Vasha Hunt/Associated Press
The NFL draft is always unpredictable, but with so much of the pre-draft process erased, it seems everyone will be flying by the seat of their pants.
Maybe that makes mock drafting easier than normal. The cancellation of workouts and pro days could limit the normal volatility of draft stocks. If these prospects are mostly who we thought they were at the combine, then this should be a straightforward exercise, right?
Then again, this is always an educated guessing game at best. And we’re entering the guessing portion of the proceedings with less education about this class than we’ve had in years. There aren’t enough tea leaves to follow to deliver more than faint hints about everyone’s plans (other than the Cincinnati Bengals, of course).
Still, the show must go on, so we’ll roll out our crystal ball, pull our thinking caps tight and predict what’s awaiting some of the top prospects in this class.
NFL 2020 Mock Draft
1. Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
2. Washington Redskins: Chase Young, Edge, Ohio State
3. Detroit Lions: Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State
4. New York Giants: Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville
5. Miami Dolphins: Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
6. Los Angeles Chargers: Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
7. Carolina Panthers: Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson
8. Arizona Cardinals: Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa
9. Jacksonville Jaguars: Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn
10. Cleveland Browns: Jedrick Wills Jr., OT, Alabama
11. New York Jets: Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
12. Las Vegas Raiders: Jordan Love, QB, Utah State
13. San Francisco 49ers (via Indianapolis Colts): Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina
15. Denver Broncos: Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama
16. Atlanta Falcons: K’Lavon Chaisson, Edge, LSU
17. Dallas Cowboys: CJ Henderson, CB, Florida
18. Miami Dolphins (via Pittsburgh Steelers): CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
19. Las Vegas Raiders (via Chicago Bears): Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma
20. Jacksonville Jaguars (via Los Angeles Rams): Austin Jackson, OT, USC
21. Philadelphia Eagles: Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson
22. Minnesota Vikings (via Buffalo Bills): Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU
23. New England Patriots: Patrick Queen, LB, LSU
24. New Orleans Saints: Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU
25. Minnesota Vikings: Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU
26. Miami Dolphins (via Houston Texans): D’Andre Swift, RB, Georgia
27. Seattle Seahawks: Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama
28. Baltimore Ravens: Yetur Gross-Matos, Edge, Penn State
29. Tennessee Titans: Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin
30. Green Bay Packers: Brandon Aiyuk, WR, Arizona State
31. San Francisco 49ers: A.J. Epenesa, Edge, Iowa
32. Kansas City Chiefs: Jeff Gladney, CB, TCU
Predictions for Top Prospects
Dolphins take Tua
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Miami’s unofficial “Tank for Tua” strategy went awry, as the team followed a tanktastic 0-7 start with a surprisingly (problematically?) 5-4 stretch to close out the campaign.
That could have cost them a shot at Tua Tagovailoa, who’s been on their radar for over a year now. But his draft stock took a hit with his November hip surgery, and the cancellation of pro days meant he couldn’t rebuild that stock on the field.
As B/R’s Matt Miller reported, “multiple teams” now rank Justin Herbert higher “because of injuries and the unknowns.”
That should sound like music to Miami’s ears. Herbert is an interesting prospect, but Tagovailoa could be a game-changer. In the last two seasons, he tossed 76 touchdown passes against nine interceptions. Those are video-game numbers, and he made them reality, often against SEC defenses.
The 22-year-old might need a little time for his NFL transition, but that’s fine in South Beach, where Ryan Fitzpatrick is already stationed as the short-term starter.
Once Tagovailoa gets up to speed, the Dolphins can pass the torch and really get their rebuild going.
Chargers land Herbert
The Philip Rivers era is over for the Chargers, and the Tom Brady era never got off the ground. The Tyrod Taylor era is technically upon them, but it’s more like a prologue to whatever comes next.
Justin Herbert should come next.
The 22-year-old is an unfinished product, as he battles inconsistency with his accuracy and decision-making. But he has all the tools to put everything together and become a franchise quarterback.
“If I’m looking for a quarterback in today’s NFL, I would want a big, athletic quarterback with smarts and a winning pedigree. That’s what I see in Herbert,” NFL.com’s Bucky Brooks wrote. “I’m sold on his potential as a QB1.”
Taylor works as a placeholder, but he can be easily moved aside whenever Herbert is ready.
49ers add Jeudy
That roar you just heard? That was the collective elation of the entire Bay Area.
The 49ers had financial reasons for moving on from Pro Bowl defensive tackle DeForest Buckner, but the biggest motivation was the chance to add a difference-maker with the incoming 13th pick.
This mock draft board breaks just right for Jerry Jeudy—the draft’s top wideout and a perfect fit for Kyle Shanahan’s offense—to land right in San Francisco’s lap.
“Jeudy has all the skills to offer immediate production for whichever team calls his name in 2020,” NBC Sports Bay Area’s Josh Schrock wrote. “If it’s the 49ers, Shanahan will be drooling. This pairing would be quick slants and big-play post catches galore.”
The Niners seemingly added a franchise talent at wide receiver last season in Deebo Samuel. Adding a second to an offense that also features arguably the league’s top tight end (George Kittle) and a top-shelf rushing attack could make this unit virtually unstoppable.
It’s a best-case-scenario selection for San Francisco, and the fit looks just as clean for Jeudy.
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