Since the last time Carmen Vitali and I put our heads together to predict the 32 first-round picks of the 2020 NFL Draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have re-signed defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh, capping a delirious two-week run through free agency that may have reshaped the team's draft priorities. If the majority of draft analysts are right, the Buccaneers will be focusing on offensive tackle with the 14th overall pick.
But, of course, that's far from the only possible draft strategy for Tampa Bay, and for all we know it's not even the preferred outcome for Jason Licht and Bruce Arians. The return in 2020 of not only Suh but also outside linebackers Shaquil Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul has been rightly celebrated, but does it really mean the Buccaneers will ignore those positions in the first round of the draft? If a player the team has ranked very high on its draft board – say LSU EDGE K'Lavon Chaisson on Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown – falls to pick 14, could the Buccaneers bite and choose to address the offensive line in the second round?
Perhaps the Buccaneers will do something even more expected and grab the first running back off the board to give new field general Tom Brady a new weapon. Again, that move could be paired with a second-round offensive tackle at pick number 45. Safety also appears to be a position of some need and another spot at which Tampa Bay could possibly be the first to dive in. Give the secondary a boost in the first round, find a pass-catching running back in the second round and try to find a tackle a little later to compete with the newly-acquired Joe Haeg at right tackle. It may not be the most likely scenario, but it's not inconceivable.
Now, I'm not saying the Buccaneers are going to go away from the popular – and, to be fair, quite logical – choice of an offensive tackle at pick 14. That's actually Carmen's decision in this particular mock draft. I'm just saying that a team's draft strategy involves more than just its first pick, even if this very enjoyable pastime of mock drafting usually only focuses on the opening round.
As such, for just this one version of our Mock Draft series, Carmen and I are going to go two rounds and see how it shakes out for the Buccaneers. Once again, trades are allowed but we have to go through the process of finding a fair deal. Oh, and in case I haven't mentioned it in a while…
(The usual caveat: Though you are reading this on Buccaneers.com, none of this is meant to reflect the strategy or thinking of Jason Licht, Bruce Arians or any others involved in the Buccaneers' actual draft decision-making. These are Carmen and Scott's predictions.)
1. Cincinnati Bengals: QB Joe Burrow, LSU (Scott Smith)
Two mock draft versions ago when I had this pick I still harbored just a small kernel of skepticism here, but no more. Andy Dalton is reportedly on the trade block, Burrow is willing to play in Cincy and the Bengals would be mad to pass this opportunity up.
2. Washington Redskins: EDGE Chase Young, Ohio State (Carmen Vitali)
I'm excited to see what a guy like Chase Young can do under a defensive-minded head coach like Riverboat Ron. I think it's a perfect pairing.
3. [TRADE] Miami Dolphins (from Detroit): QB Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama (SS)
I'm running back this gimmick from Version 3.0. I know that a lot of mocks have Tua making it to the fifth pick, but in real life I think Miami isn't willing to risk it. The concern is that the Giants, picking fourth, don't need a QB and the Chargers, picking sixth, could leapfrog the Dolphins into that spot. The cost is the 18th overall pick, which is what we negotiated last time. A bit of an overpay but teams overpay for quarterbacks.
4. New York Giants: OT Tristan Wirfs, Iowa (CV)
Though I hate what the implications of starting the tackle run this early could mean for the Bucs, the Giants have a real need for more protection around Daniel Jones. They get their pick of the litter this high and go with Wirfs, who had an incredible Combine performance to go along with his on-tape athleticism. No wiffs here (sorry).
5. [TRADE] Detroit Lions (from Miami): CB Jeff Okudah (SS)
Just as last time, the Lions trade down and still get their man. There's virtually no risk for Detroit in this move; even if Okudah were to go fourth, they could grab Clemson's do-everything defender, Isaiah Simmons. Corner is a bigger need, though, after the trade of Darius Slay, even with the addition of Desmond Trufant.
6. Los Angeles Chargers: QB Justin Herbert, Oregon (CV)
Well, the Chargers didn't have a chance to go up and get Tua but they get the next best thing in Justin Herbert. His hair already fits in with that Southern California lifestyle so it could end up being a better fit, anyway. Just call him 'Sunshine' from here on out.
