Mocking the draft this year is more difficult than it has recently been, for several reasons. First, it is rich in talent with as many as 50 players that may end up being drafted in the first round. Second, there are "clusters" of players in the same position (OT, WR and CB spring to mind) with very similar talent and third, due to the coronavirus situation, teams haven't seen as much of the prospects as they'd like, so there might be some surprise selections. Finally, I am practically certain that this year we'll have trades of high picks that will completely mess mocks up, but this is a no-trade mock. So without further delay, here's my take at attempting to predict this year's first round.
1. Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
I still think he's a high-risk pick, but no one else seems to share that view, Burrow is the consensus No.1
2. Washington Redskins: Chase Young, DE, Ohio State
The top prospect in the entire draft according to most evaluators and fills a need for the Redskins.
3. Detroit Lions, Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn
Derrick Brown is not a pass rusher, but he can destroy a pocket without ever getting anywhere near the QB. Most people give them Jeff Okudah here, but Brown is a truly freakish prospect. This is an obvious trade spot for teams looking to move up.
4. New York Giants: Jedrick Wills, OT, Alabama
Wills has the toughness Dave Gettleman loves. He may end up playing either RT or LT for them.
5. Miami Dolphins: Isaiah Simmons, LB/S, Clemson
Simmons can give Brian Flores what Minkah Fitzpatrick didn't want to: a Swiss army knife piece in the back 7. With Simmons and Kyle van Noy, Flores will have a similar linebacker tandem to the one he had as a LB coach and DC in New England. The Dolphins have Fitzpatrick and Rosen and enough draft capital to come back for a QB if they so choose.
6. LA Chargers: Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
Herbert is the opposite of Joe Burrow, the most physically talented of the QB prospects but there are concerns about his mental makeup (leadership and toughness).
7. Carolina Panthers: Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State
Most projections don't have him slipping to here, so the Panthers are getting value at a premium position where they have a major need. This is an ideal scenario for them.
8. Arizona Cardinals: Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville
They'd probably prefer Wills or Brown here, but they're both gone in this scenario. Mekhi Becton, an absolute freak, is more value here than the second -best DT prospect (Javon Kinlaw).
9. Jacksonville Jaguars: Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
Kinlaw would give them a second long, athletic defensive lineman to pair with Josh Allen but Tua is too much value to pass up at this point.
10. Cleveland Browns: Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa
There are rumors they love Ezra Cleveland, but No.10 is probably too rich for him, they'd be best served trading down or back into the back end of the first round if they're dead set on his selection. Wirfs is an excellent prospect with positional flexibility.
11. New York Jets: Ceedee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
This comes down to WR versus OL, and WR is by far the deeper position in the draft, but on the other hand in this scenario the Jets get their pick of receivers whereas they'd have to settle for the fourth offensive tackle. I have them taking Lamb over Jeudy because QB Sam Darnold has not developed the sense of timing that would best utilize Jeudy's skillset. On the other hand he has a cannon, so he can just throw it up and Lamb will get it.
12. Las Vegas Raiders: Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
This is an ideal situation: positional needs meets draft value, with cultural fit the cherry on top. If Jeudy gets past the Jets, the Raiders should pounce.
13. San Francisco 49ers: Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama
Ruggs' main selling point is that he plays fast (though not as fast as his timed speed). With Ruggs and Kittle stretching the field and Deebo Samuel and his physicality underneath, the 49ers passing game can be unstoppable.
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
Thomas is a little stiff, so there's some risk here but the Bucs don't have a RT and he's very powerful so he should be fine there even if his lack of agility prevents him from making it at LT.
15. Denver Broncos: Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU
They'd love Ruggs and his speed here. Jefferson is a very different player as he's projected to the slot in the NFL. However he looks like he's got the physical talent and intangibles to become a surefire productive starter in the league, and that's what you want at this point in the draft.
16. Atlanta Falcons: Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina
They need edge rush more than interior rush, but Kinlaw is a much better prospect than the best available edge rusher (K'Lavon Chaisson).
17. Dallas Cowboys: K'Lavon Chaisson, Edge, LSU
If he's gone, the Cowboys will probably go corner here, with C.J Henderson being the best of the available corners here.
18. Miami Dolphins: Jordan Love, QB, Utah State
With three first round picks, the Dolphins can afford to take a chance on Love's upside here.
