The 2020 NFL Draft is rapidly approaching, and it's already loaded with drama. The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is forcing the league to stage a fully virtual draft that features all 32 general managers sending in their picks from home, making discussion surrounding the selections that much more complex. The unprecedented format will also impact how trades are executed, and whether some are simply waved off altogether, but there are some teams who simply can't afford to do the latter. All eyes will be on the NFL to see how they handle such a massive virtual undertaking, but also on which draft prospects will land where.
There's bound to be a curveball -- or several -- as the usual smoke-and-mirrors game is already well underway this offseason by virtue of draft rumors designed to either throw opposing teams off a scent, or to create anxiety that would lead to some being willing to give up assets in a trade. It's the annual offseason Super Bowl, and although it's wearing gloves and a cloth mask, don't expect it to disappoint.
Here is my one and only mock draft of the year.
Round 1 - Pick 6
Oregon • Jr • 6'6" / 236 lbs
Philip Rivers is gone and Tyrod Taylor is serviceable, but the Chargers need a new face of the franchise and Herbert -- a Pac-12 star -- is quite familiar with playing football in California.
From Indianapolis Colts
Round 1 - Pick 13
Alabama • 6'0" / 190 lbs
At this point there's a run on the top WR prospects, and Ruggs is a speed demon who complements Deebo Samuel and George Kittle nicely after waving goodbye to Emmanuel Sanders in free agency. This is the pick they gained by trading away DeForest Buckner, so they had better make it count, and calling Ruggs is doing just that.
Mock Trade from Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Round 1 - Pick 14
Florida • Soph • 6'1" / 204 lbs
The Cowboys have done well in free agency, but are still in dire need at CB1 with Byron Jones gone. With this move, they jump the Falcons and the Broncos -- both in dire need of a starting corner -- and the Bucs get an extra pick for sliding down three seats. Now having two fourth-round picks and tradable compensatories, the Cowboys can later figure out a way to jump back into the third round. Total compensation: Bucs are awarded the 17th, 82nd, and 179th picks in exchange for sending Dallas the 14th and 117th selections.
Round 1 - Pick 15
Javon Kinlaw DL
South Carolina • 6'5" / 319 lbs
Despite the top three WRs being gone and the Cowboys having jumped them to steal Henderson, landing Kinlaw is not simply a consolation prize. Throwing him in the mix with Von Miller and Bradley Chubb creates a devastating pass rush.
Mock Trade from Dallas Cowboys
Round 1 - Pick 17
Mekhi Becton OL
Louisville • Jr • 6'7" / 363 lbs
Tom Brady is no spring chicken, so protecting him is job numero uno for Tampa. They'll find Becton gets that job done fairly handily. And considering he would've been their pick at No. 14, they landed their guy and an extra pick from the Cowboys, because chess.
From Pittsburgh Steelers
Round 1 - Pick 18
From Chicago Bears
Round 1 - Pick 19
Mock Trade from Jacksonville Jaguars
Round 1 - Pick 20
LSU • Jr • 6'1" / 195 lbs
Bill Belichick has a wealth of draft picks but a grievous need at WR. With the wideout-needy Eagles and Vikings ahead of them, they strike a deal to leapfrog both and grab Jefferson -- a player who had more than 1,500 receiving yards and 18 TDs in LSU's championship 2019 season. As far as QBs go, well, call Cam Newton. Total compensation: Jaguars get the 23rd, 125th and 241st picks in exchange for the 20th overall selection.
Round 1 - Pick 21
Denzel Mims WR
Baylor • Soph • 6'3" / 207 lbs
An aging DeSean Jackson presents continued durability concerns, and the issues with Alshon Jeffery aside, the Eagles need a receiver who can be the future turbo at the position. Mims could give them what they were hoping for when they re-signed Jackson.
From Buffalo Bills
Round 1 - Pick 22
Trevon Diggs CB
Alabama • Jr • 6'2" / 195 lbs
Let's assume the Vikings are willing to make amends to the Diggs family after trading away Stefon, because they understand they need to replace Xavier Rhodes and can't let personal feelings get in the way of winning football games. Stranger things have happened, and what's a draft without a little drama, anyway?
Mock Trade from New England Patriots
Round 1 - Pick 23
Yetur Gross-Matos EDGE
Penn State • Jr • 6'5" / 265 lbs
A trade is looming with Yannick Ngakoue and Calais Campbell is already gone, leaving the Jaguars to replace their top two pass rushers going forward. Gross-Matos fills at least one of those voids in Jacksonville, as a high-ceiling QB bully who is an absolute handful at the EDGE.
Round 1 - Pick 24
Oklahoma • Jr • 6'2" / 241 lbs
Simply put, this is an absolute home run for the Saints, who are able to grab Murray without having to trade up for him. They should pop champagne and offer each other a virtual toast if this comes to fruition.
From Houston Texans
Round 1 - Pick 26
Georgia • Soph • 6'6" / 350 lbs
This is quite a first-round haul for the Dolphins -- having landed their future franchise QB, a versatile safety who's a Day 1 starter, and now a needed upgrade at offensive tackle from a school that's become a farm for OL big boys.
Round 1 - Pick 27
A.J. Epenesa EDGE
Iowa • Jr • 6'6" / 260 lbs
Regardless of what happens with Jadeveon Clowney, the Seahawks need more from their pass rush. Say hello to Epenesa, a two-time first-team All-Big Ten talent who has 36 TFLs and 22 sacks in his last two football seasons with Iowa. Not even T.J. Watt put up those kinds of numbers in college.
Round 1 - Pick 28
LSU • Jr • 6'0" / 232 lbs
Queen is no stranger to the bright lights, having been key in helping lift LSU to a national championship in 2019. For a Ravens team that needs more juice at linebacker, and on a defense that got mauled in the playoffs by Derrick Henry, grabbing Queen would go a long way in making sure the "King" doesn't have a repeat performance in 2020.
Round 1 - Pick 29
Zack Baun LB
Wisconsin • Jr • 6'3" / 225 lbs
A position change helped Baun find his true calling as a linebacker, and his 12.5 sacks put him on the Titans' radar. Still available as Day 1 comes to a close, Tennessee will eventually discover this is one of the biggest steals of the first round.
Round 1 - Pick 30
Colorado • Jr • 6'1" / 227 lbs
Davante Adams is the alpha, but there is no quality No. 2 in Green Bay at the wide receiver position. Shenault is just that, an uber-physical talent that can either go long or take a short grab to the house, and leave one or two smaller defensive backs flattened in the process. It'd be one hell of a one-two punch for Aaron Rodgers.
Round 1 - Pick 31
Jeff Gladney CB
TCU • Soph • 5'10" / 191 lbs
Gladney has the speed to carry nearly any NFL receiver down the field and the ball skills to get extra possessions for this offense. That's music to the 49ers' ears after failing to stop the fourth-quarter surge in the Super Bowl that cost them the title. Richard Sherman had a stellar 2019 season, but he's not getting any younger -- or any faster.
Round 1 - Pick 32
Curtis Weaver EDGE
Boise State • Soph • 6'2" / 265 lbs
The Chiefs successfully retained 20 of 22 free agents and can approach the draft with little worry, which gives great flexibility in what they can do at No. 32. They'll ask Damien Williams to shoulder more of the load at RB -- considering he's earned it -- but losing Emmanuel Ogbah in free agency means replacing his 5.5 sacks from 2019. They'll find Weaver is more than up to the task, and is fantastic value at the end of Round 1.