This article is part of our NFL Draft series.
Alright, here's my last guess at the first round. I have no idea where this is all headed so I primarily approached this mock draft with the goal of plotting a draft order that makes sense to me personally. Trying to sort through the endless (mis)information feels counterproductive after a point.
There are four trades projected:
-MIA trades No. 5 and No. 70 to DET for No. 3
-MIA trades No. 18, No. 26, and No. 141 to CAR for No. 7
-ATL trades No. 16 and No. 78 to CLE for No. 10
-JAC trades No. 20 and No. 116 to DAL for No. 17
1. Cincinnati – Joe Burrow, QB, LSU (6-3, 221)
It seems like we can at least take the first two picks for granted.
2. Washington – Chase Young, DE, Ohio State (6-5, 264)
Thanks to Cincinnati and Washington for being reasonable, predictable franchises. Love you guys.
3. Miami (from DET – Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa (6-5, 320)
If Miami jumps ahead of the Giants to select a tackle, I can only guess the tackle is Wirfs. I can also only conclude that if Miami trades ahead of the Giants for a tackle, then it means that Miami really does prefer Justin Herbert over Tua Tagovailoa.
4. Giants – Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia (6-5, 315)
If the Dolphins have good intel, then it would mean they were correct to decide the Giants were in on the tackle the Dolphins wanted. The question from there is whether (A) the Giants still would want one of the remaining tackles and (B) if they did want a tackle still, which one they would prefer. I know some speculation has linked the Giants to Jedrick Wills, but that seems to based on little more than Joe Judge serving as an assistant to the special teams coach for Alabama back in 2011. That's not compelling to me, so I'll project the Giants to take Thomas, who I think is the better prospect between himself and Wills.
5. Detroit (from MIA) – Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State (6-1, 205)
I would have to give Matt Patricia and the Lions front office credit if they pull this off – getting Okudah in a trade back would be a hand well played. Isaiah Simmons would also be a justifiable pick – the only unforgivable move would be selecting Derrick Brown.
6. Chargers – Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama (6-0, 217)
Wherever Tagovailoa goes, I think it will be no sooner than the fifth pick. I'm skeptical that either of Miami or the Chargers would trade up to the third pick for him otherwise.
7. Miami (from CAR) – Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon (6-6, 236)
After bettors and pundits fussed for months over the order and placement of Herbert vs. Tua, it would be funny if Tua managed to go later than the fifth pick and still go ahead of Herbert.
8. Arizona – Jedrick Wills, OT, Alabama (6-4, 312)
The Cardinals have an immediate opening at right tackle, and Wills' shortness somehow seems less pertinent in a Kyler Murray offense.
9. Jacksonville – Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson (6-4, 238)
According to distinguished Twitter reporter Dilla (@E_Dilla), the Jaguars appear locked in on either Simmons or Derrick Brown. Brown is the more obvious need, but Myles Jack's contract screams for imminent termination, and you can get all of Simmons, Jack, and Joe Schobert up to 850 snaps in the same season by giving Simmons supplementary snaps at safety and slot corner.
10. Atlanta (from CLE) – C.J. Henderson, CB, Florida (6-1, 204)
If Cleveland makes progress in Trent Williams trade negotiations then they would be free to take a number of approaches. They could trade back to take whatever, or they could stay put here to take a receiver. Washington's trade demands sound hysterically unreasonable to me, so I'm pessimistic about a trade chance right now. If so, they would presumably either take Mekhi Becton here or target another tackle (Austin Jackson or Ezra Cleveland) in a trade back. Atlanta, of course, is heavily linked to Henderson, and they might need to get ahead of the Jets to reel him in.
11. Jets – Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville (6-7, 364)
I would take CeeDee Lamb, but it would admittedly be more difficult to get a for-sure starter at tackle in the second round than at receiver.
12. Las Vegas – CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma (6-2, 198)
It seems like Lamb is trending toward the consensus WR1 distinction, and if so this would likely be the latest he goes.
13. San Francisco (from IND) – Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama (6-1, 193)
Jalen Hurd is apparently moving to tight end, and who knows what will happen with Dante Pettis. Kendrick Bourne and Trent Taylor are primarily slot receivers, meanwhile. If Pettis isn't up to Kyle Shanahan's liking then the 49ers have a void at outside receiver opposite Deebo Samuel. The concerning knee reports re: Jeudy are unconvincing to me.
14. Tampa Bay – Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn (6-5, 326)
Ndamukong Suh is on a one-year deal, so taking Brown here would give Tampa a long-term replacement on a cheaper contract.
15. Denver – Henry Ruggs, WR, Alabama (5-11, 188)
Maybe Denver or someone else trades up for Ruggs, but I just have trouble seeing how it's necessary if the tackles, Henderson, and Brown are all supposed to fit in the top 15.
16. Cleveland (from ATL) – Austin Jackson, OT, USC (6-5, 322)
Jackson's skill as a tackle is lacking, but he could quickly progress due to his truly rare athletic talent. Not 21 until May 17, Jackson is already the prototype in terms of physical traits. He has time to hone the skill element of his profile.
