1. Cincinnati Bengals – Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
Let’s stop overthinking this. Joe Burrow is not only coming off of one of the best seasons by a QB in college history, but his roots trace back to the state of Ohio. The Dolphins might possess the draft capital to get a deal done, but it’s nothing more than a pipe dream.
2. Washington Redskins – Chase Young, Edge Rusher, Ohio State
Washington’s decision seems like a foregone conclusion. It is too early to move on from Dwayne Haskins after using your 15th pick on him last season, and it doesn’t hurt matters that Chase Young appears to be a generational talent off the edge. There really isn’t much to think about here; Young will be the selection.
3. Detroit Lions – Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State
Conventional wisdom would typically point towards this being a prime spot for the Lions to be able to trade down in the draft and still acquire either CB Jeff Okudah or DT Derrick Brown. Unfortunately, a weak QB class significantly dampens the potential that Detroit can pull off a deal in a year that is going to have its fair share of issues with teams forced to select their picks virtually. I don’t think it is out of the question that Miami moves up a pick or two to prevent the Chargers from leapfrogging them at either three or four, but I think the cost ends up not being worth the price of admission for anyone involved. Detroit’s staff can’t afford another losing season, which makes it challenging to trade too far down the board, place the Lions in a position where they must grab the player who can help them win right away. I believe that to be Okudah over Brown.
4. New York Giants – Tristan Wirfs, Offensive Tackle, Iowa
If we have learned anything from the New York Giants, it is to expect the unexpected. That narrative is going to drive many to believe that general manager Dave Gettleman is going to have a shocking pick in store for us on draft night, but it is essential to look at his previous two opening-round selections before jumping to that conclusion Yes, RB Saquon Barkley at the 1.02 in 2018 and QB Daniel Jones at the 1.06 in 2019 might not have been what fans wanted, but it does tell me that the Giants are placing a heavy emphasis on the offensive end of the football. While Isaiah Simmons is a do-it-all savant on the defensive side of the ball, the team needs someone that can not only keep Jones upright but also open up running lanes for Barkley. Tristan Wirfs might be the most athletic tackle in a class that is deep at the position, and I think that level of skill will catch the eye of the Giants.
5. Miami Dolphins – Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
From a personal standpoint, I don’t think Miami has to select a quarterback here. Isaiah Simmons makes a lot of sense for a team that is loaded with draft capital over the course of the seven rounds, and there is always a chance that we see either Tua Tagovailoa or Jordan Love still available for Miami’s 18th pick, but the issue is that I am not sure that mentality will be seen the same way by fans. There will already be some scrutiny thrown the direction of the Dolphins if they pass on Tagovailoa at five and going anything other than quarterback might be enough to cause a complete meltdown of the fanbase.
*** Reports have come out that Miami does not have Justin Herbert in their plans and will instead decide between Tua Tagovailoa and Andrew Thomas. Those rumors may very well be accurate, but it feels like a drastic stance to take in the final few hours and could be nothing more than an attempt to bait Los Angeles into moving up in the draft to grab Tagovailoa themselves. While it doesn’t seem like it would accomplish much on the surface, it does give the team a built-in excuse for why they had to settle on Herbert and potentially could net them a trade partner if a team like the Chargers or Cleveland Browns want to move up to grab their man. I’m going to stick with Herbert at 5, but it is a situation worth monitoring.
6. Los Angeles Chargers – Andrew Thomas, Offensive Tackle, Georgia
Tom Telesco runs a tight ship as the general manager for the Chargers. You aren’t going to get much insight into what way the team is leaning, but I don’t think it is farfetched to believe the organization bypasses on quarterback if given the option. NFL teams haven’t been able to run a physical of their own on the former Bama quarterback, which leaves me to believe that he is going to experience a slide on draft night. Once again, Isaiah Simmons is an option on the defensive end, but is it too much of the same thing with what they already have on defense with Derwin James? I’m going to say yes, leading me to believe that they will attempt to bolster up the offensive line with Andrew Thomas, Jedrick Wills or Mekhi Becton.
7. Carolina Panthers – Isaiah Simmons, Defensive Player, Clemson
It is difficult to label a position for Isaiah Simmons. He has played strong safety, cornerback, both inside and outside linebacker and it seems likely that he will transition to the NFL as a hybrid safety/linebacker/edge player. Position-less prospects sometimes can scare off teams because they aren’t sure how to use them in their system, but Simmons is as versatile and talented of a player as we have seen in years. The Panthers most likely have their eyes on DT Derrick Brown but would have to think twice about passing on Simmons if he slips to seven.
8. Arizona Cardinals – Derrick Brown, Defensive Tackle, Auburn
Offensive line is going to be a popular position most will take when mocking out who the Cardinals will select with the eighth pick in the draft. While I do believe a player like Jedrick Wills is firmly an option in most scenarios, I find it difficult to imagine we would see Arizona bypass selecting Derrick Brown, who would step in and be the anchor for the defensive line on day one
9. Jacksonville Jaguars – CJ Henderson, CB, Florida
Many believe CJ Henderson is the best CB in this year’s draft. That general belief should be all the Jaguars needed to hear to realize the Florida corner won’t be available for them at pick number 20. There are teams like the Atlanta Falcons that could take an aggressive stance to try and get themselves into the top 10 for either Okudah or Henderson, but it is challenging to see where that opening will come with the way the board has played itself out so far.
