The college football season ended Monday night with number-one ranked LSU claiming the National Championship 42-25 over number-three ranked Clemson. Joe Burrow‘s impressive outing put a cap on the 2019 season as a number of players played the last game of their collegiate careers. For some, Monday’s game was the end of their football journey but to the majority, the start to their next chapter. This NFL mock draft takes a look at the top prospects based on all current information.
The NFL draft is just three months away and the end of the college season means the beginning of the pre-draft process. Over the next months, there will be a number of events to showcase the talents of the next crop of NFL draftees. These will all come with their own set challenges but almost none can fully replace the resume the prospects have written for themselves over their college careers.
With a National Champion officially crowned, this is a look ahead to which players may be selected in the first round of the upcoming 2020 NFL draft.
Post-CFP First-Round NFL Mock Draft 2020
1. Cincinnati Bengals – Joe Burrow (LSU) – Quarterback
There’s not a lot else that can be said about why Burrow and the Bengals are a great match. The Bengals want a change at quarterback Burrow continues to defy the bar people set for him — even on college football’s biggest stage. The redshirt senior put on a show all of 2019 and had one of the biggest draft stock flips of all time. Burrow topped off his season with a Heisman-level National Championship game in which he tore up the number-one total defense in the country for 463 yards through the air and five touchdowns. He also added 58 yards on the ground and another score for good measure. Based on the historic season he had in 2019, the Bengals should make the Burrow a Bengal in 2020.
2. Washington Redskins – Chase Young (Ohio State) – Edge
With a new coaching regime in town, Washington is likely looking to gets its hands on as many good players as possible; regardless of position. Young is the best overall player in the draft and would be a great piece to give Ron Rivera as he tries to shape this Washington team into a winner for the first time in over a decade. He has maybe the best speed off the edge of any prospect since Jadeveon Clowney. The Skins drafted the most important position on offense in last year’s draft, and now they find a great player at the most important position of defense.
3. Detroit Lions – Isaiah Simmons (Clemson) – Linebacker/Safety
The Lions should be looking to add as much talent as they can via the draft and trading back would be ideal at #3. This could be aided by a potential scramble for quarterbacks as well. Third-overall may seem high for Simmons but the hype train sped up a bit over his last four games and that is without a presumed elite combine performance. He was the best defensive player on the field in the National Championship, affecting the game in multiple ways, from multiple positions. Once NFL scouts see the athletic traits that make Simmons so versatile in person, he’ll continue to jump up draft boards. In Detroit, Simmons could fill the hole Quandre Diggs left or start to reshape their linebacking core.
4. New York Giants – Jeffrey Okudah (Ohio State) – Cornerback
The Giants’ defense is leaky almost everywhere and adding someone to help out Deandre Baker makes a lot of sense. Okudah had a solid showing against Clemson but was matching up against two very good receivers in his only CFP game. With Shaun Wade out of the game, Okudah did the best he could considering what he was asked to do. He’s maybe the only corner that projects to be a true lockdown corner in this years draft and if the Giants’ believe that as well, they should pick him. A team can never take too many shots at corner when you’re in a rebuild.
5. Miami Dolphins – Tua Tagovailoa (Alabama) – Quarterback
With the news of Tagovailoa officially declaring for the draft, the Dolphins are in a good position to get the player they presumably sold their entire roster for. Even though he has a history of injury in college, Tagovailoa is still probably the most talented quarterback in the draft. The Dolphins have a very thin roster in a lot of places, but if Chris Grier believes that Tagovailoa is the perfect guy to build his team around, he cannot pass on him. Though Miami has three picks in the first round of the draft, they will likely be looking to find a quarterback early.
6. Los Angeles Chargers – Justin Herbert (Oregon) – Quarterback
Whether the Tom Brady to LA fit has any real shot of coming to fruition, the Chargers need an answer at quarterback past next season. Herbert put on a show at the Rose Bowl against a good Wisconsin defense and undoubtedly upped his draft stock in the last college game scouts will see him play. He didn’t overly impress with his arm, going 14-20 for 138 yards and a pick, but added three touchdowns on the ground over nine carries. Herbert may need to sit a year before jumping into NFL action and the Chargers could give him that luxury before turning to him as the face of the franchise.
7. Carolina Panthers – Jerry Jeudy (Alabama) – Wide Receiver
With all the hype around the wide receiver class in 2020, many have forgotten just how good Jeudy actually is. He’s maybe the best receiving prospect since Julio Jones and showed his doubters exactly what he can do against Michigan. On the first play from scrimmage for Alabama’s offense, Mac Jones hit Jeudy for an 85-yard catch and run touchdown and he wasn’t done yet. Jeudy finished with 204 yards on six grabs in his final college game. Passing on a tackle could be hard for Carolina but when you have a player like Jeudy staring you in the face, it’s hard to say no.
