Now that the draft is upon us and free agency has — for the most part — played out, we all have a better sense of team needs. With that, I’ve given myself the liberty to add some definition to my original draft predictions. In fact, I surprised myself so much that a decided to develop a rapid-fire second round section at no additional charge to my readers!
Spoiler alert: I made a couple changes within the top five, and one in particular had a significant trickle-down effect.
1. Cincinnati Bengals: QB Joe Burrow (LSU)
Mock 1.0 selection: Burrow
My colleague Robby Fletcher recently named Burrow the top available quarterback in this class, and I agree with that assessment.
There’s not much that could steer me away from this selection. The Bengals still have Andy Dalton under contract, but he’s on the last year of a respectable yet affordable contract that could be kept or traded, He does not preclude them from doing anything.
The only question worth asking is whether Burrow is the perfect No. 1 overall pick as a quarterback. That comes with high expectations, and not all top picks meet them. So let’s simplify the process. Where does he stack up against Kyler Murray, Daniel Jones, Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, Mitch Trubisky, Jared Goff, and Carson Wentz? These are the highest-selected quarterbacks since 2016 — either the first taken that year or within the top two if the first player taken at the position went No. 1 overall.
In all likelihood, I’d place him above Jones, Darnold, Trubisky, and Goff, below Murray, and in the same neighborhood as Mayfield and Wentz. In fact, much of his collegiate history — not to mention his size — is quite similar to Mayfield’s, and he doesn’t have the behavioral concerns. With that in mind, I’m comfortable with him at No. 1 in this year’s draft.
2. Washington Redskins: EDGE Chase Young (Ohio State)
Mock 1.0 selection: Young
I’ve tossed and turned over what to do with this pick — make it or trade it. At the end of the day, I think Young to Washington is the most likely scenario at this selection, and everything I’ve seen recently is leading me further in that direction. I don’t fall into the group that views him as a transcendent, once-in-a-generation player, but he is a very safe, high-upside prospect at arguably the most impactful position on defense.
With that said, if he doesn’t go to Washington at No. 2, I’m inclined to say he slides a bit. Again, it’s not about his talent. In this case, it’s about who has the next two picks — Bill Belichick disciples. Whereas most teams covet edge rushers, the Belichick system devalues them — in the draft, in free agency, or in trades.
3. Detroit Lions: CB Jeffrey Okudah (Ohio State)
Mock 1.0 selection: Okudah
Now that Darius Slay has been shipped to Philadelphia, I think it’s virtually impossible to go any other direction with this pick. It probably doesn’t even matter if Young is still on the board. The Lions will not enter the season with Desmond Trufant as their best cornerback, and Okudah projects to become the shutdown corner that I actually value more than a star edge rusher.
The only way this pick goes any other route is if Detroit is offered a bevy of draft picks from a QB-needy team for the rights to Tua Tagovailoa or Justin Herbert. I think there’s just enough fear of a quarterback being taken at No. 2 that trading with the Redskins won’t be possible, but assuming Washington doesn’t take one, someone could very well pounce and trade into the No. 3 slot. but most likely, Okudah is the guy here, and he’ll head to Detroit. Don’t sleep on the possibility of Derrick Brown climbing up to this slot, though.
4. New York Giants: OL Tristan Wirfs (Iowa)
Mock 1.0 selection: LB/S Isaiah Simmons (Clemson)
I’m not all the way “out” on the idea of Simmons here, but I’d wrestled with giving the Giants an offensive lineman in the first place, and it sounds like that’s the direction they’re leaning. We can debate whether Wirfs is the best player available, but it’s the best choice optically. A young, potential franchise quarterback needs protection, and so does an All-Pro running back.
In saying that, I do acknowledge that Wirfs isn’t perfect as a pass blocker. While he could slide to guard, I’m also placing some faith in offensive line coach Marc Colombo. Wirfs’ upside — even at tackle — is extremely high, but there are inconsistencies in his technique that need to be ironed out. He’s a much more stout run blocker, though, and making a quick decision on what position to put him at will be key. I’m not sure he’s a significantly above-average tackle, but he could be an elite guard — which might just be Iowa’s thing, because Brandon Scherff of the Redskins was also a top five pick out of Iowa who transitioned to guard after primarily playing tackle.
