Yesterday Black Monday in the NFL and for 20 teams that means we can officially welcome them to #DraftSZN. Although for some, including your writer, draft season never sleeps.
So, what better way to kick off draft season than with a mock draft?
No mock trades at this point – It’s not even 2020 yet, the playoffs are still to come, so at this point I’m more interested in throwing out some names and thinking of scenarios, and above all having fun with it.
- Cincinnati Bengals – Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
Let’s be honest, if the Bengals could hand their card in now, they would. Burrow has one game left in what could be one of the greatest standalone seasons for any player at the collegiate level, ever.
The Heisman Trophy winner is going home to play for Cincinnati, write this in sharpie, or blood, or whatever is the most permanent medium you wish to choose – I even think he’d survive a Laremy Tunsil-esque bombshell dropping on draft night.
- Washington Redskins – Chase Young, Edge, Ohio State
Edge isn’t a particular area of need for the Redskins but when you’re picking second in the draft and the best player in that draft class falls to you, you have to ensure he doesn’t drop any further.
Young is the latest superstar pass rusher out of Ohio State – I want to avoid tags such as “generational talent” – So let’s stick with the description that Young is an absolute monster off the edge. When teams are triple teaming you to erase you out of the game, you’ve won and that’s what happened to Young on multiple occasions this season.
Don’t overthink this.
- Detroit Lions – Jeffrey Okudah, CB, Ohio State
Matty P looks to have survived Black Monday at the time of writing so to me, minus a trade, Detroit will look to bolster their defense.
Patricia is straight out of the Belichick school of defense where man-coverage is king – Detroit has Darius Slay on one side, so selecting the best cover man in the draft to play on the other side of the field makes sense since teams literally avoid Slay. Pairing these two in the secondary forces teams to pick their poison.
- New York Giants – Jedrick Wills, OT, Alabama
Daniel Jones fumbles 18 times in 2019, losing 11 of them. Jones also threw 12 interceptions – That’s a heck of a lot of turnovers for anyone to give up. The Giants also allowed 43 sacks this year.
Now, I’m not saying all of this was the fault of the offensive line – New York have more problems than just that – But I feel like building a robust and stable offensive line would be sensible and would benefit their young QB, Especially given that their victory over the Redskins ensured that their division rivals, the Redskins are probably going to get Chase Young – So the Giants have to be able to block Chase Young effectively for the next decade.
Jedrick Wills is, in my opinion, the best offensive tackle in the draft class. Wills is both an excellent pass protector and also seems to enjoy burying defensive linemen in the run game.
I’m sure Jones and Saquon Barkley will approve of this pick.
- Miami Dolphins – Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
How on Earth has Brian Flores won 5 games with this Miami team? For me, he’s a legitimate Coach of the Year candidate and to me, if he can galvanize this group of players, it seems like he has a good command of the building and that is certainly something to get excited about in Miami, especially after the chaos of Adam Gase.
All along, the plan was to shed players, acquire picks and lose enough games to be able to select a quarterback, preferably Tua Tagovailoa. Congratulations Miami. Mission accomplished.
Tua’s hip injury may mean that Miami will have to wait a little while to see him under center but it also could put teams off paying the price to trade ahead of Miami for a chance to get him.
Time will tell but for now, Tua is a Dolphin.
- Los Angeles Chargers – Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
Sadly, the time has come for a new era for the Bolts and with that should probably come a new quarterback.
Philip Rivers has been an incredible player for the Chargers and as a Chargers fan, it will be weird to see him in another team’s jersey but he is on the decline and whether we like it or not, he’s tied to San Diego. Rivers and his family are a part of the community in San Diego and I think, with the move to SoFi Stadium – it’s even more of a reason to move on to the next era of Chargers football.
Justin Herbert is from the west coast, he’s got a strong arm, he’s young, marketable and also has the ability to move the chains with his legs that Anthony Lynn would prefer in his QB.
I do think this is a bit of a reach and the Chargers would maybe try to trade back and still be able to get Herbert in the 9-12 range (before Tampa Bay gets on the clock) but in this scenario, I’d be ok with it.
Thanks for the memories #17.
- Carolina Panthers – Derrick Brown, IDL, Auburn
So in Carolina, Gerald McCoy, Kyle Love and Vernon Butler are all free agents, therefore the interior defensive line is in need of a boost.
How convenient that Derrick Brown, one of the most disruptive interior forces in college football is just waiting to be scooped up?
