NFL: Mock Draft (Trades and Alternatives)

With around one month until the 2020 NFL Draft, there’s a clearer picture of team needs. On this side of Free Agency and with time for more evaluation of prospects, it gets a little easier to mock players to teams.

However, in this mock, we’ll explore the trades that could happen. We’ll also make some surprise picks that would shake up the Draft if they actually happened.

#1 Cincinnati Bengals: QB Tua Tagovailoa

It may be surprising to think of the Bengals not drafting Quarterback Joe Burrow, but think it through. Burrow benefited from an exceptionally talented Offensive Line and Wide Receiver group, and the Bengals haven’t got that in place yet. With Tagovailoa likely to sit for a year anyway, and Andy Dalton still under contract for 2020, Cincinnati can spend one more year rebuilding, before unleashing Tagovailoa in 2021. If Tagovailoa was completely healthy in the first place there was every chance he was their pick regardless.

#2 Miami Dolphins: QB Joe Burrow

The Dolphins would love the chance to take Burrow, but will still have to trade up for him. As other teams begin to make trade offers to Washington, Miami outbids them all, giving up all 3 first-round picks in the process. They have the majority of their offense in place and will feel as though his playmaking abilities will make up for what they lack. With a few other quality selections in this Draft, the Dolphins would feel confident in their offense in 2020.

#3 Jacksonville Jaguars: QB Justin Herbert

With QBs flying off the board, the Jaguars don’t want to risk missing out on a QB that would be an improvement for them over Gardner Minshew. Giving up their two first-rounders as part of the deal, the Jaguars grab QB Justin Herbert, knowing he doesn’t have to start immediately. Herbert can compete for the starting job, but also has enough weapons in place to use. With some OL tweaks and another Running Back, the Jaguars will empower Herbert in 2021.

#4 New York Giants: Edge Chase Young

The Giants are already praying that Chase Young falls to them, but aren’t desperate enough to trade up for him. What is their biggest weakness is immediately resolved with the addition of Young? With him anchoring one end of the Defensive Line, and able to move from side to side, the Giants have a defense that can make some stops in 2020.

#5 Washington Redskins: LB Isaiah Simmons

There is every chance that Washington drafts Linebacker Isaiah Simmons even if they remain at #2 overall. But moving down a few spots, landing Simmons AND getting 2 extra first-round picks? Redskins take that in a heartbeat. While they have a strong LB group already, being able to move Simmons around will make them a nightmare on defense. Their secondary will benefit from him in coverage while playing him up at the line of scrimmage will overwhelm offenses with talented pass rushers coming from all sides.

#6 Los Angeles Chargers: QB Jordan Love

The Chargers haven’t addressed the QB position since allowing Philip Rivers to leave as a Free Agent. With a potentially extended offseason, or reduced offseason, the Chargers are already looking to 2021. QB Jordan Love needs to sit for a year, but he is a good fit to take advantage of their weapons on offense, as they will make up for some of his deficiencies in accuracy and throwing into coverage. Love also gives them mobility at QB they lacked with Rivers, and will explore in 2020 with Tyrod Taylor.

#7 Detroit Lions: CB Jeffrey Okudah

To move up two spots, the Lions don’t have to pay a high cost – their 2nd round pick and a 5th round pick to get the guy they would have drafted at #3 overall. Okudah gives them tight coverage on one side of the field, suited to the tough divisional WRs. Detroit now has no excuses for their team underperforming.

#8 Arizona Cardinals: Edge K’Lavon Chaisson

The Cardinals will pinch themselves if K’Lavon Chaisson is still on the board at #8 overall. Paired with newly acquired DE Jordan Phillips, Chaisson will largely come off the edge as a pass rusher, but can also spend time as an Outside Linebacker. With his speed and awareness he will help the Cardinals restrict the agile players in their division, such as Seahawks QB Russell Wilson and 49ers RB Raheem Mostert.

#9 Carolina Panthers: CB Jeff Gladney

Carolina would be rubbing their hands with what they can get from CB Jeff Gladney. Easily their biggest weakness, the Panthers get a physical and rangy CB who can do a variety of things. While it isn’t the flashy pick they would have made at #7 overall, Gladney is a playmaker regardless and will be an instant starter.

