Identifying Every NFL Team's Dream 2020 Draft Target
Every NFL team has an ideal draft target.
Some are obvious. The Cincinnati Bengals, owners of the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 draft, will have a guaranteed shot at theirs, which is obviously LSU quarterback Joe Burrow. Others aren't so obvious, such as a team attempting to replace a departing free agent.
With the league fully engaged in the throes of draft season as the NFL Scouting Combine approaches, now is the time to focus each team's dream target. And on a team-to-team basis, the perfect target centers around team need, potential free-agency moves and more. The current draft order and general prospect stock market plays a role, too. Multiple teams might covet the same player, but barring a trade, the ultimate conclusion of the chase hinges on the order.
Arizona Cardinals: Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
It's Operation: Insulate Kyler Murray at this point for the Arizona Cardinals.
Murray took 48 sacks last year for the five-win Cardinals, which seemed to be the result of both a rookie holding the ball too long at times and poor play up front.
The Cardinals will continue an overhaul around Murray this offseason with guys like offensive tackle D.J. Humphries heading to free agency. While the team has north of $50 million in space to spend, the better idea is falling into an elite tackle prospect like Andrew Thomas out of Georgia.
Clutching the eighth pick, the Cardinals might be in a position to get out in front of a surefire run on the top-level offensive line prospects with Thomas.
Atlanta Falcons: K'Lavon Chaisson, EDGE, LSU
The Atlanta Falcons used last offseason to build up the trenches in front of quarterback Matt Ryan.
Now it's time to do it again on the opposite side.
The Falcons finished last season with just 28 sacks, a number down in the basement alongside teams like the Miami Dolphins and Detroit Lions. The team has already made it clear edge-rusher Vic Beasley Jr. won't be back, and there isn't a ton of cap room to work with.
K'Lavon Chaisson would be the perfect answer to these issues.
Chaisson is a do-it-all talent still on the upswing of his development, and he'd be a chess piece the Falcons can deploy in various looks to apply meaningful pressure. He just has to be there at No. 16.
Baltimore Ravens: Yetur Gross-Matos, EDGE, Penn State
There's no such thing as too much pass rush, and the Baltimore Ravens would have a rich-getting-richer scenario on their hands if the front office managed to stumble upon Yetur Gross-Matos out of Penn State.
Despite the overwhelming success of the offense last season, Baltimore was only able to drum up 37 sacks (21st) after losing both Terrell Suggs and Za'Darius Smith. Third-round pick Jaylon Ferguson still figures to play a bigger role in the future, but more talent couldn't hurt.
Baltimore picks late in the first round and might not have a ton of cap space to work with after potentially addressing free agents like Michael Pierce and Matthew Judon, which could mean the draft is where this gets resolved.
And it would be hard to complain about Gross-Matos, a lanky edge-rusher with versatility and upside.
Buffalo Bills: Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama
The Buffalo Bills are another team embroiled in doing whatever it takes to surround a young passer with talent.
Granted, the Bills have droves of cap space to spend in a free-agent class featuring names like A.J. Green. But it wouldn't be too much of a shock to see the franchise double dip and go all-in on a top-flight prospect like Henry Ruggs III, either.
Positioned at No. 22, the Bills aren't going to see a CeeDee Lamb or Jerry Jeudy fall to them. But maybe the sheer volume of stellar wideouts in this year's class pushes Ruggs—owner of 1,500-plus yards and 19 total scores over the past two seasons—down the board.
Best-player-available at wideout as a weapon to grow alongside quarterback Josh Allen would be ideal.
Carolina Panthers: Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
The Carolina Panthers are one of the draft's biggest wild cards.
A new coaching staff might be content to move on from Cam Newton, which immediately catapults quarterback to the top of the needs list, which features droves of roster overturn set to unfold.
Unfortunately for the Panthers, barring some sort of move up, neither Joe Burrow nor Tua Tagovailoa figure to be options. But Oregon's Justin Herbert might just make it to No. 7.
That would be a tough thing for the Panthers to pass on at this stage, as Herbert has four years of collegiate experience and explosive numbers on his resume, not to mention the pro upside. In a league where waiting until next year is never a guarantee, getting one of the top three passers would be a win for the Panthers.
Chicago Bears: Jordan Love, QB, Utah State
It sure seems like the Chicago Bears should be on the market for a quarterback after another so-so showing from Mitchell Trubisky.
Free agency seems to have plenty of options thanks to Teddy Bridgewater, Philip Rivers and others, but it'd be a tough feat to pull off given the $13 million in cap space and needing to round out an entire roster.
