2020 NFL Mock Draft: Early First-Round Predictions and Top Sleeper Prospects

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistDecember 28, 2019

Ohio State running back J.K. Dobbins (2) runs during the first half of the Big Ten championship NCAA college football game against Wisconsin, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Michael Conroy/Associated Press

NFL stars can sprout from any point on the draft board or off the board entirely.

The 2020 Pro Bowl roster features three rookies. That trio is comprised of the No. 3 pick Nick Bosa, the No. 56 pick Mecole Hardman and undrafted Deonte Harris.

Remember, even with all the data available to us, this remains an educated-guessing game—at best. So, even if the top prospects earned that distinction for a reason, it's imperative to shift some focus to those further down the board, too.

That's what we'll do here with our latest first-round mock and a breakdown of three of our favorite prospects who didn't make the 32-player cut.


2020 NFL Mock Draft

1. Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Burrow, QB, LSU

2. Washington Redskins: Chase Young, DE, Ohio State

3. Detroit Lions: Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama

4. New York Giants: Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State

5. Miami Dolphins: Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama

6. Jacksonville Jaguars: Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn

7. Los Angeles Chargers: Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon

8. Carolina Panthers: Isaiah Simmons, OLB, Clemson

9. Arizona Cardinals: CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma

10. New York Jets: Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia

11. Denver Broncos: Austin Jackson, OT, USC

12. Cleveland Browns: Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville

13. Atlanta Falcons: A.J. Epenesa, DE, Iowa

14. Las Vegas Raiders: Laviska Shenault Jr., WR, Colorado

15. Dallas Cowboys: Grant Delpit, S, LSU

16. Indianapolis Colts: Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson

17. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: D'Andre Swift, RB, Georgia

18. Las Vegas Raiders (from Chicago Bears): Yetur Gross-Matos, DE, Penn State

19. Miami Dolphins (from Pittsburgh Steelers): Curtis Weaver, DE, Boise State

20. Jacksonville Jaguars (from Los Angeles Rams): Paulson Adebo, CB, Stanford

21. Tennessee Titans: Julian Okwara, DE, Notre Dame

22. Buffalo Bills: Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama

23. Minnesota Vikings: Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU

24. Seattle Seahawks: Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina

25. Philadelphia Eagles: C.J. Henderson, CB, Florida

26. Miami Dolphins (from Houston Texans): Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa

27. Kansas City Chiefs: Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin

28. Green Bay Packers: Dylan Moses, ILB, Alabama

29. New England Patriots: Raekwon Davis, DT, Alabama

30. New Orleans Saints: Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU

31. San Francisco 49ers: Alex Leatherwood, OT, Alabama

32. Baltimore Ravens: DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama


Top Sleeper Prospects

Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama

It might not be possible for Xavier McKinney to go unnoticed.

If you don't know his game, you probably know his unique hairstyle. But considering he's a do-it-all defensive back at Alabama who can deliver big hits and get his hands on the football, you probably already know his game.

"He's got some Minkah Fitzpatrick in his game," The Draft Network's Kyle Crabbs wrote, "can be implemented in man-to-man coverage, as a deep safety, a blitzer off of the edge or as a sub-package linebacker with effectiveness thanks to his length, tackling prowess and overall athletic ability."

McKinney's stat sheet speaks to his versatility. Since the start of 2018, he has 159 tackles, 15 pass breakups, six forced fumbles, five interceptions, five sacks and two touchdowns. He's the No. 2 safety in the class behind LSU's Grant Delpit, and McKinney's draft slot ultimately hinges on whether the position is addressed twice in the opening round or not.


Tyler Biadasz, C, Wisconsin

While the Badgers have assembled some tremendous offensive lines in the past, they never had anyone claim the Rimington Trophy, which goes to college football's most outstanding center—until Tyler Biadasz.

A redshirt junior who has started all 40 of his games at Wisconsin, he's the top center on the draft board and a decent candidate to jump into the first round. During his three seasons on the line, the Badgers have ranked 23rd or better in rushing yards per game, including a sixth-placed finish in 2018. They've also seen Jonathan Taylor become only the third running back to win the Doak Walker Award in back-to-back seasons.

"He's a good athlete who is already advanced technically," ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. wrote of Biadasz. "He can pull and use his athleticism to get on the edge and plow defenders ahead of running back Jonathan Taylor. ... He's a really solid interior lineman."

Biadasz's position won't help his draft slot, but there's often a mid-to-late first-round pick spent on the top center in the class.


J.K. Dobbins, RB, Ohio State

The Buckeyes are never short on talent at running back, so it says plenty about J.K. Dobbins that he started his first game of college football and never looked back.

He was a 1,400-yard rusher as a freshman. He put 12 touchdowns on the board as a sophomore. But his junior campaign was his finest to date. This year, he turned 283 carries into 1,829 yards. That's an absurd level of efficiency for that kind of volume (6.5 yards per carry). He had 20 rushing touchdowns (sixth-most in the country) and two more as a receiver.

He looks the part of a three-down NFL back. He blends instincts and vision with electric acceleration, meaning he often beats defenses to the open spots. When defenders are around to meet him, the 5'10", 217-pounder generates tons of power in his compact build and runs through tackles for extra yards after contact. He's quick and agile in open space, and he's comfortable running routes out of the backfield.

He's our third-best back in this class, which should put him right on the first-round bubble. He might sneak in yet, but the league's willingness to wait on this position could work against him.