Mark Johnson’s 2020 NFL Mock Draft (2.0)
The more years I spend covering the NFL Draft, the more I feel like it is a second Christmas for NFL fans and teams alike. We spend months making wish lists and finding what best fits our needs and desires.
I believe that each position represents a different gift. Offensive linemen are like socks. As a kid, it’s a boring idea and you hate to see them. As an adult, you love them and realize how great it is to have plenty of fresh ones. Running backs are like Nerf Guns. Super fun at the beginning, but eventually they lose power and by next Christmas you want the next best one. Interior defensive linemen are like savings bonds. You are intrigued when you first get one, but then you forget about them the next day. However, having a few of them really pays off in the long run. Quarterbacks are like video games. Some are exactly what you thought they were and don’t really change much, like Madden or Kirk Cousins. Others are amazing and even better than you thought they would be, like Red Dead Redemption 2 or Patrick Mahomes. A lot are the next big thing, but they never live up to the hype, like “insert any game that disappointed you here” or Robert Griffin III.
Ahead, I have done my best to gift teams and fan bases with players that fit their needs and/or are the best player available for them. You will see a lot of “socks” and “video games” going early resulting in some seriously gifted players being available later than expected. Let’s get into it!
1. Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Burrow (QB -LSU)
This is one of the easiest picks in NFL Draft history. Burrow is an Ohio native. He just finished the greatest season by a college QB ever. He has great leadership traits as well as very good on the field traits, like his pocket awareness and accuracy on short to intermediate throws. The Bengals shouldn’t even waste time listening to trade offers. Joe Burrow, no matter what.
2. Washington Redskins: Chase Young (Edge – Ohio State)
Not to be outdone, the Washington Redskins probably have the easiest second overall pick in a long time. Chase Young is the best player in the draft and plays one of the three most important positions in football. Ron Rivera and Jack Del Rio will be going into their first season with one of the best pass rushing units after this selection. Unless a team offers their whole draft, this pick has to be Chase Young, no matter what.
3. Detroit Lions: Jeff Okudah (CB – Ohio State)
This is where the draft could get interesting. I don’t have any trades in this draft, so every team has to pick where they are. However, if there is going to be a trade, I see it being at this spot. A handful of teams could make the move to get this pick and draft Tua, but if the Lions keep it they go Jeff Okudah. Okudah is one of the best, if not the best, cornerback prospects I have ever scouted. He has great reactive athleticism, fluid hips, and this season he showed off his ball skills by getting three interceptions and batting down many others.
4. New York Giants: Jedrick Wills (OT – Alabama)
Part of me believes that Gettleman would select Isaiah Simmons based on what he has done in the past. However, I think Jedrick Wills is too good to pass up, not to mention that he plays at a much more important position. Wills is a strong, fluid athlete who I believe can play either tackle spot for the Giants. Daniel Jones showed at times that he has what it takes to be a franchise quarterback, so the Giants need to do their best to protect him. This will also be a big help to Saquon as well. Giants are in a great spot to solidify their offense at fourth overall.
5. Miami Dolphins: Tua Tagovailoa (QB – Alabama)
News has recently come out that Tua’s three month post-operation scan went extremely well. That is great news for the Dolphins, at five, where they grab their franchise signal-caller. Word has also come out that Fitzpatrick is expected to come back for another season, which means that Tua will have the time to fully heal as well as to learn the offense. If Tua can redshirt the whole season, I think he will come into his second season and surprise the whole league. Tua is really good when moving in the pocket, and he has the best touch on his passes out of every quarterback in the draft while also being able to make every necessary throw. This would be a great pick in the Miami Dolphins’ rebuild.
6. Los Angeles Chargers: Justin Herbert (QB – Oregon)
The Philip Rivers’ era for the Chargers era has come to an end. The team announced that they will not be re-signing him. This tells me that they either plan to trade up for Tua or they really liked what they saw from Herbert or Love at the Senior Bowl and on their college tape. For me, Justin Herbert is pretty easily the QB3, which makes him the choice here. Herbert has a strong arm, big body, and mobility to step in right away for a team that needs that. Herbert paired with the big receivers and Hunter Henry, if he is re-signed, should lead to good results for the Chargers organization for years to come.
