I haven’t done any mock drafts this spring, for some reason, and I’m not sure why. So it was strange filling this one out, which I first did over the weekend, before continually adjusting since—because if this is the only one I do, the stakes feel a little higher (and I’m stupidly competitive).
Will it be perfect? Of course not. First curveball comes, and all these things fall apart. But I’m hoping, beyond just who’s going where, you learn a little something with the information I’ve packed in here.
Let’s go …
1. Cincinnati: Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
Burrow has taken the advantage he’s gained from being the presumed No. 1 pick to focus on readying himself the last three months to play in the NFL. “I haven’t really adjusted too much,” he told me. “I’ve got a pretty good routine going, lifting and throwing and working out. That’s the luxury of having the season that I did, I don’t have to spend 20 hours on my 40 start. I can spend that 20 hours elsewhere, in my game where it’s actually needed. I hope that’s gonna show itself on the field this year.” Likewise, the Bengals have taken advantage of knowing who they’re going to take by building with Burrow—maxing out their allowable time with him—both on the relationship side and the football side, to ensure that he can hit the ground running with Zac Taylor, Brian Callahan and Dan Pitcher next week. So no, no surprises here.
2. Washington: Chase Young, DE, Ohio State
Washington has kicked the tires on trades, and won’t hang up if teams call this week. But the hay’s in the barn on this one. Ron Rivera gets his war daddy pass rusher to supercharge an already talented front—and Dwayne Haskins gets another year.
3. Detroit: Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State
The Lions are still looking for a deal. And with the likelihood that the Giants go tackle at No. 4, moving to 5 would be ideal, because the defensive player they’d take here would probably still be there. The reality? The reality is they might just be stuck here (and I’ll explain that in a minute). And if they are, I think this will come down to Okudah and Auburn DT Derrick Brown, said to be a favorite of some on the Lions' coaching staff. If Okudah goes here, that’d make him the highest-drafted corner in 23 years, with fellow Buckeye Shawn Springs having gone third in 1997. Brown would be just the third interior defensive lineman to go in the top eight picks in the last nine drafts. Thus, the question the Lions are pondering centers not on how good the players are, but value. And their work on Okudah, I’m told, has continued into this week.
4. N.Y. Giants: Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa
I expect the Giants, regardless of GM Dave Gettleman’s history, to aggressively seek a trade. If they wind up picking here, I do think it’ll be a tackle. I don’t think it’ll be Mekhi Becton, because of Becton’s makeup. And what I’ve heard is that as teams investigate Wirfs and Jedrick Wills, the Iowa staff is higher on the former than the Bama staff is on the latter. New coach Joe Judge has relationships with both groups, and I think he’ll lean on them here.
5. Miami: Justin Herbert, QB Oregon
There are a lot of rumblings that this could be a tackle (maybe Becton?), and that the Dolphins could come back later and get their quarterback (Jordan Love?). But I’m going to play it safe here. Both Brian Flores and Chris Grier have backgrounds in programs that favor prototypes, and Herbert’s a prototype. For what it’s worth, I’ve also heard that Dan Marino gave Herbert a glowing review.
6. L.A. Chargers: Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
As we said in the MMQB, GM Tom Telesco is cagey as they come. As is the case with Miami, there’s a plenty of buzz that the Chargers could sit and take a tackle here. So call this one a hunch. The Chargers have a lot of brewing contract situations with established veterans, and too good a roster to count on being bad again, so having a high-end QB on a rookie deal would solve a lot of problems, and it’s worth the risk. And if Tagovailoa doesn’t go here? I really don’t know how far he'll fall.
7. Carolina: Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn
I believe Matt Rhule’s first pick could come down to who the Lions don’t pick. So if Brown goes to Detroit, Okudah may be headed for Charlotte. Either way, it’ll be important for the new coach to make a statement on the kind of guys he’s looking for with whomever he picks here, and both Brown and Okudah fit the bill there as A-plus kids.
8. Arizona: Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson
I talked to a GM Monday night who was strident that he believed the Cardinals love Simmons. And it makes sense, because GM Steve Keim certainly has a “type” of versatile defensive player he looks for (e.g. Tyrann Mathieu, Tony Jefferson, Budda Baker, Haason Reddick, Deone Bucannon). Simmons is all of that.
