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2020 NFL mock draft: How LSU, Alabama can make history in the 1st round

Not one but two teams have a chance to match the mythical Miami team from the 2004 draft.

College Football Playoff National Championship - Clemson v LSU Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images

Think back to the 2004 NFL Draft. Times were better then. We really loved Usher and Napoleon Dynamite, and the only overly tan politician that mattered was Arnold Schwarzenegger. And Facebook launched. Fine, maybe things were awful in 2004 too.

But that year something special happened on April 24. After the draft got off to an awkward start with Eli Manning and Philip Rivers, a record six Miami Hurricanes were then taken in the first round. Count them out: Sean Taylor, Kellen Winslow II, Jonathan Vilma, D.J. Williams, Vernon Carey, and Vince Wilfork.

Some thought that last year Alabama could tie Miami for the most first-round picks for one school in the draft. It didn’t happen. The Crimson Tide had just half that many in the first round, with Quinnen Williams, Jonah Williams, and Josh Jacobs all going in the first 32.

Miami’s record could be tied in the 2020 NFL Draft, though.

This could be the year for Alabama. But LSU, one of its chief rivals, could match the Tide.

This week’s mock draft looks at how Alabama and LSU could make history with six first-round picks:

1. Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Burrow, QB, LSU

Here’s your week in Joe Burrow: He was compared to Tom Brady. Not ridiculous enough? A giraffe was named after him. Not ridiculous enough still? You can even a painting of Burrow puffing on a cigar on Etsy for the low, low price of $49.99.

See you next week when Burrow is still the first pick for the Bengals and I have to come up with something to write about it.

2. Washington: Chase Young, DE, Ohio State

John Keim of ESPN floated the idea of Washington trading out of the second pick. It’s true, Washington could get a franchise-altering return for the No. 2 pick. But it’s also true Washington would be passing up a chance to take a game-changing pass rusher at a time where the position is more important than ever. Don’t be Washington, Washington.

3. Detroit Lions: Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State

As Jeremy Reisman of Pride of Detroit explains, the Lions have a lot of needs, and cornerback is arguably the top one. So although head coach Matt Patricia has a middle-out building philosophy on defense, the lean for the pick could be Okudah.

4. New York Giants: Jedrick Wills, OT, Alabama

It’s funny how a single game between two bad teams can have such a huge impact. New York and Washington played one of the most exciting games of the season in Week 16. It was a 41-35 overtime win for the Giants. It was also the Chase Young Bowl. The loser, Washington, gets Young. The winner, New York, picks whomever it decides is the top offensive tackle in the draft.

5. Miami Dolphins: Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama

Tagovailoa got good news recently after having hip surgery in the middle of November. While teams like Miami will poke and prod Tagovailoa plenty at the NFL Scouting Combine, this was a strong positive first step.

6. Los Angeles Chargers: Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon

As Geoff Schwartz explained recently, if Herbert is there for the Chargers with the sixth pick they should take him. Sure, general manager Tom Telesco might like his internal options like Tyrod Taylor, but no one on the Los Angeles roster is a potential franchise quarterback like Herbert.

7. Carolina Panthers: Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn

Choosing between Brown and Clemson’s Isaiah Simmons will be a difficult task for Carolina. Both are among the draft’s elite prospects and do very different things. The choice between them will be a philosophical one about team building.

8. Arizona Cardinals: Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville

Many will argue that there’s little difference anymore between the value of a left tackle and a right tackle on an NFL roster. Still, there’s something to say about protecting the quarterback’s blind side. That’s why Becton could get the nod over Iowa’s Tristan Wirfs.

9. Jacksonville Jaguars: Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson

Following the stunning retirement of Telvin Smith last year, the Jaguars lost a degree of athleticism and playmaking ability on defense. Simmons could change that in a hurry. In a time when sub-packages on defense are the norm, Simmons would be a versatile asset who does just about everything well.

10. Cleveland Browns: Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa

Everyone knows the Browns need two offensive tackles this offseason. Greg Robinson was a disappointment last season at left tackle, and he’s a free agent. Right tackle Chris Hubbard has been ordinary since leaving Pittsburgh for Cleveland. The Browns should draft whoever they like most at tackle.

11. New York Jets: Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia

The pick for the Jets in mock drafts is often a wide receiver. While it’s true the receiver situation in New York is dire, both of the team’s starting offensive tackles are free agents. Yikes. Although they could end up getting the fourth offensive tackle off the board, it doesn’t matter as much in a talent-rich draft for the position.

12. Las Vegas Raiders: Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama

That guy Jerry Jeudy, man, would be a perfect fit for the Raiders. This guy catches everything, man. I like to call this guy Marvin Harrison 2.0, man.

13. Indianapolis Colts: CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma

While the Colts could easily opt for a player like South Carolina defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw, the team could use another weapon for whoever plays quarterback. Maybe it’s Tom Brady. Maybe it’s Philip Rivers. Or even Jameis Winston.

14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina

The Buccaneers may have led the NFL in run defense last season, but they could still use a player like Kinlaw in the middle of their defense. The first round is light on edge rushers, so Tampa Bay could go after Kinlaw to fill that need. Of course, that is assuming Kinlaw lasts this long. He should be a combine standout at the end of the month.

15. Denver Broncos: Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama

16. Atlanta Falcons: A.J. Epenesa, DE, Iowa

I’ve been stuck with these two for pick Nos. 15 and 16 in just about every mock draft. Some things just make too much sense. Try and talk me out of it in the comments.

