If 2019 didn’t seem like the most exciting draft because of the plethora of defensive talent and linemen taken in the first round, then next year will be the total opposite. Despite being mangled by these defensive players in 2019, the 2020 class is filled with electric receivers, dynamic runners, and one of the strongest quarterback crops in recent memory.
The college football season kicks off this Saturday and some teams are already probably looking forward to next year’s draft. This is an early look ahead to who may go in the first round of next April’s 2020 NFL Draft.
Preseason 2020 NFL Mock Draft
1. Cincinnati Bengals – Tua Tagovailoa (Alabama) – Quarterback
The Bengals for me are a team with little potential to do great things in a tough division in 2019. They already lost their first-round pick from this year in Jonah Williams, creating even more problems for the team before the new season has started. If their season goes the way most predict, the Bengals should be looking to separate itself from Andy Dalton after nine seasons with zero playoff wins. The book is still a bit out on Tagovailoa after being nominated for the Heisman in 2018 but as of now, he is the best quarterback in a good class.
2. Miami Dolphins – Andrew Thomas (Georgia) – Offensive Tackle
If the Dolphins flame out in 2019 and Josh Rosen is part of the problem, this pick could easily turn into a quarterback. For now, the Dolphins look to beef up a subpar offensive line with a great tackle. Thomas has been great since stepping in as a freshman in 2017, playing in every game and starting every game for the Bulldogs over that span. The 2018 First Team All-American would be a big help to whoever is playing quarterback in Miami.
3. New York Giants – Jerry Jeudy (Alabama) – Wide Receiver
Jeudy was the best receiver in all of college football in 2018 and should replicate his success in 2019. The Giants get a replacement for Odell Beckham Jr. a year after trading him. Jeudy might be the best overall player in the entire draft.
4. Pittsburgh Steelers (projected trade with Buffalo) – Justin Herbert (Oregon) – Quarterback
Ben Roethlisberger has an out in his contract coming up in 2021 and the Steelers will likely need a new franchise quarterback very soon. They may have faith in Mason Rudolph but Steelers brass likely wants to stay competitive and not slump even for a couple of years. Herbert is a huge quarterback who may have been the first one off the board a year ago had he not chose to go back to school. He could be even better as a senior in 2020.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Walker Little (Stanford) – Offensive Tackle
There’s a good chance this pick ends up being a quarterback but until we see Jameis Winston in 2019, it’s hard to confirm which direction Tampa will go. In this situation, the Bucs help build up the line in front of Winston with debatably the best tackle in the draft.
6. Detroit Lions – Chase Young (Ohio State) – Defensive End
The Lions went with a tight end in 2019 choosing to neglect their need on the edge. Da’Shawn Hand would need a breakout season for Detroit to pass on a player of Young’s caliber here. After a great showing in 2018, Young will be looking to lead the Big Ten in sacks this upcoming season to fortify his draft stock.
7. Washington Redskins – Laviska Shenault (Colorado) – Wide Receiver
Washington had a very successful 2019 draft but they did not do enough to address their makeshift receiving corps. Shenault can do a little bit of everything demonstrated by his 1,011 receiving yards and 16 total touchdowns, including five on the ground. He has great size at 6’2” and 220 pounds and could form a franchise pairing between himself and Dwayne Haskins. There’s a lot of ways Washington could go with this pick.
8. Las Vegas Raiders – Jake Fromm (Georgia) – Quarterback
If Derek Carr can’t make it work with the additional talent Jon Gruden has provided him with in 2019, the Raiders need to go find a new franchise quarterback. Fromm can step in out of the gate and operate an already talented offense. The Raiders are hosting the draft and likely want to make a big splash.
9. Arizona Cardinals – A.J. Epenesa (Iowa) – Defensive Tackle/End
After taking Kyler Murray and going offense heavy for Kliff Kingsbury, the Cardinals elect to take the best defensive player on the board at a needed position. This pick could also be a tackle or someone that fortifies the offensive line but Epenesa is really good. As a rotational player last year, Epenesa had 10.5 sacks and four forced fumbles in 2018.
10. Tennessee Titans – CeeDee Lamb (Oklahoma) – Wide Receiver
The Titans still need a player that can truly stretch the field and Lamb has speed and more. He can do it all; run great routes, has secure hands, and can explode downfield. Lamb shows the potential to become a true WR1 in the Titans offense. This pick likely depends on the Titans confidence in Marcus Mariota after 2019.