#10 Cleveland Browns: OT Mekhi Becton

With no OL off the board, the Browns have their choice of the best Left Tackles on offer. OT Mekhi Becton completes their OL, and the excuses for QB Baker Mayfield will run out now that he will have time to pass. With an All-Pro LG (Joel Bitonio) protecting his interior, Becton can focus on protecting Mayfield’s blindside.

#11 New York Jets: OT Jedrick Wills Jr

With Right Tackle Jedrick Wills Jr on the board, the Jets can breathe a sigh of relief. As much as they need WR help, they’ll figure a WR won’t help if QB Sam Darnold doesn’t have time to throw. Wills Jr ‘s strength and size gives them an anchor, and gives them a majority of a starter-calibre OL.

#12 Las Vegas Raiders: WR Henry Ruggs III

Landing a true WR1 in Henry Ruggs III, the Raiders can do more on offense. Ruggs will be asked to do everything, and in turn Derek Carr can exploit the space his security blanket TE Nick Boyle will have. Ruggs is the missing piece of Las Vegas’ offense, and all the blame will be put on Carr if it fails in 2020.

#13 San Francisco 49ers: WR CeeDee Lamb

Although not targeting WRs early in the Draft, the 49ers take best player available and land someone they can use. Lamb’s speed is something they are lacking in their current WR corps, and he can make plays at all three levels. His versatility is ideal for the 49ers offense, where players regularly have to play multiple roles. Lamb puts them over the top on offense.

#14 Tampa Bay Buccaneers: OT Andrew Thomas

The Buccaneers desperately need to upgrade at both Tackle spots, especially with Tom Brady at QB. Andrew Thomas is perhaps the best pass-blocking LT in the class, and would be who the Buccaneers are wishing to fall to them. If they can find a suitable RT before the season starts, Tampa Bay will have one of the best OLs in the league.

#15 Denver Broncos: DL Derrick Brown

The Broncos would feel comfortable plugging Derrick Brown into the middle of their DL. He has a high floor, and with quality playmakers around him, Brown doesn’t have to bring the QB down regularly. If he shuts down the run and absorbs extra blockers as expected, the Broncos will be happy with this pick.

#16 Atlanta Falcons: DL Javon Kinlaw

Atlanta id looking for a dynamic DT to pair with Grady Jarrett, and Javon Kinlaw offers just that. Kinlaw can play on the edge as well if needed to exploit weaknesses in opposing offensive line. With Kinlaw collapsing the pocket, the Falcons can give their offense more time on the field.

#17 Dallas Cowboys: Safety Grant Delpit

The Cowboys need to upgrade the secondary badly, and Grant Delpit gives them a presence they’ve not had at years in Safety. While there is a lot of speculation Dallas want a WR such as Jerry Jeudy, they already have WRs Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup. Delpit offers much in coverage, especially with a questionable CB group.

#18 Washington Redskins: WR Jerry Jeudy

The Redskins make the most of their second picks acquired from Miami, drafting WR Jerry Jeudy. With last year’s 3rd round WR Terry McLaurin seeing a majority of targets in 2019, Jeudy will provide Washington with a WR tandem to rival the best in the league. Jeudy and McLaurin can play in the slot or outside, giving the offense flexibility in its scheme.

#19 Las Vegas Raiders: LB Zack Baun

The Raiders are desperate for help at OLB, and Zack Baun is able to do everything at the position. His speed helps him in coverage, and he can also be an edge rusher, supplementing the lack of depth that Las Vegas has. Baun’s diversity will help the Raiders cover up multiple roster holes, but without having to be the foundation of the defense.

#20 Detroit Lions: WR Justin Jefferson

The Lions tie over their offense with one more weapon in WR Justin Jefferson. Paired with WRs Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones, Jefferson can be the perimeter threat the Lions have lacked in recent years. With a healthy Lions offense, Jefferson adds much-needed depth and size.

#21 Philadelphia Eagles: WR Jalen Reagor

The Eagles’ lack of production at WR makes it a necessity they land a playmaker at the position. Prior to Free Agency the team could have been tempted to draft a CB, but that itch has been scratched. Reagor will be a deep threat due to his speed, leaving the middle of the field free for the Eagles’ Tight End duo.

