NFL mock draft 2020: Dolphins put trust in Tua Tagovailoa; Saints find new QB; Chiefs, Colts go RBSporting News — (Vinnie Iyer)
December is here, making it a perfect time for a brand-spanking new 2020 NFL mock draft. Sporting News has updated its projections for where and when the top prospects will go in the first round next April, all across the board.
The arrival of Week 14 means there's only one month left in the 2019 regular season, with the draft order starting to come into better focus. In college football, it's down to just the conference title, bowl and Playoff games, with the stock of players starting to settle before the draft process hits full-on scouting and evaluation mode.
With all that in mind, for now, here is how we seeing the picks from No. 1 through No. 32 playing out.
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2020 NFL mock draft
1. Cincinnati Bengals (1-11)
- Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
Offensive-minded coach Zac Taylor needs a franchise passer with Ryan Finley quickly proving he is not the answer behind Andy Dalton. Burrow has enjoyed a meteoric rise as the Heisman Trophy favorite and appealing top QB prospect in this class. His big performance in LSU's win over Alabama stamped that status. At 6-3, 215 pounds, he combines his mental and physical toughness in the pocket with a strong arm and accurate delivery. His leadership skills and athleticism also have flourished in Baton Rouge.
2. New York Giants (2-10)
- Chase Young, EDGE, Ohio State
The Giants have loved themselves some transcendent pass-rushers over the years, and Young qualifies as a better prospect than recent Ohio State NFL studs Joey Bosa and Nick Bosa. Dave Gettleman will jump at the chance to get this cornerstone talent for the team's defensive rebuild under James Bettcher, who will see a new version of Chandler Jones. Young (6-5, 265 pounds) is a game-changing disruptor. He has followed a 10.5-sack season with 16.5 in only 12 games as a junior.
3. Washington Redskins (3-9)
- Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
The Redskins just invested in quarterback Dwayne Haskins and found a legitimate No. 1 wide receiver in Terry McLaurin. They are still at an impasse with stalwart Trent Williams, and they need to land a new rock at left tackle. Thomas matches great size (6-5, 320 pounds) with good hands and footwork. Their new coach also will love what Thomas can do opening holes for explosive running back Derrius Guice, given what he also did for D'Andre Swift in Athens.
4. Miami Dolphins (3-9)
- Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
Now that we know Tagovailoa (6-1, 2018 pounds) should make a full recovery from his scary hip injury, he has to be the pick for the Dolphins because of his bright future. And it doesn't hurt that Miami can keep Ryan Fitzpatrick to serve as the bridge QB should Tagovailoa need extra time to get to full strength. There have been some silly concerns about Tua being a product of the offense around him, but he is an accurate, mobile, deep-ball throwing quarterback with the upside of Russell Wilson, only throwing with his left arm. The Dolphins can't afford to wait to see whether they will draft high enough to land Clemson's Trevor Lawrence in 2021.
5. Atlanta Falcons (3-9)
- Jeffrey Okudah, CB, Ohio State
With three interceptions and two forced fumbles in the Buckeyes' 11 games, Okudah has come out flying as a ballhawk. At 6-1, 200 pounds, he has the build to handle receivers of all sizes. He is fluid and quick enough with great recovery ability in coverage for Atlanta to think he can develop into a shutdown type with his strengths showing up in press man. The Falcons need to deal with the many elite wideouts in the NFC South.
6. Detroit Lions (3-8-1)
- Grant Delpit, S, LSU
The Lions have become shaky at safety after trading Quandre Diggs. Tracy Walker can't stay healthy, and both Tavon Wilson and Miles Killebrew are pending free agents. Delpit flies round the field, stopping the run like an extra linebacker and making big plays on the ball while working inside in downfield coverage. He plays like the Chargers' Derwin James with tremendous hybrid size (6-3, 203 pounds) for the position.
7. Arizona Cardinals (3-8-1)
- Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
The Cardinals have considerable defensive needs, too, but it would be difficult for offensive-minded coach Kliff Kingsbury not to help Kyler Murray reach another level with his receiving corps by pushing GM Steve Keim to take the best player available. We'll see about Larry Fitzgerald returning, but Christian Kirk is better as a quick No. 2 behind a true No. 1. Jeudy fits that profile as a classic intermediate-to-deep playmaker and drive-finisher at 6-1, 198 pounds.
8. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-8)
- A.J. Epenesa, EDGE, Iowa
With Yannick Ngakuoe possibly being too expensive for the Jaguars to re-sign at one defensive end spot, the Jaguars can add someone who has some of the traits of their venerable other defensive end, Calais Campbell, who will be entering his age-34 season. Epenesa (6-6, 280 pounds) is a powerful, explosive, big-bodied player. He can push blockers out of the way to get to the quarterback and also stands up strong against the run.
