Now that the NFL combine has concluded and we have a better idea of what this class’ draft stock is, I thought i’d join the masses in predicting who will go where come April in the first round when the draft party descends on Las Vegas.
Pick 1: Cincinnati Bengals – Joe Burrow, QB – LSU
I wanted to go against the flow, i really did. For me, Chase Young is the best talent in this draft, but I think the Bengals need to rebuild from top to bottom, and that starts with a franchise QB. Burrow was the stand out player in College football in 2019, he’s done enough to prove himself a quality option for the NFL. Cinci need him, the re-build of the Bengals dynasty starts here.
Pick 2 MOCK TRADE: Las Vegas Raiders via Washington – Chase Young, EDGE – Ohio State
What a way to kick start their new identity as the Las Vegas Raiders than blowing Day 1 out of the water with a monster trade in front of their new home fans, right! With two first rounders and three third rounders in this years’ draft, I think the Raiders will put any stock necessary in order to pair Young up with last years’ first pick, Clelin Ferrell. Corner, Wide Receiver and QB needs can be addressed either in the free agency or later in the draft.
As previously mentioned, I believe Young is the best player in this player pool. With Washington not having a need at EDGE, the offer from another team, in this case Las Vegas, will be too big to turn down. The Skins will have opportunities to strengthen later down this list.
Pick 3 MOCK TRADE: Miami Dolphins via Detroit – Tua Tagovailoa, QB – Alabama
It’s bold predicting trades early on, i know! But i can see it happening. Detroit need secondary help above anything else with Darius Slay on the downturn and no obvious replacements currently on their roster. They will be able to grab the player they need back at pick 5 though, as well as gaining a sweetener extra pick later in the draft.
After seeing Burrow picked at 1, the Dolphins will be keen to get it over and done with before anyone else jumps in to this slot before them (sorry Charger fans). Tua has been destined for Miami ever since the ‘Tank for Tua’ slogan appeared early on at the beginning of last season when it looked inevitable that Miami would probably be picking first. Well, that wasn’t to be, however, with Tua’s unfortunate injury at the end of the 2019 campaign, his draft stock took a small dent too. Stars have aligned, Tua will still be a Dolphin.
Pick 4: New York Giants – Tristan Wirfs, OL – Iowa
After seemingly finding Eli’s replacement this time last year in Daniel Jones, the next logical step for the G-men is to get him protected. Wirfs was one of the stand-outs in this years’ combine which has probably justified his ‘Top 5’ value.
Pick 5 MOCK TRADE: Detroit Lions via Miami – Jeff Okudah, CB – Ohio State
Still available here for the Lions will be the best corner in the draft. Plug in and play alongside Slay in order to gain experience from him and replace him when his contract expires in 2021. It’s a no brainer, probably the best lock down corner through the draft since Jalen Ramsey and a big need for Detroit
Pick 6: Los Angeles Chargers – Justin Herbert, QB – Oregon
The Chargers will be fighting an internal battle over this pick. They are still desperate for offensive line help and there are some gems in this draft class, yet their team is not a million miles away from being playoff worthy. However, to be that, they will need a replacement for Pip Rivers. Herbert ticks a lot of boxes. He was slated to go 1.01 last season before heading back to Oregon for another term and he impressed at the combine as expected. Herbert could be the answer Charger fans.
Pick 7: Carolina Panthers – Isaiah Simmons, LB – Clemson
Luke Kuechly is gone. He was one of the centrepieces of the organisation and Simmons will fit into Matt Rhules’ desire to build a formidable defense as Kuechly’s replacement. Can also play at Safety if the Panthers prioritise building their defensive secondary first
Pick 8: Arizona Cardinals – Mekhi Becton, OL – Louisville
Offensive Line has been a glaring need for a few years now in Arizona. At 6’7 and 364lbs, Becton is still one of the most athletic freaks in this class. He’ll be a game changer for Kyler Murray as he searches for the next level.
Pick 9: Jacksonville Jaguars – Derrick Brown, DT – Auburn
Last year Josh Allen fell in their laps at pick 7 last year, and Brown is going to do the same this year for them. Defensive line is a need for Jacksonville and in a lesser talent-filled class, Brown would be considered a top 5 pick.