But the Bears also don't own a first-round pick this year, with the team's first selection sitting at No. 43.
Is Utah State's Jordan Love the sort of passer teams trade up into the end of the first round to get? Or is his volatility, final-season regression (20 touchdowns, 17 interceptions in 2019 compared to 32 touchdowns, six interceptions in 2018) and level of competition (Mountain West Conference) capable of pushing him to the second?
If Love is there, it's hard to pass on the potential upside, as it's clear the Bears aren't making much noise without a change under center.
Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor benched starter Andy Dalton near the trade deadline, which the veteran quarterback wasn't happy about. Dalton later got back in the lineup and won two games, salvaging the worst start in franchise history, but the writing is on the wall.
And it just so happens Joe Burrow, a local product who grew up a few hours outside of Cincinnati, is the consensus top pick after a Heisman Trophy, historic campaign and national title.
It doesn't get much better than this for a small-market team struggling to get fans to the stadium, let alone not be the worst team in the league again in 2020.
Cleveland Browns: Jedrick Wills Jr., OL, Alabama
The Cleveland Browns once again hold a top-10 pick and are once again starting over at head coach after replacing Freddie Kitchens with Kevin Stefanski.
But, like last season, quarterback Baker Mayfield and the offense aren't doing much without better line play.
Greg Robinson and Chris Hubbard were disasters up front at tackle last season and free agency doesn't figure to feature any of the big names. That leaves the top of the draft, where Alabama's Jedrick Wills Jr. is positioned as one of the top overall players.
If a run on skill players pushes Wills down, the Browns get a big win. Andrew Thomas, Tristan Wirfs and Mekhi Becton are close seconds.
Dallas Cowboys: Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU
The Dallas Cowboys have massive money invested in running back Ezekiel Elliott, defensive end Demarcus Lawrence and linebacker Jaylon Smith. Now the front office has to find a way to pay quarterback Dak Prescott, wide receiver Amari Cooper and cornerback Byron Jones.
That's another way of writing that the pick at No. 17 needs to have an instant impact.
If the Cowboys are lucky, said pick might be LSU's Kristian Fulton, a corner prospect with instant starter potential and plenty of playmaking ability.
Corner figures to be the odd position out this offseason for the Cowboys as the front office looks to keep the franchise passer linked with his franchise wideout. But that doesn't mean the Cowboys can afford to let the talent at corner dip so significantly.
Denver Broncos: Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa
Quarterback Drew Lock might just be the guy for the Denver Broncos, though the team could have a hard time figuring out for sure if the offensive line doesn't play better.
The line coughed up 40-plus sacks last year and needs help on the edges, yet the front office will figure to invest significant capital in breakout free agents like center Connor McGovern and safety Justin Simmons.
That leaves the draft and the No. 15 pick, where the Broncos will just have to hope a player like Tristan Wirfs from Iowa falls. That could end up meaning a move for Garett Bolles if necessary, but anything goes in the name of stability up front.
Next season is just that pivotal as far as figuring out the team's long-term direction at quarterback.
Detroit Lions: Chase Young, EDGE, Ohio State
Do the Washington Redskins trade back from No. 2 with a quarterback-needy team? Do they just bungle the pick all together? If so, that could mean Chase Young lands in Detroit.
Pass rush was a sour point for the Lions last year anyway, so landing a Nick Bosa-esque edge presence at No. 3 would be one of the biggest outright wins of draft day.
While the Lions spent big on Trey Flowers last season and other needs persist, tallying just 28 sacks last year and sitting in position to land a possible generational player is hard to pass up. Young is the dream target, though seemingly just out of reach.
Green Bay Packers: Laviska Shenault Jr., WR, Colorado
It's really hard to not throw out a defensive dream target for the Green Bay Packers given some of their needs, but the front office's massive, uncharacteristic spending on that side of the ball last year makes the pill easier to swallow.
Instead, this is about helping quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the new coaching staff after 13 wins last year despite no receiver breaking the 1,000-yard mark and nobody besides Davante Adams breaching the 500-yard mark.
Thanks to runs at other positions, a top-tier wideout like Colorado's Laviska Shenault Jr. might just fall to No. 30. That would mean the arrival of a 6'2", 220-pound wideout with 1,700-plus yards and 17 total touchdowns over his last two seasons arriving to pair with Adams.
If the Packers front office feels like spending again, maybe a prospect at No. 30 is only the start of adding more weapons for Rodgers.
Houston Texans: Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama
The Houston Texans used their first-round pick this year to invest in proven production in front of quarterback Deshaun Watson with the Laremy Tunsil trade.
