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Welcome to Zach’s Draft Corner, where it’s always amateur hour.
The 2020 draft is almost here, and I wanted to give you an updated mock draft based on all of the post free agency, post Deandre Hopkins trade, post other trade news that we have received over the past two-plus months. I'm going to skip the trades, although I will be sure to note places where trades could happen based on how the board is falling for certain teams. Unless trades or some other news comes out in the next few days, this will be as final of a mock draft for what I think will happen as I will get. So, without further ado…
1. Cincinnati Bengals - Joe Burrow, Quarterback, LSU
This can be in pen now. It seems highly unlikely that Cincinnati will go anywhere but Burrow here. He is your first overall pick.
2. Washington Redskins - Chase Young, Defensive End, Ohio State
People say the draft gets interesting at No. 3, but I think it could get interesting at No. 2. Chase Young is the number-one player on my overall board, but pass rusher could be the position Washington is most comfortable with on their current roster. Jeffrey Okudah would be a much bigger upgrade to their secondary than Young would be to their defensive line, so don't be surprised if picks 2 and 3 change next Thursday.
3. Detroit Lions - Jeffrey Okudah, Cornerback, Ohio State
This is a big possibility for a trade here. If the Dolphins or Chargers, or maybe a mystery team, feel they need to trade up to land their target, the Lions make a lot of sense to be a partner in the deal. If they do stay, they take Okudah to replace the new addition to the trade block in Darius Slay, unless Young is somehow available.
4. New York Giants - Tristan Wirfs, Offensive Tackle, Iowa
The Giants spent a high pick last year on a quarterback, and this year they will spend a high pick on a guy to protect him. Wirfs has the most upside in this class with his off-the-charts athleticism, but also has one of the highest floors as an offensive lineman. If Wirfs is not ready to play tackle immediately, he becomes their best interior offensive lineman. If he is ready, he becomes their best offensive tackle. Either way, the Giants have a standout player on their offensive line for years to come.
5. Miami Dolphins - Justin Herbert, Quarterback, Oregon
There has been a change in the wind the past few weeks, and many believe that Herbert is the quarterback the Dolphins ultimately want. I believe those rumors, and think that the Dolphins go with the lesser quarterback who is not a health risk.
6. Los Angeles Chargers - Tua Tagovailoa, Quarterback, Alabama
The Chargers are excited, because they don't need to trade up to get the quarterback who will fill the seats of the new Los Angeles stadium. I think Tua is the best quarterback in this class, but his health is causing him to crash down draft boards. I'm not a doctor, and I do not have access to his medical records. If the Chargers are comfortable with his hip, then he is the home run selection here.
7. Carolina Panthers - Isaiah Simmons, Linebacker/Safety, Clemson
The Panthers lost their leader on defense in Luke Kuechly. They have the perfect opportunity to grab a new one here in Isaiah Simmons. I'm not positive that Carolina wants to stay here, but if they don't have a suitor to trade back, then they take the do-it-all defender in Simmons.
8. Arizona Cardinals - Jedrick Wills, Tackle, Alabama
With the absolute robbery of DeAndre Hopkins, Arizona's biggest need on offense is a tackle to protect Kyler Murray. Wills is the perfect fit for this offense, and the Cardinals couldn't be happier.
9. Jacksonville Jaguars - Derrick Brown, Defensive Tackle, Auburn
Jacksonville also gets their wishes granted in the form of Derrick Brown. Jacksonville's run defense is horrendous, and Brown can fix that as much as any one player can. He is an elite run stopper with some pass rush upside, and will have the greatest impact of anyone left on the board for this Jaguars team.
10. Cleveland Browns - Andrew Thomas, Tackle, Georgia
Cleveland's best tackle was arrested earlier this offseason carrying 157 pounds of marijuana in Texas. Cleveland's biggest need became even bigger. Cleveland runs to the podium with this pick, taking the tackle who has a high floor at one of the most important positions and was perceived by many to be the top tackle in the class at the beginning of this draft cycle. Besides, Cleveland actually has a good track record with franchise left tackles named Thomas.