11. Buffalo Bills (projected trade with Pittsburgh) – Tylan Wallace (Oklahoma State) – Wide Receiver
After limited action as a true freshman, Wallace came on in a huge way in 2018 racking up the second-most receiving yards in all of college football. He’s primarily a deep threat but also has the ability to go up and get contested balls. Josh Allen would love a player of Wallace’s caliber getting open downfield.
12. Atlanta Falcons – Derrick Brown (Auburn) – Defensive Tackle
After having Christian Wilkins snagged one pick before them, the Falcons take a good defensive tackle to pair with Grady Jarrett. This finally gives the Falcons the disruptive front they’ve been looking for. Brown could line up in a number of ways on a fairly shallow Atlanta defensive line.
13. Seattle Seahawks – Trey Adams (Washington) – Offensive Tackle
This pick depends on if the Seahawks go into full blowup mode or not but I think they will likely try and grab a player to keep Russell Wilson from running for his life all the time at 32 years old. Adams is coming off an injury that saw him miss 16 games over two seasons but is still a good player who could’ve even been a first-rounder in last years draft.
14. Denver Broncos – Grant Delpit (LSU) – Safety
The Broncos keep improving their secondary with one of the most energetic safeties in college. Delpit has great value at #14 and can fly to the ball, has great vision, and isn’t afraid to lay his body out. Safeties have slipped a bit in recent drafts but make no mistake, Delpit is a top-10 talent in 2020.
15. Jacksonville Jaguars – Tee Higgins (Clemson) – Wide Receiver
Going into 2019, Nick Foles may have the worst weapons in the NFL to work with. The Jags paid Foles a lot of money and they’d be smart to give him some help if they want their offense to run competently. Higgins has a great 6’4” frame and could break out even further with a full year of Trevor Lawrence in 2018. He makes incredible adjustments in the air and would be a great downfield/red-zone option in the Jags offense.
16. Carolina Panthers – C.J. Henderson (Florida) – Cornerback
The Panthers continue to build up their defense and take a good corner with great size. Henderson is surprisingly quick for his size and can man-up with NFL receivers at the next level. The secondary is probably Carolina’s weakest unit and Henderson could be a legit lockdown corner in the NFL.
17. New York Jets – Albert Okwuegbunam (Missouri) – Tight End
The Jets pumped up the offense a bit in 2018 but Sam Darnold is still lacking in targets. Specifically, for the red zone. Okwuegbunan was a red zone monster for Drew Lock, catching 11 touchdowns as a freshman. He needs to develop more as a blocker to go this high in 2020. The only thing keeping the Jets from grabbing a wideout here is that the top-five are already off the board.
18. Dallas Cowboys – Trevon Diggs (Alabama) – Cornerback
Dallas improves their secondary with one of the best corners in college. Aside from Byron Jones, the Cowboys defensive backs are probably the weak link of the team right now and Diggs could give their secondary some insurance. They’re likely going to be flying high to the cap the next few seasons and hitting on a number-one corner would give them a ton of relief.
19. Minnesota Vikings – Raekwon Davis (Alabama) – Defensive Tackle
The truth is, I don’t really know where the Vikings would go if they were to miss the playoffs and end up at number 19. There’s a chance they go with the best offensive lineman available like in 2019 but there isn’t a guard that jumps off the board as a first-round talent yet. Maybe Tommy Kraemer from Notre Dame if he has a great year. For now, Minnesota goes with a player that likely won’t be here when the Vikings pick. Davis is another in a great line of Alabama defensive interior lineman. Adding Davis would maybe give the Vikings the best d-line in football.
20. San Francisco 49ers – Tyler Biadasz (Wisconsin) – Center
While the 49ers line seems to be pretty secure right now on the outside, the inside has been a bit more makeshift. New addition center Ben Garland is only on a one-year contract and has only started seven NFL games at age 31. Biadasz is the best interior lineman in the upcoming class and could keep the Niners line steady post-Joe Staley. A strong and shifty center would be a big asset to a Kyle Shanahan offense that looks set to use a big rotation of running backs.
21. Houston Texans – Jonathan Taylor (Wisconsin) – Running Back
The Texans are really going to need a runner after 2018 and Taylor should be great value at 21. Taylor has absolutely run over his opponents the past two years totaling 4,171 yards and 29 touchdowns. He led the nation last year in rushing and only had one game of under 100 yards. Wisconsin’s offensive line has been really good but so has Taylor.
