Mock draft season is almost over and the real thing is finally here. Football fans have needed the NFL draft more this year than ever before, and we’ve finally reached one of the most exciting non-game sporting events on the calendar (and, this year, one of the only sports-related events period).
This is my mock draft 4.0, which is also my final projection this year. A handful of picks have remained consistent throughout the process, while a few have changed in either minor or drastic ways as we’ve reached draft week.
The first three rounds are addressed here, with full breakdowns for each pick in the first round, explanations throughout the second and select ones in the third. Unexpected trades and other surprises happen every year, but this is how the draft could shake out if everyone stayed put through the first 106 picks.
Now, to the draft:
There was a report on Twitter that the Bengals have already informed Burrow they’re going to take him, as if he needed to be told. There isn’t much to say about one of the most obvious No. 1 picks of all time. Burrow is a one-year wonder, but that one year was so special that it guaranteed he’d be the top selection. From deep balls to play extension to poise at all times, Burrow has everything you could want in a franchise quarterback.
Young will instantly be one of the Redskins’ best players and will be the perfect piece to help revitalize their defense under new coach Ron Rivera. Like Burrow at his position, Young can do everything off the edge, showing constant speed and power against all levels of competition. He’s the best player in the draft overall.
There’s been a lot of smoke lately about the Lions looking to move back, with Matt Verderame telling 580 Sports Talk this week it would be “malpractice” if they don’t. However, should Bob Quinn keep the third pick, Okudah is an easy choice. He’ll start immediately in a secondary that desperately needs help. He can play in any scheme, and has the skill and technique to hang with a division full of top-notch receivers.
New York is making a smart decision as long as they take a tackle with its first pick, and Wills offers the best pass blocking right now of any of the top four tackle prospects. He’s consistent with both his power and footwork, and will be a Day 1 starter at right tackle with the ability to replace Nate Solder eventually at left tackle. The Giants must be better at protecting Daniel Jones, and Wills is the first step.
Lately, there have been plenty of mock drafts that bump Tagovailoa below Justin Herbert due to medical concerns. Those worries are valid, but in terms of their caliber as prospects they aren’t even close. Tagovailoa has insane potential and good enough skills to start now if needed (although the Dolphins don’t need to rush him). Miami may need to move up to get its man, but this draft would feel like a major letdown if they can’t figure out a way to get their quarterback of the future. In terms of pure ability, he’s just barely behind Burrow.
The Chargers spent big in free agency to rebuild their roster, and did so successfully. The only missing piece is a bona fide quarterback, and while Herbert may not (and probably won’t) be that instantly, his size and strength make him a high-upside prospect who can start his career behind stopgap starter Tyrod Taylor. If L.A. doesn’t love Herbert, though (because I don’t), trade picks and finding a way to get Utah State’s Jordan Love is also on the table.
Carolina’s defense needs playmakers and there isn’t anyone in the draft who fits that bill better than Simmons, a linebacker/safety hybrid who can truly do it all. He’s an exceptional athlete that will be best used in multiple roles instead of pigeonholing him into just one spot. Given the Panthers’ lack of true difference makers on defense, specifically at linebacker and safety, he’s a perfect fit.
I’ve had Andrew Thomas mocked here multiple times this year, but Wirfs gets the final nod because he’s a better fit for the type of player Arizona general manager Steve Keim likes to draft: freak athlete. Wirfs doesn’t quite have the measurables of Mekhi Becton, but when you factor in that his numbers are close, his tape is far more consistent and that he can kick inside if needed, Wirfs is a better option in the top 10. Protecting Kyler Murray is paramount for the Cardinals and Wirfs will do that.
Jeudy is an elite route runner already and is going to make a fantastic pair with D.J. Chark as the top two receivers in Duval. That’s especially important because right now Chark is the only worthwhile player in the Jaguars’ receiving corps. Jeudy is my No. 1 receiver in a historically deep class, and he gives Gardner Minshew another reliable option to throw to. It may not be the most pressing need, but after Jacksonville cut Marquise Lee this week it’s hard to pass Jeudy up.
