Oli hodgkinson Mock Draft: Burrow To The Bengals?
This week is the second to last week of the College Football regular season. We’ve seen Senior Bowl and East West Shrine game invites go out and be accepted. It may be five months until the 2020 NFL Draft, but we’re officially in mock draft season!
Below is my first mock draft here at The Touchdown.
At the time of writing there are doubts over the status of Alabama quarterback, Tua Tagovailoa. His season ending injury doesn’t seem to be career threatening, and he is expected to make a full recovery. However, it’s not clear how much it will impact his draft stock.
I’ve approached the mock draft from a point of primary need. In some instances, teams are drafting in a spot where that need just can’t be met so best player available applies.
1. Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Burrow - QB - LSU
What a season Joe Burrow has had. LSU are the favourite for the National Championship, and Burrow’s transformation has been pivotal to that success. He has 3687 passing yards, with 38 touchdowns to just 6 INTs. Aside from the production, Burrow’s toughness sets him apart from Justin Herbert. That will be crucial in a division like the AFC North.
2. Washington Redskins: Chase Young - EDGE - Ohio State
Be under no illusion, Chase Young is the best player in College Foootball. If he hadn’t been suspended for two games, he would be on track for the first defensive player to win the Heisman since Charles Woodson. Do the Redskins NEED a pass rusher? Probably not, but he’s a franchise changing piece and too good to pass up on. Prior to his suspension he already had 13.5 sacks and five forced fumbles on the year. He is a beast.
3. New York Giants: Jerry Jeudy - WR - Alabama
The New York Giants are a team that have needs all over the field. Their defense has been atrocious at times in 2019, but there simply isn’t a linebacker or corner good enough to take third overall. Jerry Jeudy is good enough. He’s probably good enough to be a number one overall pick. The Giants need to provide young quarterback Daniel Jones with a true play making receiving threat. Jeudy is just that.
4. Miami Dolphins: Justin Herbert - QB - Oregon
The #TankForTua campaign took a severe hit with the injury to Tagovailoa on Saturday. Although the team, some media, and even a few fans, are adamant that the tank isn’t real, there can be no doubt that the team had eyes on the QB prize in this draft. Herbert has been a consistent leader for Oregon and has them primed for a College Football playoff spot, should Georgia or Alabama slip. 29 TDs to 3 INTs in 2019 is the sort of efficiency that Dolphins fans can get on board with.
5. New York Jets: Andrew Thomas - OT - Georgia
From mono to seeing ghosts, 2019 hasn’t been a great year for Sam Donald. They desperately need to get better on the offensive line. Kelvin Beachum is banged up and will be 31 by the start of the 2020 season. Thomas is an instant upgrade, and would provide not only protection for Darnold but contribute in the run game for Le’von Bell.
6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jeffrey Okudah - CB - Ohio State
Has anyone’s draft stock risen faster and higher than Okudah’s through this season? Ohio State has been one of the best defensive units and Okudah has shone on that team. The Bucs have one of the worst passing defenses in the league and Okudah will be a day one starter for them.
7. Denver Broncos: Tristan Wirfs - OT - Iowa
The Broncos invested in the interior offensive line last time out with Dalton Risner. They also made the free agent acquisition of Ju’Wuan James. Neither James or Garrett Bolles have been particularly impressive and despite James’ high value contract he is oft injured. Wirfs is too good a prospect to miss out on here to improve the offensive line. He is athletic and nasty, and although he has played RT for Iowa there’s no reason to suggest he couldn’t play across the board in the NFL.
8. Atlanta Falcons: A.J. Epenesa - DE - Iowa
After a quiet start to 2019, Epenesa has started to show the talent and skills that made him a top prospect coming into the season. I even held him in as high regard as Chase Young, though Young has certainly created some separation as the year has progressed. He would provide some elite pass rush where the likes of Vic Beasley and Takk McKinley haven’t this year.
9. Arizona Cardinals: Derrick Brown - DT - Auburn
I had Brown as a back end first round pick in last year’s draft. In going back to Auburn and dominating like he has this year, he’s only increased his stock. One of the most physical freaks you will find in this class, Brown has the potential to dominate on the defensive line in the NFL.
10. Detroit Lions: Isaiah Simmons - LB - Clemson
So much chatter around Simmons is about where he will play in the NFL. I don’t understand the issue. He has been dominant for Clemson this year. Particularly impressive is his speed at getting from the linebacker position in to the opposition backfield, whether that is getting after the quarterback or stuffing the run. Pity the offensive lineman in the NFC North if the Lions land this pick.
