27 Nov 2020

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Draft Rite Staff Mock Draft: Round 1 picks and analysis

Since the NFL is preparing for a totally virtual draft this week, a few of us at Draft Rite decided we’d take a swing at virtual mock drafting.

Eight of our analysts each took four teams and we went through all 106 picks in the first three rounds of the draft. I’m happy to report that it went about as smoothly as any video conference I’ve been involved with over the past month. The NFL Draft is will obviously have a few more moving parts and more than eight parties involved but the NFL is a billion-dollar organization. We are not, and considering that we pulled this off with an afternoon of planning in advance and 12.5% of the participants (one person) dealing with a power outage, there shouldn’t be any major technical difficulties with the actual draft, right?

We opted not to include trades in this particular mock but likely trade situations are noted in pick explanations. Assigned teams for each participant from the Draft Rite staff are listed below:

  • Matt Mercier – Bengals, Lions, Cardinals, Bucs
  • Destin Adams – Redskins, Colts, Chargers, Chiefs
  • Jeremy Morris – Panthers, Broncos, Bills, Bears
  • John Vogel – Dolphins, Falcons, Eagles, Titans
  • Derek Benson – Cowboys, Vikings, Packers, Texans
  • Paul Duncan – Browns, Steelers, Patriots, Rams
  • Cannon Briscoe – Giants, 49ers, Jags, Seahawks

Scroll through to see all 32 first-round picks along with player analyses and rationale for each selection.

First Round

Round 1 – Pick 1

Cincinnati Bengals – Joe Burrow, QB

LSU | Senior | 6’4″ / 221 lbs

Burrow just had one of the most impressive seasons in college football history. No need to overthink this. The Bengals lock in their franchise QB with the first overall pick.  Matt Mercier


Round 1 – Pick 2

Washington Redskins – Chase Young, EDGE

Ohio State | Junior | 6’5″ / 264 lbs

No trades for this mock draft, otherwise I would have moved from No. 2 to give the Redskins some additional picks to work with. Instead they take Ohio State’s Chase Young, a generational talent at edge rusher. Adding Young to an already impressive front-seven will give Washington one of the best defensive lines in football, something that should have new head coach Ron Rivera smiling ear to ear. Destin Adams

Round 1 – Pick 3

Detroit Lions – Jeff Okudah, CB

Ohio State | Junior | 6’1″ / 205 lbs

After trading Darius Slay to Philadelphia, the Lions need a No. 1 corner to pair with recently added veteran Desmond Trufant. Okudah is an absolute stud with little to no weaknesses. He makes an immediate impact on Matt Patricia’s defense and develops into a premiere shutdown cornerback in Detroit. Matt Mercier


Round 1 – Pick 4

New York Giants – Isaiah Simmons, LB

Clemson | Junior | 6’4″ / 238 lbs

I thought about Iowa tackle Tristan Wirfs here since he would fill a major need for David Gettleman on offense but I couldn’t pass on Isaiah Simmons. The Giants haven’t had a player this special on defense since Jason Pierre-Paul. Simmons has gold jacket caliber physical tools and unprecedented level of versatility across all three levels of a defense. Simmons is perfectly suited to play defense in the present-day NFL and adding him to the mix instantly improves the Giants on D. Cannon Briscoe


Round 1 – Pick 5

Miami Dolphins – Tua Tagovailoa, QB

Alabama | Junior | 6’0″ / 217 lbs

Brian Flores and the Dolphins clearly weren’t “Tanking for Tua” as they finished the season winning three of their last five games. But between concerns over Tua’s injury history and Joe Burrow’s breakout senior season, the stars have somehow still aligned for Miami. They take Tua at no. 5 and if he can stay healthy, the Dolphins have a franchise centerpiece at quarterback.   –John Vogel


Round 1 – Pick 6

LA Chargers – Justin Herbert, QB 

Oregon | Senior | 6’6″ / 236 lbs

With the Philip Rivers era officially in the rear view, the Chargers should be looking for a QB to carry the franchise through the next 15 years. Herbert has prototypical size, a big arm, oozes athleticism and his mobility adds a whole new element that Rivers never brought to the Bolts’ offense. With veteran Tyrod Taylor under contract in LA, Herbert would be entering a situation where he’d have time to develop instead of being thrown to the wolves from day one. All the physical tools are there but Herbert has some work to do in terms of decision-making and consistency. Allowing a year or so for Herbert to progress as a passer and for the Chargers to put together an offensive line would give him a great chance to be successful.  –Destin Adams

Round 1 – Pick 7

Carolina Panthers – Derrick Brown, DT 

Auburn | Senior | 6’5″, 326 lbs

With needs essentially everywhere on defense, the Panthers will take the best player available, regardless of position. In this scenario, that would be Auburn’s Derrick Brown — a monster defensive tackle whose rare blend of size, power and quickness gives Carolina’s defensive front an interior pass rush and a two-gap run-stuffer. Jeremy Morris