Brown can play from any spot on the line from 0 to 5 tech – Just line him up and watch him go after the quarterback or ball carrier. Speed, power, spins you’ll see it all – This is a home run pick at 7 for the Panthers as they get one of the best players in the whole draft class.
- Arizona Cardinals – Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
In the 2019 NFL Draft, I think a lot of people applauded what the Cardinals did. I thought they had a good draft and did a good deal with Miami for Josh Rosen and selected, on the whole, a lot of good players.
However, one thing that I and many others were bemused by is their complete lack of investment in their offensive line.
And where did that get them?
Well, Kyler Murray was sacked 50 times. That’s where.
Thomas is one of only a few true left tackles in this class and is a mighty fine one, at that. Thomas is powerful in the run game, more than passable in the passing game, the ceiling is sky high and he is experienced, as a 3 year starter for Georgia.
You’re welcome Kyler.
- Jacksonville Jaguars – Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson
How someone convinced a 6’4, 230lb pure athlete like Isaiah Simmons to play defense will remain one of my favourite mysteries in football.
Usually these kinds of players are out on the field catching touchdowns and getting to dance in the endzone – That’s usually what appeals to the kids nowadays, right?
Simmons can line up pretty much anywhere on the defense – Will, Mike, Strongside linebacker rushing the passer, Nickel corner, outside corner, box safety and he can even cover routes deep down the field. Think versatile but then times it by a million and you get Isaiah Simmons – But the best thing is, his level ranges from “pretty good” to “outstanding” at all these spots.
Truly someone built for today’s NFL.
- Cleveland Browns – Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa
The Freddie Kitchens experience is over. It remains to be seen who will take over in Cleveland but whoever it is will surely want to protect Baker Mayfield much better than he was this season.
Baker needs to find himself again, in my opinion, much of this season he seemed unsure of himself and scatty in the pocket – He didn’t trust someone, whether that was the five guys in front of him or the guy calling the plays, who knows? But the bottom line is, the Cleveland Browns were a huge disappointment in 2019.
Tristan Wirfs can go some way to protecting Mayfield and he’s also a mammoth in the run game, so that’s going to be good news for Nick Chubb after a fantastic season from him. Wirfs definitely needs to add some polish to his game and the Browns would probably do well to keep him at right tackle for the time being whilst he brushes up on some things but long term, the sky really is the limit for the Iowa tackle.
- New York Jets – CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
The Jets need a wide receiver 1. Well, actually, before that the Jets need to fire Adam Gase but that doesn’t seem like it’s happening so let’s try to make them better for the next guy, in 2021 (I’m there for you, Jets fans).
CeeDee Lamb will be the best friend to Sam Darnold for years – He’s big (enough), fast (enough), he’s a nuanced route runner, he’s strong at the catch point, he can get yards after the catch and after contact, he tracks the football in the air exceptionally well. Lamb is actually the complete opposite, in fact – He’s an alpha dog – He’s pretty similar to a guy who used to play for the other guys in New York not too long ago… You know who I mean.
- Las Vegas Raiders – Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
Jon Gruden wanted to have Antonio Brown as the focal point of his offense is 2019, unfortunately for him – Brown’s complete and utter meltdown; burnt feet, a banned helmet, racial abuse of General Manager; he was denied that focal point. Lucky for Gruden, there is a wide receiver who is also undersized, an exceptional route runner, quick and slippery, just like Antonio Brown and that is Jerry Jeudy.
As soon as Jeudy steps foot on to an NFL field, he’s one of the better route runners in the league and with that and his quickness, he finds separation very easily. Jeudy has suffered with some uncharacteristic drops at times and in some big moments for Alabama this season, but there’s a lot there to work with and he’s a born wide receiver 1 for any team.
- Indianapolis Colts – Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama
Speed kills. Henry Ruggs III is the fastest guy in college football and I think he stands a great chance of beating John Ross’ 40 yard dash record at the scouting combine. Ruggs will also obliterate a bunch of other events in Indianapolis and when the Colts’ GM, Chris Ballard sees his performance in his building, I think we won’t want to let him out… I mean, I guess he’ll have to, he can’t hold him hostage but he’ll want him back ASAP.
I honestly believe that once the combine is over with, Ruggs’ performance could propel him ahead of Lamb and Jeudy, and he could be the first receiver off the board on April 23rd.
The Colts receiver room is bad outside of TY Hilton, fortunately for the Colts, pretty much all of them are out of contract too, so that should make the remodelling job a bit easier.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Javon Kinlaw, IDL, South Carolina
Jason Pierre-Paul, Ndamukong Suh and Beau Allen are all free agents along the D line for the Bucs and I’m not sure if any of them are certainties to be back in 2020.
