2020 NFL Mock Draft: Predictions for Chase Young, Top Defensive Prospects

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistMarch 28, 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

The Ohio State Buckeyes are once again expected to be represented at the top of the NFL draft by defensive prospects.

Defensive end Chase Young and defensive back Jeff Okudah are expected to land in the top five of the first round April 23. If that occurs, it would mark the fourth time in five years in which an Ohio State defensive player was chosen in the top 10. 

It would also be the second time in that span that a defensive end and defensive back would land in the top 10. Joey Bosa and Eli Apple earned that honor in 2016.

After Young and Okudah go off the board, Clemson's Isaiah Simmons could be the next defensive player chosen since he carries a positional versatility that few prospects possess. 


2020 NFL 1st-Round Mock Draft

1. Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Burrow, QB, LSU 

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

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

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

5. Miami Dolphins: Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama

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

7. Carolina Panthers: Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn

8. Arizona Cardinals: Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville

9. Jacksonville Jaguars: Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa

10. Cleveland Browns: Jedrick Wills Jr., OT, Alabama

11. New York Jets: Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia

12. Las Vegas Raiders: Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama

13. San Francisco 49ers (from Indianapolis): CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma

14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: C.J. Henderson, CB, Florida

15. Denver Broncos: Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama

16. Atlanta Falcons: Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina

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

18. Miami Dolphins (from Pittsburgh): Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama

19. Las Vegas Raiders (from Chicago): Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU 

20. Jacksonville Jaguars (from Los Angeles Rams): Austin Jackson, OT, USC

21. Philadelphia Eagles: Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU 

22. Minnesota Vikings (from Buffalo): Josh Jones, OT, Houston

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

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

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

26. Miami Dolphins (from Houston): D'Andre Swift, RB, Georgia

27. Seattle Seahawks: A.J. Epenesa, DE, Iowa

28. Baltimore Ravens: Patrick Queen, LB, LSU 

29. Tennessee Titans: Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson

30. Green Bay Packers: Zack Baun, LB, Wisconsin

31. San Francisco 49ers: Jeff Gladney, CB, TCU 

32. Kansas City Chiefs: Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama


Top Defensive Prospects

Chase Young, DE, Ohio State

Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

For stretches of the 2019 college football season, Young was viewed as the most dominant player in the sport. 

Young totaled 16.5 sacks in his junior campaign, with seven coming in a two-game run against the Wisconsin Badgers and Penn State Nittany Lions.

He enters the NFL off back-to-back 10-sack seasons, and he could help the Washington Redskins improve their pass rush right away. The Redskins had four pass-rushers earn more than five sacks in 2019, with Matt Ioannidis leading the group with 8.5.

The addition of Young to a group that includes Ioannidis, Jonathan Allen and Da'Ron Payne could give the Redskins a formidable group that challenges the best quarterbacks in the NFC. ESPN.com's Mel Kiper Jr. described Young as "one of the best edge-rushing prospects of the past decade." 

Young has been a consensus No. 2 pick behind LSU's Joe Burrow in the majority of mock drafts, including Kiper's latest instalment. 

While defensive line may not be a glaring need for the Redskins, they would be wise to land the best defensive player available at No. 2 to further round out their pass rush.

Prediction: Young goes to the Redskins at No. 2.


Jeff Okudah, DB, Ohio State

Okudah could be the next piece added to the Detroit Lions' defensive overhaul. 

Matt Patricia added safety Duron Harmon in a trade with the New England Patriots, as well as defensive back Desmond Trufant and linebacker Jamie Collins among others in free agency. Okudah could fill up the void left by Darius Slay, who was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles after Trufant signed. 

During his time at Ohio State, Okudah displayed excellent coverage skills. According to Pro Football Focus, he allowed 17 receptions in 51 targets in single-man press coverage. 

PFF Draft @PFF_College

Jeff Okudah in single press-man coverage since 2018: 51 targets 17 catches allowed https://t.co/dlUyzUdOHf

A secondary headlined by Okudah, Trufant, Harmon and others could fix Detroit's defensive woes. 

In 2019, the Lions were one of two franchises to allow over 6,400 total yards, and they conceded the most passing yards in the league. 

As long as Detroit stays at No. 3, Okudah should follow Young off the draft board April 23. 

The only factor that could prevent that from happening is if a quarterback-hungry team offers the Lions an enticing trade package to secure Tua Tagovailoa or Justin Herbert. 

If that occurs, the Lions could still find a way to take Okudah further down the top 10 if the Miami Dolphins or Los Angeles Chargers are their trade partner.

Prediction: Detroit selects Okudah at No. 3. 


Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson

Simmons is possibly the most intriguing defensive player in the draft class because of his versatility. 

The Clemson product lined up as a pass-rusher, linebacker and safety during the 2019 campaign and was a force in every defensive statistical category. The State's Matt Connolly outlined Simmons' dominance on a defense that helped Clemson reach the College Football Playoff National Championship: 

Matt Connolly @MattatTheState

This isn't exactly breaking news but just going over the stats again, Isaiah Simmons production was just incredible. Led Clemson in: Tackles- 107 TFL- 16 Sacks- 8 Pass breakups (tied)- 10 QB pressures- 15 FR (tied)- 1 Second in: Ints.- 3 FF (tied)- 1

Kiper has the New York Giants taking Simmons at No. 4 in his latest mock draft, but that is not the unanimous line of thinking, as NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah has Simmons going off the board at No. 7 to the Carolina Panthers. 

The Giants could turn away from Simmons since they added James Bradberry to their secondary and linebackers Blake Martinez and Kyler Fackrell during free agency. 

Simmons could still be a valuable asset to the Giants defense because he can line up in a few different positions, but if the Giants instead go after an offensive tackle, the Carolina Panthers seem like a great fit as they try to replace the retired Luke Kuechly.

Prediction: Simmons goes to the Giants at No. 4.


Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90

Statistics obtained from ESPN.com and Pro Football Reference.


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