2020 NFL Mock Draft: Scott Smith’s Latest First-Round Projections
Mark Brown/Getty Images. Pictured: Tua Tagovailoa
In a special collaboration with The Action Network, you’ll find the third edition of Scott Smith‘s 2020 NFL mock draft below.
Scott is a football analyst who has written for Rotoviz and Player Profiler. He’s been the No. 1 mock ranker over the past two years at Mock Draft Database.
Scott Smith’s 2020 NFL Mock Draft
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1. Bengals: Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
An afterthought coming into the 2019 season, Burrow parlayed his senior season into a Heisman Trophy, a national championship and is now set up to be the top overall pick in the NFL draft. The Bengals have utilized all of their interview time with Burrow and have this pick all but locked in.
2. Redskins: Chase Young, EDGE, Ohio State
Chase Young is widely considered the best player in this draft after coming off a season with 16.5 sacks. That’s good news for a team that is often ranked near the bottom of the league.
The links to Tua Tagovailoa have been weak smoke screens at best. Ron Rivera is now calling the shots for the Redskins and will be happy to select Young to anchor a talent rich defensive line in Washington.
3. Lions: Derrick Brown, IDL, Auburn
After the exile of Darius Slay to Philadelphia, Jeffrey Okudah has been the pick for Detroit in many mock drafts. While cornerback is certainly a major need for the Lions, the addition of Desmond Trufant helps secure things a bit.
Drafting Brown would help a defense that managed only 28 sacks in 2019 while setting up Detroit to draft a CB in Round 2.
4. Giants: Jedrick Wills, OT, Alabama
Dave Gettleman marches to the beat of his own drum.
Linebacker Isaiah Simmons could slide into this slot as the best player on the board at this point, but it makes more sense to invest in an offensive lineman to help both Saquon Barkley and second-year quarterback Daniel Jones. The offensive tackle position has had little-to-no consensus throughout the pre-draft process.
Joe Judge has connections to Nick Saban, thus linking Wills as the pick for the Giants.
5. Dolphins: Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
The controversy starts here with the Dolphins. The rumors of Tagovailoa’s demise due to failed medicals have steadily gained steam as the draft moves closer, and Miami has consistently been linked to Herbert throughout the process.
Herbert lands in a good situation with the Dolphins where he can be brought along slowly behind Ryan Fitzpatrick.
6. Chargers: Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson
Tyrod Taylor starting at QB in Los Angeles could be a real possibility in 2020.
A trade up with the Lions to nab a QB has been a popular scenario over the last month. However, with Herbert gone and the uncertainty surrounding Tagovailoa’s medical check, the Chargers elect to go with the most versatile defender in the draft. With 4.39 speed, Simmons projects as a dynamic defender with the skills to match-up with division foes Travis Kelce and Darren Waller.
7. Panthers: Jeffrey Okudah, CB, Ohio State
Okudah slides to Carolina, where he would be an instant replacement for the departed James Bradberry. Okudah could just as easily go to the Lions earlier in the draft with Derrick Brown being the pivot here for Matt Rhule.
8. Cardinals: Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa
With left tackle D.J. Humphries locked up for the next three years, it’s important to solidify the right side of the offensive line. Wirfs put on a display of athleticism at the combine and may be the safest pick of the top tackles.
Allowing Kyler Murray more time in the pocket to process is exactly what Kliff Kingsbury’s offense needs to make a jump in 2020.
9. Jaguars: Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
Weeks ago, this did not seem like a realistic possibility. If the whispers of Tua’s slide are true, it will stop with the Jaguars. As a sixth-round pick, Gardner Minshew was a pleasant surprise in 2019. However, Shad Khan is growing impatient with his front office and coaching staff that has passed up on a few budding stars at QB.
Tua has shades of Mark Brunell in his game, which is a memory Jacksonville fans desperately need.
10. Browns: Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
The Browns avoided any semblance of improving the tackle position in 2019. Subsequently, Baker Mayfield’s play regressed as he was consistently playing under pressure. With new coach Kevin Stefanski now calling the shots, expect the tackle position to be addressed.
If the Browns make this pick, Thomas may be the most complete option among the top tackles. The Browns have also been rumored as a potential trade partner for teams looking to move up for one of the top WRs. This may make sense as the Browns have also been linked to Ezra Cleveland, who may better fit Stefanski’s zone blocking scheme.
