No. 1: Cincinatti Bengals – Joe Burrow, LSU QB
We all know this is pretty much a foregone conclusion. So let’s use this space to quickly talk about what the Bengals should do with Andy Dalton. The 32-year-old has two years left on his deal, earning $16 million this year and $17.5 million in 2021. I am of the opinion that unless the Bengals find a willing trade partner (Patriots perhaps!?) they should simply hold onto Dalton for this year and have him mentor Burrow. If released, the Bengals top backup would be Ryan Finley, who any Bengals fan would tell you has a noodle for an arm.
No. 2: Washington Redskins – Chase Young, Ohio State EDGE
The Redskins shouldn’t overthink things here. Chase Young is the most talented player in the draft and he plays at a premium position. The Redskins defensive line is already the best unit on the team, but grabbing young could make them one of the most feared groups in the league. If Young is indeed the pick here, I wouldn’t be surprised if the ‘Skins trade away Ryan Kerrigan to grab another Day 2 pick.
No. 3: Detroit Lions – Jeff Okudah, Ohio State CB
The Lions will obviously look to trade back from this spot with whatever team is looking to draft a quarterback, but coming up with correct fictional trades for a three round mock is a futile exercise. Whether they pick at No. 3, 5, or 6, Okudah seems like the best combination of addressing both value and need here.
No. 4: New York Giants – Tristan Wirfs, Iowa OT
After grabbing Saquon Barkley and Daniel Jones in back-to-back drafts, the Giants grab a starting right tackle to help them both out. Wirfs is less pro-ready than Jedrick Wills or Andrew Thomas as a pass protector, but you don’t find his combination of range and power very often.
No. 5: Miami Dolphins – Justin Herbert, Oregon QB
All indications point to Justin Herbert as the Dolphins favored option over Tua. And that’s either the truth or a very elaborate smokescreen. Miami has done more work on Herbert than any other team, and the meeting between Tagovailoa and the team was reportedly “awkward.” Herbert has the tools to become an elite QB if he ever learns to get off his first read.
No. 6: Los Angeles Chargers – Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama QB
The Chargers need to find a headliner at quarterback to draw in fans, and Tua is exactly that. Though they finished with one of the league’s worst records last year, the Chargers roster is pretty stacked with talent and they could contend relatively early in Tua’s career. The Chargers are probably the best bet to trade up to No. 3 to grab the Alabama signal caller.
No. 7: Carolina Panthers – Isaiah Simmons, Clemson S/LB
Carolina needs help everywhere on defense, so they grab the best defensive player available here. Simmons should play more at safety and as an overhang rather than at linebacker, but his versatility to play all over the back seven should be attractive for a defense looking for a new identity. While some teams may have to devise a plan for how Simmons fits into their defensive scheme, the Panthers can tailor their scheme to the versatile talents of Simmons and Shaq Thompson.
No. 8: Arizona Cardinals – Jedrick Wills, Alabama OT
The Cardinals intentions seem to be clear after the DeAndre Hopkins trade. I’m 90 percent sure they’re going to take a tackle, it’s just a matter of which one. Wills is a big technician who can start on either side for a team that has seemingly had issues on the offensive line since the end of the Kurt Warner.
No. 9: Jacksonville Jaguars – Derrick Brown, Auburn DT
While Jacksonville may be tempted to take a top tier receiver here, I expect them to pounce on Derrick Brown if he’s available. Brown is a true “dancing bear” on the line and gives the Jaguars a starting DT of the future. He and Josh Allen will make for an exciting inside-out pairing for years.
No. 10: Cleveland Browns – Andrew Thomas, Georgia OT
Cleveland’s fizzle last season is a lesson in team building. Even with all the offensive talent you could ask for, it’s almost impossible to win with a porous offensive line. Here the Browns get Andrew Thomas, who some believe is the top tackle prospect in the draft. Thomas doesn’t have as high of a ceiling as the other three top tackles, but he should still be an above average starting left tackle for the next 10 years.