With Houston's first pick coming at No. 57 in the second round, the attention might need to turn to the defensive side of the ball after the unit coughed up 24.1 points per game last year, 19th in the league.
Corner especially looks like it could be an issue with Johnathan Joseph and Bradley Roby set to become free agents.
A borderline top-50 player like Trevon Diggs could be a big win for an organization that needs an instant impact out of its earliest pick despite it coming in the second round. Diggs stands 6'2", has four years of collegiate experience and might have the ability to help right away.
Indianapolis Colts: CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
Once again, the Indianapolis Colts sit on a treasure trove of cap space. Whether the front office actually uses it in a meaningful manner is hard to say, but after Jacoby Brissett's lackluster performance at quarterback last season, a surprise could be in store.
Either way, the Colts sitting at No. 13 is a shame from a quarterback perspective and could mean instead looking to upgrade the wideout position a year after Zach Pascal led the team in receiving—with just 607 yards.
Pascal and T.Y. Hilton are still around, but few teams should turn the nose up at a prospect like CeeDee Lamb. The Oklahoma product is another one of those elite wideouts in this year's class, and his resume is hard to ignore: He put up 2,400-plus yards with 25 receiving scores over the past two seasons alone.
Even if a new quarterback isn't under center next year in Indianapolis, Lamb and Hilton streaking down the same field should improve things.
Jacksonville Jaguars: A.J. Epenesa, EDGE, Iowa
The Jacksonville Jaguars have a whole host of ways they could go with two first-round picks at No. 9 and No. 20.
However, they have a poor cap situation and general wealth of needs, spanning both trenches and perhaps at quarterback.
Working with the idea the Jaguars will keep rolling with Nick Foles and/or Gardner Minshew, best player available might be the way to go, and it's hard to argue with defensive end A.J. Epenesa. While he's not as big of a name as other players in his class, he's a versatile, workmanlike trench defender who seems sure to carve out a nice career for himself.
Epenesa could be a great move with Yannick Ngakoue and Akeem Spence headed to free agency, Marcell Dareus looking like a cut candidate and Calais Campbell turning 34 in September.
Kansas City Chiefs: Patrick Queen, LB, LSU
Defending the title is now the key for the Kansas City Chiefs.
It's easy to forget the Chiefs remain in the infancy of a complete defensive overhaul, too. Last year was an improvement after changing both the scheme and personnel, but the building on that side of the ball is far from finished.
Linebacker still sticks out as an issue, and while Clemson prospect Isaiah Simmons doesn't stand a chance of sniffing No. 32, perhaps LSU's Patrick Queen slips while teams address other positions.
Queen would be an incredible boon for the rebuilding unit, as he's a prototypical modern playmaker who can work from one sideline to the next while matching up well in coverage.
Las Vegas Raiders: Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
Head coach Jon Gruden and the Las Vegas Raiders flirted with the playoffs last season, and now, the front office has two first-round picks, with the earliest coming at No. 12.
There, wideout might just end up being the focus barring a major unexpected fall. And a major fall—if the Raiders are lucky—could include Alabama's Jerry Jeudy, the elite Crimson Tide wideout who looks as pro-ready as it gets, never mind the apparent immense ceiling. Jeudy totaled more than 1,000 yards receiving in each of his last two collegiate seasons and snagged 24 total touchdowns over that span.
Oakland got 4,000-plus passing yards from Derek Carr last year but just 21 touchdowns, and a tight end led the team in receiving. No wideout hit the 1,000-yard mark, so Jeudy's ability to get down the field could change the complexion of the offense.
Los Angeles Chargers: Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
The longstanding successful marriage between the Los Angeles Chargers and Philip Rivers has come to a close.
It seemed shocking at first, but a five-win season while Rivers regressed made it plain a change could occur. Even before those results, speculation about drafting a successor wasn't uncommon.
But the future is now, and the Chargers will want the most out of a rookie passer right away. Tua Tagovailoa, provided the medicals on his injured hip check out, might be the Chargers' best chance at this.
Los Angeles holds the sixth pick, so a leap to No. 1 for Joe Burrow seems unlikely. But movement or sheer luck could result in Tagovailoa, who was once a consensus No. 1 overall pick himself. Even if the injury comeback means the Alabama product sits and learns for a year, he's still the dream outcome for a Chargers team undergoing massive change.
Los Angeles Rams: Terrell Lewis, EDGE, Alabama
"Bleak" might be one of the better ways to describe the current outlook for the Los Angeles Rams. Head coach Sean McVay's squad stuttered to a nine-win season after a regression from the offensive line, there isn't a ton of cap room, and big names like Andrew Whitworth, Dante Fowler Jr. and Cory Littleton seem set to hit free agency.