I would actually advise the Giants to trade down from this pick and take a lineman later in the round, but I think this is the position they address one way or another.
5. Miami Dolphins: QB Justin Herbert (Oregon)
Mock 1.0 selection: Tua Tagovailoa (Alabama)
Regardless of how this plays out, I’d be surprised if the Dolphins don’t end up with a quarterback, I’d be equally shocked if that guy didn’t sit behind Ryan Fitzpatrick to start the season, and I’d expect Josh Rosen to be traded for a Day 3 pick.
Now to actually address who the pick will be. While Robby and I both prefer Tagovailoa, the Dolphins seem to be putting out signals that they don’t want to take him.
One way or another, the Dolphins are taking a quarterback early, and all signs now point to Herbert. However, they might not have to take him at No. 5 — even though I think it’s what they end up doing. They’re trying their best to deceive everyone, though.
6. Los Angeles Chargers: QB Tua Tagovailoa (Alabama)
Mock 1.0 selection: Justin Herbert (Oregon)
Herbert coming off the board earlier may actually play in the Chargers’ favor. Given the state of the nation, it would be difficult for any rookie quarterback to play early in the season — if at all — and it seems like they’re committed to Tyrod Taylor in 2020, anyway. So why not take a chance on the “injury-riddled” player with a higher star quality to become the future face of the franchise, especially as a team based in Los Angeles?
If the top three quarterbacks happen to be off the board, my top player available would be Isaiah Simmons, and he would be a great fit for the Chargers. Gus Bradley loves versatility in his defensive unit, and he just lost Adrian Phillips — one of his go-to chess pieces — in free agency. Simmons is the ultimate hybrid player, and placing him and Derwin James on the same field would cause offenses fits — and I didn’t even mention the Bosa-Ingram pass rush tandem. But at the end of the day, if Tua is available for the Chargers at No. 6, I struggle to envision them going any other route.
7. Carolina Panthers: DT Derrick Brown (Auburn)
Mock 1.0 selection: Brown
My prediction that the Panthers wouldn’t need a quarterback came true, although Teddy Bridgewater wasn’t who I thought they’d land on. With that, the possibility of them trading up appears to be gone. At No. 7, the top available player will be either Okudah, Simmons, Tristan Wirfs or Derrick Brown. For the sake of this mock draft, Simmons and Brown are still on the board.
With the departures of Gerald McCoy and Dontari Poe in free agency, Kawann Short is their only particularly established defensive lineman. That should make Brown virtually a no-brainer regardless of who else is available. I think Simmons is the slightly better player, but they already have someone — Shaq Thompson — who can do many of the same things he does. Having two versatile linebackers would be great, but it’s a potential luxury, not a necessity — like defensive line help currently is.
8. Arizona Cardinals: OT Jedrick Wills Jr. (Alabama)
Mock 1.0 selection: WR CeeDee Lamb (Oklahoma)
I feel like letting Simmons continue to fall is a slightly dangerous game, but think I have to. Besides, I actually like the additions the Cardinals have made at linebacker, even though they aren’t super flashy. Incumbent Jordan Hicks and incomer De’Vondre Campbell (Atlanta) both made well over 100 tackles last season, Devon Kennard (Detroit) pairs with star Chandler Jones on the edge, and Haason Reddick likely becomes a chess piece in sub packages — which is ideal, because he’s been a lesser version of Simmons physically who hasn’t found a perfect role but has mismatch potential.
My selection of Lamb became seemingly void when Arizona made a spectacular trade for DeAndre Hopkins. With the “WR1” and linebacker holes filled, the Cardinals have a perfect opportunity to address the offensive line.