19. Las Vegas Raiders: C.J Henderson, CB, Florida
The Raiders would love getting the No.2 corner in the class at this spot. Jon Gruden never had a QB room he didn't want to add to, so if Love is available here they might be tempted.
20. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jaylon Johnson, CB, Utah
It's hard to separate a group of corners (Johnson, Kristian Fulton, A.J Terrell, Trevon Diggs) so I went with Jaylon Johnson, the longest of the bunch. The Jaguars like drafting local players so if Henderson is here he'd be the pick.
21. Philadelphia Eagles: Patrick Queen, LB, LSU
Their No.1 need is WR, but with the top four receivers gone, they go defense, getting Queen, a modern linebacker who can run and cover. Xavier McKinney, the safety from Alabama is another option here, as he'd replace Malcom Jenkins.
22. Minnesota Vikings: Brandon Aiyuk, WR, Arizona State
They need WR and CB and they have two picks at 22 and 25, so they should be able to fill both needs. Unless Zimmer really loves one of the corners left, they'd be best served going WR in this scenario. Aiyuk is a bit raw, but he's a tough, physical player who should fit in well with Zimmer's style.
23. New England Patriots: Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma
At first glance this is a weird prediction, because Iowa's A.J Epenesa is the prototype New England edge player (not much of a pass rusher, but tough, strong, and great at setting the edge) and comes from a program Bill Belichick has ties to. Furthermore, Murray's weakness is getting off blocks, and Belichick places a premium on that. However, by all accounts Murray is the most impressive top prospect in terms of maturity and character. Belichick has a history of picking either ultra-athletic or high-character LBs, Murray combines those two traits.
24. New Orleans Saints: Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor
With no glaring need, the Saints have the luxury to be able to pick someone to help them out offense. There are rumors they're thinking of moving on from Alvin Kamara as he enters the final year of his rookie deal so they might go RB, but that's not a sure thing, so I have them going WR. Why Mims? At first glance he's an odd fit, because he is more a lesser version than a complement to Michael Thomas, but Drew Brees' deep ball is not what it used to be, so getting him another intermediate target might help him out.
25. Minnesota Vikings: A.J. Terrel, CB, Clemson
Terrel is a typical Clemson corner with a well-rounded game , a plug and play player in Zimmer's scheme.
26. Miami Dolphins: Ezra Cleveland, OT, Boise State
Most people have them taking a different OT (Josh Jones, Austin Jackson) here and while Cleveland may not have the same upside, he is a scheme fit and has more versatility, and Miami has holes all over its OL.
27. Seattle Seahawks: Ross Blacklock, DT, TCU
They also need an OT, and many have them taking Austin Jackson here, but Blacklock has the twitchy explosiveness Seattle loves. In fact his overall talent level merits a much higher choice, but he has some baggage. Drafting ultra-talented players who fall because of baggage has been Seattle's strategy for years.
28. Baltimore Ravens: Yetur Gross-Matos, Edge, Penn State
Xavier McKinney is the top safety on the board and a better player than Gross-Matos and could be the choice if the Ravens go BAP, but their only viable pass rusher is playing on the franchise tag. So they might be forced to make a need pick here.
29. Tennessee Titans: Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU
Logan Ryan is still on the market so if they want him they could probably get him back on their terms, but in this scenario they opt to replace him with Fulton. He is a bit stiff, but that's not a huge problem in the Titans' scheme, and he also has issues with tackling, but Vrabel and his coaches should be able to cure that. The two Alabama DBs (S Xavier McKinney and CB Treyvon Diggs) might also be picked here.
30. Green Bay Packers: Treyvon Diggs, CB, Alabama
We can already imagine the memes when Kirk Cousins throws an INT to Stephon Diggs' brother. But he makes a ton of sense in terms of value and need.
31. San Francisco 49ers: Austin Jackson, OT, USC
Boom-or-bust project, but he has the athleticism to get to the second level, something that's crucial in Kyle Shanahan's scheme. If it all falls into place for him, he has a chance to be a Top-10 tackle in the NFL and it's rare to get a player lack that at the very end of the first round.
32. Kansas City Chiefs: Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama
McKinney is the consensus top safety in the draft. Like many Alabama defenders, there is a concern about whether he is a product of the scheme and high level of talent in that defense, but he's worth taking a shot on at 32. If he pans out he'll give the Chiefs a tandem of versatile and interchangeable safeties together with Tyrann Mathieu.