8. Arizona Cardinals – Andrew Thomas (Georgia) – Offensive Tackle
Kyler Murray showed a lot as a rookie in 2019, but he can only do so much with the offensive line he has been given. The first-year quarterback was sacked more than any other player at his position. Getting the best tackle in the draft at eight-overall is all the Cardinals could ask for in Thomas. He is a crazy athletic player for a 6’5″ 320lb tackle and should help the Cardinals mightly improve their run and pass blocking. Coming off a standout season for Georgia, Thomas will be a plug-and-play left tackle next year in the pros.
9. Jacksonville Jaguars – CeeDee Lamb (Oklahoma) – Wide Receiver
With Tom Coughlin out in Jacksonville, the Jaguars could be looking for a new identity. If that identity is on offense, they need to get more weapons around their quarterbacks. Lamb did what he does best against LSU and made big plays against a very good secondary. His night was highlighted by a 51-yard contested catch and reception down the left sideline, as he finished with another 100+ yard game on just four catches. That ability to make big plays is what had him finish as a first-team All-American and a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award. The Jags receivers could still improve and Lamb would give them a true number-one option.
10. Cleveland Browns – Jedrick Wills Jr. (Alabama) – Offensive Tackle
After hiring Kevin Stefanski, the Browns are going to want to get the most out of their offense in 2020. That starts with improving the offensive line. Both of Cleveland’s current tackles had awful years and Wills could slot in at whichever spot they choose. The second-team All-American only gave up one sack all of 2019 while allowing just 3.5 QB hurries over 714 snaps. Wills made 27 starts at right tackle for the Crimson Tide but could be asked to play the left side with Greg Robinson‘s contract set to expire this off-season.
11. New York Jets – Tristan Wirfs (Iowa) – Offensive Tackle
Now that Alex Leatherwood has committed to staying at Alabama for his senior year, Wirfs is the best offensive lineman available to the Jets. New York’s offensive line struggled around Sam Darnold in 2019 and was probably their weakest position group on either side of the ball. The unit gave up the fourth-most sacks, fifth-most QB hits and tied for last in rushing yards per attempt. Wirfs is a very gifted athlete with great footwork for a big man. Even if Wirfs only translates into a right tackle, he’s a needed upgrade for the Jets.
12. Las Vegas Raiders – Tee Higgins (Clemson) – Wide Receiver
As the number-one option for Trevor Lawrence, Higgins has improved statistically in every major category in 2019. He topped his 2018 totals in every major category while leading the Tigers in each receiving yards, yards per reception and receiving touchdowns. Darren Waller was the only player on the Raiders to eclipse 700 receiving yards and adding help at receiver should be a must this off-season. Giving Derek Carr a player that can make contested catches like Higgins would open up the Raiders offense in all areas of the field. Higgins’ display of versatility in the National Championship was just a bonus on a fantastic season.
13. Indianapolis Colts – A.J. Epenesa (Iowa) – Defensive End
Epenesa’s ability to win off the edge finally translated into production at the end of the year and had him looking like the player most expected he would be coming into the season. Over his last five games, the defensive end recorded 28 total tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, 8.0 sacks, and four forced fumbles. Jabaal Sheard will be an unrestricted free agent this summer after a 4.5 sack 2019 and the Colts need will need more help off the edge. Epenesa could line up at a number of positions as a pass rush specialist early but then fully take over for Justin Houston when he inevitably leaves Indianapolis. If Epenesa has a strong pre-draft showing, he will vault back into the top-10 come April.
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Grant Delpit (LSU) – Safety
The Tampa secondary could use a lot of improvement after allowing the third-most passing yards in 2019 and Delpit is easily the best safety in the draft. He’s had a somewhat rocky season for a player that possesses top-10 talent but still managed to take home the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation’s best defensive back. Delpit would be an instant upgrade at either safety position for the Bucs even if he needs to improve on his tackling when he gets to the NFL. Delpit flew around the field during the National Championship and made a huge impact; registering six tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble.
15. Denver Broncos – Derrick Brown (Auburn) – Defensive Tackle
While this might not be the sexiest pick for the Broncos, they get maybe the most talented player left on the board. Denver badly needs a new left tackle but with the top three off the board, they elect to select Brown. Brown has been a wrecking ball up the middle for his entire college career and should inject some much-needed youth into an aging Broncos interior defensive line. Adding the 2019 SEC defensive player of the year would give Denver maybe the best 3-4 defensive line in football.