7. Carolina Panthers: Jordan Love (QB – Utah State)
I believe that we have seen the last of Cam Newton in a Carolina uniform. With that said, the Panthers need to jump at the opportunity to grab his replacement. Jordan Love’s tools paired with OC Joe Brady’s offense should lead to Love returning to his 2018 form. It might take some time, but I believe the Panthers’ coaching staff has been given a substantial amount of time to make the turnaround based on the length of their contracts. Plus, Jordan Love has very good arm strength and play-making abilities. It could be the perfect pairing.
8. Arizona Cardinals: Tristan Wirfs (OT – Iowa)
Arizona’s main priority needs to be to protect their quarterback. Murray showed that he has what it takes to be a franchise player, especially in Kingsbury’s offense. So, with their first round pick they take offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs. Worst case scenario, I see Wirfs as a 10-year starter at guard. Best case, he is the Cardinals’ starting right tackle for 10 years. Wirfs is so smooth and athletic. It doesn’t seem like he is moving that fast, but then all of a sudden he is at the second level. For me, Wirfs is the most tenacious blocker and the best run blocker in the draft. Don’t let that take away from his ability in pass protection, though. Wirfs will make the Arizona offense much improved.
9. Jacksonville Jaguars: Isaiah Simmons (LB – Clemson)
The Jaguars get the chance to go with the best player available and fill a huge need. It doesn’t look like Telvin Smith is going to be returning to the team. Isaiah Simmons will get to slide right into Smith’s role as well as fill other roles too. Simmons is the most versatile player in the 2020 draft, so he could play linebacker, edge rusher, safety, or slot corner depending on the situation. Simmons is a huge chess piece that will help fix a lot of defensive problems for the Jaguars.
10. Cleveland Browns: Mekhi Becton (OT – Louisville)
Cleveland has one thing to do this offseason: upgrade as much of their offensive line as possible. They need to look to free agency as well as the draft. They are in a great position here at 10th overall to grab a piece to help with their offensive line overhaul. Becton is an absolute giant who has the movement skills of a player who is 50 lbs lighter. He has great strength paired with those movement skills that is illustrated on several plays in college when he would toss edge defenders out of the way. I think this pick would improve the Browns’ entire offense, in the run game and in the pass game.
11. New York Jets: Jerry Jeudy (WR – Alabama)
The Jets will most likely be targeting offensive line help here. However, if the top 10 falls as it did here, they should be ecstatic to land the WR1 to help their young QB. Jeudy will be able to provide a huge boost to Darnold’s game because of his elite separation skills. Jeudy is a great route runner and has the play speed to be everything a quarterback could want in a primary target. Jeudy and Darnold could morph into one of the top QB-WR combos in the league in a few years.
12. Las Vegas Raiders: CeeDee Lamb (WR- Oklahoma)
The Raiders could go a ton of different ways here. They could look at the edge position, quarterback, or defensive line. To me I think they address their WR1 position. Tyrell Williams did a good job in 2019, but I feel that he is best as a WR2. Lamb could come in and be a big-time playmaker at the receiver position. Lamb might be the best receiver with the ball in his hands. He has good hands and does a good job of adjusting to the ball. The only question I have is if he can separate consistently, but he is so strong that I think he will be able to get enough separation to make a consistent impact.
13. Indianapolis Colts: Derrick Brown (IDL – Auburn)
This pick is based off some of my personal free agency projections. I believe this is the No. 1 landing spot for quarterback Philip Rivers. If that comes to fruition, Derrick Brown should be the pick. Brown is one of the top-10 players in this draft based on skills and traits. It will be because of his position that he will fall out of the top 10. Brown has a great burst off the line of scrimmage and is able to create that burst and his size into great power. Brown will be able to stuff the run and consistently collapse the pocket when pass rushing. To me he is a true three-down interior defensive lineman.
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jacob Eason (QB – Washington)
Tampa Bay can’t go into another season with Jameis Winston as their best option at quarterback. This might seem high for Eason, but I think his traits match perfectly with what Bruce Arians looks for out of his signal-callers. Eason has a very strong arm, big frame, and I believe that he still has a lot of untapped potential that Arians could get out of him. To me, this is the perfect match up of quarterback and head coach. It may take a season or two of developing, but I also believe the Buccaneers are a few seasons away from being relevant. This looks like a great pairing.
