The time has come for our annual NFL Draft Preview. This is my projection of how each of the 32 first round picks will go in this year’s draft. Sure,it will be a different draft than we’re used to seeing,but it’s not nothing. Let’s get on with the draft preview, the Cincinnati Bengals are on the clock…
1.Cincinnati- Joe Burrow QB LSU
I think we have a close to consensus top pick here and we know why. The Andy Dalton era is over for the Bengals and it’s time for a new era to usher in. Burrow is a very accurate passer with great mobility and advanced field vision. He’s also terrific at finding his open man downfield. He does have smaller hands and his arm strength is questionable,but it does appear that he’s the overall top choice this year and I think he’s Cincinnati’s guy going forward.
2. Washington- Chase Young DE/OLB Ohio State
Despite rumours that the Redskins may trade the pick,I have heard otherwise and I have them selecting probably the best player in the draft. Young has great size and length and a good body makeup for someone in his position, Very disruptive,a great run defender,and tough at the point of attack. He could stand to get more strength at the next level, but he has already proven he is the best defensive player,if not the best overall in the draft, and I think Washington’s going to have a star on their defensive line for years to come.
3. Detroit- Jeff Okudah CB Ohio State
Now that Darius Slay is in Philadelphia, the Lions need to find a replacement for him. Enter Jeff Okudah. He’s a very good cover guy for his position who runs routes well along with receivers and covers those speedy receivers. He also has great ball skills and transitions well. Though he looked less than stellar at the combine, I do think with his size,speed,and intangibles that he is the best at his position in this year’s draft. I have had him at this spot for Detroit for some time and I see no reason to change it.
4. N.Y. Giants- Tristan Wirfs OL Iowa
There are a number of directions this pick can go,but i think the Giants need to find a way to protect Daniel Jones and I think that’s why they need to take an offensive tackle here. I think Wirfs is a guy who can help with that. He’s got a powerful upper body and is capable of generating movement in the running game. He’s also good at hitting blocks in space and is actually very fast in the open field. I do think he is a little bit of a project,but being at the spot New York is in, I think they should take him to give their signal caller some room to breathe back there.
5. Miami- Justin Herbert QB Oregon
I have had Miami slotted with Tua Tagovailoa here for as long as I have had a rough draft of this mock draft,but given his health concerns, I have them selecting Herbert. There’s a lot to like about him,too,he has a powerful arm, is an accurate passer and precision thrower. He’s also great at hitting receivers on the run and leads them to more yards after the catch. He’s also very mobile and capable of making big plays on the ground game. I think he’s going to be a great pick for the Dolphins and will probably be under center at the start of every game before too long.
6. Jacksonville- (Trade with L.A. Chargers)- Isaiah Simmons LB Clemson
While the Jaguars need to make some upgrades on the defensive line, I think trading up to get this guy is worthwhile. Simmons is a great pursuit defender and enforcer in the middle of the field who can blitz dangerously and tackle in the open field. He’s also a great cover guy and plays like a safety at times as well as other positions on defense. I think Jacksonville’s defense would be even better with this guy whether he plays on the edge or as the middle linebacker, either way,you can’t lose.
7. Carolina- Derrick Brown DT Auburn
I think Carolina is getting a steal at this selection of Brown. He has a great combination of size,strength,and athleticism who competes with urgency and determination. Is able to wrap up blockers with authority as well as quickness and power. He is great at getting to the quarterback as well as stopping the run. Sure,I think the Panthers should maybe find Luke Kuechly’s replacement, but I think that can be done later on in the draft or if they decide to trade down. I think Brown could be a successor to Gerald McCoy in due time as well as make a difference right away.
