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Saccopoo Memorial Draft Forum>The Athletic Beat Writers Mock Draft
KChiefs1 01:03 PM 02-24-2020

Happy combine week!

To get in the spirit, we’re kicking off our first beat writer mock draft. We told our NFL beat writers to make their first-round picks based on what they think the team they cover will do come April 23 — and we allowed trades, though only one occurred during this go-round. We’ve also included analysis from The Athletic’s college football staff to provide some more insight on the players chosen. We’ll have another beat writer mock later in the process, and that one will contain analysis from our draft guru Dane Brugler.

Let’s kick it off. The Bengals are on the clock…

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1. Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Burrow, QB, LSU

The onslaught of ridiculous theories and trade proposals will continue unabated for the next two months, but the Bengals aren’t trading this pick. And they aren’t writing down any name other than Burrow’s. —Jay Morrison

What the Bengals would be getting with Burrow: Joe Burrow is a different kind of dude. He’s an uber-confident, singularly focused, hyper-competitive lightning bolt of a personality; a quirky, free-thinking, caramel-apple-sucker-loving quarterback who elevates everyone around him. No, Burrow’s arm strength isn’t his calling card, but he is an elite processor of information and a sharp mind who makes the right decision in a split second. He is historically accurate — as in one of the most accurate to ever play college football — and that came in a deep-shot-taking offense. His timing and touch are impeccable. He is athletic, running for 576 yards (7.1 yards per carry) when LSU let him loose. He was essentially LSU’s third offensive coordinator, playing a key role in building the offense and teaching it to his teammates during the players-only practices he started. He is one of those guys. —Brody Miller, LSU beat writer

2. Washington Redskins: Chase Young, DE, Ohio State

What’s perhaps most interesting here is the unknown. Namely, the plan for a team without a named GM and a new power-wielding coach in Ron Rivera. Will they consider 2020 a rebuilding year with QB Dwayne Haskins or do they envision contending in the NFC East? Does Rivera prefer the huge haul of picks/players that would come with trading down or BPA (best player available)? We’ll see. For now, let’s not overthink things. Washington lands the top prospect in the draft with the hope that Young unlocks the front seven the way Nick Bosa did for San Francisco last season. —Ben Standig

What the Redskins would be getting with Young: Ohio State’s last two premier pass rushers were the first non-quarterbacks selected in their respective drafts. Joey and Nick Bosa have worked out pretty well thus far. Young might be better than both. The former captain and Heisman Trophy finalist is among the most singularly dominant players to ever come out of the program. His 16.5 sacks this season are an Ohio State record. If you’re turned off by his low sack total over the last few games, watch the tape. Ohio State’s top-ranked pass defense wasn’t only a product of a strong secondary. Young consistently made sure teams didn’t have time to throw. — Bill Landis, Ohio State beat writer

3. *TRADE* LA Chargers (via Detroit): Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama

LAC gives up: 2020 1st round pick (No. 6), 2020 2nd round pick (No. 37), 2020 5th round pick (No. 151), 2021 4th round pick

DET gives up: 2020 1st round pick (No. 3), 2020 fifth-round pick, via SEA (No. 172)

The Chargers get their quarterback of the future without giving up a future first-round pick. With Tyrod Taylor already under contract for 2020, Tagovailoa will have no pressure to play right away and can take all the time he needs to get healthy after suffering a season-ending hip injury in the fall. The pick haul is a small price to pay to set the franchise up for life after Philip Rivers. —Daniel Popper

What the Chargers would be getting with Tagovailoa: The decision to roll the dice and bet on himself over the injury concerns some NFL teams might have about his serious hip dislocation seems to have paid off handsomely. Tagovailoa’s skill set is off the charts with uncanny accuracy, great anticipation, the ability to get through reads quickly and an arm good enough to be a starting quarterback in the NFL. The concern obviously remains the injuries. He’s had two ankle surgeries and a hip surgery. The talent to move around the pocket and scramble to avoid pressure is one of his attributes, so he should be able to mitigate his exposure, but his ability to freelance leads him to hold onto the ball a little too long. Tagovailoa possesses all the attributes of a franchise quarterback. — Aaron Suttles, Alabama beat writer

4. New York Giants: Jeffrey Okudah, CB, Ohio State

There were no takers for this pick after the Chargers traded up to No. 3 to take Tagovailoa. There’s a strong possibility this is how things will unfold in April. The Giants have plenty of options with this selection (which is why it would be ideal to move back a few spots and pick up extra picks). Versatile Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons seems like a perfect fit in Joe Judge’s flexible defensive scheme and all of the top offensive tackles will be in play. But Okudah looks like a lock to be an elite cornerback. That’s a vital position and the Giants need help there, so it would be impossible to pass on the Buckeye. —Dan Duggan

What the Giants would be getting with Okudah: Okudah arrived at Ohio State as a five-star prospect full of promise, but he really unlocked that potential as a junior. He became more physical at the line of scrimmage, showed he can cover just about anyone one-on-one and started to grow more comfortable in zone schemes as Ohio State implemented more Cover 3. He’s long and aggressive with elite athletic gifts. He was a scholar athlete, oozing with maturity. Basically, he’s been NFL ready for a while. In the recent line of first-round corners coming out of Ohio State — a list that includes Marshon Lattimore, Denzel Ward, Gareon Conley, and others — Okudah has the potential to be the best. — Bill Landis, Ohio State beat writer

