NFL mock draft 2020: 49ers, Packers bolster defenses; Chiefs, Titans get playmakers on offenseSporting News — (Vinnie Iyer)
The 2020 college football season is finished, with LSU being crowned national champions after defeating Clemson 42-25 in the College Football Playoff final in New Orleans. The 2020 NFL playoffs have reached the end game, with the 49ers and Chiefs set to face off in Super Bowl 54 in Miami.
With more of the 2020 NFL Draft order settled now that two more teams have been eliminated and with final information about how many underclassmen have declared, it was a good time for an updated Sporting News NFL mock draft.
Several of the CFP stars from LSU and Clemson are set to go early, including a third consecutive Heisman Trophy-winning QB at No. 1 overall. Without further ado, here’s how we see the first-round picks for April 23 playing out, from No. 1 through No. 32.
NFL mock draft 2020
1. Cincinnati Bengals (2-14)
- Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
Offensive-minded coach Zac Taylor needs a franchise passer with Andy Dalton fading and Ryan Finley not showing much. Burrow has enjoyed a meteoric rise as the runaway Heisman Trophy winner and top QB prospect in the class. At 6-3, 215 pounds, he combines his mental and physical toughness in the pocket with a strong arm and accurate delivery. His leadership skills and athleticism also have flourished in Baton Rouge, with his ridiculous performances in the Alabama game and the CFP against Oklahoma and Clemson being big-game gravy. Consider him a better all-around version of Jared Goff.
2. Washington Redskins (3-13)
- Chase Young, EDGE, Ohio State
Young qualifies as a better prospect than recent Ohio State studs Joey and Nick Bosa. With defensive-minded Ron Rivera hired as head coach, assuming the Redskins don’t get a can’t-refuse offer to trade back, they should jump at the chance to get this cornerstone talent for the team's defensive rebuild. Young (6-5, 265 pounds) is a game-changing disruptor who had 16.5 sacks in only 12 games as a junior. He is the clear pick for a team that doesn't need a QB.
3. Detroit Lions (3-12-1)
- Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn
The Lions were terrible against the run in 2019, and Matt Patricia, with some fading talent in the middle of his defensive front, could use an elite run-stuffer with some excellent inside pass-rush juice. Brown would do nicely. At 6-5, 318 pounds, he is a quick disruptor who makes a lot of plays in the backfield. The Lions can also consider the edge here, but Brown is the best pure lineman in the class, period.
4. New York Giants (4-12)
- A.J. Epenesa, EDGE, Iowa
The Giants will miss out on the pass-rushing services of Young for general manager Dave Gettleman, but they can recover well here with another top-flight Big Ten prospect. Epenesa (6-6, 280 pounds) is a powerful, explosive, big-bodied player. He can push blockers out of the way to get to the quarterback and also stands up strong against the run. He confirmed his top-10 status with 2.5 sacks and a forced fumble against USC in the Holiday Bowl.
5. Miami Dolphins (5-11)
- Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
Now that we know Tagovailoa (6-1, 218 pounds) should make a full recovery from his scary hip injury, he has to be the pick for the Dolphins. Miami can keep Ryan Fitzpatrick to serve as the bridge QB should Tagovailoa need extra time to get to full strength. When healthy, Tagovailoa is an accurate, mobile, deep-ball throwing QB with the upside of Russell Wilson, only throwing with his left arm.
6. Los Angeles Chargers (5-11)
- Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
Herbert has ideal size (6-6, 237 pounds) for a team that needs to look to its QB future beyond Philip Rivers. Herbert comes with a few durability concerns, and while he is efficient and mentally tough overall, there are times when he can go into a slump with his decision-making, forcing throws out of overconfidence. With good NFL coaching, however, he can live up to being a prototypical superstar. Anthony Lynn would have a strong influence on Herbert, and his recent burst of athleticism would be a welcome asset in LA.
7. Carolina Panthers (5-11)
- Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State
The Panthers should be thinking about the best defensive player available for Matt Rhule, as behind their bad run defense, they also struggled in downfield coverage with Donte Jackson not lookng good and James Bradberry being a pending free agent. Okudah, an elite ball hawk at 6-1, 200 pounds, has the build to handle receivers of all sizes. He is fluid and quick enough with great recovery skills in coverage to develop into a shutdown type, with his strengths showing up in press man.
8. Arizona Cardinals (5-10-1)
- Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
Giving Kyler Murray a true all-around go-to guy would allow Christian Kirk to be more dangerous as a complementary playmaker. Jeudy fits the profile as a No. 1 receiver; he is a classic intermediate-to-deep field-stretcher and smooth drive-finisher in the red zone at 6-1, 198 pounds.
