Much like last year, after spending probably too much time doing mock draft simulations, I am confident enough in putting my final mock draft out to the public… on the day of the draft. Time crunches bring out my best work. After being a mere one selection off in a staggering eight of my picks last year, I bring you my predictions on how NFL GMs will pick in one of the most anticipated drafts we’ve ever seen. Before we start, I named this The Last Crusade because I’ve spent quarantine rewatching Indiana Jones movies. You should, too.
Moment of silence for Draft Island. May we all pray we get to see this beauty in person next year.
1. Cincinnati Bengals
The Pick: Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
Never have we seen a player’s stock skyrocket quite like Joe Burrow. After a solid but unspectacular junior year, Joe Burrow looked like he was a video game character this season en route to a 15-0 record and a National Championship. Burrow has the ideal size, pocket mobility, mechanics, and accuracy for a QB, but he does turn 24 this year and doesn’t quite have the velocity on his throws that we’ve seen from top QB prospects in the past. Still, Burrow is the safest bet for a QB-needy Bengals team, and you’d be overthinking it to pass on him after the historic season he just had.
2. Washington Redskins
The Pick: Chase Young, EDGE, Ohio State
The Redskins will gladly take Young, the best overall player in this class, at 2 despite it not necessarily being a position of need. Young is too rare a talent to pass up on. He can do it all as a defensive end: rush from a 2-point stance, 3-point stance, rush with speed, rush with power, and rush with technique, and his game-changing play ability (7 forced fumbles in 2019) should see him make an immediate impact in the NFL, much like fellow Buckeye and number 2 overall pick Nick Bosa.
3. Detroit Lions
The Pick: Jeffrey Okudah, CB, OSU
I personally would love to see the Lions take Isaiah Simmons here, a defensive chess piece unlike anything we’ve ever seen, but with the “one year ultimatum” given to the Quinn-Patricia regime by Martha Firestone Ford, I think the Lions will replace Darius Slay with one of the safest players in the draft. Okudah doesn’t have the raw athleticism of a recent OSU CB prospect like Marshon Lattimore, but he has some of the most flawless footwork I’ve ever seen out of a corner prospect, excels in man coverage, which the Lions run, and is aggressive and effective as a tackler. At 6’1″, Okudah has the physicality and the technique to become a shutdown corner in the NFL. At the very least, he projects as a starter for the next decade.
4. New York Giants
The Pick: Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa
Giants GM Dave Gentleman shocked the world when he took Daniel Jones 6th overall last year, but after a successful rookie season that saw him throw 24 TD passes, Giants faithful have warmed up to the idea of Danny Dimes as their franchise QB. Jones’ Achilles heel last season were fumbles, as he lost a hilarious 10 fumbles in 13 games. In order to protect that beautiful 6’5″ Eli Manning clone and to give Saquon Barkley more lanes to run through, the Giants take the first offensive lineman off the board in Tristan Wirfs. Wirfs started at offensive line factory Iowa for 3.5 years, and is incredibly mobile for a 320 pounder. It may take a few years, but Wirfs has the kind of upside teams look for out of top pick o-linemen.
5. Miami Dolphins
The Pick: Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
The most efficient passer in college football history, Tagovailoa had spent the past 2 years as the presumed number one pick in this class before his season-ending hip injury and the meteoric rise of Joe Burrow. Now officially cleared of the injury, the Dolphins take the lefty, who barely made any mistakes in college. Brian Flores coached a poor roster to a competitive season last year, and getting a player with experience and success at the highest level of college ball is ideal for the young and rebuilding Fins. Tua has elite ball placement on passes and the quickest release in the draft. The only concern with him is his durability, due both to his size and injury history.
6. Los Angeles Chargers
The Pick: Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
Philip Rivers threw a few too many 4th quarter interceptions last year, and the Chargers are officially in the market for a new QB. Enter certified Dolan guy Justin Herbert, a 6’6″ gazelle with a missile launcher attached to his right shoulder and the IQ of a young Albert Einstein. Herbert has his detractors, but I think his ideal size and speed (4.69 40-yard dash) make him the QB in this class with the most potential. My one knock on Herbert is he is much less successful on improvised throws and reads. If he can use his mobility while retaining accuracy, he’ll be a stud in LA throwing to Keenan Allen and Mike Williams.