7. Carolina Panthers: S/LB Isaiah Simmons, Clemson (SS)
Derrick Brown is a strong consideration here but Simmons is just too good to pass up, and there is that small matter of Luke Kuechly's retirement. Everybody is looking for these ultra-versatile defenders in today's NFL and Simmons is most definitely that.
8. Arizona Cardinals: OT Andrew Thomas, Georgia (CV)
No denying how much the Cardinals need an offensive tackle and with one already off the board, they don't take their chances trading down like they did in 4.0. Thomas is probably the most NFL ready of the four, which works well for Arizona who needs an immediate contributor, though he may have a lower ceiling than some of the others.
As the NFL Draft inches closer, a look at NFL Network Maurice Jones-Drew's 2020 mock draft. Photos by AP Images.
9. Jacksonville Jaguars: DT Derrick Brown, Auburn (SS)
This is the first time since our Version 1.0 that Brown has slid as far as the ninth pick and now, as back then, the Jaguars pounce. Brown can help shore up a terrible Jacksonville run defense and collapse the pocket from the interior.
10. Cleveland Browns: DT Javon Kinlaw, South Carolina (CV)
I think the Browns were probably hoping Brown would fall to them because they need reinforcements along the defensive line. They picked up Andrew Billings in free agency but only signed him to a one-year, prove-it deal. Kinlaw is a way to mitigate that risk even further and potentially get a long-term defensive staple if he continues on the upward trajectory many have pegged for him.
11. New York Jets: T Jedrick Wills, Alabama (SS)
Man oh man, CeeDee Lamb or Jerry Jeudy are tempting right here, even with the Jets' addition of Breshad Perriman. But the offensive line was the top priority for the Jets heading into the offseason and I'm not sold on George Fant being the solution. The Jets get in on the top tier of tackles and wait until the second round to add a receiver.
12. Las Vegas Raiders: WR CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma (CV)
Please and thank you, says the Raiders. They have two quarterbacks in both Derek Carr and Marcus Mariota, but they lack players to throw to. The Raiders use the first of the first-round picks to address that need, knowing they get another crack at addressing their other needs, like their secondary, in just a few picks.
13. San Francisco 49ers (from Indianapolis): WR Jerry Jeudy, Alabama (SS)
It's really the 49ers who are giving thanks because the Raiders would have gotten one of these two either way. The 49ers obviously have a talented roster but they could use a receiver, especially with Emmanuel Sanders ending his short stay in the Bay area. Kyle Shanahan will love Jeudy's precise route-running and burst out of his breaks.
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: OT Mekhi Becton, Louisville (CV)
NEAT. Despite the Giants taking the first offensive tackle off the board at No. 4, there's still one of the 'Big Four' left for the Bucs at No. 14. Becton is no consolation prize, either. He's absolutely massive at 6-7, 364 pounds and ready from a physical standpoint for the NFL level. He may be a little raw but he's played both right and left tackle in college, reassuring the Bucs that he could fill the hole the offensive line currently has on the right side.
15. Denver Broncos: WR Henry Ruggs, Alabama (SS)
I think it's possible that John Elway would take Ruggs and his insane speed over both Jeudy and Lamb, and he might have to trade up to get his guy. But here the perfect fit falls into the Broncos lap, probably at the very outside of Ruggs's draft range.
16. Atlanta Falcons: CB C.J. Henderson, Florida (CV)
Behind Okudah, Henderson seems to be the next best cornerback prospect. The bad news here is that Atlanta gets the help it needs in the secondary with a homegrown kid.
17. Dallas Cowboys: EDGE K'Lavon Chaisson (SS)
Ouch. In each of our first four mock drafts, Atlanta took an edge rusher (Chaisson three times). This time they take the player the Cowboys had queued up in Henderson. Not loving the value here for the next corner on their list, the Cowboys explore a trade down but don't find a good deal and instead take Chaisson to replace the departed Robert Quinn.