11. Jacksonville Jaguars: CeeDee Lamb - WR - Oklahoma
Lamb is another player whose performance this season has rocketed him up big boards. His game against Texas may go down in red river rivalry folklore. He’s a truly incredible receiving target who can seemingly make every catch. Whether it’s Nick Foles or Gardner Minshew (or somebody else) slinging the ball in Jacksonville next season, Lamb will give them a reliable, game changing, threat.
12. Cleveland Browns: Grant Delpit - S - LSU
Before the season, Delpit was probably the leading name in the charge for a defensive Heisman winner. He seems to have been thrust into the shadows a little in the secondary by the play of freshman corner Derek Stingley. Delpit has had injury concerns and needs to work on some of his tackling skills. However, he would instantly upgrade the Browns secondary alongside former LSU teammate Greedy Williams.
13. LA Chargers: Kristian Fulton - CB - LSU
A back to back LSU secondary pick. Like Delpit, Fulton has had some injuries this season and he too has been somewhat overshadowed by Stingley. However, he would be an excellent addition to a Chargers secondary that has struggled at times. He’s a physical corner which is exactly when they go against the likes of Courtland Sutton twice a year in the AFC West.
14. Oakland Raiders: Javon Kinlaw - IDL - South Carolina
The Raiders upgraded their pass rush in the 2019 NFL Draft and it’s starting to pay off. In Kinlaw they get an absolute specimen on the defensive line. Javon’s draft stock has been rising quickly through the season after his performances for South Carolina. He’s an incredible athlete who can create pressure up the inside or from the edge, creating mismatches and allowing even more production from the current Raiders edge rushers.
15. Philadelphia Eagles: Trevon Diggs - CB - Alabama
The Eagles secondary has struggles with injuries and a lack of production. Diggs has all the physical tools to succeed in the league. His size and length make him an attractive prospect and his ball skills mean he would had playmaking value to the Eagles secondary.
16. Miami Dolphins: Tyler Biadasz - IOL - Wisconsin
The Dolphins will need to get much better on the offensive line if they want a rookie QB succeed (in this mock draft, Justin Herbert). With their second pick in the first round there isn’t value at the tackle position, but Biadasz is the best interior lineman available. He’s been paving the way for Jonathan Taylor this season. The Dolphins could pick up quality running back talent later in the draft too and completely reshape the offense.
17. Tennessee Titans: Tua Tagovailoa - QB - Alabama
It’s time for the Titans to give up on Marcus Mariota. Ryan Tannehill, whilst serviceable, isn’t the long-term option. Imagine a Titans offense with Tagovailoa and Derrick Henry leading the way. It would be Alabama part 2. Obviously, a lot of this is theoretical (aren’t all mock drafts?) and will depend on Tua’s recovery from injury. If there is no drop off in performance post injury, then the Titans would have the steal of the century.
18. Carolina Panthers: Creed Humphrey - IOL - Oklahoma
Christian McCaffrey is having the season of his career. Now imagine him running behind a player who has won the Joe Moore award for the Best Offensive Line in College Football. He would also help to protect whoever the future of the franchise is at the Panthers. Humphrey is an absolute mauler, a big bad dude who can get the job done.
19. Jacksonville Jaguars: Dylan Moses - LB - Alabama
19 might sound a little early for a player who has missed 2019 through injury. Much will depend on the recovery from the injury as a lot of Moses’ upside comes from his athletic ability. His speed and change of direction are elite level and allow him to track any skill player. With two first round picks, and an easy home run with the first in CeeDee Lamb, the Jaguars can afford to take a chance here.
20. Oakland Raiders: Henry Ruggs III - WR - Alabama
The Alabama wide receiver room is teeming with talent and it can be difficult to get them all the ball. For that reason Ruggs doesn’t lead the team in yards or touchdowns. However when you break it down, he leads the team in yards per reception at 19.4 yards. His blazing speed is attractive to any team and he’s shown he can be used in a number of ways. After the Antonio Brown debacle, the Raiders need a receiver and Ruggs is their man.
21. Dallas Cowboys: Paulson Adebo - CB - Stanford
Adebo was one of the top ranked cornerbacks coming into the season. However, Stanford have been poor and a team’s performance can impact a player’s draft stock. As can getting torched on plays and Adebo has been guilty of that this season. Nonetheless, he improves the Cowboys cornerback room with a mix of length and physicality.
