The NFL team at Franchise Sports have come together for this year’s first mock draft.
With the off-season only a handful weeks old, speculation is rife as teams up and down the league are having their rosters analysed and deconstructed. Read on for how we think they should approach the 2020 NFL Draft in April in Las Vegas.
#1 Cincinnati Bengals – Joe Burrow, QB, LSU (Teodor Tsenov)
No debate here. Joe Burrow is the best QB prospect the NFL Draft has seen in years and the Bengals will be beyond foolish to choose anyone else with the first selection, even Chase Young. The Ohio native led the NCAA Division I in total passing yards (5671) and TD passes (60) while running an NFL-like offence with the Tigers, which established him as an efficient pocket passer.
Cincy still lacks weaponry to help Burrow and their defence really needs work. However, Burrow looks exactly like the type of quarterback that is poised to succeed in the NFL and would provide immediate spark to the Bengals, who haven’t played playoff football in four years.
#2 Washington Redskins – Chase Young, DE, Ohio State (Luke Conboy)
The consensus best player in the draft should undoubtedly mean Chase Young will be headed to Landover.
With 30.5 sacks to his name during his tenure in the college game, the Redskins are getting themselves a generational talent, a true disruptor of the game. He should become the lynchpin for years to come for the Redskins defence.
#3 Detroit Lions – Jeffrey Okudah, CB, Ohio State (Mark Gill)
Lions GM Bob Quinn would probably prefer to trade down from this slot with a QB needy team in order to pick up extra resources for retooling Matt Patricia’s defence.
They ranked 31st in the league in total defence, and also were right at the bottom of the rankings for sacks and interceptions (30th and 31st respectively). That means either DT Derrick Brown or CB Jeffrey Okudah are the pick here (in the absence of any trade scenario). Patricia made his career as defensive coordinator in New England and knows the impact elite cornerback play can have on a defensive unit.
#4 New York Giants – Jedrick Willis, OL, Alabama (Adam Salter)
I opted for an OT in Jedrick Willis from Alabama. Willis improved massively in college and would be a perfect fit for New York in 2020. He allowed 11 pressures all season but only one in his last five games: pretty impressive.
#5 Miami Dolphins – Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama (John Dunham)
The Dolphins are in dire need of a true franchise quarterback and will be delighted to get a talent such as Tagavailoa here rather than having to trade up.
Tua possesses a great arm both in terms of power and accuracy, can make plays with his legs and has repeatedly shown poise in the biggest situations in the NCAA. He is also blessed with the intangibles coach Brian Flores values so much – leadership, the willingness to put the team first and the ability to overcome adversity.
His injury history is a concern but the risk is worth it for the potentially massive reward. He’s a dynamic presence on the field and a great person off it, making him true “Face of the Franchise” material.
#6 Los Angeles Chargers – Jordan Love, QB, Utah State (Jay Parker)
With Phillip Rivers leaving LA for pastures new after sixteen years, the Los Angeles Chargers will begin their search for a quarterback. And they can only hope that this time around it will be a much smoother and less unorthodox process following the ‘Eli Manning saga’ which headlined the 2004 draft.
The Chargers will therefore ideally be competing with the Dolphins to trade up with a team like the Lions or Giants and secure the services of Tua Tagovailoa in this year’s edition of the Quarterback draft battle. However this is likely a department they will not be able to compete in given the draft capital the Dolphins possess, meaning they will be forced to look elsewhere.
For me that player comes in the form of Utah State Quarterback, Jordan Love. A player who has shown incredible progress under centre over the last twelve to eighteen months. Many GMs may favour the likes of Oregon’s Justin Herbert or Georgia’s Jake Fromm but forgive me for dismissing two players who hardly set the scene of college football alight in their senior and junior years respectively.
Both players may very well be great successes in the NFL but with the upside Love’s potential possesses; his ability to extend plays outside of the pocket and throw an accurate deep ball, he just edges it for me.
#7 Carolina Panthers – Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon (Matthew Bowen)
As we head further into the off-season, speculation surrounding Cam Newton and the quarterback position in Carolina will continue to swirl. With David Tepper’s sacking of Ron Rivera, it is likely that the self-made man will bet on himself and want to build something of his own. Assuming Newton is gone, the Panthers will draft their franchise quarterback of the future – Justin Herbert.
Herbert is a polished, refined pro ready quarterback. Arguably more so than say Jordan Love out of Utah State. Whilst Herbert’s tape may not jump off the screen at you, the former Oregon QB can grow into a strong game manager to compliment Christian McCaffrey in Carolina.
#8 Arizona Cardinals – CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma (Teodor Tsenov)
With Larry Fitzgerald’s career coming closer to retirement, Christian Kirk remains the only other receiving option for Cardinals QB Kyler Murray. Acquiring Kenyan Drake in November was an important move that opened the door for Arizona to improve its wide receiving corps.
