It’s here, something to get excited about, something in the sporting calendar still operating, something to follow closely, something to celebrate. It’s draft day everyone! It’s finally here! The world may be shattering around us, but we do have a handy distraction to help soften the wound.
It’s that time of the year again, the NFL Draft, which is going ahead virtually for the world to watch. I will be watching every single second of draft coverage from my home in Somerset, England to gain so much needed entertainment.
Over the past few months, I’ve been grinding away watching all the film in the world, which lead me to produce my first mock draft, then my second version which came out two weeks ago. Now it’s my third and final mock, released to you guys on draft day.
1. Cincinnati Bengals – Joe Burrow – QB – LSU
Cincinnati on the clock and they make the obvious pick here it’s Joe Burrow out of LSU. He’s the current Heisman Trophy winner and makes it three on the bounce to be selected first overall, following Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray the past two years.
He came out of nowhere this college season, winning a National Championship with his LSU Tigers, something we never would have predicted last September. Zac Taylor gets a smart quarterback, leader and an Ohio kid to pick up the city of Cincinnati and transform the Bengals.
NFL Comparison – Russell Wilson
Burrow’s a unique prospect, there’s no one really like him in the NFL, especially with his leadership qualities. Let’s start with measurements, size-wise he’s not too dissimilar from Andy Dalton, the longtime starting QB of you guessed it, the Bengals.
He has an arm the same sort of strength as Ryan Tannehill and the mobility and pocket presence of Russell Wilson. They’re both incredibly hard workers and are students of the game, good qualities to have in your franchise quarterback. That’s not all, Burrow’s main strength is his leadership, his teammates love him, just like Russell and his Hawks offense.
2. Washington Redskins – Chase Young – EDGE – Ohio State
Four possible options here, quarterback, offensive tackle, trade down or draft a generational talent. There’s no need to select Young, with the likes of Ryan Kerrigan and Montez Sweat already in that defense, but Washington may view him as too good to pass on.
Rumour has it Dan Snyder loves Young and doesn’t want to trade out of the Number 2 pick. He’s a generational talent that’s too good to pass on in this new Redskins regime. He will join a now stacked front seven, which features Matt Ioannidis and Da’Ron Payne as well as Kerrigan and Sweat.
NFL Comparison – Julius Peppers, Bosa Brothers
Young and Peppers have similar skill sets, and with JP being a scheme fit in the Ron Rivera style defense, Chase Young seems too good to pass on. What Young lacks in length on Peppers, he makes up in speed, he’s faster and just as powerful than Peppers ever was and will be double teamed in the NFL for a long, long time.
The Ohio State Buckeye will follow in the footsteps of the Bosa brothers by being another edge rusher to come out of the program and be selected in the top 10 of the draft. Like Joey and Nick, Chase is exceptional with his hands and is used to shedding off blocks and double teams to reach the end goal, the pocket, and he does that really quickly with unreal speed.
He has by far the best motor of any prospect in the class and has the explosiveness out the blocks to get past a good O-line in seconds, watch the Clemson tape, then you’ll understand. Best player in the draft, generational talent.
3. Detroit Lions – Jeff Okudah – CB – Ohio State
Simply the best fit here for the Lions, a plug and play starter to replace Darius Slay. My number 2 overall player in this entire draft, and by far the best corner in the class. Detroit plays the Patriot way, not worrying about having an elite pass rush and playing with a tonne of man to man coverage, Okudah allows just that for Matt Patricia and co.
They may well be looking at Isaiah Simmons, he’s a scheme fit, but that leaves a massive hole at corner. Desmond Trufant surely can’t be the replacement for Darius Slay, especially in a defense that prioritises the cornerback position.
NFL Comparison – Marshon Lattimore and Byron Jones
My number 2 overall player in this entire draft, and by far the best corner in the class. I see similarities to Byron Jones as his feet are incredibly light, whilst also having the freakish athletic ability, elite-level tackling, and great vision.
Lattimore is the most similar player and it’s not just because they come from the same school. The two of them have almost identical measurables and intangibles and track the ball well downfield, with great recoverability and height. They run the route with the receiver and are excellent against the speed guys that some corners struggle against.
4. New York Giants – Isaiah Simmons – LB – Clemson
Both the Lions and the Giants are desperately looking to trade out of these spots to get extra picks and take the best player available around picks 5-10. It’s not going to happen for either of them as both the Chargers and the Dolphins, their potential suitors look set to let the draft come to them.
So with the fourth pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, I have the New York Giants drafting Isaiah Simmons. They could look offensive tackle, but that Giants defense needs a spark, it needs a quick, versatile player. They’ve gone down the New England disciple route and get a perfect fit for coordinator Patrick Graham to move around.