Shaq Barrett has played himself into franchise history by breaking the sack record off the edge and has also played himself into securing the bag. Like, a lot of bag. Which will impact the likes of Suh and JPP.
Javon Kinlaw is someone who could team up with Willie Gholston and Vita Vea on the defensive line and they could form a nice trio, especially given how Vea can move the pocket and Kinlaw definitely has that in his arsenal too, all of whom compliment Barrett off the edge and suddenly, Tampa Bay could have a very fearsome group up front. Thrown in grinders like Carl Nassib and then Devin White blitzing every now and then and this defense is looking pretty good…
Now, if only they had a QB who didn’t throw the ball to the other team so much…
- Denver Broncos – Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU
It feels like it’s the end of Chris Harris in Denver, so neither of the famed, no fly zone corners are in Denver anymore and it’s time for a new era.
Kristian Fulton has shown that he’s the best corner in the class not named Jeffrey Okudah. He’s been tested against high level competition in the SEC and now in the College Football Playoff and he’s looked like a high class player worth every bit of a top 15 selection.
Fulton is a man coverage corner with great fluidity and footwork and was even getting hype over Greedy Williams last draft season as the best corner for LSU.
Fulton does need to work on his tackling and hasn’t turned multiple pass deflections into picks but he also doesn’t get beat and teams respect him so much that they don’t throw at him – A reason why Derek Stingley, his running mate at LSU, has had such a productive year.
- Atlanta Falcons – AJ Epenesa, Edge, Iowa
Dan Quinn is surviving Black Monday when it seemed to be touch and go at one point.
I feel like Quinn is going to use this and work with GM, Thomas Dimitroff, and try to get back to the essence of his philosophy and that leads me to Epenesa.
Quinn is from the Pete Carroll/Seattle system where they love big, strong D linemen with high motors and Edge defenders who can kick inside as they did with someone like Michael Bennett.
Epenesa isn’t the most fluid or the most polished edge rusher in the class but I feel like he fits this mould to a tee.
- Dallas Cowboys – Jeff Gladney, CB, TCU
Dallas simply do not have enough money to go round. They need to resign Dak Prescott – who will command a huge salary as the QB of the Dallas Cowboys. They need to sign Amari Cooper, who is their wide receiver 1 and whom they spent a first round pick to acquire from Oakland and they also need to resign Byron Jones, their hyper athletic defensive back who has been with the team for 5 years.
I feel like Jones is going to be the odd one out of these guys, so Dallas needs to turn their attention towards finding a replacement.
They shouldn’t look more than 20 miles.
Texas Christian University is located in Fort Worth, Texas. Their home field is a touch over 17.5 miles away from AT&T stadium. The Cowboys keep a close eye on players from universities in the area – They will know all about Gladney and his sticky coverage ability.
Gladney is another guy who I feel like fly up draft boards once the Scouting Combine is over with.
- Miami Dolphins – Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin
This year, we saw Jonathan Taylor become a complete offensive weapon as he added some receiving prowess to his game. The former track star had already long proven he was a dangerous player when running the football but this year saw him really complete his skillset to the tune of 2,118 all purpose yards and 26 touchdowns. Part of, 6,444 yards and 55 scores over the past 3 years.
Simply put, I think he’s the best running back in college football, he’s got the traits and he’s got the production.
These days, selecting a running back in the first round isn’t a done thing and is only reserved for the top echelon of prospects at the position.
Taylor is worthy.
- Las Vegas Raiders – Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama
*Edited: Just after the mock went live overnight, Dylan Moses announced that he was returning to Alabama for his senior year.
I had originally given the Raiders Moses since I think Gruden will want to keep building his defense around strong leader and culture guys.
Unfortunately there’s no linebacker really worth reaching for at this stage as a direct replacement but I’ll stay with a ‘Bama guy since I know Gruden likes to recruit from the big programmes – note that he picked 3 Clemson players last year and Josh Jacobs from Alabama.
Diggs has the size, he has the bloodline and he has the ceiling. The Raiders corner back room has undergone some surgery recently but Diggs has a chance to make himself the CB1 in Las Vegas. He gambles at times which results in burns but he’s comfortable in zone and man and can reroute receivers when in press – an essential skill in today’s NFL.
- Jacksonville Jaguars – Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU
The Jags definitely have a “type” when it comes to wide receivers and this pick fits the mould of that type.
If you can run down the field and catch the football, there’s a good chance the Jacksonville Jaguars want you to play wide receiver for them. Jalen Reagor can do just that, what he does do though, is he does it better than all the guys the Jags current have.
