The regular season is now over, meaning the top 20 picks in the 2020 NFL Draft are set. With just over 100 days until the draft is here, teams are figuring out which players to target in the first round.
That includes a lot of receiving talent. This week’s mock draft features six wide receivers, two of whom are from Alabama. Speaking of the Crimson Tide, even though the team isn’t playing for a national title this year, seven Alabama players are in the first round of this mock.
But none of them will get picked higher than SEC nemesis Joe Burrow. The LSU quarterback has vaulted from Day 2 pick to the probable first overall selection by the Cincinnati Bengals. That pick is pretty well known, as is Chase Young of Ohio State going second overall. After that, the draft opens up.
Here’s one projection for how it could play out:
1. Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
Unless something unexpected happens between now and the start of the draft on April 23, Burrow needs to be the pick for Cincinnati. That’s regardless of what the team decides to do with disappointing veteran Andy Dalton, who still has a year on his contract. Burrow, the Heisman Trophy winner who will play for the national title on Jan. 13, has ascended throughout the college season and can be the Bengals’ next franchise quarterback.
2. Washington: Chase Young, DE, Ohio State
Washington fell apart at the end of the season, losing the final four games of the season. In doing so, Washington won the Chase Young Bowl. There is no better player in the 2020 draft than Young, and he’s the obvious choice for any team that doesn’t need a quarterback. His fit in Washington will need to be figured out — he’s been a traditional 4-3 defensive end at Ohio State. But he’s the caliber of player where the defensive scheme is built around his talents.
3. Detroit Lions: Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn
If the Lions stay at No. 3 — and a trade down will be attractive — they have a multitude of options. An offensive tackle like Tristan Wirfs of Iowa or Andrew Thomas of Georgia, Ohio State cornerback Jeff Okudah, or Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons could be considered. However, Brown would give Detroit a player up the middle who can disrupt the pocket and help the pass rush.
4. New York Giants: Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
We’ve seen time and again in the NFL that a young quarterback struggles to develop when the offensive line is bad. If New York wants to fully maximize Daniel Jones’ potential, it has to do a better job of giving him a clean pocket. There is plenty debate about who the best offensive tackle in the 2020 draft is, but Thomas is tops for me right now. He’s a true left tackle who has good size and athleticism.
5. Miami Dolphins: Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
The Dolphins managed to mess up their tank season, but could still get the quarterback they’ve coveted all along. Of course with Tagovailoa, Miami and any other team looking for a quarterback will have to be comfortable with his long medical report. If teams are concerned about the serious hip injury he suffered this season, they could pass. But if Miami is fine with Tagovailoa’s injuries, he has to be the pick. Tagovailoa is arguably the most gifted passer in this draft, and Miami has been badly in need of a franchise signal caller.
6. Los Angeles Chargers: Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
What the Chargers do in this draft will be fascinating. Generally, the Chargers are conservative team in the first round. Last year they took defensive lineman Jerry Tillery, a good but safe selection. If they want to be daring, the team could finally take Philip Rivers’ replacement. Herbert is a hot-and-cold player, but his talent is obvious.
7. Carolina Panthers: Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State
Okudah is among the elite players in the 2020 draft. While Carolina needs to bolster the offensive line — nothing new for the Panthers — Okudah’s skills can’t be overlooked. Teams actively avoided Okudah for much of the season, but he still managed three interceptions and seven pass breakups.
8. Arizona Cardinals: Jedrick Wills, OT, Alabama
Rookie quarterback Kyler Murray got knocked around this season, with the Cardinals finishing near the bottom of the league in the NFL in offensive sack percentage. Arizona needs to get better at both tackle spots, and a player like Wills could slot into either spot.
9. Jacksonville Jaguars: Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson
Jacksonville has taken a defender in four of the last five first rounds. It could be poised to again if Simmons lasts until the ninth pick. He’s a rangy defender who can play everywhere from deep safety to edge rusher. His most natural position will be at linebacker, but he can neutralize matchup problems.
10. Cleveland Browns: Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa
Both of Cleveland’s offensive tackles struggled this season, and the result was an inconsistent passing offense. Wirfs can take over the right tackle spot from Chris Hubbard and give the Browns the type of aggressive blocker they lack.
11. New York Jets: Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
It is imperative that this offseason for the Jets revolve around finding weapons for quarterback Sam Darnold. Jeudy is the most sure thing at receiver in the draft thanks to his precise route running and stellar hands. He favorably compares to Marvin Harrison, and could be Darnold’s No. 1 option.
12. Las Vegas Raiders: Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama
The Raiders lack a true No. 1 receiving option, but have some nice pieces in wideouts Tyrell Williams and Hunter Renfrow, and tight end Darren Waller. Ruggs, arguably the fastest receiver in the draft, can stretch the field for the Raiders and keep safeties from stacking the box against running back Josh Jacobs.