9. Jacksonville Jaguars (6-10)
- Isaiah Simmons, OLB, Clemson
The Jaguars had some of the worst linebacker play in the NFL in 2019. Simmons seems to be all over the field at all times for Clemson with great speed and range at 6-4, 230 pounds, and he also can get to the quarterback. He posted 104 tackles, 7 sacks, 16.5 tackles for loss and 3 interceptions in 15 games.
10. Cleveland Browns (6-10)
- Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
The Browns have an amazing set of skill players around Baker Mayfield, but their pass protection was the reason they were slow to find their explosiveness early in 2019. That will change with run-tilted and offensive-minded new coach Kevin Stefanski. Thomas matches great size (6-5, 320 pounds) with good hands and footwork. Stefanski also will love what Thomas can do to open holes for the running game.
11. New York Jets (7-9)
- Austin Jackson, OT, USC
The Jets might consider a wide receiver, but they also could use a rock for their offensive line in front of Sam Darnold. Jackson (6-6, 310 pounds) has entered the first-round fray as an athletic beast garnering more attention with his Trojans tape.
12. Las Vegas Raiders (7-9)
- Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU
The Raiders need help on the back end after getting consistently burned this season despite some improvements in the pass rush. Fulton (6-1, 192 pounds) has the size, speed, smarts and sound coverage skills to have a long, prosperous career.
13. Indianapolis Colts (7-9)
- CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
The Colts have an aging (and hurting) T.Y. Hilton with little playmaking pop elsewhere at wide receiver. Lamb, a DeAndre Hopkins clone, can be an explosive field-stretcher and steady possession guy outside. At 6-2, 199 pounds, he needed only 62 receptions to post 1,327 yards and 14 TDs in 13 games in his final season at Oklahoma.
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-9)
- Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa
Wirfs has the athleticism at 6-5, 322 pounds to hold down the left side for a long time. He combines his pass-blocking skills with power and physicality in the running game. At worst, he can start right away on the right side opposite Donovan Smith with Demar Dotson, 34, heading into free agency.
15. Denver Broncos (7-9)
- Jedrick Wills, OT, Alabama
The Broncos need some defensive and receving help, but they also could use a boost to their offensive line edge play to help both second-year QB Drew Lock and third-year running back Phillip Lindsay. Wills (6-5, 320 pounds) is a strong, powerful run-blocker who needs a little time to develop into an elite pass-protector.
16. Atlanta Falcons (7-9)
- Yetur Gross-Matos, EDGE, Penn State
The Falcons always seem to be looking for more pass-rush disruption to help their secondary (also a primary need), as some picks haven't worked as expected. Gross-Matos (6-5, 242 pounds) is a well-built, explosive and versatile defender who can thrive in Dan Quinn's 4-3 scheme.
17. Dallas Cowboys (8-8)
- Grant Delpit, S, LSU
The Cowboys need an upgrade at free safety to get better at covering backs and tight ends. Delpit flies around the field, stopping the run like an extra linebacker and making big plays on the ball in downfield coverage. He plays like the Chargers' Derwin James with tremendous hybrid size (6-3, 203 pounds) for the position.
18. Miami Dolphins (from 8-8 Steelers)
- Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin
The Dolphins desperately need a true workhorse back for their rebuild. Taylor (5-11, 219 pounds) has great vision and burst as a runner. He also doesn't get enough credit for what he can do as a receiver, which was on display more during his final college season. In three years for the Badgers, he posted 6,581 scrimmage yards and 55 total TDs.
19. Las Vegas Raiders (from 8-8 Bears)
- Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina
The Raiders need to get stronger in their interior front with a Geno Atkins-like player for Paul Guenther. They can look to Will Muschamp's defense, where the 6-6, 310-pound Kinlaw posted 6 sacks in 12 games for the Gamecocks. Offensive tackle also will get consideration with this pick.
20. Jacksonville Jaguars (from 9-7 Rams)
- Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama
The Jaguars can replace Jalen Ramsey with the pick they acquired for him with Diggs, who can pair well with A.J. Bouye because of his size (6-2, 207 pounds), strength and downfield speed. Diggs has risen up the board quickly with his big senior season (3 interceptions in 12 games).
21. Philadelphia Eagles (9-7)
- Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson
The Eagles are in desperate need of a big-play threat in Carson Wentz's receiving corps given DeSean Jackson's age and a breaking-down Alshon Jeffery. Higgins is a dangerous, all-around playmaker who can be a force in the red zone. At 6-4, 215 pounds, Higgins has posted 59 receptions for 1,167 yards and 13 TDs in 15 games. He also rushed for a 36-yard score against LSU.
