We are finally just days away from draft day and it could not come at a better time. Being able to watch something sports related for the first time in over a month is going to be great, even if it’s held in the basement of Roger Goodell. This draft has the potential to be a great one: so much talent, trade buzz, anticipation, it’s all there.
Right now is always the time with the most smoke. You have the Hebert to Miami rumors floating, Javon Kinlaw potentially slipping because of a hip issue, Howie Roseman is supposedly enamored with CeeDee Lamb. Of course a lot of this smoke will simmer away, but there is always some rumor that ends up happening. I’m going to give my best shot at predicting what will actually happen here, so let’s get into it!
1.1 Cincinnati Bengals
The pick: Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
This is easy: it’s a perfect match for Burrow and the Bengals. Joe Burrow is the best quarterback prospect to enter a draft since Andrew Luck. He’s also the best QB I’ve ever personally scouted. His weaknesses are minimal and his strengths are through the roof.
He gets to go back to his home state of Ohio and the Bengals get the franchise quarterback they’ve been searching for. Cincinnati truly hit the jackpot by getting the first pick this year.
1.2 Washington Redskins
The pick: Chase Young, EDGE, Ohio State
This pick is almost as much of a done deal as Burrow 1st overall. Young is the consensus top player in the draft and is a perfect fit in Washington. Bringing in his pure game wrecking ability to a front seven that is already filled with talent will give the Redskins a chance to be a top defense in the league for years to come. Taking Chase Young here doesn’t just give them an elite pass rusher, it gives the Redskins the face of the franchise type player they’ve needed for years.
1.3 Detroit Lions
The pick: Jeffrey Okudah, CB, Ohio State
There is no pick in this draft that has garnered more trade talk than the Lions pick at 3. It’s the obvious place to look for QB needy teams; specifically, the Dolphins and Chargers. Ultimately, I think the Dolphins will want to hold onto the draft capital they have and wait at 5 for either Tua or Justin Herbert. The Chargers are way more likely to trade up than Miami in my eyes. If they have a clear preference in the Tua/Herbert debate and think they need to jump the Dolphins to get their guy, I could see it happening.
However, I think the Lions’ asking price is sky high and will be too much for the Chargers to handle. This leaves the Lions with an obvious choice of Jeff Okudah: the best lockdown corner in a draft since Jalen Ramsey. He fills the hole left by the Darius Slay trade and gives Detroit an immediate CB1 on the outside.
TRADE: NYG trades pick 1.4 for CLE picks 1.10, 2.41, and a 2021 4th
1.4 Cleveland Browns (via NYG)
The pick: Jedrick Wills Jr., OT, Alabama
The first trade of draft day does NOT come from LA or Miami, it comes from Cleveland for the best offensive lineman in the draft. They are in desperate need of help on the O-Line. If they think the guys highest on their board in the OT class will be gone by 10, they could look for either a trade up or down. I think the first option makes more sense. Make sure the guy protecting Baker is the guy you really want. For the Giants, they secure more draft capital and will still have the opportunity to take one of the best tackles in the draft at 10.
1.5 Miami Dolphins
The pick: Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
Right now the buzz is definitely in the Hebert-Miami corner but I don’t see it. I think Tua still makes the most sense without a doubt, as Dolphins GM Chris Grier said a couple days ago, “The tape tells you what the player really is”. If Miami actually goes by that logic, the pick is Tua over Herbert every day of the week. The injuries are a concern, but Miami hasn’t had a franchise quarterback since Dan Marino. Are you really going to take a QB who clearly isn’t as talented as the other option just because he’s had less injuries? It is entirely possible that Tua stays relatively healthy for his entire career, nobody knows. All you do know for sure is what is on the tape, and the tape shows Tua > Herbert.
1.6 Los Angeles Chargers
The pick: Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
In the scenario where the Chargers don’t make move up and Tua lands in South Beach, the Bolts have one choice: Justin Herbert. It’s the right move in this spot. With the Philip Rivers era ending, they can’t simply leave the throne to Tyrod Taylor. You need a guy like Herbert, even if he isn’t ready right now. He has tons of talent, similar to guys like Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes. The talent isn’t the question, it’s if he’s ready for NFL action right now. Herbert is a raw QB prospect, tons of ability, but very raw. I think sitting behind Taylor for a bit will really help him learn and grow as a quarterback.
