The draft starts on April 23 in Las Vegas and we’re diving into draft season with a full first-round NFL mock draft 2020 that contains a few surprises including Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons rocketing up our draft board.
Sportsnaut’s NFL team led by Jesse Reed, Vincent Frank, and Matt Johnson have you covered with a mock draft of the first round.
Updated March 5, 2020
NFL Mock Draft for 2020 – Round 1
Pick 1 / Cincinnati Bengals
Joe Burrow / QB / LSU
This seems to be all but settled. While there’s been some suggestions that Cincinnati could listen to Godfather offers for Burrow, he’s going to be the team’s franchise quarterback moving forward. Having placed Andy Dalton on the trade block, the Bengals are showing their hands.
Is Burrow a generational quarterback prospect in the mold of Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck? That’s an open question. What we do know is that he’s a strong-armed quarterback coming off an historical season. The Bengals are not going to pass up on a talent like this. Period!
Pick 2 / Washington Redskins
Chase Young / EDGE / Ohio State
Washington began its offseason on the perfect note by firing president Bruce Allen and hiring head coach Ron Rivera. Now, Rivera lands the best prospect in the draft and someone who can revitalize this defense.
The 20-year-old edge rusher is an unmatched force off the edge. Young is not only the best prospect in this draft, but he’s also arguably a top-five prospect in the past three years. Quarterback and edge rusher are the two most important positions in football, Washington has both spots in great hands with the Ohio State duo of Dwayne Haskins and Young. He can even throw the football on the run, too.
Pick 3 / Detroit Lions
Isaiah Simmons / LB / Clemson
What. A. Freak! Simmons showed off his rare abilities at Clemson, where he regularly showcased his coverage skills and attacking mentality. Then, he blew the hinges off the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine, vaulting himself into the top five of this year’s draft.
Lions head coach Matt Patricia will have a field day with this young star. He’s a hybrid linebacker/safety who can pretty much do it all. And he’d immediately elevate Detroit’s defense as a rookie.
Pick 4 / New York Giants
Andrew Thomas / OT / Georgia
We previously mocked the Giants to go wide receiver here. Following the NFL Scouting Combine, that very well might not be the case. There’s a number of reasons for this. First off, the wide receiver class is absolutely stacked. New York could pick up a talented player at that position on Day 2.
Equally as important for David Gettleman and Co., it’s about finding pass protection in front of young quarterback Daniel Jones. Thomas came out of the combine as the consensus No. 1 left tackle. He can slide in to the right side immediately and ultimately replace Nate Solder as Jones’ blindside protector moving forward.
Pick 5 / Miami Dolphins
Tua Tagovailoa / QB / Alabama
Miami will certainly entertain the idea of moving up for a quarterback, but the board falls in its favor here with both Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert available. There’s a strong case to be made for both prospects, but the nod has to go towards Tua.
Now that he’s trending towards being fully healthy for his Pro Day, it’s no surprise that some NFL teams put him on the same tier as Joe Burrow. Tagovailoa offers excellent accuracy, shows great poise in the pocket and shows all of the tools of a franchise quarterback.
Pick 6 / Los Angeles Chargers
Jordan Love / QB / Utah State
The Chargers need a quarterback after saying goodbye to Philip Rivers earlier this offseason. They still have Tyrod Taylor, but despite some success as a starter he’s viewed as a backup by most around the league.
Both Justin Herbert and Jordan Love will be projects early in their careers, but the Utah State product is gaining steam as the better prospect due to his electric dual-threat abilities. Every team is looking for the next Patrick Mahomes, and Love’s getting that type of buzz right now. Don’t be surprised if he’s the guy here come April 23rd.
Pick 7 / Carolina Panthers
Mekhi Becton / OT / Louisville
Noticing a theme here? Offensive tackles showed out big time during the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. That was no more true than in the case of this massive 6-foot-7, 364-pound tackle. Becton ran an absurd 5.10 40-yard dash in Indy, showing athleticism we’ve rarely seen from such a big man.
As for the Panthers, it might finally be time that their front office bite the bullet and exhaust draft capital on a tackle. It’s been a long time coming. Whoever is under center moving forward will need that left tackle to help him adjust to first-year head coach Matt Rhule’s offense. This pick makes too much sense.
Pick 8 / Arizona Cardinals
Tristan Wirfs / OL / Iowa
Arizona must protect its franchise quarterback at all costs. While the chance to pair CeeDee Lamb with Kyler Murray is attractive, this team needs a building block at tackle far more than a receiver. The 2020 draft class is deep at receiver anyways, which allows the Cardinals to draft Wirfs.