11. New York Jets - Jerry Jeudy, Wide Receiver, Alabama
It feels like the Jets haven't had a true weapon at the wide receiver position since they drafted Keyshawn Johnson in the 1990s. They fix that here by taking the most well-rounded weapon at the position in Jerry Jeudy, a route running beast with great hands and more long speed than most give him credit for.
12. Las Vegas Raiders - Henry Ruggs III, Wide Receiver, Alabama
With their first of two first round picks, the Vegas Raiders add a player who has all of the flash required to be a star in a city like Las Vegas. Ruggs ran a blazing 40-yard dash time, and has a wide array of route-running nuances at his disposal. Ruggs could very well brightest star the City of Lights.
13. San Francisco 49ers - CeeDee Lamb, Wide Receiver, Oklahoma
The 49ers get the receiver with the highest upside to be a dominant number-one threat in CeeDee Lamb if the board falls this way. While it is assumed that the route-running skills of Jeudy will tantalize Kyle Shanahan the most, I think he'll like what he sees from Lamb. A super-athletic, super-physical specimen who has at least shown the ability to sink his hips in his breaks and run his routes with nuance, even if it was against air. After the catch, he is a tough man to bring down. Between Lamb, Kittle, and Samuel, the 49ers will have the most physical skill position players in the league, in addition to some of the fastest as an overall group. Lamb could bring the 49ers’ offense to its ultimate form.
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Mekhi Becton, Offensive Tackle, Louisville
The Bucs took a leap for short-term glory in signing Tom Brady, and they need an offensive tackle desperately to protect him. While he isn't even in my personal top 50, Becton seems to be the consensus number-four tackle in the class. The Bucs take him here to protect their investment.
15. Denver Broncos - C.J. Henderson, Cornerback, Florida
Denver has to be incredibly pleased to see a lockdown cornerback slide to them all the way at No. 15. I have some issues with Henderson's physicality, but there is no doubting he is a sticky cover guy. Denver would have liked a receiver here, but a top cornerback will still help the team take the next step.
16. Atlanta Falcons - K'Lavon Chaisson, Defensive End, LSU
Takk McKinley is not a good professional football player. Chaisson will be a good professional football player. This is one of the easiest picks in the entire draft if he is still on the board.
17. Dallas Cowboys - Javon Kinlaw, Defensive Tackle, South Carolina
The slide for Kinlaw stops here. The Cowboys have had a horrendous pass rush over the past few seasons, and Kinlaw is the most dominant pass rushing defensive tackle in the class. The fit is perfect, and the Cowboys have to be excited.
18. Miami Dolphins - Josh Jones, Tackle, Houston
If you draft your quarterback of the future, you must protect him. The Dolphins are out of luck, as most tackles have already been selected, but a lot of scouts are high on Josh Jones. I think Miami takes the risk and takes him here at number 18.
19. Las Vegas Raiders - Kristian Fulton, Cornerback, LSU
The Raiders got their cornerstone receiver earlier in the round, and now they grab a cornerstone cornerback. The second pick of the Vegas Raiders here is Fulton, my clear number two cornerback behind Okudah. The Raiders’ secondary was a mess most of last season. Fulton immediately helps that position.
20. Jacksonville Jaguars - Jeff Gladney, Cornerback, TCU
After getting rid of Ramsey, Jacksonville needs a lockdown cornerback. Gladney has all of the potential to be just that. This is likely the highest Gladney could go, but I'm not sure he could slide much further down the board, either.
21. Philadelphia Eagles - Justin Jefferson, Wide Receiver, LSU
The Eagles absolutely need a wide receiver. While I personally am very low on Jefferson, I think that his size and athleticism will entice a team to take him early. The Eagles have a lot of large targets, but not a lot of fast targets. Jefferson, in an ideal world, would fix that problem.
22. Minnesota Vikings - Denzel Mims, Wide Receiver, Baylor
The Vikings got rid of Stefon Diggs, but replace him with a player that gives the receivers in Minnesota a diverse skill set. Like with Jefferson, I am not a fan of Mims in the first round, but his upside cannot be denied. If the Vikings can get him to come along like they have with so many receivers in the past, Mims has the potential to be a stud.