Switching around the tackles in this final mock draft proves to be a blessing for the Browns, who come away with arguably the most well-rounded tackle in the class. Thomas has only fallen down draft boards as the first round approaches because of fatigue, not because of any medical concerns or poor testing. He’s good in the passing game and excellent as a run blocker. Cleveland needs to invest heavily in protecting Baker Mayfield this year, so a tackle at 10 is a must.
The Jets have to protect their young quarterback, too, so they’ll take the fourth of the top four tackles. Becton has room to grow and could struggle early against great pass rushers, but his athleticism is freakish. He put up legendary numbers at the combine, which solidified him as an early first-round pick. New York desperately needs receiver help, too, but not as much as they need to keep Sam Darnold healthy.
Cornerback is tempting here, but Lamb is such a good receiving prospect that it’s worth it for the Raiders to solidify their offensive attack at 12. Lamb does everything well, with good hands, positive contested catch ability and massive explosion after the catch. Paired with Josh Jacobs and Darren Waller, Las Vegas may have the best trio of young offensive weapons in the league should it take Lamb.
Henderson has surged up draft boards late into comfortably being the top-ranked cornerback available. He’s got strong ball skills, and while he’s not a great tackler in run support his man coverage ability is worth the investment. The 49ers have plenty of playing time available opposite Richard Sherman at corner, and Henderson should be a favorite to start there Week 1.
With the four best tackles off the board here, the Buccaneers will shore up their pass rush with the second-best EDGE player in the draft. Chaisson didn’t have massive production in college due to injuries, but when you watch him play you can see that he’s got he potential to be a consistent threat off the edge. His athletic ability allows him to rush from an upright stance or with his hand in the dirt.
This is a dream pick for Denver, specifically for Drew Lock. The strong-armed, young quarterback needs another pass catcher to go along with rising star Courtland Sutton. Ruggs ran a 4.28 40 at the combine and plays just as fast. His strong hands are overshadowed by his blazing speed, but he’s a total package kind of receiver, not just a burner. However, the Broncos should rush to get this pick in to guarantee they get Lock a downfield threat.
Brown slides into the middle of first round despite widely being considered a top-10 talent, so Atlanta gets great value here. Adding him next to Grady Jarrett gives the Falcons a menacing inside presence, and Tyeler Davison is a good rotational piece to assist those two as well. Brown isn’t considered a great pass rusher from the inside, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a consistent playmaker.
Despite Henderson jumping him for CB2 this year, Fulton still lands right in the Cowboys’ lap. I’ve had this pick throughout the draft process and it just makes perfect sense for a team that needs a No. 2 corner right now. Fulton has a similar profile to Henderson, a good cover man with excellent ball skills who leaves something to be desired as a tackler. The positives outweigh the negatives for Dallas.
Rumors have been swirling around recently that some of this year’s high-upside, project tackles are going to be taken earlier than expected. Enter Jackson, a physical specimen with a first-round ceiling but some obvious work that needs to be done as well. He’ll still have a chance to start right away on a Miami line that has to protect a quarterback of the future (likely Tagovailoa). Jackson gets the nod here over Josh Jones, who was the pick in my last two mock drafts.
Another great value at defensive tackle. Kinlaw has one of the best stories in the draft this year, but has earned his hype with more than just off-field inspiration. The epitome of a high-motor player, Kinlaw plays nasty and has a lot of explosion in the middle of the defensive line. He adds a dangerous presence inside the Raiders’ two young defensive ends.
Jacksonville’s safeties are bad. That makes this an easy pick. McKinney is a willing tackler (although not always a great one) with a nose for the ball. He’s versatile enough to offer support in coverage or to the linebackers, and a penchant for big hits can make him a tone-setter for a Jaguars defense that lost its edge last year.