18. [TRADE] Detroit Lions (from Pittsburgh through Miami): EDGE Yetur Gross-Matos (CV)
Ouch. With Scott's affinity for Chaisson, I knew that was going to happen, too. The Lions need pass rush help desperately, having elected to address the secondary and pick up DL Danny Shelton in free agency, and had their eye on the confident LSU edge rusher to further bolster their defense. It doesn't quite work out but the Lions get someone for the front anyway, hoping Gross-Matos' quarterback pressure can help complement the investment they just made at cornerback in the top five.
19. Las Vegas Raiders (from Chicago): QB Jordan Love, Utah State (SS)
I know, I know, I know. Jon Gruden never takes quarterbacks in the first round. He's never drafted one higher than 59th. But you know what else has never happened before? A 20-year veteran quarterback with six Super Bowl rings choosing to leave his original team for a new challenge. Things are true until they aren't. I don't think Gruden is sold on Derek Carr, and Love's availability this far into the draft creates a very intriguing opportunity.
20. Jacksonville Jaguars (from L.A. Rams): CB Kristian Fulton, LSU (CV)
The Jags wanted Jordan Love but didn't see that QB stockpile coming from the Raiders. Should have taken Dallas up on a potential trade. Instead, they continue the rebuild of their defense with a cornerback, checking off their two biggest needs on that side of the ball.
21. Philadelphia Eagles: WR Justin Jefferson, LSU (SS)
We've given the Eagles a wide receiver in every version of our mock draft so far. Why stop now?
22. Minnesota Vikings (from Buffalo): WR Jalen Reagor, TCU (CV)
That's because the Eagles ALWAYS need a receiver. The Vikings do too, though. Thank goodness this is a good receiver class and Reagor's name already sounds like a Viking.
23. New England Patriots: T Josh Jones, Houston (SS)
The Patriots could use a receiver but won't get sucked into a run on the position here. They'll wait until Round Two in this loaded class of pass-catchers. Meanwhile Marcus Cannon is getting up there and Isaiah Wynn has had injury issues and could be a candidate to move to guard.
24. New Orleans Saints: LB Patrick Queen, LSU (CV)
While Sean Payton is busy divulging offensive plays on Twitter, the personnel side of the building addresses the other side of the ball and get the Saints a much-needed player for the middle level.
25. Minnesota Vikings: CB Jeff Gladney, TCU (SS)
The Vikings were probably wise to address their receiver position first with Jefferson still on the board, and now they hit their next biggest need with a cornerback, with none coming off the board since the last time they were on the clock. And both picks are from TCU! I guess it's the "horned" frog thing that attracts the Vikings.
26. Miami Dolphins (from Houston): OT Austin Jackson, USC (CV)
Oof. Well, provided Miami doesn't trade this pick away in a three-first-rounder package for Joe Burrow at the number one spot and does go with what Scott had them doing earlier, I think they invest in someone to help protect Tua. Jackson is the next best offensive tackle, who has maybe the most heartwarming backstory in this draft.
27. Seattle Seahawks: DT Ross Blacklock, TCU (SS)
Seattle likes to trade down in the first round. I mean, really, really likes to trade down. Since 2012 they've traded down from their first pick every time except in the two cases that they simply traded the pick away for players (Percy Harvin and Jimmy Graham). Problem is, I tried and tried and just couldn't work it out. All of those trades down (including several years where they moved down twice) were drops of between three and nine picks, no more. I couldn't find a viable trade partner in that range. Someone has to have a good reason to move up, you know. So I'll go with a little help on the interior line. Fortunately for 'Hawks fans, John Schneider is better at this trade-down thing than I am, so it will still probably happen.
28. Baltimore Ravens: LB Kenneth Murray, Oklahoma (CV)
When you think of the Ravens defense, you likely think of Ray Lewis historically, yet the Ravens don't currently have a guy to man the middle and could definitely use one. It'll help complement a front seven that just got Calais Campbell for a fourth-round pick. Nope, I still don't get it either.