16. Atlanta Falcons – Kristian Fulton (LSU) – Cornerback
The Falcons, maybe to a fault, played themselves out of a top-10 draft pick but are still in dire need of more talent on defense. Especially considering head coach Dan Quinn will be back for another term in 2020. Atlanta finished outside the top half of the league in both total and passing defense and could use an injection at corner with their depth at the position waning by the year. Fulton was given all he could handle with Tee Higgins in the National Championship, and though he didn’t fully lock him down, did about a good a job against a top-12 talent as you would expect. If the Falcons are to get back to the playoffs in 2020, they need to create a more stable defense.
17. Dallas Cowboys – C.J. Henderson (Florida) – Cornerback
A lot has been made about Dallas’s inability to utilize its talent but their secondary is the position group that was probably lacking the most. They will also be likely losing their best corner – Byron Jones – to free agency in 2020. Henderson may not be the athlete that Jones is but he has natural ball skills and has played at a level high enough to potentially start Week 1 for the Cowboys. He may not have taken the elite step forward many expected after a very strong sophomore year, but he still has the size and talent to be a solid starting corner in the NFL.
18. Miami Dolphins (via Pittsburgh Steelers) – Creed Humphrey (Oklahoma) – Interior Offensive Line
Building a formidable offensive line should be off-season priority number-one for the Dolphins in 2020. Both quarterbacks that lined up under center for the Dolphins had a terrible time staying clean, demonstrated by the league-high 147 QB hits they surrendered. Their running backs didn’t fare any better — rushing for the least yards in the NFL. Despite the Sooners getting destroyed by LSU in the Paech Bowl, the center had another good game indicative of his 2nd-team All-American season. He could slot in on the Dolphins line at either center or guard day-one.
Maxx Crosby had an impressive rookie year, and if he keeps up his play, will form a formidable Raiders pass rush over the next few seasons with first-rounder Clelin Ferrell. Adding Kinlaw would then give the unit and even bigger boost. He’s incredibly explosive out of his stance and has great size for a defensive tackle. Kinlaw may have the most value to a team that plays a 3-4 because of his versatility but he would give the Raiders a scary, young defensive line. With the Raiders still in rebuilding mode, Mike Mayock needs to keep taking players based on their talent and not worry about filling immediate needs.
20. Jacksonville Jaguars (via Los Angeles Rams) – Jaylon Johnson (Utah) – Cornerback
Johnson has been steadily rising up draft boards after an incredibly impressive season against Pac-12 competition. He recorded 11 pass defenses on way to be named a second-team All-American and still has room to improve after a solid season. Johnson has displayed great ball skills to go along with his great size but could get even better learning besides A.J Bouye. The Jacksonville secondary wasn’t all bad in 2019 but could get another boost with Johnson after losing Jalen Ramsey.
21. Philadelphia Eagles – Laviska Shenault Jr. (Colorado) – Wide Reciever
As much as the Eagles badly need help at corner, the talent pool in the secondary is beginning to dry up earlier than expected. Carson Wentz did the best he could do given the receivers he had in 2019, but the receiving corps in Philadelphia needs more talent. Shenault is exactly the kind of player they could use. Similar to when the Eagles acquired Golden Tate at last year’s trade deadline, picking Shenault would give Wentz a player that is best at making tacklers miss in the open field and collecting YAC. Not having a wide receiver record over 500 yards receiving cannot happen in back-to-back years.
22. Buffalo Bills – K’Lavon Chaisson (LSU) – Outside Linebacker
Though Josh Allen seems in need of new weapons, there isn’t really a receiver at this spot that is both good value and a good fit for Buffalo — assuming they keep John Brown. So instead, they elect to draft Chaisson. Lorenzo Alexander‘s retirement was coming sooner rather than later, and the Bills quickly find his replacement. Chaisson was asked to do a number of things from his position in college and would add another valuable chess piece to a very good Bills defense. He was maybe the best athlete on LSU’s defense in 2019.
23. New England Patriots – Henry Ruggs III (Alabama) – Wide Receiver
Whether the stuff about Brady not having any weapons is overblown or not, the Patriots do not have a real dynamic deep threat. Phillip Dorsett has good speed but his hands and route running leave a lot to be desired. Ruggs would be an easy fix to this problem. He will presumably record a sub 4.30 time at the combine and has the explosiveness to both burn corners down the sideline and take a jet sweep 50 yards to the house. The Patriots look like they will be heavily relying on the run game and Ruggs could be implemented into the offense similar to the way Marquise Brown was for the Ravens.
24. New Orleans Saints – Bryce Hall (Virginia) – Cornerback
The Saints secondary has been coming along nicely over the past few years and beefing it up, even more, could make it one of the elite groups in the NFL for a long while. Hall’s season at Virginia ended prematurely but could still end up back in the first round if he tests well coming off of the ankle injury he sustained Week 6. Hall has maybe the highest football IQ of any corner in the draft to go along with his ability to match up with bigger receivers at 6’1″ 200lbs. Eli Apple will likely be let walk in free agency and the Saints should continue to add depth at a position as important as corner.
