The NFL team at Franchise Sports have once more come together for a mock draft.
Much has change since 1.0 dropped. Most notably, the draft will no longer take place in all the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas, but instead it has transformed into a virtual draft.
With all 32 teams in lock-down across the country, it will certainly be an event to be remember. The league will be making sure every precaution is taken to prevent any technical difficulties in these uncertain and unprecedented times.
A raft of special circumstances are firmly in play, perhaps a surprise or two is in store. Read on for our extensive prediction of the 2020 NFL Draft.
#1 Cincinnati Bengals – Chase Young, DE, Ohio State (Mark Chance)
There is no doubting that the Bengals have a number of issues to address in the 2020 season, if they are going to get anywhere near being a winning team this year. They are going to have to think very carefully about how they maximise their draft picks. The Bengals defence finished 29th overall in the league allowing, on average, 397 yards per game by opposing offences. On the flip side of that coin the Bengals offence finished 26th overall above the Steelers, Broncos and Bears.
Andy Dalton finished the season with 3494 yards and 16 TDs after being benched for 3 games. I am not saying Dalton is the answer but I think he could be utilised for another year with a younger
QB under him i.e Jake Fromm, Georgia, allowing the Bengals time to address other more pressing needs.
Chase Young finished his junior year with 32 solo tackles, 21 of those resulting in a loss of yards, 16.5 sacks, 7 forced fumbles and a blocked kick. Young is an explosive edge rusher and when you watch him you know a player that size should not move as well as he does. Young’s versatility is what makes him such a complete package. Ohio State lined him up in a number of places on the field and he performed well in every situation. At arguably the second most important position in football I think the Bengals would be making a big mistake leaving Young on the board.
#2 Washington Redskins – Joe Burrow, QB, LSU (Matthew Bowen)
With one of the greatest draft shocks of all time, the Cincinnati Bengals pass on former LSU Tiger and National Championship winning quarterback Joe Burrow in favour of adept pass rusher Chase Young. Opportunities like this don’t come around often and it would be considered a criminal offence for Washington to pass on Burrow. Burrow is considered by many to be the most ‘pro ready’ quarterback in this year’s draft, leading to many draftniks believing he will be the first quarterback off the board. And it’s easy to see why.
Burrow has all the tools necessary to succeed at the professional level; a big arm, ability to scramble if necessary and a certain kind of poise rarely found in rookie quarterbacks, most likely due to Burrow’s age being 23 and his experience in big games. Dan Snyder: do not mess it up.
#3 Detroit Lions – Jeffrey Okudah, CB, Ohio State (John Dunham)
The #3 pick represents perhaps the most interesting element of the first round, because the Lions could trade this pick away for a haul of picks and still pick up Okudah at 5 or 6.
Okudah is a perfect fit for Detroit and not just because they have traded Darius Slay. He’s big, physical and a tremendous man-cover guy – making him a perfect fit for Matt Patricia’s man-heavy system.
#4 New York Giants – Jedrick Wills, OL, Alabama (Teodor Tsenov)
The Giants definitely have more than one hole in their team. Daniel Jones still has relatively raw protection and wide receiving core and the pass-rush isn’t where it needs to be. Both units were middle-of-the-pack, at best, last year and added pretty much a bag of chips to each.
That way, some big questions arise as we approach the 2020 Draft. With one of the first three picks taking away the best edge rusher of the class, Dave Gettleman’s focus should shift to OL, except if Isaiah Simmons is in the equation. The Clemson prospect is very tough to pass on but they should get a right tackle and protect Daniel Jones, as well as boost Saquon Barkley’s effort in 2020.
#5 Miami Dolphins – Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama (Mark Gill)
To be honest, the Dolphins could get by for another year with Ryan Fitzpatrick at QB and choose to simply upgrade the cast around him.
However, at this point in the draft, Tagovailoa is the most valuable and impactful player they could pick up. It’s a no brainer.