1.7 Carolina Panthers
The pick: Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson
Carolina gets absolutely blessed in this scenario. Simmons isn’t just a game changer for the Panthers defense, he also fills a huge hole left by star LB Luke Kuechly. This guy can play almost every defensive position there is. His speed, size, instincts, range, and coverage skills are such that he goes way higher than 7 in almost any other draft class. The Panthers have a new QB1 and a new coaching staff, they need a new face of the defense and Isaiah Simmons can be that guy.
TRADE: ARI trades pick 1.8 for LVR picks 1.12, 3.80, and 3.91
1.8 Las Vegas Raiders (via ARI)
The pick: CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
Mike Mayock and Jon Gruden are well aware of their main issue: they NEED a true WR1 for Derek Carr. They also know if they wait at 12 they likely won’t have a shot at taking CeeDee Lamb, the top wideout in this class to many. The Antonio Brown experiment failed miserably, but they had the right idea. Bring in playmakers. That is precisely what the Raiders can do if they find a way to bring in Lamb. Arizona no longer needs a guy like CeeDee with the addition of Deandre Hopkins. OT should be the top target for them and they can still get a good one at 12.
1.9 Jacksonville Jaguars
The pick: CJ Henderson, CB, Florida
The Henderson buzz is red hot, and rightfully so. He’s my CB2 behind Okudah and 14th overall on my board. He fits really well in Jacksonville. Their once dominant defense has been blown up and cornerback is now somehow a massive need. Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye are both gone and the starters on the outside are now Rashaan Melvin and DJ Hayden. In short, that’s not gonna cut it. Bringing in Henderson gives the Jags a young, athletic, lockdown in man coverage piece to the mix as they continue to rebuild on defense.
1.10 New York Giants (via CLE)
The pick: Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville
This is a Dave Gettleman dream pick right here. A 6’7” 360 lbs mauler with a massive wingspan, athleticism and sky high potential. The Giants have to get someone who can protect Daniel Jones in the pocket and they have to do it in the first round. The Becton hype has died down since his incredible 5.10 40 time at the combine, but I doubt the Giants have forgotten the show he put on in Indy. Whether it’s Andrew Thomas, Tristan Wirfs, Jedrick Wills, or Becton, they must prioritize OT and I think it makes a lot of sense to do what I have them doing here: Add picks with a trade back and still get a top tackle in the draft in the 10-15 range.
1.11 New York Jets
The pick: Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
Whether it’s the Giants picking 10th via a trade back or Cleveland staying put in that spot, I feel really strongly about an offensive tackle run starting with the 10th pick. Sam Darnold hasn’t had offensive line support in his entire career at this point and the Jets finally have a chance to give him some. This pick is an especially important decision for Darnold’s future in NY. If GM Joe Douglas doesn’t nail this O-Line pick and Darnold continues to get beat up, he could end up in a David Carr like situation.
That is why you go Andrew Thomas with this pick. There is no safer OT in the draft than Thomas; he is rock solid. Thomas isn’t as flashy on tape as Wills or Wirfs, nor is he as big as Becton, but he is technically sound and ready on day one. He projects well as a LT and will give the Jets a major boost in pass pro.
1.12 Arizona Cardinals (via LVR)
The pick: Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa
The tackle run continues with AZ taking the 4th OT in the first 11 picks. This may upset some Cardinals fans; with Derrick Brown and Jerry Jeudy on the board you can make a case for them. However, Tristan Wirfs is a massive upgrade over Justin Murray and Marcus Gilbert. At some point you have to make the not so sexy but smart pick and protect the future of your franchise in Kyler Murray. He was under siege last year and for a smaller QB who also runs, you have to protect him as much as possible. Their current options at OT are pretty average. You can’t keep an average O-Line forever, there has to be an upgrade at some point and this is the spot you do it. Wirfs brings elite traits to a big position of need in Arizona.
1.13 San Francisco 49ers (via IND)
The pick: Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
My top WR in the class finally goes off the board and he gets to go to the reigning NFC Conference champs. Not a bad start to a career. Although San Fran had a good offense last year, the passing game was overshadowed by the running performance of Raheem Mostert and the dominant defense they had throughout the season. The acquisition of Emmanuel Sanders helped, but he’s in New Orleans now, and because of that the hole at WR is again gaping. They need somebody to pair with George Kittle and Deebo Samuel. Jeudy can be that guy. He possesses the best route running ability in the draft, legit speed, and the fluidity of a top NFL wide receiver. He would give Kyle Shanahan a much needed boost to the offense. I’d be sprinting to the Goodell basement podium with this card in hand.