Round 1 – Pick 8

Arizona Cardinals – Jedrick Wills Jr., OT

Alabama | Junior | 6’4″ / 312 lbs

The Cardinals desperately need to improve the right side of the offensive line that will be protecting Kyler Murray for the next decade plus. At no. 8, they grab the top tackle on the board in Jedrick Wills. Matt Mercier

Round 1 – Pick 9

Jacksonville Jaguars – CeeDee Lamb, WR

Oklahoma | Junior | 6’2” / 198 lbs

The Jaguars could go several directions here but the smart pick is Ceedee Lamb. DeAndre Hopkins has been torching Jacksonville for the better part of a decade so how about turning the tables by drafting his clone. I have Lamb and Jerry Jeudy as 1A and 1B as far as receivers in this class go but either at No. 9 and give your young quarterback a bona fide a No. 1 WR.   –Cannon Briscoe


Round 1 – Pick 10

Cleveland Browns – Andrew Thomas, OT

Georgia | Junior | 6’5” / 315 lbs

The Browns have a gaping hole at left tackle which Thomas fills perfectly. He may not have Tristan Wirfs’ athleticism, Mekhi Becton’s size or Jedrick Wills’ quickness but I have Thomas as OT1 on my board because he has the best combination of all those traits and is the most NFL-ready of the four tackles expected to hear their names called in the top half of the first round.   –Paul Duncan

Round 1 – Pick 11

New York Jets – Tristan Wirfs, OT

Iowa | Junior | 6’5” / 320 lbs

Wirfs is the most athletic offensive lineman in this class and as a plug-and-play tackle, he would immediately open up Jets running game. Entering the draft, they have Chuma Edoga and George Fant penciled in as the starting tackles. Neither of those options look particularly promising so it would behoove New York to grab a player who would solidify at least one of the tackle positions. Le’Veon Bell might not be in New York for long, but with a mauler like Wirfs in front of him, the Jets would at least start seeing some returns on the four-year, $52.5 million contract they gave Bell last year.   –Cyril Penn

Round 1 – Pick 12

Oakland Raiders – Jerry Jeudy, WR

Alabama | Junior | 6’1” / 193 lbs

Jerry Jeudy is the best route runner to enter the NFL in years. Adding him instantly upgrades any offense but he fits particularly well in Jon Gruden’s scheme that was tailored to utilize Antonio Brown strengths before he left the Raiders high and dry last offseason. With Jeudy plugged into the role this team envisioned for Brown, Tyrell Williams can slide back to his natural role as a deep threat which would open up everything else underneath.   –Cyril Penn


Round 1 – Pick 13

San Francisco 49ers – Henry Ruggs III, WR

Alabama | Junior | 5’11” / 188 lbs

Ruggs broke the Alabama high school record in the 100-meter dash in 2017, clocking a10.58-second time and not surprisingly, his 4.27-second 40-yard dash was the fastest time posted at this year’s NFL Combine. The 49ers need a wide receiver to fill the void left by Emmanuel Sanders. Ruggs is a completely different player and while he won’t replace everything Sanders brought to the Niners’ offense in 2019, his speed adds a new element that Jimmy G and Kyle Shanahan will be ecstatic to have.   –Cannon Briscoe

Round 1 – Pick 14

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Josh Jones, OT 

Houston | Redshirt Senior | 6’5” / 319 lbs

With Tom Brady at quarterback and an embarrassment of riches at the skill positions, the Buccaneers need just need to . They pick Josh Jones out of Houston, who has been one of the best pass-blocking tackles in college football the last three years.   –Matt Mercier

Round 1 – Pick 15

Denver Broncos – Mehki Becton, OT 

Louisville | Junior | 6’7″ / 364 lbs

Denver could take a wide receiver here, but with the three best already off the board and Becton, who could end up being the best tackle in this class, still available, John Elway has an easy choice. The Broncos have struggled with protection the past three seasons – 2019 in particular with right tackle Ja’Wuan James missing the entire season and 2017 first-round pick Garett Bolles continuing to underwhelm at left tackle. Becton needs more development than the other three top prospects at his postition but he’s built like a vending machine and is a phenomenal athlete (was also a standout basketball player in high school). Under the guidance of Broncos O-line coach Mike Muncak, Becton has the potential to be one of the most dominant offensive tackles in football by the end of his rookie contract.   –Jeremy Morris

Round 1 – Pick 16

Atlanta Falcons – Javon Kinlaw, DT

South Carolina | Senior | 6’5” / 324 lbs

Want to talk about an impact defender who can open the backfield for linebackers? If you look into the scheme that the Falcons operate, it’s a cover two base that runs a lot of nickel type sets. Kinlaw’s physical prowess forces teams to spend more resources blocking him and as a result, makes a six-man box more effective. That’s what makes Kinlaw such a good fit for the Falcons, he’s exactly what they need on the interior.  –John Vogel