#6 Los Angeles Chargers – Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon (Dean Fitzgerald)
Had trades been allowed in this mock draft, the Chargers would surely have been calling Washington and Detroit to discuss an exchange after seeing the Bengals pick Young over Burrow. With the era of Philip Rivers over, they need a signal-caller. Burrow or Tagovailoa were the clear top two, but the Chargers settle for the third best QB in Herbert.
A big arm, west-coast kid, Herbert’s mobility, long throws, and throw touch are tools that can freshen up the Chargers passing game, which struggled in Rivers’ final season. He’ll need time to grow into the speed of the game at this level. His scrambling ability will help him get out of danger, but he must improve his read progressions and get a more confident sitting longer in the pocket, having played purely from shotgun in college.
He is strong and tall at 6’6”, and with Tyrod Taylor he would have a ready-made mentor who has been a beacon of professionalism his entire career. Assuming his offensive line can stay healthy, Herbert will have good protection, excellent receivers in Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, as well as Hunter Henry at tight end and Austin Ekeler helping in the passing and running game. An ideal situation for a young quarterback with a team that can be competitive again next season.
#7 Carolina Panthers – Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn (Luke Conboy)
With the quarterback question now addressed with the signing of Teddy Bridgewater, any potential drafting of a QB is now gone.
Therefore the other side of the ball will be addressed. In comes Derrick Brown to bolster the defensive line. He would be a great fit, certainly fills a need and the Panthers would be doing the right thing in taking the best DT in the draft.
Parallels can be drawn with Eagles selection of Fletcher Cox #12 overall in 2012. Whilst this is not necessarily a pick that will get the fan’s heart rate racing, it’s the kind of pick that will very possibly lay the foundations of the defence for years to come.
#8 Arizona Cardinals – Tristan Wirfs, OL, Iowa (Mark Gill)
There’s lots of options for the Cardinals at this point. Javon Kinlaw or K’Lavon Chaisson would add some pass rushing nous to complement Chandler Jones, whilst Isaiah Simmons would add versatility and talent to the other two levels of the defence.
However if the Kyler Murray-DeAndre Hopkins led passing attack is going to live up to the fever dreams of many analysts, protecting the diminutive signal caller is a necessity.
#9 Jacksonville Jaguars – Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson (Matthew Bowen)
The vaunted Jacksonville defence that was a game away from the Super Bowl three years ago has since been turned to dust. Jalen Ramsey, A.J. Bouye, Calais Campbell are all gone. This team is in vital need of a shot of adrenaline. The best way to describe Isaiah Simmons is adrenaline in human form.
The former Clemson Tiger is something of a modern safety/linebacker hybrid. Stout enough to play in the box, but athletic and rangy enough to be a ballhawk. From a sheer talent point of view, Simmons is a top 3, top 5 pedigree player, Jacksonville would be getting an absolute bargain despite picking in the top 10. That’s how good Simmons is.
#10 Cleveland Browns – Andrew Thomas, OL, Georgia (Mark Chance)
The offensive tackle position in Cleveland operated somewhat like a revolving door in 2019. The biggest issue was simply that they allowed a lot of pressure on Baker Mayfield. This resulted in a
4% drop in Mayfield’s passer rating on 2018 and 7 more INTs. So far this off-season the Browns have picked up the Titans OT, Jack Conklin. Last season Conklin logged a 92.3% individual pass-
block win rate and was on field for 94% of the Titans offensive stats.
This is a clear sign that improving the position is a heavy emphasis for Cleveland. The Georgia Bulldog’s O-Line only gave only gave up 1 sack on the entire season. Thomas has the potential to play left tackle and is likely to start there with Conklin on the right. Quick with his feet and hand placement, Thomas has good leverage that allows him to hold his ground against bull rushed.
Thomas also displayed his competence as a pass rusher; on a number of occasions opening goal-line holes for D’Andre Swift to score. This talent will not go unnoticed and could go a long way alongside backs like Chubb and Hunt.
