1. Cincinnati Bengals - QB Joe Burrow, LSU
No need to overthink this one. Growing up less than three hours from Paul Brown Stadium, Burrow’s addition immediately makes the Bengals’ offense one to stack in the mid-to-late rounds of offseason Best-Ball/redraft leagues.
2. Washington Redskins - EDGE Chase Young, Ohio State
Washington majority owner Dan Snyder reportedly “nudged” his own war room to take Dwayne Haskins with last year’s No. 15 overall pick because of the latter’s hometown ties to the Maryland area. On a related note, Young played high school football only 20 minutes out from FedExField.
3. Detroit Lions - CB Jeffrey Okudah, Ohio State
If the season were to begin today, Lions would start Desmond Trufant, Justin Coleman, and some machination of Mike Ford, Darryl Roberts, and Jamal Agnew in nickel packages. This secondary immediately shifts from shaky to average with Okudah locking down one side of the field.
4. New York Giants - OT Jedrick Wills, Alabama
Not only does first-year head coach Joe Judge stem from Alabama’s prolific coaching tree, Giants running backs coach Burton Burns previously worked in a similar role under Nick Saban from 2007-17. Free agent pick-up Cameron Fleming, currently being cited as the team’s starting right tackle, only played 13 snaps at that position in his last two years under OC Jason Garrett. Wills of course played exclusively at right tackle in both high school and college.
5. Miami Dolphins - QB Justin Herbert, Oregon
Whether Herbert will out-perform Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa long-term is a moot point for this exercise. All signs have hinted towards this very moment since February.
6. Los Angeles Chargers - QB Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama
Assuming it’s more than just a silly coincidence the team shored up the right side of their line in acquiring both RG Trai Turner and RT Bryan Bulaga ahead of a left-handed quarterback being available in this range. If the Dolphins indeed passed Tagovailoa’s physical post-combine, one would imagine Los Angeles did, too.
7. Carolina Panthers - LB Isaiah Simmons, Clemson
The ideal landing spot to unlock Simmons’ versatility. Will arguably develop at every position under coach Matt Rhule since their defense still lacks a viable ... well, everything.
8. Arizona Cardinals - DT Derrick Brown, Auburn
The Cardinals have focused on building coverage through their front-seven, adding Jordan Phillips and Devon Kennard for a combined $6.5 million cap hit in 2020. Brown would simply take the place of DT Rodney Gunter, who signed a three-year, $18 million contract with Jacksonville.
9. Jacksonville Jaguars - CB C.J. Henderson, Florida
Cornerback is one of many gaping holes the team is expected to address if they actually stay put at No. 9. Henderson is not without his flaws, allowing 10.5 yards per target and signing a “non-aggression pact with the enemy” in his final year with the Gators, but he is the superior athlete to Okudah (which isn’t a knock against the latter).
10. Cleveland Browns - OT Andrew Thomas, Georgia
Thomas was awarded All-American honors as a true freshman at right tackle before moving to the left side in his final two seasons. With only five sacks permitted across 41 career games, he profiles as a significant upgrade over Chris Hubbard from Day 1.
11. New York Jets - OT Tristan Wirfs, Iowa
Wirfs logged a majority of his snaps with the Hawkeyes at right tackle but his skill set is considered interchangeable. Even if the Jets opt to kick him inside due to his concerning arm length (34”), the 21-year-old projects as an upgrade over any of Alex Lewis, Brian Winters, and Chuma Edoga.
12. Las Vegas Raiders - WR CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma
The plan all along was for the Raiders to spend on defense — hence their combined $81.4 million shelled out to Cory Littleton, Carl Nassib, and Nick Kwiatkoski — and add speed to their offense through the draft. I lean Lamb over Henry Ruggs if only because GM Mike Mayock believes the former is the most complete receiver in the draft.