Wirfs delivered one of the best NFL Combine performances we’ve ever seen. Some questioned if he could be an offensive tackle at the NFL level, Wirfs demonstrated the elite athleticism that the best at the position have. He can step in immediately at right tackle and will pair perfectly with D.J. Humphries on the left side.
NFL Mock Draft 2020 Podcast
Pick 9 / Jacksonville Jaguars
Javon Kinlaw / DT / South Carolina
The Jags aren’t picking up the 2020 option on Marcell Dareus’ contract. They may yet bring him back at a reduced rate, but the better move is to bring in new blood.
Javon Kinlaw is a monster in the middle. He is one of the most physically gifted interior linemen to enter the NFL in a while, and if he can gain consistency he’ll be a dynamic pro. Jaguars Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin loves to build from the inside out. This seems like a no-brainer.
Pick 10 / Cleveland Browns
Austin Jackson / OT / USC
It’s become readily apparent that Cleveland plans on targeting an offensive tackle at 10. While the team hopes Thomas falls to this selection, it can’t afford to pass up on a high-upside player in Jackson.
Baker Mayfield was sacked 40 times a season ago after going down just 25 times as a rookie. If first-year head coach Kevin Stefanski wants to see his enigmatic young quarterback improve, he needs to get Mayfield a potential franchise blindside protector. Jackson might be a bit raw and a reach, but the situation ahead of Cleveland in the top 10 makes this pick nearly a guarantee.
Pick 11 / New York Jets
Jeffrey Okudah / CB / Ohio State
The Jets have a far greater need along the offensive line, but this is the kind of value they can’t pass on. Okudah is a top-four talent in the 2020 NFL Draft class and he falls right into New York’s lap. Everyone knows the Jets would love to sign a top corner in free agency, but this pick takes care of that and offers far greater value. Meanwhile, New York can spend its cap space on a top offensive tackle like Jack Conklin.
Pick 12 / Las Vegas Raiders
Derrick Brown / DT / Auburn
Last year, Mike Mayock focused on bringing in edge rushers to build up the Raiders’ defense. This year, he’d absolutely love to draft Isaiah Simmons, but that kid’s going to be long gone by the time Las Vegas picks.
Instead, the Raiders could do a lot worse than selecting Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown, who is as quick as a jungle cat inside. Teaming Brown up with the likes of Maxx Crosby and Clelin Ferrell would give the Raiders one of the best young defensive fronts in football.
Pick 13 / San Francisco 49ers (from Colts)
Justin Herbert / QB / Oregon
San Francisco dealt from its incredible depth on the defensive line to land the No. 13 overall pick. There will be some exciting possibilities for the organization at this spot, but landing this pick might be even more about creating an opportunity to trade down.
If Herbert falls to this spot, San Francisco’s phone will be ringing every second with teams pushing to move up here. The 49ers can pick up multiple picks on Day Two, which they currently lack, taking advantage of a team needing a quarterback. Herbert is the pick here, but the move would be a trade with another team.
Pick 14 / Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Jedrick Wills Jr. / OT / Alabama
The Buccaneers know they need more consistency at quarterback to become a playoff contender next season. One way to put their future quarterback in position to succeed, draft a pillar and plug him in along the offensive line to help protect your franchise.
Wills gets comparisons to Pro Bowl tackle Jason Peters for a reason. He’s got impressive athleticism, quick feet, technique that is improving and he packs a lot of power in his punches. Willis is a top-10 talent that slips a bit because this class is so deep at offensive tackle. That’s great news for the Buccaneers and whichever quarterback they ultimately sign.
Pick 15 / Denver Broncos
CeeDee Lamb / WR / Oklahoma
Drew Lock is going to get his shot to lead Denver’s offense from the start of the 2020 season, and he has one very good receiver to work with already in Courtland Sutton. Tight end Noah Fant also showed some promise last year as a rookie. So, there are pieces to build around.
However, if the Broncos are going to improve enough on the offensive side next season, Lock needs a legitimate No. 1 option at receiver. CeeDee Lamb is just that. What he does after the catch is unrivaled, and the numbers he put up at Oklahoma were prolific.
Pick 16 / Atlanta Falcons
K’Lavon Chaisson / EDGE / LSU
Vic Beasley is set to become a free agent and will not return to the Falcons next season. Takkarist McKinley has also failed to live up to the hype with 16.5 sacks in three seasons. It’s led to an anemic performance from Atlanta’s pass-rush group in recent years.