#11 New York Jets – Mekhi Becton, OL, Louisville (Teodor Tsenov)
The Jets clearly have two directions with the 11th overall pick – wide receiver or an offensive tackle. Gang Green are thin on targets for Sam Darnold, recently adding Breshad Perriman to the core of Jamison Crowder and Quincy Enunwa. However, their receiving corps, as short-handed as they look, are no way near as destructive as what the offensive line showed in 2019. It allowed 52 sacks, fourth- most in the league. Le’Veon Bell, who touched career-lows, suffered because of the line’s failures.
With both right tackles off the board, the Jets will have to move either the big Becton or new acquisition George Fant to the other side. Meanwhile, Andrew Thomas, arguably the best fit due to
his work on run blocking, is also taken by the time NYJ are on the clock.
#12 Las Vegas Raiders – Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama (Dean Fitzgerald)
The much-heralded wide receiver class of 2020 gets off the mark with one of the purest route runners to enter the league in a decade. Jon Gruden gets the offensive weapon he has craved, and Derek Carr gets the help to showcase his abilities. Jeudy and CeeDee Lamb are the consensus top two receivers in this class, but Jeudy gets the honour of the first receiver off the board. He has been compared to some of the great route runners in the NFL today, Amari Cooper and AJ Green.
His cuts and agility are excellent, with high-level speed (4.45sec 40 yard dash). Jeudy is more consistent than Cooper, however, with five games over 100 yards receiving in each of his last two seasons. This includes 416 yards from just 15 receptions in bowl games in the 2018 and 2019 seasons.
Jeudy’s route tree is exceptional, having played three seasons in Tuscaloosa. No coverage is safe against him, man or zone, press or off-coverage. He can run vertical routes out wide, play in the slot, and his post and comeback routes are the stuff of dreams. He has fantastic hand strength and good luck catching him in the open field.
His only knocks are his tendency to take his eyes away from the ball early and his relative lack of power, given his size (6’1”). If he can improve his physicality and stay locked on the ball until all catches are secure, Jeudy is easily a top-5 receiver in the league in the near future.
#13 San Francisco 49ers (from Indianapolis) – CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma (Mark Chance)
With the loss of Emmanuel Sanders to the Saints, there is a definite need for the San Francisco 49ers to draft a WR. The 49ers struck lucky when they drafted Deebo Samuel in the second round of the 2019 draft. Samuel led their WR core on receiving yard and tied with Sanders for TDs. Currently there are 10 receivers on the 49ers roster. However, beyond Deebo Samuel and Kendrick Bourne there is a significant lack of reliability and consistency. CeeDee Lamb has the potential to fill that gap as a starting WR1.
Lamb is excellent route-runner with soft hands and impeccable run after catch skills. These talents are what have him pegged as the first receiver of the board in many mock drafts. Lamb finished his Junior year with 1327 receiving yards and 14 TDs averaging a huge 21.4 yards per reception, leading many to compare Lamb to all pro WR DeAndre Hopkins.
There is no doubting Lamb has the size of Hopkins and is a physical receiver able to go up and get the ball in coverage. San Francisco WR coach Wes Welker previously worked for the Houston Texans in 2018. Under Welker’s tutelage, Hopkins recorded career highs on both receptions (115) and receiving yards (1,572). I would be excited to see this talented receiver land with a coach who can utilise his full potential.
#14 Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina (John Dunham)
With a talented offence now under the stewardship of Tom Brady, the Bucs focus on defence to reinforce their desire to contend in 2020. At 6’5 and 324lbs, Kinlaw has impressive size and can add depth to a defence already boasting the likes of Shaq Barrett, Jason Pierre-Paul and Vita Vea.
Even with Ndamukong Suh returning, Kinlaw adds pass rushing firepower to a unit already stout against the run. Incredibly athletic and possessing heavy, violent hands, Kinlaw will blossom under the coaching of Todd Bowles.
#15 Denver Broncos – Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama (Matthew Bowen)
At the wide receiver position, all the hype in the lead up to the draft has been centred upon Jerry Jeudy out of Alabama and CeeDee Lamb out of Oklahoma. While both players are extremely talented, Henry Ruggs III, also out of Alabama, should not be treated as an afterthought. A crisp route runner who possesses elite speed, wowing scouts at the Combine with his 40 time (4.27 seconds), Ruggs also has an incredible pair of soft hands in his arsenal.
