2020 NFL Mock Draft 9.0: The Post-Combine Mock

With the combine in the books, multiple teams are poised to trade up to get their targets in our latest Round 1 projection.
Author:
Updated:
Original:

With the combine now behind us, another part of the evaluation process is complete. Some prospects opted to not test or participate in the on-field workout portion of the combine for a variety of reasons, but they will have an opportunity to test and perform at their school’s pro day later this month or in early April.

When the NFL free-agency period opens later this month, teams will address some of their current needs with free agents. In today's mock, five teams trade up to address one of their potential needs. With that said, here are my post-combine Round 1 projections for the 2020 draft:

1. Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Burrow, QB, LSU

Perhaps his “leverage” comment created a brief period of intrigue for the top pick, but Burrow will be a wire-to-wire pick here from the end of the regular season through April 23rd. As the Cincinnati Enquirer reports, the Bengals described the Heisman winner as “the real deal” following the team’s formal interview and he’s “pretty much cemented” atop the team’s draft board. Poised in the pocket with pinpoint accuracy, Burrow accounted for 65 touchdowns—60 passing and five rushing—and made it look easy at times despite facing seven top-10 opponents en route to an undefeated season.

2. Washington Redskins: Chase Young, EDGE, Ohio State

The most talented prospect in this year’s draft class, Young matches his elite traits with elite production. Closing his true sophomore season with six sacks in the final four games, Young built upon his 2018 end-of-season momentum to set an Ohio State record with an FBS-high 16.5 sacks in 2019. Commanding double and triple teams, Young’s impact goes beyond the stat sheet and his presence should lead to many more one-on-one opportunities for Washington's other edge rushers.

3. Los Angeles Chargers (Projected trade—Chargers send the 6th overall pick in and their first-round pick in 2021 to the Lions for the 3rd overall pick): Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama

Up to this point, every iteration of my mock draft has matched Tua with the Dolphins. Armed with three first-rounders and six top-70 picks, they may remain the favorite to trade up for Tua assuming team doctors are comfortable with his medical outlook, but it’s not a lock. Teams picking directly behind the Dolphins (before any trades) could potentially leapfrog them for Tua’s services. As the Chargers move into the post-Philip Rivers era, it’s expected that they will add a potential franchise quarterback to join Tyrod Taylor and Easton Stick. When healthy, Tagovailoa throws with elite accuracy and anticipation and has the mobility to extend plays. Tua expects to be fully cleared on March 9th and will hold a personal pro day on April 9th.

4. New York Giants: Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson

If Dave Gettleman doesn't use this pick on his choice of a “hog molly,” the Giants could use an impact player on defense and Simmons is just that. The converted safety won the 2019 Butkus Award, given to the nation's top collegiate linebacker; he is a defensive chess piece that has lined up nearly everywhere. As expected, Simmons tested off the charts at the combine. With sideline-to-sideline range and playmaking ability, Simmons ended his junior season with 104 tackles, eight sacks, three interceptions and two forced fumbles.

5. Miami Dolphins: Jedrick Wills, OT, Alabama

As noted above, the Dolphins have been matched with Tua Tagovailoa in all previous iterations of my mock draft. Perhaps they will draft Oregon's Justin Herbert here with Tua off the board, but the team has so many needs that Chris Grier may wait to target Trevor Lawrence in 2021. The Dolphins have the league's worst offensive line and could use upgrades at both tackle spots. A two-year starter at right tackle for Alabama, Wills is a dominant run blocker and his outstanding movement skills should allow him to play either tackle spot for the OL-needy Dolphins.

6. Detroit Lions (Projected trade: The Chargers send the 6th overall pick in 2020 and their first-round pick in 2021 to the Lions for the 3rd overall pick): Jeffrey Okudah, CB, Ohio State

With both the Dolphins and Chargers looking for a franchise quarterback, the Lions are in an ideal spot to trade back and acquire more draft capital while still landing an elite prospect that fills a team need. Not only is Darius Slay entering a contract year, the Lions have spoken to several teams about a potential trade for the veteran cornerback. With an elite blend of size, length, speed and competitiveness, Okudah has all the tools to develop into a lockdown corner at the next level.