NFL Comparison – Lavonte David
Simmons is hands down the best pass coverage linebacker in the draft and there’s a huge drop off after him, but that’s not just it, he’s also an elite run stopper and has the size to get physical.
He and David are very similar players, Simmons is just taller. Teams won’t see that as a bad thing either, it’s always good to have length in your defense. Not only is Simmons tremendous in the run game being a sideline to sideline backer, but he’s also the best pass cover linebacker in the class.
There’s no either-or with him, such as the likes of Raekwon McMillan, who’s an amazing run stopper but isn’t so great in the passing game. He possesses the rare speed and athleticism to be an elite 3 down linebacker, meaning he’s a value pick for all teams, much like Lavonte for the Bucs.
5. Miami Dolphins – Jedrick Wills Jr. – OT – Alabama
The first real shocker of the draft, the Dolphins pass on a quarterback, for now. We’re hearing that they could go offensive tackle with pick 5 this week, and I believe that. Either way the Dolphins first two draft picks will be a QB and OT.
They still have the flexibility to move up to take a quarterback, with Tua, Love, and Herbert still on the board. Chris Grier and co. are letting the draft come to them as they seem to be genuinely split at quarterback. Wills is the pick, he’s an instant starter, their o-line is instantly improved.
NFL Comparison – Brian Bulaga
Bulaga is more of a right tackle, but their athleticism and size is very similar, as well as their blocking technique. Wills will be able to play either side in the NFL, with him playing over on the right at Bama, protecting Tua’s blindside. He’s another great lineman to come out of Nick Saban’s coaching set-up and is terrific in the run game.
He’s going to need to work on picking up blitzes as he can be late to see them off the edge, but that could be down to his poor hand placement when pressured. Overall a very good run blocker, working with nastiness and power. O-Lineman come at a premium, the Dolphins draft one of the best in the class.
6. Los Angeles Chargers – Justin Herbert – QB – Oregon
The Dolphins seem to genuinely be split on Herbert and Tua Tagovailoa, and let the Chargers draft a quarterback first. In the first two mocks, I had the Bolts trading up for Justin Herbert, but not this time. The Oregon Duck is their draft pick but at six rather than three, smart play by both teams.
Tom Telesco is being quiet as usual, we don’t know who they like, this could even be Jordan Love. Tua is an uncertainty, and the uncertain times in the world don’t help that. Herbert is the safest QB left on the board so he’s their selection.
NFL Comparison – Carson Wentz
I really like Herbert he’s my 3rd QB in my Top 50 players, but it’s a very good class, something we couldn’t say in the lead up to last year where he would have certainly been a top 5 pick. The real question is, was it the right decision to stay in college?
Well yes, 2019 was his best college season by far and he looks like a better prospect one-year later. Herbert completed 67% of his passes in 2019, for 3471 yards, 32 TD’s and 6 INT’s. He also lead Oregon to victory in the Rose Bowl. An important win, as he was lacking that big game victory before. He’ll go slightly later in the draft, but is a much better prospect.
The Wentz comparison may surprise you, but if you go back and watch the film they move incredibly similarly both in and out of the pocket and have the intelligence required to work through progressions and not panic when the first read is covered.
He has great awareness and knows exactly when to scramble for a few extra yards. He also has height on the Eagles signal-caller, at 6 feet and 6 inches, he has the size that many evaluators like in their quarterback. The only criticism with Herbert is off the field, many believe he lacks the killer instinct that the likes of Tom Brady, Russell Wilson and indeed Carson Wentz have.
7. Carolina Panthers – Derrick Brown – DT – Auburn
The exact same pick as my first and second mock and for the exact same reasons, all rebuilds start by building the trenches. Take the Christian Wilkins pick for Miami last year, and Quenton Nelson to Indianapolis the year before. Isaiah Simmons would have been the other option here to fit in Phil Snow’s new defense, but he’s off the board. Brown is a quality consolation.
Carolina is in the process of tearing it up and starting afresh under Matt Rhule. They could be in the QB market here but there’s a bit of a drop off to next couple guys as it’s too early to take Jordan Love, Jacob Eason or Jalen Hurts.
They’re incredibly thin on the defensive line with Efe Obada and Kawann Short being the only players of note, having Brown in there makes it an instantly deep group. The Panthers could double up later in the draft as it’s a deep defensive tackle class.
NFL Comparison – Marcell Dareus
From watching his tape I like the way Derrick controls the one-on-one blocks he’s presented with, and how often he dominates when double-teamed. But it’s his explosiveness that’s the best part of his game, just like Dareus when coming out of Alabama.
He can get to the backfield within seconds stopping the rushing attack in the process, there’s no doubt he’s the best run-stopping defensive tackle in this draft. If Brown had come out last year in an even stronger DT class, I’d have him third.
