With just under 5 weeks until the NFL draft kicks off, the world has shut down. That hasn’t really dampened the rush to sign NFL free agents though. Not much anyways. Certainly the guys with a tad bit more medical uncertainty (looking at you Mr. Clowney) have lagged behind as teams aren’t able to get guys into the building for a medical review.
Regardless, the NFL landscape has certainly been altered in the last week. Tom Brady is a Tampa Bay Buccaneer. Philip Rivers is a Colt. DeAndre Hopkins is officially a member of the Cardinals’ Air Raid offense, and the Browns have quietly put together a fantastic first week of the league season.
With these, and other changes in mind, lets take another crack at what the first round of the NFL draft may look like. We’ll still stay away from trades, for now, and stick with the draft order as currently constituted.
I hope you enjoy the review, stay safe, and wash your damn hands you filthy animals:
1. Joe Burrow – Cincinnati Bengals – Quarterback – LSU
This feels like a no brainer, but then again, the Bengals aren’t known for their brains. If it were me, I’d strongly consider selecting the best player in the draft, Chase Young, and figure on being one of the worst teams again and in a position to select Trevor Lawrence or Justin Fields next season.
2. Chase Young – Washington Redskins – Edge – Ohio State
Young is the best player in the draft, and honestly, its pretty clear cut. Ten years from now will we look back and call Joe Burrow the NFL’s Sam Bowie? The Redskins selected a quarterback in the first round of last year’s draft, but honestly it doesn’t really feel like they have a franchise building block. Young is that guy.
3. Jeffrey Okudah – Detroit Lions – Cornerback – Ohio State
This is prime trade back position. For any team interested in jumping up to nab Tua Tagovailoa this is the spot. The Raiders and Jaguars both have multiple first rounders and both could/should be interested in adding Tua. The Lions have multiple holes and an accumulation of draft picks is the optimal result here. Worst case, the team replaced Darius Slay with Okudah.
4. Jedrick Willis – New York Giants – Offensive Tackle – Alabama
Honestly, the Giants could go a million different ways here. Who is the best player remaining? For me, that’s Clemson’s Isaiah Simmons. Would it be nice to get young QB Daniel Jones a #1 type receiver to grow with, like a Jerry Jeudy or Ceedee Lamb? Absolutely. How about a stud defensive tackle like Derrick Brown to plug in next to Dexter Lawrence. Ultimately though, adding a starting tackle feels like the way to go, either to pair with Nate Solder, or replace him. Then the question is, which tackle? My vote here is the battle tested Willis.
5. Tua Tagovailoa – Miami Dolphins – Quarterback – Alabama
Tua and the Dolphins have been tied together for more than a little bit. With Burrow’s emergence and Tua’s injury the opportunity to grab Tua without moving up feels like a possibility. The Dolphins still need a lot of help, on both sides of the ball, but luckily they’ve got plenty of draft capital to expend.
6. Jordan Love – Los Angeles Chargers – Quarterback – Utah State
This may come as a shock, but Tyrod Taylor is NOT the quarterback of the future. This selection really comes down to who do you like better, Jordan Love, or Justin Herbert? Herbert feels like the safer choice. But Love has that certain flair that could eventually draw a crowd in Los Angeles, and that draw is something the Chargers 1000% need. Additionally, his style more closely mirrors Tyrod Taylor’s in that their mobility is a weapon.
7. Isaiah Simmons – Carolina Panthers – Linebacker – Clemson
This really came down to what level of the defense do we address here? Auburn’s Derrick Brown is an option here. The team didn’t pick up the option on DT Dontari Poe, saw Gerald McCoy move to Dallas, and Vernon Butler to Buffalo. BUT they also saw the heart and soul of their defense, Luke Kuechly, retire. My guess is that they stay in state (if you consider North Carolina and South Carolina to be one state, which is to say I’m using that phrase VERY loosely, like a Kardashian after the NBA all star weekend loose.) and go with the versatile play maker Simmons.
8. Andrew Thomas – Arizona Cardinals – Offensive Tackle – Georgia
A week ago, Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb likely would have gotten the nod here. But the Cardinals feel pretty well set with the return of Larry Fitzgerald and the trade for DeAndre Hopkins (along with Christian Kirk, Andy Isabella, Hakeem Butler, & KeeSean Johnson). Where the feel shaky is in their ability to give the diminutive Murray enough time to orchestrate this new Air Raid offense. The addition of the most solid lineman available is too good to pass up. He may not have the combine numbers of a Wirf, or Becton. What he does have is a boatload of experience in college’s toughest conference.
9. Derrick Brown – Jacksonville Jaguars – Defensive Tackle – Auburn
It may not be the flashiest pick, but its the right one. The burly Brown is the best defensive lineman in the draft but a fairly healthy margin. The team has also let go of Marcel Dareus, and traded away Calais Campbell. Bringing in Brown would go a long way towards starting to rebuild the front 7. Having another first later on will allow them to look at upgrading in one of the numerous areas that need upgrading.