5. Miami Dolphins: Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon

The Dolphins somewhat surprisingly opted not to jump high enough to trade for Tua Tagovailoa. Miami gave it consideration but in the end, decided keeping its picks and building evenly was more of a priority. Herbert has the luxury of being groomed for a year behind veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, a wise and willing teacher. General manager Chris Grier and coach Brian Flores are focused on collecting as much talent as possible at as many positions as possible so that’s why this pick makes more sense than a trade for Tagovailoa. Along those lines, Miami also thought about trading down but decided Herbert has the necessary upside at a key position. —Chris Perkins

What the Dolphins would be getting with Herbert: Herbert is absolutely the prototypical NFL quarterback. He’s tall, cerebral, has a golden arm and, as a bonus, can run like a tight end. But he must improve his overall accuracy. Despite his gaudy numbers (10,541 yards and 95 touchdown passes, both school records), Herbert tended to misfire from time to time and his deep-ball accuracy is a question mark, especially along the sideline. And Herbert rarely was the sole reason the Ducks won. He always played well but can’t be credited for more than a couple of close wins in which he lifted the team to victory with his arm. — Aaron Fentress, Oregon beat writer

6. Detroit (via LA Chargers): Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn

Fortunately, the 10-minute time limit isn’t in effect here because the No. 3 pick was on the table for, like, 24 hours. Staying put and taking Okudah there would’ve been a fine option (even more so now that Darius Slay might be back on the block). The trade back worked out well, instead — an extra top-40 pick, a move up in Round 5, a Day 3 dart next year. It’s not an overwhelming haul, but it’s reasonable and beneficial. Plus, the Lions still had a choice between Brown and Isaiah Simmons here. While the idea of Simmons’ versatility in Matt Patricia’s scheme was tough to pass up, Detroit needs to build from the inside out. It had almost no presence between the tackles last season, save for when Trey Flowers shifted closer to the ball. Brown can hold up against the run and push the pocket vs. the pass. He’s a clear defensive upgrade for the Lions, who now have two shots to further improve near the top of Round 2. —Chris Burke

What the Lions would be getting with Brown: A former top-10 overall recruit who lived up to the hype and then some, Derrick Brown left Auburn as arguably its best defensive player in decades. Brown was the most dominant run-stopper in all of college football for each of his final two seasons, and you could count the number of missed tackles he had for an entire career on your fingers. His quickness and explosiveness are extremely rare for someone who weighs more than 320 pounds. While he didn’t post outstanding sack numbers at Auburn, he consistently found ways to affect the quarterback while being a double-team magnet. Thanks to his elite physical gifts and relentless motor, Brown should be able to excel at whatever a team asks him to do in the NFL. —Justin Ferguson, Auburn beat writer

7. Carolina Panthers: Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson

The Panthers talked to the Lions about trading up for the third pick and taking a quarterback, but it was just too much draft capital for a team in the midst of an overhaul. The Panthers had a ton of positional needs even before Luke Kuechly retired, a move that put linebacker high on the list. Simmons’ versatility and playmaking skills should allow him to thrive in a 4-3 or 3-4 under new defensive coordinator Phil Snow, who ran both last year at Baylor. Brown, the Auburn DT, is another athletic freak. But with Brown off the board, the Panthers finally draft a Clemson player for the first time in franchise history. —Joseph Person

What the Panthers would be getting with Simmons: Clemson found Simmons out of Olathe, Kan., at the final hours before 2016 signing day. He was just a three-star recruit at the time, but finished his Clemson career as one of the greatest finds under coach Dabo Swinney. Simmons came to Clemson as a safety before he and defensive coordinator Brent Venables agreed ahead of the 2018 season that he would be better suited as at linebacker. In 2019, he became the first Clemson player to ever win the Butkus Award, presented to the nation’s top linebacker. As versatile as they come, he was the only member of Clemson’s team who could challenge running back Travis Etienne in a competitive foot race. He also participated in the long jump as a freshman for Clemson’s track team. It was Swinney’s belief that Simmons could have earned All-ACC honors at three different positions in 2019: linebacker, defensive back or (with a few extra pounds ) defensive end. —Grace Raynor, Clemson beat writer.

8. Arizona Cardinals: CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma

The Cardinals would have loved for Brown or Simmons to fall to No. 8. They could go offensive tackle, but general manager Steve Keim and the Cardinals signed left tackle D.J. Humphries to a three-year deal. Given that, it’s hard to imagine Arizona using the eighth overall pick on a right tackle. Instead, the Cardinals address another need — a No. 1 receiver — and take Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb, who played with Kyler Murray at Oklahoma. The other option: Trade down a few spots, pick up a couple of extra picks and still get one of the top three receivers available. —Scott Bordow

What the Cardinals would be getting with Lamb: Lamb is arguably the greatest wide receiver in Oklahoma history. He averaged 19 yards per catch for his career and 21.4 yards per catch last season. In three seasons, he caught 173 passes for 3,292 yards and 32 touchdowns. And the numbers weren’t as good as they might have been: In 2017 and ’18, Lamb played opposite Baltimore’s Marquise Brown, and last season he played with Jalen Hurts, who sometimes struggled to find him and get him the ball. Lamb’s size, speed, strength and hands allowed him to make some truly stunning plays. And you can bet he’d be excited to play with Kyler Murray again. — Jason Kersey, Oklahoma beat writer

9. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jedrick Wills, OT, Alabama

