The NFL regular season is entering its last month and teams are either rallying their troops for a playoff push or preparing to scout championship weekend and the College Football Playoff. It is at this point that the order for next April’s draft is taking shape and teams are gaining a better idea of where they’ll be picking in about five months’ time.
With the regular season of college football coming to an end this past weekend, a portion of soon-to-be NFL pros have played their last game of college football. This is a look ahead to which players could be selected in the first round of the NFL Draft come April 2020.
December First-Round 2020 NFL Mock Draft
Draft positions are based on a mix of a team’s current record and where they are projected to finish the 2019 season.
1. Cincinnati Bengals – Joe Burrow (LSU) – Quarterback
At this rate, Burrow is going to win the Heisman. He’s playing at a higher level than any quarterback in college and is leading one of the three remaining undefeated Power Five teams. The Bengals have effectively benched Ryan Finley for the already once benched Andy Dalton and picking a quarterback with their first selection is inevitable at 1-11. Zac Taylor is clearly disgruntled with who he has and change could be the only thing that saves his job. Burrow has completed 70 percent of his passes in every game he’s played in 2019.
2. Miami Dolphins – Justin Herbert (Oregon) – Quarterback
When the Dolphins decided to gut their entire team entering the 2019 season, there is a good chance they were trying to tank for a specific quarterback. Whether that is for Herbert or not, he would be a good building block for the Dolphins at number two. Herbert started the year slow but has really come on as the season progressed, outside of an upset loss to Arizona State. He has the look of a big-armed pocket-passer in the NFL and would at least help the Dolphins get closer to being out of the sellar in the AFC.
3. New York Giants – Jerry Jeudy (Alabama) – Wide Receiver
The Giants are in a position where they need to go ‘best player available’ but the best player available at this spot is probably the only position they don’t need to address. Jeudy is the best receiver in the class and probably the second-best overall player. He’s an elite route runner and would give Daniel Jones a receiver that could do anything asked of him. Don’t overthink Jeudy’s recent drop problem; he’s really good.
4. Washington Redskins – Chase Young (Ohio State) – Edge
Washington may be set at the edge position for now but with Ryan Kerrigan’s best years well behind him, it’s impossible to pass up on Young. He has been a wrecking ball in 2019 and could register upwards of 20 sacks and tackles for loss before bowl season even begins. Players of Young’s stature don’t come around often but when they do, it’s not wise to pass them up. Washington has a chance to turn around their front-seven the way the 49ers did a year ago.
5. Atlanta Falcons – Jeffrey Okudah (Ohio State) – Cornerback
As good as Okudah has been in 2019, this still might be a bit early for him with the talent at other positions in this draft. The Falcons badly need help on their defense and perhaps no more than at corner. Okudah has been incredibly impressive this season and has the athleticism and ball skills to be a shutdown man-to-man corner in the NFL. Assuming Ohio State makes the playoff, he will be tested far more against the elite quarterbacks he will see.
6. Arizona Cardinals – Andrew Thomas (Georgia) – Offensive Tackle
Though the Cardinals offensive line is actually doing a decent job around Kyler Murray, they could still improve. Thomas is another an incredibly elite tackle and should excel in Kliff Kingsbury‘s scheme. He’s been dominant run blocking in Georgia’s run heavy offense but excels as a pass blocker as well. The Cardinals need an anchor on their offensive line and Thomas would fit that mold and be great value and sixth-overall.
7. Detroit Lions – Grant Delpit (LSU) – Safety
The Lions have fallen off a cliff since beginning the season at 2-0-1 and look likely to just go ‘best player available’ when they pick in April. Delpit is the prototype for a great NFL strong safety. He has been criticized, like his former teammate Greedy Williams, for not being a strong tackler, but his ability to get all over the field is impossible to ignore. Detroit needs a dynamic game-changer like Delpit in their secondary.
8. Denver Broncos – Tristan Wirfs (Iowa) – Offensive Tackle
The Broncos are badly in need of offensive line upgrades and Wirfs is the best one in the class not named Andrew Thomas. He’s another great athletic tackle and is continuing to improve as the season goes on for Iowa. Garett Bolles cannot start another season at either tackle with his discipline issues and Wirfs has the potential to transfer to left tackle in the NFL. If John Elway wants to give Drew Lock a fair shake at starting in the NFL, Denver needs a player like Wirfs blocking for him.
