Alex McRae’s 2020 NFL Mock Draft 1.0: Predictions for rounds 1-2


Alex McRae, Assistant Sports Director

  1. Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Burrow, Quarterback, LSU 

This is maybe as close to a no-brainer as it gets. The Bengals have been in a bad state now for generations, having not won a playoff game since 1991. A big reason for that statistic has been inconsistent play from the quarterback position. Carson Palmer and Andy Dalton have had flashes over the last 15 years, but at no point did either of those guys show the potential to be the best quarterback in the league. That changes here with Burrow. Coming in at the age of 23, he is certainly on the older side for a rookie, but may be the most pro-ready prospect the NFL has seen since Andrew Luck.

  1. Washington Redskins: Chase Young, EDGE, Ohio State 

Young dominated the game at a higher level than any other defensive linemen in Ohio State football history, and that’s really saying something considering two of the best edge rushers in the game currently, Nick and Joey Bosa, also attended Ohio State. The Redskins  have gone heavy on the defensive line in the last few years, drafting Johnathan Allen, Da’Ron Payne and Montez Sweat in the last three drafts respectively, but that should not discourage them from taking a potential game changer in Young. Young could transform a solid unit into an elite defense. 

  1. Detroit Lions: Jeffrey Okudah, Cornerback, Ohio State 

The Lions defense was historically bad last season, as only the infamous 2008 Lions defense gave up more yardage during their 0-16 campaign. There isn’t one player that could totally turn this unit around, but Okudah could be a catalyst for change. This selection may be a bit of a reach here at the third overall selection. Ideally, I believe the best case scenario for the Lions would consist of them trading down with the Miami Dolphins and picking up two of their three first round selections as well as one of their two second round selections. Yet, as things stand, the Lions would likely select Okudah if they stay put. Darius Slay isn’t getting any younger, or cheaper, thus selecting a second lock-down corner could really improve the outlook for this Lions team. 

  1. New York Giants: Jerry Jeudy, Wide Receiver, Alabama

 The New York Giants shocked the world last April when they selected Daniel Jones with the sixth  selection. In order to put more talent around Jones, they go with Jeudy here. Jeudy reminds me a lot of Amari Cooper when he was coming out of Alabama. He’s the definition of a big play receiver with the potential to be an absolute game changer. Putting him in an offense with Saquan Barkely, Golden Tate and Evan Engram is borderline unfair. He would be a definitive number one option on a team that at times really struggled to move the ball and could have used a big play guy to take the top off a defense. Jeudy could have an Odell Beckham Jr.-type impact on the field without the media circus off the field.  

  1. Miami Dolphins: Tua Tagovailoa, Quarterback, Alabama

Well, #tankforTua ended up working after all. At once a lock for the No. 1 overall selection, Tagovailoa put up some incredible numbers during his time with the Crimson Tide, but unfortunately he was unable to finish his sophomore and junior campaigns with a clean bill of health. A nagging ankle injury held him out of games in both 2018 and 2019 before his final season was ended by a nasty hip injury against Mississippi State. Outside of the injuries, there isn’t much to complain about with Tagovailoa. He finished his college career with an eye-popping 7,400+ yards, 87 touchdowns with only 11 interceptions over the span of a mere 32 games. The Dolphins knew they saw something special before the 2019 campaign even kicked off. Likewise, they began dismantling their team early to set themselves up to rebuild around Tagovailoa. 

  1. LA Chargers: Tristan Wirfs, Offensive Tackle, Iowa 

There aren’t a lot of positions the Chargers could go with here and not fill a need. The key departure this offseason is obviously long-time gunslinger Phillip Rivers. With that said, I don’t think there is a quarterback left on the board that it worthy of the sixth selection. Justin Herbert and Jordan Love may improve their stock enough in the pre-draft process to eventually end up a Charger, but as it stands, I believe that Wirfs would be the worthy selection here. There is a healthy debate about who will be the first tackle off the board, as Jedrick Wills and Andrew Thomas are two quality options in their own right. It will ultimately come down to individual scouting opinions, but I believe Wirfs is the best true left tackle available, as he only allowed one pressure in the final seven weeks of his Hawkeye career.  

  1. Carolina Panthers: Derrick Brown, Defensive Tackle, Auburn

The Panthers are a franchise in transition. With head coach Matt Rhule and offensive coordinator Joe Brady both being called up from the college ranks, it will be interesting to see what route they take in the offseason. Undeniably, the interior of the Panthers defensive line needs work. 2016 first round pick Vernon Butler wasn’t able to have the impact Carolina was hoping for and he will likely be allowed to walk in free agency. Because of this, I believe Derrick Brown is the perfect fit for this organization. He is a highly versatile player, as he can rush from the edge or straight up the middle. Brown was the rock on a phenomenal Auburn front and will look to take a leadership role on a defense that desperately needs one with the retirement of Luke Kuechly. 