A long-time coach recently called Jefferson one of the best receivers he’s ever scouted, which is high praise for a player not considered to be in the top four of his draft class (though this year has insane wide receiver depth). There are worries Jefferson may be stuck as a slot receiver in the NFL, but he has the body and the skill to play outside. Not that the receiver-starved Eagles can be particular here, they will take the best pass catcher available.
Mims may not be great at anything in particular for now, but he’s good at everything. He’s has good play speed, runs consistent routes, has above average hands, etc. By trading Stephon Diggs the Vikings lost one of the league’s best route runners, but Mims can step in right away as their No. 2 wide receiver behind Adam Thielen, with potential to be much more than that in the future.
Four mock drafts this year, four different picks for the Patriots. They have plenty of holes that need filling, most notably at quarterback but also in the middle of their defense. Murray isn’t perfectly technically sound, but he is always around the ball. He’s a sideline-to-sideline playmaker and a true three-down linebacker. Bill Belichick and the New England defensive oaches can turn him into a monster with just a little work.
There’s a noticeable drop in linebacker quality after Queen, so we have a mini run on linebackers here as the Saints get their guy. Queen has a lot of similar characteristics to Murray. He can play every down and can make plays all across the field. Queen had far better support in college, but that shouldn’t be a huge knock. He fills New Orleans’ most glaring need.
Terrell has received a lot of buzz lately as someone who may go earlier than initially expected, and he’s got a chance to make an instant impact in Minnesota, where Mike Zimmer needs to rebuild his cornerbacks group. After Xavier Rhodes’ meltdown and subsequent release, Terrell can come in and start right away. He was cooked consistently in the National Championship Game this season, but one bad game doesn’t override a quality final season at Clemson.
The Dolphins fill their biggest defensive need with an intriguing prospect in Delpit. He was hurt for almost all of 2019 and it made an obvious negative impact on his play. However, he was sensational in 2018, which leads you to be optimistic he can be a regular contributor in Miami as long as he stays healthy.
The whole mock draft gets screwed up by this pick because it’s hard to image the Seahawks keep this pick. John Schneider loves trading down more than most parents love their children, so expect more moving and shaking from Seattle this year. However, if the Seahawks pull off the upset and stay at 27, I have them taking this year’s best IOL prospect to replace either of the three below average to bad starters at guard or center in front of Russell Wilson.
Baltimore solidifies its defensive line by adding Blacklock. He isn’t a great athlete, but he has a high motor, he’s got power and his play is consistent, with great tape in 2019 after losing the 2018 season due to an Achilles injury. and Plus, he offers some versatility up front in terms of where he can line up.
Good value for Tennessee as it takes one of this year’s best edge rushers. The Titans can stand Epenesa up on the edge in their base 3-4 front, or can let him rush with his hand on the ground like he did more at Iowa. He’s more likely to beat you with sheer power than elite athleticism, but he’s a pro-ready pass rusher.
Get Aaron Rodgers weapons. Reagor’s test numbers weren’t great, but he still ran the 40 in the 4.4s and has the second-best game speed of any receiver in this class per numbers from CBS Sports. Getting him a competent quarterback (let alone a hall of famer) will show why his disappointing numbers at TCU were more a result of Max Duggan and Alex Delton throwing him passes than his own shortcomings. A player who can run and separate like Reagor is just what Green Bay needs.
Shenault slides a little bit due to injury concerns, but he says he’s healthy after having core muscle surgery last month and that should be music to Kyle Shanahan’s ears. This gives Jimmy Garoppolo another weapon, and he’s one who can get open both as a more traditional wide receiver or by designing creative plays to get him in space. Pairing Shenault with Deebo Samuel is nightmare fuel for defenses. He can return kicks, too.
If the Chiefs don’t trade down to add a couple extra picks (they only have five this year) this would be their dream scenario. Gladney would step into a role where he doesn’t need to be a No. 1 (or even No. 2) immediately, instead contributing when needed for a year before taking over for Bashaud Breeland in 2021. Gladney is good enough, though, he could claim a starting job as a rookie. He’s fast, athletic and good at challenging receivers in man downfield.