For John Elway, the number one priority this off-season must be to keep Drew Lock upright and equipped with weapons in the pass game. Ruggs, a YAC monster, will be an absolute gift for the young, inexperienced QB.
#16 Atlanta Falcons – CJ Henderson, CB, Florida (Teodor Tsenov)
The last few years made it clear that the Falcons needed to come a long way defensively in order to continue being competitive. Both the pass-rush and the passing defence were huge concerns coming into free agency.
Atlanta lost Vic Beasley to the Titans but acquired Dante Fowler and still have Grady Jarrett. Before the Falcons inquired for Fowler, they were rumoured to be targeting a trade for the second pick and Chase Young. Right now, their eyes are set on fixing the secondary, which was 11th in most surrendered yards through the air. CJ Henderson is a top prospect at the position, with Jeff Okudah gone, and will fit in right away.
#17 Dallas Cowboys – Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama (Luke Conboy)
The versatile Xavier McKinney is the ideal pick for the Cowboys. Entering the draft as a junior out of Alabama can lead to high expectations, his stat-line from his final year in the college game goes some way to fulfilling this potential of being one of the better safeties in the NFL.
McKinney finished the 2019 season with 95 tackles (5.5 for loss), three interceptions, three sacks, and four forced fumbles. As well as playing the role of a traditional secondary player, he is no stranger to the line of scrimmage.
He has often displayed qualities that make him an effective blitzer. This will certainly come in handy for the Cowboys as they need the extra firepower coming off the edge too.
#18 Miami Dolphins (from Pittsburgh) – K’Lavon Chaisson, DE, LSU (Mark Gill)
Miami focused heavily on upgrading its defence in free agency, adding Kyle Van Noy, Elandon Roberts, Byron Jones and Shaq Lawson. That might lead to a pick on the offensive side of the ball here, such as a running mate at wide receiver for DeVante Parker or an interior offensive lineman.
However, despite those defensive additions Miami still lacks a pass rushing threat. Chaisson represents value with this pick and adds versatility and a motor that Brian Flores will love.
#19 Las Vegas Raiders (from Chicago) – Jeff Gladney, CB, TCU (Dean Fitzgerald)
After receiver, cornerback was the greatest need for the Raiders. They go a long way to solving their secondary issues with Gladney. A quality defender in man and zone coverage, Gladney is hard to shake off if you can’t beat him in the break. Excellent snap in his hips allow him to turn quickly or burst on vertical routes, and he ushers wide receivers to the side line nicely. He ran very well in the combine (4.48sec 40), maybe not so explosive to jump routes regularly, but Gladney will work hard to avoid being burned in coverage and is assured in wrap tackling.
His length isn’t ideal, but he hides it well with polished technique and communication. He has a high IQ which like stems from his work ethic on and off the field. Should fit nicely into the Raiders’ defensive scheme, although he may need time to adapt with fewer defensive backs on the field than at TCU.
#20 Jacksonville Jaguars (from LA Rams) – D’Andre Swift, RB, Georgia (Matthew Bowen)
With Jacksonville addressing defence with their 9th overall pick, this time the Jags decide to help out second year QB Gardner Minshew III, by selecting the talented tailback D’Andre Swift out of Georgia.
Swift amassed an impressive 1,218 yards rushing and 7 TDs with an average ypc. of 6.2. Swift may be on the smaller side, standing at 5’7, but just as his namesake alludes to, the former Georgia Bulldog is fast, nifty and explosive. Three attributes that have long been absent in the Jaguars backfield.
#21 Philadelphia Eagles – Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor (Teodor Tsenov)
Philly went on a playoff run thanks to good quarterback play by Carson Wentz and terrific season by the O-Line. However, that was thoroughly miraculous with what Wentz had to work with. The running back position, where Boston Scott finished the year, was disappointing enough. Their biggest issue, nevertheless, was the lack of quality receivers. DeSean Jackson suffered an injury early on, Alshon Jeffery was inconsistent, and Nelson Agholor dropped nearly every pass directed at him.