TRADE: TB trades pick 1.14 for PHI picks 1.21 and 2.53
1.14 Philadelphia Eagles (via TB)
The pick: Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama
Howie Roseman sees the WRs coming off the board and he doesn’t want to risk missing out on one. Instead, he sends his first two picks to Tom Brady’s Buccaneers and snags Alabama speedster Henry Ruggs III. The Eagles should be fully focused on getting one of the top 4 WR’s in this class (Lamb, Jeudy, Ruggs, Jefferson). It does seem likely that Jefferson will be there at 21 but it’s no guarantee, he is also a great talent and if they sit back and hope for him to be there they could miss out on all four. Bringing in Ruggs would give a massive boost to Carson Wentz and the entire offense in general, he opens up the field in so many ways. For Tampa, they miss out on the top OT’s and don’t see the need to reach for Josh Jones or Ezra Cleveland so they move back and gain a 2nd round pick in the process.
1.15 Denver Broncos
The pick: Derrick Brown, IDL, Auburn
It’s no secret that Denver is eyeing the WR class heavily at 15, but what if the top three guys are gone? Reaching for Justin Jefferson or trading back are the most likely outcomes of Jeudy-Lamb-Ruggs being taken before 15, but what if someone dropped? In this scenario, Derrick Brown, the monster DT from Auburn, falls right into the Broncos lap. He’s the 2nd player on my board and, at least in my eyes, is a bonafide stud. IDL is not the biggest need for Denver, but the defense has taken a big step back since their Super Bowl run years ago. Derrick Brown would provide a massive boost and help get the Broncos defense back to an elite status. You simply can’t pass up a guy this talented this late.
1.16 Atlanta Falcons
The pick: AJ Terrell, CB, Clemson
Just like C.J. Henderson, the buzz for the former Tiger A.J. Terrell has been red hot recently. There’s been reports that Terrell is almost definitely going in the top 16 picks, and if that is the case, what better fit than the cornerback needy Atlanta Falcons? After releasing CB Desmond Trufant this offseason, the Falcons are left with Isaiah Oliver as their best corner on roster. This isn’t a knock on Oliver, but FOR NOW, he is not a CB1 on a Super Bowl contender. Enter A.J. Terrell, a corner with good size, speed, and man coverage skills when he’s not facing Ja’Marr Chase. Terrell makes sense here for Atlanta.
1.17 Dallas Cowboys
The pick: K’Lavon Chaisson, EDGE, LSU
The Cowboys avoid a very realistic nightmare scenario here and get the pass rusher they need at 17. That nightmare scenario would probably lead to Dallas trading back or taking OU linebacker Kenneth Murray. If the latter happens, there will be absolute outrage from Cowboy fans. They don’t have to worry about that here though. 3 QB’s, 4 OT’s and 4 WR’s help push Chaisson down the board and right into the Cowboys’ lap.
After losing Robert Quinn to free agency, Jerry Jones is once again searching for a pass rusher on the opposite side of DeMarcus Lawrence. Yes, it is possible that Randy Gregory and Aldon Smith get reinstated. Yes, that does fill up the EDGE spot a lot, but even in that scenario they need a guy who could end up being a premier pass rusher. K’Lavon could progress towards being that guy over time.
1.18 Miami Dolphins (via PIT)
The pick: Josh Jones, OT, Houston
This offensive tackle class is crazy. In this scenario OTs make up 27% of the first 18 picks, which is absurd. The 5th one to go, Josh Jones, makes a world of sense for the Dolphins here. There is a ton of defensive talent still here, BUT you can still find those guys at pick 26 or 39. You will not find a guy like Josh Jones anywhere near those spots. He isn’t as polished as the other four tackles ahead of him but his potential is just as good. He’s incredibly athletic for his size, he’s got ideal length for the position, and he can develop into something really nice.
The reason he’s going 18th, however, is because he has to develop. He needs major improvement with footwork and his technique as a whole. The Dolphins have to address OT, and if they don’t do it here with Jones, it will be hard to find his level of raw talent elsewhere.
