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2020 NFL mock draft: Jordan Love is the wild card of the 1st round

This week’s first-round predictions can help get you through free agency anxiety.

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An illustration of NFL QB prospect Jordan Love getting ready to pass at Utah State, superimposed on a gray background with “mock” in thick black letters and aqua outline
Jordan Love is the 2020 NFL Draft quarterback who is toughest to project.

We are in the midst of the dead period of the NFL offseason. We’re past the all-star game circuit and the NFL Scouting Combine, but the new league year and free agency haven’t started.

How does one pass the time? By doing a mock draft, of course. A lot of the first-round names seem to be obvious; it’s just a matter of putting them in the right places.

This week’s mock draft features a few new names in the back end, including a running back. That might be more controversial than anything else thanks to the ongoing war between “football guys” and the analytics crowd. It’s quite a blood feud.

1. Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Burrow, QB, LSU

Offseason needs: Quarterback, wide receiver, offensive tackle, linebacker

Since the combine ended, not only has nothing changed with the No. 1 pick, but it’s been mostly radio silence from the Bengals and Burrow. The most notable development is Burrow starring in a Nerf commercial.

2. Washington: Chase Young, DE, Ohio State

Offseason needs: Offensive tackle, pass rusher, wide receiver, cornerback

After considering Tua Tagovailoa for Washington last week, we’re back to the more probable pick of Young this week.

3. Detroit Lions: Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn

Offseason needs: Cornerback, defensive tackle, pass rusher, wide receiver

This could still be a trade up spot for Tagovailoa, but if not, the Lions have a tough decision to make. Ohio State’s Jeff Okudah is the smart choice, considering Darius Slay is on the trade block. But Brown impacts every part of the defense and is one of the draft’s more sure things.

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

Offseason needs: Offensive tackle, pass rusher, linebacker, cornerback

The Giants need a left tackle, and they’d be getting one in Wills. That will mean a position change in the NFL. While Wills only played right tackle in college, Alabama has an NFL player at left tackle in Alex Leatherwood. Even if Wills is a bit of a projection, he’s capable of making the switch.

5. Miami Dolphins: Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama

Offseason needs: Quarterback, pass rusher, offensive tackle, running back, cornerback

Tagovailoa got positive news about his health, but there still has to be some trepidation, especially considering Oregon’s Justin Herbert is a likely top-10 pick. Then again, the last time the Dolphins passed on a quarterback because of injury concerns, it ended up being Drew Brees.

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

Offseason needs: Quarterback, offensive tackle, cornerback, guard

As buzz about free agent quarterbacks pops up, very little of it seems to involve the Chargers, other than dubious speculation about Tom Brady. If the Chargers strike out on a quarterback in free agency, they shouldn’t hesitate to take Herbert. He’s an athletic, big-armed quarterback who never quite reached his potential in college.

7. Carolina Panthers: Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson

Offseason needs: Linebacker, defensive tackle, cornerback, quarterback

Mike Sando of The Athletic had an NFL general manager create a top-10 mock draft after the combine, and surprisingly it did not include Simmons. That’s something to remember as the draft approaches. For now, he remains a top-10 pick who will help energize Carolina’s defense.

8. Arizona Cardinals: Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa

Offseason needs: Offensive tackle, defensive tackle, wide receiver, pass rusher

The Cardinals locked up left tackle D.J. Humphries on a three-year contract, but still need help on the offensive line. Wirfs is a player who could slide into the right tackle spot and give the Cardinals two bookends for Kyler Murray.

9. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State

Offseason needs: Cornerback, wide receiver, linebacker, safety

After agreeing to trade cornerback A.J. Bouye to Denver, the Jaguars now desperately need cornerback help. That’s why if Okudah is available, he trumps taking an offensive lineman.

10. Cleveland Browns: Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville

Offseason needs: Offensive tackle (both sides), safety, linebacker, slot cornerback

Becton has become a no-brainer choice for the Browns if he happens to be around at pick No. 10. Some think Becton is a top-five pick, and he could be. But with three or four offensive tackles getting taken high in the first round, it’s still hard to figure out what order they’ll go in.

