Freedman’s 2020 NFL Mock Draft: Updated Projections for All 32 First-Round Picks
Chris Graythen/Getty Images. Pictured: Joe Burrow (9) of the LSU Tigers.
The Super Bowl is over, and the order for the 2020 NFL draft is now set as we head into the offseason. And that means it’s time for me to update my mock draft.
This version is fairly similar to the initial one I released shortly before the College Football Playoff National Championship, but I expect I will make significant changes to future versions in the coming months.
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 will 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.
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’ve yet to see a mock draft that doesn’t have the Ohio native going No. 1 to the Bengals.
Burrow had probably the greatest passing season ever for a collegiate quarterback with 5,671 yards and 60 touchdowns to six interceptions. His 76.3% completion rate and 12.5 adjusted yards per attempt were immaculate.
NFL draft props have been taken off the board over the past couple of weeks, but before that Burrow was -2000 at most books to go No. 1.
Pick in previous version: Burrow
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.
Among the non-quarterback prospects, Young is the no-doubt top option.
Pick in previous version: Young
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.
A unanimous five-star recruit entering college and unanimous All-American selection exiting college as a junior, Okudah is easily the top perimeter defender in the class. He held opponents to a passer rating of just 45.3 last year (per Pro Football Focus).
Pick in previous version: Okudah
4. Giants: Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
The Giants could use help on the offensive line, and tackles Nate Solder and Mike Remmers are both over 30 years old. Thomas is in the top 10 of most mocks and is arguably the top tackle in the class.
He started in every game of his college career, played at both tackle positions and was a unanimous All-American player last year.
Pick in previous version: Thomas
5. Dolphins: Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
Pick in previous version: Tagovailoa
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.
Herbert was named the 2020 Senior Bowl MVP, and he flashed in the week of practice leading up to the game.
With four years of starting experience, Herbert has plenty to recommend him to the NFL, and if not for Burrow and Tua, he would be a fine candidate to be the No. 1 overall pick.
As a senior, he completed 66.8% of his passes for 3,471 yards and 32 touchdowns to just six interceptions in 14 games. I honestly don’t see much to dislike about Herbert other than the fact that he’s not much of a runner.
Pick in previous version: Herbert
7. Panthers: Jedrick Wills Jr., OT, Alabama
The Panthers have a lot of needs: I thought about mocking a linebacker to them here in the wake of franchise mainstay Luke Kuechly’s sudden retirement.
But their offensive line needs significant help. Last year, they started a sixth-round rookie on the blind side. That didn’t work out well.
Wills fits the draft range and can win as both a pass protector and run blocker.
Pick in previous version: Wills
8. Cardinals: CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
The Cardinals find the long-term successor to franchise icon Larry Fitzgerald, and they give their franchise quarterback one of his favorite wide receivers from college.
Lamb and Jerry Jeudy are in a dead heat to be the No. 1 receiver selected in the draft, and I think Lamb might actually have the edge. Like Jeudy, he has back-to-back years with 1,000-plus yards and double-digit touchdowns, but he’s a little bigger and might be more versatile.
Pick in previous version: Lamb
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 and unanimous All-American selection is likely to go in the top 12.
Simmons is a versatile middle-of-the-field defender who can stop the run, cover running backs and tight ends and rush the passer.
Pick in previous version: Simmons
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.
There are questions as to whether Wirfs can play on the left side in the NFL, but the Browns could stand to upgrade at both tackle positions, and at worst, Wirfs looks like an anchor at right tackle.
And at best, Wirfs might turn out to be the heir to Joe Thomas’ long-vacant blind side throne.
Pick in previous version: Wirfs
11. Jets: Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville
I think 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 he has started to move up the board in recent mocks.
On top of that, the Jets really need help at the position. Their offensive line is a weakness anyway, and starting tackles Kelvin Beachum and Brandon Shell are both free agents.
Pick in previous version: Jerry Jeudy
12. Raiders: Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
The Raiders have perhaps the league’s least inspiring receiver unit with Tyrell Williams, Zay Jones and Hunter Renfrow. They have a clear need at the position, and Jeudy might actually have the kind of speed the Raiders crave.
#Alabama WR Jerry Jeudy #4 has ridiculous play speed.
The Ole Miss DB who can’t close the gap in pursuit? That’s Zedrick Woods #36, who ran a 4.29 40-yd dash at the Combine. pic.twitter.com/uo41EFk9Nt
— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) March 7, 2019
With back-to-back 1,000-10 seasons and a Fred Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s top receiver in 2018, Jeudy is a strong option the Raiders would be lucky to get at No. 12.
Pick in previous version: Henry Ruggs III
13. Colts: 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, but Brown is a unanimous All-American selection and too good to pass on here.
He could conceivably go as high as No. 3.
Pick in previous version: A.J. Epenesa
14. Buccaneers: A.J. Epenesa, EDGE, Iowa
Teams can almost never have too many pass rushers — especially in a division with quarterbacks Drew Brees, Matt Ryan and Cam Newton — and the Bucs might lose edge defenders Shaq Barrett and Carl Nassib in free agency.
Epenesa is likely to be selected in the middle of Round 1 after consecutive seasons with 10-plus sacks.
Pick in previous version: Grant Delpit
15. Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina
The Broncos might lose interior defensive linemen Derek Wolfe, Shelby Harris and Adam Gotsis via free agency, so they have a need.
Kinlaw is a locked-in Round 1 talent and could be an explosive disruptor next to edge rusher Von Miller in head coach Vic Fangio’s defense.
Pick in previous version: Derrick Brown
16. Falcons: Grant Delpit, S, LSU
Safeties Keanu Neal and Ricardo Allen have been either injured or ineffective for much of the past two seasons. The Falcons need an upgrade in the back end of head coach Dan Quinn’s defense.
