2020 NFL Mock Draft: Predictions for Mid-1st-Round Prospects

Maurice Moton@@MoeMotonFeatured ColumnistApril 11, 2020

Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Michael Conroy/Associated Press

Free-agent acquisitions have come to a trickle as NFL teams focus on the draft. General managers are going through all the possible scenarios for April 23-25.

Outsiders won't have a clue about the plans within a buttoned-up organization, but team needs are obvious when you look at the depth charts. From looking at the rosters, we can take logical guesses on first-round targets.

Yet prognosticators have to leave room for a handful of surprises. Some top prospects may fall, others will go higher than expected and teams will make trade deals to shuffle the order.

Inside of two weeks of draft day, we will go through another first-round mock, which reflects all the latest acquisitions and reports from around the league.


2020 1st-Round Mock Draft

1. Cincinnati Bengals: QB Joe Burrow, LSU

2. Washington Redskins: Edge Chase Young, Ohio State

3. Detroit Lions: CB Jeffrey Okudah, Ohio State

4. New York Giants: OT Jedrick Wills Jr., Alabama

5. Miami Dolphins: QB Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama

6. Los Angeles Chargers: QB Jordan Love, Utah State

7. Carolina Panthers: Isaiah Simmons LB/S, Clemson

8. Arizona Cardinals: OT Tristan Wirfs, Iowa

9. Jacksonville Jaguars: DT Derrick Brown, Auburn

10. Cleveland Browns: OT Mekhi Becton, Louisville

11. New York Jets: WR CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma

12. Las Vegas Raiders: WR Jerry Jeudy, Alabama

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

14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: QB Justin Herbert, Oregon

15. Denver Broncos: CB Kristian Fulton, LSU

16. Atlanta Falcons: CB C.J. Henderson, Florida

17. Dallas Cowboys: S Xavier McKinney, Alabama

18. Miami Dolphins (from Pittsburgh): OT Andrew Thomas, Georgia

19. Las Vegas Raiders (from Chicago): CB Trevon Diggs, Alabama

20. Jacksonville Jaguars (from Los Angeles Rams): Edge K'Lavon Chaisson, LSU

21. Philadelphia Eagles: LB Kenneth Murray, Oklahoma

22. Minnesota Vikings: DL Javon Kinlaw, South Carolina

23. New England Patriots: LB Patrick Queen, LSU

24. New Orleans Saints: WR Justin Jefferson, LSU

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

26. Miami Dolphins: S Grant Delpit, LSU

27. Seattle Seahawks: LB Zack Baun, Wisconsin

28. Baltimore Ravens: IOL Cesar Ruiz, Michigan

29. Tennessee Titans: RB D'Andre Swift, Georgia

30. Green Bay Packers: WR Denzel Mims, Baylor

31. San Francisco 49ers: DT Ross Blacklock, TCU

32. Kansas City Chiefs: DE Yetur Gross-Matos, Penn State


New York Jets Add WR CeeDee Lamb at 11

Ray Carlin/Associated Press

At No. 11, the New York Jets are projected to go in one of two directions: an offensive tackle or a wide receiver. 

In this projection, three tackles came off the board within the top 10, which may push the Jets toward a wide receiver. They would have their ideal pick at the position with every prospect available.

According to Bleacher Report's Matt Miller, the Jets have CeeDee Lamb listed as the top wide receiver on their draft board.

"Every source I spoke with still thinks the Jets go offensive tackle here, but I did learn throughout calls and texts this week that they are very high on Oklahoma wide receiver CeeDee Lamb," Miller wrote. "He's WR1 on the team's board and wouldn't be a surprise pick at No. 11 overall." 

Assuming there's some truth to this statement, the Oklahoma product is the easy choice in this spot.

During free agency, the Jets signed offensive tackle George Fant to a three-year, $30 million deal. On that payment plan, he's going to start. According to The Athletic's Connor Hughes, Gang Green has an optimistic outlook on right tackle Chuma Edoga.

"The Jets are legitimately high on right tackle Chuma Edoga, whom they drafted in the third round last year," Hughes wrote. "While he struggled last year, they think he has all the tools to be a long-term starter."

The Jets paid Fant and still believe in Edoga, so Lamb fills a bigger need. He would immediately become quarterback Sam Darnold's top receiving target.

Last year, Jamison Crowder led the Jets in receptions (78), yards (833) and touchdowns (six) but made most of his impact out of the slot. Lamb can line up on the outside and gain chunk yardage with the ability to extend plays after the catch and track the deep ball.


Tampa Bay Buccaneers Select QB Justin Herbert at 14

Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

Here's a somewhat shocking draft-day slide. Jordan Love goes to the Los Angeles Chargers at No. 6, which causes Justin Herbert to fall all the way to No. 14.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed quarterback Tom Brady to a two-year, $60 million deal. He'll turn 43 in August, so it's not a bad idea to try to find his potential successor. Also, the six-time Super Bowl champion is open to a mentor role while starting for his new team, per Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports:

"Brady also is eager to take on the role of mentor to a young quarterback, no matter where he plays, hoping to leave any organization in good shape when he retires. Part of his legacy, he believes, could be tied to seeing future generations embrace the TB12 training and lifestyle regimen that Brady strongly believes has helped him play so long at such a high level."

Herbert has great size (6'6", 236 lbs), can make big-time throws downfield and shows mobility in and outside the pocket. However, he does have moments of inaccuracy, especially in the middle of the field. The Oregon product needs to work on his timing and consistency.

At the end of Herbert's last collegiate campaign, he didn't finish with a bang—more like a thump. Oregon won its final three contests, but the big-armed signal-caller looked more average than top-notch, throwing for fewer than 194 yards and one or no touchdowns in each contest during that stretch.

Behind Brady, Herbert can work on his vision and ball placement inside the numbers where he will need to sync with pass-catching running backs and tight ends.

In the meantime, the Buccaneers would start Brady and know they have a potential future franchise signal-caller who just needs some refinement in a few areas.


Dallas Cowboys Take S Xavier McKinney at 17

Richard Shiro/Associated Press

Several mock drafts have come to a conclusion the Dallas Cowboys will select LSU's K'Lavon Chaisson at No. 17. That's a solid choice. Pass-rushers Randy Gregory and Aldon Smith are suspended. Both have to go through the process of reinstatement before they can see the field. So a new pass-rusher makes sense. 

Nonetheless, the Cowboys should break the ice at safety. Dallas hasn't picked a player at the position in the first round since Roy Williams in 2002. Still, projected starters Xavier Woods and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix will become free agents after the 2020 campaign. The defense needs a long-term asset in that spot.

The Cowboys can go with Xavier McKinney, who can play both safety spots and help out in the slot if needed. He has the versatility to line up deep and read the quarterback, step into the box and make a clean tackle or shadow tight ends in one-on-one situations.

Over the past two terms, McKinney recorded 169 total tackles, 11.5 for loss, six sacks, five interceptions and 15 pass breakups. After playing in various roles on the collegiate level, he should translate well to the pros.

The Cowboys have passed on first-round safeties in recent years, but McKinney's tools and production should force a change in that trend.