Druin NFL Mock Draft 1.0: Trades Shake Draft Board, Receivers and Offensive Tackles Streak Early
Unless a miracle is performed, the Pittsburgh Steelers will be without a first round pick for the first time since 1967. Quite the time has passed since then, but the NFL Draft has stood the test of time, evolving into one of the most pristine events in the world of sports.
Story-lines often dictate the draft, and 2020 appears to be no different. LSU quarterback Joe Burrow appears to be the slam dunk pick for the Bengals, but when the Washington Redskins are on the clock, chaos may ensue.
Will a running back go in the first round? Who's the first receiver taken out of Henry Ruggs III, Jerry Jeudy and CeeDee Lamb? Is the league really prepared for a run of offensive tackles through the first round?
Although school isn't currently in session for much of the country, these questions will have answers within the next month. While the logistics of how the draft will happen, it appears NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is set to keep everything on schedule. So, without further a do:
With the first pick, in the 2020 NFL Draft, the Cincinnati Bengals select...
1. Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
If picks were slam dunks, this would be Vince Carter jumping out the gym. The Bengals are in need of fresh blood at the quarterback position, and Burrow is one of the best quarterback prospects to come through the draft in awhile. Burrow not going here would be among the bigger shocks in recent draft history.
2. Washington Redskins: Chase Young, DL, Ohio State
With Trent Williams nearing his exit in Washington, it's very tempting for the Redskins to trade down and select the best tackle available while also recouping some draft ammunition. However, the Redskins likely aren't willing to see if Chase Young becomes one of the best of his generation in another uniform. With recent rookie pass-rushers displaying immediate results, Young to Washington appears to be a lock... If the team is serious about Dwayne Haskins' future.
TRADE ALERT: The Miami Dolphins have traded picks with the Detroit Lions, and are now on the clock.
3. Miami Dolphins: Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
The Dolphins take no chances on missing their guy, trading up two spots and eliminating all hope for any potential suitors other than Miami. With a clean medical, obvious interest from the organization and the AFC East being anybody's for the taking after Tom Brady's departure, Tua's been destined to land in Miami. The Dolphins grab one of the most highly-touted quarterback prospects in recent years and look to right the ship.
4. New York Giants: Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson
The Giants may easily entertain an offensive tackle here, and with Daniel Jones/Saquon Barkley needing to remain healthy, it's a viable option. However, with the draft's most versatile defensive chess piece in Isaiah Simmons sitting here at number four, it's nearly impossible for the Giants to pass up on such defensive talent. Simmons has the capability to roam and make plays anywhere on the field, something New York would welcome with open arms after 2019.
5. Detroit Lions: Jeff Okudah, DB, Ohio State
Jokes on Miami, the Lions grab their guy they wanted all along in Jeff Okudah. Okudah's physicality, ball skills and overall pedigree as a playmaker in the secondary earns him the title of the best secondary player in the draft, something Detroit will rely on as Darius Slay is no longer in the picture. An obvious void is filled here.
6. Los Angeles Chargers: Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
Let's be real: Tyrod Taylor isn't the future of the Chargers franchise. LA appears all but ready to draft a new quarterback should they not acquire Cam Newton, and Justin Herbert's physical attributes give all the appeal to NFL teams. Herbert is raw in some areas of his game, and sitting behind Taylor would likely be the best course of action to groom the future face of the Chargers.
7. Carolina Panthers: Derrick Brown, DL, Auburn
The Panthers are in a peculiar position with none of the top three quarterbacks, Simmons and Okudah remaining on the board. While a trade down in this scenario is very possible, the team stands pat and selects one of the best interior players in the draft to keep control of the trenches in a division that features Todd Gurley and Alvin Kamara.
8. Arizona Cardinals: Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa
This mock draft is being constructed just minutes after learning the Cardinals resigned tackle Marcus Gilbert to a one year deal. That changes nothing for myself, as Gilbert has struggled to stay healthy and the team will need along-term answer at right tackle. What better way to lean than Wirfs out of the OL factory that is Iowa? Kyler Murray needs protection if the Cardinals plan on keeping his jersey clean, and should Wirfs not work out at right tackle, he's a versatile linemen that could also slide to the guard spot.
9. Jacksonville Jaguars: Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville
I must've debated this pick for hours. I strongly wanted to have Jacksonville draft Javon Kinlaw, but felt nine may be just a sliver too high on where Kinlaw would actually end up. Regardless if it's Gardner Minshew or another gun-slinger down the road, the Jaguars need an anchor at left tackle. Louisville's Mekhi Becton has skyrocketed up draft boards after an impressive combine, and here he finds himself as the second tackle off the board. With a long and strong Becton on the squad, Cam Robinson would be able to slide to guard duties.
