My final mock is set. After breaking down the buzz, team needs, player evaluations and organization philosophies, here’s how I think the first round could go down Thursday night.
1. Cincinnati Bengals – Joe Burrow QB, LSU
Zac Taylor builds around Ohio-native with the “it” factor you find in the best quarterbacks in the game. Combine football IQ, arm talent and work ethic and you get Joe Burrow.
2. Washington Redskins – Chase Young EDGE, Ohio State
Chase Young takes the Redskins strong pass rush and turns it one of the top units in the league. Young would join Montez Sweat, Ryan Kerrigan, Jonathan Allen, Matt Ioannidis and Daron Payne to form an arsenal of pass rushers. Long term, Kerrigan — who will be 32 in August — is a free agent in 2021.
3. Detroit Lions – Jeff Okudah CB, Ohio State
Bob Quinn and Matt Patricia try aggressively to trade down with Dolphins who try to make a splash. The Lions stay put and take the cornerback with Derrick Brown also in the discussion.
4. New York Giants – Tristan Wirfs OT, Iowa
Dave Gettleman invests in a right tackle to protect Daniel Jones. Takes uber-athletic Wirfs (4.85 40 at 305 pounds) over Jedrick Wills, who has ties to new head coach Joe Judge.
5. Miami Dolphins – Tua Tagovailoa QB, Alabama
Do the Dolphins prefer Tua or Justin Herbert at #5? Tagovailoa certainly fits the cuture Brian Flores and Chris Grier are building in Miami, and he has the tape to back it up. But can they get past the hip injury? Reports are the team gave him a passing grade at the combine. From a talent and intangibles perspective, Tua is the better prospect than Justin Herbert. Flores/Grier stick to their Fall grades and take Tua.
6. Los Angeles Chargers – Andrew Thomas OT, Georgia
Anthony Lynn convinces Tom Telesco to give him a chance with Tyrod Taylor at quarterback for the Chargers next season. After bringing in Bryan Bulaga to play right tackle and Trai Turner to play right guard, a young left tackle prospect like Andrew Thomas would be a strong piece to solidify the offense. In this scenario, the Chargers opt for the long-term left tackle in Andrew Thomas over taking a shot on Justin Herbert.
7. Carolina Panthers – Derrick Brown DT, Auburn
While new head coach Matt Rhule will have a say in draft day decisions, veteran general manager Marty Hurney is an old-school guy who loves to build in the trenches. If Hurney has final say, I think he’d have Derrick Brown ranked ahead of Isaiah Simmons.
8. Arizona Cardinals – Jedrick Wills OT, Alabama
The Cardinals can go in a number of different directions – (1) take the right tackle that falls between Jedrick Wills and Tristan Wirfs, (2) take CeeDee Lamb and form the strongest receiver arsenal in the league in Kliff Kingsbury’s offense, (3) take a versatile defensive player like Isaiah Simmons, or (4) trade down. They’ll listen to calls, but ultimately take the right tackle to build around Kyler Murray.
9. ***TRADE*** Atlanta Falcons (from JAX) – CJ Henderson CB, Florida
It’s no secret the Falcons are trying to trade up from the 16th pick. In this scenario, the Falcons trade #16 and #47 for #9 to select the clear-cut no. 2 cornerback on the board in CJ Henderson. Dan Quinn’s Florida roots and propensity to draft from the school makes this a possible trade up scenario between picks #8 – #13.
10. Cleveland Browns – Isaiah Simmons LB, Clemson
The Browns take the best player available on the board in uber-athlete Isaiah Simmons, if he makes it to #10. The Browns are expected to leave the weekend with a starting left tackle. I could see a trade up back in the first round OR a trade for Trent Williams just as much as them taking one with the 10th pick.
11. New York Jets – Mekhi Becton OT, Louisville
Joe Douglas prioritizes building around Sam Darnold in his first draft in charge of the Jets. While a receiver could be in play, he sees the depth at the receiver position, and the drop-off in talent after the first four tackles, and takes Becton.
12. Las Vegas Raiders – CeeDee Lamb WR, Oklahoma
CeeDee Lamb immediately becomes the Raiders starting X receiver with an emphasis on red zone ability. Mayock and Gruden also consider vertical speed of Henry Ruggs and a top defensive player, but can’t pass up their #1 wide receiver.
13. San Francisco 49ers (from IND) – Henry Ruggs, Alabama
John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan continue to build their offense around speed and big plays. Ruggs brings 4.27 speed to already one of the fastest offenses in the NFL.
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Justin Jefferson WR, LSU
The Bucs are in “win-now” mode with Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski, and continue to add pieces to the offense. You need three receivers in today’s NFL, and not many would be more talented than Chris Godwin, Mike Evans and Justin Jefferson.