9. Jacksonville Jaguars – CeeDee Lamb (Oklahoma) – Wide Receiver
While the Jaguars receivers were showing promise as a unit in Gardner Minshew‘s first stint at quarterback, they’ve fallen back down to earth of recent. As good as D.J. Chark has been, Lamb would be a true number-one option for whoever is playing quarterback longterm in Jacksonville. He’s not as elite a route-runner as Jeudy but he’s a complete deep threat who has made more than his fair share of big plays for Oklahoma. Lamb has averaged a crazy 20.7 yards per catch this season.
10. Los Angeles Chargers – Tua Tagovailoa (Alabama) – Quarterback
There is no reason for Tagovailoa to go back to Alabama in 2020, and he’s too talented for a team not to take a chance on him. Especially if they can afford to take their time developing him. Philip Rivers’ looks to be regressing at a rapid rate and Tagovailoa could sit for a year behind him before taking over a roster that is already very talented. This is the ideal scenario for a quarterback who still may be the best in the class.
11. New York Jets – Alex Leatherwood (Alabama) – Offensive Line
Despite the Jets actually getting a couple of decent wins in November, they need help all over the offensive. The easiest way to get that offense is by giving their third-overall pick at quarterback Sam Darnold more time to throw the ball. Leatherwood has played multiple positions on the Crimson Tide’s line and would come in to start day-one for the Jets. He’s surrendered just two sacks and three quarterback hurries in 2019 — his first season at left tackle.
12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Isaiah Simmons (Clemson) – Linebacker/Safety
The Bucs went linebacker last year with the fifth-overall pick but couldn’t find a much better value than Simmons at 12. Lavonte David has been a staple of Tampa’s defense over the last decade but could be a cut-candidate with a $10 million+ cap hit and a contract that would career no dead money in 2020. Simmons could slide in at linebacker but additionally at strong safety and use his elite athleticism to rapidly help improve the Bucs 31st ranked pass defense. He and Devin White would then become the core of the defense over the next decade.
13. Carolina Panthers – A.J. Epenesa (Iowa) – Defensive End
The Panthers have been electric when getting after the quarterback in 2019. Epenesa would be another great addition to a unit that already ranks second in sacks. He’s got great size at 6’6″, 280 pounds and could be used as a pass-rush specialist early before fully committing to a position. Though Epenesa didn’t see the spike in production most expected from him in 2019, he’s come on lately with 6.0 sacks, 9.5 tackles for loss and three forced fumbles over the last five weeks.
14. Cleveland Browns – Jedrick Wills Jr. (Alabama) – Offensive Tackle
Cleveland’s offensive line has looked steadier in recent weeks but surrounding Baker Mayfield with an elite offensive line – like he had in his rookie year – needs to be done if they want the best out of him. Wills in another in the line of great athletic tackles in the 2020 draft and would be an immediate upgrade at either tackle position on the Browns line. Going into their game against Auburn, Wills had not surrendered a quarterback hurry since Alabama’s Week 2 meeting with New Mexico State.
15. Las Vegas Raiders (via Chicago Bears) – Henry Ruggs III (Alabama) – Wide Receiver
While Oakland has been better than most expected in 2019, they are still a far cry away from being a complete team. Ruggs is maybe the fastest receiver in the draft and would give Derek Carr a deep threat that could completely open off his offense. Getting a player that can take the ball the length of the field on the return, out of the backfield or by taking the top of the defense is rare.
16. Philadelphia Eagles – C.J. Henderson (Florida) – Cornerback
Another mock, another corner to the Eagles. While the Eagles’ recent struggles have mainly come from their banged-up offense, Philly needs players in the secondary that can occasionally win games for them. Teams have been staying away from Henderson in 2019 but he has still caused the third-most pass defenses in the SEC despite only playing nine games. His ability to play through the receiver could finally give the Eagles a corner that can match up with number-one receivers.
17. Las Vegas Raiders – Kristian Fulton (LSU) – Cornerback
The Raiders defense got a rude awakening over the last couple of weeks, suffering a 34-3 defeat to the Jets and a 40-9 defeat to the Chiefs. Being outscored by 62 points and allowing the 30th-ranked Jets passing offense to throw for 315 yards against you can’t bode well for your secondary. Here, the Raiders add Fulton. Fulton is one of the best man-coverage cornerbacks in the draft and outside of his game against Texas, has been of the most consistent as well. Paul Guenther‘s defense is still largely a work in progress and they badly need more help on the backend.