10. Cleveland Browns: Jedrick Wills, OT, Alabama
The offensive tackle run continues as the Browns lock down the left side of their offensive line with Jedrick Wills, a tackle that's widely considered as one of the best in the draft despite going third here in this mock. Cleveland loaded up on weapons the last few years, now it's time to protect Baker Mayfield and give him (literal) time to develop. There's no replacing a guy like Joe Thomas at left tackle, but if there's one guy Cleveland should like to fill those shoes, it's Wills.
11. New York Jets: CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
With the Jets losing offensive firepower in the offseason, New York re-ups on getting Sam Darnold some weapons and grabs CeeDee Lamb just outside the top ten. Lamb's abilities as a receiver are about as well rounded as you'll find from a receiver entering the draft despite not having track-star speed like Henry Ruggs III. Nonetheless, the Jets gain an alpha male in their receiving corps in hopes of finding a special connection with their franchise quarterback.
12. Las Vegas Raiders: Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
Let's get the obvious out of the way: The Raiders need help in the pass-catching department. Ranking receivers is like splitting hairs in this draft, and with Lamb off the board, the decision between Jeudy/Ruggs III gets no easier. In my humble opinion, I do consider Jeudy to be a more-polished receiver, and thus Las Vegas adds a top receiver to catch touchdowns in their brand new stadium. Not that they needed help selling season tickets, but Jeudy's talent is enough to get even more fans in the seats.
13. San Francisco 49ers: Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama
Three consecutive tackles followed by three consecutive receivers? Fire me on the spot. Surely the draft won't pan out like this, however receiver is still a strong position of need following Emmanuel Sanders' departure, and the 49ers have speedster Henry Ruggs III fall to them at pick number 13. There's no telling what Kyle Shanahan will be able to cook up with Ruggs' play-making ability, but Jimmy G can never have too many weapons, and his newest toy will do just fine.
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
All signs point to this pick. Every. Single. One. For whatever reason, Andrew Thomas' draft stock was a hit a bit due to offseason risers. During the season, most regarded Thomas as one of the best tackle prospects coming out. Thomas now finds himself on a Buccaneers squad that will need all possible help in protecting quarterback Tom Brady in hopes of a potential playoff run. Through the end of Brady's run in Tampa and beyond, Thomas could be a valuable anchor in Tampa Bay.
TRADE ALERT: The Jacksonville Jaguars have traded picks with the Denver Broncos, and are now on the clock.
15. Jacksonville Jaguars: K'Lavon Chaisson, EDGE, LSU
Yannick Ngakoue is extremely adamant that he is on his way out of Jacksonville. It's expected he's out of town by time the draft rolls around, and if that's the case, the Jaguars have more than enough ammo to make a generous offer to jump from 20 to 15. Chaisson provides Jacksonville an explosive edge rusher that can come in and make an impact immediately in Ngakoue's absence.
16. Atlanta Falcons: Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina
The Falcons are in need of bolstering their defensive interior, and are lucky enough to have Javon Kinlaw fall to their graces at 16. Kinlaw's power, motor and ability to play multiple gaps for Atlanta will provide the Falcons with a dominant presence in the trenches on the defensive side of the ball. Cornerback is another possibility here, yet Kinlaw dropping all the way to pick no. 16 is too good to pass up.
17. Dallas Cowboys: C.J. Henderson, CB, Florida
With all the praise Jeff Okudah has garnered through this process, it's worth noting Florida's C.J. Henderson isn't too far behind when it comes to playing man coverage. Dallas, in need of a cornerback after Byron Jones cashed his check in Miami, selects the top cornerback available in hopes of keeping stride in the NFC East. If coverage is the game, Henderson's the name Dallas could only hope and dream for at number 17.
18. Miami Dolphins: Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama
Is replacing one Alabama safety for another taking the easy way out? Probably, but the Dolphins are in need of safety help following the departures of Minkah Fitzpatrick and Reshad Jones. While this might be early for Xavier McKinney, his tackling and versatility would be utilized immediately upon landing in Miami.
19. Las Vegas Raiders: Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma
The Raiders are a favorite to land a cornerback somewhere in the first round, yet with a playmaker such as Kenneth Murray still on the board at the linebacker position, that's a hard offer to pass up. Murray's sideline to sideline speed and physicality is something late owner Al Davis would be proud of. The Raiders have a ton of draft capital within the first three rounds, and Murray would only bolster what looks to be a strong draft class for Las Vegas.
20. Denver Broncos: Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor
Denver trades back from 15 and still manages to grab a receiver while also gaining more draft picks. In a depth chart that lacks a true threat outside of Courtland Sutton, Denzel Mims may be the elixir in helping Drew Lock and company. While Mims isn't running routes like Jeudy, his build/body control and catch radius is top-tier for the 2020 draft class. Mims starting opposite of Sutton is something Denver would be able to get behind.
