The NFL draft is over and done with, so there’s only one thing to do: look forward to the same time next year! The 2020 draft may be far away, but there’s no such thing as looking too far ahead in draftland. The order is determined by Vegas’s projected win totals for each team, so no, I don’t just think your team is going to be bad this year. Players will dramatically rise and fall over the next 12 months, and some guys listed won’t even sniff an NFL field. The draft positions will shift every which way as some teams are better or worse than projected, and more still trade their picks.
Still, I endeavor to give you all an idea of what the top prospects for 2020 look like, and this will accomplish just that. Here’s my 2020 Mock Draft, 1.0.
1. Miami Dolphins- Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama- Miami may have traded for Josh Rosen, but this is still clear-cut. Tua has absolutely lit up the college football world since taking over for Jalen Hurts, and teams have been counting down the days until he’s draft-eligible. He has ridiculous arm strength, accuracy, and the ability to scramble if things get dicey in the pocket. He has every trait — tangible and intangible — teams look for in a quarterback. If the Dolphins like Rosen, they’ll take Tua and find a trade partner- which won’t be hard, given how highly regarded he is as a prospect. If they decide Rosen isn’t fit for the gig after a yearlong audition, they have Tua to lean on for the foreseeable future. He’ll pair well with Christian Wilkins as the faces of the franchise.
2. Cincinnati Bengals- Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon- It’s very likely Herbert would’ve been a top five selection this year had he declared for the draft. As is, he is the second-best QB in the 2020 draft, and the Bengals need someone to take over for Andy Dalton (finally), and Ryan Finley isn’t nearly as good of a prospect, even if they did trade up to grab him in the fourth round this year. Herbert has the size, athleticism, and arm strength of an NFL quarterback. Like many physically talented college quarterbacks, he relies on his arm a bit too often at Oregon and will need to work on his coverage recognition at the NFL level. He hasn’t had a signature standout season like Tua, but he still has the potential to be a high-level starter for Cincinnati.
3. Arizona Cardinals- Walker Little, OT, Stanford- Little is a rare athletic prospect at left tackle who could become a stalwart on the left side for a long time in Arizona. At 6’7” and 300 pounds, Little can run a 4.4 40-yard dash. That is simply ridiculous. Consistency has been a bit of an issue while Little has been at Stanford, but he’s talented and athletic enough that he warrants consideration as a top-three pick, even if he’s a lineman. Arizona must invest in protection for their franchise quarterback in Kyler Murray, and Little has the measurables to be an all-time great in that regard.
4. New York Giants- Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama- Jeudy is the latest in the long line of big, fast, and talented receivers that Alabama produces on a yearly basis. He was the nation’s best receiver in 2018, winning the Biletnikoff Award and posting 68 catches for over 1,300 yards and 14 touchdowns. He’s the best receiver in the draft, and the Giants need to give their future franchise QB in Daniel Jones as many weapons as possible. Jeudy is a stud, and will round out the offensive core nicely for Big Blue.
5. Oakland Raiders- Jake Fromm, QB, Georgia- After dedicating their hoard of 2019 draft picks to rounding out the weak spots in their team, Jon Gruden gets a new quarterback to mold and moves on from Derek Carr. Fromm had a stellar freshman year where he led his team to the National Championship game, and built upon that to make for an impressive 2018, throwing for 2,761 yards and 30 TDs with only six interceptions. Fromm and Hebert are 2A and 2B in this QB class, and the Raiders would love either one. Fromm has the makings of a quality starting QB, and may have a higher ceiling than most realize.
6. Detroit Lions- Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn- The Lions strengthened their offense in the first round of the 2019 draft, so they go to the other side of the ball in 2020. Brown has the potential to be a rare player on the defensive line, a versatile difference-maker who would have been a first-round pick in 2019’s deep defensive class if he had declared. As is, he’s poised to be one of the best defensive prospects next year, and his selection will give the Lions a truly dominant defensive line.
