Every NFL team does mock drafts, and it’s not just for fun. Teams do them to try to figure out their options. If a player they like is gone, backup possibilities are needed. That’s why the theme of this week’s mock draft is options.
In addition to each team’s pick in the first round, I’ve come up with a backup choice. The only catch is the options are only relative to what has happened in the draft. If a player was taken already, he can’t be the “other” option.
Here’s a look at how it all played out this week:
1. Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
Except for a couple of days during the NFL Scouting Combine when Tua Tagovailoa was hinted at being the No. 1 pick, Burrow has been the choice since the middle of the college football season.
Other option: None. This is the only pick where there isn’t another feasible option.
2. Washington: Chase Young, DE, Ohio State
Young has been the expected second pick in the draft for months — with good reason, too. He’s similar as a prospect to Myles Garrett and Nick Bosa. Not only is he an instant starter, he’s an instant playmaker.
Other option: The talk about Washington taking Tagovailoa hasn’t fully gone away. The group that brought in Dwayne Haskins last year is gone, and new head coach Ron Rivera will have a lot of sway on draft night.
3. Detroit Lions: Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State
The Lions, as expected, traded Darius Slay. That makes what they should do with the third pick even more obvious.
Other option: Don’t forget, Lions head coach Matt Patricia has a philosophy of building from the middle out on defense, and his team has a need at defensive tackle. Derrick Brown of Auburn should be in the discussion for this pick.
4. New York Giants: Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville
Giants general manager Dave Gettleman, the madman, loves hog mollies. “Big men allow you to compete,” Gettleman once said while he was in Carolina. There is no hoggier molly in this draft than the 6’7, 364-pound Becton.
Other option: This could be any of the other top offensive tackles, like Tristan Wirfs of Iowa or Jedrick Wills of Alabama.
5. Miami Dolphins: Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
This week’s mock isn’t projecting trades — trades will be back next week — but I do think the Chargers could jump ahead of the Dolphins for Tagovailoa. That could leave Herbert for Miami.
Other option: If the Dolphins don’t get Tagovailoa, they could punt on quarterback until 2021 and wait for Ohio State’s Justin Fields or Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence. If that happens, Clemson defender Isaiah Simmons would be fun in Brian Flores’ defense.
6. Los Angeles Chargers: Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
Although there is some risk in taking Tagovailoa, it makes sense for the Chargers. With the departure of Philip Rivers, they need a new starting quarterback. They also need some star power, and the former national title winner has it.
Other option: While the Chargers signed Bryan Bulaga and traded for Trai Turner, they could still use one more piece on the offensive line. Wirfs is a player the Chargers have spoken to leading up to the draft, and he would fit nicely on the right side.
7. Carolina Panthers: Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn
Even with Simmons available, this has become my default pick for the Panthers. Defensive lineman Kawann Short still has a few good years left, but if the Panthers can’t get someone to take the attention away from him, those years will be wasted.
Other option: Simmons is the obvious other option here. He is the only player in this draft anywhere near being able to fill the massive hole left by Luke Kuechly.
8. Arizona Cardinals: Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa
The Cardinals can continue building out their offense with a plug-and-play right tackle like Wirfs. He would bookend with D.J. Humphries and give Kyler Murray time to complete throws to his impressive group of receivers.
Other option: If not Wirfs, then it could be Wills. Getting a right tackle has to be the biggest priority for the Cardinals for the remainder of this offseason.
9. Jacksonville Jaguars: Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson
Finally, at long last, Simmons comes off the board. It’s a little challenging to believe he’ll drop this far, but this should absolutely be his draft floor. For the Jaguars, he would provide some playmaking ability to a defense that has lost numerous pieces the last couple of years.
Other option: If the Jaguars are skeptical about Cam Robinson at left tackle, they could give Andrew Thomas of Georgia a long look.
10. Cleveland Browns: Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
Although Wills is rated higher than Thomas, the Browns could use a few sure things. Moving Wills from the right to left side is a projection. With Thomas, they know they’re getting a left tackle.
Other option: If Becton and Wirfs are gone — both excellent fits in Kevin Stefanski’s zone-based offense — the Browns could trade down. Remember, new general manager Andrew Berry was around the last time the Browns accumulated picks to build their franchise. It could happen again, potentially with Boise State tackle Ezra Cleveland being the target.
11. New York Jets: Jedrick Wills, OT, Alabama
George Fant is in the fold, on an absurdly large contract, but the Jets still need to get better on the offensive line. It’s just as conceivable that Wills goes in the top five as it is he drops to No. 11.
Other option: Wide receiver is the other obvious first-round pick for the Jets. Pick your favorite from Jerry Jeudy, CeeDee Lamb, or Henry Ruggs III. All will be in the discussion.