Lamb had a terrific campaign for the Sooners, recording 1327 yards in reception, along with 14 TD catches. His strength is with the ball in his hands, which makes him a great receiver that Kliff Kingsbury could use both as a long pass threat in the wide-out and in the slot on a flat route.
#9 Jacksonville Jaguars – Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn (Luke Conboy)
If Derrick Brown is still on the board at this stage, the Jaguars should submit their draft card within seconds of being on the clock.
Paired with 2018 1st round selection Taven Bryan, the Jags will go a long way in re-establishing the infamous ‘Sacksonville’ campaign of 2017.
#10 Cleveland Browns – Mekhi Becton, OL, Louisville (Mark Gill)
The talent level on offence just wasn’t given the opportunity to shine last season, partly due to play-calling and partly due to an offensive line that had Baker Mayfield either running for his life or trying to do it all on a weekly basis.
Protecting the franchise’s best hope at the QB position since the turn of the millennium is essential for the success of one of the NFL’s most historic organisations. With Wills off the board, Becton steps in as Mayfield’s blindside blocker.
#11 New York Jets – Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson (Adam Salter)
With the Jets and their lack of defensive stability, I opted for Isaiah Simmons, LB from Clemson. The front office in New York will be hoping he brings some consistency to the defensive side of things.
#12 Las Vegas Raiders (weird right?) – Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama (Jay Parker)
Given the lack of offensive weapons permeating the Raiders roster, this pick was an absolute given.
As speculation continues surrounding quarterback Derek Carr’s future with the Raiders, whoever the man under centre will be this coming season will undoubtedly benefit from having a player with the talent of Jeudy on their offence.
He’s crazy athletic, a supreme route runner and will provide the Raiders with a real deep threat entering the new season. Gruden would be a fool to pass up on a player with the quality of Jeudy if available.
#13 Indianapolis Colts – Laviska Shenault Jr, WR, Colorado (John Dunham)
The Colts didn’t get enough production out of the wide receiver position last season and need some help for T.Y Hilton. Laviska Shenault is a perfect addition here and will provide Jacoby Brissett with another quality target.
Coach Frank Reich will be able to use Shenault all over the field, as the wideout possesses the football IQ required to play outside, in the slot, as an inline tight end or even in the backfield as a wildcat quarterback.
Shenault is gifted with all the necessary athletic abilities to be a top receiver in the NFL. He’s tough, physical and has the speed to get separation easily. He will rarely be a victim of a solo tackle and has deadly after the catch ability, a gift that is a rare commodity. He’s a good blocker and excels in contested catches. Can be a real x-factor player for the Colts offence
#14 Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Andrew Thomas, OL, Georgia (Matthew Bowen)
Protection is the name of the game here for Bruce Arians and Jameis Winston. In the modern NFL, the top three most valuable positions read: quarterback, pass rusher and left tackle in that order. The former Georgia Bulldog Andrew Thomas is just one of the many pro-ready tackles in this year’s draft class.
Keeping Jameis clean, combined with Winston’s new LASIK eye surgery should surely yield positive results for the Buccaneers. While the Buccaneers do have Donovan Smith at LT, there should be no qualms about kicking Smith or Thomas over to RT and making sure Jameis has an eternity to launch the ball downfield.
#15 Denver Broncos – Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson (Teodor Tsenov)
Denver has traded what was once a fearful combination of receivers in Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas in just the past twelve months. Entering the 2020 season, Courtland Sutton is the only reliable WR option. Next on the depth chart are DaeSean Hamilton and Tim Patrick.
Broncos need more work when it comes to the offensive line protecting either Lock or Flacco, but at that point, with Wills, Becton and Thomas gone, selecting Higgins, the best remaining WR in the Draft, is a no-brainer.
Questions remain as to whether he can sustain his success – Clemson dominated a weak Atlantic Coast Conference right before he caught just 7 passes for 85 yards in two College Football Playoff games. However, his ability to make difficult catches and grab 50/50 balls will help him make the adjustment to the professional game more easily.
#16 Atlanta Falcons – K’Lavon Chaisson, DE, LSU (Adam Salter)
For the Falcons it was an easy choice to go with K’Lavon Chaisson. They need something on the defence to kick them off in 2020, which is why a DE would be the best bet for Atlanta, should they wish to return to winning ways.
#17 Dallas Cowboys – Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina (Mark Gill)
For all the focus on new contracts for QB Dak Prescott and WR Amari Cooper, Dallas is facing the prospect of losing a lot of starting talent on the defensive side of the ball this off-season, including sack leader DE Robert Quinn, starting DTs Antwaun Woods and Maliek Collins, as well as top CB Byron Jones.