22. Buffalo Bills (10-6)
- Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama
The Bills need another big-time weapon to complement their two suddenly established veterans, John Brown on the outside and Cole Beasley in the slot. Ruggs (6-0, 190 pounds) fits the bill as a field-stretcher who can also use his route-running skills to win on shorter routes.
23. New England Patriots (12-4)
- Laviska Shenault Jr., WR, Colorado
The Patriots could think about several defensive needs, too, but don't sleep on them taking another wide receiver in the first round, one a little more complete to work with the still-developing N'Keal Harry. Shenault (6-2, 220 pounds) is a sure-handed field stretcher who has some nice big-play flair after the catch. He posted 56 catches for 764 yards and 4 TDs for the Buffaloes, standing out on a struggling team.
24. New Orleans Saints (13-3)
- Tyler Biadasz, G, Wisconsin
The Saints should be looking to move on from pending free agent Andrus Peat after his shaky, injury-riddled season. They might as well go back to a Badgers program that has served them so well with right tackle Ryan Ramczyk. Biadasz (6-3, 321 pounds) is next in the strong line of Badgers interior blockers (see the Cowboys' Travis Frederick and the Giants' Kevin Zeitler).
25. Minnesota Vikings (10-6)
- Cameron Dantzler, CB, Mississippi State
Xavier Rhodes has faded fast as a big cover man, and Trae Waynes is a pending free agent. Dantzler (6-2, 185 pounds) has nice size and uses his hands and hips well to be disruptive against receivers downfield. He’s at his best operating in zone. He can be deployed well in Mike Zimmer’s defense.
26. Miami Dolphins (from 10-6 Texans)
- Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU
The Dolphins know DeVante Parker will be around for a while. Now they can get someone to complement him as a big-play threat outside. Jefferson (6-2, 185 pounds) has emerged in LSU's passing game as a quick, efficient route-runner with good hands whose speed remains underrated. He posted 111 catches for 1,540 yards and 18 TDs in 15 games.
27. Seattle Seahawks (12-4)
- Curtis Weaver, EDGE, Boise State
The Seahawks wil have a hard time keeping pending free agent Jadeveon Clowney, who seems intent on breaking the bank with any contender. Weaver (6-3, 265 pounds) was an absolute beast on the blue turf with 13.5 sacks in 14 games in his final college season.
28. Baltimore Ravens (13-3)
- C.J. Henderson, CB, Florida
Marcus Peters and Jimmy Smith are pending free agents, and the Ravens should go in some defensive direction early. Henderson (6-1, 202 pounds) plays bigger than his size with great athleticism and technique in his favor. He just needs to get a little more physical to be trusted against receivers who rely on body positioning to get open.
29. Tennessee Titans (9-7)
- Tyler Johnson, WR, Minnesota
The Titans can go for the best player available across many positions after their surprise playoff run. Corey Davis has given them limited returns, and they could use a rugged big-play target to add to the explosivenss of AJ Brown. Johnson (6-2, 205 pounds) can solve that problem as a strong pass-catcher and great route-runner for Ryan Tannehill, who is likely to be re-signed. He can go up and get any ball and fight through anyone to get it.
30. Green Bay Packers (13-3)
- Kenneth Murray, ILB, Oklahoma
The Packers still need to shore up the middle of their defense in multiple facets. Murray (6-2, 243 pounds) is an active, rangy playmaker who can be as effective dropping back as he is getting downhill against the run or blitzing.
31. Kansas City Chiefs (12-4)
- D’Andre Swift, RB, Georgia
With Clemson's Travis Etienne not entering the 2020 draft, Swift is the best early option for the Chiefs to push their backfield forward after getting the most from elevated veteran backup Damien Wiliams, who was a bit overextended with a feature role and has one year left on his contract going into his age 28 season. Swift (5-9, 229 pounds) is capable of both getting the tough yards inside and breaking free for big plays in the open field. He also flashed well as a receiver for the Bulldogs and can excel in the screen game Andy Reid loves.
32. San Francisco 49ers (13-3)
- Xaiver McKinney, S, Alabama
The Niners have seen their defensive work in the draft pay off, but with Jimmie Ward as a pending free agent, they could think about addressing safety next to Jaquiski Tartt. At 6-1, 197 pounds, McKinney could do it all for San Francisco, handling tight ends in coverage and cleaning up against running backs.