The biggest need is arguably a starting defensive tackle, so it stings that Derrick Brown is gone, but it feels too early to take South Carolina’s Javon Kinlaw, the next best option there. Jacksonville will be pleased if they still have their pick of offensive linemen in this draft — the question is whether you take the best of them at 9, or hope that a top-tier one is still there at 20 when they select again with the Rams’ pick from the Jalen Ramsey trade. I’ll give them a new left tackle and go with Alabama’s Jedrick Wills, who should be the first offensive lineman taken. The other temptation would be to go receiver, but with Lamb coming off the board at 8, we’ll stick with tackle. —Greg Auman

What the Jaguars would be getting with Wills: The definition of a road-grading mauler, Wills has as many collegiate highlights of him slamming defenders as anyone in the country. But he’s combined that ability with good footwork to project as the top offensive tackle in the draft. He started for two years at right tackle, but if needed, left tackle isn’t beyond his reach. A team selecting an offensive lineman in the top 10 probably projects him at left, but he brings versatility with the ability to play multiple positions. One thing you can’t coach is the attitude an offensive lineman brings to the table. Wills is nasty in the trenches. He’s tailor-made to play on the line in the NFL. — Aaron Suttles, Alabama beat writer

10. Cleveland Browns: Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville

There’s a very good chance the Browns will trade down from this pick, but an attempt to do so in this particular mock draft did not go through. And so, with the Browns still at No. 10, they go with Becton, a freak of nature whose combination of athleticism and upside makes it impossible for Cleveland to pass on him here. The Browns are in the market for two starting tackles at this stage of the offseason, and Becton’s experience playing both sides gives the team flexibility in the short term. In the bigger picture, the Browns are looking for someone to become a foundational piece and hold down a starting job for a long time. In Becton, they see superstar potential. —Zac Jackson

What the Browns would be getting with Becton: The ability of the 6-foot-7, 370-pound Becton to move and bend at his size is remarkable. He is extremely powerful in his hips. In college, defensive ends would actively try to avoid Becton when he came their way. He won the Jacobs Blocking Trophy, given to the ACC’s best offensive lineman. He started 33 games at Louisville across the past three years and improved in each season, capped by a first-team All-ACC campaign in 2019 — the first such honor for a Cardinals offensive lineman. Becton graded out better than 80 percent in eight of 11 games this past season, registering 60 knockdown blocks. — Matt Fortuna, national college football writer

11. New York Jets: Andrew Thomas, Georgia, LT

If Jedrick Wills manages to make it all the way to No. 9, I’d expect Joe Douglas to phone Jacksonville and see if he can’t move up a couple of spots to get the top tackle in the draft. New York desperately needs an offensive line overhaul, and getting Sam Darnold’s blindside protector is Priority No. 1. Still, with Wills going to the Jaguars, and Mekhi Becton to the Browns, Thomas isn’t a bad consolation prize. He’s big (6-5, 320), physical and athletic. Maybe more important: most scouts believe he’s a Day 1 starter. The Jets will need whomever they draft at No. 11 to contribute right away. —Connor Hughes

What the Jets would be getting with Thomas: In New York you can be a new man, but Andrew Thomas has been the same man since basically high school – and that’s a good thing. He came to Georgia as a technically sound offensive tackle who had almost no learning curve, starting every game at right tackle as the Bulldogs advanced to the national championship game. Then he started at left tackle the next two years, before turning pro after the SEC championship, embarking on the NFL career that was always obviously in his future. Thomas never had any hint of character concerns, and hardly ever made any mistakes on the field. He also had moments of dominance. Does this translate to stardom in the NFL? That remains to be seen, but he seems as ready for the pros as any offensive lineman can be. — Seth Emerson, Georgia beat writer

12. Las Vegas Raiders: Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina

Man, was Jerry Jeudy tempting … but with Simmons gone, we are going to select the next best defensive player available. We are also taking advantage of the unbelievable depth at receiver and will address the Raiders’ biggest need later. Kinlaw is huge — 6-foot-5, 315 pounds — and has an explosive first step and heavy hands. He dominated Senior Bowl practices with his bull rushes, is very coachable and it sure looks like his best football is ahead of him. The Raiders need another impact player in their front seven and one falls to them here. Jeudy is a great route runner, just like old friend Amari Cooper, and he makes plays but the seven drops last season pushed him down to the next tier of receivers — who are all great, just not Top 12 great. —Vic Tafur

What the Raiders would be getting with Kinlaw: Remember this final score: South Carolina, 20. No. 3 Georgia, 17. This was the afternoon that made Javon Kinlaw a first-rounder, with him dominating an offensive line that was considered one of the best in the nation. South Carolina defensive line coach John Scott Jr. says of Kinlaw, “He’s really strong and he’s got something only God can give you. If you had to draw up the body type for that league, that’s the body type.”

