It’s time to unwrap a new Sporting News 2020 NFL mock draft. The holiday season marks the end of the 2019 NFL regular season and the heat of college football bowl season.
With most of the teams in the league knowing by now they are not going to the playoffs, they already can look ahead to 2020. The top draft prospects are about to play their final college games, too, before they go pro.
NFL DRAFT ODDS:
Burrow bound for Cincinnati at No. 1 overall?
Without further ado, with four months out, here’s how we see the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft playing out.
2020 NFL Mock Draft
1. Cincinnati Bengals (1-14)
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 this 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. Consider him a better all-around version of Jared Goff.
2. Washington Redskins (3-12)
Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
They should look hard to trade this pick to a QB-needy team or one desperate to get Chase Young.. They will think about offensive tackle too in the aftermath of the Trent Williams mess, but they can’t go wrong with the best offensive player available and pairing Terry McLaurin with another scary big-play target. Jeudy fits the profile as a No. 1 receiver; a classic intermediate-to-deep playmaker and drive-finisher at 6-1, 198 pounds.
3. Detroit Lions (3-11-1)
Chase Young, EDGE, Ohio State
Young qualifies as a better prospect than recent Ohio State NFL studs Joey Bosa and Nick Bosa. Matt Patricia and Bob Quinn would 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. He has 16.5 sacks in only 11 games as a junior. He’s the clear pick for a team that doesn’t need a QB or a WR.
4. New York Giants (4-11)
Jeffrey Okudah, CB, Ohio State
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. The Giants don’t have much at cornerback after rookie first-rounder DeAndre Baker has struggled and Janoris Jenkins was traded. Okudah can be the next Marshon Lattimore out of Columbus.
5. Miami Dolphins (4-11)
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. Jacksonville Jaguars (5-10)
Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn
The Jaguars have struggled to stop the run. Marcell Dareus is hurt again and a pending free agent, as is pass-rushing end Yannick Ngaukoe. Calais Campbell is entering his age-34 season. Brown (6-5, 318 pounds) is a quick disruptor who makes a lot of plays in the backfield.
7. Los Angeles Chargers (5-10)
Isaiah Simmons, OLB/S, Clemson
The Chargers already have one versatile back seven defender in Derwin James. They could be downright dominant if they plant Simmons in the second level. Simmons seems to be all over the field at all times for the Tigers with great speed and range at 6-4, 230 pounds. He can also get to the quarterback. He has 93 tackles, 7 sacks, 14.5 tackles for loss and 2 interceptions in 13 games.
8. Carolina Panthers (5-10)
Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
Herbert has ideal size (6-6, 237 pounds) for a team probably looking to start over at QB with a new coach. He 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.
9. Arizona Cardinals (5-9-1)
CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
Reuniting Kyler Murray with his college go-to guy would allow Christian Kirk to be more dangerous as a complementary playmaker. Lamb, a DeAndre Hopkins clone, can be that explosive field-stretcher and steady possession guy outside. At 6-2, 199 pounds, Lamb has needed only 58 receptions to post 1,208 yards and 14 TDs in 12 games this season.
10. New York Jets (6-9)
Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
The Jets would be ready for either Jeudy or Lamb if they are positioned for them, 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. Gase also will love what Thomas can open holes for the running game.
11. Denver Broncos (6-9)
Austin Jackson, OT, USC
Jackson (6-6, 310 pounds) has entered the first-round fray as an athletic beast garnering more attention with his Trojans tape. He is expected to declare for the draft after a potential showcase game against Iowa in the Holiday Bowl. The Broncos could use some defensive help, too, but in the end, they opt for better protection for Drew Lock.
12. Cleveland Browns (6-9)
Alex Leatherwood, OT, Alabama
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. Leatherwood keeps rising to rival Thomas as the best overall tackle in the class. At 6-6, 310 pounds, Leatherwood is an elite athlete who can become a top overall blocker should he keep working on his strength and technique.
13. Atlanta Falcons (6-9)
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.