11. Jets: Cee Dee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
The Jets are another team looking to address the tackle position. Mekhi Becton could certainly make sense as a blind side protector for Sam Darnold. However in this scenario, I have the Jets adding a playmaker in Lamb: The Oklahoma product would join Breshad Perriman and Jamison Crowder to give New York a formidable trio of receivers.
The Jets are among the rumored front-runners to land disgruntled Redskins’ tackle Trent Williams, which could address the tackle position.
12. Raiders: C.J. Henderson, CB, Florida
The Raiders’ defense gave up more than 4,000 yards passing and 33 touchdowns in 2019. Competing in an AFC West division that features Tyreek Hill, Keenan Allen and Courtland Sutton will require better talent in the secondary than what Mike Mayock and Jon Gruden have rostered.
With a resume that includes excellent size (6-foot-1, 204 pounds), speed (4.39-second 40) and ball skills, Henderson projects strongly at the next level.
WR is also a strong consideration here after the failed Antonio Brown experiment.
13. 49ers: Henry Ruggs, WR, Alabama
Ruggs is the true enigma of this draft.
Light on production and heavy on athletic traits, Ruggs has the speed (4.28s) that coaches covet in the modern NFL. After seeing their championship aspirations dash away in the arms of Tyreek Hill, John Lynch gives Kyle Shanahan a gift that could push the San Fransisco offense to the next level.
14. Buccaneers: Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville
The Bucs are all in with Tom Brady in 2020. The top priority will be protecting their $50 million investment.
Becton may have the highest upside of the top tackles, but some scouts are concerned with his size and work ethic moving forward in the NFL. History is littered with players Becton’s size failing at the next level. If Becton can put it all together, the Bucs will get the bully needed to keep Brady clean.
15. Broncos: Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
Jeudy is at the top of many evaluation boards among WRs. Some scouts have concerns about Jeudy primarily succeeding in the slot at Alabama, which could cause him to slip behind both Lamb and Ruggs.
Recent reports have John Elway anxiously trying trade up to select one of the top WRs in this draft. Jeudy would be an excellent fit for a Broncos team that already features Courtland Sutton as their alpha.
16. Falcons: Javon Kinlaw, IDL, South Carolina
The Falcons have hole across their entire defense. Kinlaw displayed insane potential before shutting it down at the Senior Bowl. While Kinlaw displays top-10 potential, he is still a bit raw and few teams need help along the interior defensive line.
Kinlaw would immediately bring a disruptive presence to an Atlanta defense that struggled to create pressure on opposing QBs.
17. Cowboys: K’Lavon Chaisson, EDGE, LSU
After losing Robert Quinn in free agency, the Cowboys have consistently been liked to Chaisson. A leader on the LSU defense, Chaisson would provide value at an otherwise weak talent group in this draft.
If the Cowboys pass on Chaisson, keep an eye on Cesar Ruiz as a sleeper pick after the retirement of Travis Frederick.
18. Dolphins: Josh Jones, OT, Houston
The Dolphins invest in their future here as they take Jones to protect the earlier investment they made in Herbert. Jones has made the rounds on the interview circuit and is widely considered the top tackle after the big four at the beginning of the draft.
An adept pass-blocker at Houston, Jones should come in and immediately compete for a starting job in Miami.
19. Raiders: Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU
Jefferson has been mocked to multiple different teams throughout this process. If Mayock and Gruden do pass on a WR with their earlier pick, it will be a priority to select a WR at this position in the draft.
Jefferson is widely considered to be the next WR prospect to be selected once Lamb, Jeudy and Ruggs are off the board. Jefferson is a smooth athlete who excels after the catch. Some have projected him as a poor man’s Michael Thomas.
20. Jaguars: Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU
The Jaguars desperately need help at CB. Starting the 2020 season with D.J. Hayden and Rashaan Melvin would be unacceptable. Getting a consensus on CB rankings has been near impossible leading up to the draft.
Here, the Jaguars take the SEC battle tested Fulton. Fulton played exceptionally well against other WRs projected to be selected in the early rounds of the draft and would be a safe bet for the Jaguars.