Jedrick Wills was my fourth lineman off the board in my initial mock draft. He’s less physically dominant — with perhaps a lower “ceiling” — than other tackles in this class, but Wills looks like the most technically sound, pro-ready lineman in this class. As someone who played some offensive tackle in my past life, he’s as close to a finished product as a pass protector as they come, and I find his play to be refreshing.
9. Jacksonville Jaguars: LB/S Isaiah Simmons (Clemson)
Mock 1.0 selection: OL Tristan Wirfs (Iowa)
The Jaguars are in a tantalizing situation. If they want to trade up for a quarterback with Nick Foles gone, they might be able to, but I’m skeptical of that possibility if a true bidding war ensued. They could really use a lineman, but the top two are off the board and I’m not sure it’s necessary to take another this high. The same applies at cornerback, where Jacksonville has lost Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye in the last six months. Even the defensive line has taken a hit after the trade of Calais Campbell — and Yannick Ngakoue’s contract standoff is also quite unsettling — but at least they had decent depth there already.
The Jaguars also need a linebacker. So say it with me: Sim-mons, Sim-mons, Sim-mons! He’s admittedly rather similar to Myles Jack in many ways, but since when has having multiple Myles Jacks been a problem? This team will go as far as the defense takes it, and there’s no reason to let him slide any further in the draft.
10. Cleveland Browns: OT Andrew Thomas (Georgia)
Mock 1.0 selection: OT Mekhi Becton (Louisville)
I refuse to waver from my belief that the Browns should take a left tackle. They don’t have a great one, but they need to, especially in a Gary Kubiak-style offense under Kevin Stefanski. Although I’m still leaning towards Becton as the higher-upside tackle remaining on the board, he’s more of a man blocker than a zone-run fit.
Insert Andrew Thomas. He’s less physically dominant, but more polished pretty much across the board. Consider him the inverse of Wills; whereas Wills is textbook as a pass blocker, Thomas has the makings of a dominant zone run blocker — even if his pass protection requires some refinement. He’s a very smart, tactical run blocker, and that should play favorably in the new-look Browns offense.
11. New York Jets: WR CeeDee Lamb (Oklahoma)
Mock 1.0 selection: OT Jedrick Wills Jr. (Alabama)
I’m quite torn at this selection. Mekhi Becton makes sense, but the Jets have tried to address the offensive line in free agency. Bill Barnwell of ESPN also says Chuma Edoga is guaranteed to start at right tackle, and I doubt they signed George Fant without the intent for him to at least compete for the left tackle job.
Thus far, they’ve failed to address wide receiver — unless Breshad Perriman and Josh Doctson impress you — and they lost their top wideout, Robby Anderson. At some point, the Jets have to give Sam Darnold something to work with in the passing game.
If you read my wide receiver rankings, you know that CeeDee Lamb is my top player at the position. I won’t ramble on about why I think that. Instead, I’ll calmly give Darnold the star wideout he’s been deprived of for so long as a pro and hope Adam Gase can become that innovative mind that figures out how to use Lamb — which admittedly scares me a bit.
12. Las Vegas Raiders: WR Jerry Jeudy (Alabama)
Mock 1.0 selection: Jeudy
Here’s that run on wide receivers that the experts and I keep talking about. Jeudy just feels like a fit here, and I think the Raiders already know it. Even with a dearth of receivers on the roster, they’ve opted to not address the position in any significant way. That’s because they want to spend their top capital on a star wide receiver, and since they weren’t getting one in free agency, they placed all their eggs into one box: their top draft selection.
My hunch is they want the most polished route runner they can get to truly offset what they lost in Amari Cooper’s departure, but they would almost certainly still take Lamb, or Jeudy’s college teammate — who I’ll get to shortly — if they were the best available options. Jeudy is their preference, though, and I don’t see a better fit for him earlier in the draft.
