The 2020 college football season is coming down to the championship game. The 2020 NFL playoffs are past wild-card weekend and into the divisional round.
With more of the 2020 NFL Draft order settled now that four more teams have been eliminated from Super Bowl 54 contention, and with more information known about how many underclassmen have declared, it’s another great time for a new Sporting News NFL mock draft.
Without further ado, here’s how we see the first-round picks for April 23 playing out, from No. 1 through No. 32.
2020 NFL Mock Draft
1. Cincinnati Bengals (2-14)
- Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
Offensive-minded coach Zac Taylor needs a franchise passer with Andy Dalton fading and Ryan Finley not showing much. Burrow has enjoyed a meteoric rise as the runaway Heisman Trophy winner and top QB prospect in the class. At 6-3, 215 pounds, he combines his mental and physical toughness in the pocket with a strong arm and accurate delivery. His leadership skills and athleticism also have flourished in Baton Rouge, with his ridiculous performances in the Alabama game and the CFP semifinal against Oklahoma being big-game gravy. Consider him a better all-around version of Jared Goff.
2. Washington Redskins (3-13)
- Chase Young, EDGE, Ohio State
Young qualifies as a better prospect than recent Ohio State studs Joey and Nick Bosa. With defensive-minded Ron Rivera hired as head coach, assuming the Redskins don’t get a can’t-refuse offer to trade back, they should jump at the chance to get this cornerstone talent for the team’s defensive rebuild. Young (6-5, 265 pounds) is a game-changing disruptor who had 16.5 sacks in only 12 games as a junior. He is the clear pick for a team that doesn’t need a QB.
3. Detroit Lions (3-12-1)
- Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State
The Lions must go for a top defensive prospect who fills a big need early, and cornerback is among the priorities for Matt Patricia and Bob Quinn. Darius Slay is 29 and can still be very impactful, but he needs help on the outside. Okudah, an elite ball hawk at 6-1, 200 pounds, has the build to handle receivers of all sizes. He is fluid and quick enough with great recovery skills in coverage to develop into a shutdown type, with his strengths showing up in press man.
4. New York Giants (4-12)
- A.J. Epenesa, EDGE, Iowa
The Giants will miss out on the pass-rushing services of Young for general manager Dave Gettleman, but they can recover well here with another top-flight Big Ten prospect. Epenesa (6-6, 280 pounds) is a powerful, explosive, big-bodied player. He can push blockers out of the way to get to the quarterback and also stands up strong against the run. He confirmed his top-10 status with 2.5 sacks and a forced fumble against USC in the Holiday Bowl.
5. Miami Dolphins (5-11)
- Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
Now that we know Tagovailoa (6-1, 218 pounds) should make a full recovery from his scary hip injury, he has to be the pick for the Dolphins. Miami can keep Ryan Fitzpatrick to serve as the bridge QB should Tagovailoa need extra time to get to full strength. When healthy, Tagovailoa is an accurate, mobile, deep-ball throwing QB with the upside of Russell Wilson, only throwing with his left arm.
6. Los Angeles Chargers (5-11)
- Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
Herbert has ideal size (6-6, 237 pounds) for a team that needs to look to its QB future beyond Philip Rivers. Herbert comes with a few durability concerns, and while he is efficient and mentally tough overall, there are times when he can go into a slump with his decision-making, forcing throws out of overconfidence. With good NFL coaching, however, he can live up to being a prototypical superstar. Anthony Lynn would have a strong influence on Herbert, and his recent burst of athleticism would be a welcome asset in LA.
7. Carolina Panthers (5-11)
- Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn
The Panthers were terrible against the run in 2019, and as they rebuild their defense without Rivera, they could use an elite run-stuffer with some excellent inside pass-rush juice. Brown would do nicely. At 6-5, 318 pounds, he is a quick disruptor who makes a lot of plays in the backfield. Quarterback also will be considered heavily with this pick should Herbert remain available.
8. Arizona Cardinals (5-10-1)
- Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
Giving Kyler Murray a true all-around go-to guy would allow Christian Kirk to be more dangerous as a complementary playmaker. Jeudy fits the profile as a No. 1 receiver; he is a classic intermediate-to-deep field-stretcher and smooth drive-finisher in the red zone at 6-1, 198 pounds.