They can’t keep all of them if they’re having to pony up mega extensions for Prescott and Cooper. Whilst the Cowboys need more turnovers from the secondary, they may turn to Kinlaw here to provide interior penetration and help keep opposing offensive lines from double teaming DeMarcus Lawrence.
#18 Miami Dolphins (from Pittsburgh) – Josh Jones, OT, Houston (John Dunham)
After drafting Tua with their first pick in the draft, it was imperative that the Dolphins used their next first rounder to draft a big man to protect him and do whatever it takes to keep the QB upright.
Jones boasts impressive athleticism for a man that is 6’3 and 311lbs, pairing those physical traits with the tenacity needed to deal with any type of edge rusher in the league. His final year in college showed huge strides made in the run game.
He is the best tackle available on the board and will be a big part of the rebuild the Dolphins are undertaking on the offensive side of the ball.
#19 Las Vegas Raiders (from Chicago) – CJ Henderson, CB, Florida (Jay Parker)
Continuing the Raiders rebuild is another pick that makes perfect sense given their team needs. The lack of talent the Raiders had in the secondary after allowing Gareon Conley walk to the Houston Texans in exchange for 2020 third round pick was clearly evident this season.
LSU’s Kristian Fulton will highly likely be gone by pick 19, meaning their attention will turn to CJ Henderson. A corner who performed well in both coverage and press this season for the Gators. And if the Raiders explore cornerback options in the free agency period with a player like Kendall Fuller, Henderson will act as a perfect complement for this pursuit.
#20 Jacksonville Jaguars (from LA Rams) – Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama (Luke Conboy)
With the defensive side of things covered by acquiring Derrick Brown, the Jags front office should then look to improve things on the other side of the ball.
A near perfect fit comes from Alabama in the form of Henry Ruggs III. During his three years for the Crimson Tide he has notched up 25 TDs whilst racking up 1,716 yards receiving. Alongside DJ Chark and Dede Westbrook, Jacksonville would in possession of a dynamic three-pronged attack in the passing game.
#21 Philadelphia Eagles – KJ Hamler, WR, Penn State (Adam Salter)
For Philadelphia, it has to be either a WR or CB as these are the main positions of need this off-season, so in the end I opted in for KJ Hamler, a receiver out of Penn State. Fast and strong, just what the Eagles are missing right now, a wideout that can catch the ball.
#22 Buffalo Bills – Gabriel Davis, WR, UCF (Matthew Bowen)
Josh Allen has the potential to be an elite quarterback in the NFL. And to reach that potential he’s going to need all the help he can get. Gabriel Davies out of UCF is one of the more underrated wide receiver prospects heading in to this year’s draft.
The AAC leading receiver boasts a large frame (something Allen should have no issues hitting) and the athleticism necessary to make it as a pro receiver. Davis should be a fantastic compliment to John ‘Smokey’ Brown in the Bills WR room.
#23 New England Patriots – Jacob Eason, QB, Washington (Teodor Tsenov)
Jacob Eason was a much underrated passer all year long, despite entering 2019 as the No. 4 QB prospect. Tom Brady could be leaving – Eason is the perfect guy to take over the starting job since New England probably won’t have the No. 1 pick 2021 for Trevor Lawrence.
The Lake Stevens native led the Huskies to a Las Vegas Bowl win and finished the NCAA season with a 23-8 TD/Int. ratio. A pocket passer, Eason experienced turnover issues under pressure, but Bill Belichick certainly knows how to get the Patriots offensive line going in order to bring the best out of his rookie QB.
#24 New Orleans Saints – Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma (Matthew Bowen)
The most efficient offences in the NFL excel off of mismatches. It doesn’t matter how well you try to cover them up, when it really matters, they’re exposed. If a defence wishes to be truly elite, then that means having a stand up linebacker corps. The Saints are off to a good start with Demario Davis finally blossoming into a top ten MIKE in the NFL. However, Kiko Alonso, Manti Te’o and Alfonzo Anzalone and A.J. Klein are not of a similar calibre.
Kenneth Murray out of Oklahoma is arguably the second best linebacker in this draft. A super-rangy, side-line to side-line type player, Murray has the football instincts to match the athleticism. If he falls to the Saints, Murray and Davis could form a formidable linebacker duo akin to Fred Warner and Kwon Alexander in San Francisco.
#25 Minnesota Vikings – Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU (Mark Gill)
I know, I know…ANOTHER first round cornerback for Minnesota?! The problem is that the Vikes are potentially losing a lot of bodies at that position this off season including former first rounder Trae Waynes.