18. Indianapolis Colts – Derrick Brown (Auburn) – Defensive Tackle
While the Colts defensive line isn’t a problem, getting a body like Brown in the middle could greatly assist both their run defense and pass defense. Brown is more of a run-stuffer but has contributed more to the pass rush in 2019 than his prior seasons. Watching him continually get in the backfield against an Alabama offensive line full of NFL level players was incredibly impressive. He finished the game with season highs in tackles (seven) and tackles for loss (3.5).
19. Miami Dolphins (via Pittsburgh Steelers) – Laviska Shenault Jr. (Colorado) – Wide Reciever
With a new franchise quarterback at the helm, the Dolphins grab a receiver who can be effective in all facets of the game. Shenault is maybe the best receiver in the draft in the open-field and would add a new dimension to the Dolphins passing attack. Having a player like him opens up your playbook. If the Dolphins want to succeed on offense, they need more than just one good playmaker. Pairing Shenault with the suddenly emerging DeVante Parker would be two great options for a young quarterback.
20. Jacksonville Jaguars (via Los Angeles Rams) – Paulson Adebo (Stanford) – Cornerback
Considering how far the 2019 Jaguars defense is from the 2017 version, they need to add some help somehow through the draft. They’ve only forced 15 turnovers on the season (T-19th) and a big part of it is their secondary. While Adebo is not a turnover machine, he tied for the Pac-12 lead in interceptions in 2019 despite playing in just nine games. He may be somewhat of a raw prospect but Adebo has produced throughout his entire college career. Combined that with his solid outside tackling ability and he could be a big addition to the Jags secondary.
21. Dallas Cowboys – Ashtyn Davis (California) – Safety
This might be a bit early for Davis but the competition at the safety position after Delpit is very close. The Cowboys need someone to help in their secondary and Davis is a speedy safety that could do a number of good things for the Dallas secondary. He has range, the ability to play all over the field, and the intelligance to be a great instinctive free safety at the NFL level. Davis could be used in a variety of ways early in his career if he were to be selected by Dallas. Davis is a former-track athlete and the Cowboys already have one combine warrior in their secondary in Byron Jones.
22. Tennessee Titans – Yetur Gross-Matos (Penn State) – Edge
Ryan Tannehill has been balling since he was named the starting quarterback in Tennessee and so the Titans elect to keep their edge strong instead reaching into the quarterback pool. After so many great years of production, the 37-year-old Cameron Wake looks like he’s finally on his way out. His successor could be Gross-Matos. Gross-Matos showed up huge against Penn State’s toughest opponent of the year, Ohio State, ravaging their offensive-line and Justin Fields for 3.5 tackles for loss and two sacks. He’s a great natural athlete and could be molded into an elite pass-rusher by Mike Vrabel and company.
23. Buffalo Bills – Travis Etienne (Clemson) – Running Back
Etienne and Clemson went through a bit of a lull to start the season but they’re both back in form going into championship weekend. The Bills love to run the ball (30.1 attempts per game) with their runners, as well as their quarterback, and Etienne would only further allow them to stick to that formula. While Etienne was already one of the best speedsters in college, he has added the ability to catch to his arsenal this season and is now probably the most complete back in the draft. Buffalo would get a true every-down back if they were to select last year’s ACC Offensive Player of the Year.
24. Minnesota Vikings – Javon Kinlaw (South Carolina) – Defensive Tackle
Minnesota’s defense has depth at almost every position on the field but is still somehow ranked just 15th in total defense. Introducing Kinlaw to their defensive line would help in multiple ways. He’s great at getting to the passer from the interior and is an incredibly explosive athlete for a player that stands at 6’6″ and 302 pounds. Adding him to a front-four that already features multiple great pass rushers, would make the Vikings line incredibly scary moving forward and keep them as one of the elite units in the NFL.
25. Miami Dolphins (via Houston Texans) – Trey Adams (Washington) – Offensive Tackle
If the Dolphins want to build a truly elite offense for the future, they are going to need to build an offensive line that can protect their stars. Adams may have some health concerns in the past but he’s performed well in 2019. Perhaps his biggest selling point is his size. Adams is a whopping 6’8″ and 314 pounds and tackles are rarely built like him anymore. If the Dolphins are confident Adams will stay healthy, they could make him their franchise left tackle and anchor of their offensive line.
