The Senior Bowl is taking place in Mobile, Alabama this week, and we are officially into mock draft season. Tuesday, NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah released his first mock draft of the 2020 NFL Draft season. Yes, nobody ever gets a mock draft “correct,” but someone like Jeremiah, who has worked in draft rooms, does understand what goes on behind the scenes. There is plenty of misdirection and unending trade possibilities that go along with the all-important evaluation of your team and the players from which you are choosing.
Jeremiah has probably shortened the usual process of moving quarterbacks up, which often doesn’t set in until later in the mock draft evolution. The NFL is without a doubt a quarterback-driven league, and if you don’t have a good one, your chances of taking the Lombardi Trophy home are slim. That pushes teams to fight for the few quarterbacks they deem good enough and quickly makes them hot commodities. In this mock, four quarterbacks go in the first 15 picks.
We’ll take a look at the offensive talent in Jeremiah’s mock draft.
1. Joe Burrow, QB, LSU to Cincinnati Bengals
This one is locked and loaded. The Bengals got over Andy Dalton a few years too late and will do the right thing for their team by drafting Burrow. Burrow should fit Zac Taylor’s offensive schemes well and be an immediate upgrade for A.J. Green (if he returns) and Joe Mixon, with room to help out non-stud fantasy players as well.
4. Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville to New York Giants
The Giants ranked 19th in adjusted sack rate and 25th in run blocking DVOA in 2019, which isn’t what you want when your best offensive player is a running back, and your quarterback is exceptionally prone to fumbling. An upgrade at offensive line is a must for what this team wants to do on offense and should help both Daniel Jones, Saquon Barkley and the offense as a whole. And, the fact that Dave Gettleman wasn’t canned means they will likely go for a lineman instead of a receiver.
5. Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama to Miami
Tagovailoa’s dislocated hip is a concern, but not enough of one to dissuade a quarterback-needy team like the Dolphins from taking the risk this early in the first round. Without his injury, he’d likely be vying for the No. 1 spot with Burrow, so there is a chance they are getting a great deal at No. 5. His doctors will need to show that he won’t suffer any longterm damage with his hip injury, but as long as he is cleared, the Dolphins should end up drafting him. Ryan Fitzpatrick played admirably and helped push the Dolphins out of contention for the No. 1 pick by winning more games than projected, but it looks like they might get lucky and have a chance at Tagovailoa anyway.
6. Jedrick Wills, OT, Alabama to Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers likely won’t re-sign Phillip Rivers, and even if they did, they would very much need a quarterback, so if the Chargers find someone they like, there’s always a chance they grab him here or try to trade ahead of the Dolphins to grab Tagovailoa. As it is, Jeremiah has them going at a perennial weak spot for the team, the offensive line.
You can hardly go wrong grabbing a tackle at this point in the draft, so it is very much a possibility, but I also expect them to do their due diligence on Justin Herbert and if they like him enough, they will take the risk on a franchise quarterback.
8. Tristin Wirfs, OG, Iowa to Arizona Cardinals
We can argue the pick, but the Cardinals need to protect their investment in Kyler Murray in this draft. Murray was sacked 50 times his rookie season, and the Cardinals offensive line ranked 26th in adjusted sack rate. They need help on the offensive line.
10. Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia to Cleveland Browns
Much like the Cardinals, the Browns need to upgrade their offensive line to help their young quarterback Baker Mayfield. We can blame Freddie Kitchens play calling for a lot of the offensive woes, but their leaky line caused Mayfield to regress in his second season. They need help and fast to stabilize their offense at its core.
12. CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma to Las Vegas Raiders
Will the Raiders stick with Derek Carr? They probably shouldn’t, but if they do, upgrading their receivers is a big need. Their offensive line is sound, they have a good young running back and tight end, but they need a more versatile receiver than Tyrell Williams. Many draftniks would go with Jerry Jeudy over Lamb here, but the depth at receiver is great this year, and getting a good one isn’t going to be like finding a needle in a haystack.
