Alex CHINERY MOCK DRAFT 1.0
By Alex Chinery
Some people start their mock drafts back in the autumn when college football is in full swing. I prefer to start mine much later in the process, once the noise of free agency and the combine have passed and any big trades have been executed.
This draft class looks to be the most stacked class in terms of talent for some time. Every team drafting in the first round should get a meaningful contributor in year one whilst many players further down the board will become household names in the next few years.
Best way to gauge depth of any NFL draft is at what point do you start drafting projected backups rather than starters. This year, many teams believe they can get starter-level WR, LB, and CB/slots well into Round 4. Teams also think starting interior OL will slip into Day 3.— Jim Nagy (@JimNagy_SB) April 6, 2020
1. CINCINNATI BENGALS
Hold the first overall pick for the first time since 2003...
Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
The Bengals begin a new era for the franchise by selecting a local hero as their new quarterback. Hoping to generate the same positivity as LeBron James did in fellow Ohio city Cleveland; the Bengals hope this pick will have a transformative effect on both the team and the city.
2. WASHINGTON REDSKINS
Selected #2 overall in 2012: Robert Griffin III
Chase Young, EDGE, Ohio State
Perceived by many to be the best player in this draft, the Redskins pounce on a generational edge talent to complete their defensive line. Young will form a tasty pass rush pairing with Montez Sweat, last years first round pick.
3. DETROIT LIONS
Drafted Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders #3 in 1989
Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State
This is a key season for the Lions management team. Coach Matt Patricia must show some improvement in the team in what is his third season and GM Bob Quinn is on very thin ice. Okudah is a scheme agnostic talent who is developed in all areas of cornerback play and possesses every piece of skill needed to succeed in the NFL.
4. NEW YORK GIANTS
Drafted #4 in 2004 taking Phillip Rivers (traded to the Chargers for Eli Manning)
Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville
We know two things about Giants GM Dave Gettlemen. He doesn’t trade back and he loves to draft big bodies that play either side of the line of scrimmage in the early rounds. Becton is a huge offensive tackle who moves incredibly well for his size. Becton has his downsides, the technical aspects of his game need a fair bit of work, but his size and athletic profile prime him to be the first tackle off the board.
5. MIAMI DOLPHINS
Have never picked at #5 overall...
Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
The Dolphins have been searching for their franchise quarterback for some time and have been connected to Tua for nearly three years. Some will hold Tua as the as the most talented prospect in this class, his accuracy and poise in the pocket reminds the viewer of some of the great quarterbacks to grace the game. However there are huge red flags for injury and the current situation will do nothing to allay team’s fears over his health. The talent will shine through and be enough for some teams to be comfortable to make the pick.
6. LOS ANGELES CHARGERS
Last picked at #6 in 1984
Jedrick Wills, OT, Alabama
“We’re looking at everybody.” That was what Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn said about his teams quarterback situation and more specifically the chances his team chases free agent Cam Newton. This is a team not far from a Super Bowl window, seemingly making them more likely to go with a veteran quarterback than a rookie one. As such the Chargers go with Wills to complete their offensive line. Wills and Brian Bulaga would immediately be a top ten tackle pairing in the league.
7. CAROLINA PANTHERS
Have never selected at #7 overall
Isaiah Simmons, LB/S, Clemson
I looked at trade back options for the Panthers here, but the additions of both Teddy Bridgewater and Joe Brady as quarterback and offensive co-ordinator suggest an operation that will try to surprise the league in year one. To help them in what is a dynamite division they select one of the most spectacular prospects I have ever seen. Simmons can play almost anywhere on defense and if used correctly can effect the game on every snap. He was the standout player in Clemson’s season and was the only player who looked capable of matching the LSU offense in the national championship game. Get him on the field and let him fly.
8. TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
Trade 14 and 45 to Arizona for 8.
Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa
After adding Tom Brady in free agency the Buccaneers go all in to protect their franchise guy. With both the Jets and the Browns ahead of them, Tampa jumps up and selects a rock solid tackle prospect who is ready to play right away. If the Bucs are going all in to chase a Super Bowl with Brady under center they need to protect him in the best way possible. Whilst the short term sacrifice of a second round pick is a high price to pay. This is the kind of move that could put them right into contention in a very tough division.
9. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS
Drafted DT John Henderson #9 overall in 2002
Javon Kinlaw, IDL, South Carolina
A certified beast on the defensive line, Kinlaw comes into a defense needing leadership and attitude. Kinlaw brings buckets full of energy on the line living in the opposition back field and able to bring pressure on key downs. Replacing a well respected and incredibly talented veteran player like Calais Campbell will be nigh on impossible for a rookie straight away, but by the middle of the season I’d expect this defense to be run by Kinlaw.
10. CLEVELAND BROWNS
Picked in the top 10 in every year of the last decade except 2011 & 2015.
Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
This is a pairing I would love to see because the fit makes so much sense. Thomas is a badass run blocker who is ready to play day one in the NFL. After securing the signature of Jack Conklin in free agency, the Browns complete their offensive line and become one of the best rushing offenses in the NFL overnight. Running back Nick Chubb has the potential to be very special in this offense with this personnel which would take the pressure off quarterback Baker Mayfield and allow the third year signal caller to recapture his rookie year best.
11. NEW YORK JETS
Have never picked #11 overall...
K'lavon Chaisson, EDGE, LSU
If the Jets miss out on a top tier offensive tackle then GM Joe Douglas will probably look to the other side of the line of scrimmage. A disciple of Eagles GM Howie Roseman, Douglas knows how important line play is to the success of a team. In Chaisson the Jets get the second best edge rusher in the draft and someone who can play a versitile role as a linebacker. Excellent at bending off the edge whilst also being adept in coverage, Chaisson is a fantastic addition to the Jets defense.
12. LAS VEGAS RAIDERS
First draft pick as the Las Vegas Raiders
Ceedee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
An excellent route runner who makes highlight catches seem natural is perfect for a team opening up a new stadium in a new city. Derrick Carr is into a crucial year under Jon Gruden and the addition of Lamb is sure to make this offense much more explosive in 2020. There are some speed concerns with Lamb, but he does everything else so well that the speed factor shouldnt be a problem.
13. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
Trade 23, 87 & 100 to San Francisco for 13
Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
Are the Patriots going to mortgage the 2020 draft to go after a quarterback? That is the biggest question of the first round. With so many veteran guys moving in free agency quarterback landing spots are more limited than in previous seasons and with Herbert falling, the Patriots take their guy. Herbert has a big arm and moves well but it is his brain that will attract Bill Belichick. Herbert should be able to pick up the Patriots offense quickly and offers the most intruiging option in 2020.
14. ARIZONA CARDINALS
Traded 8 to Tampa Bay for 14 and 45
Derrick Brown, IDL, Auburn
After picking up a second round pick to move back the Cardinals pick the guy who would’ve been under consideration at 8. After an offseason of investing in the offense the Cardinals brass balance things out a little by grabbing a high character, high motor menace in Derrick Brown. A day one starter and leader in the defensive room, Brown has the opportunity to turn this Cardinals team into one of the stingiest run defenses in the league. His ability to rush the passer from the defensive tackle position would be frightening next to Chandler Jones.
15. DENVER BRONCOS
3rd time picking at 15 overall.
Henry Ruggs, WR, Alabama
One of the winners of the NFL offseason so far get to add another key piece to their offensive in the second season of Drew Lock’s leadership. Ruggs would be the perfect compliment to Courtland Sutton in the passing game, his speed and sure hands combine with a wicked ability to win at the top of the route making Ruggs almost impossible to cover for more than a second. Its rare that an athlete of Ruggs’ quality has hands like he does. A home run pick for Denver.
16. ATLANTA FALCONS
Last pick at #16 was in 1983
CJ Henderson, CB, Florida
The clear second best corner in this class, Henderson replaces Desmond Trufant in Atlanta. The Falcons desperately need someone who can lock down some of the talented recievers in their division and Henderson can be that guy. Watching Henderson go toe to toe with Michael Thomas, Mike Evans and Chris Godwin will be fun for anyone watching the NFC South for years to come.