7. Carolina Panthers: Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon

New head coach Matt Rhule says he's “unbelievably excited” to work with Cam Newton, but that doesn't necessarily answer all of the questions regarding his status in 2020 and beyond. While Herbert needs to be more consistent, he has great size, arm strength, plus mobility and the intelligence to develop into the team's long-term starter. Meanwhile, the Senior Bowl’s Jim Nagy called concerns about Herbert’s quiet leadership style a “false narrative” and went on to say that Herbert has “far more charisma than many NFL starters we’ve been around.”

8. Arizona Cardinals: Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa

The Cardinals re-signed D.J. Humphries to a three-year deal, but they could use an upgrade at right tackle. The first true freshman to start at tackle during the Kirk Ferentz era at Iowa, Wirfs put on a show in Indy on Friday. His 4.85 forty, 36.5" vertical jump and 10' 1" broad jump led all offensive lineman and he looked incredibly smooth and fluid during on-field drills.

9. Jacksonville Jaguars: Derrick Brown, IDL, Auburn

Only the Panthers (5.2) allowed more yards per carry than the Jaguars (5.1) last season, and Brown is a dominant run defender that moves extremely well for his size. (Not only does he fill a need, but he is the best player available based on how the mock has unfolded thus far.) The Jaguars declined the option on defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, although the Jags may consider bringing him back at a reduced salary.

10. Cleveland Browns: Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville

Cleveland could be in the market to upgrade both tackle spots. Benched midseason and arrested this offseason, left tackle Greg Robinson is a free agent. Meanwhile, right tackle Chris Hubbard graded out as PFF's 76th-best offensive tackle (among 81 qualifiers) last season. A mountain of a man at 6'7" and 364 pounds with vines for arms (35 5/8"), the 20-year-old Becton has work to do on technique, but he has rare movement skills for a man his size.

11. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Projected trade: The Bucs send the 14th and 76th overall picks to the Jets for the 11th overall pick): Jordan Love, QB, Utah State

Following his 30-interception season, there’s no guarantee that Jameis Winston will be back in Tampa, although that hasn’t been ruled out either. As for Love, he regressed in his junior season as he threw nearly as many interceptions (17) as touchdowns (20), but part of that can be attributed to a coaching change and lack of offensive talent and experience around him. If Love's 2018 and '19 seasons were reversed, however, he would be more widely-viewed as a potential top-10 pick although that buzz seems to be building. While he's just outside the top 10 in this mock, his intriguing skill set could entice Bruce Arians and the Bucs to trade in front of the Raiders and Colts for the strong-armed signal-caller.

12. Las Vegas Raiders: Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama

Tight end Darren Waller had a breakout season (90/1,145/3), but the Raiders lacked explosiveness at wide receiver. Ending his collegiate career on a high note (6/204/1 vs. Michigan), Jeudy is a polished route-runner who can immediately step into the WR1 role.

13. Indianapolis Colts: Javon Kinlaw, IDL, South Carolina

As Chris Ballard said last month the “3-technique drives this” defense and “we've got to be able to get some more interior pressure.” Kinlaw has generated 10 sacks over the past two seasons by using his blend of length, strength and quickness.

14. New York Jets (Projected trade: The Bucs send the 14th and 76th overall picks to the Jets for the 11th overall pick): Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia

The Jets haven't used a first- or second-round pick on an offensive lineman since they drafted Vlad Ducasse with the 61st overall pick in 2010. Provided one of the top four offensive tackles are available when the Jets are on the clock, that's almost certainly going to change as the team needs to better protect Sam Darnold and open up more holes for Le'Veon Bell. The Jets ranked bottom-three in Football Outsiders’ offensive line rankings in both run blocking (31st) and pass blocking (30th) in 2019. Thomas was a three-year starter at Georgia with experience at both right (2017) and left tackle ('18 and '19).

