The 2019 NFL and college football seasons have just begun, but it’s never too early to look ahead to next year’s draft.
Of course, a lot can and will change over the next eight months.
The draft order for this mock was determined by using the inverse order of Vegas odds (via sportsbook.ag, as of Monday). Tweaks were made to ensure that the 12 playoff teams consisted of six teams from each conference and that each division had a winner represented in the picks (21-32) of potential playoff teams.
With that said, here’s how the first round of the 2020 NFL draft could unfold next April (and if you want, here’s a look back to our way-too-early mock from late April and a possible top 10 from July):
1. Miami Dolphins: Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
After moving on from Ryan Tannehill this offseason, the Dolphins signed Ryan Fitzpatrick in free agency and traded a second-rounder for Josh Rosen. Whether they tank for Tua, prefer Oregon’s Justin Herbert or have their sights set on Trevor Lawrence in 2021, Miami is positioning itself to draft the future franchise quarterback of its choice. Tagovailoa struggled at times against top programs Georgia and Clemson last season as he battled injury, but the Heisman favorite has elite accuracy and touch.
2. Washington Redskins: Chase Young, DE, Ohio State
With Nick Bosa missing most of the 2018 season, Young stepped up and finished with 9.5 sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss as a sophomore. Young has picked up where he left off last season with three sacks in Ohio State’s first two games this season. If the former five-star recruit continues to build upon his current trajectory, Young could follow in Bosa’s footsteps as a top-two pick in the 2020 NFL draft.
3. New York Giants: Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
One offseason after trading away Odell Beckham Jr., the Giants draft a playmaker in the mold of their former star wideout. The 2018 Biletnikoff winner, Jeudy finished his sophomore campaign with 68 catches for 1,313 yards and 14 touchdowns last season and is off to an 18-240-4 start in two games this season.
4. Cincinnati Bengals: Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
Andy Dalton will be entering a walk year in 2020 and if the Bengals own a top-four pick in next year’s draft, they could look for his long-term replacement. Herbert has all of the physical tools—prototypical size (6-6, 233), outstanding arm strength and plus mobility—and intangibles to develop into a franchise quarterback with more consistent play.
5. Arizona Cardinals: Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
Last season there were plenty of reasons for Josh Rosen to struggle under center as a rookie, but one major reason was Arizona’s poor offensive line play. In addition, starting left tackle D.J. Humphries will be an unrestricted free agent after the 2019 season. With experience at both tackle spots, Thomas could immediately slide to replace Humphries as Kyler Murray’s blindside protector.
6. Detroit Lions: Grant Delpit, S, LSU
Delpit will become the latest LSU defensive back to hear his name called on Day 1 of the NFL draft. The do-it-all, ball-hawking safety led the SEC last season with five interceptions to go along with five sacks, a forced fumble and fumble recovery.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: A.J. Epenesa, DE, Iowa
Even though he wasn’t a full-time player, Epenesa racked up 10.5 sacks, 16.5 tackles for loss and four forced fumbles as a sophomore for the Hawkeyes in 2018. Jason Pierre-Paul (12.5 sacks), who had nearly one-third of Tampa Bay’s sacks last season (38), will be sidelined for most, if not all, of the 2019 season with a neck fracture. In addition he turns 31 on New Year's Day and will enter the final year of his current contract in 2020, making the defensive line a position of need for the Buccaneers.
8. Oakland Raiders: Jeffrey Okudah, CB, Ohio State
Okudah has the length, athleticism and coverage skills to develop into a shutdown corner at the next level. If there’s a knock on Okudah, it’s his lack of ball production, but there’s a good chance that he’ll be the first corner off the board in April.
9. New York Jets: Walker Little, OT, Stanford
Left tackle Kelvin Beachum graded out as the team's best offensive lineman in 2018, per PFF, but the 30-year-old tackle will be an unrestricted free agent after this season, and it’s unlikely that he will be brought back. Perhaps the Jets view third-rounder Chuma Edoga, Sam Darnold’s collegiate teammate, as Beachum’s long-term replacement, but Little has a chance to be a top-10 pick next year.
10. Buffalo Bills: Laviska Shenault, WR, Colorado
Drafting Shenault would make life easier for quarterback Josh Allen, as he’s a dynamic player with the ball due to his speed and ability to break tackles in the open field. Shenault (6' 2", 225 pounds) had 86 catches for 1,011 yards and scored a total of 11 touchdowns (including five rushing scores) in 2018.
11. Indianapolis Colts: Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn
Had Brown declared for the 2019 NFL draft, he would have been a first-round pick. Returning to Auburn for his senior season, Brown will likely to be the first interior defensive lineman off the board and has the chance to go earlier than this if he’s able to develop into a more disruptive player in the passing game.
12. Denver Broncos: C.J. Henderson, CB, Florida
With six interceptions over his first two seasons in college football, Henderson has the length, athleticism and ball skills to develop into an elite corner for the Broncos. Not only will Chris Harris be a free agent in 2020, but you can never have too many corners when Patrick Mahomes is in your division.
13. Jacksonville Jaguars: Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson
The Jaguars extended Myles Jack this offseason, but Telvin Smith stepped away unexpectedly before the start of the season. Making the switch from safety to linebacker for the national champions last season, Simmons could fill the void if Smith doesn't return in 2020 and would offer the Jags positional flexibility due to his versatile skill set.
14. Tennessee Titans: Jake Fromm, QB, Georgia
Both Marcus Mariota and Ryan Tannehill are free agents after the 2019 season and neither is the long-term answer at quarterback for the Titans. What Fromm may lack in arm strength and size, he makes up for in accuracy.