23. New England Patriots - Jacob Eason, Quarterback, Washington
Your guess of where the Patriots will go here is as good as mine. They run a historically tight-lipped franchise, and we have no clue whether they are playing to win again now or if they are in rebuild mode. I say rebuild, and they start it with a quarterback that has all of the physical traits to be a top quarterback in this league. I trust Belichick to work on the mental aspect of Eason's game, and they won't rush him along too quickly. The Patriots have gone for this type of quarterback before in Ryan Mallett, so I think they do it again here with a prospect a bit more talented.
24. New Orleans Saints - Patrick Queen, Linebacker, LSU
Patrick Queen finally got his chance this year, and he made the most of it. With Drew Brees returning for another year, and with there not being an offensive weapon that fits in New Orleans having a good value, the Saints plug the biggest hole on their defense with a hometown stud.
25. Minnesota Vikings - A.J. Terrell, Cornerback, Clemson
The Vikings draft a cornerback in the first round. Take a drink! But seriously, despite them seemingly always drafting a cornerback in the first round, they find themselves needing one here with Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes both departing this offseason. I think Terrell is a reach here, but if anyone can get him to succeed, it's Mike Zimmer.
26. Miami Dolphins - Xavier McKinney, Safety, Alabama
Miami has their quarterback and their left tackle. The wide receivers and the tight end are at least decent, so they now turn to defense. Miami liked Minkah Fitzpatrick the first time, but the relationship wore itself out. They replace him with this year's version of Fitzpatrick in McKinney, another Irish-sounding lad who is a versatile weapon on the back end of the defense.
27. Seattle Seahawks - Isaiah Wilson, Offensive Tackle, Georgia
Seattle always goes a bit off the wall with their first round picks. Seattle also has a bad offensive line in a division with very strong defensive linemen. There is talk that Wilson, who I thought was a day three prospect, is getting first round buzz. The Seahawks overdrafted day three players in the first round the past two seasons, and do so again this year with Wilson.
28. Baltimore Ravens - Ross Blacklock, Defensive Tackle, TCU
I am a huge believer in Blacklock's ability as a pass rusher. He has the potential to be a Kinlaw-esque type talent on the interior. In this scenario, he falls to Baltimore, who opt for shoring up the interior of their defensive line with the best defensive tackle on the board.
29. Tennessee Titans - Yetur Gross-Matos, Defensive End, Penn State
I'm a bigger fan of Gross-Matos than many, and think he deserves to get taken in the first round. He seems like a perfect fit for Mike Vrabel and a stout defense. He could be the missing piece that takes this team to the next level on that side of the ball.
30. Green Bay Packers - K.J. Hamler, Wide Receiver, Penn State
The Packers absolutely love how this board has fallen. One of my earliest takes was that the Packers would love Hamler at No. 30, and this time around they get him. The last time the Packers had an offense that was truly dominant, they had the diverse skill sets of Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb. Devante Adams is pretty good at the Jordy Nelson role, and Hamler is the second coming of prime Randall Cobb.
31. San Francisco 49ers - A.J. Epenesa, Defensive End, Iowa
I truly believe John Lynch will try to do everything he can to trade down. With them having the 13th overall pick, the ability for them to land a top talent while still trading down to accumulate more day two picks is very enticing. On day two, they could look at players like Cesar Ruiz, Antoine Winfield Jr., Jeremy Chinn, Bryce Hall, Raekwon Davis, or numerous other prospects that could fit their scheme. Here, I stop the criminal fall of A.J. Epenesa. With Armstead assuming the DeForest Buckner role, Epenesa can step in from day one and assume the old Arik Armstead role of playing defensive end as a run stuffer on early downs and kicking inside to rush the quarterback on passing downs. He can be an every-down player for the 49ers and can contribute immediately. He's a perfect pick here if they stay.
32. Kansas City Chiefs - J.K. Dobbins, Running Back, Ohio State
If the Chiefs can't draft a meteor destroying Arrowhead, which is my preferred option (sorry, still not over it), the Chiefs bolster their offense by grabbing the speedy, explosive Dobbins to be their new lead back. This offense already isn't fair, so grabbing Dobbins just makes it even more Madden-like.
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