  1. Arizona Cardinals: Andrew Thomas, Offensive Tackle, Georgia 

The Cardinals are a team that has a ton of talent on both sides of the ball. On the offensive side of the ball, they have a myriad of skill position talent. In order for this talent to reach its full potential however, Kyler Murray must have time to throw the football. Thus, the Cardinals go out and get the best offensive tackle left on the board. Andrew Thomas is just another in the increasingly long line of elite offensive line talent from the University of Georgia and would be a great get for the Cardinals. With that said, the style of offense he played with in college is quite different from the Kliff Kingsburry offense in Arizona, but the talent here is undeniable. 

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Isaiah Simmons, Safety/Linebacker, Clemson 

The daunting defensive unit the Jaguars had built just a few short years ago has almost completely fallen off, punctuated by the mid-season Jalen Ramsey trade. In order to rebuild this once feared unit, the Jags select Clemson standout Simmons. A guy that made plays in the backfield, in the box and downfield, he is the definition of a Swiss Army knife on the football field. He’s graded out incredibly well in all aspects, but with the combine fast approaching, his speed and agility will be a key factor in the position he’s slated to play at the pro level. He’s small weight-wise for a linebacker at 230 pounds, but considering he is 6-foot-4, he could certainly fill out his frame. A huge part of Clemson’s success in recent years, he showed that he doesn’t need to play behind a dominant defensive front, like the 2018 Clemson unit, to be successful. 

  1. Cleveland Browns: Jedrick Wills, Offensive Tackle, Alabama 

The last of the truly elite offensive tackle prospects cap off the top 10. Wills, a two year starter at right tackle for the Crimson Tide, only allowed one sack and 3.5 quarterback hurries on his responsibilities in 2019. The Browns were a dumpster fire last season as they entered the year with elite skill position talent, a promising young quarterback and tons of talent on the defensive side of the ball. The area that ultimately doomed the Browns’ playoff hopes was their inability to consistently block for Nick Chubb and Baker Mayfield. Wills will walk into the facilities and be a starter at either tackle position immediately. 

  1. New York Jets: K’Lavon Chaisson, EDGE, LSU 

Ideally for the Jets, an offensive tackle prospect will fall to the 11 spot, but at this point I don’t believe that will happen. Instead they go with LSU standout Chaisson. A late riser on some draft boards, he really stood out in postseason play and made an impact when it counted for the Tigers. The Jets traded former first round pick Leonard Williams mid-season in 2019, so a replacement for his production should be at the top of the Jets’ draft board. While the sack production wasn’t eye popping and his sophomore year was cut short due to injury, the potential is through the roof and it’s very likely he’ll be a better Jet than a Tiger.  

  1. Las Vegas Raiders: Justin Herbert, Quarterback, Oregon 

While he isn’t as flashy as Tagovailoa or Burrow, Herbert is a name that people shouldn’t discount. Coach Jon Gruden knows how to entertain and he knows how to draw crowds, and in the move to Las Vegas, it’s important to make a splash. Derek Carr may be on his way out, as he doesn’t really appear to be a “Jon Gruden guy.” He takes up a lot of cap space and it may be time for the two parties to part ways. With this said, Herbert may be the perfect replacement here. He has a ton of talent and oozes potential. With almost 3,500 yards on a 66% clip with 32 touchdowns and only six interceptions in 2019, Herbert could be the quarterback of the future for Gruden and the Raiders.

  1. Indianapolis Colts: CeeDee Lamb, Wide Receiver, Oklahoma

Oklahoma has produced plenty of wide receivers who have put up eye-popping numbers; Sterling Shepard, Hollywood Brown and Ryan Broyles come to mind immediately. Enter Lamb, possibly the most talented of the whole lot. Since stepping on campus in 2017, Lamb has been nothing short of amazing, racking up 173 receptions, nearly 3,300 yards and 32 touchdowns in just 40 games as a Sooner. The Colts have needed a second receiver next to T.Y. Hilton ever since Reggie Wayne retired in 2016. Lamb could be the perfect fit and could very well take over the number one receiver spot in Indianapolis. Jacoby Brissett may not be the long term solution at quarterback, but with a healthy Hilton, Lamb, Marlon Mack, Jack Doyle and offensive line, this offense could be very effective. 

  1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: A.J. Epenesa, EDGE, Iowa

What the Buccaneers decide to do with former first overall selection Jameis Winston is yet to be determined. The definition of a gunslinger, he is a real “boom or bust” kind of guy. Personally, I don’t see them moving on from Winston just yet. A guy they will move on from, however, is Shaq Barrett, the league leader in sacks in 2019. The Bucs took a flyer on Barrett, and boy did their minimal investment pay off, as he now enters free agency and projects to be one of the highest paid edge rushers. In order to mitigate the loss of Barrett, the Bucs select Epenesa from Iowa. A terror in the defensive backfield, Epenesa was hyper-productive in his time as a Hawkeye, accumulating 36 tackles for loss, 26.5 sacks and seven pass defections in 37 games. Espensa should be a plug-and-play guy from the moment he steps foot in Tampa. 

