The College Draft with Ross Tucker and Matt Waldman: 2020 First-Round Mock

Matt Waldman delivers a first-round mock for the 2020 NFL Draft on the College Draft with Ross Tucker and his final 10 picks will likely surprise you. 

This week, Ross Tucker asked me to deliver a mock draft. As you know, I don’t really do mocks. I considered reprising the “here’s who they should pick,” mock but opted for the more straight-forward approach.

At least for the first 20 picks–and even then, I included trades. You can listen to the show here as well as read my mock with my notes below:

  1. Cincinnati: QB Joe Burrow, LSU – The Bengals know what they have in Dalton and the hope that Ryan Finley could be a fourth-round bargain didn’t materialize immediately. Burrow’s movement and pocket skills fit a scheme that has playmakers if they can stay healthy.
  2. Washington: DE Chase Young, Ohio State – Quarterback has been discussed as a possibility but Ron Rivera and staff will likely want Young, a stupendous athletic talent who could be paired with second-year hopeful Montez Sweat to create pass-rushing bookends. Washington’s offensive line is good enough when healthy to support offensive production and there is enough skill talent in this draft pool for later consideration. Considering that I thought he might be a better 3-4 OLB than a 4-3 DE, this also looks like a solid fit.
  3. Detroit: CB Jeff Okudah, Ohio State – Darius Slay left town and while Desmond Trufant has skills, he’s not a disciplined technician and the Lions would benefit from a second corner who could eventually overtake Trufant as the primary coverage option.
  4. Miami: QB Justin Herbert, Oregon – The Dolphins are the wildcard at this early part of the first round. They could draft an offensive lineman, trade down and hope they get a quarterback later, or stay here and draft Herbert as many in the media expect. The concerns about Tagovailoa are overblown but teams that are perpetually stuck in the early part of the first round draft after draft overthink or overreact to the wrong information and respond with “layup” picks that look safer to the public than they are on the field. Herbert is a solid prospect but he’ll need to be schemed around to get the most from him compared to Tagovailoa.
  5. New York Giants: OT Tristan Wirfs, Iowa – The Giants are another wildcard at this portion of the draft. There’s talk of them trading down to acquire more draft capital and get a tackle later. However, this is a class that has a more limited supply of top talent and it makes sense to stay put and acquire one of the best athletes at the position that also possesses technical upside to protect Daniel Jones and open creases for the incredible Saquon Barkley.
  6. A. Chargers: QB Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama – I believe that Anthony Lynn likes Tyrod Taylor enough to roll with him this year, but I don’t believe for a hot second that he’s telling the media the entire thought, which is using Taylor while Tagovailoa learns the offense and continues rehabbing his hip—if even necessary when we’re ready to play football. Don’t worry about Tagovailoa’s Wonderlic or injury history. If the Dolphins did, they got duped.
  7. Carolina: LB/S Isaiah Simmons, Clemson – The Panthers could take Derek Brown, a monstrous defensive tackle with run-stopping prowess who can forklift his way into the pocket as a pass rusher, but the Panthers scouts have had success with linebacker/safety hybrids like Thomas Davis and Shaq Thompson in the past. Simmons has the compelling athletic ability as a future strong safety but the size and range to develop into an outside linebacker. The Panthers have T.J. Green, a former second-round pick of the Colts at strong safety, who also stands 6-3 like Simmons but was a cornerback who struggled in coverage during his first two years with Indianapolis.
  8. Atlanta: DT Derek Brown, Auburn – The Falcons run defense struggled last year despite nose tackle Grady Jarrett playing his heart out. Pair Jarrett with Brown and Brown could command double teams that allow Jarrett to dominate as an attacking down lineman.
  9. Jacksonville: CB C.J. Henderson, Florida – Jacksonville has a lot of needs, including an offensive tackle, a defensive lineman, and a cornerback. Henderson is an excellent fit as a press-man cornerback. He has a little work to do with zone coverage because he’ll lose track of his receiver but he’s skilled run defender who plays physical and technically savvy man coverage. He’s also a speedy last-line of the defense. Henderson should start right away and hold his own with top receivers early in his career.
  10. Cleveland: OT Andrew Thomas, Georgia – The rumor that the Browns will trade down and attempt to snag Boise State tackle Ezra Cleveland later in the round or early in round two could happen but if Thomas is available, the Browns will jump all over this plug-and-play tackle who worked with Nick Chubb in a zone scheme at Georgia. Thomas is one of the best prospects in this class and unlike Cleveland, is much closer to a finished product who can upgrade this offense immediately.