And the team doesn't pick until No. 52.
Sudden impact will be key in the draft. Presuming the team can work something out with Whitworth and massage coverage gaps at linebacker if Littleton isn't back, adding to the rotational pass rush would be a big help. Think Alabama's Terrell Lewis, a potential first-round pick with elite raw traits capable of helping right away.
Call it a nice marriage, should luck shine on the Rams. Lewis has the athleticism to get after passers right away and the moldable skill set to eventually morph into an every-down starter.
Miami Dolphins: Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
Everybody knew the Miami Dolphins were doing a tanking of sorts in 2019 based on talent relinquished in exchange for assets, yet they still won enough games to fall to No. 5 overall.
Which makes the Dolphins perhaps the most interesting team in the draft.
On paper—an important distinction—it looks like Washington, Detroit and the New York Giants won't take a quarterback. But there is risk in a needy team leapfrogging the Dolphins to get Tua Tagovailoa.
Will the Dolphins trade up? Impossible to say, but Tagovailoa is clearly the dream target for a team that took a whimper of a gamble on Josh Rosen and otherwise wants to find "the guy" while using its other assets to flesh out the roster around him.
Minnesota Vikings: C.J. Henderson, CB, Florida
Few teams are in as perilous of a situation as the Minnesota Vikings, a would-be contender that enters the offseason with negative cap space.
Which means the front office has some serious work to do on the money front and also needs to squeak out some serious value from the No. 25 pick.
The two go hand-in-hand. Cornerbacks Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander are set to become free agents, and Xavier Rhodes looks like an obvious cap cut (46.4 PFF grade in 2019) that would save a little over $8 million in 2020.
Florida's C.J. Henderson might be the best option for the Vikings, as it'd be nearly impossible to land Ohio State's Jeff Okudah or LSU's Kristian Fulton. And there's nothing wrong with grabbing a big SEC corner to combat the pass-happy ways of the NFC North.
New England Patriots: Grant Delpit, S, LSU
Are the New England Patriots headed for massive change this offseason, or is the noise merely a standoff between the team and Tom Brady?
Even assuming Brady comes back, the team has other major free agents to worry about, including Devin McCourty, Joe Thuney, Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins Sr. Plus, the team needs a weapon at wideout after the way Antonio Brown's tenure ended.
The Patriots won't be able to pay everyone, so it'd be in their best interest to add via the draft. LSU safety Grant Delpit's versatile skill set just screams "Patriots chess piece" as a boost to the secondary.
Granted, the Patriots have made a habit of grabbing lesser-known names, and Delpit is a massive one, but it makes sense as a counter to some of the passing offenses they'll see in the playoffs.
New Orleans Saints: Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU
Working under the presumption the New Orleans Saints get Drew Brees back, it's once again about going all-in on his final years.
And that probably means giving him more outlets.
Brees managed 27 touchdowns and just four picks over 11 games last year, but besides Michael Thomas' 1,700-plus yards, no wideout broke the 450-yard barrier.
Jalen Reagor, one of the better deep threats in the 2020 class, would change the dynamic of the offense and give opposing defenses some serious concerns about where to shift coverages on every play. He just has to be there at No. 24.
New York Giants: Chase Young, EDGE, Ohio State
The New York Giants might've played themselves out of the Chase Young race, which would be a shame considering the team reportedly attempted to trade back up last year for edge-rusher Josh Allen, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.
The Giants managed just 36 sacks last year, with soon-to-be free agent Markus Golden gobbling up 10 of those.
New York brass would probably love to get this year's Nick Bosa at No. 4, but it's easy to envision either Washington or Detroit making Young the pick. If the Giants somehow stumble onto him anyway, it'd earn one of the most overwhelmingly positive draft grades in years.
New York Jets: Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
Will the top wideout in the class make it to No. 11?
Rest assured it's a question that has already been asked plenty of times in New York, where the Jets would like to keep helping quarterback Sam Darnold's development.
Darnold had a rough season last year, both with regards to missed time and his performance when available (61.9 completion percentage, 19 touchdowns, 13 interceptions). But Le'Veon Bell was also a dud (3.2 yards per carry), and not a single receiver reached 1,000 yards.
But if the Jets were to land Alabama's Jerry Jeudy and perhaps pair him with a returning Robby Anderson, the conversation about the weapons flanking Darnold all changes. It's not a bad draft in which to need a wideout, at least, but Jeudy is the top dog.
Philadelphia Eagles: Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama
It's no secret the biggest weakness for the Philadelphia Eagles last year was the wideout position.
