Over the last month and a half, Carmen Vitali and I have joined forces to create three different versions of a first-round mock of the NFL's 2020 draft. As new sources of information – like the Scouting Combine at the end of February – have come and gone, many of our predictions have changed. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, for instance, have landed three different players in those three versions: first Iowa tackle Tristan Wirfs, then South Carolina defensive lineman Javon Kinlaw, and then back to the O-Line with Georgia tackle Andrew Thomas.
If there was one thing that Carmen and I seemed unwavering on, however, it's that the Las Vegas Raiders would use their two first-round picks on a wide receiver and then a linebacker. Despite switching the order of our alternating picks back and forth, and thus switching who got to make picks 12 and 19 for the Raiders, we still followed that same WR-LB pattern. We even had the same duo of CeeDee Lamb and Patrick Queen in the first two mocks before adjusting to Jerry Jeudy and Kenneth Murray in the third one.
Well, now it's time for version 4.0, and we are now full swing into NFL free agency. Among the many, many signings in the first couple days was the Raiders' (reported) big-ticket acquisitions of linebackers Cory Littleton and Nick Kwiatkowski. So, uh, about that pick number 19 for the Raiders in our latest mock? Well, I don't want to spoil anything but I'm thinking it's no longer going to be a linebacker.
The rash of early free agent signings across the league will surely impact our predictions for many of the other picks in the first round. There was also a trade to start the new year that could affect what happens to the Buccaneers. Previously, Tampa Bay was set to pick right after Indianapolis when they got on the clock at number 14. Now they're following the 49ers, who traded defensive tackle DeForest Buckner to the Colts to get that pick. Since the 49ers most likely have different draft priorities than the Colts, that could affect who falls to the Buccaneers.
Want to know who we think that will be after all these changes? Read on. This time, Carmen goes first, which means I'll be picking for the Buccaneers. Oh, and as was the case in Version 3.0, trades are allowed but we have to be able to figure out a realistic compensation package.
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(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 (Carmen Vitali)
This isn't changing.
2. Washington Redskins: EDGE Chase Young, Ohio State (Scott Smith)
The Redskins have made some additions in their secondary this week (reportedly), but I think they expect help up front to come from the draft. Unless they want to pull a Kyler Murray-type move and dump Dwayne Haskins after one year, which seems unlikely, there's no reason to pass on the latest Ohio State pass-rushing phenom.
3. Detroit Lions: CB Jeff Okudah, Ohio State (CV)
The Lions reportedly have traded away Darius Slay, all but solidifying Okudah as their guy. With the Chargers still quarterback-less thus far in free agency, I'd also think that there's a possibility LA attempts to jump the Dolphins in order to grab Tua. That leaves the Lions or the Giants – and Detroit could feasibly still get Okudah at No. 6 while gaining some more capital. I'm not confident in that enough right now to pull the trigger, though.
4. New York Giants: S/LB Isaiah Simmons, Clemson (SS)
You'll see some mock drafts backing off the Simmons-Giants pairing now that New York has signed linebackers Blake Martinez and Kyler Fackrell. But Martinez is more of a coverage-challenged inside 'backer and Fackrell is more of an edge rusher. Neither is a player like Simmons, who can be deployed all over the field. He's a unique talent and the Giants can't pass, even if they would also like to get in on the offensive tackle run.
5. Miami Dolphins: QB Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama (CV)
Good. The offensive tackle run can wait. One of these days I'll learn to spell this former Alabama quarterback's name without looking it up. The Dolphins have a lot of experience with it, though. Tagovailoa has always been their guy and they get him without having to give up anything else.
6. Los Angeles Chargers: QB Justin Herbert, Oregon (SS)
The Chargers didn't get Brady (thank goodness!) so now they roll in 2020 with Tyrod Taylor and take their QB of the future, who might just be their QB period by Week Five or Six. In reality, I think they may end up having to trade up a bit to make sure they get their man, but in this particular mock things fell right into place.
7. Carolina Panthers: DL Derrick Brown, Auburn (CV)
The Panthers reportedly signed former Vikings' DE Stephen Weatherly in free agency but they still need help on the interior of the defensive line. No one seems to have anything bad to say about Brown, with most projecting he'll be a day one starter once he gets to the next level.
