Taking a shot at creating an NFL mock draft can be difficult, a different type of challenge than making predictions and providing analysis. It also is a lot of fun to create your own draft board and see how everything plays out. This is my first time conducting a mock draft for CBSSports.com, so go easy on me here (or rip it to shreds, which is the fun of doing these, anyway).
With three weeks until the draft, the trendy prediction in Philadelphia is that the Eagles will take a wide receiver. If Jerry Jeudy, CeeDee Lamb, and Herry Ruggs are off the board, what's the point? OK, that's not true, since there are plenty of excellent wide receivers worthy of a first-round selection. But could the Eagles actually pass on an edge rusher or cornerback at No. 21, since they can get a wide receiver in the second round?
Then you have my colleague Will Brinson,by having the Washington Redskins select Tua Tagovailoa with the No. 2 pick in the CBS Sports HQ mock draft last week. There's plenty of merit in Brinson's thinking, but can the Redskins really pass on a generational pass rusher that falls into their lap? In essence, Washington controls this draft with that No. 2 pick -- a prime spot for teams to give them whatever they want for that selection.
Since this is my first mock draft, there will be no trades (my mock, my rules). I'm not going by positions of need for teams with every first-round selection, but rather with the best player available on my board. That's how these teams are going to draft and we may indeed have pandemonium when this round is completed (thank the Jacksonville Jaguars for that).
Buckle up. This is going to be fun.
Round 1 - Pick 1
Joe Burrow QB
LSU • Jr • 6'4" / 221 lbs
The Bengals are taking the best player in this draft and their next franchise quarterback. This isn't Akili Smith. Cincinnati gets this pick right and has its generational quarterback for the next decade.
Round 1 - Pick 2
Chase Young EDGE
Ohio State • Jr • 6'5" / 264 lbs
Ron Rivera is the Redskins' new head coach. He didn't draft Dwayne Haskins, which gives him every reason to select Tua Tagovailoa in this spot. But it's hard to see Washington pass up on Young when Jack Del Rio is the defensive coordinator. The Redskins get the generational pass rusher needed in a division with the Eagles and Cowboys offensive lines.
Round 1 - Pick 3
Jeff Okudah CB
Ohio State • Jr • 6'1" / 202 lbs
The Lions traded Darius Slay to the Eagles and could use a cornerback on their revamped defense. Okudah has the makeup of a shutdown corner, continuing the new tradition of having one in Detroit.
Round 1 - Pick 4
Alabama • Jr • 6'4" / 307 lbs
The Giants need an offensive tackle to protect Daniel Jones. Nate Solder is getting paid a lot of money to be average and New York needs another tackle anyway. Dave Gettleman takes the best lineman available in Wills.
Round 1 - Pick 5
Alabama • Jr • 6'1" / 217 lbs
The Dolphins don't have to trade any of their first-round picks to move up and get Tua. He'll be there at No. 5, and Miami will use 2020 to develop the most talented quarterback the franchise has employed since Dan Marino (sorry, Ryan Tannehill).
Round 1 - Pick 6
Oregon • Jr • 6'6" / 236 lbs
The Chargers appear to have no interest in Jameis Winston or Cam Newton, and I find it hard to believe they will roll into the season with Tyrod Taylor having no competition. Herbert goes over Love here and will compete with Taylor for the starting job.
Round 1 - Pick 7
Clemson • Soph • 6'4" / 238 lbs
The Panthers seem to always have an excellent linebacker (is that what we're calling Simmons?) fall into their lap. He's perfect for what Phil Snow will want to run in Carolina, especially since he can play slot cornerback and safety as well.
Round 1 - Pick 8
Mekhi Becton OL
Louisville • Jr • 6'7" / 363 lbs
The Cardinals are loaded with offensive weapons, but Kyler Murray will be running for his life. Becton has the most upside of the "big four" offensive tackles in this draft and his athleticism fits what Arizona does on offense.
Round 1 - Pick 9
Jerry Jeudy WR
Alabama • Soph • 6'1" / 193 lbs
The Jaguars need interior defensive line and cornerback help more than a wide receiver, but they make the draft go sideways with the selection of Jeudy. Jacksonville has solid wideouts outside of D.J. Chark, but still want to make Gardner Minshew a thing. Jeudy gives Minshew the best chance to succeed as the starter.
Round 1 - Pick 10
Iowa • Jr • 6'5" / 320 lbs
The Browns send a "thank you" card to the Jaguars for taking Jeudy, as that enables them to land Wirfs. They solidify the right side of the line with Wirfs and Jack Conklin, as Cleveland can plug Wirfs at guard to start before an eventual move to tackle if they find another answer on the blindside this offseason.
Round 1 - Pick 11
CeeDee Lamb WR
Oklahoma • Jr • 6'2" / 200 lbs
The Jets lost Robby Anderson in free agency and signed Breshad Perriman to replace him. They still need to add a receiver, even with Derrick Brown still on the board. Joe Douglas has demonstrated he prioritizes the trenches, but there's no way he passes on Lamb.