#22 Minnesota Vikings: Edge Yetur Gross-Matos

With Everson Griffen departing, the Vikings need to add someone new who can get to the QB. Edge rusher Yetur Gross-Matos has a high degree of speed, enabling him to close on the ball carrier. In college he regularly made plays, and instinctive players who can contribute are valued greatly in Minnesota

#23 New England Patriots

With the Patriots trusting QB Jarrett Stidham, it leaves them free to reload at other positions. LB Patrick Queen is perfectly suited to the Patriots, as he has the speed and play recognition valued by Head Coach Bill Belichick. Queen also will spend a lot of time in the box, freeing up fellow LB Dont’a Hightower to make plays.

#24 New Orleans Saints: CB Kristian Fulton

Keeping CB Kristian Fulton in Louisiana is a nice perk, but he gives them a physical CB they were lacking. Fulton is disruptive and gets in the face of receivers, while their other CBs outside of Marshon Lattimore are slightly smaller and suited to the slot. Although he doesn’t have the speed to match up with deep threats, with Safety help over the top Fulton has a clear role on defense.

#25 Minnesota Vikings: WR Laviska Shenault

After sending WR Stefon Diggs to Buffalo, the Vikings have a need for a complementary WR to Adam Thielen. Laviska Shenault will use his size and strength to win contested catches, although needs to refine his moves to create separation. Like Thielen, Shenault can play in the slot or outside, allowing the Vikings to get creative with their offense. 

#26 Washington Redskins: RB D’Andre Swift

This may be a bizarre pick for a team with a large stable of RBs, but the Redskins won’t incur a major financial loss by cutting any of them. In Swift, Washington would have their most versatile RB, as a pass catcher and running outside the tackles. With Swift, the Redskins can build a run-heavy offense that also has sufficient weapons through the air.

#27 Seattle Seahawks: Safety Antoine Winfield Jr

Seattle land a perfect fit for their scheme in Safety Antoine Winfield Jr. With his ability to make up for the mistakes of others, the Seahawks will give up fewer big plays, and get one step closer to having a new Legion of Boom. Winfield Jr. will be everywhere on the field, and gives Seattle an important safety net.

#28 Carolina Panthers: QB Jacob Eason

Using their original 2nd round pick, plus the one acquired from Detroit, Carolina jump back into the first to get a QB and a fifth year option on him. Baltimore chooses to trade down since they don’t love any of the available players, and with 2 picks early in Round 2 can get better value while filling needs. The Panthers weren’t going to leave it to chance to get their QB, especially with a few teams lying in wait to nab a QB who would sit for a year before replacing a veteran, including Tennessee, Green Bay, Indianapolis and Tampa Bay. QB Jacob Eason is a mostly accurate player who can navigate the pocket well, and will develop in HC Matt Rhule’s system. 

#29 Tennessee Titans: OT Tristan Wirfs

Tennessee chose to extend RB Derrick Henry and QB Ryan Tannehill, although doing so forced them to let OT Jack Conklin leave in Free Agency. Instead, they get lucky as OT Tristan Wirfs slides down the board and can step in to their vacant RT spot. Wirfs will need to define himself as a run blocker but is among the top OTs in the Draft.

#30 Green Bay Packers: WR Denzel Mims

The Packers are desperate for someone to step up on offense other than WR Davante Adams and RB Aaron Jones. Mims gives QB Aaron Rodgers one of the biggest targets he’s had at WR for several years. Mims will be tasked with manning the sideline for the Packers, and should see plenty of work if he can develop rhythm with Rodgers.

#31 San Francisco 49ers: CB Noah Igbinoghene

The 49ers are desperate for help at CB, with Richard Sherman currently their best starting DB. Noah Igbinoghene is a quicker CB who shadows his opponent closely, giving them a small cushion to make plays. With his reactions and tracking abilities, Igbinoghene will be vital against the quicker receivers in the division that each rival boasts. As an added bonus, Igbinoghene plays almost exclusively the Right CB spot, allowing Sherman to remain in his preferred Left CB role.

#32 Kansas City Chiefs: RB Jonathan Taylor

The Chiefs learned in 2019 that when QB Patrick Mahomes shoulders the entire offense, it can be costly, as he missed time with injury. The Chiefs now choose to add a sturdy RB who can wear down defenses and take some of the heat off Mahomes. With a physical presence in the backfield, Kansas City can become an even bigger bully on offense. Taylor may not match with the speed the rest of the offense has, but he provides a different dimension than the team currently has.

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