15. Denver Broncos: Andrew Thomas (OT – Georgia)
This might seem low for Andrew Thomas, but I see him as being more of a guard than tackle. I think he should get a look at tackle first, but I project him at some point having to move to guard. That said, I think Thomas would make a very good guard. He has a good, short, choppy pass set that fits better at guard. He also is a good mover and has the ability to get to the second level quickly. His body type also looks more like a guard than a tackle. He looks more boxy than athletic. Thomas would provide a boost to an offensive line that has struggled some. It needs to improve as it seems the Broncos have found their quarterback of the future in Drew Lock, and he has to be protected.
16. Atlanta Falcons: K’Lavon Chaisson (Edge – LSU)
The biggest need for the Falcons pairs up perfectly with the best player available here. Chaisson will step right in and fill the void at edge defender. The Falcons have tried to address this position quite a bit in the past, but Chaisson has the traits to make the impact they are seeking. Chaisson has a great combination of length and bend coming around the edge as well as being good at using his hands to create consistent pressure around the edge. He has also really improved his ability to set the edge against the run game. Chaisson would be a three-down player for a Falcons defense in great need of one on the edge.
17. Dallas Cowboys: Javon Kinlaw (IDL – South Carolina)
The Cowboys defense is led by a great linebacker corps, but to really emphasize their impact, the Cowboys need to have more impactful guys on the defensive line in front of them. Kinlaw would fill that need perfectly. Javon Kinlaw creates so much disruption with his speed off the ball, power, and quick hands. Kinlaw looks like he will be a good three-down player. He isn’t going to be a defender that would be a two-gapper to free up the linebackers behind him, but he will be such a force that teams will have to focus on him with multiple offensive linemen resulting in the linebackers behind him getting freed up to make more plays. A perfect match for what the Cowboys need.
18. Miami Dolphins Kristian Fulton (CB- LSU)
Miami continues their rebuild after taking their franchise QB by taking the best defensive player left available. Fulton has very good reactive athleticism that makes it possible for him to stay glued to his receiver in man coverage. He also has the overall play speed to stay with any receiver that doesn’t have a chance of making an Olympic team. He also is a very physical defender. He is very willing to get right up on a receiver and jam him at the line. Fulton would be a huge piece in a defensive backfield that started a lot of undrafted players in 2019.
19. Las Vegas Raiders: C.J. Henderson (CB- Florida)
The Raiders use their second first-rounder to select Henderson to help their defensive backfield. Henderson is on the thinner side when it comes to his build, but that doesn’t seem to hinder him as he is a physical corner at the line of scrimmage. Henderson’s above average length helps him with his levels of aggressiveness while being on the skinny side. He is able to get his hands on the receiver and redirect them. I also really like his confidence. Henderson understands when he can try to jump a route and will take that chance every time he can. Henderson and Abrams could be the beginning of a strong defensive backfield as the Raiders try to compete with division rival and Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs.
20. Jacksonville Jaguars: Xavier McKinney (S – Alabama)
The defensive rebuild continues in Jacksonville with the selection of Alabama safety Xavier McKinney. McKinney has shown all the traits you want in a safety. He can fill against the run, he can cover sideline to sideline, and he could also come down and cover a tight end in the slot or play in the box. However, McKinney is at his best when he is out in space, where he is freed up to read and react. This selection, paired with the Simmons pick, should fortify the middle of the Jaguars defense and provide them with plenty of playmaking threats.
21. Philadelphia Eagles: Henry Ruggs III (WR – Alabama)
Ruggs fills a huge void on the Eagles’ roster. He would provide the Eagles with a reliable deep threat as well as a well rounded receiver who is still developing. Early on in the 2019 season, you could see the impact that DeSean Jackson had on the team. Ruggs can have that same impact and more. He also should be way more reliable health-wise. Ruggs offers world-class speed, good route running, and great run after the catch abilities. I think Ruggs is the player that takes the Eagles offense to the next level and puts them back into the playoffs in 2020.
22. Buffalo Bills: Tee Higgins (WR – Clemson)
This was a tough choice. It came down to Higgins or Epenesa. I had to go Higgins with the pick. Higgins fits what the Bills are looking for in a receiver — too well to miss out on it. He is a huge target who owns the 50/50 ball, and Josh Allen loves to throw them. Higgins also has the ability to stretch the field, another trait that Allen thrives with. The Bills have the smaller, quick receivers all over their roster. Higgins gives them the red-zone, possession receiver they are missing. With an improved offense, the Bills will be a real threat to win the AFC East.