Pick 10: Cleveland Browns – Jedrick Wills, OL – Alabama
The Browns need a tackle. Their O-line has never lived up to the hype that it was supposed to be, and with the news of Greg Robinson’s arrest. they’ll need to sure the line up. Two stud O-lineman remain on the board, but I think Wills nudges it over Andrew Thomas down to a better showing in their Junior year.
Pick 11: New York Jets – Andrew Thomas, OL – Georgia
The need for O-lineman in the NFL is plentiful. The Jets’ are in that conversation and will take the last remaining stud tackle in this first round. Andrew Thomas is an NFL ready tackle who will provide better protection for Sam Darnold. Good pick.
Pick 12 MOCK TRADE: Washington Redskins via Las Vegas – C.J Henderson, CB – Florida
Henderson had a great combine and boosted his draft stock back into the top half of day one. Although Josh Norman hasn’t performed well over the last couple of years, he’ll still need replacing and it would be good if the skins could pair another stud corner with last years’ stand out Quinton Dunbar.
I have the Skins’ down for acquiring both Raider first rounders for the 2nd over all pick, other needs can be addressed later.
Pick 13: Indianapolis Colts – Jerry Jeudy, WR – Alabama
If Indy don’t acquire a QB in free agency, then Jordan Love/Jake Fromm could be in play here. However, Indy need better receiving options for whoever is slinging the rock in 2020. TY Hilton is the speed threat, Jeudy will be an all round threat. Remember Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne? Time for a repeat. A few slated Jeudy’s combine, however, his combine was still statistically better than those from DeAndre Hopkins, Michael Thomas and Davante Adams…and they turned out to be elite receivers… just sayin’
Pick 14: Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Jordan Love, QB – Utah State
Similarly to Indy, this pick is dependant on whether the Bucs address the QB position in the free agency. However, even if Jameis was to return, Jordan Love would be the type of QB the Bucs would like – a stronger, faster and dare I say less mistake prone version of famous Jameis. The Bucs already have a stellar offensive cast of characters, Love would be a great fit.
Pick 15: Denver Broncos – CeeDee Lamb, WR – Oklahoma
Courtland Sutton is the up and coming receiver in Denver and it would be nice to pair him up with another stud on the opposite flank. Denver has a few other needs including o-line and cornerback, but personally I think Lamb is the best player available in those needed positions.
Pick 16: Atlanta Falcons – K’Lavon Chaisson, EDGE – LSU
Offensive line, defensive secondary, tight end, (providing Hooper isn’t re-signed), running back are all big needs for Atlanta. None more so than on the Edge now Vic Beasley is out of town. Chaisson is the pick here to help provide some much needed quarterback pressure.
Pick 17: Dallas Cowboys – Javon Kinlaw, DT – South Carolina
If Kinlaw falls this far, it’ll certainly be a case of taking the best player available for the Cowboys. Defensive line is a need for them if Maliek Collins heads to free agency, so this pick should go down well with the Cowboys’ faithful, even if that means not replacing Byron Jones or Amari Cooper if they haven’t been re-signed either.
Pick 18: Miami Dolphins – Patrick Queen, LB – LSU
Pick a position (except QB as they now have Tua of course) and it’s a need for Miami. Queen had a good combine and as a result his draft stock has risen. He’s an explosive linebacker with a strong presence, just what Miami need on defense.
Pick 19 MOCK TRADE: Washington Redskins via Las Vegas – Josh Jones, OL – Houston
With Brandon Scherff likely off in free agency and an ageing tackle Donald Penn, the Skins need to bolster their offensive line. Some might think Jones is a reach at 19, but with all the ‘studs’ gone already, the next best will start to come into play around now. Washington will be happy if they walk out of day 1 with a stud cornerback and a potential elite offensive lineman. Tight end and receiving depth can be easily found on day 2
Pick 20: Jacksonville Jaguars – A.J Terrell, CB – Clemson
Corner seems to be a big need these days for Jacksonville, we’ve not had to say that for a while, have we. Terrell could be Jalen Ramsey’s true replacement and has all the traits and measurables to make it in the NFL too. No brainer Duval, let’s rebuild that defense this year and start from square one… again.
Pick 21: Philadelphia Eagles – Grant Delpit, S – LSU
LSU’s star DB is still on the board due to teams ahead prioritising other needs. Yes Philly need a field stretching receiver, yes there are still quality wide-outs on the board, but they also need defensive secondary help. Delpit is a talent far superior to anybody left on the board. Should be a top 20 pick.