15. Denver Broncos – Jerry Jeudy WR, Alabama
16. ***Jacksonville Jaguars (from ATL) – Javon Kinlaw DT, South Carolina
The Jaguars get Kinlaw after trading down — when they realistically could take Kinlaw with the 9th overall pick. Getting a 2nd-round pick from the Falcons is a nice reward for trusting the board. After losing several defensive linemen, including Calais Campbell, the Jaguars look to beef up their interior defensive line.
17. Dallas Cowboys – K’Lavon Chaisson EDGE, LSU
The Cowboys have been looking for a consistent pass rusher opposite Demarcus Lawrence for several years. With Robert Quinn in Chicago, they find his replacement in Chaisson. Michigan center Cesar Ruiz is also in play.
18. Miami Dolphins (from PIT) – Austin Jackson OT, USC
The Dolphins top two needs are quarterback and offensive tackle, and are all but certain to come out of the first round with at least one of each. They opt for the high character prospect in Austin Jackson, who is one of the youngest players in the entire draft class.
19. Las Vegas Raiders (from CHI) – Jaylon Johnson CB, Utah
The Raiders are looking for another starting cornerback, and take one of the best cover corners in the draft in Jaylon Johnson.
20. Jacksonville Jaguars (from LAR) – Denzel Mims WR, Baylor
With Justin Herbert still on the board, Dave Caldwell and Doug Marrone would consider bringing him in to compete with Gardner Minshew. Instead, they bring in an intriguing pass catching weapon for Minshew & company in Denzel Mims, who excels in the red zone.
21. Philadelphia Eagles – Kenneth Murray LB, Oklahoma
The Eagles will look to add a receiver at #21, but won’t force the pick if their guy isn’t there. For the pre-draft process, Eagles-fits would include Henry Ruggs, Justin Jefferson and Denzel Mims, who are all off the board in this scenario. Instead, the Eagles add their “green-dot” linebacker in Kenneth Murray.
22. Minnesota Vikings (from BUF) – A.J. Terrell CB, Clemson
Mike Zimmer loves his cornerbacks, and he has a type when it comes to the evaluation process: speed, length and toughness. With the departure of Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes and Mackensize Alexander this offseason, look for the Vikings to address one of the corner spots with one of their first round picks.
23. New England Patriots – Justin Herbert QB, Oregon
The Patriots end Justin Herbert’s first round slide at #23. If he were to fall this far, it wouldn’t come as a surprise to see the Patriots move around the board to get their guy.
24. New Orleans Saints – Brandon Aiyuk WR, Arizona State
The Saints add another weapon for the offense as they make a push to go all-in in the final years of Drew Brees‘ career. They added Emmanuel Sanders this offseason and could add another receiver at #24.
25. Minnesota Vikings – Yetur Gross-Matos EDGE, Penn Sate
Rick Spielman is more likely than not to trade down from one of the Vikings’ first round picks. They could also look at receivers after trading Stefon Diggs last month. In this scenario, they jump on Yetur Gross-Matos, who has the size-speed-length teams covet in edge rushers, and a similar profile to current Vikings edge rusher Danielle Hunter.
26. Miami Dolphins (from HOU) – Xavier McKinney S, Alabama
The Dolphins take a QB and OT with their first two picks — then satisfy a need at the safety position with Xavier McKinney. They traded Minkah Fitzpatrick in the middle of last season and released Reshad Jones last month, leaving a major hole at the back end of the defense.
27. ***TRADE*** Cleveland Browns (from SEA) – Ezra Cleveland OT, Boise State
If the Browns pass on a tackle, or trade down from the 10th pick, Ezra Cleveland is a name that has been connected to the Browns throughout the draft process.
28. Baltimore Ravens – Cesar Ruiz C, Michigan
John Harbaugh plays it safe and draft a long-term interior offensive linemen from his brother Jim’s Michigan team. If linebacker Kenneth Murray is on the board at #28, look for him to be the pick here.
29. Tennessee Titans – Isaiah Wilson OT, Georgia
Finding an immediate replacement for Jack Conklin at right tackle is a priority, especially in the way the offense is built. This pick is likely in the trenches, on either side of the ball.
30. Green Bay Packers – Patrick Queen LB, LSU
Off-ball linebackers with speed are hard to come by on the Packers current roster. Queen adds an element of speed to a shallow Packers u
31. San Francisco 49ers – Trevon Diggs CB, Alabama
The 49ers don’t pick again until the 5th round, so a trade back from the 31st pick is likely. If they stay at this pick, Trevon Diggs is a good fit at a position of need.
32. ***TRADE*** Indianapolis Colts (from KC) – Jordan Love QB, Utah State
Frank Reich moves up two spots to sneak into the first round to take a quarterback with the benefit of the fifth-year option. Jordan Love would be groomed behind Philip Rivers to eventually become the long-term starter for the Colts.