The unit completely face-planted, plus DeSean Jackson only appeared in three games. You would have to look all the way to the fourth name on the team's list of receiving leaders to find the first wideout (past two tight ends and a running back). Not a single wide receiver reached the 500-yard mark.
Speed is the name of the game for the Eagles, so it doesn't get much better than Henry Ruggs III from Alabama, a blinding flash of a player who averaged 18.7 yards per catch on 40 receptions last season.
Ruggs isn't the top wideout, but he's perhaps the best fit for the Eagles and maybe, just maybe, has a chance of making it to No. 21.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Ross Blacklock, DL, TCU
Cap space is a major problem for a Pittsburgh Steelers team that might want to re-sign breakout linebacker Bud Dupree as well as defensive lineman Javon Hargrave.
Those Steelers don't have many options, though, considering they're $2 million over the cap and without a first-round pick thanks to the Minkah Fitzpatrick trade.
So the 49th pick in the draft couldn't be more important for the Steelers. As we've seen in the past, a run on edge-rushers might take the best players off the board long before then. But maybe there's hope for a lineman like Ross Blacklock, a superb athlete who can apply pressure from multiple fronts.
Boosting the line next to Cameron Heyward is never a bad idea, especially if productive pass-rushers from elsewhere on the unit end up leaving.
San Francisco 49ers: Grant Delpit, S, LSU
As the Super Bowl runner-up, the San Francisco 49ers don't appear to have a ton of glaring needs heading into the draft.
It's more about future-proofing right now, but it sure wouldn't hurt to grab a game-changer like Grant Delpit, especially with current safety Jimmie Ward poised to hit the open market.
Delpit would be a massive boon for a 49ers team that just saw all too well what a talent like the Chiefs' Tyrann Mathieu can do. Delpit, winner of the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation's best defensive back, is a high-impact player with fluctuating stock who would indeed be a dream for an already-strong roster.
Seattle Seahawks: Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville
The same old song and dance is here again: The Seattle Seahawks need to better protect quarterback Russell Wilson.
Wilson suffered 48 sacks last year, which didn't do much to stop his MVP-esque season for an 11-win team, but that's not really the point—not in an NFL where players like Andrew Luck are hanging up the cleats early.
With the ineffective Germain Ifedi poised to become a free agent, it would be a dream come true for the Seahawks to land a right tackle like Mekhi Becton. The Louisville product's stock is all over the place right now, but there's little doubt the 6'7", 369-pounder will at least be a mauler in the ground game right away.
Seattle just has to hope the flashy skill players and passers push Becton to No. 27.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Javon Kinlaw, DL, South Carolina
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers don't figure to be in the quarterback conversation in this year's first round even if they want to move on from Jameis Winston. But the value of their first-round slot could mean the return of Winston anyway.
But the good news? The team has plenty of cap space to spend on retaining key players like linebacker Shaquil Barrett, if not pursuing big free agents.
Sitting at No. 14, now might be a good time to avoid another big expenditure (and mistake) on the inside of the defensive line like Ndamukong Suh in 2019 and instead go for a rookie such as South Carolina's Javon Kinlaw.
Kinlaw's stock is right in the mid-round range anyway after his brief, dominant showing at the Senior Bowl. He'd make a nice core building block alongside a re-signed Barrett.
Tennessee Titans: Yetur Gross-Matos, EDGE, Penn State
After an exciting run under the leadership of a rejuvenated Ryan Tannehill, the Tennessee Titans have a solid amount of cap space to take care of the quarterback position, as well as presumably attend to offensive tackle Jack Conklin, if not running back Derrick Henry.
Otherwise, the Titans feel like a team that could be in the running for a pass-rusher. If the front office doesn't want to spend big on rotational help with huge starter upside down the road, there's always the hope an edge player like Yetur Gross-Matos makes it to No. 29.
A lanky, explosive complement for nine-sack man Harold Landry III, Gross-Matos would be a rich-getting-richer scenario for an upstart Titans team building something special.
Washington Redskins: Chase Young, EDGE, Ohio State
This is a routine top-two pick for the Washington Redskins with Dwayne Haskins already entrenched as the potential franchise quarterback.
Haskins didn't show a ton last year, but he was never going to on a team that fired its head coach midseason. He's going to get his chance and, presumably, he'll do so with free agents like Brandon Scherff up front re-signed.
All this is made possible via the surefire arrival of a dream prospect like Chase Young, who will pair with Montez Sweat, a first-round pick from a year ago.
Don't forget other quality elements of a nasty front seven, including Ryan Kerrigan, Daron Payne, Jonathan Allen and Matt Ioannidis.