15. Carolina Panthers: Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson
The Panthers have a pair of talented young wide receivers (D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel), but the 6' 4" Higgins gives Cam Newton and the receiving corps the big(ger) receiver that it currently lacks. As a key part of the high-flying Clemson offense led by Trevor Lawrence, Higgins had 59 catches for 936 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2018.
16. San Francisco 49ers: Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU
Now 31 years old, Richard Sherman was San Francisco's highest-graded cornerback (50th) in 2018, per PFF, and none graded worse than Ahkello Witherspoon (112th). Talented yet often injured, Jason Verrett bolsters the secondary for 2019 (if he can stay healthy), but he only signed a one-year deal this offseason. Fulton gives them a corner that can become their long-term No. 1.
17. Seattle Seahawks: Julian Okwara, EDGE, Notre Dame
Chances are the Seahawks will trade back, and then perhaps trade back again, as they have selected a player in the first round in only three of the past seven drafts. Seattle did acquire Jadeveon Clowney from the Texans, but Okwara has the length and athleticism that fits what the Seahawks look for in pass rushers.
18. Atlanta Falcons: Yetur Gross-Matos, EDGE, Penn State
Gross-Matos had 20 tackles for loss including eight sacks in 2018 and the Nittany Lions coaching staff thinks that he could take "a significant step" forward in 2019 based on how he has looked this spring.
19. Oakland Raiders (via CHI): CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
The Antonio Brown experiment failed miserably in Oakland, but Lamb is a nice consolation prize in a loaded wide receiver class. If Lamb and ex-Sooners teammate Marquise Brown were prospects in the same draft class, I’d expect Lamb to go ahead of Hollywood (Antonio’s cousin).
20. Cleveland Browns: Trey Adams, OT, Washington
The Browns re-signed Greg Robinson to be their left tackle for one more season, but team needs to find a long-term replacement on their offensive line post-Joe Thomas. Significant injuries in consecutive seasons—ACL and back—have led Adams to return to Washington for his redshirt senior season. And while teams will need to be comfortable with his medical evaluations, Adams has the size, athleticism and technique to move his way back into the Round 1 conversation if they are.
21. Miami Dolphins (via HOU): Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa
The Dolphins have more needs than any team, which means they could go in virtually any direction. Trading away one of the best young left tackles to Houston and therefore having this pick (and others in 2021), the Dolphins add a stud right tackle with freakish strength and the versatility to kick inside or even play some left tackle.
22. Pittsburgh Steelers: Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama
The Steelers signed Steven Nelson to a three-year deal in free agency, but former first-rounder Artie Burns has been a huge disappointment. The younger brother of Vikings receiver Stefon Diggs, Trevon has an elite combination of size and speed.
23. Baltimore Ravens: Dylan Moses, LB, Alabama
The Crimson Tide continue to churn out NFL-caliber inside linebackers. The Ravens lost an ex-Bama linebacker (C.J. Mosley) in free agency in March, so Moses could fill that hole. If it weren’t for a torn ACL in August, Moses likely wouldn’t still be on the board this late and still may not be despite the knee injury.
24. Minnesota Vikings: Raekwon Davis, DL, Alabama
The Vikings lost defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson in free agency. Deciding to return to school after a disappointing 2018 season compared to his All-SEC 2017 campaign, Davis could hear his name called on Day 1 with a bounce-back season this year.
25. Green Bay Packers: Henry Ruggs, WR, Alabama
Saying Ruggs is fast would be an understatement. Per Matt Zenitz of AL.com, Ruggs ran the 40-yard dash “in the 4.25 range” at Alabama’s junior Pro Day. As a sophomore, Ruggs finished 2018 with 46 catches for 741 yards and 11 touchdowns.
26. Dallas Cowboys: Jared Pinkney, TE, Vanderbilt
Dallas got a few productive games from Blake Jarwin last season and lured Jason Witten out of retirement to return on a one-year deal (2019) in large part to help mentor the team’s young tight ends. The position group would get a significant upgrade with Pinkney, arguably the most complete tight end in this year’s class.
27. Los Angeles Chargers: Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson
Currently holding out, Melvin Gordon is slated to become an unrestricted free agent after this season. Etienne, the ACC Offensive Player of the Year in 2018, rushed for 1,658 yards (8.1 YPC) and 24 touchdowns for the national champs as a sophomore.
28. New Orleans Saints: Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU
Reagor isn’t the biggest receiver, but the 5' 11" receiver with outstanding speed produced a 72/1,061/9 line last season.
29. Los Angeles Rams: Bryce Hall, CB, Virginia
The 6' 1" Hall had an FBS-high 21 passes defended last season. Both Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters will be unrestricted free agents after the 2019 season.
30. Kansas City Chiefs: Paulson Adebo, CB, Stanford
With their high-octane, Patrick Mahomes-led offense, the Chiefs are often playing with a sizable lead, forcing opponents into catchup mode. Adding reinforcements to their cornerback depth chart makes sense and Adebo had four interceptions for the Cardinal last season.
31. Philadelphia Eagles: Tyler Biadasz, C, Wisconsin
Center Jason Kelce was considering retirement, but the Eagles gave him an extension through the 2021 season. Like with Andre Dillard as a long-term replacement for Jason Peters, Biadasz gives the Eagles an elite long-term replacement for Kelce.
32. New England Patriots: Albert Okwuegbunam, TE, Missouri
With two touchdowns against West Virginia on Saturday, Okwuegbunam now has 19 touchdowns in his collegiate career. The athletic tight end may never be able to do all of the things that Rob Gronkowski could do, but Albert O. would fill a void at the position in the passing game.
Kevin Hanson joins SI for the 2020 NFL draft season. His NFL mock drafts have graded as the most accurate over the past five years, per The Huddle Report. His 2015 NFL mock draft graded as the most accurate and his 2019 NFL mock draft was the second-most accurate out of 101 draft analysts.
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