The Grueling Truth - Where Legends Speak / NFL / Sam’s 2020 NFL mock draft version 1.0: Bengals claim Burrow

Sam’s 2020 NFL mock draft version 1.0: Bengals claim Burrow

Who goes number two?
ATLANTA, GEORGIA - DECEMBER 28: Quarterback Joe Burrow #9 of the LSU Tigers celebrates a touchdown in the second quarter over the Oklahoma Sooners during the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on December 28, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)

Keep in mind this is still a rough draft, and everything will become more refined as the weeks roll on. Some of this is me plugging players in and seeing how they fit before inevitably coming back for revisions later. For instance, there’s no way Isaiah Simmons falls to Denver at 15th overall, but he fits there for now.

As more information becomes available, a final draft will come into focus.

1. Cincinnati Bengals- Joe Burrow, QB LSU

Cincinnati not picking Burrow would be the most Bengals thing to do. Burrow dominated college football in 2019, leading LSU to a national championship. He threw for 5,671 yards and 60 touchdowns while completing 76.3% of his pass attempts.

2. Washington Redskins- Chase Young, EDGE Ohio St.

Young and Burrow separate themselves from the rest of this draft. Despite all of the talented players preparing to enter the NFL, these two guys are miles ahead of everybody else. Washington took Montez Sweat last year and might not need another edge rusher, but neither did the San Francisco 49ers when they drafted Nick Bosa, and that move worked out perfectly.

3. Detroit Lions- Jeffrey Okudah, CB Ohio St.

Okudah is the consensus top cornerback in the draft at this point. When Matthew Stafford plays, Detroit’s offense can keep up with some of the NFL’s best teams. However, the Lions desperately need secondary help. In 2019, the Lions allowed 284.4 passing yards per game, the most by any team.

4. New York Giants- CeeDee Lamb, WR Oklahoma

Two years ago, the Giants took their running back of the future. They added Daniel Jones at quarterback last season. Now, it’s time to give Jones an elite receiver. While Sterling Shepard, Darius Slayton, and Golden Tate all play their parts, none of them boast true Pro Bowl potential.

5. Miami Dolphins- Tua Tagovailoa, QB Alabama

The Dolphins plan on bringing Ryan Fitzpatrick back for another season. The veteran journeyman gives Miami the option of red-shirting Tagovailoa, who is recovering from a hip injury he suffered during the college season. A red-shirt year also gives Miami more time to build up the offense for when Tagovailoa returns.

6. Los Angeles Chargers- Justin Herbert, QB Oregon

Burrow and Tagovailoa are clearly the best quarterbacks in this draft, and six is a reach for a quarterback like Herbert. However, some NFL teams always reach for quarterbacks. With Los Angeles moving on from Philip Rivers and one year removed from a 12-4 season, the Chargers want to get back in the playoff hunt quickly.

7. Carolina Panthers- Derrick Brown, DT Auburn

With Gerald McCoy hitting free agency and Kawann Short coming off of an injury-shortened season, the Panthers need a new monster at the center of their defensive front. In his three seasons as a starter at Auburn, Brown compiled 159 tackles, 31.5 tackles for loss, 11.5 sacks, and five forced fumbles.

8. Arizona Cardinals- Jedrick Wills Jr., OT Alabama

Just because Kyler Murray can run for his life doesn’t mean he should have to. With left tackle, D.J. Humphries entering free agency, this is Arizona’s perfect opportunity to fix their offensive line and protect the future of their franchise.

9. Jacksonville Jaguars- Jerry Jeudy, WR Alabama

Jacksonville drafted a lot of mediocre wide receivers over the past couple of years. While DJ Chark looks like he can develop into a genuine threat, Jeudy offers Jacksonville a long-term solution to their wide receiver needs. He and Chark could form a lethal duo in the AFC South.