9. Tampa Bay (trade with Jacksonville): Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
The Bucs have enough folks experienced with Tom Brady in their building to know the kind of smart, dependable guys he’ll want around him. That’s Thomas. Maybe his upside isn’t to the level of Wills or Becton. But you’re probably not going to miss on him, and he’ll be ready to go right away.
10. Cleveland: Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville
So with the trades mixed in now, things fall a little differently than they did in my Monday column, and Becton’s off-the-charts athletic potential should play well with the analytics people and fit Kevin Stefanski’s desire for linemen who can move. And if Becton hits that potential? He and Jack Conklin have a chance to be a couple of nasty tone-setters for a long time to come bookending Cleveland’s line.
11. N.Y. Jets: Jedrick Wills, OT, Alabama
I believe Joe Douglas wants to take a tackle here. I do not believe he’ll force it. And Wills's falling in his lap here makes this one pretty easy for him.
12. Las Vegas: Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
Jon Gruden wants his game-breaking "Z" receiver. Jon Gruden gets his game-breaking "Z" receiver. But I wouldn’t rule out a corner like C.J. Henderson here, given the depth of the receiver group.
13. San Francisco (from Indianapolis): Henry Ruggs, WR, Alabama
Marquise Goodwin’s been on the block, and that role (which Taylor Gabriel filled in Cleveland and Atlanta) is an important one in Kyle Shanahan’s offense. Ruggs is more than just a burner. He’s tough, capable of being a strong special-teamer, and was a top-shelf teammate in Tuscaloosa. So he goes—surprise, surprise—ahead of CeeDee Lamb.
14. Jacksonville (trade with Tampa Bay): C.J. Henderson, CB, Florida
This fills a big need for a team with a lot of them. As we mentioned in the Monday column, I’d expect the Jags to move around with their 12 picks and maybe move some assets into 2021. In this spot, Henderson (who some prefer over Okudah) is too good to pass on.
15. Denver: CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
The Broncos have been sniffing around the tackles. They could trade up in Round 1 for one. They could trade back in the bottom of the first round to catch the second wave going at the position. But in this scenario, Lamb’s too good to pass on.
16. Atlanta: Javon Kinlaw, DL, South Carolina
A trade-up could be in play for a defensive difference-maker like Henderson or Simmons. If they stick at No. 16? I’ve had K’Lavon Chaisson going here for a while. But I didn’t expect that Kinlaw, who probably has more pass-rush potential than Brown, to slide this far, and his ability to play up and down the line fits what Dan Quinn wants in his D-linemen.
17. Dallas: Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama
Call this a hunch, because I do think Chaisson or even Michigan center Cesar Ruiz could be in play here. Thing is, the Cowboys have had a safety issue forever, and McKinney is a very, very safe bet to be a good player for a long time—and is the sort of movable piece that Mike Nolan values in his style of defense.
18. Miami (from Pittsburgh): Austin Jackson, OT, USC
Here comes the second tier of tackles, earlier than a lot of people would expect. And again, I laid out the scenario before where the Dolphins could take Becton at No. 5 and Love here. In this one, they get their quarterback first, and left tackle second. And Jackson is the kind of pick to make with an eye to the future—he has to get stronger, and his heroic act of last year, donating bone-marrow to his sister, certainly is part of what he lost football-wise leading into his final year at USC. But he’s 20, and the Dolphins can be patient with him. The reward could be huge.
19. Las Vegas (from Chicago): A.J. Terrell, CB, Clemson
This felt a little early, and, yes, he did get lit up in the title game in January. But the guy he got lit up by, LSU’s JaMarr Chase, lit up everyone in 2019, and is seen as a better NFL prospect than any receiver in this year’s class. Terrell’s length and ability to press make him a good fit for what the Raiders want at the position.
