2020 NFL Mock Draft: Panthers begin Matt Rhule era with a new quarterback, Patriots get a nice surprise
Justin Herbert's outstanding arm talent and experience draws in Carolina's new coach
Will the Carolina Panthers move forward at the outset of the Matt Rhule era with Cam Newton as their quarterback? In this mock draft they don't, instead drafting Justin Herbert in Round 1.
Also, the first surprise of the draft happens inside the top five.
The draft order is now set through No. 24 overall. Position rankings are based on our composite prospect rankings.
What's the latest on Tua's draft stock? Brady Quinn and Ryan Wilson join Will Brinson to break down the 2020 draft, the latest NFL trends and more on the Pick Six Podcast. Listen below and be sure to subscribe for daily NFL goodness.
Now, to the picks.
Round 1 - Pick 2
Chase Young EDGE
Ohio State • Jr • 6'5" / 265 lbs
The Redskins are in position to be on the other end of a gigantic, Robert Griffin III type trade. But if they don't get an enormous haul for the No. 2 overall pick, they'll likely draft Young to continue to build the defensive front for new coach Ron Rivera.
Round 1 - Pick 3
Jeff Okudah CB
Ohio State • Jr • 6'1" / 200 lbs
The Lions are another team that'll likely be fielding calls for a team looking to get ahead of the Dolphins to take a quarterback (presumably Tagovailoa), but Matt Patricia, in this scenario, stays put and drafts the best corner prospect in the class.
Round 1 - Pick 4
Iowa • Jr • 6'5" / 322 lbs
First surprise of Round 1, courtesy of Dave Gettleman. Wirfs over Georgia's Andrew Thomas isn't a big mistake though, as Wirfs is a super-strong, athletic blocker with experience at right and left tackle.
Round 1 - Pick 6
Georgia • Jr • 6'5" / 320 lbs
Regardless of who's playing quarterback for the Chargers in their new Los Angeles home in 2020, he will need to be protected better than Philip Rivers has been the past few seasons. Insert Brown to that offensive line, Mr. Telesco.
Round 1 - Pick 7
Oregon • Sr • 6'6" / 237 lbs
No one is quite sure what Rhule will want to do at quarterback, but it wouldn't be off-brand if the new, analytics-based Panthers moved on from Newton to save nearly $20 million. In this scenario, Rhule believes he can get the most out of the super-talented Herbert.
Round 1 - Pick 8
CeeDee Lamb WR
Oklahoma • Jr • 6'2" / 189 lbs
The Cardinals hired Kliff Kingsbury. He then drafted Air Raid quarterback Kyler Murray. Logical. The next step in the familiarity project in the desert would be giving Murray his former Oklahoma teammate to become the team's No. 1 wideout.
Round 1 - Pick 9
Clemson • Jr • 6'4" / 230 lbs
Just about every good defense has quality linebackers. Think about it. With Myles Jack and Simmons, the Jaguars would have that, and he'd help the safety position too, as he's a legitimate hybrid with experience (and production) from both spots.
Round 1 - Pick 10
LSU • Jr • 6'3" / 203 lbs
Damarious Randall, Eric Murray, and Juston Burris are set to hit free agency, so the safety spot could be pretty barren in Cleveland heading into the draft. Delpit has some tackling issues but is a huge safety prospect with plus athleticism.
Round 1 - Pick 12
Oklahoma • Jr • 6'2" / 234 lbs
Murray will need to go through the rigors of learning how to read route concepts in the NFL, but from an athleticism and instincts standpoint, he's right up there with Isaiah Simmons at the linebacker spot in this class.
Round 1 - Pick 15
Javon Kinlaw DL
South Carolina • Sr • 6'6" / 310 lbs
The Broncos will likely prioritize offense throughout the draft but with some key pieces up front on defense hitting the market -- Derek Wolfe and Shelby Harris -- John Elway decides to go with Kinlaw, a long, heavy-handed disruptor who can line up anywhere.
Round 1 - Pick 16
Yetur Gross-Matos EDGE
Penn State • Jr • 6'5" / 264 lbs
Gross-Matos is immensely long, pretty athletic and showcased more pass-rushing prowess in 2019. With Vic Beasley likely done in Atlanta, Dan Quinn dips into the edge-rusher well once again.
Round 1 - Pick 17
K'Lavon Chaisson EDGE
LSU • Soph • 6'4" / 250 lbs
Even with DeMarcus Lawrence under contract for many years, the Cowboys quietly will have a sizable need on the edge in 2020. So they go with Chassion here, a ferocious defensive end who blossomed during a mostly healthy 2019 at LSU.
From Chicago Bears
Round 1 - Pick 19
Round 1 - Pick 22
A.J. Epenesa EDGE
Iowa • Jr • 6'6" / 280 lbs
In this scenario, the Bills are relying on the depth of the receiver class to address the position in Round 2 or Round 3. With Epenesa they get a three-down defensive end with an ascending arsenal of pass-rushing moves.
Round 1 - Pick 23
Cole Kmet TE
Notre Dame • Jr • 6'5" / 250 lbs
Somewhat of a surprise entry into the 2020 class, Kmet instantly became TE1 after his announcement. He's a decent blocker but thrives as a receiver thanks to a huge frame and smooth cutting abilities.
Round 1 - Pick 24
Round 1 - Pick 25
Josh Uche EDGE
Michigan • Sr • 6'2" / 250 lbs
Uche is a freakish speed-to-power edge rusher with quality bend and a nice inside move. With more strength, he can be a high-end pass-rush specialist and has coverage skills thanks to good athleticism.
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