  1. Denver Broncos: Henry Ruggs III, Wide Receiver, Alabama

The Broncos are in a very interesting spot. This Broncos squad played in a ton of close games last season and are only a few pieces away from being a legit playoff contender. I’m a believer in Drew Lock; I think Elway got his guy and is prepared to build around him. Because of that, the Broncos go out and replace Emmanuel Sanders with Ruggs. Ruggs didn’t put up the most eye-popping numbers in Tuscaloosa, but with all the talent on the offensive side of the ball, it’s not so surprising. It will be interesting to see how he performs at the combine, as he will likely show off elite athleticism. Because of his immense potential I think the Broncos go out and select Ruggs.  

  1. Atlanta Falcons: Yetur Gross-Matos, EDGE, Penn State

The Falcons’ second half of the 2019 season showed flashes of 2017, as they showed actual signs of life and fight. In order to attempt to maintain this momentum, they address one of the biggest holes they’ve had since that classic Super Bowl collapse: pass rush. They are going to let Vic Beasley walk in free agency and rightfully so, as he had worn out his welcome in the ATL. Thus, enter Gross-Matos. One of the most highly recruited edge rushers coming out of high school, Gross-Matos showed out in his final two seasons with the Nittany Lions. Throughout 34 games, he racked up 36.5 tackles for loss and 18.5 sacks. The Falcons have a solid offensive unit with Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley and Devonta Freeman headed by Matt Ryan. Offensive line could be a move here as well, but if I’m the Falcons I’m sticking with a high-end edge rusher. 

  1. Dallas Cowboys: Kristian Fulton, Cornerback, LSU

The Cowboys are going to be in cap space limbo this coming offseason, and they will have a very hard time keeping all the talent that got them this far. So there may be some very interesting unforeseen moves that Jerry Jones will make later in the offseason, but until then this pick is hard to lock down. The defensive line was solid, as was the linebacking core. However, the defensive backfield left a lot to be desired. Because of this I have the Cowboys selecting LSU standout cornerback Fulton. He didn’t create a ton of turnovers in his time with the Tigers — only two interceptions — but he made up for it with an outstanding senior season that consisted of him racking up a whopping 14 passes defensed. He was often tasked to cover some of the most explosive talent in the SEC and held his own. He could be a solid number two caliber corner in the NFL. 

  1. Miami Dolphins (via Pittsburgh Steelers): Mekhi Becton, Offensive Tackle, Louisville 

After selecting their franchise savior in Tagovailoa with the fifth pick, the Dolphins have to find a way to keep him healthy. Because of that, they have to add some talent to the worst offensive line in the league. Enter Becton, a guy that has flown up draft boards across the league. He’s a great combination of size, speed and strength with a ton of upside. He isn’t a sure-fire hit, but he’s the definition of a “boom or bust” prospect. Louisville is far from an elite program and isn’t necessarily known for its offensive line pipeline. With that said, Becton has all the potential in the world and I think that could be worth the selection for the Dolphins. 

  1. Las Vegas Raiders (via Chicago Bears): Tee Higgins, Wide Receiver, Clemson 

In order to keep the newly-drafted  Justin Herbert happy, the Raiders have to grab a big name to add to their offense. The importance of making a splash is Las Vegas cannot be understated, thus enter Higgins. Higgins is another in the increasingly long line of big, tall athletic wide receivers from Clemson. His talent is not in question, but his athleticism may be a  cause of concern. The combine will be huge for Higgins because his size and production are a recipe for success in the NFL today. Higgins may be the big play guy the Raiders thought they had with Antonio Brown last offseason.  

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars (via LA Rams): Trevon Diggs, Cornerback, Alabama 

Jacksonville has a ton of needs and cornerback is near the top of the list. Trading Jalen Ramsey was something the Jaguars and their fans were certainly not happy to do. Getting rid of one of the best corners in the game for this pick, the Jaguars really only have one option here and that is to select a replacement. A converted wide receiver, Diggs has excellent ball skills, defending 17 passes in his 30 career games at the cornerback position. Because of this conversion, he has a prototypical NFL corner size at 6-foot-2 with solid hands… a great recipe for a ball-hawking NFL corner. While not a natural corner or tackler, Diggs is well worth the selection.  

  1. Philadelphia Eagles: C.J. Henderson, Cornerback, Florida

There aren’t many Eagles fans that would be upset with this selection, as Philadelphia has been starved for talent at the cornerback position for years now. Last season specifically, the lack of depth at this position was a big reason why the Eagles went 9-7 and were bounced early in the playoffs. Henderson is a guy that has missed some time with injury during his stay in Gainesville, only playing in the full 12 games once over his three seasons. That said, they aren’t injuries that pose any significant long term effects, so I wouldn’t look too much into it. Outside of the injuries, Henderson had the numbers of a can’t-miss prospect. He’s an excellent tackler, with eight career tackles for loss and four sacks as well as two forced fumbles. He also has phenomenal ball skills with six career interceptions and 20 passes defended, including 11 in his junior campaign. 

