Mel Kiper 2020 Mock Draft 2.0: Justin Herbert Enters Top 5 in Latest Picks

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistFebruary 18, 2020

South quarterback Justin Herbert of Oregon (10) throws a pass during the first half of the Senior Bowl college football game Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020, in Mobile, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
Butch Dill/Associated Press

ESPN NFL draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. released his second mock draft Tuesday ahead of the 2020 NFL draft, and he went heavy on quarterbacks inside the top five. 

Kiper once again mocked LSU quarterback Joe Burrow to the Cincinnati Bengals at No. 1 and Ohio State defensive end Chase Young to the Washington Redskins at No. 2, but there was a big change at No. 3 with Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa going to the Detroit Lions.

The draft guru followed that up with Ohio State cornerback Jeff Okudah to the New York Giants at No. 4 and Oregon signal-caller Justin Herbert to the quarterback-needy Miami Dolphins at No. 5.

Kiper discussed the placement of the quarterbacks during an appearance on ESPN's Get Up on Tuesday:

In all, Kiper had four quarterbacks come off the board in the first round, as he projected Washington signal-caller Jacob Eason to the New England Patriots at No. 23.

Tagovailoa is the biggest domino to fall and caused multiple changes in Kiper's second mock. Kiper originally had him going fifth overall to Miami, but he shuffled the order amid speculation that Detroit could be looking to move on from veteran signal-caller Matthew Stafford.

Last week, Bernie Smilovitz of Local 4 in Detroit reported that the Lions had been engaging in trade talks involving Stafford for a "couple of weeks." Lions general manager Bob Quinn later texted Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press and told him the rumors were "100% False!!"

Despite Quinn's declaration, Kiper subscribes to the theory of, "Where there's smoke, there's fire." If the Lions commit to Tagovailoa as their quarterback of the future at No. 3 and the Dolphins fail to trade ahead of them, they could be left scrambling.

Miami performed well down the stretch last season primarily as a result of the play of veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, and 2018 first-round pick Josh Rosen is still on the roster as well in hopes that he develops into something more.

Rosen played poorly when given an opportunity last season, though, and since head coach Brian Flores preferred to hand the starting job to a journeyman like Fitzpatrick, it doesn't appear as though the Dolphins view Rosen as a franchise guy.

Assuming Burrow and Tagovailoa are gone by the time the fifth pick comes around, the Dolphins could trade down and take a quarterback later in the round, stay put and go with a different position or stay put and take the best quarterback remaining.

In Kiper's eyes, the Dolphins will choose the latter option with the idea that Herbert's skill set can translate to the next level.

Herbert is the most experienced quarterback among those in first-round consideration with 42 career collegiate starts. As a senior, Herbert set career highs with 3,471 passing yards and 32 passing touchdowns. He also threw just six interceptions and rushed for four scores.

In his final college game, Herbert led Oregon to a 28-27 win over Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl.

There isn't as much hype surrounding Herbert as Burrow and Tagovailoa since Burrow won the Heisman Trophy and national championship last season, while Tagovailoa won a national title and finished second in the Heisman voting during his career.

Herbert was agonizingly close to leading Oregon to the College Football Playoff last season, though, and he possesses some tools that suggest he has a chance to be a quality starter at the next level.


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