8. Arizona- Mekhi Becton OT Louisville
The Cardinals definitely need to upgrade their offensive line so that Kyler Murray doesn’t get sacked 84 times a season again and I think Becton can protect him. He has a great deal of size at 6-7,357 lbs and has the ability to get the push in the ground game. He also has fast lateral quickness and is surprisingly quick with his feet. He is a bit raw,but I think in time he will adjust to the pro life. Dude also had a great combine and a 40 time that was out of this world! He will definitely be a great addition to Arizona’s offensive line and give them the protection they need.
9. L.A. Chargers- (Trade with Jacksonville) Tua Tagovailoa QB Alabama
The Philip Rivers era is over for the Chargers and it’s time to start a new one and I think trading down to get him may be a smart idea. Tagovailoa,while he is made of glass,is a great pocket passer who throws with precision and is capable of finding his man downfield with the most catchable ball. He was also very good against elite competition in college and has great intangibles.
The big question for me is if he is able to stay healthy in his pro career as his college career was marred with one injury after another. I know in Los Angeles they are hoping he can stay on the field game after game.
10. Cleveland- Jedrick Wills, Jr. OT Alabama
The Browns have to improve their offensive line. Getting Jack Conklin is a start,but I think one more piece should help. Wills,to me,looks to be that piece. He is superb with his feet who plays with good leverage and is able to mirror speed rushers. He hits his blocks in space well and is even a nasty player at times. I think this team could use some nastiness for a change. He has a lot of upside and has played against some of the best in college. I think he would be a great in Cleveland and will be able to protect Baker Mayfield in a big way.
11. Atlanta- (Trade with N.Y. Jets) Javon Kinlaw DL South Carolina
Atlanta is definitely in need of help on the defensive line and I think they’re zeroing in on taking Kinlaw,so much so that they’ve traded up to get him at the 11th spot. And why not? He’s an explosive,dangerous pass rusher who makes great splash plays and can get to the quarterback in a hurry. He’s also very versatile and a durable guy and he’s got great size. He is also a very good run defender. I think this guy is perfect for the Falcons and will be able to fill an immediate need for a defense that has lost a lot of pieces.
12. Las Vegas- Jerry Jeudy WR Alabama
The first pick of the Raiders era in Las Vegas should definitely be one of big need and wide receiver is a big need. They drafted one Alabama receiver a few years back named Amari Cooper and I think they do it again,this time Jerry Jeudy. A great route runner, he is a threat to score on just about any catch that’s thrown to him. He’s also very explosive and is a great deep threat with big play speed and leaping ability. I also like how well he can stretch out a defense. I think the Raiders would be a much better offense with this guy on it. I think he’s the best receiver in the draft.
13. New England- (Trade with San Francisco) Jordan Love QB Utah State
I have the 49ers trading this pick away and now that Tom Brady’s time in New England is over it’s time they draft and develop the next great quarterback. I think USU’s Love can be that guy. He has great arm strength and can make terrific throws downfield and can be greatly accurate on them as well. He also has the ability to pick up yards on the ground and is able to hurt defenses with his feet. While he has great upside, he will need to sit back and watch for a year or so to develop, but I don’t see the Patriots having any problem making him wait for his turn to shine. I think it’s the perfect place for him to be successful.
14. Tampa Bay- Andrew Thomas OT Alabama
The Buccaneers definitely need help on the offensive line to protect their new 43 year old quarterback and the guy I think is perfect for them is Thomas. He is great at sustaining his blocks from dangerous speed rushers and is stellar at blocking the run. He’s very athletic,has great size and build and his technique is very well developed. He’s a safe choice here for Tampa Bay and I think this is where he lands.
15. Denver- CeeDee Lamb WR Oklahoma
I think Denver could use another wide receiver to play alongside Courtland Sutton and give Drew Lock another weapon on offense. Lamb is an explosive playmaker who uses speed and separation to dominate the competition and is elusive in the open field. He was also very good against experienced competition in college and can be a special teams asset if necessary. Plus, how cool would it be to hear the phrase “Lock to Lamb”? I think Broncos fans will enjoy seeing this guy score for the offense and for them.