  1. Buffalo Bills: Laviska Shenault Jr., Wide Receiver, Colorado 

Josh Allen needs weapons! The additions of John Brown and Cole Beasley proved to be invaluable for the Bills last season, as they were the team’s leading receivers by a long shot. Yet after Brown’s 72 receptions and Beasley’s 67, there wasn’t a Bills player that caught over 30 passes. The need for another option is evident. Enter Shenault, one of the most dynamic players in all of college football. A guy with prototypical NFL size and explosiveness, Shenault has legitimate number one option potential. His numbers from the 2019 Colorado Buffaloes campaign won’t pop off the screen, but considering he was on the No. 100  college offense, the lack of production is explainable. Involved in both the running and passing game, he accumulated 17 total touchdowns and over 2,100 yards in Boulder. He isn’t as sure of a thing as CeeDee Lamb or Jerry Juedy, but when it’s all said and done, he could very well be the best receiver out of this class.  

  1. New England Patriots: Curtis Weaver, EDGE, Boise State

This could quite possibly be the most New England Patriots pick of all time. The Patriots will likely let Kyle Van Noy walk in free agency, leaving a hole at the outside linebacker/edge rusher spot that is ever so coveted in the NFL today. Curtis Weaver is the ideal pick here for New England, as his 6-foot-3 and 265-pound frame and hyper productivity has Bill Belichick written all over it. A tackle for loss machine, Weaver racked up a staggering 47.5 tackles for loss and 34 sacks in his three years as a Bronco. He was also not lost in the passing game as well, intercepting two passes and defending six. Weaver is a guy that any team running a 3-4 defense would love to have, and his value fits perfectly here in my opinion.  

  1. New Orleans Saints: Kenneth Murray, Linebacker, Oklahoma 

The Saints are a team that has some of the higher end talents in the league with names like Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara, Michael Thomas, Cam Jordan and Marshon Lattimore. The reason why they fell short a season ago was their lack of quality depth at valuable positions. That’s not to say that Murray would be merely a depth pick, in fact he’s quite the contrary. Murray could fill a gap of major need with the Saints, a second linebacker. Demario Davis had a phenomenal season in 2019 but the core of depth around him was lacking. Murray could be a guy that sees the field often in 2020 but isn’t relied upon to make defensive play calls. This could be massive in the development of a young linebacker trying to adjust from the Big 12 to the NFC South. Murray is easily the best non-edge rushing linebacker in this class, as in only three seasons at Oklahoma he accumulated an eye-popping 325 tackles, 36.5 of which were for a loss, as well as picking up 9.5 sacks along the way. Murray is a player that could develop into an elite NFL linebacker.

  1. Minnesota Vikings: A.J. Terrell, Cornerback, Clemson 

The Vikings have a choice to make this offseason. They have two cornerbacks (Mackenzie Alexander and Trae Waynes) who have expiring contracts and they likely won’t be able to afford both of them. Thus for seemingly the fifth year in a row, the Vikings are in the market for a cornerback in the early rounds of the draft. Personally, I think the Vikings would rather trade down and select a player more worth the value as I’m not sure there is a player of need worth the 25th for Minnesota. That said, I don’t predict trades in these mocks, thus I have the Vikings selecting the corner that I think has the most upside in Terrell. A phenomenal tackler, the guy loves taking guys down. His coverage numbers are a bit of a concern for me, with only three passes defensed in each of his final two years with the Tigers; you’d like to see that number be a bit higher. Also he was burned a few times by Justin Jefferson during the National Championship game. That said, one tape or season doesn’t define the quality of a football player. Terrell is still very young and has a ton of upside.  

  1. Miami Dolphins (via Houston Texans): J.K. Dobbins, Running Back, Ohio State 

With the third and final selection of the first round for the Dolphins, they go out and grab the perfect complement to Tagovailoa. Dobbins was one of the most electric players in college football the last three years, going over 1,000 yards each of the last three seasons for the Buckeyes. Last season, Dobbins put together a historic campaign with 2,003 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns. In today’s football, those aren’t numbers you see everyday. Miami traded Kenyon Drake to Arizona at the deadline in 2019 and the hole at the running back position is massive. Dobbins, Tagovailoa and DeVante Parker are a very solid young core for the Dolphins to build around.