Round 1 – Pick 17

Dallas Cowboys – Xavier McKinney, S 

Alabama | Junior | 6’0” / 201 lbs

The Cowboys were one of the most dysfunctional NFL teams in recent memory last season and you could point to about 14 different reasons they finished 8-8 and missed the playoffs. Pass defense was definitely one of them though as they allowed an average of 260 passing yards while going 1-3 in four must-win games after Thanksgiving. McKinney, the 2019 Thorpe Award semifinalist, is a no-brainer at no. 17 and his versatility and range, would be a huge addition to the Cowboys’ secondary.   –Derek Benson

Round 1 – Pick 18

Miami Dolphins – Damien Lewis, G

LSU | Senior | 6’2” / 327 lbs

The Dolphins really wanted a tackle here, but the opportunity was limited. Damien Lewis is a solid interior lineman who shows quickness, intelligence, and strength. Lewis stonewalled several of the top defensive candidates in 1v1 opportunities and is my favorite interior lineman in the class. I think this pick makes a lot of sense for the Dolphins.   –John Vogel

Round 1 – Pick 19

Oakland Raiders – CJ Henderson, CB

Florida | Junior | 6’1” / 204 lbs

Nevin Lawson, Isaiah Johnson and Keisean Nixon are currently slated to battle it out for the No. 2 cornerback spot across from Trayvon Mullen. The Raiders were bottom eight in the league in passing yards and touchdowns allowed in 2019 and they must address the position at some point during the first two days of the draft. Grabbing Henderson at 19 is a great value and addresses a glaring need.   –Cyril Penn

Round 1 – Pick 20

Jacksonville Jaguars – Kristian Fulton, CB

LSU | Senior | 6’0” / 197 lbs

Kristian Fulton isn’t the top cornerback in the class but he’s the best available at this point and the Jaguars desperately need a replacement for Jalen Ramsey, who was sent to the Rams in a mid-season trade in 2019. Fulton will be a quality coverage corner and gives Jacksonville much-needed help in the secondary for years to come.   –Cannon Briscoe

Round 1 – Pick 21

Philadelphia Eagles – Jalen Reagor, WR

TCU | Junior | 5’11 / 206 lbs

If the movie “Invincible” happened in late 2019, Mark Wahlberg would have been the first or second wide receiver on the Eagles’ depth chart. Even before every wideout on their roster went down with injuries last year, the Eagles had been missing a deep threat to take the top off of opposing defenses since they parted ways with Torrey Smith following their Super Bowl win in 2017. Jalen Reagor supplies the speed Philadelphia has been missing on the outside and a lot more.   –Paul Duncan

Round 1 – Pick 22

Minnesota Vikings – Jaylon Johnson, CB

Utah | Junior | 6’0’ / 193 lbs

There isn’t a single cornerback with more than five career starts on the Vikings’ roster so they can’t afford not to address the position in the first round. Johnson is a reliable tackler, has a great jam to disrupt receivers at the line and flashed impressive ball-tracking ability and closing speed playing off-coverage at Utah. I expect Minnesota to take another cornerback later in the draft but Johnson at 22 is a crucial pickup. Derek Benson

Round 1 – Pick 23

New England Patriots – Grant Delpit, LSU

LSU | Junior | 6’2” / 213 lbs

I was hoping to see Xavier McKinney still on the board but Grant Delpit is still a good pick here, giving the Patriots an athletic, versatile safety who fits their mold of interchangeable defensive backs. Entering the season, Delpit was considered an elite safety prospect but he dealt with nagging injuries throughout the year and struggled with tackling, causing his stock to drop. If Delpit can play like he did in 2018 though, New England is getting an absolute gem who will be a major contributor in the secondary.   –Paul Duncan

Round 1 – Pick 24

New Orleans Saints – Jordan Love, QB

Utah State | Redshirt Junior | 6’4” / 224 lbs

I’m not sold on Taysom Hill and his 13 career pass attempts as Drew Brees’ heir-apparent in New Orleans. Considering Brees is 41 and already has a broadcasting deal in place with NBC, there’s a good chance the Saints will be looking their next quarterback in the 2020 draft. Jordan Love falling into their laps at 24 is a match made in heaven – letting a raw but extremely talented rookie learn behind one of the all-time greats at quarterbacks for a year or so before taking the reins for an all-time great offensive coach.   –Cyril Penn

