SportsPulse: We gathered 16 of our NFL reporters from around the USA TODAY Network for a first-round mock draft. Some of the picks were downright shocking.
Our experts in NFL cities across the USA TODAY Sports Network put their heads together to mock the 2020 NFL draft, which runs Thursday-Saturday.
1. Cincinnati Bengals
QB Joe Burrow, LSU: Burrow’s been the No. 1 player on Cincinnati’s draft board for months. The Bengals desperately need a quarterback who will energize the franchise. They believe the reigning Heisman Trophy winner is the ideal QB for the job.
— Tyler Dragon, Cincinnati Enquirer
2. Washington Redskins
DE Chase Young, Ohio State: The Washington Redskins dangled their No. 2 overall pick a little bit between the combine and the draft in case they got a deal they couldn’t refuse. But they’ll wind up sitting tight and drafting Ohio State’s Chase Young, who is considered to be a generational talent. Head coach Ron Rivera and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio love pass-rushers, and the addition of Young to an already talented line could give Washington a top-10 defense.
— Mike Jones, USA TODAY
3. Detroit Lions
CB Jeff Okudah, Ohio State: The Lions desperately want to trade down, but if they’re stuck at three they’ll take a cornerback who’s an ideal fit for their defense and locker room.
— Dave Birkett, Detroit Free Press
4. New York Giants
OT Jedrick Wills, Alabama: The Giants need an offensive tackle, and there’s reason to believe Wills rises to the top of their board. There’s familiarity due to head coach Joe Judge’s relationship with Nick Saban, who will undoubtedly put a good word in for his right tackle.
— Art Stapleton, NorthJersey.com
5. Miami Dolphins
QB Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama: Tagovailoa is the franchise quarterback Miami has been plotting for. He’s very accurate and a charismatic leader. The Dolphins would be taking a calculated risk on his future health.
— Joe Schad, Palm Beach Post
6. Los Angeles Chargers
QB Justin Herbert, Oregon: Herbert has the measurements, arm strength and mobility to be a superb NFL quarterback. The Chargers like Tyrod Taylor, but he’s more of a bridge QB. Expect Los Angeles to draft Herbert if Tua Tagovailoa is unavailable.
7. Carolina Panthers
LB Isaiah Simmons, Clemson: Seven-time Pro Bowl linebacker Luke Kuechly retired. Enter Clemson jack-of-all-trades Isaiah Simmons, whose versatility will bolster the Panthers defense in the Matt Rhule era.
— Jori Epstein, USA TODAY
8. Arizona Cardinals
DT Derrick Brown, Auburn: If Simmons falls to 8, he’ll be the pick, but in this scenario, Derrick Brown is a huge upgrade on the defensive line for the Cardinals and he’ll be a bigger, better and much safer version than draft bust Robert Nkemdiche. Arizona hasn’t had a disruptive force on the interior of its defensive front since Calais Campbell, and Brown fits the bill perfectly. Don’t discount the Cardinals from being tempted to pick a receiver here, though, be it CeeDee Lamb or Henry Ruggs III.
— Bob McManaman, Arizona Republic
9. Jacksonville Jaguars
DT Javon Kinlaw, South Carolina: The Jaguars need a big, physical run-stopper after surrendering 139.3 yards rushing per game, the fifth-highest in the league. Auburn’s Derrick Brown was at the top of the Jaguars’ draft board, but Kinlaw has all the physical tools and a high ceiling. The Jaguars will develop his skill set but likely will ask him to step in immediately as a starter.
— John Reid, Florida Times-Union
10. Cleveland Browns
OT Mekhi Becton, Louisville: He has the movement skills Browns coach Kevin Stefanski values in his wide zone-blocking scheme, so he’d make sense here if a flagged combine drug test doesn’t scare Cleveland.
— Nate Ulrich, Akron Beacon Journal
11. New York Jets
OT Tristan Wirfs, Iowa: The temptation to go with a wide receiver here is real after the Jets lost top weapon Robby Anderson to free agency. But adding a cornerstone to the offensive line is the best thing they can do for young QB Sam Darnold.
— Andy Vasquez, NorthJersey.com
12. Las Vegas Raiders
WR CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma: The Raiders still don’t have a true No. 1 receiver after the Antonio Brown experiment failed. Lamb has great size, speed and fight and constantly wins contested catches.
— Carlos Monarrez, Detroit Free Press
13. San Francisco 49ers
WR Jerry Jeudy, Alabama: Arguably the best prospect in a loaded receiver crop, his explosiveness and precision route running would dovetail beautifully with Kyle Shanahan’s playbook. The Niners need a No. 1-caliber wideout to replace departed Emmanuel Sanders, and coupling Jeudy with second-year playmaker Deebo Samuel would give them quite a long-term combo.
— Nate Davis, USA TODAY
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
OT Andrew Thomas, Georgia: The Bucs are in win-now mode with Tom Brady. After allowing 47 sacks last season, Tampa Bay needs to do a better job to protect Brady. That’s where Thomas comes in.
— Mark Daniels, Providence Journal
15. Denver Broncos
WR Henry Ruggs, Alabama: The Broncos lacked playmakers in 2019 and ranked 25th in pass plays of 20 yards or more. Adding Ruggs gives them the fastest player from the combine, someone who can team with Courtland Sutton to give second-year quarterback Drew Lock some balance in the passing game.