10. Cleveland Browns- Mekhi Becton, OT Louisville

The Rams made a mistake taking Greg Robinson with the second overall pick in the 2014 draft. Cleveland made the mistake of starting him for the majority of the last two seasons. With Robinson hitting the open market, the Browns can stabilize the most important part of their struggling offensive line with Becton.

11. New York Jets- Andrew Thomas, OT Georgia

At the moment, Thomas and Becton are interchangeable at the tenth and eleventh picks. Tristan Wirfs will also hear his name thrown around in these discussions, although he played right not left tackle at Iowa. The Jets need both a left and right tackle this offseason since Kelvin Beachum and Brandon Shell will test free agency. Thomas can take over for Beachum and offer an immediate upgrade to the struggling line.

12. Las Vegas Raiders- Henry Ruggs III, WR Alabama

No offense to Hunter Renfrow, but the Raiders need a true top receiver. Darren Waller is already one of the best tight ends in the NFL. If Las Vegas can pair him with a worthy receiver, then the Raiders’ offense may finally come together.

13. Indianapolis Colts- Javon Kinlaw, DT South Carolina

An imposing, 6-6 defensive tackle, Kinlaw looked great at the Senior Bowl before an injury shut him down for the week. While the Colts may browse available quarterbacks this offseason, they should focus on the defense in the draft. Outside of Justin Houston, Indianapolis’ defensive line lacks any punch. Kinlaw can undoubtedly help in that department.

14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Tristan Wirfs, OT Iowa

Demar Dotson, Tampa Bay’s starting right tackle, and his backup, Josh Wells, will enter free agency this spring. Wirfs is the top right tackle in the draft. If he falls this far, and that’s a big if, Tampa Bay should pounce on the chance to upgrade their offensive line.

15. Denver Broncos- Isaiah Simmons, LB Clemson

In a likelihood, Simmons will not fall this far. The linebacker/safety hybrid balled out at Clemson this past season, raising his stock through the roof. Simmons could see himself drop bases on where he fits in defensive schemes. Some teams may simply not know where to play him. However, the Broncos, who have a weakness at linebacker and free agents in the secondary, could use the dynamic prospect.

16. Atlanta Falcons- K’Lavon Chaisson, EDGE LSU

With Vic Beasley and Adrian Clayborn entering free agency, the Falcons need some new pass rushers. While Chaisson doesn’t exactly jump off of the board as one of the draft’s top pass rushers, he did register 6.5 sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss with LSU last year.

17. Dallas Cowboys- Xavier McKinney, S Alabama

The Cowboys desperately need safety help. With multiple safeties entering free agency, including Jeff Heath and Darian Thompson, Dallas cannot pass up a shot at the best safety in the draft. From the first day of training camp, McKinney would be the best safety on the Cowboys’ roster.

18. Miami Dolphins (Via Steelers)- D’Andre Swift, RB Georgia

After trading Kenyan Drake last season, Miami’s running game fell apart. The Dolphins finished the season with 72.2 rushing yards per game, the fewest in the league. If Miami drafts a quarterback, they might as well dedicate this pick to fixing their running game as well.

19. Las Vegas Raiders (Via Bears)- Patrick Queen, LB LSU

For the second year in a row, an LSU linebacker should come off of the board in the first round. Queen did it all for the Tigers last season, and the Raiders need to redo almost their entire linebacking corps.

20. Jacksonville Jaguars (Via Rams)- C.J. Henderson, CB Florida

Without Jalen Ramsey, the Jaguars need some extra help in their secondary. Besides Okudah, the 2020 cornerback class is still very up in the air. We’ll get a better picture of how things will shake out as we get closer to the draft. For now, Henderson looks like he could be the second corner coming off of the board.

21. Philadelphia Eagles- Grant Delpit, S LSU

Initially viewed as a top ten prospect, questions emerged about Delpit’s game during the 2019 college season. He could still go in the first round, but his draft stock is significantly lower now. With Malcolm Jenkins recently turning 32 and Rodney McLeod entering free agency, the Eagles could use some secondary help.