17. DALLAS COWBOYS
Selected Hall of Fame RB Emmitt Smith at #17 overall in 1990...
Cesar Ruiz, IOL, Michigan
The retirement of Travis Fredrick was a hammer blow to the Dallas Cowboys. Fredrick was the glue to one of the best offensive lines of the era and without him the Cowboys are going to be worse on offense in 2020. With big extensions handed out to Amari Cooper and Ezekiel Elliott in the past couple of seasons and a mega extensuon coming for quarterback Dak Prescott cap space to replace Fredrick will be non-existent. Ruiz is a player who has been climbing for many throughout the process but the way he spearheaded the late season renaissance for Michigan’s rushing game whilst their passing game was non existent should have teams excitied over his ability.
18. MIAMI DOLPHINS
Last made multiple first round picks in 1989
Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
Tua and Jeudy, Dolphis fans would be estatic if this fantastic college combination could be translated to the NFL. Jeudy is one of the cleanest route runners to come out of the college game in recent seasons and will be a day one difference maker in the NFL. His tape last season suffered a little from extra attention being paid to him by defensive co-ordinators in the SEC but Jeudy has all the traits to be an elite number one at the NFL level.
19. LAS VEGAS RAIDERS
Second straight season with multiple first round picks
Jeff Gladney, CB, TCU
A premier athlete who excels in man coverage Gladney projects as a standout outside corner in years to come. His comfort in man coverage and using press techniques at the line of scrimmage should make teams excited. The Raiders are sorely in need of better coverage on the back end to allow their pass rush more time to get home, gladney should be able to lock up a opposing pass catcher long enough for that to happen.
20. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS
9th pick all time in the 20's (15 all time in the top 10)
Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama
A swiss army knife of a safety to patrol the middle of the field for the Jaguars. Not elite in single high coverage but that isn’t where teams should use him, McKinney can help the Jags mitigate the loss of Telvin Smith on passing downs whilst also taking care of tight ends and big slot recievers on early downs. McKinney is the type of player that any creative defensive co-ordinator would love to have on his defense.
21. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES
Picked at #22 last year...
Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU
A smooth operator in the passing game, Jefferson projects well at the next level because of his route running and solid hands. He’s unlikely to make waves after the catch but would give the receiving corps in Philly a huge boost. Adept at lining up in the slot or out wide Jefferson is at his best on the RPO plays that the Eagles love to run. Jefferson could quickly become Wentz’s new best friend in this offense.
22. MINNESOTA VIKINGS
Last time they picked at #22 was in 2009 (Percy Harvin, WR, Florida)
Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU
Fulton has a tonne of ability as an athlete, ranking as the top recruit in Louisiana coming out of high school. However injuries and an infraction related to a drugs test in his freshman year hung over a college career that failed to meet the unrealistic expectations assigned to it. Comfortable in man coverage with good playmaking ability, Fulton projects as an outside guy who may have some struggles in year one but could easily develop into a premier lockdown guy on the edge.
23. SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
Traded 13 to New England for 23, 87 and 100.
Grant Delpit, S, LSU
A high football IQ and top playmaking ability, Delpit was considered to be the next top ten pick at safety to come out of LSU by many at the beginning of the season. A year of playing through injuries and missing tackles hurt his stock a huge amount, but the talent is still there. Has solid man coverage ability in the red zone and a solid blitzing ability off the edge. Going into a defense co-ordinated by a creative guy like Robert Saleh will do Delpit good.
24. NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
Drafted Cam Jordan 24th overall in 2011
Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma
A true do it all defender at the linebacker position. Murray has excellent sideline to sideline speed and is always popping up on film. He is a rare mix of solid in the run game and enough ability in coverage to hold up over the middle of the field. He has the football IQ to become a day one leader on defense that is crucial for a linebacker at the next level. This would be a huge boost to a Saints defense that doesnt want to let down a team giving it one final shot at the Super Bowl with Drew Brees at quarterback.