8. [TRADE] Las Vegas Raiders (from Arizona): WR CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma (SS)
The Cardinals need an offensive tackle in a big way, and the way this draft has fallen they have their pick of a very robust litter. Viewed another way, though, they also have a great opportunity to trade down a little and know a very good tackle will still be available when they pick. What the Cardinals don't need after this week's stunning trade with Houston is a wide receiver. But the Raiders do, and a small trade up is a chance to get the top one on their board. The Raiders also have three third-round picks to play around with and one of them (#80) is almost the exact amount needed to satisfy the Jimmie Johnson trade value chart.
9. Jacksonville Jaguars: DL Javon Kinlaw, South Carolina (CV)
To quote a Drake song, "I mean where the ---- should I really even start?" The Jags seem all-in on a rebuild, trading away Pro Bowler Calais Campbell in a lopsided deal to the Ravens and getting rid of quarterback Nick Foles, presumably leaving the mustache-laden Gardner Minshew in charge. Their needs are all over the place, so I think they start with an original need on the interior of their defensive front and nab Kinlaw.
10. Cleveland Browns: T Tristan Wirfs, Iowa (SS)
Among the many players the Browns have (allegedly) added in free agency as they pursue yet another offseason championship is former Titan Jack Conklin. But here's the thing: The Browns need two new starters at the ends of their O-Line, so they're still in the market and they get the first one off the board. Georgia's Andrew Thomas is probably most ready to step in at left tackle, specifically, but the Browns bet on Wirfs' upside and ability to handle Baker Mayfield's blind side while Conklin remains on the right side.
11. New York Jets: WR Jerry Jeudy, Alabama (CV)
Well, I would have put an offensive tackle here, but the Jets locked up two interior offensive lineman as well as tackle George Fant. With all that capital poured into the line, I have to think they'll address another need with their first pick of the draft. They don't really have anyone for quarterback Sam Darnold to throw to and with Jeudy still on the board, they grab him.
12. [TRADE] Arizona Cardinals (from Las Vegas): T Jedrick Wills, Alabama (SS)
Former first-round pick D.J. Humphries finally blossomed in 2019 and earned a new three-year deal to hold down left tackle for dynamic young quarterback Kyler Murray. Justin Murray was okay on the right side but would probably be better as a third swing tackle. Wills can step right in as a starter opposite Humphries. The trade down is a huge success for the Cards.
13. San Francisco 49ers (from Indianapolis): Henry Ruggs III, Alabama (CV)
This is new. While they shook things up by trading DeForest Buckner to get this first round pick, I don't know that they immediately replace him with the 13th overall spot given their options. The 49ers were rumored to be in the mix for Tom Brady but in the end stayed 'pat' with Garoppolo. So now they get him more weapons, especially with the departure of Emmanuel Sanders.
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: T Mekhi Becton, Louisville (SS)
We've had other mocks in which the top tackle tier was getting thin by the time it gets to the Buccaneers. Here, Tampa Bay can choose between the likes of Becton, Andrew Thomas and Josh Jones. I'm tempted to trade down but I won't risk it, instead taking the massive but surprisingly nimble Becton to take over at right tackle.
15. Denver Broncos: QB Jordan Love, Utah State (CV)
Joe Flacco failed his physical and with that came the news that Denver released him. I have to think the Broncos bring in someone to compete with Drew Lock, not only on the field – but also in Young Jeezy rap battles. Love is there and after a good Combine showing, he ends up in the Mile High city to 'put on for.'
16. Atlanta Falcons: EDGE K'Lavon Chaisson, LSU (SS)
Carmen knows how much I like K'Lavon Chaisson as a prospect, which means she also knows how much I hate him falling to the Falcons. But that has now happened in our last three mock drafts. Atlanta did land Dante Fowler but you can never have too many twitchy edge rushers. Unless you have 20 of them. That would be too many.
17. [TRADE] New England Patriots (from Dallas): T Andrew Thomas, Georgia (CV)
But I was gonna take him for the Cowboys! And he would have been safely in the NFC East. Grumble. It works out though, because the Cowboys don't like their options anymore and New England sees that Thomas is still on the board when they are in need of an offensive tackle. With picks to spare, they give up a third and a sixth round pick (No. 87 and No. 195) to get their guy – they have three in each of those rounds. It's apparently a little light on the Jimmy Johnson value chart but the Patriots almost never trade up, so as Scott pointed out to me – they probably wouldn't get it right, anyway.
18. Miami Dolphins (from Pittsburgh): RB Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin (SS)
I'm throwing out a wild card here. The Dolphins have made a ton of (supposed) moves in free agency, flinging around that cap space at edge rushers, guards, corners and linebackers. Neat. They seem to be planning to compete. When your top running back is Kalen Ballage, it's time for an upgrade.