9. New York Jets (4-8)
- CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
If Jeudy is off the board when the Jets pick, they shouldn't hesitate to jump on the 1A receiver in this class. Lamb can be their version of DeAndre Hopkins for Sam Darnold. Robby Anderson, a pending free agent, is more of a deep threat and not a No. 1, anyway. Lamb can be that explosive field-stretcher and steady possession guy outside. At 6-2, 199 pounds, Lamb has needed only 50 receptions to post 1,035 yards and 14 TDs in 12 games.
10. Los Angeles Chargers (4-8)
- Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa
The Chargers have seen their offensive line struggle to block for Philip Rivers all season, with tackles Russell Okung and Sam Tevi also struggling to stay healthy. They need a young franchise tackle, and Wirfs has the athleticism at 6-5, 322 pounds to hold down the left side for a long time. He combines his pass-blocking skills with power and physicality in the running game.
11. Denver Broncos (4-8)
- Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
Herbert is John Elway's ideal-sized (6-6, 237 pounds) prospect. He is athletic and accurate in zipping the ball downfield. He comes with a few durability concerns, and while he is efficient and mentally tough overall, there are times when he can go into a slump with his decision-making, forcing throws out of overconfidence. With good NFL coaching, however, he can live up to being a prototypical superstar.
12. Philadelphia Eagles (5-7)
- Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama
The Eagles have seen their cornerback play improve throughout the season, so that's a backburner first-round need, especially if Okudah and Fulton are off the board before their selection. They are in desperate need for a big-play threat offensively given DeSean Jackson's age and the limited overall speed in Carson Wentz's receiving corps with a slowing-down Alshon Jeffery. Ruggs (6-0, 190 pounds) fits the bill as a field-stretcher who can also use his route-running skills to win on shorter routes.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-7)
- Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU
The Buccaneers have the worst cornerback situation in the NFL, stamped by their giving up on first-rounder Vernon Hargreaves this season. They need a potential shutdown type to handle the likes of Michael Thomas, Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley and D.J. Moore in the division. Fulton (6-1, 192 pounds) has the size, speed, smarts and sound coverage skills to have a long, prosperous career.
14. Carolina Panthers (5-7)
- Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina
The Panthers have transitioned to a base 3-4 under Ron Rivera, and to that end, after getting Brian Burns for their edge rush in 2019, they could use some inside juice up front. They can look right down the road to Columbia, where the 6-6, 310-pound Kinlaw posted 6 sacks in 11 games for the Gamecocks.
15. Cleveland Browns (5-7)
- Alex Leatherwood, OT, Alabama
The Browns have an amazing set of skill players around Baker Mayfield, but their pass protection was the reason they were slow to find their explosiveness early in 2019. Leatherwood keeps rising to rival Wirfs and Thomas as the best overall tackle in the class. At 6-6, 310 pounds, Leatherwood is an elite athlete who can become a top overall blocker should he keep working on his strength and technique.
16. Las Vegas Raiders (6-6)
- Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn
The Raiders found their bookend pass rushers, Clelin Ferrell and Maxx Crosby, in the 2019 draft. Now they can go after a strong complement to them on the inside. Brown (6-5, 318 pounds) is a quick disruptor who makes a lot of plays in the backfield. He should remind Paul Guenther a little of his former Bengals ace Geno Atkins.
17. Indianapolis Colts (6-6)
- D’Andre Swift, RB, Georgia
The Colts like Marlon Mack, but he keeps having durability issues. Jonathan Williams has been good filling in, and they have Nyheim Hines as a good receiving back. But they would benefit from having a back who can be the complete package, a power runner with a dash of explosiveness and receiving upside. Swift (5-9, 229 pounds) is capable of both getting the tough yards inside and breaking free for big plays in the open field.
18. Las Vegas Raiders (from Bears)
- Isaiah Simmons, OLB, Clemson
Set up for back-to-back picks, the Raiders can double down on more defensive help. They also are weak on the second level in coverage and could use some help against the run, too. Simmons seems to be all over the field at all times for the Tigers with great speed and range at 6-4, 230 pounds. He can also get to the quarterback. He has 84 tackles, 6 sacks and an interception in 12 games.
19. Tennessee Titans (7-5)
- Tyler Biadasz, G, Wisconsin
Biadasz (6-3, 321 pounds) is next in the strong line of Badgers interior blockers (see the Cowboys' Travis Frederick and the Giants' Kevin Zeitler). The Titans' offensive foundation is Derrick Henry and the power running game. They could use an upgrade over oft-injured right guard Kevin Pamphile, a pending free agent. Quarterback might be less of a concern with Ryan Tannehill suddenly looking like a worthy re-sign.
