With the NFL draft coming up soon, starting on April 23rd, there are many questions on which team will get which player. The NFL Combine is now behind us, and although things may change after free agency begins next week on Wednesday, March 18th at 4pm EST, there is a consensus that LSU quarterback Joe Burrow will go number 1 overall to the Cincinnati Bengals.
After that though there is much left to debate, so here is my first round NFL mock draft 1.0.
1. Cincinnati Bengals (2-14) – Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
Assuming that Burrow doesn’t pull an Eli Manning and force his way out of being drafted by the Bengals, it looks like this is about as sure as a bet as you can get. It has been rumored that the Bengals will use the franchise tag on receiver AJ Green, which should help out Burrow, but it will be a tough adjustment going from a team that won the National Championship in college last year to a team that only won 2 games in the NFL.
2. Washington Redskins (3-13) – Chase Young, DE, Ohio State
There is a lot of mock drafts putting Tua Tagovailoa here, and if he was healthy I might agree, but coming off of the hip surgery and missing the end of last year I think the Redskins will go after Young, who may be the best overall athlete in the draft. They just drafted QB Dwayne Haskins last year in the first round, and there are many holes to fill, so I see the Redskins taking the best available player here.
3. Detroit Lions (3-12-1) – Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
Now the Lions are in a position that it makes sense to draft Tua. They still have QB Matt Stafford under contract through 2022, although they would be able to move on after this upcoming season without any cap hit. Before he got injured last year Stafford was having a great season, and is only 32 years old.
That would give Tua time to heal, and then learn under Stafford instead of forcing him into action like happens to many young quarterbacks these days. Perfect situation for both Tua and the Lions.
4. New York Giants (4-12) – Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville
Becton is one of those players who used the NFL Combine to move up the draft boards. Running a 5.1 second 40-yard dash will do that for you. That was a full tenth of a second more than any other player weighing over 350 pounds. In fact, that is the fastest 40 time for anybody weighing over 347 pounds ever!
With the reigns being handed over to second year QB Daniel Jones this year, it would be smart to beef up the offensive line to protect him, and open up holes for running back Sa’quon Barkley as well.
5. Miami Dolphins (5-11) – Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
I would not be surprised at all if Miami moves up in the draft to grab Tua, but if they stay put I definitely see them grabbing a quarterback. That is where Herbert comes in, at 6’6″ and 236 pounds fits the prototypical NFL quarterback mold. He is able to read defenses and make any throw on the field, and with a 40 time of 4.68 seconds is able to run the read option as well. With Ryan Fitzpatrick a serviceable starter as the Dolphins rebuild, they would also let Herbert sit for a year or two as he gains NFL experience.
6. L. A. Chargers (5-11) – Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa
The Chargers are moving on from QB Phillip Rivers, but that doesn’t mean they are rebuilding just yet. With the unusual amount of veteran quarterbacks on the free agent market, look for the Chargers to fill the quarterback position here, and try to protect whoever that is with Tristan Wirfs.
A three-year starter at Iowa, Wirfs played primarily right tackle, but filled in at left tackle for a few games. He would be able to play either position immediately and be an instant upgrade, in both pass protection and the run game.
7. Carolina Panthers (5-11) – Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State
The Carolina Panthers will be very excited if Okudah drops to them with the 7th pick. Easily one of the best players available in the draft, I wouldn’t be surprised if he is taken higher, but based on other team’s needs he should still be available for the Panthers to pounce on this opportunity. Big enough at 6’1″ to battle with the bigger receivers, and fast enough (4.48 second 40) to contain the deep threats, Okudah is an all around corner back who is a day-one starter.
8. Arizona Cardinals (5-10-1) – Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
A 3-year starter at Georgia, Thomas is capable of playing either tackle position. At 6’5″, 315 pounds, Thomas would be able to protect quarterback Kyler Murray as the Cardinals continue their rebuilding project with head coach Kliff Kingsbury. Although there is still room to grow, Thomas should be an instant starter on the Cardinals.