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

Offseason needs: Pass rusher, offensive tackle, wide receiver, cornerback

Some believe Thomas is the best natural left tackle in the draft, and like Becton, he could go much higher than this pick. For the Jets, the choice would be between taking the fourth offensive tackle or first wide receiver. Both would benefit Sam Darnold in a big way.

12. Las Vegas Raiders: Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina

Offseason needs: Wide receiver, cornerback, linebacker, quarterback

This pick is often reserved for a wide receiver. However, some teams might look at the 49ers’ run to the Super Bowl and want to build their own stacked defensive line. Maxx Crosby is turning into a star for the Raiders at one end spot, and they obviously like Clelin Ferrell after drafting him fourth overall last year. Kinlaw could give them a rusher from the inside, similar to the 49ers having DeForest Buckner.

13. Indianapolis Colts: Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama

Offseason needs: Quarterback, wide receiver, offensive tackle, defensive lineman

After T.Y. Hilton, the Colts got very little production from their wide receivers last season. While the quarterback play in Indianapolis is partly to blame, the Colts could use an infusion of talent. Adding the sure-handed Jeudy would suddenly give the Colts a nice pair of receivers.

14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jordan Love, QB, Utah State

Offseason needs: Quarterback, pass rushing defensive tackle, pass rusher, offensive tackle

Love is the wild card of the first round. He could just as easily go this high as he could fall out of the top 32 completely. With his strong throwing arm, Love is a good system quarterback for head coach Bruce Arians.

15. Denver Broncos: CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma

Offseason needs: Wide receiver, offensive tackle, cornerback, linebacker

If there is a receiver who could make the Broncos say no to Henry Ruggs III of Alabama, it is Lamb. His ability after the catch alone almost guarantees him a spot in the top 15.

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

Offseason needs: Edge rusher, interior pass rusher, cornerback, offensive tackle

When the Falcons come up with the No. 16 pick, they’ll be considering production versus potential. The player with potential is LSU’s K’Lavon Chaisson. The player with the production is Epenesa. They’re two very different types of edge players, but Epenesa could get the nod from Dan Quinn, a coach who is approaching the hot seat.

17. Dallas Cowboys: CJ Henderson, CB, Florida

Offseason needs: Safety, cornerback, defensive tackle, pass rusher

Byron Jones seems like the odd man out in Dallas as the team concentrates on re-signing quarterback Dak Prescott and wide receiver Amari Cooper. At the combine, Henderson locked down the No. 2 cornerback spot in the draft after Okudah.

18. Miami Dolphins (via Pittsburgh Steelers): K’Lavon Chaisson, Edge, LSU

Offseason needs: Quarterback, pass rusher, offensive tackle, running back, cornerback

You’ve heard it plenty of times this offseason: The Dolphins were the worst team in the NFL at sacking the quarterback last season, totaling just 23. By comparison, Shaq Barrett alone had 19.5 for the Buccaneers. Chaisson can rush standing up or with his hand down, and give head coach Brian Flores someone who can finally cause some havoc in the backfield.

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

Offseason needs: Wide receiver, cornerback, linebacker, quarterback

This is a pick I’ve fallen in love with the past couple of weeks. While he’s not going to be a star in pass coverage, Murray can do everything you want out of a linebacker.

20. Jacksonville Jaguars: (via Los Angeles Rams): Patrick Queen, LB, LSU

Offseason needs: Cornerback, wide receiver, linebacker, safety

The Jaguars were stunned by the retirement of linebacker Telvin Smith before last season, so why not get a player who is stylistically similar to him? Queen was a late bloomer for LSU in 2019, but showed the type of athleticism and range NFL teams now covet in linebackers.

21. Philadelphia Eagles: Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama

Offseason needs: Wide receiver, cornerback, linebacker, safety

This week’s surprise mock draft winner is the Eagles. If Ruggs doesn’t go to the Broncos at No. 15, there’s a chance he slips this far. In fact, if he falls past Denver, Philadelphia should consider a slight trade up. Ruggs is the exact type of speedy receiver the Eagles need in their offense.