17. Dallas Cowboys: Marlon Davidson, DL, Auburn

The ideal pick for the Cowboys is probably Kinlaw. They’ve needed a pressure-creating defensive tackle for several years. But if he goes a few picks before Dallas comes up, things will get interesting. This may seem early for Davidson — and it probably is — but never, ever forget that strange and unexpected things happen in the draft. Davidson is a unique player. He started four years at defensive end for Auburn and played standing up a lot last season. But at 280 pounds, he has some intrigue as a gap-shooting interior player.

18. Miami Dolphins (via Pittsburgh Steelers): Josh Jones, OT, Houston

Jones is another player who could be a combine riser thanks to his quick feet and athleticism. In any other year, he might be in contention for the top 10. But with so many tackles, Miami could snag a starter in the middle of the first round.

19. Las Vegas Raiders (via Chicago Bears): Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma

I’ll spare you the terrible Jon Gruden impersonation with this pick. It’s been years since the Raiders have had an athletic, playmaking linebacker. The team is thin at the position going into the new league year, so Murray should be on its radar in the first round.

20. Jacksonville Jaguars: (via Los Angeles Rams): Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU

Following the trade of Jalen Ramsey, the Jaguars find themselves in need of a cornerback. A.J. Bouye is still a solid player, but he had just one interception last season. At No. 20, the Jaguars should have their pick of cornerbacks after Okudah. Maybe it’s Fulton, Florida’s CJ Henderson, or even Mississippi State’s Cameron Dantzler.

21. Philadelphia Eagles: Laviska Shenault Jr., WR, Colorado

Somehow, Carson Wentz managed to throw for 4,039 yards last season while his top wide receiver, Alshon Jeffery, had 490 yards. That’s kinda odd. And yes, the Eagles have arguably the best tight end duo in the NFL with Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert. And running back Miles Sanders is an effective pass catcher. But the addition of a player like Shenault could lead Wentz to going from a 4,000-yard passer to a 5,000-yard passer.

22. Buffalo Bills: Curtis Weaver, Edge, Boise State

Buffalo was already in need of a pass rusher before Lorenzo Alexander retired at the end of the season. In addition to the loss of Alexander, Shaq Lawson is a free agent. The Bills are desperate for pass-rushing help at this point. Weaver may not have a lot of sizzling speed as an edge player, but he was consistent at Boise State and knows how to use his hands to get off blocks. Buffalo can line him up on the edge, or even put him inside in nickel situations.

23. New England Patriots: K’Lavon Chaisson, Edge, LSU

Chaisson could be a nice fit for New England considering Jamie Collins and Kyle Van Noy are free agents. Bill Belichick could figure out how to utilize Chaisson best to replace one of those players.

24. New Orleans Saints: Jordan Love, QB, Utah State

This is another pick I’m stuck on. Don’t forget that not only is Drew Brees one of the oldest players in the NFL, but he’s not officially signed for the 2020 season. Plus, Teddy Bridgewater could leave this offseason.

25. Minnesota Vikings: CJ Henderson, CB, Florida

Even though it’s easy to argue for an offensive lineman for the Vikings, would Mike Zimmer ignore going after a cornerback? Since Zimmer became the head coach of the Vikings in 2014, the team has taken a cornerback in the first or second round three times. He’s addicted!

26. Miami Dolphins (via Houston Texans): Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama

Kevin Nogle of The Phinsider did a tremendous job recently of summing up all of Miami’s needs this offseason. Quarterback and offensive tackle are the obvious big two, and there are value fits in the first round. Cornerback is another high need for the Dolphins. Xavien Howard’s domestic violence charge was dropped, but the team could still be wary and look to move on. Cordrea Tankersley also has just a season left on his rookie deal. The time could be now to take a player like Diggs and coach up his skill set.

27. Seattle Seahawks: Terrell Lewis, Edge, Alabama

The defensive line for the Seahawks is a mess. Despite adding Ziggy Ansah and Jadeveon Clowney, the Seahawks were near the bottom of the NFL in sacks last season. If Clowney departs, Lewis could be his replacement. Because he played at Alabama and stood up at the edge, it’s easy to forget that Lewis is 6’5 and 252 pounds. That’s almost the exact same size as Clowney. While Lewis isn’t the athlete Clowney is, he could get used in similar ways. Hopefully, the production will come.

28. Baltimore Ravens: Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson

The Ravens have great tight ends in Mark Andrews and Hayden Hurst. They have speed receivers with Marquise Brown and Willie Snead IV. What they don’t have is a true outside wide receiver who can go up and get the ball. That’s Higgins’ game. He could be a fantasy star in Baltimore — and help the team to a Super Bowl.

29. Tennessee Titans: Julian Okwara, Edge, Notre Dame

The Titans badly need to find a pass rusher to run opposite Harold Landry. Head coach Mike Vrabel is able to scheme sacks with his defensive line, and squeezed seven sacks last season out of Kamalei Correa, including the playoffs. Imagine what he could do with a speedy, 6’5 pass rusher like Okwara.

30. Green Bay Packers: Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU

This is another pick I remain bullish on. Jefferson really emerged in the LSU offense last season with 1,540 yards and 18 touchdowns. There’s no question that he’d be able to help a dull Packers passing offense.

31. San Francisco 49ers: Grant Delpit, S, LSU

With Jimmie Ward entering free agency, the 49ers could replace him with Delpit to maintain the rest of the depth on the roster. Delpit could slide back this far due to concerns about his tackling ability. But he’s a playmaker in the secondary and has special tools.

32. Kansas City Chiefs: Patrick Queen, LB, LSU

A third straight LSU player to close out the first round, with the quick Queen being an excellent option for the Super Bowl champions. The LSU program has become a linebacker factory with players like Kwon Alexander, Deion Jones, and Devin White all coming from the school in the last five years. Queen was only a starter for one full season, but he has the type of talent teams want in the modern NFL linebacker.