7. Washington Redskins- Laviska Shenault Jr., WR, Colorado-Shenault had a legitimate claim to the title of best receiver in football before a toe injury shelved him for the back half of 2018. He’s got great hands, the speed to separate down the field, and the size to be a threat after the catch. The variety of ways he contributed at Colorado shows that a creative guy like Jay Gruden could put him anywhere on the field and he’ll make an impact. Shenault will be a big and reliable target for Washington’s newest face of the franchise, Dwayne Haskins.
8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Jacob Eason, QB, Washington- Unless Bruce Arians pulls off a miraculous reclamation project with Jameis Winston, the Bucs will need a QB of the future, so they go with Eason in 2020. Eason is a classic pro-style quarterback with NFL size, standing at 6’5”, 220 with a cannon of an arm. Eason has a few things left to prove after transferring from Georgia and sitting out his first year at Washington, but he’s a project with big enough upside that he’s worth a top-ten selection
9. Denver Broncos- Chase Young, DE, Ohio State- As much as we’d all enjoy it, Von Miller can’t play forever, and Denver will need quality depth behind him as he ages. Young will provide just that, along with high upside. He notched 10.5 tackles and 14.5 tackles for loss in 14 games last season. He’s a quick-twitch athlete with the combination of strength and speed NFL teams look for in an edge rusher. He was the star of the 2018 Big Ten Championship game, and will be a dangerous addition to the Broncos’ defensive line.
10. Buffalo Bills- Grant Delpit, S, LSU- Buffalo continues to build their defense, going with a safety after picking up Ed Oliver in 2019. Delpit is an extremely versatile safety who can line up just about anywhere on the field. With 74 tackles, five interceptions, and five sacks, he looks like another Derwin James. Every team could use someone like that, and as tempting as it is to nab a top talent for Josh Allen to throw to, Delpit can unlock an entire defense with his skillset.
12. San Francisco 49ers- Najee Harris, RB, Alabama- The Niners have the pieces for an elite defense after picking Nick Bosa at No. 2 overall in the 2019 draft, but have cycled through running backs over the last few years. They pick up a potential long-term piece with Harris. He’s a big, physical runner with outstanding athleticism and can make just about anyone miss. His ceiling as a pass-catcher is a question mark, but he’s talented enough out of the backfield to give the 49ers a high degree of unpredictability and make a top QB/RB pairing.
13. New York Jets- A.J. Epenesa, DE, Iowa- Epenesa is a high-level athlete with very rare speed for a man his size (6’5”, 280) and would fill a hole for the Jets at the edge, even if 2019 third-rounder Jachai Polite progresses well in his first year as a Jet. His athleticism translated to production in 2018 as he notched 10.5 sacks and seems poised to eclipse that number in 2019. He would prove a frightening tandem with 2019 first-rounder Quinnen Williams.
14. Tennessee Titans- Nick Coe, DE, Auburn- Coe is a similar athlete to Epenesa at the same size, and the Titans need more talent on the edge after picking up only a project player at the position in D’Andre Walker during the 2019 draft. Coe is equally effective against the run and pass game, and has the size to kick inside when needed- versatility that coach Mike Vrabel values as much as his old head coach in New England. He’ll be a monster next to Jurrell Casey and Jeffery Simmons when he returns from his ACL injury.
15. Jacksonville Jaguars- Tarik Black, WR, Michigan- Black hasn’t been able to produce thanks to a pair of fractured feet while at Michigan, but his potential is through the roof. His combination of size, speed, and athleticism is rare in wide receivers, and hard to pass up. Black’s draft position will depend entirely on how his 2019 goes, but if it goes well, he’s a top target for the Jaguars here. They seem dedicated to competing with Nick Foles, and this will give Foles a big target that can make plays. Black is the only player in this mock who is a legitimate contender to push their draft entry to 2021, but the upside is tantalizing if he does declare.