22. Buffalo Bills: Laviska Shenault Jr., WR, Colorado

Offseason needs: Pass rusher, big wide receiver, interior defensive lineman, cornerback

Some knock Shenault because Colorado used him all over the field, playing wide receiver, running back, and even quarterback at times. But Buffalo hasn’t shied away from being creative on offense with Josh Allen. Shenault could be a unique weapon for the cannon-armed quarterback.

23. New England Patriots: Julian Okwara, Edge, Notre Dame

Offseason needs: Pass rusher, tight end, offensive tackle, quarterback

Okwara is a little bit of an unknown because he didn’t work out at the combine and played in just nine games as a senior due to injury. In 2018, when he played 13 games, Okwara was one of the most productive pass rushers in college football in terms of pressure creation.

24. New Orleans Saints: Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU

Offseason needs: Cornerback, interior offensive lineman, wide receiver, quarterback

While this projection has often involved getting help for Drew Brees — be that at wide receiver or offensive line — the Saints badly need a cornerback. That’s particularly true if the Saints release Janoris Jenkins to save cap space.

25. Minnesota Vikings: Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama

Offseason needs: Cornerback, offensive line, defensive tackle, wide receiver

The Vikings are bordering on being a mess at cornerback. Mackensie Alexander and Trae Waynes are free agents, Xavier Rhodes has fallen off dramatically and Mike Hughes is busting. Head coach Mike Zimmer could push for a player like Diggs, who is a big, physical corner he can use on the outside.

26. Miami Dolphins (via Houston Texans): Austin Jackson, OT, USC

Offseason needs: Quarterback, pass rusher, offensive tackle, running back, cornerback

The Dolphins can make a big leap if they come out of the first round this year with a starting quarterback and a starting left tackle. Jackson was considered a potential top-10 pick before the season, so there’s plenty of talent there.

27. Seattle Seahawks: Isaiah Wilson, OT, Georgia

Offseason needs: Pass rusher, wide receiver, interior offensive lineman, offensive tackle

This is a pick I’ve really locked in on for the Seahawks. Wilson is an immediate replacement for right tackle Germain Ifedi, and may even be an upgrade.

28. Baltimore Ravens: Yetur Gross-Matos, Edge, Penn State

Offseason needs: Linebacker, wide receiver, pass rusher, cornerback

The Ravens might prefer to see Murray or Queen around when they pick, but if they’re off the board, a pass rusher is a possibility. Gross-Matos has first-round ability as a pass rusher, at least until blockers get into his frame. Fortunately if he lands in Baltimore, the Ravens know how to put their pass rushers in a position to succeed.

29. Tennessee Titans: Josh Jones, OT, Houston

Offseason needs: Pass rusher, offensive tackle, quarterback, tight end

Right tackle Jack Conklin is expected to leave Tennessee in free agency, and that is problematic for a team that likes to run the ball. Although Jones is more of a left tackle, he has the play, strength, and footwork to move to the right.

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

Offseason needs: Wide receiver, linebacker, offensive lineman, tight end

Jefferson might be the dream pick for the Packers. He’s a tough but speedy wide receiver who can work on the outside and in the slot. That type of versatility would make him a weapon in Green Bay’s offense.

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

Offseason needs: Safety, cornerback, offensive lineman, linebacker

Grant Delpit of LSU drops out of the first round this week in favor of McKinney. While he’s listed as a safety, McKinney is also capable of lining up as a cornerback. And he can get after the quarterback on blitzes. In 2019, he had the same amount of sacks (three) as interceptions.

32. Kansas City Chiefs: D’Andre Swift, RB, Georgia

Offseason needs: Linebacker, cornerback, running back, offensive lineman

If there is one team in the first round that can make an argument for taking a running back, it is the Chiefs. Swift is a good all-around back with excellent vision to find running lanes and the speed to work through them.