Kinlaw was lauded by Will Muschamp for his willingness to eat up double teams and allow his teammates to make plays. Kinlaw grew up in the Washington, D.C., area, intermittently homeless. He moved to South Carolina in high school and only started playing football in 10th grade. The birth of his daughter last year spurred Kinlaw to take his senior year seriously, he said, and he finished with 35 tackles and six sacks. — Josh Kendall, South Carolina beat writer

13. Indianapolis Colts: Jordan Love, QB, Utah State

In the end, it’s Love’s upside that lures the Colts in. Andrew Luck’s sudden retirement in late August gave Jacoby Brissett his shot, but Brissett’s sharp regression over the second half of the season made the starting quarterback position the Colts’ most glaring need heading into 2020. In Love the Colts find a young QB, dripping in athleticism and arm talent, who could use a year of polish. He’ll get as much under Frank Reich, and Love will be walking into as good a situation a young quarterback could hope for: he’ll have one of the best play-callers in football in his ear, one of the best offensive lines in the game in front of him and a dynamic running back to hand the ball off to. —Zak Keefer

What the Colts would be getting with Love: There is a lot to like about Love, from his measurables (6-4, 225) to his arm strength (50 completions of at least 30 yards in the past two seasons). But he enters the draft off a disappointing junior season playing under a new staff. Love’s pass efficiency rating dropped from 158.3 to 129.1, his total TDs fell from 39 to 20 and his interceptions increased from six to 17 (most in the FBS). His marvelous sophomore season shows his potential, but he’ll need to prove he can make far better decisions than he did as a junior. —Dave Southorn, college football writer

14. Tampa Bay Bucs: K’Lavon Chiasson, OLB, LSU

Three straight tackles off the board at 9-10-11 is bad for Tampa Bay, which also sees four QBs gone in the first 13 picks. Most mocks still have Kinlaw available, but him being gone might be another reality check for April. I can see the Bucs trading down a few picks in such a scenario, as they did in 2016 and 2018. But staying at 14, I’ll add some youth to the pass rush and take Chiasson. This makes even more sense if Jason Pierre-Paul signs elsewhere in free agency. — Greg Auman

What the Bucs would be getting with Chaisson: K’Lavon Chaisson is a long, athletic freak-type of edge rusher who has elite speed around the tackle. His sack numbers are misleading because LSU often asked him to play more conservative, stop the run and drop back into coverage. In turn, he led LSU with 14.5 run stuffs. Down the stretch, LSU let Chaisson loose in the pass rush and he compiled 4.5 sacks in three games. He has more polishing to do with his moves, but he has massive upside and is one of the most intelligent players on the team. — Brody Miller, LSU beat writer

15. Denver Broncos: Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama

Two disclaimers: One, John Elway has never drafted a player from Alabama, supposedly (though unconfirmed) because he believes they burn out before they reach the pros. Two, the Broncos have a lot of holes to fill and I would never be surprised if Elway decides to take a defender, especially with Vic Fangio as his head coach. This year especially they need a cornerback and defensive end — or three. But Drew Lock needs more weapons on offense and Jeudy is too good to pass up here. His combination of quickness, speed and route-running could bolster the offense, and give the Broncos an intimidating trio of pass catchers with receiver Courtland Sutton and tight end Noah Fant. —Nicki Jhabvala

What the Broncos would be getting with Jeudy: He’s been the best wide receiver in college football for two seasons. Ignore the fact that he didn’t take home the Biletnikoff Award for the second year in a row. That award can be a numbers game at times, and Jeudy had to split catches with Henry Ruggs III, DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle. There really isn’t anything he doesn’t excel at the wide receiver position. He has great speed, change-of-direction quickness and route running. He also didn’t get selfish when a lot of his double teams resulted in one-on-ones for Smith. Jeudy is a slam dunk first-rounder. — Aaron Suttles, Alabama beat writer

16. Atlanta Falcons: A.J. Epenesa, EDGE, Iowa

With the Falcons deciding not to re-sign Vic Beasley and with Takk McKinley entering the fourth year of his rookie contract, edge rusher is clearly a major need. Epenesa isn’t necessarily the prototype for Dan Quinn’s defense because he doesn’t possess that explosive first step. However, Epenesa plays with power and great technique, which should be a big draw to a team that could use a three-down defensive lineman. The Falcons’ draft strategy has historically been to take the best player at any position of need. But with defensive end being such a glaring need this offseason, and with so much unknown about edge rushers graded outside of the first round, taking a talented player like Epenesa would fill a large void. —Jason Butt

What the Falcons would be getting with Epenesa: Epenesa, who was Iowa’s first five-star recruit since 2005, may not have the quick-twitch burst that some teams prefer off the edge, but few defensive ends match his power, strength, heavy hands and propensity to force fumbles. He’s a physical player who will endear himself to coaches, administrators and teammates with his maturity, selflessness and tenacity.

Rarely did Epenesa face one-on-one pass blocking, except in the Holiday Bowl when he produced 2.5 sacks and a forced fumble. Epenesa quietly generated the most sacks of any Power 5 player in November and bowl season with eight. At Iowa, which runs a two-gap scheme designed to stop the run first, Epenesa finished with 26.5 sacks in three seasons. In 2018, he tied Chase Young for the Big Ten lead with 10.5. Epenesa increased his total to 11.5 in 2019.

To keep Epenesa away from double teams, Iowa’s defensive staff shifted him inside on third downs late in the season, which could provide a precursor to his NFL career. Epenesa could play as a traditional end in a four-man front and potentially slide inside on passing situations or line up as a defensive end in a three-man front. — Scott Dochterman, Iowa beat writer.