Round 1 - Pick 12
Alabama • 6'0" / 190 lbs
The Raiders badly need a wide receiver. With Jeudy and Lamb off the board, they have no choice but to draft Ruggs. Tough to pass on Derrick Brown, but Derek Carr needs someone to throw the ball to.
From Indianapolis Colts
Round 1 - Pick 13
Auburn • Soph • 6'5" / 320 lbs
The 49ers traded DeForest Buckner for the No. 13 pick. Brown falls into San Francisco's lap and the team adds him to an already stacked defensive line. The 49ers get one of the best picks in the draft.
Round 1 - Pick 14
Georgia • Soph • 6'5" / 315 lbs
The Buccaneers see Thomas fall to No. 14 after the top wide receivers come off the board. They get their tackle to protect Tom Brady, which is what the franchise desperately needs in order for Brady to win another Super Bowl.
Round 1 - Pick 15
Javon Kinlaw DL
South Carolina • 6'5" / 319 lbs
Denver needs help at wide receiver and cornerback, but there's no point in reaching for one at No. 15. Vic Fangio loves his defensive linemen and with Kinlaw still on the board, it's a no-brainer.
Round 1 - Pick 16
K'Lavon Chaisson EDGE
LSU • Jr • 6'3" / 254 lbs
Injuries and all, there's no denying Chaisson's ability to get to the quarterback. The Falcons addressed their pass-rushing deficiency with Dante Fowler and add another sack master in Chaisson. C.J. Henderson is tempting here, but there are corners to be had later.
From Pittsburgh Steelers
Round 1 - Pick 18
Alabama • Soph • 6'0" / 201 lbs
This is the pick the Dolphins got for Minkah Fitzpatrick and they select -- a safety?! Miami needs help behind Byron Jones and Xavien Howard, and McKinney will lead the safety position on South Beach for years to come.
From Chicago Bears
Round 1 - Pick 19
LSU • Jr • 5'11" / 197 lbs
The Raiders could have traded up to land Henderson (no trades in this mock, remember), but they settle for Fulton. Getting a good cornerback isn't a bad consolation prize for a team that desperately needs a starter here.
From Los Angeles Rams
Round 1 - Pick 20
A.J. Epenesa EDGE
Iowa • Jr • 6'6" / 260 lbs
Jacksonville drafts the best player available. The Jaguars could use an edge rusher and Yannick Ngakoue isn't playing for them anymore. Jordan Love is tempting, but the Jaguars are still hoping for a first-round pick for Ngakoue at this stage. Plus they are convinced Minshew is going to work (at least this year).
Round 1 - Pick 21
Yetur Gross-Matos EDGE
Penn State • Jr • 6'5" / 265 lbs
The Eagles love their pass rushers, especially with Jim Schwartz putting a premium on rushing four. Gross-Matos is the long-term solution behind Brandon Graham. Besides, the Eagles don't have much depth behind Graham and Derek Barnett at defensive end. They can get their wide receiver in the second round.
Round 1 - Pick 23
Jordan Love QB
Utah State • Jr • 6'4" / 219 lbs
How fortunate are the Patriots to have Love still on the board at No. 23? They get a year to develop him in the offense while finding out if Jarrett Stidham is the truth. Unfortunately, there are no tight ends worth taking in the first round this year.
Round 1 - Pick 24
LSU • Jr • 6'0" / 232 lbs
Don't see how the Saints pass on a linebacker here, especially since they could use a starter to go with an oft-injured group that includes Kiko Alonso and Alex Anzalone. New Orleans should hope Queen is better than Kenneth Murray.
Round 1 - Pick 25
LSU • Jr • 6'1" / 195 lbs
No point to reach for Jefferson at No. 22 when the Vikings can land their wide receiver at No. 25. Jefferson is no field stretcher like Stefon Diggs, but he already is a polished wide receiver. The Vikings could use one of those.
From Houston Texans
Round 1 - Pick 26
Wisconsin • Jr • 5'10" / 226 lbs
Miami really needs a running back to pair with Jordan Howard. The Dolphins were last in rush yards and 31st in yards per carry in 2019. Why wait until the second round, hoping Taylor falls to them? Taylor is the best player on the board.
Round 1 - Pick 27
Round 1 - Pick 28
Round 1 - Pick 29
Georgia • Jr • 5'9" / 211 lbs
The Titans are trying to win a Super Bowl this year. They get the best player on the board in Swift, who will be an excellent change-of-pace back to Henry (who is playing under the franchise tag this year). Swift can also be a long-term solution in case the Titans decide to move on from Henry.
Round 1 - Pick 30
Denzel Mims WR
Baylor • Soph • 6'3" / 207 lbs
Green Bay has its pick at the wide receiver it wants between Mims, Brandon Aiyuk and Tee Higgins. Mims fits the Packers offense the best of the three, even though they could use a burner on the outside.
Round 1 - Pick 31
Arizona State • Jr • 6'0" / 200 lbs
The 49ers didn't take a wide receiver at No. 13. They get their man at No. 31 in Aiyuk, who is excellent in yards after the catch. Jimmy Garoppolo will be pleased with his new target.