9. Jacksonville Jaguars (6-10) – Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn
A team that has been known for its front line, Jacksonville may look to upgrade the defensive line with this pick. A gifted athlete, sitting at 6’5″ and 320 pounds, he would become an instant run stopper and clog up the middle of the line, allowing defensive end Calais Campbell to focus on disrupt the passing game.
10. Cleveland Browns (6-10) – Jedrick Wills, OT, Alabama
Cleveland has plenty of talent at the skill positions on offense, with Baker Mayfield throwing to wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr and Jarvis Landry, along with tight end David Njoku, plus running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. They learned last year though that you need help on the offensive line to help those players make plays, and Wills is a perfect piece to anchor the line.
Very quick and athletic, Wills can use size or speed to get the job done in both the running game and protecting Mayfield from the opposing pass rush. He will need to improve his consistency to be able to stop the defensive lineman he will see at the NFL level, but is capable of matching up with just about anyone.
11. New York Jets (7-9) – CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
If one of the offensive tackles drop down to the 11th pick, the Jets may end up grabbing a tackle with this pick, but as it is in this mock draft I see the Jets filling the hole at wide receiver instead. Probably the best wide receiver in the draft, Lamb uses his 4.5-40 speed and his quickness to get separation from defenders. He will be able to play anywhere in the offense, and have success in all 3 levels of the passing game.
12. Las Vegas Raiders (7-9) – Jerry Jeudy, WR Alabama
The Raiders are finally making the move to Las Vegas, and will want to make a splash in their first season in the new city. Combine that with their need at the wide receiver position, and it looks like they will go with speedy wide receiver Jeudy with their first of 2 picks in the first round.
With a 4.45-40 yard dash, his speed will have to be accounted for, which will open up lanes for the running game, led by fellow Alabama alumni Josh Jacobs. Although they may not know exactly who will be throwing the ball to him (Tom Brady anyone?) Jeudy will be an instant weapon on offense.
13. Indianapolis Colts (7-9) – Javin Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina
If Derrick Brown happens to drop this far, the Colts will jump at the chance to draft him, but I doubt that will happen so they will look at Kinlaw to shore up their defensive line. They were 18th against the run and 24th against the pass last year, so upgrades are needed. Kinlaw would help by commanding a lot of attention in the middle of the line, and has the ability to disrupt both the running game and the passing game from his defensive tackle position.
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-9) Josh Jones, OT, Houston
Head Coach Bruce Arians will probably move on from quarterback Jameis Winston, as he is set to become an unrestricted free agent this year, but with a promising roster he will probably look to add a veteran QB from the free agent market instead of drafting on in the first round. Offensive line is one of the many holes to fill on the Buccaneers roster, and Josh Jones from Houston will fit in nicely to protect whoever is under center when the 2020 season starts.
Josh Jones showed a lot of improvement last year as the year went on, and looks to be a monster at tackle at the NFL level. Still, much to work on, but he appears to be very coach able, and has the natural talents to help the Buccaneers for years to come.
15. Denver Broncos (7-9) Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama
Combined with adding corner back A.J. Buoye in a trade with the Jacksonville Jaguars, drafting McKinney will definitely bolster a Broncos secondary that struggled at times last year. McKinney has a great football IQ, and is versatile enough to play in any coverage. Does need to work on his hands, however, as he has 3 dropped interceptions last year, but the talent is there.
16. Atlanta Falcons (7-9) AJ Espensa, DE, Iowa
The greatest need of the Falcons is pass rush, and they will fill this need with former Hawkeye defensive end AJ Espensa. Although he struggles against the run, he is fantastic at getting after the quarterback and disrupting opposing offenses. He is able to play in either a 3-4 that the Falcons run, or the 4-3 if Coach Dan Quinn decided to go back to that in the future.
