OL, Louisville
GM Joe Douglas acquired some offensive line band-aids this offseason. Becton — one of the freakiest physical talents in the draft — is a long-term fix.
12. Raiders: CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
Not the biggest. Not the fastest. But maybe the most determined receiver in the class with the ball in the air and after the catch.
13. 49ers: Henry Ruggs, WR, Alabama
Try to picture Kyle Shanahan play-designs with this kind of speed at his disposal. Now try to picture defensive coordinators racking their brains for answers.
14. Bucs: Josh Jones, OT, Houston
Tom Brady is good on weapons. He needs to be protected. Jones is somewhat raw but still one of the best in this deep tackle class.
15: Broncos: Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
Courtland Sutton has his running mate. No receiver in the class is more sudden in the short-to-intermediate areas of the field.
16. Falcons: Javon Kinlaw, DL, South Carolina
Another candidate for Steal of the Draft. Hip and knee ailments have dogged Kinlaw at different points in his career, but he remains an explosive, disruptive force against both the run and the pass.
17. Cowboys: C.J. Henderson, CB, Florida
Sticky cover corners are hard to come by. That’s Henderson. He’s not striking fear into anyone as a tackler, but his talent is the one teams pay for.
18. Dolphins: Xavier McKinney, DB, Alabama
A perfect Patriot heads to Patriots South Beach. Whatever Brian Flores needs — safety, box defender, slot option — McKinney can provide.
19. Raiders: A.J. Terrell, CB, Clemson
GM Mike Mayock was enamored with players from the 2019 national championship during last year’s draft. He gets one of the best in that game with this pick.
20. Jaguars: K’Lavon Chaisson, EDGE, LSU
Quarterback time? Nope. Chaisson’s physical tools are too jarring to pass on here.
21. Eagles: Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU
Rejoice, Carson Wentz. A dependable option on the interior with plenty of speed to play on the outside if need be.
22. Vikings: Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor
There are worse ways to transition after dealing away your disgruntled No. 1 receiver. Mims is a rare combination of size, speed and quickness.
23. Patriots: Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma
Plenty of size. Oozing with athleticism. A starter and play-caller in the middle of the Sooners defense for three years. An aggressive run-defender and dynamic blitzer. Murray has everything the Patriots want at the second level. And his presence might allow Dont’a Hightower to see more time on the edge, where the Patriots could use some help.
2020 NFL Draft Highlights: Kenneth Murray
24. Saints: Jordan Love, QB, Utah State
Sean Payton will be licking his chops to go from a Hall of Famer to a player with Love’s dynamic talent at the quarterback position.
25. Vikings: A.J. Epenesa, EDGE, Iowa
Everson Griffin out. Another big, strong edge-setter in. Epenesa isn’t an athlete, but his power stood out in the Big 10.
26. Dolphins: Ezra Cleveland, OL, Boise State
There aren’t many humans with Cleveland’s size who have his movement skills. The ones who do often end up being longtime starters at left tackle.
27. Seahawks: Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama
This fit is so snug it’s hard to envision Pete Carroll going elsewhere if Diggs is on the board. Length and strength on the outside is what the Seahawks want at corner. Diggs has both.
28. Ravens: Jordyn Brooks, LB, Texas Tech
Brooks won’t be for everyone. He’s not a coverage guy. He’s a thumper. But he’s a very good athlete and he’s played both inside and outside ‘backer. John Harbaugh will also love that Brooks played special teams all the way through his final college season.
29: Titans: Jeff Gladney, CB, TCU
Malcolm Butler is getting up there in age. Adoree Jackson isn’t guaranteed to be around forever. Gladney gives Mike Vrabel a corner who attacks the game with the same feisty mindset he did as a linebacker.
30: Packers: Austin Jackson, OT, USC
Green Bay could go with a receiver here, but the class is deep enough that they can wait. Instead they take the last tackle on the board who looks like a true first-round talent. Jackson is young and unpolished, but he has size and athleticism that can't be taught.
31. 49ers: Cesar Ruiz, OL, Michigan
Steady. That’s what Ruiz will be in the middle of the Niners offensive line for the next decade. If they don’t trade out of this pick, Ruiz is a nice safe option for a team that needs to make the most of its limited draft assets.
32. Chiefs: Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU
Patrick Mahomes has plenty on the offensive side of the ball. If the Chiefs want to prevent getting involved in shootouts that put pressure on their all-world passer week after week, Fulton’s coverage skills will get them closer to that goal.