Mock Draft 1-and-Only.0

Jan 28, 2023

Brady King


The 2020 NFL Draft has been a saving grace during this time. Even with the shift to a virtual draft, the build-up to the event hasn’t changed: this weekend is going to be incendiary. 

Some of my rules for mock drafts are like my rules for March Madness brackets: don’t follow your heart. Your heart is wrong. 

Follow your brain, and trust the tape. And trust the scouts. Don’t worry about Derrick Brown’s combine numbers. He good. The whole process is an inexact science anyways, and science can be wrong.

Your brain will still be wrong, but at least you can have a clearer conscience knowing you followed sound logic. It may blow your mind watching certain general managers and owners attempt to run NFL franchises, but everybody misses. Some just miss more than others. 

Another mock draft rule I have -- and this may be my most adamant one -- is don’t be different simply for the sake of being different. I call it being high on CBD: Click-Bait Deviation. You know it when you see it. You can smell it. We’ve all seen that mock that has a team desperately reaching or has a top-tier player “conveniently” fall to a team that doesn’t have a realistic chance of dropping unless they turn into Laremy Tunsil. If Jerry Jeudy drops out of the top-15, I’ll laugh. If he drops past the Cowboys, I’ll cry.

This rule extends to guessing on trades as well. Do you really think New England will be getting Tua at 13? Why do a mock if accuracy doesn’t matter? Oh, right, because accuracy doesn’t matter to you. 

I believe accuracy should matter. Mockers are already operating in the dark. It’s a challenge to nail the pick without the event of a trade. Even with your handy dandy point system chart, you won’t nail all the details of a trade if one happens. Of course there will be trades, but you should make a mock based off of the player the team would target depending on scheme, depth chart and salary cap. Go chalk on the draft order. 

You may only get 10 picks right in the 1st round, but a .300 career hitter in baseball makes the Hall of Fame.

A difficult mock draft rule to manage is to have fun. We all know there is going to be a team who embarks now on the brave journey to Tank for Trevor. We all know Bill Belichick wants to have a better year than Tompa Brady. Draft accordingly. 

And finally, my most important rule for the mock: own it. If you want to say that Denzel Mims is the truth because he showed up and showed out at both the Senior Bowl and the Combine and that that’s the reason he’s going Day 1, then wear it even if he busts. 

I’d also like to give credit where it’s due. Dane Brugler of The Athletic publishes his yearly draft guide, “The Beast”, and it is so very good. Once upon a time, Hulu had live sports. I watched more college football this year than ever before, yet I have not had the opportunity to go back and watch all the film, visit with all the prospects, or attend senior bowls or the Combine. And this is where “The Beast” proves to be invaluable. Having access to Dane’s work informs many in the industry, myself included. I navigate countless sites to absorb as much data as possible, so I am thankful for the work people like Dane put into their passion which in turn helps me pursue mine.

So, to whom it may concern, the 2020 NFL draft as it should happen. Remember: this mock isn’t wrong just because it isn’t right. 

Round 1
1. Cincinnati: Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
I was high on Burrow going into the college football year, but “possible-Day-1-pick” high, not “first-overall-pick” high. Coming off a 2018 where he completed only 57.8% of his passes for 2,894 yards, 16 touchdowns and 5 interceptions, not even his momma was projecting him to have the greatest individual season in college football history. 

Even before Tua’s injury I wasn’t convinced he was a lock. Two months later and Burrow had so much leverage he could pull an Eli. Luckily for the Bengals, they’re going to get a player who can pull a LeBron. If he wins a title for the Bengals, they need to call the state Joehio.

The Bengals will seize the dey and get a franchise quarterback in Joe Burrow. Now the question could be: is Zac Taylor the man to groom him?

2. Washington: Chase Young, DE, Ohio State
When considering Chase Young’s NFL comps, I listed his floor as Ryan Kerrigan. Yes, his floor is the roof. 100+ sacks and 100+ tackles for loss is Young “busting” in my book. It’s going to be a long rookie contract for the quarterbacks of the NFC East. 

3. Detroit Lions: Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State
When Darius Slay left in free agency, this pick became inevitable. I can’t be alone in wishing we could have seen Okudah in the national championship against Ja’Marr Chase. The Lions will be getting the only Tier-1 Corner in this draft in Okudah. 