9. Jacksonville Jaguars (6-10)
- Isaiah Simmons, OLB, Clemson
The Jaguars had some of the worst linebacker play in the NFL in 2019. Simmons seems to be all over the field at all times for Clemson with great speed and range at 6-4, 230 pounds, and he also can get to the quarterback. He has 97 tackles, 6 sacks, 14.5 tackles for loss and 3 interceptions in 14 games this season.
10. Cleveland Browns (6-10)
- Austin Jackson, OT, USC
The Browns have an amazing set of skill players around Baker Mayfield, but their pass protection was the reason they were slow to find their explosiveness early in 2019. Jackson (6-6, 310 pounds) has entered the first-round fray as an athletic beast garnering more attention with his Trojans tape, assuming he enters the draft as expected.
11. New York Jets (7-9)
- Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
The Jets might consider a wide receiver, but they also could use a rock for their offensive line in front of Sam Darnold. Thomas matches great size (6-5, 320 pounds) with good hands and footwork. Coach Adam Gase also will love what Thomas can do to open holes for the running game.
12. Las Vegas Raiders (7-9)
- Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU
The Raiders need help on the back end after getting consistently burned this season despite some improvements in the pass rush. Fulton (6-1, 192 pounds) has the size, speed, smarts and sound coverage skills to have a long, prosperous career.
13. Indianapolis Colts (7-9)
- CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
The Colts have an aging (and hurting) T.Y. Hilton with little playmaking pop elsewhere at wide receiver. Lamb, a DeAndre Hopkins clone, can be an explosive field-stretcher and steady possession guy outside. At 6-2, 199 pounds, he needed only 62 receptions to post 1,327 yards and 14 TDs in 13 games in his final season at Oklahoma.
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-9)
- Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa
Wirfs has the athleticism at 6-5, 322 pounds to hold down the left side for a long time. He combines his pass-blocking skills with power and physicality in the running game. At worst, he can start right away on the right side opposite Donovan Smith with Demar Dotson, 34, heading into free agency.
15. Denver Broncos (7-9)
- Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson
The Broncos quietly are one piece away from one of the league’s strongest all-around receiving corps with Courtland Sutton, Noah Fant and DaeSean Hamilton already in the mix. Higgins is a dangerous, all-around playmaker who can be a force in the red zone. At 6-4, 215 pounds, Higgins has posted 56 receptions for 1,115 yards and 13 TDs in 14 games this season.
16. Atlanta Falcons (7-9)
- Yetur Gross-Matos, EDGE, Penn State
The Falcons always seem to be looking for more pass-rush disruption to help their secondary (also a primary need), as some picks haven’t worked as expected. Gross-Matos (6-5, 242 pounds) is a well-built, explosive and versatile defender who can thrive in Dan Quinn’s 4-3 scheme.
17. Dallas Cowboys (8-8)
- Grant Delpit, S, LSU
The Cowboys need an upgrade at free safety to get better at covering backs and tight ends. Delpit flies around the field, stopping the run like an extra linebacker and making big plays on the ball in downfield coverage. He plays like the Chargers’ Derwin James with tremendous hybrid size (6-3, 203 pounds) for the position.
18. Miami Dolphins (from 8-8 Steelers)
- Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin
The Dolphins desperately need a true workhorse back for their rebuild. Taylor (5-11, 219 pounds) has great vision and burst as a runner. He also doesn’t get enough credit for what he can do as a receiver, which was on display more during his final college season. In three years for the Badgers, he posted 6,581 scrimmage yards and 55 total TDs.
19. Las Vegas Raiders (from 8-8 Bears)
- Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina
The Raiders need to get stronger in their interior front with a Geno Atkins-like player for Paul Guenther. They can look to Will Muschamp’s defense, where the 6-6, 310-pound Kinlaw posted 6 sacks in 12 games for the Gamecocks. Offensive tackle also will get consideration with this pick.
20. Jacksonville Jaguars (from 9-7 Rams)
- Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama
The Jaguars can replace Jalen Ramsey with the pick they acquired for him with Diggs, who can pair well with A.J. Bouye because of his size (6-2, 207 pounds), strength and downfield speed. Diggs has risen up the board quickly with his big senior season (3 interceptions in 12 games).
21. Philadelphia Eagles (9-7)
- Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama
The Eagles are in desperate need of a big-play threat in Carson Wentz’s receiving corps given DeSean Jackson’s age and a breaking-down Alshon Jeffery. Ruggs (6-0, 190 pounds) fits the bill as a field-stretcher who can also use his route-running skills to win on shorter routes.