23. New England Patriots: A.J. Epenesa (DE – Iowa)
Bill and the Patriots slide in at pick 23 and take a top-15 player in the draft. Epenesa is exactly what the Patriots look for. He works hard, he could play a couple different positions along the defensive line in different situations, and he wins with effort and good technique. Epenesa isn’t the most athletically gifted player and does take a bit to get going before he is at his best, but his length, work ethic, and production will be too much to pass up here. He should fit right into the Patriot Way.
24. New Orleans Saints: Justin Jefferson (WR – LSU)
The Saints need to address WR2 on their roster. Michael Thomas is an absolute stud, but you don’t want to have to target him well over 150 times to have success. There has to be more threats on offense. The Saints add another threat by drafting receiver Justin Jefferson here. Jefferson is a savvy route runner with deceptive speed and sure hands. It’s also a huge plus that he basically played in the Saints offense this season at LSU. What was even better is that he was technically the WR2 behind Ja’Marr Chase at LSU, so his role and transition to the league should go as smoothly as it possibly could for a player “learning an NFL offense.” Jefferson could take this offense to the next level once the Saints have the quarterback position straightened out.
25. Minnesota Vikings: Grant Delpit (S – LSU)
Vikings use their first round pick to add a versatile defensive playmaker. They already have Harrison Smith roaming around in the backfield making plays, so Delpit would be allowed to play up closer to the line of scrimmage to stop the run — or to use his very good athleticism to cover a slot receiver or tight end. Delpit has very good size and good fluidity in his hips and overall athleticism. He will have to answer questions about effort and ability to make consistent tackles. Those two questions are why he is still available here. I personally think he was holding back to conserve his body and should be back to where he looked like he was projected to be at after his 2018 season. I think that playing with Harrison Smith would help him improve, too.
26. Miami Dolphins: Yetur Gross-Matos (Edge – Penn State)
Miami wraps up their busy day one of the 2020 draft by selecting edge rusher Yetur Gross-Matos. I almost went offensive line here, but I felt the better value was Gross-Matos. He fits what the Dolphins need with his burst around the edge, pass-rush ability, and ability to hold the edge against the run game. He would be a great addition to a young linebacking corps that is on the way up. I also went this route because I think the Dolphins should look to free agency to fix as much of their offensive line as they can. I don’t want rookie offensive linemen and a rookie quarterback trying to figure out protections together. I think the better route is to have veterans on the line and rebuild with young players elsewhere.
27. Seattle Seahawks: Josh Jones (OT – Houston)
Seattle, on the other hand, has a veteran quarterback, so I am more comfortable bringing in a younger player to help protect him. The Seahawks have spent way too many years not trying to protect Wilson. Josh Jones is not at his best when run blocking, but he is a smooth athlete in pass protection. He easily mirrors defenders and has the length to shut down defenders before they can get their hands on him. With Jones’ strength being on the pass protection side it might push the coaching staff to actually use Wilson more instead of running the ball as much as they have.
28. Baltimore Ravens: Kenneth Murray (LB – Oklahoma)
The Ravens spent the regular season looking like Super Bowl locks. However, when faced with a physical team like the Titans, the Ravens looked soft up the middle of their defense. They address that issue here. Kenneth Murray absolutely flies around and tries to make literally every tackle. He flies through gaps and is a great tackler. Right now he is definitely better against the run, but has the athleticism to drop into coverage with more and more experience and coaching. He would be a force in the middle of the Ravens defense.
29. Tennessee Titans: Neville Gallimore (IDL – Oklahoma)
The Tennessee Titans continue to build a dominating defense with the addition of IDL Neville Gallimore out of Oklahoma. Gallimore has the size and athleticism combination to play multiple spots along the line for the Titans. Pairing him with last year’s first rounder, Jeffery Simmons, should make them an unblockable duo and open up a lot of one on ones for the edge defenders, like Harold Landry III. Gallimore’s impact would go way past the stat sheet in this situation. This almost feels like a luxury pick, but it could be what pushes their defense to the next level.