580 Sports Talk 2020 NFL draft composite big board
Baun’s ability as a pass rusher and a linebacker in space make him a good fit for a Cincinnati front seventh that needs to be more formidable. Defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo can use him in a multitude of ways.
If the Colts can land Love in the second round it would be a dream come true, but it’s more likely they’ll have to move back into the first round to get him. It would be worth it to get their future franchise quarterback, though, someone Indianapolis has been tied to since at least the combine if not earlier. He’s got the tools but not the consistency, but getting a year to sit behind Philip Rivers will give coach Frank Reich a chance to refine his game of the future.
It feels like every year the Lions need help at edge rusher, but this year they might actually get it in Gross-Matos. He’s long and quick off the ball, and fits Detroit’s even front.
Winfield plays with a constant competitive edge and has obvious ball hawk traits, both of which the Giants desperately need in the secondary.
After getting their quarterback in the first round, the Chargers do more work to fortify the line in front of him with Jones. His great athleticism could be refined into something special by revered offensive line coach James Campen.
The defensive rebuild continues in Carolina, this time with a high-upside 1T. Consistency was an issue for Gallimore at OU, but he has the potential to be a disruptive force up front for the Panthers.
Our first running back off the board. Miami can pair Swift with Jordan Howard as their committee, which would keep the explosive Georgia Bulldog from getting worn down behind a rebuilt offensive line.
Houston’s defensive line was in the bottom half of the league in DVOA against the pass and the run in 2019 (and it was especially bad against the pass) so fortifying the defensive front is a must. J.J. Watt is still making plays on the defensive line foe the Texans, but he needs help. Madubuike has a lot of promise as a pass rusher, and he can line up either over the ball or at defensive end in Houston’s 3-4 base.
Dugger burst on the scene at the combine with huge testing numbers, and the Division II product has played his way into discussions early on Day 2. The concern is that his production wasn’t incredible in college, and teams generally like to see dominance from small school players. However, if coaches think they can use his athleticism, he’s a fun and enticing prospect.
It wasn’t long ago the Jags had one of the best cornerback combos in the league. Now, with Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye out the door, Johnson provides physicality outside that Jacksonville can build off of.
The Bears have plenty of positions that need addressing, and while they already have a great No. 1 receiver and a slot receiver they’re high on, Aiyuk gives Nick Foles (or Mitch Trubisky) someone who can make big plays after the catch. That’s where Aiyuk thrives, and that will take pressure over whoever is under center for Chicago. He provides an element in the deep passing game as well.
Hamler is a big play waiting to happen at all times. At just 5-foot-9 he’s not going to be your top outside receiver, but if Indianapolis can find a way to get him the ball in space this pick will pay dividends.
After passing on one in the first round, the Buccaneers grab an offensive tackle in the second. Cleveland is another project tackle, but it’s a risk worth taking for a team that needs to improve its blocking across the board.
You can essentially copy and paste the above entry for Ezra Cleveland in Tampa Bay for Isaiah Wilson in Denver and it would still fit.
Diggs plays physically although is somewhat lacking as a tackler. Still, his coverage ability and size should make him an immediate starter for the Falcons.
The Jets check off their two biggest needs with their first two picks. Higgins thrives on jump balls and competing for the catch, and he will immediately be a top target for Sam Darnold.
Pittsburgh finally makes its first pick midway through the second round and addresses its offensive line. Niang played with an injured hip in 2019, an injury that helped usher him down draft boards. However, there aren’t major worries about his health going forward. He’s at his best in pass blocking, and Pittsburgh needs to invest in protecting Ben Roethlisberger for as long as he sticks around.
Hurts is only my seventh-ranked quarterback this year, but he’s an intriguing option for the Bears in the second round. The Trubisky era is effectively over and Nick Foles isn’t a permanent answer. Hurts only has one standout year as a passer and it came in an offense in which everyone looks good. However, with time to sit and develop his passing more to go along with his running instincts, Hurts could inspire hope as the Chicago’s future starter.
