Freedman’s 2020 NFL Mock Draft: Projecting All 32 First-Round Picks
Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images. Pictured: Joe Burrow, Justin Jefferson
With the College Football Playoff National Championship on Monday night, the process of evaluating prospects for the 2020 NFL Draft will start in earnest very soon.
And that means it’s time to release the first Action Network mock draft.
Freedman’s 2020 NFL Mock Draft 1.0
With the scouting combine (Feb. 24), we’ll get a lot of information that could change our perception of many players, but as of now, this mock draft represents how I imagine the first round could unfold.
This mock draft is primarily predictive but also a tad prescriptive and entirely tentative. With the combine, free agency and trades, the constellations of the draft universe will evolve over the next few months, so there will be lots of course corrections as we navigate this space.
Also, since the draft order isn’t fully set and not all of these players have even declared for the draft, I’m not going to write much in the way of analysis. That can wait till later.
And if you play dynasty fantasy football, check out my way-too-early rookie rankings.
1. Bengals: Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
The 2019 Heisman Trophy winner is a one-year wonder, but he has two starting seasons to his name, which should allay some fears about his outlier seasons, and I’m yet to see a mock draft that doesn’t have the Ohio native going No. 1 to the Bengals.
2. Redskins: Chase Young, EDGE, Ohio State
Just last year, the Cardinals took Kyler Murray at No. 1 after drafting Josh Rosen in Round 1 in 2018, so theoretically the Redskins could do something similar here in selecting Tua Tagovailoa or Justin Herbert, but I expect that they will give 2019 No. 15 pick Dwayne Haskins another year to prove himself.
Of the non-quarterback prospects, Young is the no-doubt top option.
3. Lions: Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State
Last year, the Lions allowed a league-high 503.2 air yards and yards after the catch per game (per AirYards.com). They need significant help in the secondary.
4. Giants: Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
The Giants could use help on the offensive line, and tackles Nate Solder and Mike Remmers are average and over 30 years old. Thomas is universally mocked in the top 10 and is arguably the top tackle in the class.
5. Dolphins: Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
6. Chargers: Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
I expect Herbert to end up in the top 10 one way or another, and there’s a real chance the Chargers move on from quarterback Philip Rivers this offseason.
7. Panthers: Jedrick Wills Jr., OT, Alabama
The Panthers have a number of needs, but their offensive line needs significant help, and Wills fits the draft range.
8. Cardinals: CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
The Cardinals find the long-term successor to franchise icon Larry Fitzgerald, and they pair their new receiver with his college quarterback.
9. Jaguars: Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson
Not one linebacker to play for the Jags in 2019 had a Pro Football Focus grade of even 70, and the 2019 Butkus Award winner is likely to go in the top 12.
10. Browns: Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa
Wirfs has started since his true freshman season and hails from a school with a history of producing NFL offensive linemen. The Browns are still looking for the heir to Joe Thomas’ left tackle throne.
11. Jets: Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
Quarterback Sam Darnold needs pass-catching assistance anyway, and wide receiver Robby Anderson seems likely to leave in free agency. With back-to-back 1,000-10 seasons and a Biletnikoff Award, Jeudy is a strong option at No. 11 and might not even drop this far down the board.
12. Raiders: Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama
A five-star recruit with world-class speed and mediocre production, Ruggs feels like the kind of player the Raiders would reach for, and they need a wide receiver.
13. Colts: A.J. Epenesa, EDGE, Iowa
You can almost never have too many pass rushers, and Justin Houston and Jabaal Sheard will be 31 years old this year. Epenesa is likely to be selected in the middle of Round 1 after consecutive seasons with 10-plus sacks.
14. Buccaneers: Grant Delpit, S, LSU
The Bucs are strong against the run and on the defensive line, and they have a feared linebacker duo in Devin White and Lavonte Davis, but their secondary is suspect.
I haven’t seen Delpit outside the top 20 in any mock, and he’s the one safety who looks like a locked-in Round 1 selection.
15. Broncos: Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn
Every year, there’s a player with top-five potential who falls down the board. That could be Brown in 2020.
Not all teams prioritize interior defensive linemen, and not many teams picking in the top-half of Round 1 have notable needs at the position. The Broncos get a gift in Brown at No. 15, and he could be great next to edge defender Von Miller.
16. Falcons: Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina
The Falcons need someone else on the line to play alongside defensive end Grady Jarrett, and the 2019 All-American could make an instance impact in Dan Quinn’s defense.
17. Cowboys: Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama
I bet the Cowboys will figure out a way to keep both quarterback Dak Prescott and wide receiver Amari Cooper this offseason, but that will likely mean that they lose No. 1 cornerback Byron Jones.