Nothing that significant has changed in that department in the off-season thus far. Therefore, Mims’s addition comes in sweet for Carson Wentz and company’s hopes for 2020. Mims, who recorded nearly 3,000 yards in four seasons in Baylor, is quite possibly the most underrated receiver in the draft.
He’s a terrific route runner, has the physicality and consistency (60+ catches in two of the last three seasons) to take his talents to the NFL and have success.
#22 Minnesota Vikings – Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson (John Dunham)
For three seasons Higgins has been incredibly productive for the outstanding Clemson Tigers. In 2019 he excelled, finishing with 59 catches for 1,167 yards and 13 touchdowns.
At 6’4 and 215lbs, Higgins has a large frame and is very athletic, providing Kirk Cousins with a weapon that excels in contested catch situations. Projects to fill the hole left by the departure of Stefon Diggs and will play as WR2 alongside Adam Thielen.
#23 New England Patriots – Patrick Queen, LB, Georgia (Mark Chance)
This offseason has seen the departure of Elandon Roberts, Jamie Collins and Kyle Van Noy. Belichick is going to want to make sure the gaps in the 2019 record breaking defence are filled quickly. With the start of a new era under Jarrett Stidham, it is more crucial than ever that the Patriots defence continue to produce. Queen is an athletic inside linebacker and despite coming in at 6ft, 229lbs, he ran the 40-yard-dash in 4.5 seconds!!!
Queen has crazy play speed and natural instincts to beat runners in the open-field. The role of the linebacker has massively changed through the development of dual-threat QBs. Queen has the skill to chase down players in the secondary with exceptional speed.
It is worth noticing that the only linebacker the Patriots met with during the 2020 combine was Patrick Queen. Most mock drafts I have seen have Queen going around the 23/24th pick. It is highly likely that if Queen is still on the board by pick 23 he’ll be headed to New England. I could easily see Queen alongside Hightower this season for the return of ‘The Boogeymen’.
#24 New Orleans Saints – Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma (Luke Conboy)
Arguably possessing the most complete roster in the league means the Saints can more or less go best available player here. In this case, my eyes were drawn to the pacey Kenneth Murray out of Oklahoma.
His elite speed will certainly pose problems for opposing defences. Bursting off the edge in his speciality, making him fierce competitor and a force to be reckoned with.
Partnering him up with Demario Davis will give the Saints linebacker corps some extra ammunition when hunting down the quarterback. If they want to bring the Lombardi back to the NOLA, guys like Davis and Murray will need to get the pressure going early and quickly. This is certainly possible. To be the best, you have to beat the best.
#25 Minnesota Vikings – AJ Epenesa, DE, Iowa (John Dunham)
Chase Young is undoubtedly the cream of the edge rusher crop, but AJ Epenesa is the best of the rest. He possesses next level power and ruthless aggression, making him a steal at 25 as the Vikes replace Everson Griffin.
Pairing Epenesa with Pro Bowler Danielle Hunter will bring instant returns to the Vikings.
#26 Miami Dolphins (from Houston) – Cesar Ruiz, OL, Michigan (Mark Gill)
The Fins could choose to upgrade the safety position here with the addition of Grant Delpit. However his stock has fallen somewhat, partly due to concerns over his tackling, and he may still be available in the early portion of the second round. Miami has missed out on the top tier, instant impact offensive tackles so could choose to add someone of the ilk of Josh Jones.
Instead Ruiz is an immediate starter at centre where he will be able to develop alongside Tagovailoa and provides more immediate returns than Jones.
#27 Seattle Seahawks – Yetur Gross-Matos, DE, Iowa (Matthew Bowen)
The Seattle Seahawks are not expected to bring back EDGE defender Jadeveon Clowney this year leaving a hole along the defensive line for Pete Carroll and co. to fill. With A.J. Epenesa off the board, Seattle would do well by picking up Gross-Matos out of Penn State.
Gross-Matos has an impressive array of physical tools which should allow him to be a real disruptive force both in the passing and rushing game. It’s finally time for Seattle to fill the Michael Bennett sized hole that has been lingering for far too long.