15. Denver Broncos: CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma

Quarterback Drew Lock and tight end Noah Fant showed promise in their rookie seasons and Courtland Sutton had a breakout sophomore campaign (1,112 yards). In terms of helping their young quarterback, the Broncos could use an upgrade at left tackle—maybe they consider Houston's Josh Jones here—or add another talented receiver to take some pressure off of Sutton. Scoring 26 touchdowns in 27 games over the past two seasons, Lamb isn't a burner, but he has outstanding hands, body control and run-after-catch ability.

16. Philadelphia Eagles (Projected trade: The Eagles send the 21 and the 53 pick to the Falcons for the 16 overall pick): Henry Ruggs, WR, Alabama

Last year, Carson Wentz became the first quarterback to throw for 4,000 yards without a 500-yard wide receiver, as the Eagles’ receiving corps was decimated by injuries. The trio of Alshon Jeffery (10), DeSean Jackson (three) and Nelson Agholor (11) played only 24 games in 2019. Few players can match the 4.27 speed of Ruggs, who scored on one of every four career touches at Alabama, and he would provide that field-stretching element they expected when they brought back D-Jax.

17. Buffalo Bills (Projected trade: The Bills send the 22nd and 86th picks in this year's draft as well as the first of two fifth-round picks to Dallas for the 17th overall pick): K’Lavon Chaisson, EDGE, LSU

In the previous version of this mock, I slotted Tee Higgins to the Bills as they could benefit from a receiver with a wide catch radius to complement their smaller-but-productive free-agent additions from last year. With the depth at the position, however, they could target someone like Michael Pittman or Chase Claypool in the second round and use their first-round pick to fill a need at edge. With elite speed off the edge, the 20-year-old Chaisson started 2019 slowly as he returned from a 2018 ACL tear, but he finished the season strong with 4.5 sacks in his final four games.

18. Miami Dolphins (via Pittsburgh): C.J. Henderson, CB, Florida

Critics will be quick to point to Henderson’s inconsistency as a tackler, but the former Gator’s impressive combination of size, length, speed and fluid movement makes him a potential shutdown corner at the next level. The duo of Xavien Howard and Henderson would give the Dolphins one of the league's better young outside cornerback tandems.

19. Las Vegas Raiders (via Chicago): Patrick Queen, LB, LSU

The Raiders address two of their team’s biggest needs with Jeudy and Queen. One of the youngest prospects in the draft (he turns 21 in August), Queen played his best football down the stretch during LSU’s title run. While he’s a bit undersized, Queen is a three-down linebacker with outstanding speed that excels in coverage.

20. Jacksonville Jaguars (via L.A. Rams): Josh Jones, OT, Houston

Even though coach Doug Marrone recently said that he's "really excited about" about Cam Robinson, the Jaguars need better play from their left tackle. A four-year starter at Houston, Jones has the length, quick feet and movement skills coveted in a left tackle.

21. Atlanta Falcons (Projected trade: The Eagles send the 21st and the 53rd pick to the Falcons for the 16th overall pick): A.J. Epenesa, EDGE, Iowa

Not only did the Falcons finish with the second fewest sacks (28) in 2019, but Vic Beasley (team-high eight sacks) will play elsewhere in 2020 and Adrian Clayborn (four sacks) is an impending free agent as well. Epenesa isn't a speed rusher, but he wins with a blend of power, length, technique and heavy hands, and has the versatility to rush from the inside as well. While he started the 2019 season slowly, Epenesa closed strong with eight sacks and four forced fumbles over his final five games.

22. Dallas Cowboys (Projected trade: The Bills send the 22nd and 86th picks in this year's draft as well as the first of two fifth-round picks to Dallas for the 17th overall pick): Grant Delpit, S, LSU

Over the past five seasons, the Cowboys are tied with the 49ers for the fewest passes intercepted (43). Expected to lose cornerback Byron Jones in free agency this offseason, the Cowboys may go corner here like in my previous iteration of this mock (C.J. Henderson, off the board in this version). Both corner and safety are needs, however, and Delpit is a rangy playmaker with eight interceptions and 24 passes defended in his three seasons at LSU.