10. Mekhi Becton – Cleveland Browns – Offensive Tackle – Louisville
Iowa’s Wirfs received serious consideration. But ultimately it feels like Becton has more experience on the left side of the line, and the Browns just spent a pretty penny to add Jack Conklin to man the right side. There will be some fans (Fantasy Football Fans) clamoring to add Lamb or Jeudy to pair with Beckham and Landry. But adding a stout left tackle would really cap off a fantastic off season for the Browns.
11. Tristan Wirfs – New York Jets – Offensive Tackle – Iowa
The Jets, after one week of the off season, have very clearly moved into the basement of the AFC East. Sam Darnold could use weapons and health, the question is, which is easier to find? For my money, with the right system, its easier to find receivers than a stud tackle. In a draft that should have quality receivers available well into the third day, Wirfs represents the end of the top tier of available tackles. As such, Wirfs is the selection.
12. Justin Herbert – Las Vegas Raiders – Quarterback – Oregon
Its not really a secret that Jon Gruden isn’t enamored with Derek Carr. The low budget addition of Marcus Mariota shouldn’t deter the Raiders from selecting another quarterback, even another Oregon Duck (wouldn’t that be interesting). With two first rounders it feels like corner and receiver should be the top priorities, especially with Jeudy, Lamb, and Ruggs still sitting out there. But with Hebert representing the last available of the “Big 4” quarterbacks, Gruden and Mayock pounce.
13. Jerry Jeudy – San Francisco 49ers – Wide Receiver – Alabama
The Raiders passing is the 49ers gain. Very obviously the 49ers felt they could use an upgrade at wide receiver last season based upon their mid-year trade for Emmanuel Sanders. So really the question is why Jeudy and not Lamb? For me it feels like Deebo Samuel is more of a stylistic replication of Lamb, where as Jeudy brings something just a little different.
14. K’Lavon Chaisson – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Edge – LSU
The Buccaneers are suddenly in win now mode as they’ve opened up a 2 year window of contention with Tom Brady now under center. On offense they could use a right tackle, and a running back. Neither of which would be an applicable choice here. So instead they add an edge rusher with some championship game experience himself
15. CeeDee Lamb – Denver Broncos – Wide Receiver – Oklahoma
Second year receiver Courtland Sutton made some real strides, but ultimately feels like a high end #2 receiver. In contrast Lamb has star written all over him. Together they should provide Drew Lock with a talented pair of weapons as he grows into the position. A wide receiver here feels like just too obvious a fit.
16. Javon Kinlaw – Atlanta Falcons – Defensive Tackle – South Carolina
One team that doesn’t need a wide receiver, the Falcons could use assistance at any level of the defense. So at this point you select the best defender available and that feels like South Carolina’s Kinlaw.
17. CJ Henderson – Dallas Cowboys – Cornerback – Florida
Sitting here the Cowboys must be going back and forth on how best to upgrade their secondary. Do they look corner, or take a chance on finally adding a stud safety? After seeing how much Byron Jones went for I think you have to add a starting corner on a rookie scale contract whenever you can.
18. Patrick Queen – Miami Dolphins – Linebacker – LSU
Considered pairing Tua with one of his college targets in Henry Ruggs III, but for now DeVante Parker and Preston Williams feel good “enough”. Safety was a consideration as they traded away prior cornerstone talent Minkah Fitzpatrick. Running backs will be available later. But Patrick Queen feels like the sort of talent Brian Flores could really develop.
19. Henry Ruggs III – Las Vegas Raiders – Wide Receiver – Alabama
The Raiders luck out as the third of the BIG 3 receivers is still on the board and they have an opportunity to pair him with their new franchise quarterback. To me the difference between the 3rd corner taken and the 7th is minimal in this draft. McKinney at safety is an option, as he and Abram paired together could be dynamic for the next decade. But in the end, the receiver position is one just begging for an upgrade, and Ruggs fits the bill.
20. Kristian Fulton – Jacksonville Jaguars – Cornerback – LSU
For me, Fulton is overrated. I wasn’t impressed in what I’ve seen. That being said, after trading away Jalen Ramsey and AJ Bouye in the last year the team needs an infusion in the defensive secondary. I think a corner is the choice here. Whether its Fulton, or Terrell, or Gladney, etc. is in question. But others seem to love Fulton, so maybe they’re just seeing something I’m not.
21. Tee Higgins – Philadelphia Eagles – Wide Receiver – Clemson
The Eagles are taking a receiver here. They simply have to. Clemson has a rich recent history of producing quality receivers and Higgins is next in line. I’m sure Jefferson, Shenault, Mims, and Reagor will get a sniff, but for right now, we’re rolling with Tee.