Pick 22: Buffalo Bills – A.J Epenesa, EDGE – Iowa
Lorenzo Alexander has retired and Shaq Lawson looks set for free agency making an edge rusher one of the main needs for the Bills this off-season. Epenesa’s stock has fallen after a poor combine, but he has plenty of tape which will back any argument up for him to be a potential star at the next level. A bit of a gamble but plenty of upside.
Pick 23: New England Patriots – Henry Ruggs III, WR – Alabama
The combine superstar will wind up a Pat. They have a veteran route runner in Edelman and they have an all rounder in N’Keal Harry when he finally comes to fruition. What they need is a speed freak on the outside to give -insert here the QB that’s replacing Brady- a plethora of different style of receiver. Tight end comes in day 2 or 3
Pick 24 MOCK TRADE: Chicago Bears via New Orleans- Austin Jackson, OL – USC
This is all assuming Brees is back. The Saints have no second round picks and no real pressing needs other than receiver depth and defensive secondary cover which they can get in the second round if needs be.
Chicago trades both of their second rounders to move up and grab the last of the ‘next best’ tackles in the draft. The Bears know the Vikes might go OL and the Dolphins are up again in a couple of picks and are likely wanting a piece of this o-line friendly first round too. Chicago needs o-line strengthening after a poor 25th PPF ranked finish when the 2019 season was over.
Pick 25: Minnesota Vikings – Tee Higgins, WR – Clemson
With the best of the offensive lineman off the board it becomes a ‘best player’ available in a position of need for the Vikings. They could look to strengthen their already stout defense and take Gross-Matos, Kristian Fulton or Trevon Diggs… but I think they lean on bolstering their offensive weapons and replace the underwhelming Laquon Treadwell. Tee Higgins is the receiver they wanted Treadwell to be.
Pick 26: Miami Dolphins – DeAndre Swift, RB – Georgia
As with Minnesota, it’s best player available. Again, they could go different routes, but why not break into a position that’s remained untapped thus far. Swift offers more than just rushing upside, he’ a Swiss army knife and will be a great compliment for Tua. Sorry fantasy fans.
Pick 27: Seattle Seahawks – Trevon Diggs, CB – Alabama
The continuing theme throughout the back end of this draft is the same – these teams need offensive lineman! However, with the good ones, well, the first round worthy ones all gone, there’s too much talent left in other positions to turn down and reach for the next wave of o-lineman. Diggs is just this. A superb corner and will tick off one less need for Pete Carroll this off-season
Pick 28: Baltimore Ravens – Yetur Gross-Matos, EDGE – Penn State
The Ravens don’t have many needs as things stand with how they move the ball. They invested in wide receivers last year and have a stout defense. However, they would benefit from having a stronger pass-rush. Tie this in with Gross-Matos being one of the best players left on the board and ‘voila’. Gross-Matos put up solid numbers in his junior season for a formidable Penn State defense, falling to 28 is a gift for Baltimore.
Pick 29: Tennessee Titans – Tyler Biadasz, C – Wisconsin
If Derrick Henry doesn’t return then this pick is Jonathan Taylor, however I believe Henry has proved his worth and will be back in Nashville in 2020. This opens the door up to improve at Centre by taking the best on the board in Tyler Biadasz. There always seems to be a Centre go day 1…so this is it!
Pick 30: Green Bay Packers – Justin Jefferson, WR – LSU
Geronimo Allison, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, E.Q St Brown, Jake Kumerow and Allen Lazard. All average receivers that have had their spoils but ultimately aren’t trustworthy enough for Aaron Rodgers to use reliably. The Packers could thin that group down and take a versatile all round talent who turned heads at the combine, solidifying his worth as a first round prospect. Unload the deadwood McCarthy brought in and restock with talent you chose Matt LaFleur.
Pick 31: San Francisco 49ers – Xavier McKinney, S – Alabama
A close battle between McKinney and Delpit for the best Safety out of college this year. I’ve edged with Delpit, others with McKinney. Both are first round talents, both will be excellent in the pros. San Fran have very few holes either side of the ball, however with Jimmie Ward heading to free agency, Safety becomes a need.
Pick 32: Kansas City Chiefs – Jonathan Taylor, RB – Wisconsin
Fantasy fans rejoice. A superstar running back is heading to a team where the coach knows how to run the ball extremely well. It’s KC’s glaring hole in their elite offense, and I think Coach Reid will be licking his chops to get a talent like Taylor on his roster.