17. Dallas Cowboys: Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama

Many experts have projected that the Cowboys will take a safety here. There are great options like LSU’s Grant Delpit and Alabama’s Xavier McKinney still on the board. There’s no question the safety position needs to be upgraded, but the Cowboys haven’t drafted one in the first two rounds since Roy Williams in 2002. I don’t think they’ll do it here, either. With Byron Jones headed to free agency, I believe Dallas will put a greater value on cornerback. A standout defensive lineman like Javon Kinlaw or A.J. Epenesa would be my pick if either was still available. In this scenario, I see the Cowboys taking the best cornerback on the board. That could be Diggs, LSU’s Kristian Fulton or Florida’s C.J. Henderson. I went with the brother of Vikings WR Stefon Diggs because of his size (6-2, 207) and ball skills (3 interceptions and 8 pass breakups last season). — Jon Machota

What the Cowboys would be getting with Diggs: Diggs graded well at cornerback for Nick Saban’s secondary in 2019. He has an NFL pedigree as the brother of one of the league’s best receivers (Stefon Diggs). He checks a lot of boxes. He has the size at 6-foot-2, 207 pounds, and the length that scouts like in the secondary. The athleticism is there as well. He came to Alabama and started off as a wide receiver. He even spent some time on special teams. There’s value in that on limited NFL rosters. He made three interceptions his senior season in 12 games (he didn’t play in the bowl game) with eight pass breakups. —Aaron Suttles, Alabama beat writer

18. Miami Dolphins: Josh Jones, LT, Houston

The Dolphins fill a position of need with this selection. The top offensive tackles went earlier than Miami was prepared to take one, as expected. But Jones, with his long frame, athleticism and knack for pass blocking, will be a welcome addition to an offensive line that is trying to build (Miami took LG Michael Deiter last year). This selection could be met with a bit of skepticism because Iowa’s Tristan Wirfs was available, but the Dolphins are betting Jones will fit perfectly alongside QB Justin Herbert, their No. 5 pick here, to provide long-term stability at two key offensive positions. —Chris Perkinsv

What the Dolphins would be getting with Jones: Jones developed into a 45-game starter at Houston, and he was a real revelation in 2019. The 6-foot-5, 311-pound left tackle was the second-highest graded offensive tackle in the FBS per Pro Football Focus and allowed just four pressures all season. Jones arguably helped his draft stock as much as any offensive lineman in the country as a fifth-year senior, and then he went down to Mobile and put together a dominant performance at the Senior Bowl. During his time at Houston, he played for four different offensive coordinators and four different offensive line coaches. So Jones will come into the league ready to learn and adjust in the hopes of becoming the Dolphins’ Laremy Tunsil replacement. —Max Olson, national college football writer

19. Las Vegas Raiders: Henry Ruggs, WR, Alabama

Well, well, well … The other teams were terrified to trade up here after the Raiders dominated the draft last season. The plan was to trade down, add another pick and select whichever receiver was left out of Ruggs, Tee Higgins, Justin Jefferson and Laviska Shenault. They are all that good. But teams turned up their noses at us. Even after Gruden threw in front-row Carrot Top tickets. So, the Raiders took the best of the bunch, Ruggs, who will likely go even higher after he runs under a 4.30 at the NFL combine. His route running improved last season and he can also break tackles now. Gruden gets his Tyreek Hill. —Vic Tafur

What the Raiders would be getting with Ruggs: If the Raiders draft Ruggs, they could be getting one of the biggest talents in the draft. Ruggs might be the fastest guy available. He can flat out fly. I’m talking elite speed. It’s quite fitting that he’s slotted to a franchise once owned by Al Davis, who was obsessed with speed. But Ruggs isn’t a one-trick pony. The ability to make tough, contested catches is also something that stuck out during his three-year career in Tuscaloosa. He can go over the middle or hit the home run. — Aaron Suttles, Alabama beat writer

20. Jacksonville Jaguars: Noah Igbinoghene, CB, Auburn

If Ruggs hadn’t just gone, you could have made a case there, but having already added a tackle, Jacksonville should help the defense, and the pick they got for Jalen Ramsey should go toward finding help at cornerback. Igbinoghene — that’s ig-bi-NOGGIN-ee, so you’re saying it right — switched from receiver to corner in spring 2018, and he’ll be among the fastest players in the draft. He can help on returns as well. —Greg Auman

What the Jaguars would be getting with Igbinoghene: Noah Igbinoghene went from being a reserve wide receiver to Auburn’s No. 1 cornerback in less than half of an offseason. For most of what was only his second year as a starting defensive back in the SEC, opposing quarterbacks rarely threw to his side of the field. The son of Olympic track athletes — and a former long-jump champion himself — Igbinoghene combined his impressive speed, agility, strength and work ethic to become a feared corner in Kevin Steele’s press-man defense. He hasn’t come close to his ceiling as a relatively new defensive back, and he provides even more value by being a productive kick returner during all three of his seasons in college. With time in the right situation, Igbinoghene should have the chance to blossom into a star at the next level. — Justin Ferguson, Auburn beat writer

21. Philadelphia Eagles: Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU

It will be hard for Howie Roseman to go anywhere in Philadelphia if this scenario plays out and he fails to trade up for Ruggs, the speedster who has fascinated a fan base starved of speed for two seasons, minus one brief DeSean Jackson appearance.

But in this mock draft, we were too late on responding to the Raiders’ calls for a trade, and so instead, there are several ways the Eagles could go here. They could take the draft’s first safety — Alabama’s Xavier McKinney would be the eventual Malcolm Jenkins replacement while LSU’s Grant Delpit would fit in as the deep player in Jim Schwartz’s defense. Florida cornerback C.J. Henderson is also tempting. But the Eagles are likely to address both positions in free agency and they’re unlikely to solve their wide receiver issues before late April so Roseman pulls the trigger early on a wide receiver in a deep class at the position after memorably failing to do so with running backs in 2017 (you can watch Donnel Pumphrey play in the XFL, though) and defensive line in 2019.