  1. Seattle Seahawks: Terrell Lewis, EDGE, Alabama 

The Seahawks have struggled in the last two seasons to get past the wild card round in the playoffs. The reasons for this lay largely with the fact that the Seahawks haven’t been able to replicate the defensive dominance of the Legion of Boom. While Lewis doesn’t play the same position as the L.O.B., he could eventually create a similar level of impact. The key to any great defensive backfield is a dominant pass rush. The Seahawks saw what the impact of a top end edge rusher could accomplish when they essentially rented the services of Jadeveon Clowney in 2019, so they select his cheaper replacement here. Lewis is a guy with an immense amount of pass-rushing potential. Only a one-year starter at Alabama, his numbers don’t necessarily pop off the stat sheet. With six sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss in his final 10 games with the Crimson Tide, Lewis showed flashes of elite talent.

  1. Baltimore Ravens: Julian Okwara, EDGE, Notre Dame

The Ravens are one of the few teams in the NFL that can maintain top-tier status if they’re to retain their free agents. Unfortunately for Baltimore, there are some names hitting the open market that deserve a major pay raise. One of the biggest names is Matt Judon. Edge rushers come at a premium in today’s NFL and that should be no different for Judon. Thus, in an attempt to mitigate that loss, the Ravens go out and select Okwara. Injuries shortened his 2019 campaign but in 2018, Okwara was dominant, racking up 12.5 tackles for loss and eight sacks. He’s the perfect scheme fit for Baltimore, as he fits that Judon mold almost to a T. This would be a home run selection for a team that doesn’t have many holes to fill. 

  1. Tennessee Titans: Tyler Biadaz, Center/Guard, Wisconsin 

This pick just makes so much sense. The Titans are one of the most run-heavy teams in the NFL, led by Derrick Henry and a dominant offensive line. The spot of right guard may not be the highest priority for a lot of NFL franchises, but for the Titans, this position is huge. 2019 rookie Nate Davis really struggled at times last season, and with Derrick Henry’s prime window getting smaller and smaller, it’s paramount that the Titans go out and pick up the best run-blocking interior lineman in the draft. Biadaz led the way for one of the most dominant college running backs of the century in Johnathan Taylor from Wisconsin. Biadaz, the 2019 Rimington winner, Outland finalist and unanimous first-team All-American, fits the Titans’ mold perfectly. 

  1. Green Bay Packers: K.J. Hamler, Wide Receiver, Penn State

The Packers greatly improved in 2019, especially on the defensive side of the football. With that said, the Packers were still limited on offense as outside of Aaron Jones, Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams, the talent wasn’t very effective. Adams suffered from some injury troubles last season and the Packers select an insurance policy here. Hamler from Penn State is a dynamic talent with real big play ability. Hamler would be a welcomed addition to a Packers wide receivers core that has been reeling since the loss of Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson. Davante Adams is a legitimate number one wideout in the NFL but is in desperate need of a Robin to his Batman. 

  1. San Francisco 49ers: Xavier McKinney, Safety, Alabama 

There aren’t a ton of holes on a 49ers defensive unit whose 2019 could go down as an all-time great defense. With that said, they have some guys hitting free agency that may be too expensive to keep on the roster. One of those names is Jimmie Ward, who had a phenomenal 2019 and may be the odd man out for this 49ers defense. Thus, they go with a guy that if it wasn’t for Isiah Simmons would be getting a lot more hype at the safety position. McKinney was a leader on the Crimson Tide defense, as he made plays all over the field. He can rush the passer, be a factor against the run and hold his own in coverage. Over his two years as a starter, he racked up five interceptions, 15 passes defended, 169 tackles, six sacks, and 11.5 tackles for loss. This would be a home run selection for the 49ers and could potentially allow them to roll with the punch of losing Ward.  

  1. Kansas City Chiefs: Bryce Hall, Cornerback, Virginia 

The Chiefs sported one of the most dynamic offenses in NFL history last season en route to a dominant second half showing in the Super Bowl, leading to a convincing victory over a dominant 49ers unit. That said, the defensive secondary of the Chiefs has left some wanting more and with the potential losses to this unit in free agency, I think going with Hall here makes a ton of sense. Hall sported one of the most impressive stat lines put up by any corner in 2018, with 21 passes defended, this would have potentially made him a top 20 selection last season, but he decided to return to Charlottesville for his senior season and had his 2019 cut short after suffering an injury in the sixth game of the season. The potential is most certainly still there as he is one of the best pure cover guys in this class. That’s not to say he shies away from making plays in the backfield. The Chiefs have the chance to select the steal of the draft with this pick. 

  1. Cincinnati Bengals: Grant Delpit, Safety, LSU 

Shawn Williams has struggled to lock down the safety position for this Bengals squad, so they go with LSU standout Delpit. They could go offensive line here, as they sported one of the worst units in the league and there are a lot of good options left on the board. 

  1. Indianapolis Colts (via Washington Redskins): Raekwon Davis, Defensive Tackle, Alabama 

The Colts have struggled to find a guy that is a rock in the middle of their defensive line for as long as I can remember. Raekwon Davis is just that. At 6-foot-7 and pushing 315 pounds, he can be the anchor of a defense. He has struggled to find his pass-rushing prowess he had his sophomore season, but I think that is mostly due to position and scheming. 