13. San Francisco 49ers: WR Henry Ruggs III (Alabama)
Mock 1.0 selection (Colts): QB Jordan Love (Utah State)
There are only two positions in San Francisco that may need an upgrade in San Francisco — and quarterback is not one of them. The 49ers don’t have a true No. 1 wide receiver, even though George Kittle essentially functions as one, and their cornerback depth isn’t spectacular. They did give up DeForest Buckner in a trade — which is how they acquired this pick — but they had a surplus on the defensive line already. This is a textbook position for the team to trade down, in my opinion.
On the other hand, Kyle Shanahan runs the epitome of a West Coast offense, and one of the staples of this system is a speed demon. As much as I like Deebo Samuel, I view him as a developmental receiver who would ideally serve a hybrid role — more of an offensive weapon than a wideout — at this stage. A player like Henry Ruggs — the proud owner of a sub-4.3 second 40-yard dash time — could make this offense lethal and keep it in the running for another Super Bowl bid.
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: OT Mekhi Becton (Louisville)
Mock 1.0 selection: DT Javon Kinlaw (South Carolina)
Now that Ndamukong Suh has re-signed, the defensive line isn’t a position of need anymore. With Tom Brady in town, Tampa needs to do all it can to directly support him. Their top duo at wide receiver is strong — and even their tight ends are solid — but the run game has plagued the Buccaneers, and the offensive line as a whole is questionable.
Star running backs are proven to be unnecessary for Brady, so they should zero in on the top lineman available. In this case, it’s the lone remaining top-tier lineman of this class: Mekhi Becton. He’s raw, but he also has very big potential, and Tampa’s veteran staff should theoretically be able to make something out of him.
15. Denver Broncos: CB CJ Henderson (Florida)
Mock 1.0 selection: WR Henry Ruggs III (Alabama)
The Broncos find themselves in an unfortunate situation. They need a wide receiver in a bad way, the top three in this class were all taken just ahead of them, and no one else merits this high of a selection. For this precise reason, there’s a lot of buzz that they will be looking to trade up — Jacksonville at No. 9 seems like a possibility, given its lack of need for top available players in that slot.
Given what’s available here, though, CJ Henderson seems like the best fit. In a lot of ways, that would allow Vic Fangio to replicate the cornerback trio — Kyle Fuller, Prince Amukamara, and Bryce Callahan — he had in Chicago, with A.J. Bouye as the Fuller-like top corner, Henderson as the press corner a la Amukamara, and Callahan himself in the slot. It’s not a huge need for Denver, but it would turn a decent group into a true strength.
16. Atlanta Falcons: DT Javon Kinlaw (South Carolina)
Mock 1.0 selection: EDGE K’Lavon Chaisson (LSU)
I’m tempted to stick with Chaisson here, but the Falcons did also upgrade at edge rusher, replacing Vic Beasley with Dante Fowler Jr. from the Rams. Assuming they’re standing by 2017 first rounder Takkarist McKinley for at least one more year, there’s no reason to give them a pass rusher.
More importantly, I think Kinlaw is simply the better player, and letting him play in a 4-3 defense likely gives him a better opportunity to be statistically productive — something he has been criticized for allegedly not being. Slide him in with Grady Jarrett and the edge rush duo, and you have a suddenly intriguing starting defensive line.
17. Dallas Cowboys: EDGE K’Lavon Chaisson (LSU)
Mock 1.0 selection: CB CJ Henderson (Florida)
The Cowboys are in a weird spot. They could benefit from adding a cornerback, but none of the rest are ideally top 20 picks, in my opinion. They also just signed former star edge rusher Aldon Smith, but he hasn’t even played since 2015, and he hasn’t had a season uninterrupted by injury or disciplinary measures since a couple years before that.
Prior to the Smith signing, there was a decent argument that the Cowboys needed a pass rusher worse than a cornerback. On paper, they no longer do, but can you really count on Smith — or Randy Gregory, for that matter — to be available? I say no, so I’ll give them a player who has been compared to Smith. He’s a high-activity, quick-twitch rusher to compliment DeMarcus Lawrence in the future. As a rookie, he’ll likely serve as a backup to Smith, but that’s always subject to change, and Mike Nolan will find packages for him — especially on third down.
