NFL Draft 2020: Notable Picks from Mel Kiper and Latest Expert Mocks

Jake RillSenior Analyst IIIApril 19, 2020

FILE - In this Oct. 12, 2019, file photo, Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa passes against Texas A&M during the second half of an NCAA college football game in College Station, Texas. A high-stakes tilt between LSU and Alabama could prove as pivotal in Heisman Trophy voting as it is in providing the winner an inside track to the College Football Playoff. (AP Photo/Sam Craft, File)
Sam Craft/Associated Press

Many NFL draft analysts are predicting the beginning of this year's event to go the same way: LSU quarterback Joe Burrow going to the Cincinnati Bengals at No. 1.

The projections for the next few picks are also similar among many experts. Those include Ohio State defensive end Chase Young going to the Washington Redskins at No. 2, Ohio State cornerback Jeff Okudah to the Detroit Lions at No. 3 and Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons to the New York Giants at No. 4.

But not all mock drafts are the same, even with the NFL draft quickly approaching. The three-day event begins with the first round Thursday night, and it's set to be held virtually because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Here's a look at several experts' mock drafts and some of the big storylines heading into the draft.


When will the Top Quarterbacks After Joe Burrow Get Drafted?

The Miami Dolphins will likely be looking to add a franchise quarterback with their first selection at No. 5, while the Los Angeles Chargers could follow by drafting a quarterback of their own at No. 6. One of them is likely to select Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa.

ESPN's Todd McShay and Bleacher Report's Matt Miller both have Tagovailoa going to Miami at No. 5, but ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. thinks the Dolphins could go a different direction. He has Miami selecting Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert despite Tagovailoa still being on the board.

Kiper acknowledged that he has Tagovailoa higher than Herbert in his draft rankings, but he thinks the Dolphins could go with Herbert because "there has been some buzz" around the possibility and the former Duck has fewer durability concerns than Tagovailoa, who underwent season-ending surgery to repair a dislocated hip in November.

All three of these mocks still have the Chargers taking a quarterback at No. 6, but each has Los Angeles selecting a different one. Kiper is predicting Tagovailoa, Miller is projecting Herbert and McShay thinks it will be Utah State's Jordan Love.

It seems likely that there will be four quarterbacks taken in the first round, though; Kiper thinks Love will go to the Las Vegas Raiders at No. 19, while Miller has him getting selected by the New Orleans Saints at No. 24.


Who Will Be the 1st Wide Receiver Drafted, and When?

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This year's wide receiver class is among the deepest of any position, but don't expect receivers to start flying off the board too early.

Some mocks have no receivers being taken in the top 10, although Kiper doesn't think that will be the case. He is predicting Alabama's Jerry Jeudy to go to the Jacksonville Jaguars at No. 9, noting that he could be a valuable addition to an offense likely to be led by second-year quarterback Gardner Minshew. Kiper thinks Jeudy "is a superb route-runner and smooth-hands catcher who is dynamic after the catch."

McShay is also predicting Jeudy to be the first wide receiver drafted, although he doesn't have him getting selected until the No. 11 pick by the New York Jets. That starts a run of three straight receivers getting taken in McShay's mock, as he has Oklahoma's CeeDee Lamb going to the Raiders at No. 12 and Alabama's Henry Ruggs III to the San Francisco 49ers at No. 13.

Miller's mock is slightly different, as he has Ruggs being the first receiver drafted and going to Las Vegas at No. 12. That leads to Jeudy going to San Francisco at No. 13 and Lamb to the Denver Broncos at No. 15.

All three mocks have three receivers off the board by the No. 15 pick, but Kiper has the Broncos taking LSU's Justin Jefferson at No. 15, which leaves Ruggs available until the Philadelphia Eagles' selection at No. 21.


What Will Patriots Do with Their 1st-Round Pick?

Andy Manis/Associated Press

Entering the post-Tom Brady era, the New England Patriots have some uncertainty at quarterback. It's possible they will take one in the draft, even if they plan to start Jarrett Stidham or Brian Hoyer this season. However, Kiper, McShay and Miller all think New England won't be selecting a quarterback in the first round at No. 23.

Kiper is predicting the Pats to take Wisconsin linebacker Zack Baun, which would make sense considering they lost Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins and Elandon Roberts in free agency. Kiper thinks Baun could be a fit because New England head coach Bill Belichick "likes versatile front-seven pieces."

McShay and Miller also have the Patriots adding to their defense in the first round, but they have them taking a defensive end. McShay thinks they will select Iowa's A.J. Epenesa, and Miller believes they'll pick Penn State's Yetur Gross-Matos.

It's worth noting in Miller's mock that Love is still on the board when the Patriots are on the clock. But if they feel set with Stidham or Hoyer as their starting quarterback for 2020, then it's possible they will wait until a later round to draft a quarterback or not take one at all. The latter scenario is likely if New England is confident in Stidham as its quarterback of the future.