25. MINNESOTA VIKINGS
Had multiple first round picks in three straight seasons 2012-14
Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor
A contested catch monster, Mims has a unique ability to create seperation from defenders at the last second. His safe hands were important for Baylor throughout the season as he broke out to be the number one guy. Explosive after the catch and ready to take on NFL DB’s in this area of the game. His limited route tree project him as a number two in the NFL which makes this fit on the Vikings perfect.
26. MIAMI DOLPHINS
Have never made three first round picks in the same draft
Josh Jones, OT, Houston
A unique athlete in the open field at the position, moves really well to block in space and opens up some high level concepts in the run game with his athleticism. The Dolphins have their franchise quarterback and need to protect him given the injury history. Jones is preferred to Jackson in this spot due to his technical ability with his hands. Will need to work a little on his footwork but should provide the Dolphins with a solid blindside protector with incredible potential.
27. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS
Third straight season picking in the 20's
AJ Epenesa, EDGE, Iowa
The longer that Jadevon Clowney goes before signing the less chance he goes back to the Seahawks. They pull the trigger on his replacement with a player that is more of a traditional fit to their defense in AJ Epenesa. Epenesa can straight up bully offensive linemen and power his way to the quarterback; he needs to develop a slightly more refined array of pass rush moves, but the way he dominated USC tackle Austin Jackson this past season should have teams drooling at the prospect of him rushing in the NFL.
28. BALTIMORE RAVENS
Have never selected #28 overall
Lloyd Cushenberry III, IOL, LSU
Following the retirement of Marshall Yanda the Ravens have a huge hole on the interior of their offensive line. Cushenberry moves really well and is a force in the run game. His footwork is really nice for an interior player. This combines with a stand out character to make a prospect who is one of the safest in this draft class. Top quality functional athleticism means that Cushenberry sits in his frame really well and should be capable of running some of the more crazy run game concepts that are the base of this Ravens offense.
29. TENNESSEE TITANS
Latest pick in the first round since 2009 (30th)
Yetur Gross-Matos, EDGE, Penn State
A bendy edge rusher who plays with the fire that fits well in a Mike Vrabel defense. Gross-Matos has long levers and a bevy of pass rush moves in his arsenal. His athleticism allowed him to win over and over again during his college career, despite extra attention from double teams. YGM’s mental processing of the play type must get better at the next level or he will be shredded by RPO’s.
30. GREEN BAY PACKERS
3rd time picking #30 since 1967
Ezra Cleveland, OT, Boise State
A raw tackle prospect who needs to improve his strength in 2020 before taking on a starting role. The Packers lost Brian Bulaga in free agency and replacement Rick Wagner isnt more than a stop gap at the position. Cleveland brings with him huge upside especially if he can learn behind solid verteran play in 2020. Given the past issues the Packers have had with availability at tackle investing in the position early is a home run move for Brian Gutekunst.
31. SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
3rd time having multiple first round picks in the last five years - 2016 & 2017...
Laviska Shenault, WR, Colorado
After losing Emmanuel Sanders in free agency the Niners select a YAC monster with Laviska Shenault. Shenault is a gadget type reciever who can play and get touches all over the field. He is the type of player that is a perfect fit in Kyle Shanahan’s offense and the different looks that Shanahan could create with Shenault and George Kittle will scare defensive co-ordinators all over the league.
32. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
Have never picked #32 overall...
Noah Igbinoghene, CB, Auburn
A capable day one starter at corner in the NFL. Has really solid man coverage ability where he shadows his man well. His transition from highly touted receiver to corner was one that filled the viewer with intrigue and he plays like a player who has only played two years at corner. Needs to work on his mental processing of the game but has that something special. Receiver background shines through in his ability to change direction quickly. A much needed reenforcement to the Chiefs secondary.
A PROFESSIONAL DATA ANALYST, ALEX HAS DECIDED TO TURN HIS ANALYTICAL EYE TO FOOTBALL FOR THE TOUCHDOWN IN A UK FIRST. BE INTRODUCED TO THE ANALYTICAL SIDE OF THE GAME AS ALEX BLURRS THE LINES BETWEEN THE OLD SCHOOL AND THE NEW.