26. Kansas City Chiefs – Dylan Moses (Alabama) – Inside Linebacker
The Chiefs defense is a little bit of a mess everywhere outside of a handful of players and they need to add more dynamic pieces. Moses may be coming off of ACL surgery heading into the draft but, prior to that, he would have been a sure-fire top-20 pick. He’s athletic enough to cover from the linebacker position and a strong tackler with the ability to stuff the run through the middle. A player like Moses, who can play through the tackles, could heavily improve Kansas City’s 30th-ranked NFL run defense.
27. Green Bay Packers – Tyler Johnson (Minnesota) – Wide Receiver
When the running game didn’t work against the 49ers, the passing game didn’t either. No wide receiver on the Packers – not named Davante Adams – even had more than 10 receiving yards. Aaron Rodgers isn’t getting younger and he needs more effective targets. In every game since Week 2, Johnson either caught a touchdown or went over 100 yards receiving. He might not jump off the screen at people but he has the route-running ability to simply get open and make plays. His fairly secure hands could be just what the Packers to energize their passing attack.
28. Seattle Seahawks – Tyler Biadasz (Wisconsin) – Center
As good as Russell Wilson has been this year, Seahawks brass really hasn’t given him much protection. His offensive line has given up the eighth-most QB hits and though he’s incredibly elusive, Wilson has been sacked 35 times (t-12th). The Seahawks are a run-heavy team and Biadasz would greatly help open up holes as well as protect Wilson. He is already a primed run blocker from his collegiate career but could develop into a complete center in Brian Schottenheimer‘s defense. Biadasz would be a perfect fit for the Seahawks.
29. New England Patriots – Jake Fromm (Georgia) – Quarterback
For maybe the first time during his playing career, Tom Brady seriously looks to be declining. The Patriots may not have the most dynamic group of receivers but a 61.1 completion percentage in today’s NFL isn’t going to cut it. Fromm may not be the flashiest prospect in this year’s draft but he’s one of the most sure-fire quarterbacks when it comes to short/intermediate throws. Georgia’s inconsistent receivers haven’t done him any favors either. Fromm would be a safe bet for Bill Belichick if he wants to continue to compete but elects not to re-sign Brady come March (as crazy as that may seem). The Pats are always in ‘win now’ mode and Fromm could go from being one of Kirby Smart‘s favorite players to coach to being one of Belichick’s.
30. San Fransisco 49ers – Bryce Hall (Virginia) – Cornerback
The Niners pass rush is one of (and will remain one of for a while) the most dominant position groups anywhere in the entire league. It has been so good, that a secondary that was fairly awful last year has completely turned around. However, they could still add more talent to reinforce the backend. Hall would likely be slated to go even higher than 30th if not for a hand injury that limited him to just six games in 2019. He led the NCAA in passes defended in 2018 and having a player that can break up plays opposite Richard Sherman could be a huge asset for San Fran.
31. Baltimore Ravens – Marvin Wilson (Florida State) – Defensive Tackle
A Ravens pass rush has finally emerged over the past couple of weeks for Baltimore. They could still use another presence off the edge but more importantly, need any player that can pressure the quarterback. The Ravens went after Gerald McCoy before the beginning of the season because they knew they needed an interior player that could get after the passer and Wilson may be it. He’s a compact player with the ability to completely overpower offensive lineman. Wilson would be a great scheme fit in the Ravens defense. The mold for a defensive tackle in Don Martindale‘s defense is closer defined as a big run-stopping plug but Wilson would add important variety.
32. New Orleans Saints – Justin Jefferson (LSU) – Wide Receiver
Every year there is one wide receiver that makes a jump from a good prospect, to a standout. That has been Jefferson this year. LSU’s aerial attack with Burrow has been historic but forgotten in all of the coverage is the incredibly talented pass catchers on the team. Jefferson is perhaps best known for his ability to find soft spots in zone coverage but also has an underrated high-point. He has 13 touchdowns in 2019 for the Tigers. The Saints receivers outside of Michael Thomas are very thin and adding a pass catcher that can get open in the endzone and in the intermediate would be beneficial.