13. San Francisco 49ers - WR Henry Ruggs, Alabama
Ruggs buoyed his unparalleled speed (4.27 40) in college into 24 touchdowns (and 11.9 yards per target) on 98 career catches. Odds are he’s more productive for his eventual suitor than in fantasy lineups, but this remains a dream pairing for the Niners’ offense with coach Kyle Shanahan scheming the 21-year-old open.
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - OT Mekhi Becton, Louisville
The first player in school history to win the Jacobs Trophy for the ACC's top blocker, Becton (6'7/364) was charged with only one sack and three quarterback hits allowed across 700 snaps with Louisville last year. The Bucs are undoubtedly all-in on making life for Tom Brady as simplistic as possible.
15. Denver Broncos - WR Jerry Jeudy, Alabama
NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah has long been harping on Denver’s desire to even trade up for Jeudy if need be. He falls into their lap in this scenario, giving the Broncos one more piece to build around during Drew Lock’s rookie-deal window.
16. Atlanta Falcons - DT Javon Kinlaw, South Carolina
Went back and forth here between LSU EDGE K’Lavon Chaisson and Kinlaw, but the fact is the Falcons’ needs know no bounds. Also a game theory selection for accuracy’s sake since any trade up (as being reported) would likely entail Kinlaw being selected in this spot by Jacksonville.
17. Dallas Cowboys - EDGE K'Lavon Chaisson, LSU
Perhaps Dallas trades out of this position if Chaisson falls to Atlanta beforehand, but the Cowboys undoubtedly stay put if the dominoes fall as such. Expect DeMarcus Lawrence (6’3/251) to line up on the interior on third down with Chaisson gassing his way around the edges.
18. Miami Dolphins - OT Austin Jackson, USC
Jackson (6'5/322) arguably would’ve solidified himself as the No. 5 tackle off the board had he not donated bone marrow to his sister only two months prior to the Trojans’ season opener last year. This is a friendly wager that Dolphins GM Chris Grier sees more in the 20-year-old than what Jackson’s misguided film showed.
19. Las Vegas Raiders - CB A.J. Terrell, Clemson
Prior to GM Mike Mayock’s arrival in Las Vegas last year, the Raiders hadn’t taken a Clemson player since selecting WR Jacoby Ford in 2010. That changed in one fell swoop with Clelin Ferrell (No. 4 overall), Trayvon Mullen (No. 40), and Hunter Renfrow (No. 149). Expect Terrell to join his former teammates if he’s still around at this point.
20. Jacksonville Jaguars - ILB Kenneth Murray, Oklahoma
Assuming the Jaguars don’t trade out of this pick, their organization must know Murray doesn’t make it even one pick further given Philly’s ties to him throughout the pre-draft process. Coach Doug Marrone has already confirmed Myles Jack will move back to outside linebacker this upcoming year, opening a spot for the Sooners’ rangy inside run-stuffer alongside Joe Schobert.
21. Philadelphia Eagles - WR Justin Jefferson, LSU
Written in the stars. Jefferson’s fit with Philadelphia warrants question marks since their offense most recently orchestrated from a league-high rate of 12 personnel, but he would likely take over for Alshon Jeffery both on the perimeter and in the slot immediately.
22. Minnesota Vikings - CB Jaylon Johnson, Utah
Johnson's (6’0/193) ceiling at the next level ultimately comes down to his long-term health following three shoulder surgeries since November 2016, the most recent occurring post-combine in March. He projects as an immediate NFL starter with traits comparable to that of Ravens CB Marcus Peters — a player Minnesota would give an arm and a leg for.
23. New England Patriots - TE Cole Kmet, Notre Dame
NBC Sports’ Chris Simms, who still has ties to New England’s staff stemming from his time under coach Bill Belichick, emphasized he would be “shocked” if Kmet made it out of the first round. The Patriots don’t have another selection until pick No. 87, making this the perfect destination for any fringe Day 1 talent/reach.
24. New Orleans Saints - LB Patrick Queen, LSU
It’s a homecoming of sorts for the speedy (4.5 40) Louisiana native after he notched 85 tackles and three sacks during the Tigers’ National Championship run. Saints DC Dennis Allen could easily pen a number of ways to stunt Queen on money downs, leveraging his natural instincts as early as this year. Queen will be 20 years young on draft night.