22. Indianapolis Colts: Raekwon Davis - IDL - Alabama
Another Alabama player, another draft potential defined by injury. Davis has played all over the defensive line for Alabama. The Colts have a recent history of taking defensive talent and moulding it into quality NFL players. Davis is big, athletic, and versatile. It’s a match made in heaven.
23. Kansas City Chiefs: Kenneth Murray - LB - Oklahoma
The Oklahoma Sooner defense has been much improved this year and Kenneth Murray is the main reason. He’s a tough tackling machine, with an eye for getting to the ball and getting to the quarterback. He led Oklahoma in tackles last season and is on course to do the same this year. The Chiefs could use secondary or interior line help, but without value here, they take an impact player for the defense.
24. Minnesota Vikings: Shaun Wade - CB - Ohio State
Another Ohio State Buckeye who is seeing his stock rise with a successful season for the program. It may seem early, but the redshirt sophomore is rising fast. Where Okudah gets a lot of the credit, Wade is quietly having a great season. He leads the team in pass break ups, and has improved his game in getting to the quarterback from the secondary, with his first career sacks.
25. Miami Dolphins: D'Andre Swift - RB - Georgia
In this mock draft, the Dolphins get their franchise QB in Justin Herbert, followed by an interior lineman to help protect said QB. I had toyed with the idea of giving them an edge rusher to play alongside Christian Wilkins. However, the temptation to create an all-out offensive force is too much. Swift is the best running back in this class and would give Herbert a security blanket option as well as relieving the pressure on the QB by creating a strong ground game behind newly acquired Tyler Biadasz.
26. Buffalo Bills: Laviska Shenault - WR - Colorado
Shenault is one of the most fun players to watch in College Football. The Bills were heavily involved in the Antonio Brown market prior to the season and despite adding a number of WRs, none of them have the playmaking ability of Shenault.
27. Green Bay Packers: Jedrick Wills - OT - Alabama
With Brian Bulaga and David Bakhtiari not getting any younger, the succession plan starts now. Both Wills and Alabama teammate Alex Leatherwood are candidates here. For my money, Wills offers more in the run game as well as pass protection, although both players have seen time across the offensive line. As the Packers feature running backs Williams and Jones more prominently, run blocking will be more of a factor so I take Wills over Leatherwood.
28. Seattle Seahawks: Yatur Gross-Matos - EDGE - Penn State
With top level CB or interior defensive line talent not available here, the Seahawks take a pass rusher. Yes, they took L.J. Collier here last year, but Seattle have yet to see a return on the investment. Gross-Matos is a beast coming off the edge and Seahawks fans will fall in love with the player on the field, and the man off of it.
29. Baltimore Ravens: K'Lavon Chaisson - EDGE - LSU
It was tempting to add another rushing threat in to the already dominant Ravens backfield here, but they’re doing fine for now in that respect. Chaisson gives them an edge rusher who can line up as OLB or DE and terrorise quarterbacks in the AFC North. He has the reputation as being the most explosive pass rusher to come out of LSU, which is great praise indeed.
30. New Orleans Sainst: Tee Higgins - WR - Clemson
Lost somewhere in the “Clemson don’t deserve to be in the Top 4” conversation, is that Tee Higgins has more yards per catch than any of the fabled Alabama quintet. He’s averaging 20 yards a catch this year and has 8 touchdowns. He will give Drew Brees a true receiving threat as the QB sees out his twilight years in New Orleans.
31. New England Patriots: Hunter Bryant - TE - Washington
The Patriots have struggled to replace Rob Gronkowski at tight end this season. They’ve tried multiple players and none have come up to the mark. Hunter Bryant is the best tight end in College Football. It makes too much sense for it not to happen.
32. San Francisco 49ers: Xavier McKinney - S - Alabama
The 49ers have some playmakers at the corner position but are thin at safety. McKinney is extremely versatile, athletic, and can be used as a cover safety or attacking the line of scrimmage. He is nominated for the Jim Thorpe award for the best defensive back in the country.
Feature Image Credit: Chuck Cook – USA TODAY Sports
Oliver Hodgkinson is a College Football writer for The Touchdown. He also writes on the NFL for the Pro Football Network. You can hear his opinions on all things College Football as one third of the College Chaps Podcast.