— Sal Maiorana, Rochester Democrat
16. Atlanta Falcons
CB C.J. Henderson, Florida: Falcons need to replace departed CB Desmond Trufant. GM Thomas Dimitroff has traded up in five previous first rounds and might have to do it again to get Henderson, who some scouts think is as good as Jeffrey Okudah.
— Pete Dougherty, Green Bay Press-Gazette
17. Dallas Cowboys
DE K’Lavon Chaisson, LSU: K’Laivon Chaisson opposite DeMarcus Lawrence? Mike Nolan’s defense wants to be multiple. Locking up LSU’s stud gives the Cowboys an immediate boost in both pass and run defense.
18. Miami Dolphins
OT Josh Jones, Houston. The Dolphins desperately need a left tackle to replace Laremy Tunsil. And Jones is the best pass protector on the board. Jones is an excellent athlete with a high ceiling.
19. Las Vegas Raiders
QB Jacob Eason, Washington: He’s a 6-6 monster with the draft’s biggest arm and Jon Gruden loves big-armed QBs. He’s pro-style ready and too good a value to pass up with Vegas lacking a second-round pick.
20. Jacksonville Jaguars
CB Trevon Diggs, Alabama: The Jaguars will look to fill their second-biggest need — an outside cornerback — after trading Jalen Ramsey to the Rams in October and veteran A.J. Bouye to the Broncos last month. Top cornerback prospects Jeff Okaduh and C.J. Henderson are off the board, so Trevon Diggs is the best available.
21. Philadelphia Eagles
WR Justin Jefferson, LSU: GM Howie Roseman can go in several directions here, but considering what the Eagles finished with at receiver last season, Jefferson and his 4.43 speed gives Carson Wentz a much-needed weapon in the passing game.
22. Minnesota Vikings
WR Tee Higgins, Clemson: After trading Stefon Diggs to the Bills, Minnesota needs another contested-catch receiver who can fly down the field and make big plays. At 6-4 and 205 pounds, Higgins has the speed and vertical ability to take that place in Gary Kubiak’s offense.
— Doug Farrar, Touchdown Wire
23. New England Patriots
LB Kenneth Murray, Oklahoma: The Patriots lost two starting linebackers this offseason — Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins. Murray fills a need and will help the Patriots’ defense continue to lead the way in the post-Brady era.
24. New Orleans Saints
WR Brandon Aiyuk, Arizona State: With Drew Brees near the end of the road, but still remarkably effective, adding a potentially explosive playmaker across the field from Michael Thomas makes a lot of sense.
25. Minnesota Vikings
CB Jeff Gladney, TCU: The Vikings released Xavier Rhodes and lost Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander in free agency. Rhodes and Waynes were below-average last season, and it’s time to re-stock. Gladney has the quickness, footwork and aggressiveness to be a perfect fit in Mike Zimmer’s defense.
26. Miami Dolphins
RB D’Andre Swift, Georgia: Miami needs a starting running back in this draft. Swift is a good receiver, which would complement recent addition Jordan Howard. But he’s also elusive and complete.
27. Seattle Seahawks
DE Yetur Gross-Matos, Penn State: Seattle’s defense has gone through multiple changes over the past few years, particularly up front on defense, and with Jadeveon Clowney still unsigned and a real need for pass-rushing help, here comes Gross-Matos to save the day. He’s an edge guy who projects to get drafted around this spot and the Seahawks could use the help. Give him a year, maybe two, and you’ll be hearing a ton about this young man out of Penn State.
28. Baltimore Ravens
LB Patrick Queen, LSU: The Ravens lost C.J. Mosley, Patrick Onwuasor and Josh Bynes in free agency the past two offseasons, so Queen would help them fill a big need at inside linebacker.
29. Tennessee Titans
CB A.J. Terrell, Clemson: Tennessee addresses its biggest need. With Logan Ryan still on the open market and unlikely to return to the Titans at this point, Terrell gives them a big-bodied corner with athleticism who helps the team’s depth issue at corner.
— Erik Bacharach, The Tennessean
30. Green Bay Packers
LT Ezra Cleveland, Boise State: GM Brian Gutekunst might be looking to trade back from this pick, especially if someone wants to come up and draft Jordan Love, but Cleveland is a zone-scheme fit replacement for Bryian Bulaga.
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31. San Francisco 49ers
DT Ross Blacklock, TCU: March’s trade of DT DeForest Buckner to the Colts is the reason San Francisco has two first-round picks. Blacklock isn’t quite the caliber of Buckner – few players are – but his explosiveness would replenish the D-line, this club’s strength on its way to Super Bowl LIV. Unlikely to face double teams, he could make quite a splash as a rookie playing alongside so many exceptional pass rushers.
32. Kansas City Chiefs
LB Zack Baun, Wisconsin: The thought of Kansas City picking up another offensive weapon here is terrifying, but the cap-strapped Chiefs haven’t been able to fill many holes in free agency, and Baun takes over the spot vacated by Reggie Ragland as a versatile weapon with upside as a pass rusher.
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