13. Jordan Love, QB, Utah State to Indianapolis Colts
This pick relies on the Colts wanting to move away from Jacoby Brissett sooner than later. Love is also a player who could end up going even earlier than this if a quarterback needy team falls in love with him. The Colts need a quarterback, as Brissett’s skill-set is good for a few games a year as a backup. He could keep them competitive like he did for much of 2019 but we saw him fold in the latter part of the season. If Love ends up getting enough hype and interest to go in the first round, the Colts would likely need to make a decision to reach for him instead of waiting to trade down in the next round.
14. Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon to Tampa Bay Buccaneers
If Herbert had come out last season, he likely would have been a consensus Top-3 pick but some regression this season after returning to Oregon has his draft stock in flux. He’s going to win over a lot of teams through the draft process with his ability, and will be on the draft boards of all the quarterback-needy teams. As far as the Buccaneers go, everything depends on what Bruce Arians wants to do with Jameis Winston. They could end up franchise tagging him and grabbing a quarterback prospect later in the draft or they could let him walk and sign a veteran like Philip Rivers or they could go all in on someone like Herbert, who fits into Arians’ quarterback wheelhouse.
15. Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama to Denver Broncos
Many have Jeudy higher on their draft boards than this, but he is somewhat of a polarizing receiver for the scouting community. There’s no doubt that he has talent though, and the Broncos seem to feel good moving forward with Drew Lock at quarterback. Adding a top receiver to that passing offense along with Courtland Sutton and Noah Fant doesn’t seem like a bad move as they do their best to go toe to toe with Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs passing game twice a year.
18. D’Andre Swift, RB, Georgia to Miami Dolphins
Ryan Fitzpatrick led the Dolphins in rushing in 2019, so there is no doubt the team needs help running the ball and Swift paired with Tagovailoa would be fun for the fans and likely get the offense going sooner than later but grabbing a running back here seems short-sighted, not that NFL teams aren’t often short-sighted. The Dolphins need help at just about every position and build their offensive line up should be prioritized while finding value at running back later is often a better option.
21. Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama to Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles’ DeSean Jackson went off in Week 1, of the 2019 season and then was never heard from again due to injuries. His ability to take the top off a defense was sorely missed by the Eagles, as well as wide receiver talent of any type and Ruggs is a perfect fit for the Eagles offense. His speed is elite and he will be able to move all around the formation much like Tyreek Hill does for the Chiefs.
22. Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson to Buffalo Bills
Keeping up with the theme of wide receiver depth, Jeremiah has Clemson’s Higgins going to the Bills. Buffalo has strength on the offensive line and Devin Singletary looked great his rookie season. They will continue to roll with Josh Allen at quarterback, so expanding their passing ability does make sense. John Brown is very good, but small and better as a burner over the top than at making contested catches all over the field. Higgins, at 6’4’, 215 pounds is a receiver type they need to diversify their passing offense. Add in Cole Beasley out of the slot and Dawson Knox at tight end, and Allen would have a strong group of weapons.
24. Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU to New Orleans Saints
Jefferson’s skill set isn’t that of elite speed and strength, but of great route running ability. The Saints need a receiver to take some of the pressure off Michael Thomas and open up their passing game, so a receiver is very much on the draft menu. His huge game in the Peach Bowl where he caught 14 passes for 227 yards and four touchdowns will leave a good impression with most.
26. Austin Jackson, OT, USC to Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins have three first round picks and grabbing offensive line help is much needed. I still don’t like the Swift selection with their 18th pick, but getting a quarterback and tackle are high on my list for Miami.
30. Laviska Shenault, WR, Colorado to Green Bay Packers
The Packers very much need help at receiver. Shenault is a playmaker often compared to Percy Harvin, as he can line up in the backfield and move around the formation with ease and is explosive with the ball in his hands. I’d love this pick for Matt LeFleur and Aaron Rodgers.