16. N.Y. Jets- (Trade with Atlanta) Henry Ruggs III WR Alabama
With Jerry Jeudy having been picked in this mock by Las Vegas, his teammate won’t be far behind. Ruggs is a speedy guy who has a knack for making the home run play. He is great at making double teams disappear with his speed and can impact an opponent’s game plan. He’s also an asset for special teams if necessary. I think the New York Jets will be much better with this guy on their roster. Though they could also draft an offensive lineman here as well.
17. Dallas- K’Lavon Chaisson DE LSU
I think the Cowboys definitely need help on the defensive line and the best prospect is LSU’s Chaisson. He’s extremely fast and agile with the potential to be a dynamic edge rusher who is also very versatile with a lot of upside to be an ever bigger disruptive presence. He is a bit raw and needs to add more weight to his frame and prove he has overcome injuries he’s had in the last two seasons,but I think he will be an intriguing player in Dallas.
18. Miami- Josh Jones OT Houston
I think the Dolphins should go after some help on their offensive line with their second pick of this round and think this guy is the next best one available. Jones is a very agile player in the open field and has great height and weight for his position. He also has good feet to get a good block on the edge. He does lack in a few areas,but I think he is good enough to be a starter on the right side with room to grow as his career goes on. Unless one of the other tackles mocked earlier falls to Miami here, I think Jones gets chosen at this spot.
19. Las Vegas- C.J. Henderson CB Florida
Las Vegas has many directions they can go at this selection,their second of this round, but I think they should select some secondary help and Henderson is the top guy to take in my view. He has a rare skill set as a cover corner and has explosive speed and great height and size for his position. He also matches up against receivers well and is always a threat to take the ball away. While I think he should work on being a better tackler, I do think he has more than enough talent at the next level to shine,and shine he will on the Raiders.
20. Jacksonville- Trevon Diggs CB Alabama
This is the Jaguars’ second pick of this round. The younger brother of Bills wideout Stefon Diggs, Trevon has good height,length,and weight and terrific straight line speed. His size matches up well with big receivers and he’s a great threat to take the ball away. I do think he is a bit raw and needs some development,but his talent does shine and he’s the brother of a star NFL receiver,so I know he’s coming from a good pedigree. Jacksonville’s defense will definitely be upgraded with Diggs on the roster.
21. Philadelphia- Denzel Mims WR Baylor
The Eagles need receivers big time and I think Mims is being undervalued in most of these mock drafts. He has a great catch radius,physical play and high end body control. He is also coming off of a great season at Baylor and has a lot of upside and may be in a starting position sooner rather than later. I like what he has to bring to Philadelphia if he’s selected here and I think fans will,too!
22. Minnesota- Yetur Gross-Matos DE Penn State
I think Minnesota could go a number of directions with this pick,but I think they should help their defensive line following the departure of Everson Griffen and I think Gross-Matos can do just that. He’s a natural edge defender with a great ability to shed blocks with just enough speed to get around the corner. He does have a lot of upside despite not having elite speed or enough special strength,but if he does get picked by the Vikings,he’ll be in a great place to grow and get better
23. New England- Kristian Fulton CB LSU
This is the second of New England’s picks in the first round and I think it’s time they get some help in the secondary here. Fulton is a player who is prone to maintain his coverage and prevents separation from the receiver. He’s also very physical and is not afraid to challenge receivers. He’s also a fluid athlete with quick speed. He could use some discipline,but overall he is a great talent. I think he will fit in nicely with the Patriots.
24. New Orleans- Kenneth Murray LB Oklahoma
The Saints are on the clock here and I think they’re going with a linebacker here. Murray is a good run defender and a great physical tackler. He also has great closing speed, is always around the ball,and is a dangerous edge rusher who fits either a 4-3 or 3-4 scheme. He has a lot of upside and is continuing to improve. I think he would be a terrific addition to a good New Orleans defense and will be able to contribute right away.
