Alex Simpson’s NFL Mock Draft, After Wild Card Round
With the wild card games out of the way, we have two more teams locked in place for our Mock Draft. Who will your team grab in the first round?
1. CIN: Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
Chase Young is the best player in college football, but the Bengals need a quarterback. Joe Burrow entered the year as a day-three prospect and has quickly risen to top-pick consideration. Defenses can’t figure him out. Burrow has elite ball placement, awareness, and improvisation skills that make him the best quarterback in all of college football.
2. WAS: Chase Young, EDGE, Ohio State
Young is a generational talent and a game-wrecker. You can find him chasing your favorite quarterback on getting triple-teamed by said quarterbacks bodyguards. With Washington switching to a 4-3 scheme under Ron Rivera and Jack Del Rio, Young will have the opportunity to become the next defensive rookie-of-the-year and future player-of-the-year.
3. DET: Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State
Okudah is a legit lockdown corner that can take his matchup out of the game. Pairing him with Darius Slay could give Detroit, arguably, the best cornerback tandem in the NFL.
4. NYG: Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
What the Giants do with the fourth pick will significantly alter the first round of the draft in April. Offensive tackle is their most significant need, but none of them really provide value here. Jerry Jeudy is the best route-runner to come out in years and has quick feet, showing the ability to stop, start, and cut on a dime, leaving defensive backs looking foolish.
5. MIA: Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
The talent is there with Tua; however, many things regarding his injury history have teams thinking twice. A fractured hip, two ankle surgeries, and a broken wrist in the spring will cause teams to panic when he’s on their board when it’s their turn to pick. If he can make a return in time to perform at the combine, he can still hear his name called early in the draft. Miami may not be able to pass on a guy with the potential to become one of the best signal-callers in the league.
6. LAC: Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
The Philip Rivers era seems to be coming to an end in Los Angeles, and it’s unlikely they will roll with Tyrod Taylor next season. Herbert is a bit inconsistent at times, often struggling against the top competition. Despite his shaky play, the physical tools are there that most evaluators look for in a quarterback. I expect him to really impress the scouts at the combine with his throwing and athleticism.
7. CAR: Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn
This is the perfect scenario for the Panthers here as Brown falls in their lap with the seventh pick. Brown is a man amongst boys on the field, often commanding double teams. He is a one-person wrecking ball that plays the run on his way to the quarterback. This is excellent value at a position of need for the Panthers.
8. ARI: CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
Larry Fitzgerald isn’t getting any younger, and Christian Kirk needs another playmaker alongside him. Kliff Kingsbury needs another weapon for Kyler Murray, and CeeDee Lamb can be just that. I don’t expect Lamb to run fast at the combine, but what he does after the catch is impressive.
9. JAX: Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson
A real jackpot for Jacksonville here at nine, Isaiah Simmons is there for the taking. Just like Josh Allen last year, teams will pass on him, filling areas of need, causing Simmons to fall to the Jaguars. Simmons is a hybrid, able to drop back in coverage, rush the quarterback, and stop the run. He has sideline-to-sideline speed that is rare for a guy of his size.
10. CLE: Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
The biggest unknown for Cleveland is what direction the team will head in as it looks to hire a head coach and general manager, in that order. However, Baker Mayfield needs someone to protect him. Look no further than Andrew Thomas. Thomas has started since his freshman season and has been outstanding at keeping Jake Fromm upright.
11. NYJ: Jedrick Wills Jr., OT, Alabama
Wills is one of the biggest risers this year. He’s been playing right tackle at Alabama, however, in his case, that would be his quarterback’s blindside. He has a great kick-slide, excellent hand placement, and mauling power. A transition to left tackle shouldn’t be a problem for a guy, who in my eyes, has become the best tackle prospect in this draft class.
12. LV: Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama
Derek Carr doesn’t have a speedster to stretch defenses, and the Raiders have traditionally loved speed in the past. With Mike Mayock and Jon Gruden calling the shots, they have made some unexpected moves that paid off. Ruggs is going to boost his draft stock at the combine when he runs in the 4.2 range. You can’t teach speed.
13. IND: Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson
The Colts have been limited in the passing game with T.Y. Hilton being hurt and having Andrew Luck retiring in the preseason. Higgins gives Jacoby Brissett a big guy to throw to downfield. He has the ability to go up and catch 50-50 balls with relative ease.
14. TB: Grant Delpit, S, LSU
The Jim Thorpe award winner joining a Todd Bowles-led defense is a match made in heaven. As strong as Tampa Bay was against the run, they were the complete opposite against the pass. They cut former first-round pick, Vernon Hargreaves, earlier in the year, leaving another hole in the secondary. Delpit can play in the box or drop into coverage.
15. DEN: Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa
Denver went 4-1 with Drew Lock as their starter, despite not having the best offensive line. One of their biggest problems on offense is protecting Lock. Garrett Bolles isn’t the answer, and Ja’Waun James was overpaid. Wirfs is clearly a top-3 tackle in this draft and is an outstanding value pick at a position of need for John Elway.
16. ATL: A.J. Epenesa, EDGE, Iowa
Vic Beasley just hasn’t lived up to the expectations, leaving Dan Quinn with the need to draft another player to rush the quarterback. Iowa defensive end, A.J. Epenesa does just that. Grady Jarrett and Tak McKinley can’t do it alone, and with the addition of Epenesa, they should quickly form a nice pass rush. At 6’6, 280 pounds, Epenesa brings another level of power to that defense with the ability to play inside and on the edge.