Instead of going with a more proven performer in A.J. Epenesa, the Falcons take a chance on the ultra-athletic Chaisson. At 6-foot-3 and 258 pounds, the former LSU standout boasts a rare combination of size and athleticism from out on the edge. The buzz we’re eating after the combine is that he’ll go in the top half of Round 1.
Pick 17 / Dallas Cowboys
Jerry Jeudy / WR / Alabama
This is certainly a luxury pick for Dallas with greater needs on defense, but you can’t pass up on Jeudy. We’re talking about a player who could already step in as a No. 1 receiver for many NFL teams and he’d be the Cowboys No. 2 receiver if they re-sign Amari Cooper.
The great thing is, Jeudy could also allow the Cowboys to let Cooper walk. Dallas could instead put that money towards convincing Byron Jones to return, or it could go after Pro Bowl corner Chris Harris Jr. Even if Cooper is brought back, a trio of Cooper, Jeudy and Michael Gallup would be the best in the NFL. Good luck stopping this offense.
Pick 18 / Miami Dolphins (from Steelers)
Grant Delpit / S / LSU
Having landed the quarterback of the future in Tua Tagovailoa, the Dolphins would be thrilled to bring Grant Delpit in to be the quarterback of their defense. He’s been talked about negatively in recent weeks due to less than stellar tackling during his LSU days, but that’s only going to motivate him to raise his game as a pro.
An athletically gifted young safety who can attack downhill in the run game just as impressively as he covers on the back end, Delpit will be an instant starter for this team in 2020.
Pick 19 / Las Vegas Raiders (from Bears)
Henry Ruggs / WR / Oklahoma
The more we here about the possibility in Vegas this offseason, the more clear it becomes that Jon Gruden and the Raiders are targeting a veteran quarterback to ultimately replace Derek Carr. What does this mean? Quarterback is likely out of the question barring a trade up.
On the other hand, an electric receiver for that unnamed quarterback to toss the rock to is the way Las Vegas should go here. Ruggs’ electric combine performance has him drawing comparisons to a prime DeSean Jackson. You really think Gruden is going to pass up on that possibility?
Pick 20 / Jacksonville Jaguars (from Rams)
Xavier McKinney / S / Alabama
The Jaguars are overhauling their secondary this offseason and that means finding a long-term answer at safety. While Delpit comes off the board, Jacksonville might be landing an even better talent with McKinney. NFL teams want standout athletes that can move all over the field, that’s exactly what McKinney brings to the table. The Jaguars can use him as the center fielder in their defense or even match him up in one-on-one coverage. Either way, he’s precisely what this rebuilding defense needs.
Pick 21 / Philadelphia Eagles
Justin Jefferson / WR / LSU
The Eagles were in desperate need of help help at the receiver position last season. No doubt, they will be looking to amend that in this year’s draft, which is being touted as a legendary one for receivers.
Already seen as one of the best of the best, Jefferson boosted his stock in a significant way at the Combine by running a very fast 40 time that should have him vaulting up draft boards. A slot specialist at LSU, he has the athleticism and speed to play anywhere on the field and would be a huge weapon for Carson Wentz from Day 1 in 2020.
Pick 22 / Minnesota Vikings (from Bills)
Cesar Ruiz / G / Michigan
While the Houston Texans could only land a second-round pick for DeAndre Hopkins, Minnesota’s front office executed the perfect win-win trade. While the Vikings will need to replace Stefon Diggs, the 2020 draft class is deep at receiver and that allows them to address the offensive line.
After investing more money into Kirk Cousins, Minnesota must now better protect its star quarterback. Keeping the pocket is critical for Cousins and that’s why we prioritize a mauler with the potential to be an All-Pro performer at guard. Ruiz is the unquestioned top interior lineman in the class and will be a Day 1 starter. Don’t look for the Bills to overthink this.
Pick 23 / New England Patriots
A.J. Epenesa / EDGE / Iowa
Once considered a potential top-10 lock, Epenesa’s draft stock took a tumble following an ugly combine performance. At a time when teams are looking for explosive athletes off the edge, Iowa’s star pass rusher showed a concerning lack of it. He does bring power and size to the table with the kind of moves off the edge that makes him intriguing. There’s a chance he can develop into a Pro Bowl player and given New England’s need for help on the edge, this is an easy decision.
Pick 24 / New Orleans Saints
Antoine Winfield Jr. / S / Minnesota
The Saints have a number of defensive backs set to hit free agency, including starting safety Vonn Bell and cornerbacks Eli Apple and P.J. Williams. Chances are, not all of them will be coming back, and the Saints will be looiing to upgrade their secondary, regardless.
