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
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.
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:
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.
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