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NFL Draft 2020: 1st-Round Order Entering Week 17 and Predictions for Prospects

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistDecember 25, 2019

LSU quarterback Joe Burrow (9) works against Georgia during the second half of the Southeastern Conference championship NCAA college football game, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
John Bazemore/Associated Press

The 2019 iteration of the NFL's race to the bottom is finished.

By virtue of their 14th loss in 15 tries, the Cincinnati Bengals snagged 2020's top pick and presumably the privilege of selecting LSU quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow.

But the selection spots are fluid behind No. 1, making Week 17 fascinating for reasons beyond the clubs jostling for playoff berths and seeds. Still, let's take stock of where things sit entering the final weekend—remember, spots 21 through 32 will be determined by postseason play—before predicting what might happen with some of the draft's top prospects.

                            

2020 NFL Draft Order

1. Cincinnati Bengals

2. Washington Redskins

3. Detroit Lions

4. New York Giants

5. Miami Dolphins

6. Jacksonville Jaguars

7. Los Angeles Chargers

8. Carolina Panthers

9. Arizona Cardinals

10. New York Jets

11. Denver Broncos

12. Cleveland Browns

13. Atlanta Falcons

14. Oakland Raiders

15. Dallas Cowboys

16. Oakland Raiders (via Chicago Bears)

17. Indianapolis Colts

18. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

19. Miami Dolphins (via Pittsburgh Steelers)

20. Jacksonville Jaguars (via Los Angeles Rams)

21. Philadelphia Eagles

22. Tennessee Titans

23. Buffalo Bills

24. Minnesota Vikings

25. Miami Dolphins (via Houston Texans)

26. Seattle Seahawks

27. Kansas City Chiefs

28. Green Bay Packers

29. New England Patriots

30. San Francisco 49ers

31. New Orleans Saints

32. Baltimore Ravens

                         

2020 NFL Draft Predictions

Three Quarterbacks Crack Top 10

Burrow's spot at the top seems as certain as his Heisman win, which he captured with 841 of the 885 potential first-place votes. Scouts will love his toughness, moxie and decision-making, while everyone can appreciate the production: 4,715 passing yards with 48 touchdown passes against only six interceptions.

But this quarterback class is bigger than Burrow.

Before dislocating his hip, Tua Tagovailoa held residence at the No. 1 spot on most mock draft boards. Maybe his injury history scares off some suitors, but his potential is too rich to slip past the top 10. He offers elite accuracy and advanced instincts, and if you want to tell his story in stats, they're simply absurd: 87 touchdown passes to just 11 interceptions over two-plus seasons.

Finally, our crystal ball sees Justin Herbert as a top-10 selection, too. He might've been the No. 1 choice had he left Oregon a year ago, but at least the extra season was well spent. Long an intriguing prospect for his size, arm strength and mechanics, he showed obvious growth in his game with more touchdown passes, fewer interceptions and nearly a 10-point jump in completion percentage.

                     

Wide Receivers Dominate Opening Round

As Bleacher Report's Matt Miller noted in November, this fully loaded wide receiver crop has a chance to make history in quantity and quality.

Miller pegged five pass-catchers as first-round locks, had two more on the bubble and placed one in the top 10. Our mock draft board has six players going in the opening round with both Jerry Jeudy (No. 3) and CeeDee Lamb (No. 9) going in the first 10 selections. And that number doesn't include DeVonta Smith, who was Miller's fourth-rated wideout.

This group is stacked with difference-makers. Jeudy is the cream of the crop, as an elite route-runner with the agility, balance and speed to separate. Lamb isn't far behind with the physicality and playmaking potential of a possible DeAndre Hopkins clone.

Laviska Shenault Jr. and Tee Higgins rank among our top-16 selections. Henry Ruggs III lands 22nd, but he could literally race by that number if his combine testing is as wild as it could be (he has the jets to set the new standard in the 40-yard dash). Justin Jefferson is our final first-round receiver, meaning the sixth receiver available in this class has shades of Davante Adams to him, at least in Miller's eyes.

                 

Alabama Matches Record With Six First-Rounders

The 2004 Miami Hurricanes are arguably the gold standard for school draft classes. They had a record six players selected in the first round, including Sean Taylor, Jonathan Vilma and Vince Wilfork.

Alabama's current crop of NFL-freshmen-to-be will challenge that number. The Crimson Tide have the personnel to top it, though our mock calls for a tie with six.

Jeudy and Tagovailoa lead the way as our third and fifth selections, respectively. Ruggs comes next at No. 22, but again, he has as much upward mobility as any first-round prospect.

Defense claims the next two spots, with linebacker Dylan Moses going 28th and defensive tackle Raekwon Davis following right after. Finally, offensive tackle Alex Leatherwood lands at the second-to-last spot in the round.

Those aren't all the first-round candidates. Miller's latest big board also includes offensive tackle Jedrick Wills Jr. (16th), edge Terrell Lewis (19th), running back Najee Harris (32nd) and safety Xavier McKinney (34th) inside the top 40.

Things are just different in Tuscaloosa.