#28 Baltimore Ravens – Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU (Teodor Tsenov)
The Baltimore Ravens have one of the deepest rosters in all of the National Football League. They don’t have that many holes to fill for a reason, with the running and defensive units set to enter the year as some of the most prolific in the NFL.
The only areas of mild concern are middle linebacker and wide receiver. Kenneth Murray of Oklahoma, commonly used on the outside, but also capable of filling in the void in the middle of the 3-4, seemed like the best fit. Since he’s taken by the Saints and Jefferson is the best pass-catcher left, the LSU number one receiver is the obvious pick for the one-seed Ravens.
#29 Tennessee Titans – Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU (Dean Fitzgerald)
With the top edge rushers in the draft selected, the Titans would be in prime position to move down a few picks and collect some draft capital. However, Logan Ryan remains unsigned, and the 29-year old is looking for a minimum of $10m a year in a long-term contract. Very few cornerbacks get that kind of money. In this scenario, the Titans don’t re- sign Ryan, instead investing in Fulton, who came on leaps and bounds this season at LSU.
Fulton is one of the premier pass defenders in this class of cornerbacks, with 14 passes defended last season in the Tigers’ national championship winning side. Fulton is sticky in man coverage and uses his length well to upset receivers in the catch point. He has clean footwork at the line of scrimmage, so he won’t often be beaten at the break. His speed is great (4.48sec 40), so his vertical defence is top-notch. On shorter routes he may be susceptible to lapses in coverage.
However, his physicality mean receivers will struggle to pass his press quickly, and he’s an efficient tackler. Mike Vrabel and the Titans get an excellent press man coverage back to fill a gap in their defence.
#30 Green Bay Packers – Laviska Shenault Jr., WR, Colorado (Luke Conboy)
The reluctance in Green Bay to draft an offensive player in the first round must end. They need to make the most of Aaron Rodgers whilst he can still sling it, that is why Laviska Shenault Jr. would make a great fit.
He is as powerful as receivers come, a real brute-force bully with the ball. The Colorado prospect almost seems to enjoy contact. An ideal candidate to run a slant route time and time again. It’ll certainly be possible for Rodgers to build a rapport with this guy, as the QB-WR relationship has always been incredibly important for A-Rod. He needs another option other than Davante Adams.
Shenault Jr. and Adams would make for a highly effective duo in Green Bay. Years of under-investing in the position can be solved with this pick.
#31 San Francisco 49ers – Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama (Mark Chance)
Picking up their new star receiver with the No. 13 pick of the 2020 draft, San Francisco turn to the defensive side of the ball. The brother of Bills WR Stefon Diggs also started his football career as
a wide receiver. His ability to read the mind of a receiver is what sets him apart as a corner.
Having moved to the CB position in his Junior year Diggs has shown a lot of promise developing in a short time. Diggs finished his senior year with 37 combined tackles, 3 interceptions for 79 yards and a defensive TD. After Richard Sherman getting burned by Sammy Watkins in the Super Bowl it was inevitable that they were going to pick up a young replacement.
Coming in at 6″2, 205lbs Diggs definitely fits the bill for the kind of boundary corner the 49ers look for. There are a few question marks over Diggs’ ability to move at enough speed to challenge receivers. He didn’t run the 40 at the combine so we can’t really comment on that. There is plenty time for Diggs to develop as the 49ers currently own the top passing defence in the league. Given a year to develop under Sherman as one of the best backs in the league, Diggs will be a strong contributor to the 49ers defence going forward.
#32 Kansas City Chiefs – Jaylon Johnson, CB, Utah (John Dunham)
At 6ft tall and 193lbs, Johnson does not have elite size but he makes up for it through being an outstanding athlete that plays well above his weight.
His ability to leap and make quality plays on the ball allow him to match up with almost any receiver on the outside and he plays with a physicality that will fit well at the professional level. Johnson loves to bully receivers, jamming and pressuring them at the line of scrimmage.
Will benefit hugely from having Steve Spagnuolo as his coordinator.