18. Miami Dolphins: OT Joshua Jones (Houston)
Mock 1.0 selection: OT Andrew Thomas (Georgia)
When the Dolphins traded Laremy Tunsil to Houston ahead of last season, part of the equation was accepting that they’d have to draft a left tackle early in this year’s draft. At the time, they probably expected to have a chance to do so a bit earlier in the first round — the Steelers, whom this pick came from, had a rough start to the season before getting a boost from Minkah Fitzpatrick — but alas, it now falls in the second half of the round.
I really liked Thomas here. He was arguably the best player available at this selection in my first mock draft, but I already gave him to Cleveland (No. 10) this time around. As much as I’d like to talk myself into the Dolphins taking a running back here, I don’t see it happening. Most likely, we see the next offensive tackle come off the board here, as long as Miami is making the pick.
Jones is probably most similar to Mekhi Becton — as a power blocker — minus about 50 pounds, although he has the frame to put on some weight. Either way, he’ll need to improve his footwork in pass protection, but his Senior Bowl performance — much like his breakout Senior season — showed that there’s a lot to build upon.
19. Las Vegas Raiders: CB A.J. Terrell (Clemson)
Mock 1.0 selection: LB Kenneth Murray (Oklahoma)
I still like Murray here, but the more I study the possibilities at this pick, the more it sounds like they’re going with Terrell. Admittedly, I’m not a huge fan.
Nonetheless, Terrell was the top cornerback in Clemson’s stout defense and comes with a solid size-and-speed combination — classic Raiders traits. He’d also be reuniting with former teammate Trayvon Mullen. I am a bit skeptical of his recovery speed, back-pedal in coverage, and overall ability to defend quality competition — which he didn’t see a lot of in the ACC.
20. Jacksonville Jaguars: DE A.J. Epenesa (Iowa)
Mock 1.0 selection: LB Patrick Queen (LSU)
At some point in the first round, I wanted to make sure the Jaguars got a linebacker. Isaiah Simmons fell into their laps at No. 9, so that’s no longer a need. With that in mind, my initial thought was to address the offense, likely with either a quarterback — maybe Jordan Love — or a wide receiver — perhaps Justin Jefferson.
But then I thought about Epenesa, and I immediately thought to myself: “This guy has the potential to be the next Calais Campbell.” He’s a big power rusher and somewhat of a tweener defensive end/defensive tackle — especially if he grows any more. The Jaguars don’t need him, but he would be a luxury and would keep them true to their identity. I also have a lot of general trust in Iowa players along the offensive and defensive lines.
21. Philadelphia Eagles: WR Justin Jefferson (LSU)
Mock 1.0 selection: Jefferson
Wide receiver is the spot to target here, and Jefferson seems to be the top guy. He’s capable of playing inside or outside, but he’s been particularly productive in the slot, which on paper is where the Eagles would prefer to put him.
There’s an argument for taking a quicker receiver — an heir to DeSean Jackson’s throne — but that’s less essential at this point in the draft. It might be a position that is revisited in the next few rounds, though. And Jefferson might even be a player Philadelphia tries to trade up for.
22. Minnesota Vikings: WR Jalen Reagor (TCU)
Mock 1.0 selection (Bills): DE A.J. Epenesa (Iowa)
As high as I’ve been on the Vikings roster in recent years, it’s become astonishingly weak this offseason. They gave up on Xavier Rhodes, lost Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander to the Bengals in free agency, traded Stefon Diggs (in exchange for this pick), and haven’t made an effort to re-sign Everson Griffen after he opted out of his contract. They normally have one or two clear positions to target early in the draft, but there are more holes than usual this year. That makes this pick a prime “best player available” slot, except it doesn’t.
Some of the top players available are at three of the positions where the Vikings are strongest — running back, linebacker and safety. So instead, I’ll think a bit more strategically, in terms of what Mike Zimmer tends to like and what the teams after them might do.