No. 11: New York Jets – CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma WR
The Jets could absolutely snag a tackle here, but I have a hard time imagining Adam Gase passing up CeeDee Lamb. Gase loves to scheme up short passes and let his receivers rack up yards after catch, and Lamb is an absolute stud after the catch. Sam Darnold didn’t make the leap that many were expecting last season, and grabbing Lamb here could coax some added production out of Darnold.
No. 12: Las Vegas Raiders – Jerry Jeudy, Alabama WR
Jerry Jeudy is the best route runner to enter the draft in years, and he can seamlessly fill the role the Raiders had initially planned for Antonio Brown before last season. CJ Henderson could be an option here, but Jeudy is too talented to pass up if he’s on the board.
No. 13: San Francisco 49ers (Via IND) – Henry Ruggs, Alabama WR
Trading back from this spot makes a lot of sense for a 49ers team with no picks from Round 2 through 4 (Miami could trade up from 18 to jump Tampa for an OT), but for the sake of this exercise, the 49ers grab Ruggs here. Kyle Shanahan is a certified wizard who routinely schemes his receivers open, and if he can get Ruggs’ speed in the open field consistently, this team will be extremely explosive on offense.
No. 14: Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Mekhi Becton, Louisville OT
The Buccaneers are operating in a very small window while looking to grab a title with Tom Brady. They especially need to sure up the OL, and should be thankful to have Mekhi Becton sitting here. Becton is a mammoth OT with rare movement skills for a guy his size. Plug him in at LT, move Donovan Smith to the right side and call it a day.
No. 15: Denver Broncos – CJ Henderson, Florida CB
The Broncos miss out of the top receivers and top tackles here, so they instead grab a replacement Chris Harris. Henderson is the No. 2 corner on many teams’ draft boards due to his length and cover skills, and this selection will make Vic Fangio very happy.
No. 16: Atlanta Falcons – Javon Kinlaw, South Carolina DT
This is about as far as I anticipate Kinlaw dropping. The South Carolina product is a space-eating interior monster with high pass rush upside. His length and anchor are rare, and he has the versatility to play 1-, 3-, or 5-tech depending on the down and distance. Atlanta is reportedly looking to trade up for CJ Henderson, but Kinlaw is quite the consolation prize.
No. 17: Dallas Cowboys – K’Lavon Chaisson, LSU EDGE
In Chaisson, the Cowboys get a bendy pass rushing ball of clay to mold and shape to their liking. The LSU product has elite tools, but will need some seasoning before he can reach his lofty potential. Dallas can start him off doing what he does best as a rotational pass rusher and give him more responsibility as he grows into a more complete player.
No. 18: Miami Dolphins (Via PIT) – Josh Jones, Houston OT
This may be a bit of a reach, but the Dolphins are desperately in need of some help on the offensive line. With no overwhelming “BPA” choice on the board, Miami grabs Josh Jones to protect Herbert’s blind side. Jones is a little raw, but he’s got ideal length and movement skills for the position.
No. 19: Las Vegas Raiders – Kristian Fulton, LSU CB
Cornerback is the Raiders biggest need right now. They have Trayvon Mullen penciled in as a starter and a question mark penciled in on the other side. That changes here, as Kristian Fulton slides in to grab the No. 2 CB role. Mike Mayock has emphasized bringing a winning culture back to the silver and black, and grabbing a national champion here certainly fits the bill.
No. 20: Jacksonville Jaguars (Via LAR) – Jordan Love, Utah State QB
I’m not sure what the Jaguars plans are at quarterback. It didn’t seem like they trusted Garner Minshew as their quarterback of the future last season, and I’m not sure he did enough late last season to make this team feel fully comfortable at the position. So with Jordan Love still on the board, Jacksonville grabs him to compete with Minshew for the starting spot.
No. 21: Philadelphia Eagles – Justin Jefferson, LSU WR
Rumors have circulated that the Eagles are enamored with CeeDee Lamb and will try to trade up for him. If they can’t find a way to make that happen, grabbing Justin Jefferson here seems like a good fit. Philadelphia likes to get creative with their weapons in the slot, which is perfect for a guy like Jefferson.