23. New England Patriots: Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama

The Patriots have been in communication with free agent safety Devin McCourty, who turns 33 before the 2020 season. Even if they bring him back, adding a talented and younger option like McKinney makes sense. Adept in both run support and as a pass defender, McKinney has the versatility to play either safety spot as well as nickel corner.

24. New Orleans Saints: Brandon Aiyuk, WR, Arizona State

While the two sides have yet to agree to a new deal, Drew Brees has announced that he will return for his 20th NFL season. Adding a playmaker opposite Michael Thomas would make sense. Coming off a breakout senior season, Aiyuk has the speed and open-field vision to rack up yards after the catch in bunches.

25. Minnesota Vikings: Neville Gallimore, IDL, Oklahoma

Nose tackle Linval Joseph is due to earn $11.15 million, but he could be a cap casualty as the Star Tribune and NFL.com notes. If the Vikings don't cut Joseph or if they keep him on a restructured deal, Gallimore would be an upgrade alongside him. Either way, the 304-pound Canadian moves incredibly well, as his 4.79 forty illustrates.

26. Miami Dolphins (via Houston): D'Andre Swift, RB, Georgia

Miami has holes all across their roster and can go in a number of directions here, but they had the league’s worst rushing attack in 2019—72.3 yards per game and 3.3 yards per carry. Upgrading the offensive line is necessary as well (see No. 5), but Swift is an elusive runner with great burst. As an accomplished receiver (73 career receptions at Georgia), he offers the upside to be a three-down back for the Dolphins.

27. Green Bay Packers (Projected trade: The Packers send 30th and 94th overall picks to the Seahawks for the 27th overall pick): Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma

Blake Martinez is set to become a free agent and Murray would more than fill the void. A tackling machine for the Sooners, Murray plays with sideline-to-sideline range and a non-stop motor to make him an impact linebacker in the middle of the Packers defense.

28. Baltimore Ravens: Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU

While I have focused primarily on the defensive side of the ball in earlier mock drafts, the Ravens would benefit from adding another playmaker for Lamar Jackson. Jefferson has outstanding hands, ran a better-than-expected 40-yard dash (4.43) and is coming off a prolific season (111/1,540/18) for the national champions.

29. Tennessee Titans: Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU

Several Titans corners are set to become free agents this offseason, including Logan Ryan. Fulton has mostly held his own over the past two seasons despite squaring off against elite competition. One of the concerns that some had about Fulton was his long speed, but he ran a solid 4.46 forty on Sunday.

30. Seattle Seahawks (Projected trade: The Packers send 30 and 94 overall picks to the Seahawks for the 37 overall pick): Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama

Over the past seven drafts, the Seahawks have made just three first-round selections—Germain Ifedi (2016), Rashaad Penny (’18) and L.J. Collier (’19)—and they traded back from their original pick within the first round to make all three of those selections, so a trade down would be par for the course. The younger brother of Vikings receiver Stefon Diggs, Trevon has ideal length for the position, good hands and led Alabama in pass breakups (eight) last season.

31. San Francisco 49ers: Austin Jackson, OT, USC

With no picks in Rounds 2 to 4, the 49ers will likely look to trade back from this spot to acquire more picks. If they don't trade back, finding a long-term replacement for Joe Staley makes sense even though John Lynch expects him to return for one more season. Jackson is an athletic left tackle prospect that would fit well with what Kyle Shanahan wants from his offensive linemen.

32. Kansas City Chiefs: Jeff Gladney, CB, TCU

Several of the Chiefs’ cornerbacks—Kendall Fuller, Morris Claiborne, Bashaud Breeland and Keith Reaser—are set to hit free agency. While he’s not the biggest corner (5' 10", 191 pounds), Gladney’s physicality and speed allow him to play bigger. Playing through a meniscus tear he suffered in August, Gladney participated in combine testing on Sunday but will have surgery. He's expected to be ready for minicamps this summer and could still be a consideration here.

Kevin Hanson joins SI for the 2020 NFL Draft season. His NFL Mock Drafts have graded as the most accurate over the past five years, per The Huddle Report. His 2015 NFL mock draft graded as the most accurate and his 2019 NFL mock draft was the second-most accurate out of 101 draft analysts.