17. Dallas Cowboys (8-8) Grant Delpit, S, LSU
On paper, the Cowboys have one of the best teams in the NFL. Expected to try and keep both quarterback Dak Prescott and his favorite wide receiver Amari Cooper, they will probably focus on defense early in the draft. Delpit will fill a need at safety, and hope to follow in the steps of other LSU safeties who have succeeded in the NFL, including Jamal Adams, Tryon Mathieu, LaRon Landry, and Eric Reid.
Starting 10 of 13 games as a true freshman in 2017, Delpit continued to grow throughout his career at LSU, of course culminating in helping his team win the national title this year.
18. Miami Dolphins (5-11) Austin Jackson, OT, USC
Miami used it’s first pick in the first round on Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert, and will no doubt be interested in obtaining a strong offensive tackle to protect him. With a run on tackles in the first round, I would guess that they would not wait until their third and final pick of the first round at 26 to get one. Austin Jackson is raw, but has all of the traits that you want in a left tackle, with size, speed, and aggressiveness.
19. Las Vegas Raiders (7-9) Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson
A top 10 talent, the Raiders would be salivating in Simmons drops to them at their second pick in the first round via the Chicago Bears. Running a ridiculous 4.39 – 40 yard dash at 6’4″, 238 pounds, Simmons would instantly upgrade any defense. With the Raiders believing they are only a few pieces away from contending with the Chiefs for the AFC West crown, he would help solidify a defense that would be needed to slow down Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs potent offense.
20. Jacksonville Jaguars (6-10) K’Lavon Chaisson, DE, LSU
Another member of the national championship team, Chaisson is looked at as the second best edge rusher behind Chase Young in the entire draft. The Jaguars have needs at other positions, but pairing Chaisson with Calais Campbell and other first round draft pick Derrick Brown from Auburn would be too tempting to pass up.
21. Philadelphia Eagles (9-7) Henry Riggs III, WR, Alabama
While the Eagles struggled to win a less than stellar NFC East last year, there was an obvious need for wide receiver depth after just about every receiver ended up getting hurt. In their last game of the regular season, running back Boston Scott led the team in receiving with 84 yards on 4 catches. The most by a wide receiver? Dental Burnett, with 2 catches for 48 yards. Burnett had just been signed to the practice squad 10 days earlier.
22. Buffalo Bills (10-6) Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU
While making the playoffs for the second time in 3 years under coach Sean McDermott is better than the 17-year drought they had before, the Bills will look to take the next step in the upcoming season. The first priority will be to get quarterback Josh Allen more weapons, and Jefferson will be a good start. He has great ball skills, and although did play some on the outside, is able to play in the slot as well.
23. New England Patriots (12-4) Jordan Love, QB, Utah State
Either way, it is about time that the Patriots look to the future at quarterback. Even if Tom Brady decides to stay for another year, which isn’t certain at this point, he is 43-years old and won’t play forever (although who thought he would till be playing at a high level this long?) Love has the prototypical NFL quarterback size, standing at 6’4″ and 224 pounds, but is still raw and will require more coaching.
The hope would be for Brady to stay put for another year, and let Love learn under one of the best, but only time will tell. That and free agency.
24. New Orleans Saints (13-3) Laviska Shenault Jr, WR, Colorado
With quarterback Drew Brees coming back for one more run at a Super Bowl, look for the Saints to add weapons for Brees to utilize. Shenault fits the bill, able to play any wide receiver position and able to run out of the backfield as well. Combined with backup quarterback Taysom Hill’s skills, Shenault could be a dynamic play maker to add to an already loaded offense.
25. Minnesota Vikings (10-6) CJ Henderson, CB, Florida
Minnesota pulled off on of the biggest upsets in NFL playoff history when the knocked off the New Orleans Saints in the wild card round last year, before being taken out in the divisional round by eventual Super Bowl loser San Francisco 49ers. They know that they are close, and hope that adding pieces at strategic areas will push them over the top.
Henderson would help bolster a defense that ranked in the middle of the pack against the pass. His size and athleticism will help him go up against any receiver in the league, and he still has room to grow as a defender.