16. Seattle Seahawks- Mehki Becton, Louisville- Becton is a gigantic human being who could be a dominant lineman in short order. Seattle needs high-end offensive line talent for the sake of Russell Wilson, and Becton, listed at 6’7”, 355 pounds, is perfect. He needs more development, as do most players who are otherworldly athletes, and may need to slim down to balance out his power to quickness ratio. But a boulder like him on Wilson’s blind side would be invaluable.
17. Minnesota Vikings- Isaiah Simmons, S, Clemson- After FINALLY taking an offensive lineman with their first-round pick in 2019, the Vikings go right back to Mike Zimmer’s favorite activity- adding talent to the secondary. Simmons is an in-the-box safety who would complement Harrison Smith very well. He’s a hard-hitter and flies all over the field, exhibiting a tone-setter mentality during his time as a Tiger. His zone coverage skills need a lot of work, but he can get by in man-to-man on tight ends, and could benefit greatly from Mike Zimmer’s tutoring.
18. Houston Texans- Albert Okwuegbunam, TE, Missouri-Okwuegbunam is a hyper-athletic prospect at tight end who would provide another big target for Deshaun Watson. He’s a bit of a project and must work on his route-running and blocking technique, but he’s a good enough athlete at the position that he’s worth the risk. He might be a bit redundant next to 2019 third-round pick Kahale Warring, but if both pan out, they would create a two-headed monster at tight end rivaled by few other teams across the league
19. Baltimore Ravens- Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama- The Ravens went heavy on offense in the 2019 draft, and find themselves returning to their roots in 2020. Diggs was one of the best corners in the nation before going down with a foot injury in mid-2018, and he’ll be a great pairing with Marlon Humphrey in the Baltimore backfield. Diggs is 6’2” with great speed and is a quality athlete, having switched from WR to CB in just one year at Alabama. He’s raw, but has tons of upside and his receiving background can come in handy. He’s also Stefon Diggs’ little brother, which doesn’t mean much, but he’s definitely got the genes.
20. Atlanta Falcons- Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama- McKinney is an athletic safety who played in the box a lot in 2018, but projects to roam on the back end more in 2019, giving him valuable versatility. McKinney would form a dangerous duo with Keanu Neal, who possesses similar athleticism and sideline-to-sideline speed. The pair would blanket receivers and tight ends with ease, and fill a position of need; the Falcons don’t have a great second option next to Neal right now, and McKinney is perfect for the role.
21. Pittsburgh Steelers- Liam Eichenberg, OT, Notre Dame- The Steelers need an infusion of youth into their offensive line, and Eichenberg will provide that. He’s a talented lineman who constantly works to get better and can play either right or left tackle, depending on how things unfold for Pittsburgh. They’ll start thinking about life after Big Ben around this time, and Eichenberg will be the first piece of their future offense after the team established a foundation of youthful talent on the other side of the ball in 2019.
22. Green Bay Packers- Collin Johnson, WR, Texas- The Pack get a huge target and weapon for Aaron Rodgers in Johnson, a jump-ball specialist out of Texas. He’s a big athlete who’s very hard to beat at the point of the catch and will do great with Aaron Rodgers’ placement. He has a lot of room for improvement, but the Packers rounded out their defense in 2019, so 2020 is about making life as easy as possible for Rodgers.
23. Dallas Cowboys- C.J. Henderson, CB, Florida- The Cowboys replenish their high-end talent on defense after trading their 2019 first-round pick here. Henderson is a top-tier athlete in the secondary with blazing speed and the size to stick with bigger receivers. In tandem with his length, Henderson’s physical measurements will have scouts fawning over him. He doesn’t try that hard to stop the run and has relatively little experience at the position, but the Cowboys will be all over him to join Byron Jones and Chidobe Awuzie to make an extremely talented backfield.
24. Philadelphia Eagles- Terrell Lewis, DE, Alabama- Lewis is an injury risk and might need to transition to defensive end full-time after playing an OLB/DE role at Alabama to fit into the Eagles’ defense, but he’s a remarkable athlete who possesses immense upside. His change-of-direction skills are uncanny for someone that size, and he’s strong enough to hold up against the run. Lewis has first-round talent, and the Eagles bet on upside.