29. [TRADE] Miami Dolphins (from Tennessee): RB Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin (SS)
Okay, I managed to work this one out. Astute Titans GM Jon Robinson knows he can get an offensive tackle or slot corner (two big needs) of similar value 10 picks later, so he picks up an extra third from Miami and moves on out of the round. The 70th-overall pick is a little too steep for this swap but Miami doesn't have a fourth-rounder, so Tennessee sends back a fifth-round pick. Jordan Howard is NOT the answer in Miami. NFL Next Gen Stats assigned Taylor a Draft Score of 98 (out of 100) based on size, athleticism and production, which is the same score that Ezekiel Elliott and Christian McCaffrey got. The Dolphins may land their next great running back.
30. Green Bay Packers: WR Brandon Aiyuk, ASU (CV)
Did I take Aiyuk because he's a Sun Devil, Jerry? Probably. But Green Bay needs another wide receiver because Davante Adams can't possibly continue to shoulder the load. And as much as it pains me to admit it, the Packers aren't getting the most they could be out of A-aron. He ranked 18th in passing yards per game last year with just over 250. I have to think with better weapons, he's capable of more than that.
31. San Francisco 49ers: CB Trevon Diggs, Alabama (SS)
Here's another team that should probably trade down, as its needs aren't overly pressing and it is lacking in picks, but I've got nothing in the pipeline. I'll leave that up to Buccaneer great John Lynch. Meanwhile, the 49ers have most of their secondary creeping up on free agency, so a corner or a safety would be a good build for the future. Diggs has some Richard Sherman-esque traits and can learn from the man himself.
32. Kansas City Chiefs: RB D'Andre Swift, Georgia (CV)
Did the Chiefs need another running back given Damien Williams' postseason success last year? Probably not. But this team is now completely stacked offensively and the Bucs have to play them at home this season. Woof.
View photos from DL Ndamukong Suh's time with the Bucs so far!
33. Cincinnati Bengals: LB Zack Baun, Wisconsin (SS)
The Bengals – yes, THE BENGALS – have been spending in free agency. They've added a couple corners, a couple safeties, a guard…it's a little unsettling. But they still have a glaring need at off-the-ball linebacker and could use some more pressure off the edge. Which one of those is Baun? Maybe both.
34. Indianapolis Colts (via Washington): WR Denzel Mims, Baylor (CV)
The Colts have Philip 'with one L' Rivers now and they'll need to add some more targets for him. Mims had an excellent Combine showing which more than his measurables, seemed to put people on notice to how good of a player he is. He should be an immediate contributor after posting two 1,000-yard seasons in college, including last year where he had 1,020 yards and 12 touchdowns for the Bears.
35. Detroit Lions: S Xavier McKinney, Alabama (SS)
You know those lists the networks covering the draft put up on Friday showing the best available players who slipped out of the first round. McKinney is prominently featured this year, but he doesn't last long as the Lions continue their all-defense draft.
36. New York Giants: EDGE A.J. Epenesa, Iowa (CV)
The Giants got their biggest need addressed with their fourth-overall pick, taking Tristan Wirfs out of Iowa. Now they add his teammate on the other side of the ball to get pressure on the quarterback – a place New York was lacking last year, managing just 36.0 sacks, putting them in the bottom third of the league.
37. Los Angeles Chargers: T Ezra Cleveland, Boise State (SS)
The Chargers already reworked the right side of what had been a bad offensive line in 2019 with the trade for Trai Turner and the signing of Bryan Bulaga. But the other tackle spot needed a fix, too, and that's where Cleveland steps in.
38. Carolina Panthers: CB A.J. Terrell, Clemson (CV)
The Panthers were extremely active in free agency, addressing almost all of their (many) needs in some form or another. They didn't get a corner, though. And Terrell is coming in from a program that churns out wide receivers – so you have to think he's gotten his fair share of work in practice against some of the best in the country at the collegiate level.
39. [TRADE] Tennessee Titans (from Miami): T Lucas Niang, TCU (SS)
Niang is best suited for right tackle, where there's a Jack Conklin-sized hole since free agency. And he's a mauler type, which fits in well with Tennessee's rugged offense.
40. Houston Texans (from Arizona): DT Justin Madubuike, Texas A&M (CV)
I'm angry for Texans fans. Truly. Giving up one of the best receivers in the league and still not getting to pick until No. 40 in the ensuing draft? Let's not reach here though for DeAndre Hopkins' replacement (if there even is one), and instead grab a guy for Houston's defensive front, which needs some work. Madubuike had a great Combine showing that I think put him on the radar of some folks. He's athletic and tough and won't have to go far.