No. 22: Minnesota Vikings (Via BUF) – Jeff Gladney, TCU CB
Remember when the Vikings were flush with talent at the QB position? Now they’re almost barren at the position. Things move fast in the NFL. So to combat that, Minnesota grabs a physical cornerback in Jeff Gladney who can start immediately.
No. 23: New England Patriots – Xavier McKinney, Alabama S
It’s basically impossible to know what the Patriots will do on draft night, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Bill Belichick is a big fan of Xavier McKinney, who played all over the field at Alabama. Belichick and Nick Saban run similar defensive concepts, and both worked their way up the ladder after initially coaching defensive backs. I’m sure they’ve had quite a few chats about what McKinney brings to the table.
No. 24: New Orleans Saints – Kenneth Murray, Oklahoma LB
This team has very few weaknesses, but they could certainly upgrade over Kiko Alonso at linebacker. Kenneth Murray brings rare play speed to the position and would be an ideal spy against mobile quarterbacks like Lamar Jackson and Russell Wilson. Don’t sleep on New Orleans as a team that could make a big trade up to grab their quarterback of the future.
No. 25: Minnesota Vikings – Yetur Gross-Matos, Penn State EDGE
Most mocks have the Vikings taking a receiver with one of their first round picks, but with so much depth at the position, they can afford to sit back and add a pass rusher to complement Danielle Hunter. Gross-Matos brings length, power, and short-area quickness that should make him an all-around solid starting as a 4-3 defensive end.
No. 26: Miami Dolphins – Cesar Ruiz, Michigan iOL
Miami is double dipping here with offensive line prospects to ensure that their new QB has some time in the pocket. Ruiz has the athletic profile to start at either guard or center, and his initial quickness off the snap is tantalizing. With Ruiz and Jones, the Dolphins OL is much improved and much faster.
No. 27: Seattle Seahawks – Jaylon Johnson, Utah CB
Like the Patriots, it’s quite hard to ever guess what the Seahawks are thinking during the draft. They could use a boost at cornerback, and Jaylon Johnson’s length and physicality make him a great fit in Pete Carroll’s Cover 3 system.
No. 28: Baltimore Ravens – Zack Baun, Wisconsin EDGE/LB
Zack Baun is a versatile chess piece that a team like the Ravens can unleash at every linebacker spot in their 3-4 defense. He’s a twitchy bender off the edge, can drop into coverage, and is instinctual as a run defender. Baun’s positional question marks stem from his lack of size for an edge rusher and limited experience playing inside linebacker, but he has shown enough at both spots to toggle back and forth between each position as needed.
No. 29: Tennessee Titans – Isaiah Wilson, Georgia OT
Tennessee wants to play smashmouth football, so why not double down and bring in a 6-foot-6, 350 pound mauler to start at right tackle? Isaiah Wilson’s his physicality and size help him overwhelm defenders at the point of attack. And though he might need a little bit of time to development before becoming a starter, the Titans can trust Dennis Kelly to start on the right side as Wilson finds his footing in the NFL.
No. 30: Green Bay Packers – Denzel Mims, Baylor WR
Green Bay’s lack of talent at receiver last year was overtly apparent. When Davante Adams was hurt, Aaron Rodgers had nobody he could trust. Denzel Mims gives this team a trustworthy outside threat who checks off all the boxes as a height/weight/speed guy with a high motor and impressive catch radius.
No. 31: San Francisco 49ers – Noah Igbinoghene, Auburn CB
Richard Sherman, Akhello Witherspoon and Emmanuel Moseley are all entering the final year of their respective contracts. While Noah Igbinoghene doesn’t fit the 49ers typical profile of tall, lengthy press cornerbacks, he has major potential as a super athletic and very physical outside corner. The former receiver convert has only had two years of experience playing corner, but learning behind a mentor like Richard Sherman should help accelerate his development.
No. 32: Kansas City Chiefs – Patrick Queen, LSU LB
Fresh off a Super Bowl win, the Chiefs add a franchise linebacker coming off his own championship to boost the middle of their defense at the end of the first round. Queen is the rangy sideline-to-sideline stopper the Chiefs were missing last season. With Chris Jones and Frank Clark up front keeping defenders off him, Queen will have the ability to freely patrol the second level.