2020 NFL Mock Draft: 1st-Round Predictions, Prospects Who Will Shape Day 1

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistMarch 29, 2020

South quarterback Justin Herbert of Oregon (10) warms up before the start of the Senior Bowl college football game Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020, in Mobile, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
Butch Dill/Associated Press

The NFL draft is one of the biggest events of the entire offseason. This is partially due to the sense of hope and renewal that the selection of prospects can bring to fanbases and partly because of the unpredictability of it all.

While this year's draft won't feature quite as much spectacle as recent events, the drama and the intrigue will remain.

Any one selection can set off a chain reaction that affects the rest of the draft. This is particularly true in the first round, during which most of the top prospects will end up being chosen. Surprise selections and trades are common as teams chase potential franchise-changing players.

Here we will examine some prospects who could shape how the rest of Round 1 unfolds. First, though, an updated mock.

                         

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): Austin Jackson, OT, USC

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

20. Jacksonville Jaguars (from Rams): Jaylon Johnson, CB, Utah

21. Philadelphia Eagles: Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU

22. Minnesota Vikings (from Buffalo): Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU

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

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

25. Minnesota Vikings: A.J. Epenesa, Edge, Iowa

26. Miami Dolphins (from Houston): Yetur Gross-Matos, Edge, Penn State

27. Seattle Seahawks: Joshua Jones, OT, Houston

28. Baltimore Ravens: Curtis Weaver, Edge, Boise State

29. Tennessee Titans: Ross Blacklock, DT, TCU

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

                   

Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama and Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon

Vasha Hunt/Associated Press

If, for some reason, the Cincinnati Bengals pass on LSU quarterback Joe Burrow with the first overall pick, his availability will have a major impact on the following several selections. Burrow is the top quarterback on most media draft boards, and several teams will likely try to move up if he falls to No. 2.

Were Burrow to go No. 1, then Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa and Oregon's Justin Herbert will become the quarterbacks teams are rushing to get—depending on who is higher on each team's board.

Tagovailoa—who has plenty of impressive game tape and a national championship on his resume—will likely be at the top for teams who believe in his ability to reach pre-injury form. The dislocated and fractured hip he suffered this past season is a concern, likely a bigger one for some teams than for others.

Herbert, loaded with physical potential but with less consistent tape, is likely higher on some boards. He isn't as polished or as proven as Tagovailoa, but he doesn't carry significant injury concerns.

Whichever quarterback is the target, the team that gets him may have to move up to do so.

"They have to; they won't get anybody at five," CBS Sports' Rick Neuheisel said on the Dan Patrick Show. "I think Herbert and Tua will go at three and four. I think you have to go there."

                   

Chase Young, Edge, Ohio State

Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

Presumably, Ohio State edge-rusher Chase Young will go to the Washington Redskins at No. 2. At least, that's been the general perception. Young is that talented of a prospect. According to ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr., Young might have forced the Bengals to consider him at No. 1 with a stronger finish to the season.

"He didn't play a dominant brand of football after the three games after the suspension," Kiper said, per Brad Crawford of 247Sports. "Was it injury? Was he protecting his draft stock? I really don't know. It would've made it more difficult to say [Joe] Burrow was a lock to Cincinnati."

If Young is almost good enough to warrant consideration over the draft's top quarterback, what happens if Washington doesn't take him at No. 2? That's right: Teams will likely be falling over themselves trying to move up to the three spot.

While it feels likely that Washington will select Young, a trade offer from a quarterback-needy team could prove too tempting to ignore. Alternatively, the Redskins could pull the trigger on a quarterback themselves if the new regime isn't sold on Dwayne Haskins.

                     

Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson

Karl B DeBlaker/Associated Press

Arguably the most intriguing defender not named Young, Clemson linebacker-safety hybrid Isaiah Simmons could rock the draft inside the top five. The Detroit Lions could take him at No. 3, and the New York Giants could—and according to Bleacher Report draft analyst Matt Miller, just might—take him at No. 4.

"Many NFL scouts believe the New York Giants will select Clemson linebacker/safety Isaiah Simmons at No. 4 overall," Miller wrote. "One scout said: 'They kept Nate Solder and added an OK right tackle in [Cameron] Fleming. I think they're set up to wait on a tackle.'"

If the Giants take Simmons and pass on an offensive tackle, it could send tackle-needy teams into a frenzy. While there doesn't seem to be a consensus on who is the best tackle prospect, every team's top lineman will likely be on the board still if Simmons goes fourth overall.

Additionally, Simmons going before the Miami Dolphins select at No. 5 would likely lead to the Dolphins grabbing a signal-caller there—if they haven't already moved up to get their guy.

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