It may have been a smart decision to stay at Auburn an extra year and be the top player at the position, but there was actually a different reason for returning for his senior year. Brown wanted to finish his Business degree after his Dad always told him to finish whatever he started and that education was happening, and not an option.
8. Arizona Cardinals trade pick to Atlanta Falcons
ARI gets picks 16, 78 in 2020 Draft and 2021 2nd rounder
ATL gets pick 8.
Atlanta Falcons – CJ Henderson – CB – Florida
Thomas Dimitroff is always looking to trade up and in this draft looks almost certain to move up and grab a top defensive player. The two players worth the trade-up would be Derrick Brown, who was taken in front of them, and CJ Henderson from Florida.
The same pick as the first and second mock just this time a trade up, he won’t be on the board at 16. One of my favourite players in this draft, Henderson is the second-best corner in this class without a doubt. He has the size and speed to match up with Michael Thomas and Mike Evans, and then also Chris Godwin in their division.
NFL Comparison – Marcus Peters
Watch Henderson’s film, he’s very good in man coverage. The only knock on Henderson is his tackling, it’s not the best. If he can sort that out, he can be a Marcus Peters level Pro-Bowl corner. His draft stock rose after an impressive combine performance, the best of all cornerbacks.
If he were to improve his tackling, there would be a strong debate here between him and Okudah for the best corner in the draft. Henderson’s that good in man coverage. If Atlanta feels that they can improve that, then he’s 100% worth the trade up.
He has the size and speed needed to be a premier outside corner and the premier ball skills, just like Peters. The two of them have great big play ability and are productive with their hands.
9. Jacksonville Jaguars trade pick to Miami Dolphins
JAX gets picks 18, 56 and 2021 Second Rounder (HOU)
MIA gets pick 9
Miami Dolphins – Tua Tagovailoa – QB – Alabama
Miami got his tackle at pick five, and then come away with Tua himself at pick nine. A great first round so far for the Fins. There’s uncertainty around Tua, which is no surprise when he’s coming off a major hip injury. We could see him fall even more and see the Dolphins wait another year, it’s a huge possibility.
He’s the second best QB in the class when healthy. Letting him sit behind Ryan Fitzpatrick, the perfect mentor for Mr. Tagovailoa is a good idea in Year one. There’s been the buzz around the NFL circles of the Fins interest in Tua for two years now, and the Dolphins get the QB they’ve been rumoured to have coveted since his walk-on National Championship win back in early 2018. Brian Flores is a hard-working guy, and I like the GM Chris Grier.
NFL Comparison – Drew Brees
When Drew Brees’s surgically repaired shoulder was too much of a risk to put a deal on the dotted line, the Dolphins passed on a future Hall of Famer. Surely they don’t do it again.
With the two of them being considered undersized, they have to bank on their ball placement and zip to play at the highest level. Luckily for Tua, he’s one of the most accurate passers college football has ever seen and thrives in the pocket.
Speaking of the pocket, Tagovailoa has the best pocket presence in the class and doesn’t hesitate at all when the first read is covered, much like Brees. Some teams may not like the fact he’s left-handed as it will take time for their receivers to adjust, so maybe Miami is a perfect landing spot.
Ryan Fitzpatrick is coming off a decent year and will be the 2020 starter for the Fins, giving Tua a whole year to recover from his injury and get the likes of DeVante Parker acclimatised.
10. Cleveland Browns – Andrew Thomas – OT – Georgia
Thomas is a favourite of NFL executives apparently and could even be the first tackle taken in this draft. It’s not a stretch whatsoever as the top 4 tackles are all really close in ability. He’s the best true left tackle in the class, so Cleveland could be a perfect fit.
Jack Conklin was signed to play on the right side, start Thomas on the left and that’s an elite tackle pairing to join Joel Bitonio in protecting Baker Mayfield. Tristan Wirfs could be the other fit here, he does compare to Lane Johnson, a player Andrew Berry knows very well. He’s more likely to play right tackle, or guard however so I reckon Thomas is the right guy.
NFL Comparison – Ja’Wuan James
Thomas and Mekhi Becton have the biggest upside of all tackles in the class, in fact the Georgia Bulldog would go a few picks higher if he didn’t bend at his waist sometimes. He’s good with his hands and can mirror speed rushers, which is required with Bud Dupree in the division.
NFL Comparison is easy here, he’s a better Ja’Waun James, the starting right tackle for the Broncos. They have almost identical measurables, with Thomas having slightly longer arms and bigger hands. They both play with a fiery driven mentality and are excellent in hand placement and movement.
Thomas is much better with his feet than James was coming out of Tennessee, which makes him the better prospect. High potential to have the best career of all tackles in the class here.