Then the question becomes: which wide receiver do the Eagles fancy as the best behind the clear top three? Colorado’s Lavishka Shenault has juice with the ball in his hands but has injury issues. Clemson’s Tee Higgins is a contested catch specialist which makes him sound like a rich man’s J.J. Arcega-Whiteside. TCU’s Jalen Raegor and Penn State’s K.J. Hamler have the requisite speed but each has questions about productivity and/or size. So it’s Jefferson, who can play inside and outside and excelled at the highest level of college football. They think he’s their safest bet. – Bo Wulf

What the Eagles would be getting with Jefferson: A former two-star unknown who teammates first thought was a walk-on, Justin Jefferson evolved into a record-breaking playmaker with 111 catches for 1,540 yards and 18 touchdowns in 2019. He can play inside and out, as he was LSU’s leading receiver in 2018 as an X receiver before breaking out even more from the slot this past season. His strengths are his route running and physicality, and he’s a better blocker than he gets credit for, but he proved his deep threat potential again in the Peach Bowl with 14 catches for 227 yards against Oklahoma. —Brody Miller, LSU beat writer

22. Buffalo Bills: Kyle Dugger, DB, Lenoir Rhyne

With the top wide receivers, edge rushers and offensive tackles all off the board, the Bills become the first team to take a Division II player in the first round since 1999. Lenoir Rhyne’s Kyle Dugger is listed as a safety but that label doesn’t do him justice. He’s a moveable piece on defense capable of playing nickel cornerback and outside linebacker in the right scheme. Dugger could be for the Bills what Shaq Thompson was for the Panthers in Sean McDermott’s defense. The Bills were at Lenoir Rhyne this season more often than every team in the league, sending three different high-ranking members of their scouting staff to see Dugger. He’s everything they look for on and off the field. And if 22 seems too high for Dugger, wait until he blows up at the NFL Scouting Combine. He’s the real deal.

What the Bills would be getting with Dugger: Joel Taylor knows a thing about under-the-radar draft prospects. He was on the staff at South Carolina State when the Bulldogs had future NFL standouts Darius Leonard and Javon Hargrave, and he was at Division II Lenoir-Rhyne when the Bears’ big DB Kyle Dugger blew up in scouts’ eyes in the past two years.

Taylor said he’s never been around a guy who has Dugger’s combination of size, ability and football instincts. He says the 6-1, 220-pounder’s best attribute is his versatility and that he’s the rare athlete who can play nine spots on the defense, all except the interior defensive line positions.

“Whoever becomes his DC is going to have a lot of fun with him,” says Taylor, now the defensive coordinator at Mercer. “A guy like Dugger gives you the ability to be very creative with schemes and be multiple without changing packages.”

Tucker says Dugger isn’t quite as long — or as outspoken — as Leonard, the 2018 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, but he’s a better-skilled athlete in open space and more explosive. High praise indeed. —Bruce Feldman, National college football insider

23. New England Patriots: Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa

Bill Belichick can tap into friend Kirk Ferentz’s pro-ready system and capitalize on Wirfs’ surprising tumble down the board. With left guard Joe Thuney likely to break the bank in free agency, Wirfs can slot into left tackle and give the Patriots a chance to move Isaiah Wynn to left guard. —Jeff Howe

What the Patriots would be getting with Wirfs: Kirk Ferentz has produced seven first- or second-round offensive linemen as Iowa’s head coach, and Wirfs is stronger and more athletic than any of his predecessors. Last spring, Wirfs shattered Brandon Scherff’s program record in the hang clean with a max of 500 pounds and four reps of 450 pounds. Wirfs dropped 37 pounds in two months as a high school senior to win the state wrestling title and can perform a backflip into a swimming pool.

Wirfs, who turned 21 in January, also was the first true freshman to start at tackle in Iowa’s history, including at left tackle in a bowl game. During his three seasons, Wirfs primarily played right tackle because teammate Alaric Jackson was more comfortable on the left side. Wirfs did not allow a sack as a sophomore and only allowed one last fall, when he cut blocked a defender and the quarterback did not throw the ball on time.

It will take time for Wirfs to mature as a lineman, especially with his footwork. He has left tackle potential, but he may need a year at right tackle or guard before taking on the NFL’s best pass rushers on every down. — Scott Dochterman, Iowa beat writer.

24. New Orleans Saints: Laviska Shenault, WR, Colorado

The Saints’ need for a wide receiver isn’t exactly a secret. Michael Thomas may have had a record-breaking season, but none of the other wideouts did much to help him out. If the Saints are getting Drew Brees back for another season, they need to go all-in and get him some weapons. Shenault had 764 yards and six touchdowns last season, and his size and speed are intriguing, along with his ability to play at multiple spots. Injury history is a concern, but the Saints’ need for another wide receiver is great enough to take a chance. —Katherine Terrell

What the Saints would be getting with Shenault: Built like a big running back (6-2, 220), Shenault used his size and physicality to his advantage with the ball in his hands. Pro Football Focus data shows that his 46 broken tackles in 2018 and ’19 were 13 more than any other receiver in this draft class. He was responsible for 2,022 yards from scrimmage in 20 games the past two seasons (1,746 receiving, 276 rushing). But an array of injuries over the past two seasons (foot, shoulder, core and groin) are a concern, especially if he continues to play in his physical style. — Dave Southorn, college football writer