Reagor seems like the perfect replacement for Diggs. He’s an ideal vertical threat, and the Vikings can’t run the risk of the Patriots prying him away. Although he’s coming off a subpar season, it was primarily tied to poor quarterback player. He should be a better pro than college player, and he’d have a chance to start opposite Adam Thielen from Day 1.
23. New England Patriots: LB Kenneth Murray (Oklahoma)
Mock 1.0 selection: S Grant Delpit (LSU)
As is customary with the Patriots, this is a tough selection to predict. But it might actually be even more difficult this year than most years, because they have a perceived opening at quarterback, and they’re strong almost everywhere else. Their wide receivers weren’t particularly productive last year, but they’re likely banking on bounce-back years from Mohamed Sanu and injury-riddled 2019 first rounder N’Keal Harry.
The only other weakness they could target here is linebacker — Jamie Collins, Kyle Van Noy, and Elandon Roberts all departed in free agency. Most of this year’s crop is a bit smaller than the Patriots typically go up the middle, but Kenneth Murray is close. He’s a bit of a weird fit for them, but I think he works as a 3-4 WILL inside linebacker — or as a basic 4-3 WILL, but my hunch is the Patriots are sticking with the 3-4 defense they ran last year.
Murray has a tendency to be overwhelmed as a strong-side defender, but he thrives when he’s allowed to roam freely frm sideline to sideline and make splash plays. If the Patriots make the pick — which I’m not sure they will — he seems like a plug-and-play starter in that specialized role.
24. New Orleans Saints: LB Patrick Queen (LSU)
Mock 1.0 selection: CB Trevon Diggs (Alabama)
This is absolutely best player available territory. After finally adding a No. 2 wide receiver in Emmanuel Sanders, the Saints don’t have any clear needs. In my, estimation, that leaves two players in their own class at this selection.
Kristian Futon is an intriguing talent, but the Saints are relatively deep at cornerback. Instead, linebacker and fellow local prospect Patrick Queen from LSU is the answer. He’s largely the same player as Murray with a shorter track record of collegiate success. It’s tough to blame him for that, though, because LSU always has an extensive pipeline of linebackers. Queen came into his own late in 2019 and could easily develop into an All-Pro talent.
25. Minnesota Vikings: CB Kristian Fulton (LSU)
Mock 1.0 selection: S Xavier McKinney (Alabama)
Like I said a few picks ago, the Vikings need to make an addition at cornerback. Fulton is my best cornerback available, and he seems to have the ability to succeed in multiple coverages — which is very important in this case, in particular. Zimmer prefers press coverage, but he also overhauled some of his defensive staff, and Dom Capers — an advocate of zone coverage — is among the new faces he brought in.
Fulton will have a chance to be the next star defensive back from LSU, and the Vikings will frankly need for him to be that, considering the guys they’ve let go this offseason.
26. Miami Dolphins: RB D’Andre Swift (Georgia)
Mock 1.0 selection: Swift
No matter what my sidekick Robby says about this year’s running back rankings, I’m sticking with Swift here.
You might be thinking: “Only running backs who had sensational college careers are taken this early in the draft anymore.” That’s not entirely true, but many very productive college backs do get passed on. That’s partly because of heavy workloads — running backs that take more hits tend to have shorter shelf lives. However, it also has to do with diversity of skills. The ability to catch out of the backfield and pass block adds a lot of value. Most backs are undeveloped entering the draft.
Swift is a rare player that checks all the right boxes despite not being a household name. In part due to playing with Nick Chubb and Sony Michel initially, he’s only taken 440 carries — the equivalent of less than two seasons for most top-flight running backs — while also being solid between the tackles and in space, as a receiver, and as a blocker. No. 26 feels like the right range for him to come off the board, and the Dolphins can’t afford to wait until the second round — especially considering this is already their third pick.
27. Seattle Seahawks: EDGE Yetur Gross-Matos (Penn State)
Mock 1.0 selection: DT Ross Blacklock (TCU)
There would be nothing wrong with still taking Blacklock with this pick, and one of the safeties also makes a fair amount of sense, but my hunch is that the Seahawks want an edge rusher not named Jadeveon Clowney.