20. Jacksonville Jaguars (from Rams)
- Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama
The Jaguars can replace Jalen Ramsey with the pick they acquired for him with Diggs, who can pair well with A.J. Bouye because of his size (6-2, 207 pounds), strength and downfield speed. Diggs has risen up the board quickly with his big senior season (three interceptions in 12 games).
21. Miami Dolphins (from Steelers)
- Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin
The Dolphins desperately need to pair Tagovailoa with a legitimate, powerful and prolific feature back given they can't run the ball this season. Taylor (5-11, 219 pounds) has great vision and burst as a runner. He also doesn't get enough credit for what he can do as a receiver, which has been on display more during his presumed final college season.
22. Minnesota Vikings (8-4)
- Creed Humphrey, G, Oklahoma
Humphrey (6-4, 312 pounds) is a good hand-fighter who has great athleticism for the position to fit nicely in the Vikings' zone blocking scheme. They could use an upgrade over often banged-up right guard Josh Kline, who is entering his age-30 season. Humphrey would pair well with 2019 first-rounder Garrett Bradbury.
23. Buffalo Bills (9-3)
- Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson
The Bills have helped the second-year development of Josh Allen with veteran wide receivers John Brown (deep threat outside) and Cole Beasley (reliable slot man inside). But they still could a dangerous, all-around playmaker who can be a force in the red zone. At 6-4, 215 pounds, Higgins has posted 40 receptions for 799 yards and 8 TDs in 11 games this season.
24. San Francisco 49ers (10-2)
- Dylan Moses, ILB, Alabama
The 49ers could use a high-impact playmaker on the second level to round out their defense, especially after Kwon Alexander couldn't stay healthy. Moses (6-3, 259 pounds) missed the Crimson Tide's season with a torn ACL he suffered in August, but he should be fully healed to contribute as a rookie who can rack up tackles and also make big plays in coverage.
25. Dallas Cowboys (6-6)
- Yetur Gross-Matos, EDGE, Penn State
The Cowboys still have trouble getting to the quarterback consistently and could use a bookend for DeMarcus Lawrence with Robert Quinn and Michael Bennett as pending free agents. Gross-Matos (6-5, 242 pounds) is a well-built, explosive and versatile defender who can thrive in Rod Marinelli's 4-3 scheme.
26. Kansas City Chiefs (8-4)
- Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson
27. Miami Dolphins (from Texans)
- Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU
Jefferson (6-2, 185 pounds) has emerged in LSU's passing game as a quick, efficient route-runner with good hands who also has underrated speed. The Dolphins can pair him with Taylor and Tagovailoa to form their new set of triplets. Jefferson has posted 81 catches for 1,092 yards and 13 TDs in 12 games.
28. Green Bay Packers (9-3)
- Tyler Johnson, WR, Minnesota
The Packers have been struggling to find a No. 2 option opposite Davante Adams. Johnson (6-2, 205 pounds) can solve that problem as a strong pass-catcher and great route-runner for Aaron Rodgers. He can go up and get any ball and fight through anyone to get it.
29. Seattle Seahawks (10-2)
- Paulson Adebo, CB, Stanford
The Seahawks need to keep rebuilding their sequel to the Legion of Boom at cornerback, so why not tap back into the Cardinal, their source for Richard Sherman? At 6-1, 184 pounds, Adebo offers great ball skills and instincts to develop into a shutdown player. He has 4 interceptions in 12 games.
30. New England Patriots (10-2)
- Pat Freiermuth, TE, Penn State
The Patriots have missed impact tight end play without Rob Gronkowski, and they can go for the luxury that is the player who is easily the best tight end prospect in a weak class for the position. Freiermuth (6-5, 256 pounds) looks the part as the next great NFL receiving tight end, turning his 41 catches into 468 yards and 7 TDs in 12 games for the Nittany Lions.
31. New Orleans Saints (10-2)
- Jalen Hurts, QB, Oklahoma
Hurts is the latest dual-threat quarterback to thrive in Lincoln Riley's system, following 2019 No. 1 overall pick Kyler Murray. The Saints shouldn't expect Drew Brees to hang it up in 2020, but they are unlikely to re-sign Teddy Bridgewater and need to start looking for Brees' long-term successor. Sean Payton should see many qualities in Hurts (6-2, 218 pounds) he likes, including leadership, pocket awareness and the ability to throw anywhere on top of his great scrambling ability.
32. Baltimore Ravens (10-2)
- Laviska Shenault Jr., WR, Colorado
The Ravens have put one big playmaker around Lamar Jackson in 2019 first-round wideout Marquise Brown, and here's another perfect fit for their offense. Shenault is a sure-handed field stretcher who has some nice big-play flair after the catch. He posted 56 catches for 764 yards and 4 TDs for the Buffaloes, standing out significantly on a struggling team.