20. Jacksonville (from L.A. Rams): K’Lavon Chaisson, DE, LSU
They’ll have to replace Yannick Ngaukoe (check Twitter for more on that), and Chaisson is as good a candidate as any to do it here. For a team that just needs to restock its roster with young cornerstones, the still-growing Tigers pass rusher is a really good value at No. 20.
21. Philadelphia: Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma
Cue the frea- out from the Philly faithful—no receiver here! Instead, Howie Roseman gets a guy who’ll be a leader and have the green dot on his helmet for a decade. Murray’s a freaky athlete who fits everything Jim Schwartz looks for in a middle linebacker.
22. Minnesota (from Buffalo): Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU
So this one worked out well for the Vikings. They get the fourth receiver off the board, and one with versatility to play inside or out in Gary Kubiak’s offense—and is plenty smart enough to pick it up quickly.
23. New England: Cole Kmet, TE, Notre Dame
I had Ruiz here, and then I had Kmet, and then Ruiz, and then Kmet. I also believe that McKinney would be a consideration if he slips here, and that Murray or Patrick Queen are fits too. Bottom line? The bottom line is the Patriots need to get younger all over the place, so this could go any which way.
24. New Orleans: Jordyn Brooks, LB, Texas Tech
Is this early? It sure is. Would it be surprising to see Brooks go before Queen? Yup. But I’ve heard the Saints like Brooks, and the Saints really aren’t worried what other teams think.
25. Minnesota: Jaylon Johnson, CB, Utah
Initially, I had Terrell here, and Kristian Fulton going to Vegas, and that should explain the volatility of the corner position beyond the top two guys. Some teams don’t have Johnson among the top seven or eight players at the position, and there’s obvious injury concern (he probably won’t be healthy until camp). But word is, the Vikings like him. So I’ll roll the dice here.
26. Miami (from Houston): Patrick Queen, LB, LSU
A perfect Brian Flores linebacker—fast, physical, smart and a leader. And that would complete a haul that would give Miami its quarterback, left tackle and defensive leader of the future.
27. Seattle: Yetur Gross-Matos, DE, Penn State
The Seahawks need pass-rush help, even if Jadeveon Clowney comes back next year. Gross-Matos fits their athletic profile, and still has a lot of room to grow. I’d watch this as a spot for someone to come up and get an offensive tackle, too—Seattle will be listening to offers to move out of the first round.
28. Baltimore: Marlon Davidson, DL, Auburn
The Ravens would love to get a linebacker, but there just isn’t one left here worthy of a first-round pick. So they reset and find the kind of inside/outside force that DC Wink Martindale can move all over his front.
29. Tennessee: Isaiah Wilson, OT, Georgia
Losing Conklin leaves a hole on the right side of the offensive line. And while the Titans, like the Seahawks, are planning to be all ears on offers for the 29th pick, having a big, physical right tackle like Wilson right in front of them may be too much to pass on.
30. Green Bay: Jalen Raegor, WR, TCU
The Packers need to get faster and while Raegor didn’t run as fast as many expected in Indy, he’s a legitimate game-breaker who should transition smoothly to the NFL. Matt LaFleur will be appreciative of this one, given his experience around similarly speedy receivers like Gabriel and Sammy Watkins. And this will be of nice benefit to Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams too.
31. L.A. Chargers (trade with San Francisco): Josh Jones, OT, Houston
The Niners are able to trade out, as they’ve intended, and the Chargers come back into the round and get their left tackle of the future. There are questions here, to be sure, and Boise’s Ezra Cleveland is someone to watch in this range, too, as a safer option. But if Jones hits, Tom Telesco could have an important position taken care of for a long time to come.
32. Kansas City: Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU
A nice, safe pick. Despite some missteps early in his college career, Fulton grew up quickly and should be a solid starter at the NFL level. He was tested plenty last year playing opposite a true freshman some at LSU felt was the best player on their defense (Derek Stingley Jr.), and held up fine. So he should be ready to go. I have, by the way, heard the Chiefs like D’Andre Swift. But it’s hard to see, given Andy Reid’s track record (he’s spent no first-rounders, and just one second-rounder, on a running back in 21 drafts). And if someone wants to come fishing for Jordan Love here, I’d bet Brett Veach would be all ears.
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