13. Indianapolis Colts: CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
It’s conceivable we see this run on wide receivers given how good the position is in 2020. It’s not some consolation for a team taking the third wide receiver in Lamb. He’s a big-play wideout with shades of DeAndre Hopkins to his game.
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Grant Delpit, S, LSU
Although the Buccaneers need offensive line help, they also have one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL. Delpit is the kind of safety who is comfortable in coverage and coming up to play the run.
15. Denver Broncos: Shaun Wade, CB, Ohio State
Ohio State’s “other” cornerback is pretty good in his own right. Chris Harris Jr. is a free agent, and Denver has few other good players at the position. Wade is a versatile cornerback who can play in the slot and has safety size at 6’1 and 194 pounds.
16. Atlanta Falcons: A.J. Epenesa, DE, Iowa
Epenesa had another standout season for Iowa with 11.5 sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss despite frequently facing multiple blockers. He’s an interesting prospect at 6’6 and 280 pounds because he can work from the outside, or be moved inside in nickel packages.
17. Dallas Cowboys: Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina
If you didn’t watch much of the 4-8 South Carolina Gamecocks this season, you missed out on one of the more fun players to watch in Kinlaw. He’s a lean 310-pound interior defender who can rush the passer and stuff the run.
18. Miami Dolphins (via Pittsburgh Steelers): Yetur Gross-Matos, DE/OLB, Penn State
The Dolphins gave up the most sacks in the NFL this season, and registered the fewest on defense. That’s quite something. At least one of those has to be remedied in the first round. Gross-Matos is a player head coach Brian Flores can use rushing standing up or with his hand down.
19. Las Vegas Raiders (via Chicago Bears): Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma
The Raiders need more talent at linebacker, and Murray is the type of player who would fit well on their defense. He’s a good athlete who closes on the run in a hurry, and he has some pass rush skills in his game.
20. Jacksonville Jaguars: (via Los Angeles Rams): Austin Jackson, OT, USC
The Jaguars are another team that seems to perpetually need help on the offensive line. Jackson started two seasons at left tackle for USC, and has the type of athleticism and foot quickness to stick at the position.
21. Philadelphia Eagles: Laviska Shenault, WR, Colorado
Philadelphia’s offense is light on playmakers, and Shenault showed with average quarterback play at Colorado that he can be a star.
22. Tennessee Titans: K’Lavon Chaisson, DE/OLB, LSU
Even after taking Harold Landry in the second round in 2018, the Titans still need a pass rusher. Chaisson has had a breakout 2019 for LSU after missing last season with an injury.
23. Buffalo Bills: Terrell Lewis, OLB, Alabama
Buffalo is another team that needs pass rush help, and Jerry Hughes will be 32 at the start of next season. Lewis is another player who has bounced back after missing the 2018 with injury.
24. Minnesota Vikings: Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama
Xavier Rhodes has regressed, and the Vikings are in need of talent at cornerback. Diggs is a big corner, which head coach Mike Zimmer will like.
25. Miami Dolphins (via Houston Texans): Josh Jones, OT, Houston
With three first-round picks, the Dolphins have a great opportunity to complete re-shape their franchise. Jones is a little more of a developmental tackle, but his athleticism is probably the best of any tackle in this class.
26. Seattle Seahawks: Curtis Weaver, DE, Boise State
A year after taking L.J. Collier in the first round, the Seahawks still need playmakers on the defensive line. Weaver is a fringe first-round player who could see his draft stock rise if he looks good in the offseason process.
27. New England Patriots: Jordan Love, QB, Utah State
This would be wacky. But Love has high-end skills, but he’s coming off a bad final college season. If the Patriots think they can mold him into their version of Patrick Mahomes, he’d make for a savvy choice in the first round.
28. Kansas City Chiefs: Tyler Biadasz, C, Wisconsin
Protecting Patrick Mahomes needs to be the chief priority for Kansas City. A player like Biadasz can play all three interior positions, but he’s best at center.
29. New Orleans Saints: Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU
The Saints could get some help for Michael Thomas by staying instate and taking breakout LSU receiver Justin Jefferson. He’s an athletic pass catcher with decent size and a penchant for big plays.
30. Green Bay Packers: Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson
Aaron Rodgers has made do with a bunch of low-rate wide receivers except for Davante Adams, and as he approaches the final chapters of his career the Packers need to get him some weapons. Higgins has excellent size at 6’4 and 215 pounds, and he knows how to get to the end zone with 25 touchdowns the past two seasons.
31. San Francisco 49ers: Creed Humphrey, C, Oklahoma
It’s a far outside shot that Humphrey goes pro considering he’s just a redshirt sophomore. But if he does, he’ll garner first-round talk. He’s a technician with a nasty demeanor — exactly what you want in a center.
32. Baltimore Ravens: Zack Baun, LB, Wisconsin
The Ravens have not only had a great season, but they’ve positioned themselves smartly for the future. The only real thing to keep an eye on is if Matt Judon leaves in free agency. If he does, Baltimore could use a pass rusher. Baun fits the bill, and he can play linebacker.