  1. Detroit Lions: D’Andre Swift, Running back, Georgia 

Ideally for the Lions, they’d be able to select an edge rusher, but based on value I don’t think there is anyone that fits that mold at this spot. Because of this, they select the best player on their board with Swift. The Georgia Bulldog standout is coming off back-to-back 1,000-yard campaigns where he averaged 6.3 yards per carry. He’s lightning fast and has shown the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. 

  1. New York Giants: Prince Tega Wanogho, Offensive Tackle, Auburn

The Giants have struggled to find consistency on the offensive line for a few years now and in order to fully capitalize on the offensive potential of this team, they have to address that. Thus, they go with the royalty from the Auburn Tigers. Wanogho was a force for the Auburn offense. I think it would be unlikely he is put into the starting left tackle spot immediately, but he could certainly win the right tackle or a guard spot. 

  1. LA Chargers: Jeff Gladney, Cornerback, TCU

One of the best cover guys in this draft, Gladney may not be the best in man-to-man coverage, but he is an athletic monster and has solid size. He was very productive at TCU, with 37 passes defensed over his five seasons. He’s not the best at picking the ball off, with only five interceptions in his college career, but he can be a legitimate starting corner in the NFL. 

  1. Carolina Panthers: Justin Jefferson, Wide Receiver, LSU 

Joe Brady made this selection. Jefferson had one of the most productive seasons ever in 2019, racking up 111 receptions, over 1,500 yards and 18 touchdowns. Carolina needs some weapons to take the pressure off of Christian McCaffery, especially with the loss of Greg Olsen in the offseason. With the Panthers committing to Cam Newton in 2020, Jefferson should be a welcomed addition. 

  1. Miami Dolphins: Neville Gallimore, Defensive Tackle, Oklahoma 

The Dolphins have struggled mightily in the trenches on both sides of the ball. They need some experience on that line in order to be truly effective. While he is a rookie, Gallimore is one of the older rookies in this class, as he was in Norman for five years and starting for four of them. A rookie in name only, Gallimore should be able to start from day one. 

  1. Arizona Cardinals: Damon Arnette, Cornerback, Ohio State

The Arizona defense has been a big question mark for a few seasons now as Patrick Peterson continues to get older and older. Inserting Arnette into this secondary could really help take some of the pressure off of Peterson. Arnette is used to playing next to an elite talent, playing across from Jeffrey Okudah the last few seasons. 

  1. Cleveland Browns: Lloyd Cushenberry III, Guard, LSU

The Browns offensive line really felt the loss of Kevin Zeitler as Baker Mayfield was often running for his life every other play. In order to fix that, the Browns go with Cushenberry from LSU, a guy who was instrumental in the historic LSU offense and has plenty of experience giving his quarterback tons of time. If he falls to Cleveland here, Mayfield will be very happy.  

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Justin Madubuike, Defensive Tackle, Texas A&M

It’s unlikely that the Jaguars will hang onto Marcell Darius in the offseason, thus they have to try to mitigate that loss. Madubuike was very productive in College Station, racking up 22 tackles for loss and 11 sacks in his final two years with the Aggies. Jacksonville is going to have to remake the defense that got it to the playoffs a few years ago, but that’s just the nature of the NFL. 

  1. Chicago Bears (via Las Vegas Raiders): Austin Jackson, Offensive Line, USC

The Bears’ first selection of 2020 is not flashy in any sense of the word, but if Jackson falls to 43, the Bears should be giddy. Jackson is getting a ton of hype going into the draft process. I’m not sold on his ability to start at tackle just yet, but with the retirement of Kyle Long, Jackson could step in and fill Long’s role.   

  1. Indianapolis Colts: Jake Fromm, Quarterback, Georgia

The Colts are publicly weary of locking in Jacoby Brissett long term. I agree with that sentiment; I don’t think he’s a legitimate long term option for Indianapolis. Fromm is a guy that can be described with one word: winner. He wasn’t able to get it done against Alabama in back-to-back years, but that wasn’t necessarily his fault. I think he projects to be a better pro than college quarterback, as the Bulldogs offense was very much run oriented. Giving Fromm an offense with Marlon Mack, CeeDee Lamb and T.Y. Hilton could really help his development.

  1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Johnathan Taylor, Running Back, Wisconsin

What the Buccaneers do with Jameis Winston is still very much up in the air. But regardless of who is at the helm of the Bucs offense in 2020, Taylor will improve this offense. What can’t you say about Taylor? With back-to-back 2,000+ yard seasons for Taylor, he is the best pure runner in this class, and possibly the best running back. The only reason he falls this far in the second, let alone out of the first is his speed and ability to catch the football. He showed flashes of both at times but not consistently enough to secure a definitive first round grade. If he is able to recreate his college form in the NFL, he will be a generational talent.  