7. Carolina Panthers
The Pick: Isaiah Simmons, LB/S, Clemson
With Luke Kuechly retiring, the Panthers get their replacement in the Swiss army knife that is Isaiah Simmons. I loved watching Simmons on film; he can play linebacker, safety, and edge rusher, and his 4.38 speed at 6’4″, 240 pounds had the NFL Combine buzzing back in February. Simmons’ closing speed on tackles is a beautiful sight to see, and his athleticism would immediately make him one of the best blitzers in the NFL. If Simmons doesn’t pan out in the NFL, it’ll be a defensive coordinator’s fault.
8. Arizona Cardinals
The Pick: Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville
Mekhi Becton is a bad, bad man. Standing at 6’7″ and weighing 370 pounds, Becton simply bullied defenders as a 3-year starter at Louisville, a team also nicknamed the Cardinals. Arizona took Kyler Murray first overall last year, and he is in my mind the best young QB prospect in the NFL right now. Murray spent the first year of his career running for his life behind a porous Cards’ o-line, and the fact that Becton spent his freshman year blocking for the only dual-threat QB on the planet faster than Murray in Lamar Jackson makes me think this is a slam dunk for Arizona.
9. Jacksonville Jaguars
The Pick: Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
The Jacksonville Jaguars seem to be in a bit of a tank. The team is rolling with resident cool guy but average quarterback Gardner Minshew as starter, shopping around Leonard Fournette and Yannick Ngakoue, and have been rumored to be the “Trevor Lawrence team” in the NFL heading into 2021. With an eye towards the future and giving Lawrence a legitimate #1 target when he joins the team next year, the first WR comes off the board. Jeudy was a treat to watch on film. His route-running is a work of art and his high running strides make him one of the quickest runners I’ve ever seen. He’s not as tall as some elite NFL WRs, but this guy will make defenders look silly.
10. Cleveland Browns
The Pick: Jedrick Wills, OT, Alabama
My least favorite QB (who doesn’t play for the Chicago Bears) Baker Mayfield had a terrible season last year. Mayfield’s stats his sophomore year dropped in every category besides interceptions, where he threw 21, second most in the league. The jury is still out on Mayfield, and the Browns are making it a priority to fix their offensive line, as Baker spent the entire year last year (slowly) running for his life. Jedrick Wills is a very polished prospect and played both right and left tackle at Alabama, making him the ideal versatile player to play on whatever side is opposite of FA signing Jack Conklin.
11. New York Jets
The Pick: CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
Although the Jets would be best taking Andrew Thomas to help out after the putrid Jets offensive line paved the way for the worst year of Le’Veon Bell’s career, I think GM Joe Douglas thinks he solved that already by overpaying for George Fant in free agency. A team that boasts Breshad Perriman as their #1 receiver, Lamb gives Sam Darnold the first real target he’s ever had. Lamb is the strongest receiver in this draft. He runs angry and is a problem for weaker DBs to tackle, and is also the best jump ball catcher in the class.
12. Las Vegas Raiders
The Pick: Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn
The Raiders get great value in Brown as the Auburn wrecking ball sees a bit of a slide on draft day. Brown has incredible explosiveness for a defensive tackle and projects as the ideal run-stopping defender. He wraps up well and splits double teams. He sees a bit of a slide here due to his lack of pass rushing potential, but is too talented to slide past the Raiders at 12.
13. San Francisco 49ers
The Pick: CJ Henderson, CB, Florida
The 49ers defense is top notch, but old man Dick Sherman ran out of a steam at the end of the season and got torched by Sammy Watkins of all people in the Super Bowl. The Niners could go WR here but corner is more valuable at this time. Henderson is a great athlete and has the speed necessary to shut down any receiver, but he is an incredibly disheartening tackler. If he stops making Cam Newton-esque business decisions every time a runner comes near him, he’ll be good.