22. Buffalo Bills (10-6)
- K’Lavon Chaisson, EDGE/OLB, LSU
Chaisson (6-4, 250 pounds) has a great name for an elite, active defender who chases after quarterbacks and running backs alike. He has 6.5 sacks during LSU’s run to the CFP national championship game, and like several teammates, his draft stock has shot up throughout the season. He is a bit of a hybrid player who can work well in the Bills’ 4-3 to replace retiring Lorenzo Alexander on the weak side.
23. New England Patriots (12-4)
- Kenneth Murray, ILB, Oklahoma
The Patriots have a lot of free-agency concerns at linebacker with Kyle Van Noy, Elandon Roberts and Jamie Collins unsigned for 2020. Murray (6-2, 243 pounds) is an active, rangy playmaker who can be as effective dropping back as he is getting downhill against the run or blitzing.
24. New Orleans Saints (13-3)
- Laviska Shenault Jr., WR, Colorado
The Saints need to get Michael Thomas some consistent help on the other side of the field and give Drew Brees a solid No. 2. Shenault (6-2, 220 pounds) is a sure-handed field stretcher who has some nice big-play flair after the catch. He posted 56 catches for 764 yards and 4 TDs for the Buffaloes, standing out on a struggling team.
25. Tennessee Titans (9-7)
- Curtis Weaver, EDGE, Boise State
The Titans can continue to bolster their pass rush opposite Harold Landry with this pick and replace the 37-year-old Cameron Wake. Weaver (6-3, 265 pounds) was an absolute beast on the blue turf with 13.5 sacks in 14 games in his final college season.
26. Minnesota Vikings (10-6)
- Jedrick Wills, OT, Alabama
The Vikings go for best player available here to keep upgrading their offensive line. Center Garrett Bradury, left guard Pat Elflein and right tackle Brian O’Neill were all worthy young additions; now they can go after an upgrade for fading left tackle Riley Reiff. Wills (6-5, 320 pounds) is a strong, powerful run-blocker who needs a little time to develop into an elite pass-protector.
27. Miami Dolphins (from 10-6 Texans)
- Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU
The Dolphins know DeVante Parker will be around for a while. Now they can get someone to complement him as a big-play threat outside. Jefferson (6-2, 185 pounds) has emerged in LSU’s passing game as a quick, efficient route-runner with good hands whose speed remains underrated. He has posted 102 catches for 1,434 yards and 18 TDs in 14 games with one more left to play.
28. Seattle Seahawks (12-4)
- Tyler Biadasz, G, Wisconsin
Biadasz (6-3, 321 pounds) is next in the strong line of Badgers interior blockers (see the Cowboys’ Travis Frederick and the Giants’ Kevin Zeitler). The Seahawks’ offensive foundation is the power running game, and they are getting old and limited inside with Mike Iupati as a pending free agent. They can also consider tackle here.
29. Kansas City Chiefs (12-4)
- Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson
The Chiefs should consider defense, led by linebacker, but they can find some good value at that position later in this draft. Instead, we’re giving them the wild card that is another explosive weapon for Patrick Mahomes, especially with LeSean McCoy aging as a pending free agent and Damien Williams not holding up in an expanded role. Etienne (5-10, 210 pounds) is a gamebreaker in the open field, and he carries high upside because of his potential as a receiver. He can be their version of Alvin Kamara for the screen game Andy Reid loves.
30. Green Bay Packers (13-3)
- Raekwon Davis, DT, Alabama
The Packers could use some better table-settling for Mike Pettine’s 3-4 defense after moving on from Mike Daniels. Davis (6-7, 312 pounds) is a massive, versatile player from a similar scheme. He can line up at both end and tackle to eat space against the run.
31. San Francisco 49ers (13-3)
- D’Andre Swift, RB, Georgia
The 49ers are positioned to go after the best player available. They have invested a lot in running back and have an effective committee, but they could use a true workhorse for Kyle Shanahan’s zone-blocking scheme. Swift (5-9, 229 pounds) is capable of both getting the tough yards inside and breaking free for big plays in the open field.
32. Baltimore Ravens (13-3)
- C.J. Henderson, CB, Florida
Marcus Peters and Jimmy Smith are pending free agents, and the Ravens should go in some defensive direction early. Henderson (6-1, 202 pounds) plays bigger than his size with great athleticism and technique in his favor. He just needs to get a little more physical to be trusted against receivers who rely on body positioning to get open.
Author: Vinnie Iyer