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2020 NFL mock draft: Tanking teams are battling for quarterbacks at the top of the order

The trade deadline was dull. Joe Burrow in the top five of next year’s draft isn’t.

LSU QB Joe Burrow pounds chest after scoring a TD, with blue and red graphics in the background
LSU quarterback Joe Burrow is moving up the draft boards.

The NFL’s trade deadline was a snoozer, with several bad teams deciding to stay bad and cling on to veterans that could have been flipped for draft capital. That was the case most notably with Cincinnati and Washington, two teams that are tanking the season unintentionally.

Still, both of those teams are looking up at the Miami Dolphins in the 2020 NFL Draft. Miami is mastering the tank and accumulate strategy, owning three picks in the first round next April. How will the Dolphins use them?

Let’s look at that and the rest of the first round in this midseason mock draft:

1. Miami Dolphins: Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama

As long as Ryan Fitzpatrick doesn’t somehow will them to win a game this season, the Dolphins should be in position to take whatever quarterback they prefer with the first pick in the draft. Tagovailoa’s grasp on being the best quarterback in the draft is loosening slightly with his most recent ankle surgery and the play of LSU’s Joe Burrow. But Tagovailoa is a more proven commodity with good accuracy and leadership traits.

2. Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Burrow, QB, LSU

Burrow has been college football’s hottest draft prospect this season, and he could find himself in the top five picks. He’s excelled in LSU’s revamped passing offense, and what he’s doing in Baton Rouge this season should transition to the NFL.

3. Washington: Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia

Washington used a first-round pick this year on Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins, and it should still view him as the quarterback of the future. If that’s the case — and who knows if it is because Washington under Bruce Allen is a disaster — the team would be smart to take Thomas. He’s an elite left tackle prospect who has power and quick feet.

4. Atlanta Falcons: Chase Young, DE, Ohio State

Young shouldn’t last this far, but it could happen given the needs at quarterback and the value of a left tackle for Washington. Young is the best player in college football, and is every bit the prospect at the level of players like Nick Bosa and Myles Garrett. You could argue he’s even better. For the Falcons, this would be No. 1 goal achieved.

5. New York Jets: Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa

Wirfs may play right tackle, but he’s a top-10 player in the 2020 draft. Don’t forget, the Jets used a third-round pick in 2019 on tackle Chuma Edoga. He and Wirfs would give the Jets a pair of bookends to protect franchise quarterback Sam Darnold — assuming he can avoid more bizarre injuries.

6. New York Giants: Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama

If the Giants finish this high in the draft, they need to consider help for quarterback Daniel Jones. Jeudy is the nation’s best wide receiver prospect, and some consider him right behind Young as the second-best overall player available for the draft.

7. Denver Broncos: Alex Leatherwood, OT, Alabama

Garett Bolles, the team’s 2017 first-round pick, just isn’t working at left tackle. If the Broncos are concerned about his play, this is the draft to make the change. If the underclassmen go pro as expected, offensive tackle could be one of the biggest strengths of the draft. That includes Leatherwood, a powerhouse left tackle who should slot into an NFL starting job straight away.

8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon

In his contract year, Jameis Winston’s turnover reputation hasn’t changed with head coach Bruce Arians. At this rate, it’s hard to say the Buccaneers shouldn’t find his replacement in 2020. Herbert hasn’t had an inspiring senior season at Oregon, but he’s still a highly coveted quarterback prospect.

9. Cleveland Browns: Prince Tega Wanogho, OT, Auburn

Oh, Browns. The offseason hype hasn’t actualized in Cleveland. Because a head coach can’t be taken in the draft, going after an offensive tackle is the next biggest need in Cleveland. Taking the fourth-best tackle prospect won’t be ideal, but it could be necessary for the Browns unless they want to waste Baker Mayfield’s rookie contract years.

10. Los Angeles Chargers: Jordan Love, QB, Utah State

It’s time. In 2018, there were some that thought that the Chargers should have taken Lamar Jackson to eventually take over Philip Rivers. The 37-year-old quarterback is now in his contract year and Los Angeles should finally find his replacement. Love unfairly gets compared to Patrick Mahomes, but like the Chiefs quarterback, he has a big arm and will enter the NFL a little raw. The Chargers’ best strategy might be to bring back Rivers for a year and let Love learn behind him.

11. Las Vegas Raiders (via Chicago Bears): Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State

The Khalil Mack trade still looks like a bad one for the Raiders, but it will be mitigated slightly if Chicago’s pick can get inside the top 10. If there’s this big run on quarterbacks and offensive tackles, a top-10 player like Okudah could fall to the Raiders.

12. Miami Dolphins (Pittsburgh Steelers): A.J. Epenesa, DE, Iowa

In Miami’s multiple defense, the team could use a big defensive end like Epenesa. The 280-pound pass rusher should fit in head coach Brian Flores’ defense and would be another big piece along with Christian Wilkins on the defensive line.

13. Las Vegas Raiders: Grant Delpit, S, LSU

Landing Delpit and Okudah in one draft would be a coup for the Raiders. Sure, there are other needs on the roster, but they would give the Raiders two starts in the defensive backfield.

14. Arizona Cardinals: Walker Little, OT, Stanford

Before he was lost to a knee injury in September, Little had a chance to rise into the top 10 of the draft. He could still get close. Arizona needs protection help for Kyler Murray, and Little is a player who fits on the left side.