14. Las Vegas Raiders (7-8)
Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson
After the Antonio Brown debacle, the Raiders can go for their true long-term No. 1 receiver to pair with former Clemson slot receiver Hunter Renfrow. Higgins is a dangerous, all-around playmaker who can be a real force in the red zone. At 6-4, 215 pounds, Higgins has posted 52 receptions for 1,082 yards and 13 TDs in 13 games this season.
15. Dallas Cowboys (7-8)
Curtis Weaver, EDGE, Boise State
Jerry Jones needs some more pass-rush pop, and there’s some familiarity with the program that produced DeMarcus Lawrence and Leighton Vender Esch for the Cowboys. Weaver (6-3, 265 pounds) has been an absolute beast on the blue turf with 13.5 sacks in 14 games this season.
16. Indianapolis Colts (7-8)
Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin
The Colts like Marlon Mack, but he has durability issues. They would benefit from a back who is the complete package, a power runner with a dash of explosiveness and receiving upside. 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 has been on display more during his final college season. In three years for the Badgers, he posted 7,025 scrimmage yards and 55 total TDs.
17. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-8)
Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina
The Buccaneers have had a defensive renaissance up front with Todd Bowles, but Ndamukong Suh and Beau Allen are both pending free agents. For reinforcement, 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 and cornerback also will get consideration with this pick.
18. Las Vegas Raiders (from 7-8 Bears)
Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU
The Raiders need help on the back end after getting consistently burned this season despite some nice 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.
19. Miami Dolphins (from 8-7 Steelers)
A.J. Epenesa, EDGE, Iowa
The Dolphins need to get Brian Flores a versatile pass-rusher. 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.
20. Jacksonville Jaguars (from 8-7 Rams)
Grant Delpit, S, LSU
The Jaguars need to upgrade with more playmaking pop at free safety. 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.
21. Tennessee Titans (8-7)
Tyler Biadasz, G/C, 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 Titans’ offensive foundation is Derrick Henry and the power running game. They are getting old and limited inside. Quarterback might be less of a concern with Ryan Tannehill suddenly looking like a worthy re-sign.
22. Minnesota Vikings (10-4)
Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama
The Vikings have seen Xavier Rhodes fade and have had trouble covering wide receivers downfield all season. Diggs has good size (6-2, 207 pounds), strength and downfield speed. He has risen up the board quickly with his big senior season (3 interceptions in 12 games).
23. Buffalo Bills (10-5)
Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU
The Bills upgraded their receiving corps with John Brown and Cole Beasley, but they need another complementary outside presence. Jefferson (6-2, 185 pounds) has emerged in LSU’s passing game as a quick, efficient route-runner with good hands who also has underrated speed. He has posted 88 catches for 1,207 yards and 14 TDs in 13 games.
24. Seattle Seahawks (11-4)
Paulson Adebo, CB, Stanford
The Seahawks need to keep building their sequel to the Legion of Boom at corner, so why not tap back into the Cardinal, their source for Richard Sherman? At 6-1, 184 pounds, Adebo offers great ball skills and instincts to develop into a shutdown player. He has 8 interceptions in only 22 college games.
25. Philadelphia Eagles (8-7)
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.
26. Miami Dolphins (from Texans)
Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa
The Dolphins need to land a strong pass-protector for Tagovailoa after trading away Laremy Tunsil. 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.
27. Kansas City Chiefs (11-4)
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.
28. New Orleans Saints (12-3)
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.
29. Green Bay Packers (11-3)
Kenneth Murray, ILB, Oklahoma
The Packers need to keep working on their run defense and interior coverage, and Blake Martinez is a pending free agent. 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.
30. New England Patriots (12-3)
Dylan Moses, ILB, Alabama
The Patriots have a lot of free-agency concerns at linebacker with Kyle Van Noy, Elandon Roberts and Jamie Collins unsigned for 2020. Moses (6-3, 259 pounds) missed the Crimson Tide’s season with a torn ACL suffered in August, but he should be fully healed to contribute as a rookie who can rack up tackles and also make big plays in coverage.
31. San Francisco 49ers (12-3)
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 (13-2)
C.J. Henderson, CB, Florida
Marcus Peters and Jimmy Smith are pending free agents. 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.