21. Philadelphia Eagles: Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU
The question is not if a receiver goes here, but what name is announced when the Eagles hit the podium. With the top three receivers and Mims gone, Philadelphia opts for a versatile Justin Jefferson that's capable of playing across the board. Jefferson shouldn't have lofty expectations, as Alshon Jeffery should provide him ample time to fine-tune his skills and eventually emerge as a true threat in the NFL.
22. Minnesota Vikings: A.J. Epenesa, EDGE, Iowa
The Vikings have a handful of needs, and luckily have pick no. 25 to go along with no. 23 as well. With Everson Griffen waving goodbye to Minnesota to test free agency, the Vikings land one of the best pass-rushers in the draft in A.J. Epenesa, who was once considered to be a top ten pick during the season.
23. New England Patriots: Jordan Love, QB, Utah State
Tom Brady is out of the building, and I'm not sure the levels of confidence Bill Belichick has in Jarrett Stidham. Enter: Jordan Love, a quarterback with mobility, arm talent and plenty of upside in the later parts of the first round. If the Patriots plan on reloading rather than rebuilding, Love is capable of coming in and, at minimum, pushing Stidham for competition in camp.
24. New Orleans Saints: Patrick Queen, LB, LSU
Nothing like grabbing home-grown talent, right? With WR/CB needs filled for the time being, the Saints grab a day one starter in Patrick Queen. Queen is a linebacker with a high football IQ that's just as capable of dropping into coverage as he is playing in run support, and projects to play at any off-ball linebacker position needed.
25. Minnesota Vikings: Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU
After addressing their defensive line, basic needs are now down to WR/CB. In a deep WR class, the Vikings claim LSU corner Kristian Fulton and opt to address receiver in the coming rounds. Fulton, while not the top-flight corner he was once projected to be in college, plays very well in man-to-man coverage and has potential to develop into an acceptable replacement for Xavier Rhodes.
26. Miami Dolphins: Josh Jones, OT, Houston
After securing their franchise quarterback, the Dolphins look to find their anchor to protect Tua. Here, Josh Jones finds himself heading to Miami after the Dolphins lost Laremy Tunsil via trade last season. Jones will take some development before becoming a franchise guy, yet all the tools and handwork are there for it to happen.
27. Seattle Seahawks: Yetur Gross-Matos, EDGE, Penn State
The Jadeveon Clowney situation continues to be one to monitor in Seattle after Clowney attempted to test free agency and ultimately came up short. If the current situation remains the same for Seattle, look for them to address their defensive line early by adding Yetur Gross-Matos, a long edge rusher that possesses a plethora of tools and traits to help him be successful at the next level.
28. Baltimore Ravens: Brandon Aiyuk, WR, Arizona State
I consider the Ravens a strong candidate to trade down here if the board pans out like this, but with the current pool of players available I had difficulty justifying a team moving from the second round to here. The Ravens, needing another receiver to pair with Marquise Brown, opt for the shifty playmaker in Aiyuk. Aiyuk's ability to strike a big play with his speed and route running would provide a great compliment to Brown's similar abilities in Baltimore.
29. Tennessee Titans: Jeff Gladney, CB, TCU
The Titans have a variety of options sitting at 29, yet most edge rushers and offensive tackles at this point may be considered a reach. Instead, Tennessee opts to bolster their secondary by adding the scrappy Jeff Gladney. Adding Gladney alongside the likes of Adoree Jackson, Kevin Byard, Kenny Vaccaro and Malcolm Butler might be overkill, but there's no such thing as too much depth in today's modern passing game.
30. Green Bay Packers: Neville Gallimore, DT, Oklahoma
Gallimore might be considered a slight reach here, but the Packers would be wise to snatch Gallimore up at pick no. 30 before he's taken early in the second round. Gallimore provides an athletic, dominant presence in the interior that Green Bay could utilize alongside Kenny Clark, although Gallimore is best used at NT. The presence of Gallimore would help solidify the Packers as one of the best fronts in the conference.
TRADE ALERT: The Carolina Panthers have traded picks with the San Francisco 49ers, and are now on the clock.
31. Carolina Panthers: Grant Delpit, S, LSU
There's a lot of rumblings of Delpit falling out of the first round, and those concerns are legitimate. However, with San Francisco willing to trade down to draft players of need that would still likely be there, the Panthers move up in-front of a handful of potential takers and secure Delpit for their defensive backfield. There's no doubting Delpit's dynamic ability, and if the Panthers can correct minor issues, this trade will pay off immensely.
32. Kansas City Chiefs: Trevon Diggs, DB, Alabama
With Kendall Fuller departing for Washington and a handful of other question marks in the secondary, the Chiefs opt to select the lengthy Trevon Diggs. Diggs would best be utilized outside and still has a learning curve to fully complete his transformation to cornerback, but the size, range and anticipation are there for the taking.