22. Xavier McKinney – Minnesota Vikings – Safety – Alabama
This is about reading the board. McKinney is the first safety off the board to a team with a lot of money invested in the safety position with Harrison Smith and Anthony Harris. Enough so that the situation doesn’t feel tenable. Harris feels like trade bait after being franchise tagged. While some other players and positions may interest the Vikings who have multiple first round selections thanks to the Stefon Diggs tradem they’re certainly aware that the McKinney looks ready made to be a Devin McCourty understudy.
23. Kenneth Murray – New England Patriots – Linebacker – Oklahoma
The Patriots have a lot of holes, something that feels odd to say. But they could use help at tight end, receiver, the defensive line, and linebacker. Hell, I’ve been on record saying a right tackle here to displace Marcus Cannon is needed, but I’m willing to give Yodny Cajuste a chance to show what he can do. But linebacker is a sore spot currently with a boat load of free agent defections. I went back and forth between the more athletic Murray, and the grinder Zack Braun out of Wisconsin. Ultimately going with Murray to help off set the loss of Kyle Van Noy.
24. Zack Baun – New Orleans Saints – Linebacker – Wisconsin
Speaking of Zack Baun. The Saints made some free agent plays for linebackers but came up short of their marks. Baun can set the edge, and has some ability to stand up. Adding a Justin Jefferson is intriguing here as well, but the Saints just gave a pretty penny to Emmanuel Sanders, and there will be chances to augment the receiving core later in the draft
25. Denzel Mims – Minnesota Vikings – Wide Receiver – Baylor
The Vikings take this opportunity to fill the hole left by the trade of Stefon Diggs. Again, this is a deep receiver draft, and there are more than a couple receivers left on the board who warrant first round draft status. But Mims feels like a Vikings player who have leaned into combine darlings before and had success. Additionally his field stretching feels like a nice compliment to Adam Theilen
26. Ezra Cleveland – Miami Dolphins – Offensive Tackle – Boise State
Cleveland really showed out in Indianapolis, putting him on the first round radar. He’s also shown the ability to kick inside should he not hold up on the edge. Its for that reason that he gets the nod here. Many, if not all, have mocked a running back to the Dolphins in the first round, but one of the trio of Swift, Dobbins, or Taylor, AT LEAST one, will be available in the 2nd round. So solidify your offensive line here and protect your new quarterback.
27. Justin Jefferson – Seattle Seahawks – Wide Receiver – LSU
Tyler Locket was a revelation last season stepping into the big shoes Doug Baldwin left behind. But he and Russell Wilson could use some help. Josh Gordon is a free agent, and still suspended, and can’t truly be counted on, even with the alteration to the NFL’s stance on weed with the new CBA. Add Jefferson here will add some flair to the dreary Northwest.
28. Cesar Ruiz – Baltimore Ravens – Center – Michigan
The Ravens saw Marshall Yanda retire, which wasn’t completely out of the blue, and the offense suffered when center Dan Skura went out with injury last season. Skura is a restricted free agent who was tendered at the lowest possible level, which seemed a bit odd. He hasn’t been scooped up yet, but there are more than a few teams that ought to be sniffing around. Regardless, with Yanda’s retirement they could stand to add some young talent to the interior offensive line.
29. Neville Gallimore – Tennessee Titans – Defensive Tackle – Oklahoma
The Titans shockingly sent away their all pro caliber defensive tackle for a late round pick. Certainly it was a money saver after signing Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry. That being said, while it may have added to their wallet, it drained the talent they had to clog the middle of that defense. Gallimore can immediately replace some of what has been lost.
30. Laviska Shenault Jr. – Green Bay Packers – Wide Receiver – Colorado
Every year mock drafters send a receiver to the Packers, and every year the Packer fans are disappointed. Well, I’m not gonna stop now. Notre Dame’s Cole Kmet is an option, but I still have faith that Jace Sternberger can step his game up. Replacing Bryan Bulaga with a Josh Jones was a thought, but at the end of the day, I’m sticking with WR, and Shenault feels more well equipped to handle the frozen tundra than Jalen Reagor.
31. Grant Delpit – San Francisco 49ers – Safety – LSU
Another selection, another LSU Tiger. The champs are well represented in this mock. The 49ers could use an injection of youth at the corner position, but Delpit’s value at the end of the first was too good to pass up. The team didn’t really replace what Eric Reid brought to the field. Drafting Delpit gives them a chance to do just that.
32. Ross Blacklock – Kansas City Chiefs – Defensive Tackle – TCU
The Chiefs could always use a corner or five. Adding a D’Andre Swift here is intriguing. But the team franchise tagged Chris Jones knowing the massive hole his leaving would create. If they sense that an extension isn’t possible they’d do well to add his replacement know to ease him in.
- Written by Jason Sullivan
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