If you squint hard enough, Gross-Matos’ play resembles Michael Bennett, and it will likely become an even closer comparison as he fills into his frame. Seattle also seems like an organization that would be patient with him as he grows — physically and talent-wise.
28. Baltimore Ravens: LB Zack Baun (Wisconsin)
Mock 1.0 selection: EDGE Yetur Gross-Matos (Penn State)
Gross-Matos would’ve been ideal, whether it was as a compliment to Matt Judon or someone who could replace him as a feature edge rusher. Even with him off the board, that is a trait the Ravens should continue to look for.
There isn’t another true edge rusher that I feel great about in this slot, but Baun is appealing because he provides versatility, which defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale loves. He was very productive rushing the passer at Wisconsin, and I think he’ll grow into that as a pro, but until he does, I think he can be successful as an inside linebacker.
29. Tennessee Titans: DT Ross Blacklock (TCU)
Mock 1.0 selection: OT Joshua Jones (Houston)
It’s tough to pick apart any aspect of the Titans roster. Aside from A.J. Brown, their wide receivers aren’t exceptional, but Corey Davis and Adam Humphries are too good to cut or bench. Every other position group is strong, and they just placed a hefty price tag on quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Defensive tackle may not be a hole, but it’s weaker than it often is, so perhaps that’s an area to address.
It just so happens that Ross Blacklock is my top talent left in the draft. Jurrell Casey made it to five consecutive Pro Bowls, so his void he created by leaving for Denver is a large one to fill, but a big, quick-twitch lineman with impressive bull rush capabilities makes a lot of sense in an effort to do so.
30. Green Bay Packers: WR Denzel Mims (Baylor)
Mock 1.0 selection: WR Tee Higgins (Clemson)
I still believe wide receiver makes sense, but I’m not sure who the right guy is. They like size, but I also think they have an abundance of slower, big-bodied wideouts. To remedy that, I’ll give them the best of both.
I actually like Mims’ upside more than Jalen Reagor, but sometimes how a player fits a team outweighs which is the better talent. In Mims, Green Bay would be getting the coveted size-and-speed combination, providing both contested catches and verticality the Packers haven’t had since Jordy Nelson left. Aaron Rodgers would love to have that back, and I think it’s time to buy the star quarterback a weapon.
31. San Francisco 49ers: CB Trevon Diggs (Alabama)
Mock 1.0 selection: CB Kristian Fulton (LSU)
Not much changes for me at No. 31 for the 49ers, except for the fact that Fulton isn’t available this time. They got their wide receiver — Henry Ruggs at No. 13 — so the need for someone like Tee Higgins or Brandon Aiyuk is gone. Much like at No. 31, I could see them looking to trade out of this selection. However, if I’m sticking to the script, cornerback is the need and Trevon Diggs is the fit.
If it was entirely up to my evaluation, I’m not sure Diggs would even be available here — I’m higher on him than A.J. Terrell. Unlike most seasons, I actually think the Crimson Tide’s front seven — which is usually stout, requiring less of their defensive backs in coverage — was somewhat of a weakness last year, and Diggs showed flashes of greatness. As a rookie in San Francisco, those flashes might be enough, because the 49ers front seven is elite.
I’m not sure Diggs even knows what he’s capable of yet, and that intrigues me. He used to be a wide receiver, and he’s only been playing cornerback for two years. He won’t be a finished product as a rookie, but he might have the highest upside other than Okudah.
32. Kansas City Chiefs: CB Jeff Gladney (TCU)
Mock 1.0 selection: RB J.K. Dobbins (Ohio State)
As much as I still like the idea of Dobbins here, I’ve had a change of heart. I don’t fall head over heels for Damien Williams, but he’s a good enough running back, especially on this team. When the skill positions are strong enough, winners build in the trenches, and the Chiefs could definitely stand to improve their offensive and defensive line.