Round 1 – Pick 25

Minnesota Vikings – Tyler Johnson, WR

Minnesota | Senior | 6’1″ / 206 lbs

This is a surprise pick for the Vikings, keeping the former Gopher at home in Minnesota filling a spot at the receiver position. Tyler Johnson isn’t a Stefon Diggs-type speedster but he’s an NFL-ready wideout who can create separation off the line, has good hands and is fearless going over the middle making catches in traffic. Also, thanks to his basketball background, Johnson has a knack for elevating, timing his jump, walling off defenders and coming down with 50-50 balls and tightly defended passes.  Derek Benson

Round 1 – Pick 26

Miami Dolphins – D’Andre Swift, RB

Georgia | Junior | 5’8” / 212 lbs

The Dolphins use their third first round pick to add a third SEC product in Georgia running back D’Andre Swift. As devalued as the running back position is, we may not see one come off the board until the second round. I have Swift as my RB1 though because of what he brings to the table in the passing game. Over the past two seasons at Georgia, Swift caught close to 70 passes, lined up all over the field, ran every route in the playbook and more often than not, was Jake Fromm’s most reliable target. He’ll be a versatile three-down back, will be a mismatch for linebackers and safeties and gives Tua a reliable outlet when the Dolphins work-in-progress O-line can’t is getting gashed every time he drops back.   –John Vogel

Round 1 – Pick 27

Seattle Seahawks – K’Lavon Chaisson, EDGE

LSU | Junior | 6’3″ / 254 lbs

I was shocked to see Chaisson still available this late in the first round. With Jadeveon Clowney’s future is still up in the air, it’s unclear how desperately Seattle needs to add a pass rusher but Chaisson would be a major asset whether he replaces or lines up opposite Clowney. –Cannon Briscoe

Round 1 – Pick 28

Baltimore Ravens – Zach Braun, EDGE

Wisconsin | Redshirt Senior | 6’2” / 238 lbs

Baltimore feels like the perfect place for a multi-dimensional linebacker like Zack Baun. The Ravens’ linebacking corps has been a revolving door due to free agency in recent years and with Pro Bowler Matthew Judon franchise-tagged for 2020, there’s a decent chance he’ll be gone after next season. Baun’s versatility allows him to play opposite Judon with more responsibilities in coverage or in the future, to replace Judon as a primary pass rusher. Either way, in Baun, Baltimore adds an immediate contributor on defense and solidifies at least one linebacker spot for the next four years.   –Cyril Penn

Round 1 – Pick 29

Tennessee Titans – Yetur Gross-Matos, EDGE

Penn State | Junior | 6’5” / 266 lbs

I really like what the Titans have done defensively under Mike Vrable, mirroring several elements of the system Bill Belichick has used in New England successfully for two decades. And oh yes, Vrable was those defenses. Yetur Gross-Matos is certainly raw and won’t be an immediate impact, but the Titans can maximize his athleticism over the next couple of years with the depth across the line. This pick makes a ton of sense for Tennessee. –John Vogel

Round 1 – Pick 30

Green Bay Packers – Austin Jackson, OT

USC | Junior | 6’5” / 322 lbs

Several receivers were available but I decided to wait and pull the trigger on an offensive tackle after Bryan Bulaga’s departure last March. Jackson is raw and still has room to grow at just 20 but he’s so physically gifted that he’ll more than likely go ahead of a few tackles that would contribute sooner. Jackson is quick to get to his spot which is key for cutting off speed rushers and consistently keeps his hands high. His quickness also shows in the run game as he’s able to seal off defenders on the edge and to get outside in front of screens or to make open-field blocks. There are a handful of teams that need a late first round pick more than Green Bay so I would have looked to trade if that had been an option in this mock. Since it wasn’t, I took the player with the most potential.   –Derek Benson

Round 1 – Pick 31

San Francisco 49ers – AJ Terrell, CB

Clemson | Junior | 6’1″ / 195 lbs

I expect the 49ers to trade out of this spot to accumulate more picks in the later rounds. Terrell’s stock took a dive because he had the worst game of his career on the biggest stage in college football, but he was a stud for Clemson all season in 2019 outside of the LSU game. Richard Sherman is coming off an All-Pro season but at 32 years old with one year left on his contract, the 49ers need to add a cornerback. Terrell is a good value in the last first/early second round and will probably stay on the board longer than he should because teams focus too much on the LSU game. –Cannon Briscoe


Round 1 – Pick 32

Kansas City Chiefs – Jeff Gladney, CB

TCU | Junior | 5’10” / 191 lbs

Surprising to see some of the corners taken ahead of Gladney, who I have ranked as the No. 3 corner in this class. He can cover in the slot or line up outside and that kind of versatility is exactly what general managers are looking for, especially a team like the Chiefs who have played more snaps with five defensive backs than they have in their base defense the last two seasons. With opposing teams knowing they’ll have to score to hang with Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs offense, the secondary is always going to be an area of need for Kansas City. Gladney solidifies and brings an extra layer of flexibility to the position group.  Destin Adams

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