25. Minnesota Vikings – Josh Jones (Houston) – Offensive Tackle
The 49ers defensive line had their way with the Vikings offensive tackles in their playoff game and it had a big ripple effect on the entire team. Both Dalvin Cook and Kirk Cousins had very rough games as San Francisco absolutely ran over Minnesota. Jones may not be ready to play in the NFL just yet but he shows flashes of the traits you want to see in a franchise left tackle. He has great size, good feet, and could benefit from sitting early in the NFL behind a Vikings line that still possesses starting-caliber tackles.
26. Miami Dolphins (via Houston Texans) – Yetur Gross-Matos (Penn State) – Edge
After taking two players on offense earlier in the draft, the Dolphins take maybe the most talented defensive player left on the board. Gross-Matos finished 2019 with a number of strong performances and still has a lot of room for improvement in his game. He wins a lot off the edge by simply being a better football player than his competition but if he improves more on his technique, can be a scary edge rusher in the NFL. Miami finished dead-last in the NFL with just 23.0 sacks and Gross-Matos could be the start of the solution.
27. Seattle Seahawks – Trevon Diggs (Alabama) – Cornerback
Davante Adams did a real number on Seattle’s corners and showed just how vulnerable to elite receivers the Seahawks secondary is. Shaquill Griffin had a decent game but the secondary as a whole was simply outmatched by Adams as he recorded 160 receiving yards and two scores. Diggs played relatively well (against a somewhat weak schedule) as a junior at Alabama and has a lot of the intangibles you look for in a number-one corner. He has the size, ball skills, and backpedals well off of the line of scrimmage. If Diggs can step up his play against better competition, he would add needed depth to Seattle’s backend.
28. Baltimore Ravens – Curtis Weaver (Boise State) – Outside Linebacker
While the Ravens pass rush has been the subject of criticism for two years, they had maybe their worst game of the season against the Titans last Saturday. Matt Judon had his fair share of opportunities to make big plays but came up just short multiple times as Baltimore allowed multiple big plays in both the pass and run game. Playing outside of the power-five, Weaver may take a bit longer to develop into a great NFL pass rusher but he was still incredibly productive in each of his three years of college. The way he explodes off the line of scrimmage is the main reason he finished his Boise State career as the all-time leading sack artist in the Mountain West.
29. Tennessee Titans – Travis Etienne (Clemson) – Running Back
For the Titans to bring back Derrick Henry, they would likely have to spend a lot of money considering the concentrate of running backs hitting free agency. However, Henry was clearly the motor of the Titans offense in 2019. Enter Etienne; who projects to be an every-down back with the ability to explode in the open field. If the Titans can’t get Henry to resign at their own price, they could center their offense around Etienne for the near future. He has only had one game with under 90 yards from scrimmage since September.
30. Green Bay Packers – Justin Jefferson (LSU) – Wide Receiver
As I put in my last mock, there is always a wide receiver that skyrockets up boards every year and Jefferson is continuing to make an incredible case for himself. He had the most impressive performance of any player in their semi-final game against Oklahoma and followed it up with another good showing in the National Championship game. Receivers aren’t supposed to have 14 receptions for 227 yards and four touchdowns (all in the first half) against a top-four team in the country. Jefferson might not lift his stock much over the pre-draft process but he is doing everything can prior to fortify his position as a mid-first round pick.
31. Kansas City Chiefs – D’Andre Swift (Georgia) – Running Back
Going into the second half of their playoff game against the Texans, the Cheif’s running backs had just one yard as a unit. Andy Reid was forced to call plays down 24-0 to get them back in the game, but it tells you a little about the trust he has in his current group. Swift could come in next year for the Chiefs and potentially win the starting job out of training camp. He’s been the main cog in Georgia’s signature running attack for the last two seasons, racking up 2,780 scrimmage yards and an impressive 6.7 yards per touch. The Chiefs offense is already really good but Swift could make it borderline-unstoppable.
32. San Fransisco 49ers – Xavier McKinney (Alabama) – Safety
If there were any cracks in the armor of the 49ers, they aren’t showing. However, it’s fair to say that without the pass rush John Lynch has assembled, the secondary would not be having as much success. McKinney had an up and down year for Alabama but has shown a lot of positives by playing in a number of different ways. His versatility would benefit the 49ers as he could be implemented into a lot of different packages early in his career before transitioning to a full-time role. It’s rare you find a player that finished in the top-10 in the SEC in each tackles, pass defenses, interceptions, and forced fumbles.
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