  11. New York Jets: OT Meki Becton, Louisville – New York could use a right tackle right now and Becton has the potential to handle that role immediately before eventually switching to left tackle as he develops. There’s always a risk that switching sides could slow Becton’s development, but he’s a big, strong, and swift man who will be an easy selection if still here at this spot.
  12. Las Vegas: WR CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma – There’s no doubt that the Raiders could have an interest in Jerry Jeudy but Lamb has better acceleration and a more efficient playing style that could provide greater diversity for the offense.
  13. San Francisco: WR Henry Ruggs III, Alabama – Dante Pettis fizzled because the 49ers didn’t believe he worked hard enough to build on a successful rookie campaign. Deebo Samuel shored up some of that gap, but the mid-season acquisition of Emmanuel Sanders was the difference for the passing offense. Jeudy could fit here because of his route prowess but Ruggs has enough route skills to justify that he’ll be more than a one-dimensional field stretcher.
  14. Tampa Bay: OT Jedrick Wills, Alabama – Donovan Smith had excellent potential as a draft pick, but it hasn’t materialized to the extent that the Buccaneers hoped. Wills is a proven performer with quick hands, sweet feet, and excellent timing and savvy to develop into a bodyguard for Tom Brady this year and perhaps Jacob Eason in future seasons.
  15. Denver: WR Jerry Jeudy, Alabama – DeSean Hamilton hasn’t materialized into much of threat from the slot and Juwann Winfree could develop into an answer as the Broncos’ flanker. Adding Jeudy gives Denver a flanker who can move into the slot when it suits the scheme. Look for Drew Lock and Jeudy to develop an excellent rapport.
  16. Arizona: OLB/DE K’Lavon Chaisson, LSU – Pairing the agile, intelligent, and versatile Chaisson with Chandler Jones gives the Cardinals formidable bookends from the edge. For a team that hopes to score a lot of points early and pin its ears back and rush the passer for the rest of the game, this is an excellent fit.
  17. Dallas: DT Javon Kinlaw, South Carolina – A first-round athlete with excellent closing acceleration who can get a push one-on-one but doesn’t hold up against double teams and the whole of his game isn’t yet the sum of its parts. Behind Dontari Poe, Michael Bennett, and Gerald McCoy, Kinlaw will be expected to learn a lot and fulfill his potential within 1-2 years.
  18. Miami: OT Joshua Jones, Houston – If Miami opts for the quarterback early and doesn’t make another deal, Jones will be one of the last top tackle prospects available. He’s not as technically sound as his peers taken earlier in his mock but there are few true flaws that can’t be overcome.
  19. Las Vegas: CB A.J. Terrell, Clemson – Terrell had some rough moments against LSU but he’s a good man-coverage corner with the athletic ability to develop into a reliable starter.
  20. Jacksonville: DE Yetur Gross-Matos, Penn State – Yannick Ngakoue wants out and the Jaguars need another rusher to pair with second-year option Joshua Allen.
  21. Philadelphia: WR Justin Jefferson, LSU – Jefferson is a great fit for Carson Wentz because he can win quick-hitting option-routes from the slot but also win deep in the perimeter play-action game.
  22. Minnesota: WR Denzel Mims, Baylor—The Vikings need a big-play threat with Stefon Diggs in Buffalo and Mims can do that and more as a perimeter option with great aerial skills.
  23. Ravens via trade with New England: LB Patrick Queen, LSU—Baltimore needs a sideline-to-sideline linebacker with Queen’s athletic profile. The Ravens’ cupboard is bare and if Queen his here, they’ll trade up.
  24. New Orleans: S Grant Delpit, LSU – Analysts have picked apart Delpit for some tackling issues but he’d fit well in the Saints’ disruptive defense as a blitzer and a single-high safety.
  25. Minnesota: CB Jaylon Johnson, Utah – An excellent athlete with promise as a press-corner, Johnson fits another need in Minnesota.
  26. Miami: RB Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin – Whatever scout told Bob McGinn that Taylor isn’t powerful and only gets what’s gained fits the profile of scouts who run their mouths to reporters in March and April. Get that noise out of here.
  27. Seattle: A.J. Epenesa, Iowa – Seattle lost Clowney and Epenesa has some issues with bending but has is an excellent edge setter and a great first step.
  28. New England: C Lloyd Cushenberry, LSU – I could see the Patriots taking TE Harrison Bryant, my pick for the best move tight end in the class but Cushenberry is the best center than they need to shore up a struggling offensive line.
  29. Tennessee: DT Ross Blacklock, TCU – An athletic prospect with great lateral agility with a great motor who dominates as a one-gapping tackle.
  30. Green Bay: WR Laviska Shenault, Colorado – Shenault is an elite and versatile athlete with the potential to develop quickly as a route runner.
  31. Houston: OLB/DE Julian Okwara, Notre Dame – A smooth pass rusher who closes fast but work to do as a run blocker.
  32. Kansas City: CB Jeff Gladney, TCU – A physical and aggressive corner with skill as a run defender.

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