15. Tennessee Titans: Curtis Weaver, DE, Boise State

Tennessee might be in a tough spot in April of being just bad need enough to restart at quarterback, but just good enough to miss out on the top passers. Jake Fromm of Georgia is good but doesn’t necessarily have first-round talent. The Titans still need pass rush help, and Weaver is a player who makes a big impact as a standup edge player.

16. Jacksonville Jaguars: Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU

The Jaguars need cornerback help, especially after shipping Jalen Ramsey off to Los Angeles. Fulton isn’t much for tackling, but he’s been impressive in LSU’s man coverage defense. He’s similar in play style to former teammate Greedy Williams with his length and ability to stick with opposing receivers.

17. Philadelphia Eagles: Isaiah Simmons, LB/S, Clemson

While it is hard to pass up on a cornerback, Simmons fills a big need for the Eagles and possesses great value in the middle of the first round. He’s a playmaker, whether it’s at linebacker or acting as a safety. He’s a high-level athlete on defense and would be someone who could make big plays for the Eagles.

18. Detroit Lions: Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina

A’Shawn Robinson is a free agent after this season, and Damon Harrison turns 31 next month. Now could be the time for the Lions to take an interior defensive lineman in the first round. Kinlaw gives head coach Matt Patricia a big athlete who can create pressure up the middle.

19. Carolina Panthers: CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma

With DJ Moore and Curtis Samuel, the Panthers have two interesting young receivers, but neither is really a No. 1 option. Lamb can be that player in Charlotte with his excellent hands and route running.

20. Jacksonville Jaguars (via Los Angeles Rams): Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn

It might be surprising to see Brown all the way down at 20. He hasn’t had a bad season at Auburn; he just hasn’t done anything really to raise his stock.

21. Dallas Cowboys: Ashtyn Davis, S, California

After the Cowboys balked on acquiring Jamal Adams from the New York Jets at the NFL trade deadline, Davis should be a draft target. He’s a stellar coverage safety and does enough against the run. A player with his type of skillset can make more of an impact than a player like Adams.

22. Miami Dolphins (via Houston Texans): Lucas Niang, OT, TCU

It’d be really intriguing to give Tagovailoa his college teammate, wide receiver Henry Ruggs III. But Miami’s roster is in such a state that there are much greater needs. Niang, who is out the rest of the season with a hip injury, could help fix Miami’s disastrous offensive line.

23. Kansas City Chiefs: Bryce Hall, CB, Virginia

The Chiefs need cornerback help right now, so what better player than the experienced Hall? He could step into a starting spot for Kansas City right now, let alone next season.

24. Buffalo Bills: Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama

Buffalo smartly added speed receivers on offense to take advantage of Josh Allen’s ability to throw the deep ball. The trouble is, none of the players on the roster are a high-end talent. Ruggs is another speed receiver, but he’s more than just a burner. He has dependable hands and is a crafty route runner to get open.

25. Baltimore Ravens: Julian Okwara, DE/OLB, Notre Dame

Baltimore’s pass rush has suffered without players like Za’Darius Smith and franchise legend Terrell Suggs gone. Matthew Judon and Pernell McPhee are solid, but nothing that can’t be upgraded. That’s especially true of McPhee, who is only on a one-year deal. Okwara is the type of lanky edge rusher that would fit perfectly in Baltimore.

26. Indianapolis Colts: Carlos Basham Jr., DE, Wake Forest

The Colts are another team that could use pass rush help, particularly considering the age of Justin Houston and Jabaal Sheard. Basham is a big end who explodes off the snap better than you’d expect from a 275-pounder.

27. Minnesota Vikings: Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama

Moderate rumors have swirled for a while about the Vikings trading Xavier Rhodes. That, combined with the rookie contracts of Mackensie Alexander and Trae Waynes expiring, means Minnesota might be in the market again for a cornerback. Diggs is showing this season he can shut down a receiver with his press coverage skills.

28. Seattle Seahawks: Hunter Bryant, TE, Washington

Will Dissly’s Achilles injury put a spotlight on the lack of tight end depth for the Seahawks. While they could consider defensive line or the secondary early in the draft, Bryant is having an outstanding season, averaging 15.1 yards per catch. He’s not the biggest tight end, but his skillset translates.

29. Green Bay Packers: Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU

A team like the Packers will be the beneficiary of the wide receiver depth of the 2020 draft class. Any other year and Raegor, Colorado’s Laviska Shenault, or Alabama’s DeVonta Smith would be a top-20 player. Reagor could get the nod because of his all-around combination of strength and speed.

30. New Orleans Saints: Laviska Shenault, WR, Colorado

Who better to pair with Michael Thomas than a Michael Thomas clone? Shenault is a physical wide receiver with a penchant for big plays.

31. New England Patriots: Dylan Moses, LB, Alabama

Moses would be hard for the Patriots to pass on if he falls this far following a season-ending knee injury. Prior to getting hurt he was considered a top 10 player. For the Patriots, he would be an upgrade over Elandon Roberts and insurance if Jamie Collins doesn’t re-sign.

32. San Francisco 49ers: Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama

McKinney is a steady force in Alabama’s secondary, and the type of player the 49ers need. He’s not a superstar athlete and won’t intercept a lot of passes, but he’s a smart player who is always in the right position to make a stop.