What this allows the Jags to do is to roll with Reagor and D.J Chark as the 1 and 2 and then diversify their receiving corp. Go get a shifty slot, go get a redzone/jump ball guy… Give Nick Foles (and later Gardner Minshew) a group of guys you can do different things with, because we know both of these QB’s can push the football downfield, that’s why they draft fash guys!
- Philadelphia Eagles – Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson
Everyone saw the state of the Eagles wide receivers late in the season. Carson Wentz threw for 4,000 yards and didn’t have any of his wide receivers go over 500 yards… Give the guy some help.
Hopefully we’ll see JJ Arega-Whiteside make a leap, hopefully Alshon Jeffrey can get healthy and hopefully they can add to the ranks too.
That’s where Tee Higgins comes in. Higgins is another big bodied receiver, the kind that Philly love to collect. Higgins is also the kind of receiver that Clemson have a rich history in – speedy guys who can win downfield at the catch point.
Sounds like a win/win.
- Tennessee Titans – Yetur Gross-Matos, Edge, Penn State
A long and sturdy strong side defensive end who can also get off the ball in an instant and who is strong against the run. Sounds like the perfect foil for the speed and bend of Harold Landry on the other side – This would also move Jeffrey Simmons inside next to Jurell Casey… Yeah? You like the sound of that Titans fans?
You should do.
- Buffalo Bills – Laviska Shenault, WR, Colorado
Last off season, the modus operandi for the Bills was to protect Josh Allen and to put some weapons in place for him to use, to enable him and the offense to grow.
They were largely successful in doing so – However, the offense being based on John Brown and Cole Beasley as the leading receivers isn’t sustainable in my opinion. Brown is a decent option and Dawson Knox looks like a useful option at tight end but this team needs a WR1.
Enter Colorado’s offense, sorry… wide receiver Laviska Shenault. Shenault has been used in pretty much every way possible by the Colorado Buffaloes (I also love the symmetry of the team names here) – outside receiver, slot, in the backfield, wildcat QB, you name it – Outside of playing on offensive line, Shenault has done it.
The way I feel that Shenault helps Buffalo is that his RAC-ability gives Josh Allen, a QB who notoriously struggles with accuracy, some easy completions that Shenault can use his skillset to eat up yards after the catch. Furthermore, this team is built off the running game with Davin Singletary and Josh Allen (and probably a new running back to replace Frank Gore) – Now you can incorporate Shenault into that too.
Lastly, Shenault is used to playing in the cold in Colorado – Which is always useful in Buffalo.
It makes too much sense.
- Minnesota Vikings – Alex Leatherwood, OT, Alabama
The Vikings offensive line sticks out as an area that could definitely be upgraded. Riley Reiff, meh, Pat Elflein… hasn’t been great. Josh Klein, *shrugs*.
Brian O’Neill has evolved into something pretty good and although Garrett Bradbury hasn’t been good this year, I don’t think he’s a lost cause by any stretch of the imagination.
You get where I’m going here…
Alex Leatherwood has seen his stock drop a little bit recently, maybe because he’s not played to expectations this year and maybe it’s because of a little bit of juxtaposition because the other Alabama tackle is the hottest tackle in the draft class at the moment.
That shouldn’t matter. Leatherwood is steady and he can also play inside at guard too, which could appeal to the Vikings as they search for the most effective combination of 5 guys in front of Kirk Cousins.
- Miami Dolphins – K’Lavon Chaisson, Edge, LSU
Miami needs an edge presence. They brought in Christian Wilkins last year for some inside push but now the Dolphins need some speed. Chaisson gives them speed in abundance.
Chaisson has been a slow burner throughout his college career in terms of production and really, in terms of this season too.
Chaisson only produced 3 sacks prior to this year and only 6.5 during this season but he’s coming to the boil now and during the biggest games. I also feel LSU’s scheme is part of the reason that he doesn’t get as ton of production – it requires Chaisson to drop into coverage more than your usual edge rusher.
I’m very interested to see how far Chaisson’s athleticism gets him – The guy can MOVE.
- Seattle Seahawks – Raekwon Davis, IDL, Alabama
This is always the wildcard when writing a mock draft. When selecting for the Seattle Seahawks, you have to think outside of the box because you know that they don’t often do the obvious thing.
Davis isn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination, I like him a fair bit but I know this a reach but this is Seattle.
Davis is a massive defensive tackle who is super smart, very disciplined and plays with really low pad level considering his length (6’7) and I feel like that’ll appeal to Seattle and the way they want to construct their defensive line and their defense.