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Pick: Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski are in Tampa Bay in the weirdest Madden franchise mode rebuild of all time. I’d love to see the Bucs take a running back here, their only real position of need, but offensive line definitely provides more value at this spot with a statue like Tom Brady at the helm of the offense. Andrew Thomas is the most plug-and-play prospect of the top 4 OTs and played in a pro-style offense at Georgia.
15. Denver Broncos
The Pick: Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama
My favorite WR in this year’s class, Henry Ruggs is one of the fastest human beings you will ever lay your eyes on. Running a 4.27 40, Ruggs was the stuff of legends at Alabama, having his first 5 career catches all be touchdowns and only dropping 5 total passes in his three-year career. Ruggs is a 6’0″ version of Tyreek Hill and has the potential to break the NFL. Him catching vertical routes in the thin Mile High air from young stallion Drew Lock will be a staple every Sunday.
16. Atlanta Falcons
The Pick: Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina
The Falcons are in an awesome cycle of getting tons of offseason hype, starting the season off terribly, and then fighting for Dan Quinn’s job the rest of the way to end up at 7-9, and I think it happens again this year. The Falcons d-line is relatively weak besides Grady Jarrett, and Dante Fowler Jr. won’t fix that. Kinlaw is one of my favorite prospects in the draft. The guy completely changed his body his senior season and is a muscular, lanky athlete for a DT. He has the quickest first step I have ever seen, flawlessly timing the snap count on almost every play. He is an elite athlete who just needs to be coached a bit more.
17. Dallas Cowboys
The Pick: K’Lavon Chaisson, EDGE, LSU
Every year, I fall in love with these types of prospects. The Dion Jordans of the world. The Vic Beasleys of the world. The Brian Burns’ of the world. Tall, fast outside linebackers who sometimes look more like receivers than pass rushers. K’Lavon Chaisson is this year’s exclusively speed rusher, and while they don’t have a great track record in the NFL, I enjoyed watching Chaisson. The guy has a killer outside rip move that will bend around any offensive tackle, and he used his elite speed and high motor to make some great backside tackles in college.
18. Miami Dolphins
The Pick: Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama
The Fightin’ Flores of Miami are back for their second of three picks in the first round, this time addressing a position of need on defense, which they spent a lot of money this offseason improving. Xavier McKinney is the best all-around safety in this class. He can play any type of coverage, and his best trait may be his processing skills and football IQ, having been the leader of a versatile Alabama defense.
19. Las Vegas Raiders
The Pick: AJ Terrell, CB, Clemson
I think the Raiders will be really tempted by WR here in their second first round pick, but WR is a very deep class. GM Mike Mayock loves his Clemson guys, and their current corners are Rashaan Melvin and DJ Hayden, two guys that were cut by the Lions. That says all you need to know about them. AJ Terrell is a nice man coverage corner with good size, but he did struggle mightily in the National Championship this year.
20. Jacksonville Jaguars
The Pick: Jeff Gladney, CB, TCU
After trading Jalen Ramsey to the Rams for this pick, the Jags get their Ramsey replacement. Jeff Gladney is my personal #2 corner in this class. My guy is aggressive in coverage and a feisty competitor, illustrated by his superior tackling skills at the corner position. He routinely locked down receivers, something which isn’t as easy in the air raid Big 12.
21. Philadelphia Eagles
The Pick: Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU
After throwing to converted QB Greg Ward last season, the supremely talented but often injured Carson Wentz finally gets a reliable receiver to throw to. Justin Jefferson is perhaps the most versatile WR in this talented class, having been used both outside and in the slot at LSU. Jefferson had unbelievable production this past season as one of Joe Burrow’s favorite targets, and has great ability after the catch.
22. Minnesota Vikings
The Pick: Jaylon Johnson, CB, Utah
The Vikings lost their top 3 corners this past offseason and are guaranteed to address the position in 1 of their 2 first round picks. I could see Minnesota going with Kristian Fulton here, but I’m more of a Jaylon Johnson guy so I’ll stick to my guns. Johnson is a good corner prospect with arguably the best ball skills in the class, and he had a nice 100-yard pick-6 in a game I watched.