30. Green Bay Packers: Patrick Queen (LB – LSU)
Patrick Queen should be option one or two for the Packers. Receiver is obviously a major need, but it is probably the deepest position in the draft. The Packers should jump at the chance to get Queen. Queen’s athleticism and ability to cover is exactly the presence that the Packers need at the center of their defense. Whether Blake Martinez is re-signed or not, Queen has an obvious role in coverage situations, especially on third downs. I also feel that he hits gaps quick enough so that he could fill consistently against the run making him a three down option if needed.
31. San Francisco 49ers: Jeff Gladney (CB – TCU)
The 49ers have a good amount of needs for a team coming off of a Super Bowl berth. They use their first round pick to add some youth to their defensive backfield. Gladney is a quick-twitch, aggressive corner who I think could push Sherman and the rest of the 49ers’ corners for early playing time. I think Gladney’s style of play fits perfectly into San Francisco’s fast and aggressive defense.
32. Kansas City Chiefs: D’Andre Swift (RB – Georgia)
How do you make one of the best offenses in football the best offense in football? You give them the running back that was built for their offense. Swift would fit perfectly into the Chiefs’ scheme. He has very good vision, runs with more power than you would think based on his size, and is a big-time receiving threat out of the backfield. If he is able to improve his pass protection ability he will be a three-down starter without question. I see this team-player connection as one of the best in the draft. The Chiefs do need more help on defense, but this move is too exciting to pass up.
33. Cincinnati Bengals: Cesar Ruiz (IOL – Michigan)
34. Indianapolis Colts: Laviska Shenault Jr. (WR – Colorado)
35. Detroit Lions: Kyle Dugger (S – Lenoir-Rhyne)
36. New York Giants: A.J. Terrell (CB – Clemson)
37. Los Angeles Chargers: Jalen Reagor (WR – TCU)
39. Miami Dolphins: Jonathan Taylor (RB – Wisconsin)
40. Arizona Cardinals: Tyler Biadasz (IOL – Wisconsin)
41. Cleveland Browns: Ashtyn Davis (S – California)
42. Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevon Diggs (CB – Alabama)
43. Chicago Bears: Lloyd Cushenberry III (IOL – LSU)
44. Indianapolis Colts: Jake Fromm (QB – Georgia)
45. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Austin Jackson (OT – USC)
46. Denver Broncos: Noah Igbinoghene (CB – Auburn)
47. Atlanta Falcons: Damon Arnette (CB – Ohio State)
48. New York Jets: Lucas Niang (OT – TCU)
49. Pittsburgh Steelers: Zack Baun (Edge – Wisconsin)
50. Chicago Bears: Terrell Lewis (Edge – Alabama)
51. Dallas Cowboys: Jaylon Johnson (CB – Utah)
52. Los Angeles Rams: Curtis Weaver (Edge – Boise State)
53. Philadelphia Eagles: Bryce Hall (CB – Virginia)
54. Buffalo Bills: Marlon Davidson (DE – Auburn)
55. Atlanta Falcons: J.K. Dobbins (RB – Ohio State)
56. Miami Dolphins: Matt Hennessy (IOL – Temple)
57. Houston Texans: Cam Akers (RB – Florida State)
58. Minnesota Vikings: Raekwon Davis (IDL – Alabama)
59. Seattle Seahawks: K.J. Hamler (WR – Penn State)
60. Baltimore Ravens: Brandon Aiyuk (WR – Arizona State)
61. Tennessee Titans: Julian Okwara (Edge – Notre Dame)
62. Green Bay Packers: Donovan Peoples-Jones (WR – Michigan)
63. Kansas City Chiefs: Robert Hunt (IOL – Louisiana Lafayette)
64. Seattle Seahawks: Adam Trautman (TE – Dayton)
10 Players Still Available in Round 3
1. Davon Hamilton (IDL – Ohio State)
2. Malik Harrison (LB – Ohio State)
3. Brycen Hopkins (TE – Purdue)
4. Jordyn Brooks (LB – Texas Tech)
5. Terrell Burgess (S – Utah)
6. Clyde Edwards-Helaire (RB – LSU)
7. Hunter Bryant (TE – Washington)
8. Prince Tega Wanogho (OT- Auburn)
9. Antoine Winfield Jr. (S – Minnesota)
10. Josh Uche (Edge- Michigan)