26. Miami Dolphins (5-11) Yetur Gross-Matos, DE, Penn St
At this point the Dolphins have already drafted their franchise quarterback and an offensive tackle to protect him, now they will focus on somebody to attack the opposing quarterback. Gross-Matos is just the person, with the prototypical combination of speed, strength and athleticism. He is a little undersized, but with time in the weight room he should fill out his frame, and he will be able to grow with his skills as well.
27. Seattle Seahawks (11-5) Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU
While the Legion of Boom has moved on from the Emerald City, the Seahawks still have an impressive defense, and Coach Pete Carrol will always look to add defensive depth. Kristian Fulton has the athletic ability to become a major contributor Seattle, standing 6′ tall and running a 4.46-40. Although his confidence has been shaky at times, there is nobody better than Carrol in getting the most out of his players.
28. Baltimore Ravens (14-2) Patrick Queen, LB, LSU
In what would be an NFL-record 6th LSU Tiger drafted in the first round, the Ravens will look to improve their defense to help slow down opposing offenses and put dynamic play making Lamar Jackson back on the field as much as possible. With great speed and athleticism, Queen has a high football IQ and is able to make plays all over the field. Although his other teammates received more attention during their championship run last year, Queen was definitely a core part of that defense.
29. Tennessee Titans (9-7) Jaylon Johnson, CB, Utah
Tennesee road a strong defense and almost unstoppable running game led by Derrick Henry to the AFC Championship game, and even had a lead over the eventual Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs before Patrick Mahomes started doing Patrick Mahomes things. Although Ryan Tannehill is a serviceable NFL quarterback, there is no doubt that head coach Mike Vrabel will continue to have a strategy of running the ball and a solid defense.
Jaylon Johnson will help contain the opposing number one receiver, as that was his main job in Utah. His 4.5 speed will help him keep up with deep threats, and his 36.5 inch vertical helps defend jump balls. In Mike Vrabel’s system he will grow into a top defensive back.
30. Green Bay Packers (13-3) Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson
The Packers exceeded all expectations 1st year, the first for rookie head coach Matt LaFleur. The defense, however, was the strongest part of the Packers this year, with the offense struggling to get going for most of the year. Look for LaFleur to help Aaron Rodgers by giving him more weapons, starting with Clemson wide receiver Tee Higgins.
Higgins, 6’4″ and 216 pounds, is the perfect size to become Rodgers number one receiver. Simply a play maker, he can line up all over the field and play any receiver position. Wouldn’t be too bad for Higgins either, going from Trevor Lawrence to Aaron Rodgers throwing him the ball.
31. San Francisco 49ers (13-3) Shane Lemieux, OG, Oregon
Standing at 6’4″ and 310 pounds, Lemieux is the prototypical offensive guard. He will be able to add depth to a 49ers line that has been together for a couple of years, and eventually replace someone in the case of injury or salary cap casualty. His run blocking is very strong, although he will have to work on his pass blocking against the level of talent in the NFL. Still, with a team that was 7 minutes away from winning the Super Bowl last year, this could help get them over the hump.
32. Kansas City Chiefs (12-4) Jordan Elliot, DT, Missouri
The 2019 Super Bowl champions should be able to stay contenders for the next several years, as long as Patrick Mahomes is starting at quarterback. There are opportunities to get better as a team, as scary as that is for the rest of the NFL, and particularly on defense. With defensive standout Chris Jones probably leaving in free agency, Elliot will be able to fill that hole immediately.
He has experience in many different alignments, allowing him to be moved all across the line depending on match ups. At 6’4″ and 302 pounds he is strong in the middle, though sometimes struggles around the edge against some upper lever offensive tackles.
There is my first round NFL mock draft. What do you think? Is there anybody you think that is drafted too high? Too low? Let me know in the comments section! I will put out a final mock draft after free agency starts with updated team needs are available.