25. Minnesota Vikings: Austin Jackson, OT, USC

It must have been a particular kind of torture for Rick Spielman to see Tristan Wirfs fall so far down the board only to be snatched up with two picks left. This might be a scenario where they would even entertain a trade up to take advantage of such a slide. Absent that, they’ll take one of the only remaining system fits among the early offensive linemen and let a perhaps superior player in Kristian Fulton continue to fall, knowing that the cornerback talent later in the draft is much better than the guard or tackle talent — especially after taking into account scheme and positional thresholds. In this scenario, they would likely entertain a move to the inside to guard for Riley Reiff and keep Brian O’Neill on the right. Jackson will need some work, but his smoothness and natural athleticism will allow the Vikings to continue hitting the edge on outside zones while his pass protection upside should give Kirk Cousins the time he needs. —Arif Hasan

What the Vikings would be getting with Jackson: Austin Jackson arrived at USC in 2017 as a highly-touted four-star prospect. He didn’t start but appeared in all 14 games as a true freshman. As a sophomore, the 6-foot-6, 310-pound Jackson became a full-time starter at left tackle in 2018. He was fine, but Jackson and the Trojans’ offensive line, as a whole, lacked consistency. Jackson really came into his own last fall — his first season under offensive line coach Tim Drevno. Jackson isn’t the most physically dominating player, but his athleticism was apparent in the run game and in pass protection. He more than held his own against Utah’s Bradlee Anae, who was viewed as the best edge rusher in the Pac-12, but had some issues against Iowa’s A.J. Epenesa. The fact that Jackson improved as a junior despite missing summer workouts and being limited in training after he donated bone marrow to his younger sister, who suffers from a rare blood disease, is encouraging for his development. — Antonio Morales, USC beat writer

26. Miami Dolphins: Yetur Gross-Matos, DE, Penn State

Miami, which is making its third pick of the first round, needs help at the defensive end/pass rusher position and this is one of the men who can get the job done. The Dolphins will most likely already have signed a veteran pass rusher in free agency but this selection ensures there’s an affordable future at the position. Other pass rushers, such as Alabama’s Terrell Lewis, were considered but this just seemed to be the best fit and it gives Miami three foundation-building selections (it selected QB Justin Herbert at No. 5 and OT Josh Jones at No. 18) so far in this draft. —Chris Perkins

What the Dolphins would be getting with Gross-Matos: Gross-Matos has long had the build of a budding NFL defensive end and was quickly shaped and molded by former Penn State D-line coach Sean Spencer (now with the Giants) into one of the Big Ten’s top defensive ends. Gross-Matos burst on the scene as a sophomore in 2018 with 20 tackles for loss and eight sacks. Penn State could bounce him inside on occasion, and his relentless motor allowed him to rarely be out of a play. He garnered additional attention last season but still finished with 9.5 sacks and was a big reason why Penn State’s defense was among the best in the country against the run. — Audrey Snyder, Penn State beat writer

27. Seattle Seahawks: Josh Uche, DE, Michigan

The Seahawks have to fix their pass rush after having one of the worst units in 2019. The first step is retaining Jadeveon Clowney in free agency but even if they do that, a second-straight first-round pick needs to be spent on a versatile, quarterback-harassing edge player. A sack specialist at Michigan, Seattle will immediately insert Uche into its DL rotation with the hopes he can treat NFC West QBs the same way he did Big Ten passers. — Michael-Shawn Dugar

What the Seahawks would be getting with Uche: As a 250-pound pass rusher, Josh Uche can do a little bit of everything. He’s fast enough to run with tight ends in coverage, quick enough to beat offensive tackles off the edge and strong enough to hold his own against physical blockers. He didn’t have huge stats (8.5 sacks, 11.5 tackles for loss as a senior) but posted the highest pass-rush win rate among draft-eligible edge rushers with at least 100 snaps, according to Pro Football Focus. Even with some positional questions, he has an intriguing skill set that should translate in the NFL. — Austin Meek, Michigan beat writer

28. Baltimore Ravens: Patrick Queen, LB, LSU

Never in franchise history have the Ravens drafted an LSU player. The joke was that former GM Ozzie Newsome, an Alabama man to his core, wouldn’t allow it. Newsome isn’t making the decisions anymore and even if he was, he’d likely recognize Queen as too good to pass up. The Ravens never replaced C.J. Mosley with a three-down inside linebacker last year, relying on a cadre of players and often playing with just one true inside linebacker on the field. Queen brings the speed and athleticism that the Ravens need in the middle of the field. He’s also a very good blitzer. He’d be a great addition to a Ravens team that needs to revamp its defensive front seven this offseason. —Jeff Zrebiec

What the Ravens would be getting with Queen: Five months ago Patrick Queen wasn’t even a starter at LSU. Now, he’s a first-round pick. Queen is a former high school running back, and like Devin White in that sense he’s become a true sideline-to-sideline linebacker and maybe the fastest in the SEC. His strengths come out most when an opponent tries to rely on screens and Queen can hit a beeline and beat star backs like Clemson’s Travis Etienne in a foot race. He needed to work on his run fits, but we saw those improve throughout the season. He has work to do, but he’s a smart, high-character linebacker with speed and instincts you can’t teach. — Brody Miller, LSU beat writer