4. New York Football Giants: Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson
The NFC East is getting real good real fast. The reason why? Because I don’t want it to. As a lifelong Cowboys fan, the thought of facing Chase Young and Isaiah Simmons twice a year for probably a decade is absolutely depressing. And while many mocks have the Giants taking an offensive lineman, do the busts of Justin Pugh and Ereck Flowers sit in the back of their mind? Lucky for them, there’s no bust factor with Simmons. It’s an easy pick. 

5. Miami Dolphins: Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert can get hurt playing the game of football too. I’ve heard all I need to about the medicals. The tank for Tua was a success. I hate playing the *if*-he’s-healthy game. I’ll put it down right now that Tua will have the best career out of any quarterback in this class. I’ll own this *if* I’m wrong. 

6. LA Chargers: Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
The word is that Anthony Lynn is going to ride or die with Tyrod Taylor. I believe the Chargers are talented enough to do it and that is why they need to go the Dallas Cowboys route of building the best offensive line. Giving Tyrod has as much time as he needs will be the key to their success. While there are other great offensive line prospects, I believe Thomas will make the best left tackle of the bunch, and the Chargers signed Bryan Bulaga who is a career right tackle.

7. Carolina Panthers: Derrick Brown, DL, Auburn
While I’m sure the Panthers wish they could replace Luke Kuechly with Simmons -- and yes, they will take Simmons if he’s still available -- they are still getting an outstanding player in Brown. His combine was disappointing, but his tape is too strong. Some have Javon Kinlaw here, so a big question that must be answered is what the positional value of interior defensive linemen in today’s NFL? The Panthers could have CeeDee Lamb or Jerry Jeudy as the best player available. Could they be the first team to completely ignore team-need and do whatever it takes to put up 40+ points a game? 

8. Arizona Cardinals: Jedrick Wills Jr., OL, Alabama
The experts -- of which I am not one (yet) -- are split on this one. The position isn’t being debated, the player is. I don’t expect the Cardinals to take Mongo Mekhi because Kyler wouldn’t be able to see over him, let alone not get eaten by him. Also, they need a right tackle. While it could be Wirfs, Wills is more than a safe pick since he is the top tackle in the class according to many big boards, and he is the only one in the bunch who took every rep at right tackle in his career. 

Personally, I think they need to take CeeDee Lamb here, but why would you want to have that much fun on offense.

9. Jacksonville Jaguars: C.J. Henderson, CB, Florida
I am surprised I have not seen this on more mocks. He is the only Tier-2 corner, and you aren’t replacing Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye with a Tier-3 corner in this draft. It’s near consensus that Henderson has separated himself from the pack. It would be tempting for the Jags to grab one of the three elite wide receivers waiting on the board, but this is their greatest need and the talent fits the spot.

10. Cleveland Browns: Josh Jones, OT, Houston
Please, please, please take a wide receiver. Surely they will go tackle, but this may be my biggest surprise. Mekhi Becton is also in play, but I won’t die on this hill. The Browns signed Jack Conklin so they need a left tackle. Tristan Wirfs played the majority of his career at right tackle while Jones played entirely at left tackle. Becton has position flex, but his pass pro has come into serious question. His sheer size is enticing, but the Browns need protection for Baker, and they have a better chance at getting it from a solid four-year starter in Jones.

11. New York J-E-T-S: Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
It’s here! The run on wide receivers shall commence! Sam Darnold won’t complain no matter what help he gets. If Jerry Jeudy is the second coming of Jerry Rice, then the Jets have to pull the trigger. I love Lamb, but Jeudy fits like a glove. The problem with Ruggs III at this spot is that some think he wasn’t even the second-best receiver on his college team. No shame in that since Alabama has turned into Wide Receiver U. 

12. Oak… Las Vegas Raiders: CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
I can’t be the only person who hears Al Davis calling from the grave to take the speedster Darrius Henward-Ruggs III, but CeeDee is the right call. They would be getting a monster who will YAC like a boss. 

13. San Francisco 49ers f/IND: Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama
Tyreek Hill may or may not be a fair comparison for Ruggs III, but in a copy-cat league, the 49ers are not alone in looking for a way to compete with the Chiefs. Durability will always be a concern for anybody who runs this fast, but this kind of weapon will be as much a dream for Kyle Shanahan as it will for Jimmy G. 

