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NFL Draft 2020: 1st-Round Mock Draft as Super Bowl 54 Approaches

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistJanuary 29, 2020

Ohio State defensive end Chase Young (2) during the first half of the Fiesta Bowl NCAA college football game against Clemson, Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri).
Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

In just a few days, the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers will face off in Super Bowl LIV. It should be an exciting end to the NFL's 100th season and a good reminder of how smart drafting can lead to success.

The Chiefs are largely in the Super Bowl because of 2017 first-round pick and former MVP quarterback Patrick Mahomes. The 49ers are here because they've successfully drafted a dominant defensive front that features former first-rounders Arik Armstead, DeForest Buckner, Solomon Thomas and Nick Bosa.

Getting draft picks is the easy part; making the right choices with them can be a bit trickier. Fortunately, there are a few blue-chip prospects in this draft class who have the potential to turn a struggling franchise into a prominent one in short order.

      

2020 NFL Mock Draft

1. Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Burrow, QB, LSU

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

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

4. New York Giants: Isaiah Simmons, OLB, Clemson 

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: Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn

10. Cleveland Browns: Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia

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

12. Las Vegas Raiders: Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson

13. Indianapolis Colts: Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama

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

15. Denver Broncos: Jedrick Wills Jr., OT, Alabama

16. Atlanta Falcons: K'Lavon Chaisson, EDGE, LSU

17. Dallas Cowboys: Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama

18. Miami Dolphins (from Pittsburgh): J.K. Dobbins, RB, Ohio State

19. Las Vegas Raiders (from Chicago): Javon Kinlaw, DL, South Carolina

20. Jacksonville Jaguars (from Rams): Julian Okwara, DE, Notre Dame

21. Philadelphia Eagles: CJ Henderson, CB, Florida

22. Buffalo Bills: Laviska Shenault Jr., WR, Colorado

23. New England Patriots: Jordan Love, QB, Utah State

24. New Orleans Saints: Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma 

25. Minnesota Vikings: Bryce Hall, CB, Virginia

26. Miami Dolphins (from Houston): Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU

27. Seattle Seahawks: Curtis Weaver, DE, Boise State

28. Baltimore Ravens: Terrell Lewis, EDGE, Alabama

29. Tennessee Titans: Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville

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

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

32. San Francisco 49ers: Grant Delpit, S, LSU

     

Chase Young, EDGE, Ohio State

Like Bosa in 2019, Chase Young, his former Ohio State teammate, appears to be one of the safest picks in his draft class. The edge-rusher is coming off a remarkable 16.5-sack campaign and appears to be as good of a prospect as Bosa, if not better.

"The NFL loves twitchy edge-rushers who can get after quarterbacks...and that's Young," ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper wrote. "He caught my eye as a true freshman in 2017, and he really came on in 2018, picking up the production with Nick Bosa sidelined."

Bosa had nine sacks during the regular season and has produced another three in the playoffs. He helped take the 49ers defensive line from very good to elite with his ability to wreak havoc off the edge. While teams picking at the top of the draft aren't in a strong position to make the sort of jump that San Francisco did this year, adding Young would go a long way toward turning a franchise around.

    

Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia

John Bazemore/Associated Press

For teams that have a starting signal-caller in place but questions along the offensive line, Georgia's Andrew Thomas might be the most interesting prospect in this draft class. A three-year starter at left tackle, Thomas has the experience and physical tools needed to be an early anchor on an NFL offensive line.

"He's a powerful run-blocker and a well-versed pass protector who has been battle-tested in the SEC over the last three seasons," Bleacher Report draft analyst Matt Miller wrote. "And unlike Jedrick Wills Jr. (Alabama) and Tristan Wirfs (Iowa), Thomas played left tackle and not right tackle in 2019."

Thomas projects as a plug-and-play left tackle, which could be huge for teams like the Arizona Cardinals, Cleveland Browns or New York Jets.

These are franchises who could be on the rise if their young quarterbacks develop. However, they are also franchises with serious questions at offensive tackle.

    

Jordan Love, QB, Utah State

Teams looking for the next Mahomes may be in on Utah State quarterback Jordan Love. The 6'4", 225-pounder has some of the same physical traits but, like Mahomes, didn't have the greatest final college season—Mahomes went just 5-7 as Texas Tech's starter in 2016.

"So you probably see Love's stat line—20 touchdown passes, 17 interceptions—and think this pick doesn't make sense, but you need to know the context around this Utah State team," Kiper wrote. "Love lost his top five pass-catchers from his breakout 2018 (32 TDs, six INTs), along with a few starters along the offensive line."

Many NFL decision-makers will look past Love's struggles in 2019 and instead focus on his stats the year before and his physical potential.

While LSU quarterback Joe Burrow could develop into an NFL star, he's likely to land with a downtrodden franchise like the Cincinnati Bengals. He isn't likely to have his team in Super Bowl contention within the first couple of years.

However, Love could be in a position where he lands with a franchise ready to compete right away, much like Mahomes did with the Chiefs with the 10th overall pick. If so, he could be prepping for big games a couple of Januarys from now.