Davis and Jarran Reed would be superb against the run and is Davis can work out some pass rush moves, which is an area where he can certainly improve in, they’ll have some push on the interior to mix in with Jadeveon Clowney (who they are almost certain to bring back).
- New England Patriots – Curtis Weaver, Edge, Boise State
Last year, I pegged Chase Winovich to the Patriots from very early on, I even think that I had the Patriots picking him in one of my earliest mock drafts, just as a method of getting my take out there.
I get the same vibes with the Patriots and Curtis Weaver.
Weaver has production, he can play inside and out, he’s good against the run, he’s a blue collar, red-hot motor kind of guy. He is a Patriot.
Let’s be honest, the Patriots don’t care for flashy pass rushers – They traded Chandler f’ing Jones! They care for guys who do their job™.
Weaver and Winovich as edge defenders gives the Patriots the most Patriots-y pair of edge rushers possible, I love it, pull the trigger, Bill.
- New Orleans Saints – Jordan Love, QB, Utah State
The Saints have one of the best QB’s to ever do it, however he’s 41. I think Drew Brees will be back next year, for one last rodeo but the backup spot should be available since I think Teddy Bridgewater showed enough in lieu of Brees this season to earn a juicy offer to QB for another team next season.
Jordan Love isn’t perfect by any stretch and didn’t even have an impressive season for Utah State but the potential is all there – Physical tools galore and maybe, just maybe it was down to the lack of talent around him at Utah State…
It’s a perfect scenario for the Saints and Jordan Love to be a marriage in heaven – They have the chance to sit Love and let him learn his trade behind Brees for at least a year. They have Sean Payton, who is one of the best offensive minds is football and would surely come up with a plan for Love in a year. Lastly, the Saints play in a dome which makes it easier for QB’s – It’s a small point but it absolutely aids the transition of a young QB.
- Kansas City Chiefs – Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson
If there’s one thing I know about the Kansas City Chiefs, it’s that they like to collect players who are fast.
One thing atop of my scouting notes for Travis Etienne – it says, is fast.
Simple as that. You see how this is a good match?
Travis Etienne is absurdly fast, he has angle destroying speed, if it wasn’t for Henry Ruggs III, I’d be saying that Etienne has a chance to best John Ross’ 40 record, I guess he might but Ruggs is quicker.
KC also doesn’t have a long term viable option at running back and whilst this is a deep running back class, so there’s no rush to grab one at 29 overall but with the marriage of pure speed, I think it makes too much sense.
- Green Bay Packers – Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma
The Packers are desperate for a linebacker. It’s that simple. Their defense is good, really good, they have a strong defensive line, Preston and Za’Darius Smith have formed a fearsome pass rush duo, their safety tandem is young and extremely talented and they have good corners too.
The gaping hole is that Blake Martinez is a tackle machine but limited and I don’t even know what a BJ Goodson is. Fortunately for the Packers, both of those guys are out of contact. Martinez will likely be back though, which isn’t bad. Even more fortunately, the Packers can afford to drop a late first round pick on Kenneth Murray to give themselves a huge dose of athleticism in the linebacker room.
This pick gives the Packers another young star down the spine of the defense.
- San Francisco 49ers – Grant Delpit, S, LSU
I’m not going to shy away from it… Grant Delpit has been disappointing this year. Some of that is because we all had sky high expectations of him coming into the year – I was calling him a top 5 player in the class prior to the season starting – So I was as guilty as anyone on that.
However, the disappointment mainly stemmed from the fact that he has literally forgotten how to tackle.
I don’t know how this has happened but Robert Saleh, you better fix him if you get your hands on him.
Let’s balance things up here… Delpit is still insanely talented and if any team can bag him at pick 31 or later it is AN ABSOLUTE STEAL.
- Baltimore Ravens – Terrell Lewis, Edge, Alabama
The supply line from Tuscaloosa to Baltimore lives on!
Baltimore has the luxury of selecting well, a luxury player as they’re picking 32nd overall. Lewis is a play who has ridiculous athletic traits as a pass rusher but injuries have marred his career so far.
If he were to be parachuted on to this Ravens roster, there would be no immediate need to start him. He could play as a rotational pass rusher to begin with, whilst his body acclimated to the rigours of playing in the NFL. He would also need to learn how to control himself as a pass rusher and learn some actual pass rush techniques and counter moves when hand fighting with offensive tackles – this side of his game needs some serious polish but at pick 32 it’s all about upside.
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