14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Tristan Wirfs, OL, Iowa
According to Peter King, the Buccaneers want a pass-catching running back. Spoiler alert but I don’t see a single running back being taken on Thursday. Even Vegas has good odds on that. The other rumor for the Bucs is that they want a top corner. But unless they have different grades than essentially the entire football world they’d be reaching for a corner here, since Henderson and Okudah are off the board.

When your quarterback is 43 years old, you’re as “win-now” as it gets. They need a right tackle and Wirfs is like Wills Jr. in that he played the majority of his career on the right. Dane Brugler has noted that Wirfs measurables may fit him at guard at the next level. Fortunately for the Bics, Pro Football Focus had Wirfs as the highest-graded tackle in the class on pass blocking. 

Bruce Arians and Jason Licht should know they can get value at corner in the second round and value at running back in the third round. 

15. Denver Broncos: Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU
The moment Jefferson ran a 4.4 forty, I was persuaded he would be the fourth wide receiver taken. The Broncos are going to get talent to support Drew Locke, even if it ends up being a different receiver. Maybe they like Laviska Shenault Jr. because he is used to the elevation. Maybe they like Michael Pittman because his profile matches Courtland Sutton and they want two Clydesdales. It’s just hard to get away from Joe Burrow’s most trusted target when we now know his speed, especially since he can flourish playing the slot inside of Sutton. 

16. Atlanta Falcons: K'Lavon Chaisson, Edge, LSU
The Cowboys will hate to see whomever the Falcons select because it will be a player they likely have at the top of their board. Many have Chaisson making it to the Cowboys, and Pro Football Focus isn’t buying the narrative he’s even a top prospect. Not working out at the Combine may end up hurting him since Pro Days got canceled, but he is not alone among players whom teams will have to trust the tape on. The Falcons need a corner but I can’t even begin to guess how they have that position group ranked. The real question is if Chaisson is above all of 

17. Dallas Cowboys: A.J. Terrell, CB, Clemson
The way the board falls will be interesting because there are many viable options for Dallas at this spot. It took will-power to not take Javon Kinlaw here. As the adage goes, you can never have too many pass rushers, and Kinlaw would be able to provide that from the interior with authority. I want to be on record saying I wan’t

It’s worth noting that some rumors are so full of smoke they should have a surgeon general’s warning on them. However, if the Cowboys don’t trade out and stick with the pick, the steam on Terrell from Cowboys’ insiders is convincing. It would be viewed as a reach by many, but Cowboys fans need to give Will McClay the benefit of the doubt for his track record.

Side note: A few respectable mocks had the Cowboys taking center Cesar Ruiz. Even in a trade down, that would be highly questionable. Connor McGovern was drafted in 2019 because of Travis Frederick unknown future. There is little reason to believe that is how they will spend such valuable draft capital.

18. Miami Dolphins f/PIT: Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville
Pro Football Focus can’t influence me to drop Becton any more than #18. The Dolphins could use both a right tackle and a left tackle, so Becton is a perfect fit. He would obviously go to right tackle since I clearly have Miami taking a left-handed quarterback.

19. Las Vegas Raiders f/CHI: Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama
If corner is not the position here, I’d be surprised. While Diggs was the only top corner to not test the forty at the Combine, he looked great in position drills. To go along with his measurables, I can see Mayock and Gruden falling in love with the potential. I also wouldn’t be surprised if Diggs has the ability to play safety at the next level. 

20. Jacksonville Jaguars f/LAR: Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina
Losing Telvin Smith and having to worry about Myles Jack’s health will cause the Jaguars to consider linebacker, so Queen and Murray are options. Ironically, Kinlaw would fall because of his medicals. However, if ever there was a time to take the best player available, now would be the time. The off-season drama between the Jaguars and Yannick Ngakoue makes this pick essential. 

21. Philadelphia Eagles: Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor
Denzel Mims: This is my pet cat. Listening to different analysts, it’s funny how many people are resistant to the idea of him going this high. “He really does have good film,” they say. “He really did have a good senior bowl,” they say. “He really did have a good combine,” they say. Yet he can’t be this high because of his route tree in Waco? I’d be more surprised if Mims doesn’t get selected in the first round than I was when Tebow got selected in the first round. 