12. Las Vegas Raiders: CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
Raiders general manager Mike Mayock has hinted numerous times this offseason that the Raiders will be after a wide receiver in the draft. Even though they brought in Nelson Agholor this offseason, he’s not a true No. 1 option. Lamb, with his impressive skillset, is that type of player.
Other option: This is wild, but Utah State quarterback Jordan Love could get consideration here. There’s a reason the Derek Carr trade talk has lingered since Jon Gruden came back.
13. San Francisco 49ers (via Indianapolis Colts): Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama
Deebo Samuel is going to be a star for the 49ers, but they still need more help at wide receiver. Ruggs is the type of deep threat the 49ers don’t have because Dante Pettis has been such a huge disappointment.
Other option: Last week’s mock draft had Florida cornerback CJ Henderson in this spot, and that could still be a possibility.
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina
If the top four offensive tackles are gone, the Buccaneers could draft whomever they view as the best player available. In this mock draft, it is Kinlaw. The Bucs have plenty of run stuff prowess on the defensive line with Ndamukong Suh and Vita Vea, but they don’t have a player who can get after the quarterback. Kinlaw can be that player.
Other option: Buccaneers GM Jason Licht will occasionally do weird things in the draft, like trade up in the second round to take a kicker. The weird thing here would be reaching on the fifth offensive tackle, be that Austin Jackson of USC or Josh Jones of Houston.
15. Denver Broncos: Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
For my money, Jeudy is top wide receiver in the draft. It just so happens, at this very moment, there seems to be more buzz about Lamb and Ruggs. Jeudry is an excellent route runner with good hands. Those two attributes make people forget how fast he is on the field.
Other option: The Broncos traded for A.J. Bouye and Bryce Callahan is fine in the slot, but the Broncos need a second outside cornerback. Henderson could get the nod if the top three wide receivers are gone.
16. Atlanta Falcons: CJ Henderson, CB, Florida
Surprise, it’s not a pass rusher for the Falcons. After releasing Desmond Trufant, the Falcons are dangerously thin at cornerback. Damontae Kazee is good, but he’s more of a slot corner/safety hybrid. Henderson would give the Falcons a lockdown outside cornerback.
Other option: This pick could be an edge player, like LSU’s K’Lavon Chaisson or Penn State’s Yetur Gross-Matos.
17. Dallas Cowboys: K’Lavon Chaisson, Edge, LSU
Henderson would probably be the preference for the Cowboys to help replace Byron Jones, but they still need pass rush help. Even though Chaisson is a bit of a one-trick player as a pass rusher, he fits well in new defensive coordinator Mike Nolan’s defense.
Other option: The Cowboys could reach for a cornerback, because now they need one. Utah’s Jaylon Johnson is a fit, as is Kristian Fulton of LSU.
18. Miami Dolphins (via Pittsburgh Steelers): Josh Jones, OT, Houston
Miami’s offensive line needs plenty of help. If the Dolphins get a quarterback in this draft, the blocking has to get better. Jones started four years in college and should be able to step into the starting lineup as a rookie.
Other option: If the Dolphins don’t like Jones, Austin Jackson of USC or Isaiah Wilson of Georgia could be in play.
19. Las Vegas Raiders (via Chicago Bears): Yetur Gross-Matos, Edge, Penn State
The Raiders have stocked up on pass rushers the last two seasons, with draft picks Maxx Crosby and Clelin Ferrell and free agent addition Carl Nassib. Still, they could use a versatile defender who can get to the quarterback. Gross-Matos can play on the edge or standing up.
Other option: The Raiders let safety Karl Joseph leave this offseason and now need a player opposite Johnathan Abram. Either Grant Delpit of LSU or Xavier McKinney of Alabama would fit.
20. Jacksonville Jaguars: (via Los Angeles Rams): Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU
With new offensive coordinator Jay Gruden, the Jaguars need a wide receiver who is a disciplined route runner. In this range of the first round, that player is Jefferson.
Other option: If the Jaguars prefer a jump-ball target at wide receiver, Clemson’s Tee Higgins should be around.
21. Philadelphia Eagles: Laviska Shenault Jr., WR, Colorado
The Eagles brought in Slay to bolster their cornerback group, squarely making wide receiver their biggest first-round need. Coming into last college football season, Shenault was considered by many as the top wide receiver prospect in the nation.
Other option: This could be the landing spot for Baylor wide receiver Denzel Mims, this year’s “draft process” superstar.
22. Minnesota Vikings (via Buffalo Bills): Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU
Alabama cornerback Trevon Diggs would be the perfect fit in Mike Zimmer’s defense. He’s a long, physical cornerback with coachable traits. However, it would be a little awkward:
So would the #Vikings consider drafting Stefon Diggs’ brother, Alabama cornerback Trevon Diggs? Let’s have NFL Network draft analyst Charles Davis tackle that one. “More than likely, he’s not under consideration for Minnesota,’’ Davis told me.— Chris Tomasson (@christomasson) March 27, 2020
Instead, the Vikings could fill a big roster hole with Fulton. He’s not as physically imposing as Diggs, but he knows how to play press coverage well.