17. DAL: Javon Kinlaw, DL, South Carolina
The Cowboys have one of the most talented rosters in the league, despite not making the playoffs. There are playmakers all over the field on both sides of the ball. They could use help on the interior of their defensive line. With Kinlaw, Robert Quinn, and Demarcus Lawrence rushing the passer, Dallas would cause some significant problems.
18. MIA (via PIT): Yetur Gross-Matos, EDGE, Penn State
A team with so many holes, you have to draft the best available player. Gross-Matos is still pretty raw, but he has the potential to develop into a top-notch pass rusher. He has a high motor, never giving up on a play. He chases down ball-carriers from behind and gets after the quarterback with ease.
19. LV (via CHI): Paulson Adebo, CB, Stanford
Adebo is a corner with excellent ball skills and size for the position. A converted receiver, Adebo, can anticipate the receiver’s next move and run their route with them. He’s able to cover any kind of receiver in man or zone and would be a nice piece with Gareon Conley being cut during the season.
20. JAX (via LAR): Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU
After trading Jalen Ramsey last year, the Jaguars need to find his replacement. After taking Simmons earlier in the draft, Jacksonville decides to bolster their defense further. Fulton can be a lockdown corner on the outside and bring back what the Jaguars are lacking after making the deal that sent Ramsey to Los Angeles.
21. PHI: Laviska Shenault Jr., WR, Colorado
Alshon Jeffery can’t stay healthy, and the rest of the team has struggled with drops. Their 2019 second-round pick, JJ Arcega-Whiteside, hasn’t panned out yet, and Greg Ward can’t be their most reliable option. If Doug Pederson can find a way to design plays for Shenault and get him involved. He can be a tremendous asset, giving Carson Wentz some speed and versatility on the field.
22. BUF: Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU
With the help of great quarterback play, Jefferson has shot onto the scene with outstanding production in 2019. Coming off a four-touchdown performance against Oklahoma, Jefferson is a good route-runner with even better hands. He hauls in contested catches with ease and is a great red-zone target.
23. NE: Austin Jackson, OT, USC
With the loss to the Titans, the one positive is that New England’s draft position improves. The offensive line has struggled all season in large part to injuries. If the Patriots want to bring Brady back, they will need to focus on the offensive side of the ball.
24. NO: Brandon Aiyuk, WR, Arizona State
Michael Thomas has been great in Sean Payton’s offense. You literally couldn’t ask him to do anything else, but he can’t do it alone. Adding a Brandin Cooks type receiver in Brandon Aiyuk would do wonders for Brees if he returns for another season.
25. TEN: Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin
Derrick Henry has been nothing short of exceptional this year. However, he is an unrestricted free agent this off-season, and Tennessee has yet to offer him a long-term deal. They can draft Jonathan Taylor, giving them a workhorse running back at a much cheaper cost than Henry. Taylor has elite vision and has shown improvement in the passing game.
26. MIN: C.J. Henderson, CB, Florida
Xavier Rhodes is on a steady decline and the other corners haven’t panned out. Minnesota has a good defense, despite lacking a stud at corner. C.J. Henderson can step in day one and contribute. He’s got good size, he’s physical, and he’s a willing tackler. He also loves to get inside receivers’ heads with trash talk.
27. MIA (via HOU): D’Andre Swift, RB, Georgia
Miami had minimal success in the running game in 2019. In fact, Ryan Fitzpatrick finished as their leading rusher. The Dolphins will be looking for a playmaker to take the pressure off Tua, and Swift is their guy. He can run inside, outside, catch passes, and hold up in pass protection. He is a true every-down back, that closely resembles Alvin Kamara.
28. SEA: Terrell Lewis, EDGE, Alabama
Seattle needs pass rush help and Lewis brings that to the table. Terrell Lewis has a quick first step, allowing him to get an advantage against slower, less athletic blockers. He would bring immediate value to the Seahawks.
29. KC: Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma
Murray is the prototypical modern-day NFL linebacker. He can cover, rush the passer, and stop the run. His speed is other-worldly for a middle linebacker. You can’t run through him, and you definitely won’t run around him. Andy Reid falls in love with this guy and won’t let him slide out of the first round. Deservedly so.
30. GB: Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU
Aaron Rodgers has no familiar faces in that wide receiving corps outside of DaVante Adams. He finally has a good supporting cast on defense. Give Rodgers weapons, and he shall flourish. Reagor is a speedster who can start, stop, and cut on a dime as well as any player in the draft, not named Jerry Jeudy while giving you an added weapon in the return game.
31. SF: Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama
Safety is the biggest hole on San Francisco’s roster. They don’t have many draft picks this year, so they must make the most of them. Xavier McKinney is a guy who can come in and play centerfield. He’s a natural free safety who can be a ball hawk in coverage for Kyle Shanahan.
32. BAL: K’Lavon Chaisson, EDGE, LSU
Baltimore will be leading the majority of the time. That will force opposing teams to have to play catch up by airing it out. To stop those teams from climbing back into the game, the Ravens will need to get a better pass-rusher. Chaisson is able to disrupt the passing game with his quick first step and ability to get to the quarterback with relative ease.
You can follow me on Twitter @Alex2TheSimpson for more football content.
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