After losing Travis Frederick to retirement this offseason, the Cowboys replace him with the center from the best offensive line college football this season.
Cutting Todd Gurley wasn’t necessarily a bad decision by the Rams, but for a team that built its offense around the run and play-action passing it signaled the need to add a new running back. Dobbins is fast and powerful and could step in and be the lead back in a rebuilt committee for Los Angeles.
A former walk-on, Davis was always around the ball and making plays at Cal, a trait that would be a welcome addition in Philadelphia after losing Malcolm Jenkins in free agency.
Buffalo effectively spent its first rounder this year on Stephon Diggs, which has already made this a successful draft. Now, with its first actual pick of the year, it supplements Tre White at cornerback with the Arnette. He was overshadowed at Ohio State next to Jeffrey Okudah, but Arnette is a physical corner who does an excellent job tracking the ball in the air. The Bills continue to quietly build one of the AFC’s best rosters.
Marshal Yanda retired this offseason, which dealt a big blow to Baltimore’s offensive line. Hunt needs to develop more, but he is a mauler inside who’s a good fit for the Ravens’ run-heavy offense.
Miami continues to build its offensive line with its fifth pick in the first two rounds, this time adding Hennessy on the interior. He’s technically sound and can play anywhere inside.
A replacement for Dante Fowler, Uche only has one full year of college production but showed a lot of potential as a high-motor rusher who can also play in space.
While not the exact profile the Vikings usually go for in their defensive linemen, Davidson would reinforce a group that’s been weakened by attrition lately.
Taylor has excellent vision and is developing as a pass catcher to go along with plus ability between the tackles. And he doesn’t have any injury red flags, which is big for a team that loses its running backs to injury constantly.
Lewis has major durability concerns, however those will be alleviated in Baltimore by being part of a rotation, where he can let his physical gifts shine.
Tennessee gets a developing piece that has plenty of room to grow. Elliott provides the Titans with strength up front and the ability to make plays as a 5T or closer inside.
Kevin King’s future as CB2 in Green Bay isn’t nailed on, and the team could use help at cornerback regardless. With a clean bill of health, an intelligent corner who’s also a willing tackler is a great fit for the Packers.
Kansas City can afford to take a luxury pick in the second round, which is what they get in Wanogho. He’s not refined enough to start right now, but he’s huge and has the traits of a potential future starter.
Even with signing Benson Mayowa and not publicly closing the door on Jadeveon Clowney, Seattle could use EDGE help in the draft. Greenard fits best in a 4-3 base but has the ability to flex inside.
Dzwierzynski 2020 mock draft 3.0: two rounds and alternate scenarios
Biadasz fell sharply on draft boards after being projected as the top IOL during the season, but if he’s healthy this is a good value for the Jets.
One of my favorite players in the draft. His huge catch radius will make life easier for whichever quarterback starts in Los Angeles.
The fit is just too perfect. Eason has a huge arm and can work out kinks in his game while sitting behind Tom Brady.
The Raiders fill their last big need with Robertson, and underrated cornerback who consistently attacks the ball.
Los Angeles finally does some work to shore up its offensive line, taking a late riser in Jackson, PFF’s second-best IOL in this class.
A lot of the shine has faded on Fromm as a prospect, but with a year to develop behind Drew Brees there’s still starter potential for him.
An offensive tackle from a small school? Bill O’Brien can’t wait.
The Packers desperately need a linebacker to pair with the newly acquired Christian Kirksey, and Wilson fits general manager Brian Gutekunst’s desire to add as many quality athletes as possible.
Gay has character concerns tied to multiple suspensions in college, but he’s got a great skill set and if any team can work with troublesome character, it’s the Chiefs.
The Eagles should consider spending multiple selections on receivers early this year, which is why Edwards, an all-time great at South Carolina, is a smart pick.