Still, the Chiefs cornerback situation has become extremely dicey now that Kendall Fuller is gone. All they really have left is Bashaud Breeland. They need a potential No. 1 corner, and Kansas City loves versatility across the roster. More so than a lot of guys, Gladney seems to have the ability to match up outside or in the slot, which could allow them to continue to move Tyrann Mathieu all over the field. That’s what worked for them late last season, so I’d imagine they try to replicate that here — unless they trade out of this pick.
Reassessing the Board
I made some significant tweaks to my first round since Mock Draft 1.0, but it might not be clear in this format. Three of the changes I made — aside from A.J. Terrell — stand out to me the most:
- Jordan Love dropped from No. 13 to unselected.
- The offensive line got a boost.
- No safeties were taken.
Prior to free agency, a fourth quarterback near the top of the first round made sense. To no one’s surprise, veterans signed and will be starting for teams where vacancies had previously existed, so some of the holes at the position that had existed before are gone.
In my initial mock, I had the top three linemen being taken from Nos. 9–11 and Andrew Thomas lasting until No. 18. By giving the Giants Tristan Wirfs instead of Isaiah Simmons and keeping the rest of the group fairly similar, Joshua Jones — my fifth lineman — came off the board at No. 18 this time.
Lastly, in the first mock, I had Grant Delpit taken at No. 23 and Xavier McKinney at No. 25. Safeties have become devalued in the draft to begin with, but my opinion of each of them has also dipped. McKinney appears to be polished and versatile, but I’m not sure his athleticism translates to the NFL incredibly well, and while I don’t have questions about Delpit athletically, he’s a bit erratic as a tackler. Neither of those flaws are very desirable.
Robby also took the time to rank his top tight ends in this class, none of whom I included in the first round. Wouldn’t it be a shame if he did all that work and I didn’t return the favor in some way?
With that in mind, there are some intriguing players still available. I don’t have as much insight into what teams are most interested in which players as I do for the first round, but based on team needs and draft tendencies, here’s a rapid-fire start to Day 2:
33. Bengals: S Grant Delpit (LSU)
34. Colts: OT Austin Jackson (USC)
35. Lions: iOL Cesar Ruiz (Michigan)
36. Giants: S Xavier McKinney (Alabama)
37. Chargers: RB J.K. Dobbins (Ohio State)
38. Panthers: CB Jaylon Johnson (Utah)
39. Dolphins: S Antoine Winfield Jr. (Minnesota)
40. Texans: OL Isaiah Wilson (Georgia)
41. Browns: EDGE Curtis Weaver (Boise State)
42. Jaguars: QB Jordan Love (Utah State)
43. Colts: WR Tee Higgins (Clemson)
44. Bears: QB Jalen Hurts (Oklahoma)
45. Buccaneers: RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire (LSU)
46. Broncos: WR Brandon Aiyuk (Arizona State)
47. Falcons: CB Damon Arnette (Ohio State)
48. Jets: EDGE Julian Okwara (Notre Dame)
49. Steelers: OT Ezra Cleveland (Boise State)
50. Bears: WR KJ Hamler (Penn State)
51. Cowboys: CB Noah Igbinoghene (Auburn)
52. Rams: RB Jonathan Taylor (Wisconsin)
53. Eagles: LB Malik Harrison (Ohio State)
54. Bills: TE Cole Kmet (Notre Dame)
55. Ravens: iOL Lloyd Cushenberry (LSU)
56. Dolphins: WR Michael Pittman Jr. (USC)
57. Rams: CB Bryce Hall (Virginia)
58. Vikings: OT Lucas Niang (TCU)
59. Seahawks: DT Jordan Elliott (Missouri)
60. Ravens: WR Laviska Shenault Jr. (Colorado)
61. Titans: TE Harrison Bryant (Florida Atlantic)
62. Packers: LB Logan Wilson (Wyoming)
63. Chiefs: EDGE Terrell Lewis (Alabama)
64. Seahawks: S Kyle Duggar (Lenoir-Rhyne)