22. Buffalo Bills- Justin Jefferson, WR LSU

Cole Beasley and John Brown finished as Buffalo’s top two receivers in 2019. While Brown did record over 1,000 yards, neither of those guys is a true top receiving threat. At 6-3, Jefferson is a large target who thrived with Burrow at LSU this past season.

23. New England Patriots- Cole Kmet, TE Notre Dame

Depending on who New England believes is the best tight end in the draft, this could also be Hunter Bryant. Either way, the Patriots missed Rob Gronkowski last season. The team needs a new freakish pass-catcher to stabilize the offense.

24. New Orleans Saints- Brandon Aiyuk, WR Arizona St.

The quarterback situation in New Orleans will alter how the team approaches the draft. However, the Saints desperately need a wide receiver to flank Michael Thomas. At 34 years old, Ted Ginn isn’t cutting it anymore.

25. Minnesota Vikings- Jaylon Johnson, CB Utah

The Vikings draft so many cornerbacks that it’s ridiculous. However, the team needs another one with Mackensie Alexander and Trae Waynes entering free agency. Mike Hughes, the team’s 2018 first round pick, doesn’t look like he’s ready to start full-time.

26. Miami Dolphins (Via Texans)- Kristian Fulton, CB LSU

Who knows what the Dolphins will do with Xavien Howard? The former Pro Bowler only played five games in 2019 and ran into some trouble this offseason. If the Dolphins do keep Howard, he could use a running mate. Frankly, Miami’s whole defense needs a tune-up.

27. Seattle Seahawks- Ross Blacklock, DT TCU

With Jarran Reed entering free agency, the Seahawks need a replacement defensive tackle. If Seattle cannot retain Jadeveon Clowney or some of their other free agent edge rushers, expect this to be a pass rusher instead. Blacklock excels in clogging the middle and can pressure quarterbacks better than Poona Ford.

28. Baltimore Ravens- Kenneth Murray, LB Oklahoma

Four of Baltimore’s primary linebackers are pending free agents. There’s very little chance the Ravens can bring back all of them. With Queen off of the board, Murray (inside linebacker) and Wisconsin’s Zach Baun (outside linebacker) are the two best linebackers left on the board.

29. Tennessee Titans- A.J. Epenesa, EDGE Iowa

While the system fit may raise some questions (Iowa ran a 4-3 defense while Tennessee favors a 3-4), Epenesa offers terrific reliability and consistency. His ceiling may not be as high as some other prospects, but his floor is much higher. Even if he never develops into a star, Epenesa will be a solid NFL player.

30. Green Bay Packers- Tee Higgins, WR Clemson

Despite missing four games, Davante Adams still more than doubled Green Bay’s second leading receiver in yards. Aaron Rodgers needs another pass-catcher. He can no longer rely on the revolving door of second and third-string receivers.

31. San Francisco 49ers- A.J. Terrell, CB Clemson

At Clemson, Terrell stood out as a defensive leader in the team’s 2019 run to the championship game. He also played a significant role alongside Trayvon Mullen in 2018, when Clemson did win the title. The 49ers are an overall well-rounded team, and that won’t change this offseason. Adding Terrell addresses an area where improvement is possible. This pick could also be Alabama’s Trevon Diggs.

32. Kansas City Chiefs- J.K. Dobbins, RB Ohio St.

Damien Williams could’ve won Super Bowl MVP. The versatile back came through in the clutch for Kansas City, but he isn’t an every-down back. No Chief ran for more than 500 yards in 2019. A player like Dobbins gives Kansas City another explosive runner and adds some injury insurance at a thin spot.

Best remaining

Zack Baun, LB Wisconsin

Hunter Bryant, TE Washington

Trevon Diggs, CB Alabama

Neville Gallimore, DT Oklahoma

Yetur Gross-Matos, EDGE Penn St.

Josh Jones, OT Houston

Jordan Love, QB Utah State

Cesar Ruiz, C Michigan

Laviska Shenault Jr., WR Colorado

Jonathan Taylor, RB Wisconsin

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