22. Green Bay Packers – Jalen Reagor (TCU) – Wide Receiver
The Packers have addressed a ton of needs this off-season and this pick is likely reliant on who doesn’t show up in 2019. With a (hopefully) full season of Aaron Rodgers, the receiving corps will be evaluated for who actually has staying power after a number of swings in the draft over the past few years. If they look like they need another difference-maker in the passing game, Reagor is a good option at #22. Despite the quarterback carousel at TCU last season, he was still able to put up an impressive 72 receptions, 1,061 receiving yards and nine touchdowns. Reager was in the top-10 in the Big 12 in all the aforementioned categories.
23. Cleveland Browns – Trey Smith (Tennessee) – Offensive Tackle
The Browns offensive line has been the best position group on their team for a couple of years but just lost a very valuable player in Kevin Zeitler via trade. Though Smith plays at tackle as opposed to guard, he comes in and helps keep Cleveland’s line strong.
24. Baltimore Ravens – Yetur Gross-Matos (Penn State) – Defensive End
The Ravens elected to pass on an edge rusher in round one of the draft in 2019 but still have a pressing need at pass rusher. Gross-Matos is both shifty and lengthy off the line of scrimmage and gets in the backfield with ease. He had 20 tackles for loss and eight sacks in 2018. The depth at the edge in 2019’s class allows Gross-Matos to reach the Ravens at 24.
25. Los Angeles Rams – Dylan Moses (Alabama) – Inside Linebacker
Going into 2019, the Rams look pretty loaded. However, one position that could definitely use a bit more improvement is interior linebacker. Moses is a great tackler but falls in line with the other great athletes that have been drafted at the position over the past couple of years. At 25, he would be a steal but the fit makes sense here.
26. Los Angeles Chargers – K.J. Costello (Stanford) – Quarterback
The Chargers nailed the draft in 2018, at first glance, but know that Philip Rivers is on the way out. This team has the potential to be competitive for a very long time and they need to keep pace with Kansas City. Costello could potentially start right away or let Rivers have one more shot with the current team.
27. Philadelphia Eagles – Isaiah Simmons (Clemson) – Safety/Nickel/Outside Linebacker
Simmons can play all over the field but could come in and start at strong safety if Malcolm Jenkins decides to retire after 2019. If not, Simmons could still slot in at one of his other positions. He could fill the Eagles need at outside linebacker as well. Simmons is a solid wrap-up tackler with good size, athletic ability, and the Eagles need help in the secondary. This selection would work in so many ways.
28. Indianapolis Colts – Paddy Fisher (Northwestern) – Linebacker
The Colts are another team that could go interior lineman here but as of now, Fisher seems like a good fit. He and Darius Leonard could become one of the best interior linebacking duos in football for the next few seasons. Fisher looked a bit stiff in 2018 but he was still consistently making impact plays. Leading the Big Ten in forced fumbles the past two seasons, running into Fisher is like hitting a brick wall.
29. New England Patriots – Julian Okwara (Notre Dame) – Edge
The Patriots have gone offensive skill positions in back to back years now and will likely address the defense this coming April. Even with the addition of Michael Bennett, New England needs to do more when it comes to rushing the passer. They finished third from last in sacks last season. Okwara finished 2018 with eight sacks but perhaps more impressively, added 61 pressures per Pro Football Focus.
30. Las Vegas Raiders (Via Chicago Bears) – Bryce Hall (Virginia) – Cornerback
After picking Fromm with their first selection, the Raiders need to go best player available on defense here. Hall is the best corner remaining at this point in the draft and would likely be looked at as the next real number one corner. He has good size at 6’1″ and 200 pounds and excellent instinctive and ball skills. Corner is a premium position and the Raiders need more than one good one if they want to be competitive going forward.
31. Kansas City Chiefs – Travis Etienne (Clemson) – Running Back
I don’t think anyone is believing that Damien Williams is the Chiefs long-term plan at running back and Etienne would take the Chiefs offense to another level. Etienne was the best player on offense for Clemson in 2018, earning ACC Player of the year while averaging 8.1 yards per carry and adding 26 touchdowns from scrimmage. Yeah, he’s really good.
32. New Orleans Saints – Jacob Eason (Washington) – Quarterback
Eason was shafted at Georgia but showed great potential as a freshman. His season as a senior at Washington will largely define if he is a first-round talent or not. If the Saints can send Drew Brees out on top in 2020, Eason could be his immediate successor.