21. Eagles: Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma
Projecting anything other than a WR is sure to draw the ire of Eagles fans. While WR is a need, it is also one of the deepest positions in the draft.
Murray has been renowned among scouts as one of the best interviews during the pre-draft process. Murray would bring and enforcing style to an Eagles’ linebacking corps that is sorely lacking talent.
22. Vikings: Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor
Stefon Diggs is now in Buffalo, leaving the Viking in need of help at WR. Mims projects favorably as a physical presence opposite Adam Thielen. At 6-foot-3 and 207 pounds, Mims blazed a 4.38 at the combine.
Mims will need to refine his route tree in the pros and prove he can win on more than just his physical presence alone.
23. Patriots: Zach Baun, LB, Wisconsin
The post-Brady era has begun in New England, and many fans will be clamoring for a QB here in Jordan Love, but the simple truth is Love doesn’t fit what Bill Belichick looks for at the position. Also at the forefront is an aging defense that needs help along the front seven.
Baun projects as a typical Patriots defender with the ability to rush off the edge, and the smarts to play off the ball and read plays. Baun has some similar traits to the departed Kyle Van Noy.
24. Saints: Jordan Love, QB, Utah State
Drew Brees was all but retired during the offseason and is likely playing his final year in 2020. The Saints narrowly missed out on Patrick Mahomes in 2017 and now desperately need a replacement plan for Brees. While Love has often been compared to Mahomes, his decision-making has left a sour taste in many scouts across the league.
The physical tools are there for Love to succeed, but it will take a strong offensive mind like Sean Payton to have the confidence to make him a Day 1 selection.
25. Vikings: A.J. Terrell, CB, Clemson
Gone are Trae Waynes, Xavier Rhodes and Mackensie Alexander. Terrell should compete for starting reps early in Minnesota. He ran a 4.42 40-yard dash at the combine and at 6-foot-1, physically projects similarly to Rhodes.
26. Dolphins: Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama
After shipping Minkah Fitzpatrick to Pittsburgh, Miami replaces him with another Crimson Tide safety. McKinney brings versatility in all three phases of the defense and checks many of the boxes coaches are looking for.
McKinney brings so much to the table that I could just as easily see the Dolphins making this pick at 18.
27. Seahawks: Cesar Ruiz, C, Michigan
Ruiz is the best interior lineman in the 2020 NFL Draft. Rumors have him going as high as No. 17 to the Cowboys. The Seahawks have struggled at the center position since trading Max Unger to New Orleans. The 20-year-old prospect has All-Pro upside and could solidify the interior line for the next decade.
28. Ravens: Patrick Queen, LB, LSU
The Ravens have little at LB outside of Matt Judon. Queen would be an instant upgrade at LB for a Baltimore team that desperately needs an infusion of speed on defense. Queen brings sideline-to-sideline speed and elite athleticism to a position of need to Baltimore.
29. Titans: Isaiah Wilson, OT, Georgia
Tennessee was a surprise team in 2019. After re-signing Ryan Tannehill and retaining Derrick Henry via the franchise tag, it’s important that they keep the momentum rolling.
Losing Jack Conklin to Cleveland leaves a massive hole on the right side of the Titans’ offensive line. Wilson brings an impressive blend of size, mobility and power that would help the Titans continue their smash-mouth style of offense.
30. Packers: Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU
The Packers have spent multiple years trying to find a replacement for Jordy Nelson. With failed experiments and Allen Lazard penciled in as a starter, it’s time to step up and spend the requisite draft capital to fill the void.
Reagor is the explosive straight-line athlete the Green Bay offense needs to help take some of the pressure off Davante Adams.
31. 49ers: Ezra Cleveland, OT, Boise State
Cleveland is a player who has been on the rise after showing upper-level athleticism at the combine. Multiple teams have been linked to the offensive lineman, with San Fransisco having had an official visit with Cleveland.
While John Lynch is rumored to want to trade out of this position, a zone-blocking team looking for a lineman with movement skills could trade into this position to grab the Boise State product.
32. Chiefs: Jeff Gladney, CB, TCU
The Chiefs have minimal needs after winning the Super Bowl, but the exit of Kendall Fuller in free agency leaves a hole in the weakest positional group on their roster. Gladney comes in as an under-sized CB renowned for his competitive toughness.