Diggs has good size (6-foot-2, 207 pounds) and is probably a top-three corner in the class.
18. Dolphins*: Yetur Gross-Matos, EDGE, Penn State
The Dolphins have no established edge defenders on defense, and Gross Matos is likely to be drafted in the second half of Round 1.
*Pick via Steelers
19. Raiders*: Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma
The Raiders entered the 2019 season ostensibly hoping that the headhunting 29-year-old Vontaze Burfict would be their top off-ball linebacker.
That clearly didn’t work out.
Murray is universally mocked in Round 1, and there’s a chance the Raiders could take him at No. 12.
*Pick via Bears
20. Jaguars*: Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU
The Jags need help in the secondary, and they got this pick by trading away No. 1 cornerback Jalen Ramsey. It seems fitting that they’d use to draft his replacement, and Fulton has the potential to be a shutdown NFL defender.
*Pick via Rams
21. Eagles: Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson
The Eagles opened the season with Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson and Nelson Agholor as their starting wide receivers. None of those guys made it to the playoffs.
The Eagles need an upgrade at the position, and Higgins is big (6-foot-4, 215 pounds), young (20 years old), pedigreed (five-star recruit) and productive (115-2,051-25 receiving over the past two years).
22. Bills: K’Lavon Chaisson, EDGE, LSU
The Bills have taken a defender in Round 1 in each of defensive-minded head coach Sean McDermott’s three years with the team, and they could use another edge defender to pair with the stalwart Jerry Hughes, who will be 32 years old next season.
23. Patriots: Laviska Shenault Jr., WR, Colorado
The Pats drafted wide receiver N’Keal Harry in the first round of the 2019 draft, but they need more help at the position, and Shenault fits the draft range. He disappointed with just 925 yards and six touchdowns this past season, but he’s big (6-foot-2, 220 pounds), and in 2018 he did it all with 86-1,011-6 receiving and 17-115-5 rushing in just nine games.
24. Saints: C.J. Henderson, CB, Florida
No. 1 cornerback Marshon Lattimore has been fantastic for the Saints since he entered the league in 2017, but they have been looking for a complement to him for most of the past three years.
Henderson has a good shot to come off the board in the second half of Round 1.
25. Vikings: Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville
There’s a pretty big tier drop between Andrew Thomas, Jedrick Wills Jr. and Tristan Wirfs as the top tackles in the class and Becton as the position’s No. 4 player, but the Vikings still need help on the offensive line, and left tackle Riley Reiff will be 32 years old next season.
26. Dolphins*: Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama
After trading away the All-Pro Minkah Fitzpatrick in Week 3, the Dolphins cycled through safeties in a way that could be described only as “NSFW.” In Minkah’s college teammate, the Dolphins find his replacement.
*Pick via Texans
27. Seahawks: Raekwon Davis, DL, Alabama
Davis flashed as a sophomore with a team-high 8.5 sacks, but in the two years since then, he’s cobbled together just two sacks and generally underwhelmed.
But he’s big (6-foot-7, 312 pounds) and versatile enough to line up all over the defensive line, and the Seahawks need more depth in the trenches, and I expect they will value his potential and well-rounded ability.
28. Ravens: Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU
The Ravens need another playmaking wide receiver to pair with Marquise Brown to help them open up their offense, and Reagor is a Hollywood-esque receiver who is still getting some first-round hype despite putting up just 700 yards and scoring six touchdowns last year.
But he’s young (21 years old) and fast (a reported 4.30-second 40-yard time), and in 2018 he had 1,231 yards and 11 touchdowns as a sophomore. With Reagor playing opposite Brown, the Ravens could really stretch opposing defenses.
29. Titans: Terrell Lewis, EDGE, Alabama
Edge defender Cameron Wake is 37, and he missed most of this past season with a knee injury. The Titans need another player to pair with second-year starter Harold Landry, and Lewis is hanging around in the second half of most Round 1 mocks.
30. Packers: Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU
In the Divisional Round of the NFL playoffs, eight of quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ 16 completions and 160 of his 243 yards passing went to wide receiver Davante Adams.
The Packers need to find another pass-catching option for Rodgers, and Jefferson has been the nation’s most productive receiver this year with his 102-1,434-18 performance.
31. Chiefs: D’Andre Swift, RB, Georgia
It’s usually not a good idea to draft a back in Round 1, but the Chiefs don’t have a lot of needs, and they aren’t settled at the position. Swift is a top-tier three-down producer with youth (20 years old) and pedigree (five-star recruit).
He’s a luxury pick, but he could be a great player alongside quarterback Patrick Mahomes in the Chiefs offense for 5-8 years.