1.19 Las Vegas Raiders (via CHI)
The pick: Jeff Gladney, CB, TCU
In this scenario, the Raiders manage to trade up for CeeDee Lamb AND hold onto their second first round pick. That would be some Mayock magic right there. What’s even better than being able to keep the 19th pick is using it on a guy like Jeff Gladney. Fixing up wide receiver and cornerback have to be high on the Raiders to-do list, so plugging Lamb AND Gladney in the mix would be a dream for Raiders fans. Gladney is a classic Gruden guy: scrappy, competitive, TONS of swagger. This is one of my favorite fits in the entire draft.
TRADE: JAX trades picks 1.20 and 5.170 for BAL picks 1.28, 2.60, and 4.129
1.20 Baltimore Ravens (via JAX via LAR)
The pick: Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma
Murray and Baltimore have been linked throughout the draft process. Now it seems they may have to trade up to get him and I think they will. The match is honestly perfect. He’s a great scheme fit, he fills the biggest need on the roster, he is everything the Ravens have traditionally looked for in ILBs. He has range, prototypical size, hit power, and speed. He will be a first round pick, and like I said it looks like his range is going to be 17-23. If the Ravens want him rocking purple and black, they’ll have to come get him.
1.21 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (via PHI)
The pick: Cesar Ruiz, IOL, Michigan
The first thought in my head when watching Ruiz was “that’s a Patriots kind of guy”. Now that the guy who led the Pats for 20 years is in Tampa, maybe the drafting habits of New England carry over to Tampa Bay…
The truth is Tom Brady will be 43 years old by the time the season starts. That’s old, even for Brady. He needs protection in the pocket now more than ever and that was clear during this last season in New England. Bring in a guy like Cesar Ruiz who can start right away and give Brady the best opportunity to succeed. TB12 is undoubtedly his best when he has a clean pocket. It’s crucial that Tampa improves the offensive line and getting the best IOL in the draft is a great start.
TRADE: MIN trades pick 1.22 for DEN picks 2.46, 3.77, and a 2021 2nd
1.22 Denver Broncos (via MIN via BUF)
The pick: Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU
There is probably a pencil or hat tossed across John Elway’s living room when he hears the Eagles pick Henry Ruggs. He has been the most frequent mock pick to Denver for months now. Obviously that led them to take Auburn DT Derrick Brown at 15, meaning the need at WR still needs to be patched up.
The Broncos watch closely and as Justin Jefferson slips down to 22, they trade up to get him. It’s a hefty price tag but Jefferson brings the ball skills, speed, and home run ability that Drew Lock needs. Pairing him with Courtland Sutton will give Denver one of the best young WR corps in the league. Sutton on the outside with Jefferson in the slot is a deadly combination. They lose draft capital, but gain two studs in the process.
1.23 New England Patriots
The pick: Patrick Queen, LB, LSU
The Patriots lost A LOT this offseason. Brady is the most talked about departure, for obvious reasons, but losing him may not make as big an impact as some of the defensive departures. Linebackers Kyle Van Noy AND Jamie Collins are gone, which leaves a huge hole at the LB position. To me, that leaves Kenneth Murray and Patrick Queen as the top guys for New England. Murray is off the board, so to me the choice is clear. Bring in a young, super athletic, high IQ, powerful linebacker. Queen doesn’t just fill a need, he is really good value here.
1.24 New Orleans Saints
The pick: Jordan Love, QB, Utah State
The end of the Drew Brees era is imminent. He’s already agreed to join NBC after his career ends, he’ll turn 42 next January, and although his new contract is for two years, it seems this will likely be his last season. So, you need a successor (no, Taysom Hill is not the successor). The problem with holding off on the next QB is the fact that the Saints will once again be competitive and likely won’t have a top pick next year. Enter Jordan Love, the very talented but very raw QB from Utah State. Wherever he goes, he will need some time to learn and develop and that fact makes New Orleans even more attractive. Give this dude a year to sit behind Drew Brees, learn from Sean Payton, and practice with Michael Thomas. You’ll get one heck of a quarterback.
1.25 Minnesota Vikings
The pick: Brandon Aiyuk, WR, Arizona State
Aiyuk-Minnesota buzz has been growing for 1-2 weeks now, and I buy it. They have to pick up a wide receiver early in the draft to patch up the hole left by the Stefon Diggs trade and I think Aiyuk does just that. He’d work really well in the Vikings offense. You can put Thielen and Aiyuk on the outside and have a similar dynamic as you did with Theilen and Diggs. Another option here could be Jalen Reagor: there has been talk about the Vikings’ interest in him as well. Reagor is actually higher on my board than Aiyuk, but to me, the fit in the offense makes way more sense with Aiyuk.