23. New England Patriots
The Pick: Yetur Gross-Matos, EDGE, Penn State
I would love nothing more than to mock my guy Jake Fromm to the Pats, but I’m too lazy to do a three round mock draft. Despite QB issues, the Patriots select Gross-Matos, a more traditional defensive end prospect who does best lining up in a 3-point stance. Gross-Matos will be a great 4-3 defensive end if he can add a bit more strength and was productive in both run stopping and pass rushing in college.
24. New Orleans Saints
The Pick: Patrick Queen, LB, LSU
It will be interesting to see how the Saints choke in the playoffs after spending the whole season as Super Bowl favorites this year. The Saints go not too far down the road for this pick in Patrick Queen, a rangy linebacker who is athletic enough in pass coverage to be an immediate starting outside linebacker in the NFL.
25. Minnesota Vikings
The Pick: Brandon Aiyuk, WR, Arizona State
The Vikings traded away Stefon Diggs and now have a void opposite Adam Thielen. Brandon Aiyuk would be ideal to fill in the void. The former Sun Devil is an absolute speed demon who routinely took over in big spots and made big plays by himself in college. He had incredible catch-and-run touchdowns against Oregon State and Oregon, the latter of which gave Oregon one of only two losses on the season.
26. Miami Dolphins
The Pick: Cesar Ruiz, G/C, Michigan
The Dolphins had a terrible running game last year. Backup QB Hall of Famer Ryan Fitzpatrick was their leading rusher with less than 300 yards, and RB Kalen Ballage had 74 carries for 135 yards (never gets old). After signing Jordan Howard in free agency, the best interior lineman prospect in the draft would do a lot to help the Miami run game.
27. Seattle Seahawks
The Pick: AJ Epenesa, EDGE, Iowa
Epenesa is a solid yet unspectacular prospect who may not have all the physical attributes of an elite EDGE prospect, but was still very productive in his time in college. He fills a position of need for a Seattle team whose defense isn’t what it used to be.
28. Baltimore Ravens
The Pick: Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma
The Ravens still haven’t recovered from losing all their linebackers to 2019 free agency and Kenneth Murray will strengthen the one weakness of the Baltimore defense. Murray is the kind of new age linebacker defenses look for, but he does tend to play a little bit of hero ball, trusting his athleticism so much that he makes incorrect reads on plays.
29. Tennessee Titans
The Pick: Josh Jones, OT, Houston
The offensive line was a big part of Derrick Henry’s dominant year, and Josh Jones will be a good replacement for the newly departed Jack Conklin. Jones has great athletic traits but isn’t good with his technique yet, so he may need a few years on the right side of the line.
30. Green Bay Packers
The Pick: Jordan Love, QB, Utah State
Bit of a surprise, eh? The Packers rolled the dice on a falling QB when they took Aaron Rodgers in 2005, and with Rodgers’ time in the NFL winding down, I expect them to do the same with Jordan Love and have him learn under Rodgers for a few years. Love regressed immensely from his sophomore year to junior year and threw 17 interceptions in 2019, but to me he simply passes the eye test. He’s cool, calm, and collected in the pocket, and has ideal mobility and arm strength for a modern NFL QB.
31. San Francisco 49ers
The Pick: Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor
After addressing their need on defense at pick 13, the Niners will gladly take the best available wide receiver at pick 31. Mims has some of the best size (6’3″) in the class and can jump out of the gym on contested catches, but his film was a bit confusing. Mims would occasionally get shut down in games and go long periods of time without catches. If he gets more consistent, he’ll be a valuable weapon for a team.
32. Kansas City Chiefs
The Pick: D’Andre Swift, RB, Georgia
The first RB gets taken off the board in a strong yet undervalued RB class. The Chiefs might be content with Damien Williams, but getting Swift would be the definition of the rich getting richer. Swift is a do-it-all back whose strength combined with agility allow him to be used effectively in both power runs and off-tackle runs. Swift’s spin move should immediately be in contention for the NFL’s best.