The NFC East is going to come out of Day 1 with a bunch of A+’s as it looks to redeem itself from last year’s division debacle.

22. Minnesota Vikings: Jeff Gladney, CB, TCU
The scrappiest corner of the bunch, it feels like Gladney has boom or bust potential. He gets credit for playing Denzel Mims well, but I believe he benefited from Baylor’s quarterback situation in that game. Still, Brugler has a 1st-round grade on him as do many others. 

23. New England Patriots: Marlon Davidson, DL, Auburn
It would be the most on-brand move for Bill Belichick to go get Jameis Winston just to spite Tom Brady. Either way, the defense carried Tom last year, and it will carry their quarterback next year. The versatility of Davidson will prove to be valuable to Belichick. 

NOTE: I would have slotted in a WR for this pick if Brady had stayed. 

24. New Orleans Saints: Patrick Queen, LB, L-S-Who Dat
I am high on Queen, and I’m sure the Saints are, too. The Louisiana native gets to stay in-state once again. This is my steal of the draft. I’m bullish on Queen. 

25. Minnesota Vikings f/BUF: Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU
What better way to replace Stefon Diggs than selecting a rich man’s Stefon Diggs. Yeah, I said it. Reagor is a straight dog who will be a steal if he slides to Day 2. The Vikings shouldn’t let that happen. Sure, you can get value at receiver at #58, but you also can’t get Jalen Reagor at #58. 

Yes, the Vikings are going to double-dip Horned Frogs. If Ross Blacklock falls to #58, now it’s a party. 

26. Miami Dolphins f/HOU: Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama
This is a pick the Dolphins can likely make at number 18. I don’t have it in me to tab a running back here. I was disappointed in the measurables from the Combine, but like Derrick Brown, I am going to trust the tape. 

27. Seattle Seahawks: Yetur Gross-Matos, EDGE, Penn State
I’m surprised Jadeveon Clowney doesn’t come up on Gross-Matos’ mockdraftable comparison. He should fit into the Seahawks culture and likely develop into an effective pass rusher at the next level.

28. Baltimore Ravens: Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma
Coming off a disappointing ending to Lamar Jackson’s MVP year, the Ravens are going to get a plug-and-play starter who won’t let Derrick Henry run all over them like in the divisional round. 

29. Tennessee Titans: Josh Uche, Edge, Michigan
Both Josh Uche and Zack Baun are Belichickian-type players, which is why Mike Vrabel would know how to use either of them. While both are versatile, Uche’s Senior Bowl raised his stock just enough to earn him a 1st-round selection. 

30. Green Bay Packers: Michael Pittman, WR, USC
This is the most interesting pick of the day. We know Aaron Rodgers needs help at wide receiver and the argument about this tier of receivers is similar to the tier of cornerbacks. My favorite stat about Pittman is how few drops he had with how many targets he had. He complements Davante Adams nicely because Pittman has as big of a catch radius.

31. San Francisco 49ers: Cesar Ruiz, C, Michigan
The 49ers need to make this one count. They won’t pick again for a couple days. Maybe they consider a monster mauler like Isaiah Wilson and move him inside where his technique won’t get exposed by elite pass rushers. The safer pick is Ruiz, who can play both center and guard. Weston Richburg’s recovery will determine where on the interior Ruiz plays. This won’t be a sexy pick, but that’s what Ruggs III is for. 

32. Kansas City Chiefs: Jordan Love, QB, Utah State
You gotta risk it to get the biscuit. Who better to replace Patty Mahomes than a guy who looks like his doppelganger. Why shell out half-a-hundo per year when you can grab a guy who has shades of Mahomes in his style. Sure, Love led FBS in interceptions with 17 in 2019, but do you know what the number 29 represents? It’s the amount of interceptions Mahomes and Love both threw in three collegiate years. Mahomes’ completion percentage at Tech was 63.5%; Love’s at Utah State was 61.2%. For what it’s worth, Dak Prescott’s was 62.8% at Mississippi State. All winners.

So, in the words of Ed Sheeran, “GIVE ME LOVE.”

Kidding. The Chiefs take Jaylon Johnson, cornerback out of Utah.


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