41. Cleveland Browns: S Grant Delpit, LSU (SS)
The Browns signed Karl Joseph and Andrew Sendejo in free agency but I'm not convinced either is a particularly strong coverage safety. Besides, they both got one-year deals and Sendejo is already 32. Delpit, just the second safety off the board, is the future.
42. Jacksonville Jaguars: EDGE Josh Uche, Michigan (CV)
The Jags had half a mind to take Delpit given that they could pair him with former teammate Kristian Fulton, who they drafted earlier. Alas, no Tiger reunion, which means no 'Tiger King' references to Gardner Minshew. Sad. But Jacksonville still needs more defensive help and getting Uche would *help* ease the pain of losing Calais Campbell… which they did to themselves.
43. Chicago Bears (from Las Vegas): G Shane Lemieux, Oregon (SS)
Hey, look! The Bears showed up for the draft. Chicago is light on picks but they can at least get a starting right guard to pair with left guard James Daniel, who was a bright spot on a poor line last season.
44. Indianapolis Colts: G Cesar Ruiz, Michigan (CV)
Two Michigan picks in a row for me?? Yikes. Chalk that up to the Tom Brady effect too, I guess. But Ruiz has risen up draft boards in recent weeks and the Colts could use some reinforcements to pair with Quinton Nelson on the interior of their o-line.
45. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: WR Laviska Shenault, Colorado (SS)
I'm facing a good problem. There are running backs and receivers I like here and I want both. It's tough to choose what to address first. I decided to get a dynamic weapon to join Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, one who the Bucs can move all over the formation and one who is electric with the football in his hands. It's hard to pass on Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Cam Akers, but I'm guessing I can still get a pass-catching back in Round Three.
I just hope I'm not repeating a mistake from 18 years ago. The Buccaneers didn't have first or second-round picks in the 2002 draft because they had traded them as part of the deal to get Head Coach Jon Gruden. In the third round, they were looking at a pair of pass-catching running backs but ultimately decided to go receiver at that pick, believing one of those two backs would still be there in Round Four. And they were right about that. Unfortunately, everything else went wrong. The Buccaneers used their third-rounder on Michigan WR Marquise Walker, though they were very close to selecting Villanova running back Brian Westbrook. Westbrook went to the Eagles five picks later and the Bucs used their fourth-rounder on the other back on their list, Tennessee's Travis Stephens. Walker never played a down of NFL football. Stephens played one game. Westbrook racked up 10,275 yards from scrimmage and scored 71 touchdowns.
46. Denver Broncos: QB Jacob Eason, Washington (CV)
I can't think John Elway and the Broncos' front office is satisfied with handing the job outright to Drew Lock at quarterback this season. Here, they bring in a guy that can compete for it.
47. Atlanta Falcons: EDGE Terrell Lewis, Alabama (SS)
The Falcons passed on Chaisson to get the corner they needed in Round One and that was probably a wise move. It will look even better if Lewis can stay healthy and turn his considerable physical gifts into a real pass-rush presence.
48. New York Jets: OG Lloyd Cushenberry III, LSU (CV)
The Jets took their tackle in the first round and now they reinforce the interior with a guy Wills played against in college. I got a chance to see Cushenberry in person at the Senior Bowl and he stood out against some of the elite defensive tackle talent there. It doesn't get more battle-tested than the SEC in college, either.
49. Pittsburgh Steelers: RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire, LSU (SS)
This is another team making its first pick in the second round. If the Steelers had had a first-round pick I might have given them another quarterback option here to eventually replace Big Ben. But that will have to wait. Pittsburgh also needs insurance against the usual James Conner injury, and even if Conner is healthy Edwards-Helaire would make for a nice pass-catching complement.