10. Philadelphia Eagles (Via Cleveland Browns) – CeeDee Lamb, Wide Receiver, Oklahoma
It seems likely that the Cleveland Browns are eyeing a left tackle in this year’s draft, and if the Chargers do decide to take LT Andrew Thomas at six, things open up for the cards to be shuffled for the first time on the night. There have been rumors circulating for the last week that the Eagles are “aggressively pursuing” trading up for Lamb, and this might be their last chance to jump the teams ahead of them to land their man.
11. New York Jets – Jedrick Wills, Offensive Tackle, Alabama
It would be considered a moderate surprise to see Jedrick Wills drop out of the top 10, but it does seem possible with the way the board is set up in front of the New York Jets. Wills allowed only one sack in his college career and would provide much-needed help if Sam Darnold wants to stop seeing ghosts.
12. Las Vegas Raiders – Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama
Henry Ruggs is more than a burner and has the ability to transform into a Tyreek Hill sort of player for whatever team drafts him. Reports are that head coach Jon Gruden is enamored with the speedster out of Alabama and may try to mimic what the Chiefs have in Hill. It would be a bit of an upset to see Ruggs go ahead of Jeudy, but it is well within the range of possibilities.
13. Atlanta Falcons (Via San Francisco 49ers) – Javon Kinlaw, Defensive Tackle, South Carolina
The Niners are running a masterclass on how to manipulate a draft. It feels as if they have been linked to every player around this range, which should allow them to acquire a little extra value at the end of the day. If the Falcons whiff on getting themselves into the top 10, Javon Kinlaw should be their last go-to choice.
*** I do believe San Francisco might stay put if Henry Ruggs falls to them at 13. Ruggs would be a dynamic playmaker to pair next to Deebo Samuel.
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Mekhi Becton, Offensive Tackle, Louisville
Mekhi Becton’s flagged drug test might cause a slight slippage to occur on draft night. If that does end up being the case, Tom Brady and company would land a mountain of a man at the 14th selection. Becton measured in at 6-foot-7 and 364 pounds while running a 5.1 40-yard dash. Tampa needs help in protecting their newly acquired asset, and Becton would be an ideal fit.
15. Denver Broncos – Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
Some believe the Broncos are prime candidates to move up in the first round to grab one of the big-three WRs, but if things play out in this manner, they will be able to stand pat and potentially land the best WR in the class at no extra cost.
16. New England Patriots (Via San Francisco 49ers) – Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
Originally slated to be the selection of the Atlanta Falcons, the Niners move back for the second time in four picks – this time working out a deal with Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots. Predicting trades can be difficult, but we do know that John Lynch and company will be doing everything in their power to add to their measly two selections in the first 155 picks. Belichick gave San Francisco Jimmy Garoppolo for what was considered to be pennies on the dollar in 2017, and don’t be surprised if the two sides are able to work out another deal that can help both organizations.
17. Dallas Cowboys – K’Lavon Chaisson, Edge Rusher, LSU
The loss of Byron Jones and Jeff Heath has thinned out Dallas’ secondary, but the Cowboys remain stubborn with their attitude of not selecting a safety in the first round, settling on edge rusher K’Lavon Chaisson out of LSU. Chaisson might be viewed as a disappointment to some Cowboys fans, but he is the perfect fit for their defense.
18. Miami Dolphins – Xavier McKinney, Safety, Alabama
I am not sure the options of Xavier McKinney or Joshua Jones will make Dolphins fans feel better after losing Laremy Tunsil and Minkah Fitzpatrick, but both are options and firmly in play with the 18th pick. If Miami plays their cards right, they have a chance to walk away with both, and I believe selecting McKinney first gives them their best chance of doing that.
19. Las Vegas Raiders – A.J. Terrell, CB, Clemson
The Raiders would prefer to trade back to gain extra selections in this year’s draft, but assuming they are unable to do so, Mike Mayock has never been afraid to reach for a guy he likes. Terrell is shooting up draft boards, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see Las Vegas grab a corner that could bolster their secondary for years to come.
20. Jacksonville Jaguars – Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU
With the way the board is currently set, the Jaguars would have a few ways to go about this selection. A.J. Epenesa of Iowa and Yetur Gross-Matos of Penn State are both in play as replacement options with the Yannick Ngakoue situation in mind, as is Wide Receiver Justin Jefferson, who could be an intriguing addition to a squad that needs help for Gardner Minshew. Frankly, the Jaguars need pieces across the table, making what they will do a complete shot in the dark. I lean towards Jefferson after the team just released Marqise Lee, but all options are in play.