  1. Denver Broncos: Lucas Niang, Offensive Tackle, TCU  

The Broncos haven’t been able to lock down their offensive line since Peyton Manning retired, and if they want to give Drew Lock any chance at success, they need to make sure he can feel comfortable in the pocket. Niang is a guy that could walk in and be a day one starter on the offensive line for the Broncos. He has excellent size and length. Though mobility is a concern, at this point he’s the best tackle available. 

  1. Atlanta Falcons: Jaylon Johnson, Cornerback, Utah 

Atlanta has a ton of secondary talent eligible for free agency. With that said, Johnson may be an upgrade over any of the guys the Falcons would be able to keep. He’s an excellent coverage guy that can be an absolute ball hawk in the NFL. He is a little small for the NFL now at only 6 feet tall, but can make up for it with athleticism. He could fit into a slot role right away for the Falcons.

  1. New York Jets: Cesar Ruiz, Center/Guard, Michigan 

Ever since Nick Mangold retired, the Jets have been desperate for a guy that can attempt to replicate his production. Ryan Kahlil isn’t the youngest and is an unrestricted free agent. Ruiz was the leader for a very solid offensive line for the Wolverines. He’s a great run blocker who could open up some running lanes for Le’Veon Bell, who struggled in his first year with the Jets in 2019. Ruiz should be a day one starter for New York. 

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers: Jacob Eason, Quarterback, Washington 

With the Steelers’ first selection, they look to the future. Ben Roethlisberger has threatened retirement a few times now and with injuries cutting his 2019 campaign short, the Steelers have to address the future of the quarterback position. Mason Rudolph and Duck Hodges are cute stories but don’t have staying power. Eason was highly recruited in high school but ultimately lost his job to Jake Fromm at Georgia after an injury. . He then transferred to Washington and put together a relatively impressive stat line of 3,100+ yards, 23 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He has a lot of pro potential and fits the mold of an NFL starter. 

  1. Chicago Bears: Cole Kmet, Tight End, Notre Dame 

With the second pick of this round, the Bears make yet another home run selection. Kmet looks to be another in a long line of dominant Notre Dame tight ends. He’s massive at 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds. The Bears have needed a force at the tight end spot. Mitch Trubisky would love Kmet as a security blanket and red zone target.  

  1. Dallas Cowboys: Ashtyn Davis, Safety, Cal

The Cowboys are going to have to make sacrifices elsewhere if they want to keep Amari Cooper and Dak Prescott, and the defensive secondary will likely feel the force of most of those cuts, more specifically Jeff Heath. Davis is a guy that has plenty of experience and could jump into a starting role immediately for Dallas. He saw significant playing time in four of the five seasons he spent with the Golden Bears and was well-rounded and productive. 

  1. LA Rams: Isaiah Wilson, Offensive Tackle, Georgia

The Rams suffered from one of the most disappointing performances in 2019, in large part because Jared Goff and Todd Gurley took significant steps back following their 2018 Super Bowl appearance. Injuries and an aging offensive line played a large part in this. Andrew Whitworth isn’t getting any younger and may not return in 2020, thus the Rams start a youth movement in the trenches. Only a redshirt sophomore, Wilson was a part of a dynamic running offense at Georgia. He may have to sit for a season or play inside but could develop into a starting NFL tackle. 

  1. Philadelphia Eagles: Donovan Peoples-Jones, Wide Receiver, Michigan

The second largest need the Eagles have to address is wide receiver, thus they go out and grab the wide receiver who has potentially the most upside in this class. Peoples-Jones never lived up to his potential at the University of Michigan, which seemingly fits the trend for a lot of highly recruited guys from Michigan recently. With that said, he has real big play ability and could be a guy that opens up space for Alshon Jeffery. 

  1. Buffalo Bills: Josh Uche, EDGE, Michigan 

Both Shaq Lawson and Lorenzo Alexander are set to hit the open market this offseason. The Bills have had an excellent front seven the last few years and they would hate to lose the production of both of these edge rushers. With that said, Alexander may retire, as he is 37, and Lawson may be too expensive, thus the need at edge is there in Buffalo. Uche fits the Buffalo mold perfectly. He’s a bit undersized to play with his hand in the dirt, as he’s 6-foot-2 and 250 pounds,but he makes up for his lack in size with excellent athleticism. In his two years as a starter for the Wolverines, he collected 18.5 tackles for loss and 14.5 sacks. He may not be the best run defender in the NFL but he’s a third down nightmare for quarterbacks. 

  1. Atlanta Falcons (via New England Patriots): Jonathan Greenard, EDGE, Florida 

The Falcons are going to the well once more at edge as they have struggled mightily to get to the quarterback. Greenard only spent one season in Gainesville after transferring from Louisville, but he certainly made an impact with 16 tackles for loss and 10 sacks in 2019. A rotation of Gross-Matos, Tak McKinnley and Greenard should more than make up for the loss of Vic Beasley and allow the Falcons to have a dominant pass rush.  

