The scheduled start of the 2020 NFL draft is now less than a month away. While there is usually a fair amount of intrigue surrounding the top selections at this point in the predraft cycle, there didn't appear to be a lot of mystery over the top of Round 1 this year.
It seemed the only way the Cincinnati Bengals wouldn't take LSU quarterback Joe Burrow with the No. 1 overall pick was if they traded out of it. That's now a very real possibility, and we'll examine why here shortly.
At No. 2, the Washington Redskins are likely to take Ohio State edge-rusher Chase Young—unless, of course, they trade out of their spot. The latter scenario feels less likely to occur, though.
How will things shake out for the rest of the nation's top draft prospects? Let's take a look.
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: Jedrick Wills Jr., OT, Alabama
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: Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa
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): Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
15. Denver Broncos: Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama
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): CJ 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: Curtis Weaver, Edge, Boise State
29. Tennessee Titans: Patrick Queen, LB, LSU
30. Green Bay Packers: Chase Claypool, WR, Notre Dame
31. San Francisco 49ers: Jeff Gladney, CB, TCU
32. Kansas City Chiefs: Damon Arnette, CB, Ohio State
Could Cincinnati Keep Dalton, Trade Out of No. 1?
The Bengals appear poised to move on from quarterback Andy Dalton and replace him with Burrow at the top of the draft. However, they could shake things up quite dramatically by trading out of the No. 1 slot and using the return to address multiple areas of need.
Would the Bengals actually make such a move? On Tuesday, NFL Media's Lance Zierlein made a case for trading with the Miami Dolphins on The Dan Patrick Show:
"There is enough over the next two years, draft capital-wise, to make this happen. Would I do it? I can tell you this. I think Joe Burrow is a lot better than Justin Herbert. I think Joe Burrow is better than Tua Tagovailoa. Do I think Joe Burrow is a generational quarterback? I do not think he's a generational quarterback. ...You really need a quarterback, but the Bengals are not a quarterback away. So if there was a package, Dan, that was strong enough, I would absolutely listen."
What Cincinnati has to figure out is how much better Burrow can be than Herbert or Tagovailoa at the next level, and that's the great unknown.
The 23-year-old had a phenomenal season in 2019, but that's the only year in which he impressed. If the drop-off from the LSU star to another quarterback isn't significant, then acquiring a couple of additional first-round selections could be the right call.
The Bengals aren't yet in a position in which they have to rush a quarterback onto the field. As NFL Media's Ian Rapoport pointed out, Cincinnati hasn't ruled out keeping Dalton for the 2020 season.
"All options are still on the table, and that includes bringing him back potentially for 2020 and having him serve as the backup for whoever they draft," he said on Total Access.
If the Bengals are 100 percent sold on Burrow, then a trade out of the No. 1 spot is unlikely. However, the ability to keep Dalton and slowly bring along a guy like Herbert or Tagovailoa is an option for the team—one it has to consider, given the improvement a package of picks could provide.
49ers Could Consider a Tackle at No. 13
While a trade at the top of Round 1 is only a hypothetical for Cincinnati, it's already been executed by the San Francisco 49ers. They acquired the 13th overall pick in the draft from the Indianapolis Colts in exchange for defensive tackle DeForest Buckner.
The question now, of course, is what will they do with their extra pick?
Drafting a young defensive lineman to help replace Buckner is definitely one possibility. It could also be important for continuity along the defensive front. While Arik Armstead agreed to a new five-year deal, San Francisco could lose Solomon Thomas in free agency next year—if it doesn't exercise his fifth-year option.
According to The Athletic's Matt Barrows, though, the 49ers may be looking for a long-term plan on the other side of the line.
"A position that fans aren't thinking of? Maybe offensive tackle," he wrote. "The 49ers definitely are doing research on some of the top tackles in this year's draft."
Depending on how the first 12 selections unfold, the 49ers may have a crack at one of the top tackles in the draft. Adding one on the left side could set San Francisco up for the foreseeable future. Joe Staley is 35 years old and is only under contract through the 2021 season.
In fact, a desire to land a top tackle prospect might have been a driving force behind the Buckner trade. San Francisco has depth along the defensive line. It wasn't going to get one of the very best tackles with the 31st overall pick.
Wide receiver is also a need for the 49ers, and adding a guy like Jerry Jeudy or CeeDee Lamb would be a fantastic backup plan if the top tackles are off the board.