1.26 Miami Dolphins (via HOU)
The pick: Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama
Good things happen to those who wait. That quote perfectly exemplifies the Dolphins first round here. No big trades, stuck to their spots, and got the QB, OT, and DB they desperately needed. In other drafts, it could make sense to use mid-late 1st round picks like 18 and 26 to move up. In this class, there is so much talent you can get high quality prospects at each of those spots. McKinney is a great fit in Miami; he’s a true chess piece. Put him at free safety and he’ll do well, put him in the box he’ll do well, put him in the slot he’ll do well. He’s a versatile defensive back and putting him in with Byron Jones and Xavien Howard at CB will create a much improved secondary.
1.27 Seattle Seahawks
The pick: Austin Jackson, OT, USC
This is an interesting spot in the draft, the Seahawks have a ton of different options. There’s multiple EDGE rushers in this spot: Yetur Gross-Matos, Josh Uche, or Terrell Lewis potentially. However, the Seahawks somehow still need OL help, which seems like it’s been a problem for years. A really good fit for Seattle is Austin Jackson: he’s a little bit away from being NFL ready, but with some time behind Duane Brown, he could be a solid starting option for the Seahawks. He’s a great athlete with great size, he just isn’t quite there from a technique perspective.
1.28 Jacksonville Jaguars (via BAL)
The pick: Ross Blacklock, IDL, TCU
The Jaguars have a great opportunity to build their defense back up with the 2 first round picks they have. C.J. Henderson and TCU’s Ross Blacklock are a great combination to do that. Blacklock was not getting a ton of talk before this past college football season, but 9 tackles for loss and 40 total tackles in just twelve games changed that. He’s a disruptive force from the middle of the D-Line, he has high potential as both a run stopper and pass rusher at the next level.
1.29 Tennessee Titans
The pick: Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU
I feel like this is a likely trade down spot UNLESS a cornerback falls to them. In this scenario, a corner falls. LSU’s Kristan Fulton has lost some stock since the beginning of the season: he continued to get beat by WRs too often and good route runners got separation frequently. The positives for Fulton are good. He’s an aggressive and scrappy guy that causes a lot of pass breakups. I liked his footwork more in his ‘19 tape but his long speed seemed to be lacking from his ‘18 tape. Overall he’s a guy with some good pluses and some negatives. 29 isn’t a bad spot for him.
1.30 Green Bay Packers
The pick: Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson
This spot has a wide receiver written all over it. Whether it be Denzel Mims, Jalen Reagor, Laviska Shenault, or Tee Higgins like I have them picking here, the Packers have seemingly zeroed in on taking a WR with this pick. Higgins is a guy who would complement Davante Adams really well. Having a big body, red-zone threat across the field from Adams would be something the Packers have never had. One might argue the acquisition of Devin Funchess might turn Green Bay away from a tall red-zone threat WR and more to a Jalen Reagor. To me, I don’t see Funchess being the reason you don’t take a guy you like in the first round.
1.31 San Francisco 49ers
The pick: Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama
There has been some talk that Diggs’ draft stock is slipping. I’m sure that’s possible because of the fact that Diggs isn’t really polished, however, the NFL has historically always drafted guys like Diggs high. You got ball skills, size, athleticism and fluidity? You’re almost always a first round pick. Diggs has his fair share of negatives like his lack of long speed, but he’s a good cornerback prospect that fits well in the 49ers’ system.
TRADE: KC trades pick 1.32 for CAR picks 2.38 and 4.113
1.32 Carolina Panthers (via KC)
The pick: Javon Kinlaw, IDL, South Carolina
The biggest slide in this mock draft is undoubtedly the monster DT Javon Kinlaw. This slide is in no way because of me thinking lowly of him as a player, but instead because of the recent concern for Kinlaw’s knees and, more importantly, his hip. Those issues don’t go unrecognized in the NFL. Hip problems specifically cause guys to fall. Is it possible a team picks him up regardless? For sure. But it’s also possible he slides even farther than 32. Here however, I think it makes too much sense for Carolina to not trade up. Getting a Simmons-Kinlaw haul on day one is ridiculous. It’s not a question of Kinlaw’s skill: the dude is a monster. His medicals are absolutely a question and concern.