  1. Miami Dolphins (via New Orleans Saints): Patrick Queen, Linebacker, LSU

Raekwon McMillan and Jerome Baker were okay but definitely had their struggles, as many did in 2019 with the Dolphins. That said, the lack of a true defensive stalwart in the middle of the Miami defense has significantly hindered the quality of this unit. Queen is a guy that sat behind one of the best linebackers in the country, Devin White, for two of his three seasons with LSU. Likewise, he was able to learn from one of the best and showed how talented he truly was with the Tigers in 2019, collecting 85 tackles, 12 for loss and three sacks and showing he’s a true front-seven oriented inside linebacker and could be a day one starter in Miami. 

  1. Houston Texans: Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Running Back, LSU 

Lamar Miller and Carlos Hyde are both hitting the free agent market this year and Houston may not want to bring back either, as they are both 29 years old and may demand too much cap space. Thus, a youth movement at the running back position is in order for the Texans. Edwards-Helaire put together one of the quietest great seasons by a college running back in 2019 as his 1,400+ yards on the ground 500+ yards receiving and 17 total touchdowns were overshadowed by the greatness of Joe Burrow and his receiving core. A true all-purpose back, look for him to move up draft boards if he tests well at the combine. 

  1. Minnesota Vikings: Ben Bredeson, Guard, Michigan 

The Vikings’ offensive line struggles have been well noted over the last few seasons and Minnesota has desperately attempted to rectify these concerns through both free agency and the draft. That said, there is still a huge question mark at the guard spots as neither Pat Elflin nor Josh Kline really made a huge impact. Bredeson is a guy that was a part of a very solid Michigan offensive front and was able to push around NFL-caliber defensive linemen with ease at times. He could push guys for a starting spot right away. 

  1. Seattle Seahawks: Collin Johnson, Wide Receiver, Texas

Injuries ended Johnson’s senior campaign earlier than anyone would have liked, and he only playing in seven games. This resulted in a significant drop off in his production and in turn the production of the Longhorns offense. That said, he’s a huge target, standing at 6-foot-6 and is a real deep ball, big play threat. Pairing him with D.K. Metcalf, allowing Tyler Lockett to move to the slot would really help open up the field for Seattle. 

  1. Baltimore Ravens: Denzel Mims, Wide Receiver, Baylor

The Ravens haven’t really had a standout receiver since Anquan Boldin and Steve Smith left. Hollywood Brown showed flashes last season and tight ends Hayden Hurst, Mark Andrews and Nick Boyle all produced at a high level, but the need for a standout receiver is still there. Mims is a guy that was in a rough situation with Baylor, when he came in as a freshman in 2016 the program had hit the reset button, but he was a constant that was instrumental in the Bears’ Sugar Bowl appearance in 2019. In his three years as a starter, Mims racked up 182 receptions for 2,900+ yards and 18 touchdowns. 

  1. Tennessee Titans: Jordan Love, Quarterback, Utah State 

The Titans thought that Marcus Mariota would be the answer to their problems at quarterback that have plagued them since Steve McNair left for Baltimore in 2006. Last season proved that not to be the case as Mariota was benched for Ryan Tannehill, who did take them to the playoffs. That said, both Mariota and Tannehill are free agents and neither really lit up the stat sheet in their playing time. I think Love makes a ton of sense here as he could use some time and develop behind whoever starts for the Titans this season and then takes over in 2021. A lot of people are giving Love first-round grades and I think he’s a very solid prospect, but I’m not sure if he’s ready to be an NFL starter just yet.

  1. Green Bay Packers: Malik Harrison, Linebacker, Ohio State

Blake Martinez will top many “most overrated NFL players” lists. His ability to cover anyone in the passing game has left a lot to be desired and he’s due to hit free agency this offseason along with Kyle Fackrell and B.J. Goodson. This leaves a huge hole in the middle of a greatly improved Packers defense. Harrison may be just the guy to fill that hole. Hyper-productive at Ohio State, racking up 25 tackles for loss and six sacks in his time as a starter, he’s also shown the ability to hold his own in the passing game. 

  1. San Francisco 49ers: Matt Hennessy, Offensive Line, Temple 

You can never have too much depth on the offensive line for a team that loves to run the ball as much as San Francisco does. Hennessy is an ultra-versatile interior offensive lineman that can be a plug-and-play kind of guy. Does he start day one? I’m not sure… probably not but he could very well carve out an integral role on a solid offensive front.  

  1. Kansas City Chiefs: Josh Jones, Offensive Line, Houston

Josh Jones is a guy that is flying up draft boards at the moment, and had Houston been better in 2019 and not decided to essentially pack it in and tank, Jones may be even higher on many boards. That said, I think he fits here with Kansas City, as he’s versatile and has played in a scheme fairly similar to the one the Chiefs run. The Chiefs have a few guys entering free agency that they won’t be able to hang onto and Jones may find himself in a starting role day one.  

Follow Alex on Twitter @amac595.