Delpit is a near-universal top-20 pick in every mock I’ve seen, and the All-American selection is the No. 1 safety on most draft boards.
Pick in previous version: Javon Kinlaw
17. Cowboys: Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU
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.
They could easily go with cornerbacks C.J. Henderson or Trevon Diggs here, but on most draft boards, Fulton is starting to emerge as the clear No. 2 corner in the class behind Okudah, and he has the potential to be a shutdown NFL defender.
Pick in previous version: Trevon Diggs
18. Dolphins*: Yetur Gross-Matos, EDGE, Penn State
The Dolphins have no established edge defenders and Gross-Matos is likely to be drafted in the second half of Round 1. In his two seasons as a starter, he totaled 17 sacks.
*Pick via Steelers
Pick in previous version: Gross-Matos
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 didn’t work out.
Murray is present in almost all Round 1 mocks, and there’s a chance the Raiders could take him at No. 12.
*Pick via Bears
Pick in previous version: Murray
20. Jaguars*: C.J. Henderson, CB, Florida
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 it to draft his replacement.
Henderson looks like a lock to be drafted in the second half of Round 1.
*Pick via Rams
Pick in previous version: Kristian Fulton
21. Eagles: Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama
The Eagles opened the 2019 season with DeSean Jackson as their field-stretching wide receiver, and in Week 1, he dominated with 154 yards and two touchdowns.
Unfortunately, that was the only full game he played all season.
A five-star recruit with world-class speed, Ruggs is a viable D-Jax replacement. He doesn’t make it outside of the top 20 in most mocks, but I feel the need to knock him down a little bit because of his mediocre college production.
Pick in previous version: Tee Higgins
22. Bills: K’Lavon Chaisson, EDGE, LSU
The Bills have added a Round 1 player to HC Sean McDermott’s defense in each of his 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.
If a team falls in love with Chaisson’s motor, he might be drafted in the top 10.
Pick in previous version: Chaisson
23. Patriots: Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson
The Pats selected wide receiver N’Keal Harry in Round 1 of the 2019 draft, but they need more help at the position, and Higgins fits the draft range.
Of all the receivers in this class, Higgins might be my personal favorite. He is big (6-foot-4, 215 pounds), young (20 years old), pedigreed (five-star recruit) and productive (118-2,103-25 receiving, 1-36-1 rushing over the past two years).
Pick in previous version: Laviska Shenault Jr.
24. Saints: Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama
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.
After Jeffery Okudah, Diggs is in a tier with Kristian Fulton and C.J. Henderson at the cornerback position. If he tests well at the combine, he could sneak into the top half of Round 1.
Pick in previous version: C.J. Henderson
25. Vikings: Josh Jones, OT, Houston
Every year, there is a player who distinguishes himself at the Senior Bowl and sneaks into the bottom half of Round 1 as a result. That could be Jones in 2020.
Jones didn’t play at a major program in college, so there were questions about how he would fare against big-school pass rushers in Mobile, but he addressed those concerns with a dominant week of practice.
Even after drafting center Garrett Bradbury in Round 1 last year, the Vikings still need help on the offensive line, and left tackle Riley Reiff will be 32 years old next season.
Pick in previous version: Mekhi Becton
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.
McKinney is selected in Round 1 of almost every mock I’ve seen.
*Pick via Texans
Pick in previous version: McKinney
27. Seahawks: Terrell Lewis, EDGE, Alabama
The Seahawks need help on the edge of their defensive line. Jadeveon Clowney and Ezekiel Ansah are free agents, and L.J. Collier — last year’s No. 1 pick — got no sacks and saw little playing time.
Lewis fits the draft range and can provide the Seahawks with another upside pass rusher.
Pick in previous version: Raekwon Davis
28. Ravens: Laviska Shenault Jr., WR, Colorado
The Ravens need another playmaking wide receiver to pair with Marquise Brown to help them open up their offense, and Shenault is an intriguing option.
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.
He could be the perfect middle-of-the-field complement to Brown’s field-stretching dynamism.
I’m yet to see a Round 1 mock that doesn’t have Shenault in it, and there’s a real chance he could be selected in the top 20.
Pick in previous version: Jalen Reagor
29. Titans: Julian Okwara, EDGE, Notre Dame
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 Okwara is a respected prospect likely to be selected around the Round 1/2 borderline.
Pick in previous version: Terrell Lewis
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 was one of the nation’s most productive receivers last year with his 111-1,540-18 performance.
Pick in previous version: Jefferson
31. 49ers: D’Andre Swift, RB, Georgia
It’s usually not a good idea to draft a back in Round 1, but the 49ers don’t have a lot of needs, they value the running game and they have shown the willingness to invest in their backfield by giving running backs Jerick McKinnon and Tevin Coleman and fullback Kyle Juszczyk above-market free-agent contracts.
Despite special teamer-turned-postseason star Raheem Mostert’s recent heroics, the 49ers are far from settled at the position, and Swift is a top-tier three-down producer with youth (20 years old) and pedigree (five-star recruit).
He’s a luxury pick, but with Swift, the 49ers could finally have what they’ve wanted for the past three seasons: An elite playmaker to run wild in HC Kyle Shanahan’s back-friendly offense.
Pick in previous version: Julian Okwara
32. Chiefs: Patrick Queen, LB, LSU
The Chiefs were No. 29 against the run this past year in PFF run grade and Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric. Their linebacker group is definitely the weakest unit in their defense, and they need to upgrade the position.
Queen is starting to get Round 1 hype after a breakout 2019 season and a highlight-making eight-tackle performance in the title game.
If the Chiefs want to compete for a championship on a yearly basis, they will need to improve on defense.
Pick in previous version: D’Andre Swift