17. Jacksonville (from DAL) – Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina (6-5, 324)
If Jacksonville possesses the restraint to pass on Derrick Brown at No. 9, then they might feel pressure to secure Kinlaw with their second first-round pick. Carolina would be a threat to take him at 18 in this scenario, so I had Jacksonville throw a fourth-round pick to Dallas to hand over Kinlaw.
18. Carolina (from PIT via MIA) – Patrick Queen, LB, LSU (6-0, 229)
I have no idea what to make of Carolina's current front office, nor do I know how the power dynamics are supposed to work between Matt Rhule, Marty Hurney, and David Tepper. I think they'd want Kinlaw at this pick in this scenario, but if he's gone then I think a sound analytically-minded GM would look toward acquiring a defender who contributes either in coverage or as a pass rusher. Queen is a highly advanced linebacker in coverage, and Shaq Thompson's contract is unacceptable after 2020, when his cap hit nearly doubles from $7.2 million to $14.18 million. If not Queen, then an edge rusher like Yetur Gross-Matos strikes me as Carolina's best option in this scenario.
19. Las Vegas (from CHI) – Jordan Love, QB, Utah State (6-4, 224)
I don't feel strongly about Love and can imagine him going either earlier or later than this, but the Raiders just kind of have to do something at quarterback at this point.
20. Dallas (from LAR via JAC) – Jaylon Johnson, CB, Utah (6-0, 193)
Dallas' roster is pretty well situated, but corner is an obvious weakness. Johnson outside and Jourdan Lewis in the slot would be a good starting point, though.
21. Philadelphia – Yetur Gross-Matos, DE, Penn State (6-5, 266)
The Eagles might want Xavier McKinney or Antoine Winfield as a replacement for Malcolm Jenkins, but I think they'd need to trade back to justify that. I can't see why a team would trade with them in this scenario. Gross-Matos is easily my favorite defender on the board here – he really looks a lot like Chandler Jones to me – and I think he'd be their best defensive end by the start of 2021. One popular projection that just doesn't feel right to me is Justin Jefferson. He would play almost exclusively outside in Philadelphia's two-TE offense, yet his primary selling point is as a slot player. I don't follow the reasoning.
22. Minnesota (from BUF) – Brandon Aiyuk, WR, Arizona State (6-0, 205)
The Aiyuk hype from last week may have been something of a smoke screen, but I'd still be surprised if he fell past the 35th pick or so.
23. New England - Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma (6-2, 241)
New England would have a wealth of suitable options – I think safeties like McKinney and Winfield would really appeal to Belichick, and K'Lavon Chaisson is often projected ahead of this range, too. They would likely hope to trade back in such a case, but I don't know who would need to move into this range. Belichick might otherwise look at Murray and see his next Jerod Mayo.
24. New Orleans – Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU (5-11, 206)
25. Minnesota – Antoine Winfield, S, Minnesota (5-9, 203)
Minnesota more obviously needs a corner, but Harrison Smith is getting older and it's unclear whether Anthony Harris is a serious long-term investment to them. Winfield could help with slot corner snaps in the meantime.
26. Carolina (from HOU via MIA) – Josh Uche, LB, Michigan (6-1, 245)
Maybe I'm getting a little Galaxy Brain with this one, but as I said earlier I don't think the Panthers can keep Shaq Thompson after 2020. Queen would be the primary off-ball replacement, while Uche would be able to offer outside snaps regardless of the formation. The Bob McGinn scouts quoted in the Athletic imply that the NFL is quite high on Uche, and that they think he would have been one of the top athletes at the combine if he had tested there. With off-ball movement and edge-rusher length (33 and 5/8-inch arms), Uche could prove to be the next menacing undersized pass rusher, applying to a defense the way you would someone like James Harrison or Elvis Dumervil.
27. Seattle – K'lavon Chaisson, DE, LSU (6-3, 254)
Quinton Dunbar and Shaquill Griffin are good enough corners and Bobby Wagner is still chopping at linebacker, but for any resurgence of the Legion of Boom to occur the Seahawks need to generate more pressure. They have no Michael Bennett or Cliff Avril, though Chaisson might be able to turn into something like the latter.
28. Baltimore – Cesar Ruiz, C/G, Michigan (6-3, 307)
Ruiz is highly explosive for a center, and the last thing the AFC North needs is Ruiz lead blocking for Lamar Jackson in the secondary.
29. Tennessee – A.J. Terrell, CB, Clemson (6-1, 195)
It seems like the Titans need to take a corner here, maybe even regardless of whether they eventually re-sign Logan Ryan. They probably would want to trade back in that case – perhaps someone would want to move up for Ezra Cleveland or something.
30. Green Bay – Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU (6-1, 203)
I don't know why, but I have an unreasonable amount of confidence that Jefferson ends up in Green Bay.
31. San Francisco – Ezra Cleveland, OT, Boise State (6-6, 311)
Joe Staley is 36, so the 49ers need to plan something there. There might be enough interest in Cleveland, though, that the 49ers could be convinced to move back from here.
32. Kansas City – Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin (5-10, 226)
I know the Chiefs don't need a running back, but in a Patrick Mahomes offense Taylor might get to 1,400 yards on something like 200 carries. When you combine players as explosive as those two, you tip thresholds that efficiency models can't anticipate. This offense would never have a bad game again.