25. Minnesota- Justin Jefferson WR LSU
This is the Vikings’ second pick of the round and I think it’s time to fill a hole that Stefon Diggs left behind. Jefferson is a mismatch with his height and length and has great hands and runs solid routes. He also tracks the ball well and has enough speed to get downfield. He is a bit of a project player as he needs more strength and is a bit lean at press time. I do think,however,he is a fair player and he will be of great service to a Minnesota team that needs another receiver to play alongside Adam Thielen.
26. Miami- D’Andre Swift RB Georgia
I think with their third pick of this round the Dolphins should get a tailback. Swift is a solid and effective runner outside the tackles and does it very physically. He’s also very good catching the ball out of the backfield and has trustworthy hands for the next level. Georgia has had a few decent tailbacks come out recently and Swift can be another one and would fit in well in Miami.
27. Seattle- Xavier McKinney S Alabama
Seattle definitely needs some help in the secondary and I think I have the guy that can help bolster it. McKinney has great field vision and eye discipline with tremendous skills in safety coverage. He’s also a very instinctive player and can interchange to play either free or strong safety and has no problem willing to make a tackle. The Seahawks need a lot of holes to fill in the defensive backfield and this would be a great start to that!
28. Baltimore- Brandon Aiyuk WR Arizona St.
How has it not occurred to anyone that the Ravens need wide receivers? I think they absolutely should take one here and the best one that I think would be great for them in ASU’s Aiyuk. He has dangerous run-after-the-catch skills and comes alive when he has the ball. He is a big threat to score as well when he has the ball and he would be a great asset on special teams. Sure,he’s short just like Hollywood Brown, but he does have great build for a player of his stature. If Baltimore is going to get to the next level, they’ll need playmakers to help get them there and I think this guy is an ultimate one.
29. Tennessee- Austin Jackson OT USC
The Dolphins’ second choice of this round and I think it’s time to get help for the offensive line. Jackson is a great athlete who is able to mirror speed rushers and is able to hit blocks in space and has great ability to recover. While he is raw and needs to build strength coming out of USC, he does have a lot of upside and has shown a lot of experience playing against strong competition and will be a great addition to Miami’s offensive front five.
30. Green Bay- Tee Higgins WR Clemson
The Packers could definitely use a wide receiver to play alongside Devante Adams and I think I know just the guy. Higgins has very good athleticism for his position. He’s very good in situations where the catch is contested and has good ability with the run after the catch. He also has excellent ability in the red zone. I think he will be a dynamic piece of the Green Bay offense if he is selected here.
31. L.A. Chargers- (Trade with New England) Jeff Gladney CB TCU
The Chargers could use this pick a number of ways, but I think they will bolster their secondary with it. Gladney is a player who prevents separation and is able to maintain tight coverage when challenging receivers. He’s also a speedy guy and ran a 4.48 40-yard dash at the combine. His instincts are high in quality and he is well capable of playing both man and zone coverage at a high level. While he is shorter than desired, he does have great upside and I think he would fare well on that Los Angeles defense.
32. Houston- (Trade with Kansas City) Patrick Queen LB LSU
I have the Chiefs trading this pick to Houston who I think could use some help at linebacker and I have the one for them. LSU’s Queen has excellent speed,very versatile,is very good in space,and a dangerous blitzer. He’s also an asset in pass coverage and is a solid tackler with much upside. He does need some development,but I think that Houston is the best place for him to do so.
Other Notable selections:
35. Detroit- A.J. Epenesa DE Iowa
41. Cleveland- Grant Delpit S LSU
45. Tampa Bay- Cam Akers RB Florida St.
51. Dallas- Bryce Hall CB Virginia
52. L.A. Rams- Ross Blacklock DT TCU
73. Jacksonville- Jake Fromm QB Georgia
75. Indianapolis- Jacob Eason QB Washington
Enjoy the NFL Draft!