19. Las Vegas Raiders (from Chicago): CB Kristian Fulton, LSU (CV)
As an ASU alum, I feel personally attacked. You're also… correct. Since the Raiders already locked up a wide receiver earlier in the round, they move on to the other side of the ball and the secondary, taking the speedy corner from LSU, which knows a thing or two about producing DBs.
20. Jacksonville Jaguars (from L.A. Rams): CB C.J. Henderson, Florida (SS)
I am DETERMINED to send this Gator cornerback to nearby Jacksonville. I did it two versions ago at this pick, and when I had the Jags' ninth-overall selection in the last one I slotted him in there. I WILL NOT BE DENIED.
21. Philadelphia Eagles: WR Justin Jefferson, LSU (CV)
That was aggressive. Unlike the Eagles here, who are DESPERATE for some wide receiver help and have done nothing in free agency to mitigate that. So, they turn to the draft and take Jefferson, who is probably the best receiver still on the board.
22. Minnesota Vikings (from Buffalo): WR Tee Higgins, LSU (SS)
Good thing that there are a ton of great receivers in this draft. And good thing that nobody knows my initial pick here was Justin Jefferson despite the fact that Carmen just took him the pick before. Wait…well, I fumbled that more ways than one. The Vikings have this pick thanks to the Stefon Diggs trade and they immediately look for his replacement. Who is Tee Higgins, not Justin Jefferson. Like I thought all along. Let's move on.
23. [TRADE] Dallas Cowboys (from New England): S Grant Delpit, LSU (CV)
You left out the part of your original rationale where you said, 'Sometimes it's just too easy.' Let that be a lesson for you kids at home. Meanwhile, there's now a run on LSU players as Dallas gets a safety it very much needs.
24. New Orleans Saints: LB Kenneth Murray (SS)
The popular mock draft pick here is a receiver, but there is so much depth at that position that I think the Saints can address it a little later. Meanwhile, the Saints need help at linebacker and bringing back Kiko Alonso on a restructured deal doesn't exactly move the needle.
25. Minnesota Vikings: CB Trevon Diggs, Alabama (CV)
Is it a coincidence that the Alanis Morrisette song 'Ironic' is in my head? I've always thought the things she sings about aren't really irony, anyway – but then, a song called 'Ironic' made up of things that are just unfortunate and not ironic, is in fact, pretty ironic. Just like this would be as the Vikings traded Stefon Diggs away only to draft his brother.
26. Miami Dolphins (from Houston): S Xavier McKinney, Alabama (SS)
You may need the great George Carlin to posthumously explain the meaning of 'ironic,' but that's neither here nor there. Amid all the additions Miami has (reportedly) made this week, they also cut safety Reshad Jones. Here's the replacement.
27. Seattle Seahawks: Yetur Gross-Matos, Penn State (CV)
Though the Seahawks reportedly picked up Bruce Irvin in free agency, I'm of the mindset that you can never have enough pass rushers, so they take another one.
28. Baltimore Ravens: WR Laviska Shenault, Colorado (SS)
Let's get freaky. The Ravens added some defensive linemen in free agency (it has been said, unofficially) and might still need a linebacker, but I'm liking the idea of making this unorthodox Baltimore offense even more interesting. Lamar Jackson is a different sort of offensive weapon, and so is Shenault.
29. Tennessee Titans: CB Jeff Gladney, TCU (CV)
The Titans were quite active already in free agency and I almost went with Josh Jones because of the loss of Jack Conklin, but the Titans brought back Dennis Kelly on a much more economically friendly deal. That being said, it was still three years, $21 million, so I think they use their draft capital to address the other side of the ball.
30. Green Bay Packers: T Josh Jones, Houston (SS)
We've given the Packers a receiver in each of the first three versions, and I still think that's a great idea. Jalen Reagor could be the guy here. But Bryan Bulaga is a Charger now and Jones falling to this pick gives Green Bay an opportunity they can't pass up.
31. San Francisco 49ers: LB Patrick Queen, LSU (CV)
Queen joins another fellow former LSU linebacker (and former Buccaneer) in Kwon Alexander.
32. Kansas City Chiefs: RB D'Andre Swift, Georgia (SS)
The champs could use a cornerback but I'm just not sold on any of the options here. Instead, let's give the Chiefs a luxury item. He can be a pass-catching back to make the Patrick Mahomes-led offense even more difficult to defend.