2020 NFL Mock Draft: Projections for 1st-Round Prospects Amid Free Agency

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistMarch 23, 2020

Ohio State cornerback Jeff Okudah plays against Michigan in the first half of an NCAA college football game in Ann Arbor, Mich., Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Paul Sancya/Associated Press

Though the NFL offseason is just a week old, most of the notable players available in free agency or via trade have already moved on to new homes or signed new deals.

Big-name players like Tom Brady, Amari Cooper, Melvin Gordon III and Byron Jones are off the market. Their new agreements—and the deals of others on the move this offseason—will likely influence the way some teams approach April's draft.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers probably aren't drafting a quarterback at No. 14 after signing Brady in free agency. Are the Carolina Panthers going to target a signal-caller after acquiring Teddy Bridgewater? Probably not.

It's still too early to tell exactly which players will be targeted by which teams. However, we do have enough information in some cases to determine where players are likely to be targeted.


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: Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa

5. Miami Dolphins: Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama

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

7. Carolina Panthers: Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson

8. Arizona Cardinals: Jedrick Wills Jr., OT, Alabama

9. Jacksonville Jaguars: Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn

10. Cleveland Browns: Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville

11. New York Jets: Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama

12. Las Vegas Raiders: CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma

13. San Francisco 49ers (from Indianapolis): Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama

14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina

15. Denver Broncos: Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia

16. Atlanta Falcons: Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama

17. Dallas Cowboys: K'Lavon Chaisson, Edge, LSU

18. Miami Dolphins (from Pittsburgh): Josh Jones, OT, Houston

19. Las Vegas Raiders (from Chicago): C.J. Henderson, CB, Florida

20. Jacksonville Jaguars (from Rams): Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU

21. Philadelphia Eagles: Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU

22. Minnesota Vikings (from Buffalo): Jaylon Johnson, CB, Utah

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

24. New Orleans Saints: Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor

25. Minnesota Vikings: Yetur Gross-Matos, Edge, Penn State

26. Miami Dolphins (from Houston): A.J. Epenesa, Edge, Iowa

27. Seattle Seahawks: Ezra Cleveland, OT, Boise State

28. Baltimore Ravens: Patrick Queen, LB, LSU

29. Tennessee Titans: Kenneth Murray, LB, Alabama

30. Green Bay Packers: Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU

31. San Francisco 49ers: A.J. Terrell, CB, Clemson

32. Kansas City Chiefs: Jeff Gladney, CB, TCU


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

While some teams gave themselves more draft options with their offseason moves—specifically by filling multiple holes—the Detroit Lions may have actually zeroed in on a specific need.

Detroit came into the new league year searching for help in the back seven. They had the league's worst pass defense in 2019 and filled needs at linebacker and safety in free agency. The signings of Jamie Collins, Duron Harmon and Jayron Kearse should help bolster its pass defense.

However, the Lions then traded Pro Bowl cornerback Darius Slay to the Philadelphia Eagles. This leaves the Lions without one of the league's top cornerbacks—one who had 30 passes defended over the past two seasons. The signing of Desmond Trufant does not make up for the loss of Slay.

This means that if the Lions are picking between Clemson linebacker-safety hybrid Isaiah Simmons and Ohio State cornerback Jeff Okudah at No. 3, the latter may have to be the pick.


10. Cleveland Browns: Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville

Michael Conroy/Associated Press

The Cleveland Browns need to upgrade their offensive line. That became obvious when Baker Mayfield was sacked 40 times in 2019 and was frequently flushed out of the pocket—though to be fair, he did have a tendency to scramble prematurely. 

Cleveland upgraded the right side of its line in free agency, adding former Tennessee Titans tackle Jeff Conklin. This likely leaves the Browns targeting a left tackle only early in the draft. A right tackle such as Iowa's Tristan Wirfs may be out, even if he's available 10th overall.

A tackle with left-side potential is now a much more realistic target. Louisville's Mekhi Becton could be that target. 

"Enormous frame complemented by surprisingly nimble feet and functional athleticism to handle either tackle spot," NFL Media's Lance Zierlein wrote. "Becton's combination of movement and force should allow him to fit easily into all running schemes."

While having the option to address either tackle spot might be nice, having one of them locked down is even better.


13. San Francisco 49ers (from Indianapolis): Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama

Early last week, the Indianapolis Colts traded their first-round pick to the San Francisco 49ers. That pick, at 13 overall, could be extremely useful if the 49ers want one of the top receivers in the draft.

This year's receiver class is believed to be a deep and talented one. San Francisco could still snag a rookie starter with its own selection at 31, but grabbing one of the top two or three receivers there isn't likely to happen.

With the 13th pick, though, the 49ers should have options. That's good because they failed to re-sign Emmanuel Sanders, who was acquired before the 2019 trade deadline and was lost to the New Orleans Saints on Friday.

Ed Werder @WerderEdESPN

Source: WR Emmanuel Sanders is signing a free-agent contract with the New Orleans #Saints, pending a physical. Another receiver for Drew Brees. Saints won’t be as reliant on Michael Thomas.

With a limited amount of cap space—just under $14 million, according to Spotrac—the 49ers haven't been very active in free agency, and they haven't added a new starter at receiver. They can do so at 13, though, potentially landing a prospect such as Henry Ruggs III or Jerry Jeudy out of Alabama.


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