Other option: After trading Stefon Diggs, the Vikings need help at wide receiver to keep the double teams away from Adam Thielen. In this scenario, that player would be Higgins or Mims.
23. New England Patriots: Jordan Love, QB, Utah State
I can’t quit this pick for the Patriots. It’s a huge gamble because Love had a down 2019 season, but the Patriots are resetting at quarterback.
Other option: The Patriots badly need speed at wide receiver. They could also use a big target. Could those two things combined lead them to Notre Dame wide receiver Chase Claypool? If so, it should be after a trade down. But the 6’4, 240-pound receiver has momentum from his 4.42 40-yard dash at the combine.
24. New Orleans Saints: Grant Delpit, S, LSU
After signing Emmanuel Sanders to be the team’s No. 2 wide receiver, the Saints might not have a high priority at the position. The team has few holes, but one of them is a deep coverage player. Delpit has shown that to be his specialty.
Other option: On the defensive line for New Orleans, interior pass rusher Sheldon Rankins is a free agent next year. So is backup defensive end Trey Hendrickson. If he’s available, Iowa defensive end A.J. Epenesa might get a long look.
25. Minnesota Vikings: Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor
Try and think, off the top of your head, the wide receivers on Minnesota’s roster besides Thielen. It’s not easy. The answer to that is Chad Beebe, Olabisi Johnson and Tajae Sharpe. Not good.
Other option: Arizona State wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk would be an interesting fit on Minnesota’s offense with his ability after the catch.
26. Miami Dolphins (via Houston Texans): Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama
This is a repeat pick for the Dolphins from last week. After quarterback and offensive tackle, there’s a real argument for Miami’s third-biggest need between a defensive lineman, safety, and running back. In this mock draft, McKinney is the best player available at those three spots.
Other option: If there is a team that could take a running back in the first round, it is Miami. The positional value is questionable, but if the Dolphins do it, Georgia’s D’Andre Swift should be the first running back off the board.
27. Seattle Seahawks: Isaiah Wilson, OT, Georgia
The first wave of free agency is well over at this point, and the Seahawks are still in need of a right tackle. Previous right tackle Germain Ifedi recently signed with the Bears. Wilson is a big, hulking right tackle brimming with potential. In other words, he’s a younger version of Ifedi.
Other option: Trading down should honestly be the first option for Seattle.
28. Baltimore Ravens: Patrick Queen, LB, LSU
The linebacker position for the Ravens is in a state of disrepair. Queen may not be the second coming of Ray Lewis, but he would give Baltimore’s defense an athletic linebacker who can find the ball in a hurry.
Other option: Oklahoma linebacker Kenneth Murray will probably get a look here as well. Really, it would be a coin toss scenario between the two.
29. Tennessee Titans: Austin Jackson, OT, USC
With Jack Conklin off to Cleveland, the Titans have a big hole at right tackle. For a team that relies on the running back more than most, maintaining the offensive line is critical. Although Jackson is more of a left tackle, he could be forced to move to the right in the NFL out of necessity.
Other option: The Titans still need to bring in a decent pass rusher, especially considering Vic Beasley was only signed on a one-year deal. Alabama edge rusher Terrell Lewis is a risky pick because of his injury history, but he should be an option.
30. Green Bay Packers: Ezra Cleveland, OT, Boise State
The outside spots on Green Bay’s offensive line are starting to become problematic. Right tackle Rick Wagner, a replacement for Bulaga, is not good. Perhaps more concerning is the fact that left tackle David Bakhtiari is in the final year of his contract. Cleveland is an athletic pass blocker who could eventually take over for him.
Other option: Wide receiver should also be a consideration for the Packers. TCU’s Jalen Reagor would be a nice fit in the Packers’ offense.
31. San Francisco 49ers: Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama
What better player for Diggs to learn from than Richard Sherman? While most of San Francisco’s secondary is in a contract year, the 49ers could get out ahead of restocking the group with Diggs.
Other option: After trading DeForest Buckner to the Colts, the 49ers could target a defensive tackle in the back of the first round. If so, that player would likely either be Ross Blacklock of TCU or Justin Madubuike of Texas A&M.
32. Kansas City Chiefs: Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma
If Murray happens to be around when the Chiefs pick, he should be an easy choice. Kansas City’s linebackers last season were average, and Murray would provide an upgrade of athleticism.
Other option: After losing Bashaud Breeland and Kendall Fuller, cornerback is a need for the Chiefs. TCU’s Jeff Gladney or Clemson’s A.J. Terrell could be considered.