Antoine Winfield Jr. is a sleeper first-round pick right now, but he shouldn’t be. This guy is an interchangeable, do-it-all stud with ball-hawking tendencies. He can play pretty much anywhere in the secondary in a pinch, and the only knock on him at this point is that he’s short, at 5-foot-9. If the Saints are smart, they won’t think twice about bringing in this diminutive star.
Pick 25 / Minnesota Vikings
Kristian Fulton / CB / LSU
Trae Waynes, Mackensie Alexander and Xavier Rhodes could all be heading out of town this offseason. Head coach Mike Zimmer has also made it clear that the Vikings are going to get younger on defense.
Enter into the equation a cornerback in Fulton who is flying under the radar after a few tremendous season in Baton Rouge. Flush with extensive starting experience and boastinga friendly 6-foot frame, Fulton would be the ideal Ronud 1 pick for Minnesota.
Pick 26 / Miami Dolphins (from Texans)
Josh Jones / OT / Houston
This is exactly the scenario the Dolphins planned for a year ago. Draft their franchise quarterback and find a potential pillar at left tackle to protect him for the next decade. Jones might not be ready to make an immediate impact, he needs a lot of work on his technique and must continue to add strength. But there’s so much athleticism, size and raw ability here that will push him into the first round. Given Miami’s wealth of draft picks, this is a chance worth taking given the upside and that it addresses an area of need.
Pick 27 / Seattle Seahawks
Kenneth Murray / LB / Oklahoma
If Kenneth Murray ends up falling this far in the 2020 NFL Draft, the Seahawks should enlist Usain Bolt to sprint to the podium. This athletic freak of a linebacker may not be as polished as Isaiah Simmons or as instinctive as Patrick Queen, but he’s perfectly suited for the modern NFL. Plus, we saw last year that Seattle’s linebacker group is in need of a jolt. The Seahawks would be getting a steal to land the former Sooners ‘backer at No. 27 overall, and as an added bonus he’s a high-character kid, too.
Pick 28 / Baltimore Ravens
Laviska Shenault / WR / Colorado
A lot was made of Lamar Jackson’s struggles in Baltimore’s shocking playoff loss to the Titans. However, he got much more of the blame than he deserved. Outside of the promising Marquise Brown, there’s major issues at receiver for the Ravens.
Enter into the equation a big-bodied receiver in Shenault who can make the contested catch. He stands at 6-foot-2 and holds down a 220-pound frame. We could not ask for a better fit next to Brown for Jackson and Co. moving forward.
Pick 29 / Tennessee Titans
Lucas Niang / OT / TCU
The Titans are seemingly certain to lose right tackle Jack Conklin this offseason. Given how much this offense relies on a strong running game and giving its quarterback time to throw, filling that void becomes an immediate need. Niang is likely a lock to remain a right tackle for years to come, but that works perfectly in Tennessee. The 6-foot-6 Niang excels as a run blocker and could step in immediately as a rookie and make a strong impact.
Pick 30 / Green Bay Packers
Denzel Mims / WR / Baylor
There is no doubt that Aaron Rodgers needs help. A lot has been made out of the fact he’s getting older and that he’s suffered injuries in recent years. But give him an elite receiving corps and I guarantee Rodgers will once again emerge as the best of the best.
Denzel Mims, like many young players, struggled with consistency at Baylor. But this young man has freaky athletic traits, is track-star fast and came up with some of the craziest catches in college football last season. He’d be lighting in a bottle for the Packers.
Pick 31 / San Francisco 49ers
Tee Higgins / WR / Clemson
It became clear late in the season and during San Francisco’s Super Bowl run that it needs young talent and wide receiver. While Deebo Samuel dominated as a rookie, Dante Pettis failed to take that next step. Now that Emmanuel Sanders is a free agent, this need is magnified further.
Going away from their MO, the 49ers pick up the big-bodied 6-for-4 Higgins after an exception career catching passes from Trevor Lawrence in Clemson. He makes perfect sense with game breakers such as Samuel and George Kittle in San Francisco.
Pick 32 / Kansas City Chiefs
Patrick Queen / LB / LSU
While no feeling will top the moment when the Chiefs won Super Bowl LIV, seeing Queen fall to them with the No. 32 pick might be fairly close. An explosive linebacker with the instincts to react instantly and can deliver eye-popping hits. He played a pivotal role in LSU’s championship run and he’ll bring that same impact when the Chiefs seek to defend their title. It wouldn’t be a surprise if Queen becomes an All-Pro inside linebacker by his third NFL season.