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Mel Kiper moves Jalen Hurts into the second round

ESPN’s Mel Kiper is back with his fourth mock draft of the 2020 NFL Draft season. We break down the latest, which is a two-round version.

Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Jalen Hurts reacts after scoring a touchdown during the third quarter of the 2019 Peach Bowl college football playoff semifinal game against the LSU Tigers at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

The 2020 NFL Draft is nine days away, and ESPN analyst Mel Kiper is back with his latest mock draft. For this latest mock, he goes two rounds. This update is adjusted for free agency needs and what he is hearing lately.

The top of Kiper’s mocks hits a lot of the highlights we’ve seen to date. Joe Burrow and Chase Young top the board, and with no trades, Kiper has the Lions selecting Ohio State cornerback Jeff Okudah at No. 3. The first twist comes at No. 9 where he has Jerry Jeudy landing with the Jaguars. It would not be a shock to see a wide receiver go in the top ten, but a lot of mocks have had even the best receivers dropping to 13 or later.

Kiper went two rounds with this mock draft, which offered insight into what kind of value he sees after the first round. Kiper has four quarterbacks going in the first round, with Utah State’s Jordan Love the fourth at No. 19 to the Raiders. Then, he has Washington’s Jacob Eason going No. 44 to the Colts and Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts going No. 49 to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Steelers and Colts are two of the more intriguing teams when it comes to quarterback needs. Both have a clear starter for 2020, with Ben Roethlisberger returning from injury and Philip Rivers getting a fresh start. However, both Roethlisberger and Rivers are nearing the end of their respective careers. Both teams got a chance to see what their alternatives could do, and while Jacoby Brissett for Indy and Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges for Pittsburgh had some positive performances, it seems unlikely either team is ready to invest in them long term.

If that’s the case, both teams are strong candidates to grab a quarterback on day two. Most mock drafts have shown a notable drop-off between the first four quarterbacks and the next group. How badly a team is willing to consider the future will dictate how day two of the draft shakes out for quarterbacks.

Odds seem decent at least one of that secondary group goes in round two, but with a deep wide receiver class that could change. Kiper has six wide receivers going in the first round and six going in the second round. The depth at the wide receiver position will dictate as much of anything in the first two days of the draft.