50. Chicago Bears: S Antoine Winfield Jr., Minnesota (CV)
Oh look! The Bears get to pick again. Too bad after this they only have two more late-round picks, furthering the perpetual mishandling of draft picks that started with the Cutler trade. I'm really excited about Winfield as a prospect, though. He's an absolute ball hawk, recording seven interceptions just last year for the Gophers. He also has pedigree. His father played 14 years in the NFL and was selected to three Pro Bowls while with Minnesota. Wonder how he'll feel about his son playing for an NFC North rival?
51. Dallas Cowboys: WR K.J. Hamler, Penn State (SS)
Amari Cooper got PAID but the Cowboys still need somebody to work out of the slot and make plays in the middle of the field, especially with Randall Cobb moving across state. Hamler is tailor-made for that job.
52. Los Angeles Rams: RB J.K. Dobbins, Ohio State (CV)
Welcome the Rams to the party! Sheesh, this is a long time to wait for your first pick. They make it count though, drafting what they hope could be Todd Gurley's replacement after letting him walk in free agency.
53: Philadelphia Eagles: LB Malik Harrison, Ohio State (SS)
Philly got its receiver in Round One and has done a good job at cornerback via trades and free agency, so the focus now is on linebacker, where an infusion of speed and talent is needed. Harrison has that and he's a sure tackler to boot.
54. Buffalo Bills: CB Noah Igbinoghene, Auburn (CV)
In my best DJ Khaled voice: another one! The Bills are checking in with their first pick of the 2020 draft, though they need less than the aforementioned Rams. They also get great value here for one of the better corners in this class that ended up falling this late in the second round.
55. Baltimore Ravens (from New England through Atlanta): G/C Tyler Biadasz, Wisconsin (SS)
I'm not sure the Ravens can "replace" the retired Marshal Yanda but they have to try and going to Wisconsin for an offensive linemen is usually a good strategy.
As the NFL Draft inches closer, a look at NFL Network Lance Zierlein's 2020 mock draft. Photos by AP Images.
56. Miami Dolphins (from New Orleans): Jeremy Chinn, Southern Ill. (CV)
Miami is really wheeling and dealing in this draft and still addressing all their needs, one of which is safety. If your first introduction to Chinn was at the Combine, where he ran a 4.45 40-yard dash at 6-3, 221 pounds, I don't blame you. But just because he's a Saluki doesn't mean he should go overlooked. The Dolphins get a solid strong safety to add to their defensive rebuild.
57. Houston Texans: EDGE Curtis Weaver, Boise State (SS)
I know Houston has J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus but their pass rush was quietly pretty lousy last year. Weaver had 13.5 sacks last year and has some upside.
58. Minnesota Vikings: WR Donovan Peoples-Jones, Michigan (CV)
Yes, Minnesota already took a wide receiver in the first round, but I don't think you replace Stefon Diggs with just one guy. The Vikings can take advantage of having three picks in the first two rounds and a good crop of receiver talent, so they do.
59: Seattle Seahawks: WR Tee Higgins, Clemson (SS)
If there was a Green Room this year, Higgins might be the token miserable guy who fell a lot further than expected. For the second year in a row (D.K. Metcalf), that's great news for Seattle who can now play Metcalf, Higgins and Tyler Lockett in a three-receiver set. That's nice.
60. Baltimore Ravens: DT Raekwon Davis, Alabama (CV)
Just be glad we aren't playing the Ravens and their defense this year, ok?
61. Tennessee Titans: DT Neville Gallimore, Oklahoma (SS)
Tennessee's earlier trade down is paying off. I really wanted to give the Titans Louisiana Tech CB Amik Robertson, who could excel in the slot, but it seemed like a bit of a reach here. Instead, I'll take the safe pick at a position of great need and nab Robertson with the 70th pick, which was the payoff of that trade.
62. Green Bay Packers: DT Marlon Davidson, Auburn (CV)
I think this is the first time I've ever picked something other than receiver for the Packers.
63. Kansas City Chiefs (from San Francisco): CB Jaylon Johnson, Utah (SS)
Pretty good get here for the Chiefs, who get a tall, quick corner to address a position that lost Kendall Fuller, an underrated performer.
64. Seattle Seahawks (from Kansas City): Jonah Jackson, Ohio State (CV)
The Hawks need to beef up protection around Russell Wilson and Jackson will give them size on the interior. Whew. Are we done yet?