21. Cleveland Browns (Via Philadelphia Eagles) – Ezra Cleveland, Offensive Tackle, Boise State
Ezra Cleveland to the Cleveland Browns?! It sounds like a match made in heaven. As noted for Philadelphia’s selection at number 10, the Browns are in the market for a left tackle, and Cleveland is the player they will have in mind if they trade out of the 10th pick.
22. Minnesota Vikings – Jeff Gladney, CB, TCU
Enter one of the disaster situations for the Minnesota Vikings. Justin Jefferson looks like a surefire choice for the Vikings if he falls to 22, but their man won’t be on the board for the selection this time around. Jeff Gladney, Jaylon Johnson and Kristian Fulton are all options that can help fill a void at cornerback, but Gladney seems like the best stylastic fit.
23. San Francisco 49ers (Via Patriots) – Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama
The 49ers have been left with an intriguing board after moving down multiple times to the 23rd pick. Is CB the biggest need for San Francisco this season? Probably not. But with Richard Sherman, K’Waun Williams and Ahkello Witherspoon all dealing with expiring contracts in 2021, either Kristian Fulton or Trevon Diggs would make sense as potential replacements. There have been some reports that the Niners have Fulton in play if they stay pat with the 13th pick, but Diggs feels like a more natural selection for Robert Saleh’s defense because of his size. In reality, I could keep trading these picks back for the Niners, but it becomes redundant after a certain point.
24. New Orleans Saints – Patrick Queen, LB, LSU
I really did want to mock Jordan Love to the New Orleans Saints, but I think it is going to take head coach Sean Payton falling in love with the Utah State QB to pass on a pressing need. I find it hard to believe Payton would use a valuable selection on a quarterback when 1. Taysom Hill is a fascinating-but-unproven backup and 2. With no second-round pick, it feels like a waste of a resource when you are trying to win a Super Bowl in what could be Drew Brees’ final season. Both Patrick Queen and Kenneth Murray fit the system and would give the team athletic linebackers who can not only drop back in coverage but also blitz or roam the sidelines. Murray seems like more of the prototypical selection the Saints would make, but the intrigue of selecting an LSU Tiger in the first round has to be something worth considering for a team that has never been able to call one of their own on opening day.
25. Minnesota Vikings – Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor
I think it is important for the Vikings to leave the first round with a WR to help replace Stefon Diggs. Assuming they don’t get that at 22 with Justin Jefferson, they should have a handful of options that include but aren’t limited to the likes of in Denzel Mims, Brandon Aiyuk or Jalen Reagor. Perhaps no wideout has helped himself more since the end of the season than Mims, who several teams grade as a top-25 caliber prospect.
26. Miami Dolphins – Joshua Jones, Offensive Tackle, Houston
The situation plays itself out perfectly for the Dolphins, who are able to land Xavier McKinney at 18 and still get Josh Jones at 26. Jones logged four seasons as the starting left tackle at Houston and has an ideal frame at 6’7″ and 320 pounds.
27. Seattle Seahawks – Yetur Gross-Matos, Edge, Penn State
I can’t imagine we see Yetur Gross-Matos slip out of the first round, and Seattle may do something they typically don’t – which is stay put on opening day. At 6-foot-5 and 266 pounds, Gross-Matos is an athletic specimen that will add needed help off the edge, even if the team does ultimately re-sign Jadeveon Clowney.
28. Baltimore Ravens – Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma
The slide of Kenneth Murray ends with the Baltimore Ravens, and they get themselves arguably the best pure linebacker in the draft. Defensive coordinator Wink Martindale would acquire a chess piece that can create havoc from sideline-to-sideline, making him one of the best value picks in round one.
29. Tennessee Titans – A.J. Epenesa, Edge, Iowa
A.J. Epenesa’s 5.04 40-yard dash will cause him to slide in this draft, but he still has the power, size, and skill set needed to succeed at the NFL level. It doesn’t hurt that he is a great fit for the Titans next to Jeffery Simmons on passing downs.
30. Green Bay Packers – Brandon Aiyuk, WR, Arizona State
There is a definite buzz forming around Brandon Aiyuk, and you can sense it from multiple GMs. Aiyuk has quickly started to propel up draft boards and makes for the perfect fit in a Packers offense that can use a playmaker.
31. Los Angeles Chargers (Via San Francisco 49ers) – Jordan Love, QB, Utah State
The 49ers have made it clear that they are open to trade on Thursday and will move back for the third time on the night at pick 31. This is an ideal spot for any team that wants to trade up and secure that fifth-year option on a first-round pick, and organizations such as the Los Angeles Chargers or Indianapolis Colts feel like the prime candidates to be the ones to make that move if they want Jordan Love.
32. Kansas City Chiefs – Cesar Ruiz, C, Michigan
Kansas City is capable of going in any direction. They are returning 20 of 22 starters next year and should have a handful of credible choices when they do round out the opening day. Kristian Fulton is in play, as is a dynamic playmaker such as Georgia RB D’Andre Swift. With no real need in place, I expect the Chiefs to take the best man available and adding an intelligent player that can protect Patrick Mahomes is never a bad idea if they do believe Cesar Ruiz is that guy.