25. LA Chargers- K.J. Costello, QB, Stanford- The Chargers will have to find their Philip Rivers successor eventually, and if they don’t land Josh Rosen this offseason, the 2020 draft is the place to do it. Costello has high upside, is familiar with NFL-style offenses, and has the physical makeup to succeed in the league. He needs to improve on his 2018 performance to be considered in the first round, but the Chargers may end up taking the chance anyway to ensure they have their future franchise quarterback.
26. Indianapolis Colts- Kendrick Rogers, WR, Texas A&M- The Colts picked up a burner with Parris Campbell in 2019, and find a big, athletic running mate for the speedster in 2020. Rogers does have the physical traits and talents of a first-round pick, but to this point hasn’t shown much outside of an outstanding performance against Clemson. With most other pieces in place, the Colts take a chance on Rogers’ athletic upside and big-play potential, provided that Rogers improves on a less-than-ideal 2018.
27. Cleveland Browns- Shyheim Carter, CB, Alabama- Carter is listed as a cornerback, but has experience playing safety and exhibited a wide degree of skills in coverage while at Alabama. He can bounce in between the slot and outside with ease, and has the size and speed to stick with anyone on the field. He’s the type of versatile secondary player that most great defenses have, and he’ll pair beautifully with Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams; all teams in today’s NFL need three starting-level cornerbacks, and Carter should round that need out for Cleveland.
28. Oakland Raiders- Jaylon Johnson, CB, Utah- Even after hoarding picks for the 2019 draft, Oakland needs talent at every level of their defense, and Johnson will bring just that. He’s a high-floor cornerback with good size and good enough speed, with ball instincts that jump off the screen while he’s playing. He’s a solid player that could become a productive member of the backfield; Johnson is a safe pick, which is probably what the Raiders should be aiming for.
29. LA Rams- Anfernee Jennings, LB, Alabama- After another year without drafting a linebacker, the Rams decide to finally fulfill that need and go with an athletic standout in Jennings. He lost the end of his 2018 season to a knee injury, but when healthy he could play all over the line and produce at a high level. He isn’t quite Dont’a Hightower, but he’s similar in that he has the quickness to effectively rush from the edge while maintaining the requisite size to remain a force in the run game. The Rams need a physical athlete like him in the middle to take the next step on defense.
30. Kansas City Chiefs- Marco Wilson, CB, Florida- Wilson suffered a knee injury that took away most of his 2018 season, and the Chiefs decide to take a risk on the falling prospect. Wilson boasted a varied and impressive skill set before his injury, and his game speed indicates he’s a sub-4.5 40-yard dash guy. With the speed and technique to stick with anyone, as well as the size to compete for jump balls, Wilson has a lot of upside, mostly as a nickel corner. The Chiefs find a high-ceiling, well-rounded prospect at a key position here.
31. New Orleans Saints- Jacob Phillips, LB, LSU- The Saints pick up a potential defensive cornerstone in Phillips here. He’s been very productive at LSU and plays with a physicality that few can match in this draft. He’s fast, strong, and can hold down the middle for a Saints team that doesn’t have a lot of depth at the position behind Demario Davis and A.J. Klein. Linebacker may no longer be as crucial as it once was, but Phillips is a good talent at the position who, at the very least, will provide an influx of talent and a future at the position once Davis and Klein start to slow down in a few years.
32. New England Patriots- Raekwon Davis, DT, Alabama- The Patriots aimed for talent over need in the 2019 draft, and they continue on that path in 2020. Davis is a classic space-eating DT who’s exceptionally difficult to dislodge once he has position. The Patriots haven’t had a true run-stuffing DT since Vince Wilfork and Davis would fill that gap immediately. He doesn’t have much pass-rushing upside, but his potential to control the line of scrimmage at any given time is worth the pick here.