Maybe a market doesn’t develop for the former Michigan State Spartan and he returns. Nonetheless, backup Mackensie Alexander is a free agent and I’m not sure Mike Zimmer will be delighted with the play they’ve received out of their previous first rounders, especially given worries about the performance of Xavier Rhodes last year.
This pick could change to a safety if Anthony Harris is able to parlay his joint league leading interception year to a big payday away from US Bank Stadium.
#26 Miami Dolphins – D’Andre Swift, RB, Georgia (John Dunham)
With their third pick in the first round it would be easy to give in to temptation and try to mix it up by using it on a defender, but Swift is too much of a special player to turn down.
He is blessed with the rare ability to be both a violent and fluid runner, along with great burst, vision and pass catching talent too. These gifts make him a true three down back. He is also impressive in pass protection too. Not conventional to take a running back in the first round, but Swift is capable of making a big impact on an offence now boasting a new quarterback and tackle too.
#27 Seattle Seahawks – AJ Epenesa, DE, Iowa (Adam Salter)
No strangers to trading down in the first round, but the Seahawks have to take none other than AJ Epenesa from Iowa if he’s still on the board. Bringing in some extra defensive cover to an average Seattle defence.
#28 Baltimore Ravens – Patrick Queen, LB, Georgia (Luke Conboy)
Despite the playoff disappointment, these are positive days for the Baltimore Ravens. Still firmly in a Super Bowl window, plugging a hole at linebacker will a go long way to creating an elite defensive unit.
Impending free agents Patrick Onwuasor and Josh Bynes offered little impact up the middle. By potential slotting in Patrick Queen at middle linebacker, a weakness on Baltimore’s defensive line will have been seriously addressed.
#29 Tennessee Titans – Isaiah Hodgins, WR, Oregon State (Jay Parker)
I know. I know. Who is this kid? But Van & Justin Jefferson are there! What are you thinking?
I’m aware believe me. But I’ve watched enough tape on Hodgins to believe that he may well be THE true hidden talent in this year’s draft. So much so that I’m completely comfortable taking him at the back end of the first despite draft analysts stamping a third round talent on his ability.
He was impeccable for the Beavers throughout his three years there and his hands are some of the best I have ever seen at the college level. Watch him. He doesn’t drop anything. Speed may be an issue; look for him to run around the 4.55/4.60 mark in this year’s combine. This may well put NFL GM’s off but his staggering ability to run routes inch-perfectly, reminiscent of the Vikings’ Adam Thielen in order to create separation, make him a cornerback’s nightmare in coverage.
A wide receiver with those tendencies is every quarterback’s dream, especially for Ryan Tannehill. Who will be looking to continue the resurrection of his career by following up his ‘comeback player of the year’ season next year with another impressive showing.
Isaiah Hodgins may just be the ticket down in Tennessee.
#30 Green Bay Packers – Anfernee Jennings, LB, Alabama (Matthew Bowen)
Anfernee Jennings out of Alabama is nicknamed ‘Mr. Versatile’ has the ability to both rush the passer and use his athleticism and ball instincts to make plays in coverage.
This Packers defence is crying out for a leader and some form of mental toughness after that hiding, they took at the hands of the 49ers in the NFC Championship game. Alabama breeds leaders and this pick will provide similar production to the Smith ‘brothers’ but for much cheaper.
#31 San Francisco 49ers – Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU (Teodor Tsenov)
With LSU safety Grand Delpit and Alabama CB Trevon Diggs still on the board at this point, it’s a tough decision to go with Reagor as the Niners could use improvements at both S and CB. Jimmy Ward is a free agent while Richard Sherman is too old to be the long-term solution at cornerback.
However, the Niners D was beyond sensational in 2019 and Ward could be coming back. On the other hand, with Sanders and Kendrick Bourne possibly testing free agency, the Niners remain with a disappointing core of WRs in Marquise Goodwin, Deebo Samuel and Dante Pettis.
George Kittle will surely be a huge factor in the air raid again in 2020 but Reagor provides speed and depth that will be valuable to the passing game in 2020.
#32 Kansas City Chiefs – Travon Diggs, CB, Alabama (Mark Gill)
The big potential loss this off-season could be defensive tackle Chris Jones who has been an absolute force during his time in Missouri.
His contract demands could well price him out of the Chiefs’ range. If he does move on it will be essential that KC either replaces him with another pass rushing DT, or a disruptive DE. On top of that though, CBs Bashaud Breeland and Kendall Fuller are free agents and have been average or above average players at their position at best.
Adding Diggs offsets the loss of one or both of the former Washington CBs and pairs him with Charvarius Ward who emerged as a starting option for the Chiefs this year. If Andy Reid and Brett Veach want to maximise their organisation’s Super Bowl window with Patrick Mahomes, they have to keep the defence performing at effective enough a level to prevent Mahomes from having to carry the entire franchise.