Bold predictions for the 2020 NFL Draft

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Joe Burrow is going No. 1 overall in the 2020 NFL Draft. That’s set in stone. Everything else after that is anyone’s guess as the virtual draft goes down this week.

Viable NFL draft rumors are relatively scarce this year as teams hunker down for the unconventional affair. The buzz circulating ahead of the draft is that this year, more than ever before, teams value prospects much differently than we’ve seen on big boards and mock drafts online.

With that in mind, we’re expecting some crazy stuff to go down in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Here’s a bold look at what may transpire come Thursday when Roger Goodell announces picks from his basement in New York.

Falcons sell the farm for Chase Young

The Atlanta Falcons have been rumored to be looking at a trade up for a while, and recently two of the top NFL insiders around (Ian Rapoport and Chris Mortensen) have mentioned them as a team to watch in a trade-up scenario during the 2020 NFL Draft.

Chase Young is widely considered to be the best edge-rushing prospect to enter the NFL in years. Adding him to Atlanta’s defense could turn this potential playoff team into a dynamo on both sides of the ball. While it’s true the Falcons would have to give up the farm to land Young in this scenario, it’s not exactly out of character for general manager Thomas Dimitroff.

Lions take C.J. Henderson over Jeff Okudah

Do I think Okudah should be selected before Henderson? Yeah. I do. But that doesn’t mean anything when it comes to the 2020 NFL Draft.

There are two things to consider here before you go crazy in the comments section. First, there is plenty of buzz that some teams value Henderson over Okudah, who we recently highlighted as a player who could slide in the draft. Secondly, the Lions have become a team under two former New England Patriots — general manager Bob Quinn and head coach Matt Patricia — that goes against the grain.

So, don’t be too surprised if the Lions make a move that has you scratching your head.

Dolphins go defense with No. 5 pick

For the sake of this exercise, let’s recap: The Bengals took Burrow, the Falcons moved up for Young, and the Lions stayed at No. 3 overall for Henderson. Before Miami, we’ll have the New York Giants taking an offensive tackle. So now, we’re up to speed.

Conventional wisdom has the Miami Dolphins going with a quarterback here. Pretty much every mock draft online matches this. But what if the Dolphins see Clemson linebacker/safety hybrid Isaiah Simmons as the next defensive superstar in the NFL? That’s what we’re looking at here. Miami, which spent big on defense in free agency, doubles down with a long-term goal of dominating the AFC East for years to come with a defense that will take your soul.

Chargers take Justin Herbert

It seems like everyone expects that if Tua Tagovailoa is available at No. 6 overall, the Chargers will spring for this talented lefty phenom. A team that needs to sell tickets in a big way could certainly benefit from the electric former Crimson Tide star. But there are some legitimate concerns about his long-term health, and Chargers general manager Tom Telesco recently made it clear that durability is a huge issue in his mind.

Herbert fits that description to a T, and the former Oregon Ducks star is known on the West Coast. He wouldn’t have to start in 2020, as the Chargers are all in on Tyrod Taylor for the short term, and could be seen as the safest long-term option for this franchise.

Panthers draft Jordan Love

The Carolina Panthers don’t “need” a quarterback. They just gave Teddy Bridgewater a nice contract and could potentially be competitive with him under center in 2020. So, it wouldn’t surprise anyone if the Panthers abstained from taking a quarterback in this year’s draft.

Then again, maybe rookie head coach Matt Rhule is just the guy to mold Jordan Love — an extremely raw prospect with elite tools — into a superstar in the years to come. In this scenario, Rhule follows the Andy Reid model — Bridgewater is Alex Smith, and Love is Patrick Mahomes — as he looks to supercharge his offense in the years to come.

Patriots trade up to No. 11 overall for Tagovailoa

If ever there was a team that could minimize the injury risk to Tua Tagovailoa, it’s the New England Patriots. This team has prioritized the offensive line for years, has an offensive coordinator who loves to get the ball out quick, and runs the ball effectively no matter who is toting the rock.

Bill Belichick knows he needs another dynamic quarterback to continue dominating the AFC in the years to come. With that in mind, he finally rolls the dice to trade up for a player who, on talent alone, could be the best quarterback prospect in this year’s draft.

Cowboys trade up to No. 12 overall for Okudah

We already know that Jerry Jones is pining to land another defensive superstar and is reportedly looking at trading for an All-Pro to make it happen. Instead, Jones will move up from No. 17 overall, leap-frogging the San Francisco 49ers to land arguably the top cover corner in this year’s draft.

Okudah has the swagger and talent to make an immediate impact for the Cowboys, who have Super Bowl aspirations despite losing a ton of talent in free agency this year.

Eagles move up to No. 13 overall for Jerry Jeudy

The 49ers have reportedly made it clear they are open for business with their two first-round picks. Here, they use the pick they landed in the DeForest Buckner trade and turn it into more draft capital by making a deal with the Philadelphia Eagles, who are desperate to upgrade their receiving corps.

Jerry Jeudy playing with Carson Wentz is a dream come true for Doug Pederson’s offense. Jeudy is an incredible route runner who excels after the catch and can also make big plays deep. He’d immediately be WR1 in Philly, and this addition would immediately make the Eagles’ offense a nightmare to defend.

Broncos take Denzel Mims over Henry Ruggs III

There is a ton of buzz surrounding Henry Ruggs III in Broncos Country. So, it would truly be shocking to many fans if their team eschewed the speed demon for a player in Denzel Mims who played in a basic offense at Baylor.

However, it’s worth pointing out that Mims has gotten some buzz as a player the Broncos absolutely love recently. And while he did indeed struggle with some drops and had his growth somewhat stunted at Baylor, his Senior Bowl tape doesn’t lie. This is a player whose arrow is pointing straight up, and he would be a boon for second-year quarterback Drew Lock.

Dolphins take Jalen Hurts No. 26 overall

Having gone with Isaiah Simmons at No. 5 overall, the Dolphins ended up missing on the “top” quarterback prospects of this year’s draft. Here, they land one of the most underrated players to come into the league this year in a quarterback who both has the skill set to implement a modern NFL offense and who has a ton of experience on the big stage.

Is Jalen Hurts Lamar Jackson? No. Nobody is. But it’s not hard to envision the former ‘Bama and Oklahoma star being part of an NFL offense that is similar to the one Jackson is running in Baltimore. Hurts is no slouch when it comes to dropping dimes in the passing game.