29. Tennessee Titans: Terrell Lewis, OLB, Alabama

Edge rusher is the biggest current position of need for the Titans, who posted a 6.3 percent sack rate in 2019, which ranked 20th in the league. I figured there might be an outside shot that K’Lavon Chaisson still might be available, but he’s long gone at this point. So the Titans — assuming they haven’t already addressed edge rusher in free agency — go with the 6-5, 252-pound Lewis. He totaled six sacks, 11.5 tackles for loss, 31 tackles, two passes defensed and one fumble recovery last season, so the athletic Lewis should make an excellent complement to Harold Landry (nine sacks in 2019). It would mark the second Alabama linebacker chosen in the first round by the Titans over the past three years. The previous selection, inside linebacker Rashaan Evans, has worked out well. —John Glennon

What the Titans would be getting with Lewis: This guy has everything you need to be a dominant edge presence in the NFL. It’s almost like he was made in a lab. Height, length, athleticism, size; there really isn’t any attribute he doesn’t have. But that didn’t always translate onto the field with the Crimson Tide. The injuries certainly shortened what we saw from Lewis during his time in the program. His effort was also questioned at times. There’s no doubting though that the Alabama defense had an uptick once he got fully healthy and was able to practice fully. He can be a difference-maker if he’s able to give more of a consistent effort. — Aaron Suttles, Alabama beat writer

30. Green Bay Packers: Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma

It would be a shock if the Packers re-signed Blake Martinez, not only given his 2019 struggles against both the run and pass but also given what he’ll probably command on the open market in March. None of their internal options at inside linebacker are worthy of No. 1 duties and viable free-agent options like Cory Littleton or Kyle Van Noy will probably be too expensive. The Packers have a glaring need at No. 2 wide receiver, but they haven’t drafted a wide receiver in the first round since 2002 when they took Javon Walker out of Florida State. And given the depth of this year’s wideout class, I think they wait it out this year, too. They’d be thrilled if Murray dropped to them at No. 30 and they didn’t have to trade up a couple of spots for him. He’d presumably be a Day 1 starter and provide the sideline-to-sideline speed Martinez so severely lacked last season. —Matt Schneidman

What the Packers would be getting with Murray: Between his physique, speed and athleticism, Murray already looks like a starting NFL linebacker. He led the Sooners in tackles in each of the past two seasons. At times, Murray struggled — as did the entire Oklahoma defense — with being out of position and missing tackles, but he showed drastic improvement as a junior in 2019. Murray was a two-time captain and proved to be a mature, capable spokesman for a defense that everyone knows had more than its share of problems. —Jason Kersey, Oklahoma beat writer

31. San Francisco 49ers: Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson

Yes, the 49ers have spent huge amounts of draft capital at receiver in recent years, including sending third- and fourth-round picks to Denver for Emmanuel Sanders in October. Still, they have little to show for it with Deebo Samuel as their only sure thing for next season. Higgins is a big-bodied (6-4, 215 pounds), down-field threat (19.8 yards a catch in 2019) who could open up space in the middle of the field for Samuel, George Kittle and the 49ers’ running backs. Given that the 49ers won’t pick again until the fifth round, trading down might be their top option. —Matt Barrows

What the 49ers would be getting with Higgins: Higgins proved ready as the next-man-up in what has become a long lineage of NFL-caliber Clemson wide receivers. The Oak Ridge, Tenn., native earned a starting role at Clemson’s marquee boundary position when he was a sophomore and never looked back. As quarterback Trevor Lawrence’s favorite down-field threat in 2019, Higgins’ yards-per-catch figure ranked 13th in the country in his final season with the Tigers. He is a former basketball player who could have played at the Division I level, making him a versatile athlete. He also blocked well for the Tigers. In finishing his Clemson career with 27 receiving touchdowns, Higgins tied a program record alongside a couple of Clemson wide receivers for whom things have worked out nicely at the next level: Kansas City’s Sammy Watkins and Houston’s DeAndre Hopkins. — Grace Raynor, Clemson beat writer

32. Kansas City Chiefs: Zach Baun, LB, Wisconsin

During last season, defensive tackle Chris Jones revealed that the Chiefs’ backup plan in 2017, had they not executed the historic trade to move up 17 spots to select superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes, was to take the best linebacker available. This year’s draft could provide such an opportunity with the 32nd pick. The Chiefs are thin at the position entering this offseason and Baun has the skills to play in space. As a senior at Wisconsin, Baun was a strong tackler and finished second in the Big Ten in both sacks (12.5) and tackles for loss (19.5). —Nate Taylor

What the Chiefs would be getting with Baun: Baun demonstrated tremendous progress in a short time to turn himself into a first-team All-America outside linebacker at Wisconsin. He missed the 2017 season after sustaining a torn Lisfranc ligament in his left foot and became a first-time starter as a redshirt junior in 2018. But his game really took off as a senior after outside linebacker teammate Andrew Van Ginkel became an NFL draft pick, leaving Baun as the only experienced player in his position group. Baun relied on his quickness and instincts to be a consistently disruptive force while showcasing his versatility in the run and pass game. His explosiveness and athleticism forced offensive tackles to make difficult split-second decisions when blocking him. His 12.5 sacks ranked third in a single season in school history, and he only appears to be scratching the surface of his talent. —Jesse Temple, Wisconsin beat writer

kccrow 04:00 PM 02-24-2020
These guys have some players rated waaaaaaaay higher than I do, but that's ok.

I've fallen in love with Baun as the pick for KC. Will be pounding that table the duration.