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NFL Draft 2020: Mock Draft Projections and Analysis for Top Prospects

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistJanuary 9, 2020

Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (13) warms up before an NCAA college football game against Tennessee, Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt)
Vasha Hunt/Associated Press

The quarterback class for the 2020 NFL draft has become much clearer in the last week. 

Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa and Georgia's Jake Fromm have now declared for the draft, and Justin Herbert from Oregon was confirmed as a Senior Bowl participant. 

After Monday's College Football Playoff National Championship, the buzz surrounding LSU's Joe Burrow should shift solely to the draft process. 

With the draft three months out, Herbert and Tagovailoa are viewed as the second-and-third-best quarterbacks behind Burrow, who is expected to return to his home state of Ohio to play for the Cincinnati Bengals. 

If that comes to fruition, there are a handful of franchises in the Top 10 that could go after Herbert and Tagovailoa. 

                   

2020 NFL 1st-Round Mock Draft

1. Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Burrow, QB, LSU 

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

3. Detroit Lions: Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia

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

5. Miami Dolphins: Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama

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

7. Carolina Panthers: Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama

8. Arizona Cardinals: CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma

9. Jacksonville Jaguars: Tristan Wirfs, OT Iowa

10. Cleveland Browns: A.J. Epenesa, DE, Iowa

11. New York Jets: Jedrick Wills Jr., OT, Alabama

12. Oakland Raiders: Grant Delpit, S, LSU 

13. Indianapolis Colts: Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn

14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: CJ Henderson, CB, Florida

15. Denver Broncos: Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson

16. Atlanta Falcons: Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina

17. Dallas Cowboys: Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU 

18. Miami Dolphins (from Pittsburgh): Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson

19. Oakland Raiders (from Chicago): Laviska Shenault Jr., WR, Colorado

20. Jacksonville Jaguars (from Los Angeles Rams): Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama

21. Philadelphia Eagles: Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama

22. Buffalo Bills: Curtis Weaver, DE, Boise State

23. New England Patriots: Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU 

24. New Orleans Saints: Yetur Gross-Matos, DE, Penn State

25. Tennessee Titans: Paulson Adebo, CB, Stanford

26. Minnesota Vikings: Raekwon Davis, DT, Alabama

27. Miami Dolphins (from Houston): Bryce Hall, CB, Virginia

28. Seattle Seahawks: Austin Jackson, OT, USC 

29. Kansas City Chiefs: D'Andre Swift, RB, Georgia

30. Green Bay Packers: Tyler Biadasz, C, Wisconsin

31. San Francisco 49ers: Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma

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

Positions 25-32 will be determined by the remaining NFL playoff games. 

              

Top Prospect Analysis

Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama

FAYETTEVILLE, AR - NOVEMBER 9:   Tua Tagovailoa #13 of the Alabama Crimson Tide throws a pass in the first half of a game against the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Davis Wade Stadium on November 16, 2019 in Starkville, Mississippi.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Tagovailoa, who announced his NFL intentions Monday, finished his collegiate career with 7,442 passing yards, 87 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. 

Seventy-six of those passing scores occurred in his two seasons as the Crimson Tide's starter in his sophomore and junior campaigns. 

The biggest knock on the southpaw is his health, as he is recovering from a hip injury that forced him out of Alabama's final two regular-season games. 

Even though some front-office personnel may think of him as injury-prone, he could still be explosive in the NFL if he fully recovers, as NFL.com's Gil Brandt pointed out.

"Based on what we know at this point, I'd expect Tagovailoa to fully regain the athleticism he showed in college, but even if he were only half as mobile as he was, he'd still be more mobile than half the quarterbacks in the NFL," Brandt said. 

The Miami Dolphins and Los Angeles Chargers are the first two teams most will point to when discussing Tagovailoa's draft position. 

If Burrow goes No. 1, Chase Young should land with Washington, and then the Detroit Lions and New York Giants would presumably lean away from taking a quarterback. That leaves Miami at No. 5 with a decision to make about its future.

Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for 3,529 yards and kept Josh Rosen on the bench, but the NFL journeyman is 37 and far from a long-term fit.

Tagovailoa could provide the Dolphins with a fresh start at the position since Rosen was not able to keep the starting gig in his second NFL season. 

Miami still has to build an offense around him, especially at running back, but it has some pieces in DeVante Parker and Mike Gesicki that could form a decent core around the left-handed signal-caller. 

If he drops past No. 5, the Chargers may make a move for Tagovailoa to either replace 38-year-old Philip Rivers or have him learn under the veteran for a season before the taking the reigns. 

If Tagovailoa somehow slips past the Dolphins and Chargers, the Carolina Panthers, Jacksonville Jaguars and Oakland Raiders may be tempted to take one of the most well-known players coming out of college football. 

                     

Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon

PASADENA, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 01: Justin Herbert #10 of the Oregon Ducks shakes hands with teammates after scoring on a 5 yard run during the second quarter of the game against the Wisconsin Badgers at the Rose Bowl on January 01, 2020 in Pasadena, Calif
Alika Jenner/Getty Images

Herbert improved his numbers in most stat categories from his junior to senior campaign at Oregon. 

He completed a higher percentage of his passes (59.4 percent in 2018 to 66.8 percent in 2019), increased his yardage total by 320, threw three more touchdowns and was intercepted on two fewer occasions. 

The senior also received a chance to shine on two large stages in the Pac-12 Championship Game and Rose Bowl.

NFL.com's Bucky Brooks noted the experience gained from those two games, plus his performances in them, should help with his evaluation: 

Bucky Brooks @BuckyBrooks

Justin Herbert’s last 2 games will help him immensely in scouting rooms. It wasn’t always pretty but you saw toughness, athleticism and a winning effort. The evaluation goes beyond the stats sheet. Did you feel his presence in back to back big vs. good comp? Yes. That matters

By accepting a Senior Bowl invitation, Herbert has the opportunity to show NFL personnel what he is capable of just a few weeks removed from the conclusion of his college career. 

That is good news for the Dolphins and Chargers, and for the Bengals, who will be able to go through a full evaluation process of the position before making the final call on Burrow. 

One of the concerns with Herbert stems from his two-interception outing in the upset loss to the Arizona State Sun Devils. 

In that game, he only completed 55.6 percent of his passes, and the Ducks lost a chance to make a run at the College Football Playoff. 

He closed the season with 331 passing yards, one touchdown and an interception versus the Utah Utes and Wisconsin Badgers, and he could build off that during the Senior Bowl and NFL combine. 

Given the positional need of the teams in the Top 10, Herbert should not last that long on draft night. 

If, for some reason, he is still available at No. 7, the trade market could erupt with squads in the middle or late first round looking to trade up. 

If a team loves Herbert or Tagovailoa that much, it could also package a deal together for a team in the top six to consider, but that is just a hypothetical situation at the moment. Potential trades will come into the picture more as we get closer to April 23. 

               

Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90

Statistics obtained from ESPN.com

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