25. Minnesota Vikings - OT Josh Jones, Houston
Admittedly a raw prospect, there’s reason to believe Jones (6’5/311) only struggled with the Cougars because he worked in three different offensive systems under five separate O-line coaches throughout his tenure there. Reminder he permitted zero sacks and quarterback hits (albeit against negligible AAC talent) as a redshirt senior.
26. Miami Dolphins - OT Isaiah Wilson, Georgia
Miami has reportedly done extensive work on Georgia teammates Andrew Thomas and Wilson. Current RT Jesse Davis can easily be shifted inside; he logged a team-high 943 snaps there in 2018. The Dolphins’ tackle group needs stability and they get that in adding two interchangeable cornerstones on Day 1. For what it’s worth, Wilson was a two-year starter at right tackle for the Bulldogs.
27. Seattle Seahawks - EDGE Yetur Gross-Matos, Penn State
Seattle reportedly hasn’t “closed the door” on re-signing free agent Jadeveon Clowney, but another EDGE rusher remains the priority after this team tied for the second-fewest sacks (28) with Clowney in 2019. Gross-Matos (6’5/266), Penn State’s back-to-back Reid-Robinson Award winner for the program’s most outstanding defensive lineman, compiled 17.5 sacks at the collegiate level over the last two seasons.
28. Baltimore Ravens - iOL Cesar Ruiz, Michigan
Baltimore has been hot on the trails of inside linebackers Kenneth Murray and Patrick Queen, but what happens if both aren’t there? Ravens GM Eric DeCosta said the team’s goal is to build an “undefendable” offense through the draft and Ruiz at the very least adds another option in the event C Matt Skura, coming off a major knee injury, isn’t ready for Week 1.
29. Tennessee Titans - OT Ezra Cleveland, Boise State
The Titans have been linked to RT Isaiah Wilson through the pre-draft process but a roadgrater like Cleveland (6’6/311) will suffice. He notably led all tackles in the Wonderlic (30), bench press (30), short shuttle (4.46), 3-cone (7.26), and 40-yard dash (4.93) at Indy’s combine and would arguably make for an upgrade over Dennis Kelly (in place of Browns RT Jack Conklin) out of camp.
30. Green Bay Packers - WR Jalen Reagor, TCU
Substitutable for Baylor WR Denzel Mims. Packers GM Brian Gutekunst subtly hinted their front office wouldn’t “wait very long” to take advantage of this year’s wide receiver class, potentially double-dipping at No. 30 and No. 62.
31. San Francisco 49ers - C Lloyd Cushenberry, LSU
If there’s a run on linemen resembling what we’re expecting on Thursday night, the Niners’ second first-round pick, a selection they’re on record of wanting to move out of, is prime for takers hoping to add arguably the last Day 1 interior talent. Cushenberry could also be used as insurance in case C Weston Richburg (knee) isn’t cleared for the team’s season opener.
32. Kansas City Chiefs - CB Jeff Gladney, TCU
An absolute terror in the weight room — according to the Horned Frogs' training staff, Gladney squats 620 pounds, benches 400, and hang cleans 400-plus — Gladney made an entire career out of shadowing the nation’s top wideouts in Big 12 play. The red flags are there (he underwent meniscus surgery this past offseason), but finishing as one of only two FBS players with at least 15 passes defended in each of the last two seasons is nothing to scoff at. He’ll be a nightmarish matchup in subpackages underneath Tyrann Mathieu and Juan Thornhill.
Honorable Mentions: CB Kristian Fulton, LSU; EDGE A.J. Epenesa, Iowa; OLB Zack Baun, Wisconsin; QB Jordan Love, Utah State; S Xavier McKinney, Alabama; WR Brandon Aiyuk, Arizona State; WR Denzel Mims, Baylor; DT Ross Blacklock, TCU.