We're doing this one time and one time only. A single mock draft entry this time of year is not for the weary, but I accept the challenge in my annual selection projection. This was one of the more fun years I can recount with the mock draft exercise -- the intrigue and mystery of the top quarterbacks, the depth at receiver, and a pre-draft season unlike any other make this as exciting and unpredictable a year for the draft as we've ever seen. Like you, I love trades on the first night of the draft, you just won't find any in this mock draft -- too many variables. But as you'll see, I acknowledge a couple of spots where we could see some movement on April 23rd.
Looking forward to becoming the Nate Silver of mock drafts here -- 32/32 coming at you!
The Redskins represent the one team that can't trade down in this draft. With the opportunity to select a generational talent at edge rusher or a supremely talented QB (if they're convinced Dwayne Haskins isn't the answer), how could you not stick and pick, especially considering these two options represent the two most valuable positions in football. Conventional wisdom prevails here, and Washington takes Chase Young.
Detroit at No. 3 is the most obvious spot for a trade -- both from the Lions' perspective and from teams looking to take the second QB off the board. But since we're not allowing trades in this mock, let's stick with the "chalk" that's developed during #MockDraftSZN and roll with the top CB in this class, Okudah, for a Lions team that recently traded away a top CB in Darius Slay this offseason.
This pick sure seems to represent a "Choose Your Own Adventure" for the Giants in the offensive tackle department. I've seen just about every OT mocked here, and I'm gonna stick with the one that brings the best of both worlds -- size and athleticism -- and will make life easier for the two best players on the Giants' offense -- RB Saquon Barkley and QB Daniel Jones.
Simmons is as versatile and talented a defender as we've seen in recent draft history, but yes, I realize one position he doesn't play is QB. Armed with tons of draft capital, why does this Dolphins pick have to be for their QB of the future? If Miami isn't totally sold on Tua Tagovailoa (medical or otherwise), does the team have to take Justin Herbert? Ultimately this will come down to how high Simmons is on Miami's board and how big the gap is between Tua/Herbert and the next QB (see: pick No. 18) for the Fins.
The Panthers at No. 7 could be a trade target for some teams; or, Carolina could actually be a dark-horse for a QB here themselves. But for this mock, I've got them taking the best interior D-lineman in the 2020 class, a guy who could help collapse the pocket on the three Pro Bowl QBs in the division -- all of whom have thrown for more than 50,000 yards in their careers.
I don't necessarily think the Jaguars will take Herbert here, given their affinity for Gardner Minshew, but consider this my attempt to win a trip to Super Bowl 55 by conquering the NFL Predict the Pick challenge, which only takes into account the slot the player is drafted in, not the team making the pick. In short, some team trades up for Herbert here.
The Jets need playmakers on the perimeter, and they might be getting the best one in the draft in Lamb, a ruthless run-after-catch artist.
Jeudy is the ultimate technician at WR, possessing superhuman skills getting off press coverage and preposterous suddenness at the top of his routes. Do those qualities sound like they'd be appealing to Jon Gruden & Mike Mayock?
Protecting Tom Brady should be among the Bucs' highest priorities, so a player who can contribute immediately to that goal is paramount. Thomas could start right away at RT or serve as an eventual replacement at LT.
Tiger teammates go back to back midway through Round 1. Chaisson's potential for double-digit sack seasons helps bring about the end of the Falcons' long standing search for consistent edge pressure.
Here he is, Dolphin fans, your QB of the future: Utah State's Jordan Love. Down at the Manning Passing Academy this past summer I saw Love throw the single best ball of any QB there all week, and the other passers in attendance included Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert and potential 2021 draft-day darling Trevor Lawrence. Replicating those types of throws consistently becomes the challenge for Love in Miami, but FitzMagic allows the rookie the time and opportunity to develop.
Admittedly, I feel bad about how low this is for Kinlaw. The Raiders do not. A big upgrade on the interior defensive line falls into Las Vegas' lap.
I wanted to have some fun and give the Vikings Stefon Diggs' brother, Trevon, here with the first-rounder they got from the Bills for Stefon, but cooler heads prevailed. Minnesota's decision not to re-sign Everson Griffen looms large here, as the team uses the first of its two first-round picks to pair an edge rusher with two-time Pro Bowler Danielle Hunter.
How many times have you thought to yourself, this prospect "feels like a Patriot"? Probably not more than I have with Epenesa. The strong relationship ties between Belichick and Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz, and the fact that Epenesa provides some positional versatility up front (a coveted quality in New England), makes this a good fit.
The Saints don't have to look too far for a stud second-level player to help their defense, taking the Louisiana native at No. 24. A state champion at Livonia High School (about 100 miles northwest of New Orleans) and a national champion in 2019 at LSU, Queen will have a legit shot of capturing the championship trifecta with Drew Brees and Co. in his home state.
The Vikings moved on from cornerbacks Xavier Rhodes (No. 25 overall, 2013), Trae Waynes (No. 11, 2015) and Mackensie Alexander (No. 54, 2016) this offseason, while Mike Hughes (No. 30, 2018) is coming off an injury. Time to reload at GM Rick Spielman and coach Mike Zimmer's favorite position, and Clemson's A.J. Terrell fits the bill.
A big, powerful offensive lineman heading to Seattle -- stop me if this sounds familiar. ... Wilson will fit right in up front as the 'Hawks continue their commitment to the ground game.
The Chiefs have one of the most talented offenses in the NFL. Let's try to get the defense up to that level by bringing in Diggs from Alabama.