2020 NFL Mock Draft Pre-Divisional Round Projections for 1st-Round Prospects

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistJanuary 11, 2020

LSU quarterback Joe Burrow (9) works against Oklahoma during the first half of the Peach Bowl NCAA semifinal college football playoff game, Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
John Bazemore/Associated Press

While the 2020 NFL draft doesn't technically start until April 23, it already feels like the top two selections are set in stone.

The Cincinnati Bengals are all but locked in at No. 1 with LSU quarterback Joe Burrow. The Washington Redskins might have bigger needs elsewhere, but they are unlikely to let Ohio State's dynamic edge-rusher Chase Young slip past them at No. 2.

Then, the drama begins at No. 3, where the Detroit Lions could go a number of different directions. Their defense needs help, and their offensive line could use reinforcements, but they could determine their best option is trading down (perhaps with a quarterback-needy club) and adding more draft assets to fill out this roster.

With Detroit's dilemma in mind, we'll identify three dealers inside of the top 10 after laying out our latest trade-free mock first round.


2020 NFL Mock Draft

1. Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Burrow, QB, LSU

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

3. Detroit Lions: Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State

4. New York Giants: Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama

5. Miami Dolphins: Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama

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

7. Carolina Panthers: Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn

8. Arizona Cardinals: Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia

9. Jacksonville Jaguars: Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson

10. Cleveland Browns: Jedrick Wills Jr., OT, Alabama

11. New York Jets: Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa

12. Oakland Raiders: CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma

13. Indianapolis Colts: Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson

14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Grant Delpit, S, LSU

15. Denver Broncos: Laviska Shenault Jr., WR, Colorado

16. Atlanta Falcons: A.J. Epenesa, Edge, Iowa

17. Dallas Cowboys: Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina

18. Miami Dolphins (via Pittsburgh Steelers): Yetur Gross-Matos, Edge, Penn State

19. Oakland Raiders (via Chicago Bears): Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma

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

21. Philadelphia Eagles: Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama

22. Buffalo Bills: Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU

23. New England Patriots: Curtis Weaver, Edge, Boise State

24. New Orleans Saints: CJ Henderson, CB, Florida

25. Tennessee Titans: Terrell Lewis, Edge, Alabama

26. Minnesota Vikings: Raekwon Davis, DT, Alabama

27. Miami Dolphins (via Houston Texans): D'Andre Swift, RB, Georgia

28. Seattle Seahawks: Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU

29. Kansas City Chiefs: J.K. Dobbins, RB, Ohio State

30. Green Bay Packers: Dylan Moses, LB, Alabama

31. San Francisco 49ers: Jeff Gladney, CB, TCU

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


Potential Traders Inside the Top 10

Detroit Lions

The Lions' biggest needs don't align with their draft slot⁠—not by pick value, not by available prospects. Detroit could find itself choosing between Jeff Okudah and Derrick Brown. Whichever player it doesn't grab might slip outside of the top five.

This should signal something to the front office. Trading back might be the best way to go.

The Dolphins, Chargers and Panthers could all fall in love with Tua Tagovailoa. Assuming the first two picks go as planned, this becomes the wild-card slot where a trade up for Tagovailoa might make the most sense. Assuming there aren't long-term concerns with his hip injury, getting him third overall could one day be remembered as a discount.

Detroit could stand pat and grab one of the defenders or even Jerry Jeudy. The latter would give the Lions a loaded receiving core for 2020, then assure one fixture is staying around while Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones both head into free agency after the campaign. That's a reasonable move, but it may not have the overall value that moving back a few slots, still adding an elite defender and grabbing an extra pick or two might offer.


Miami Dolphins

It's no small wonder that the Dolphins' official Twitter mantra didn't become #TankForTua. They were linked to Alabama's prolific passer⁠—⁠and Oregon's Justin Herbert—in January 2019 by ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Miami has no reason to believe its quarterback of the future is on the roster. Father Time is already bearing down on 37-year-old Ryan Fitzpatrick, and any optimism that Josh Rosen would grab the gig likely evaporated as he managed only a single touchdown pass against five picks during his five appearances.

So, maybe the unofficial motto of Dolphins Twitter should now become #TradeUpForTua. Their rebuilding efforts netted them 11 total picks, including three in the first round. If they're locked in on Tagovailoa, they have the ammunition to go get him.

"According to the NFL's draft trade value chart, the Lions would be asking too much for the Fins' 27th overall pick," Carlos Monarrez wrote for the Detroit Free Press. "But Miami's 39th overall pick—the seventh pick in the second round—would be a reasonable swap."


Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers are approaching the quarterback crossroads.

After winning 12 games in 2018, their follow-up was a disaster. They lost 11 games, while franchise fixture Philip Rivers matched the second-highest interception total of his career (20).

The veteran quarterback turned 38 in December. He's entering free agency. While he said "retirement is really not an option," he did leave the door open to continuing his career elsewhere.

So, does L.A. consider running it back with the quarterback who has started every game for this franchise since 2006? Or do the Bolts decide that position finally requires a facelift? If they opt for the latter, they might consider a move up from No. 6either to leapfrog the Dolphins or prevent themselves from being leapfrogged by a team like the Panthers or Jaguars.

Even if Rivers stays, the Chargers might make a move for his successor. They could be OK staying put if they give roughly equal evaluations of Tagovailoa and Herbert (or Utah State's Jordan Love), but if they have a specific target at the position, they might have to climb the board to add him.