2020 NFL Mock Draft: Local Experts Make Final 1st-Round Picks

Jesse Pantuosco
April 21, 2020 - 10:00 am

If you’re irrationally excited to see Roger Goodell’s basement in all its glory Thursday night, don’t worry—you’re not alone. We’re all chomping at the bit for football, even if the closest we get is grainy footage of the commissioner’s man cave. Maybe it won’t be the most visually compelling draft ever staged, but beggars can’t be choosers in this time of societal unrest. We’re all adapting to a new reality and if that reality includes Dave Gettleman drafting from a makeshift war room in his house (only to be completely upstaged by Tom Telesco’s immaculate home office), so be it. In a world that’s not normal, why should the NFL Draft be any different?

This isn’t your parents' mock draft. It’s bigger, better, flashier and involved way more manpower. In fact, it took 18 of us to make this kitty purr. Along with the usual suspects—the Philadelphia Five consisting of myself, Jordan Cohn, John Healy, Tim Kelly and Dan Mennella—we looped in 13 local writers, all from RADIO.COM stations, to pick for their respective markets. And here, ladies and gentleman, is the end result.

Disclaimer: For simplicity’s sake, our first-round mock doesn’t include any trades, though with all the jockeying for position that goes on during the draft, we’ll probably see a handful in real life.

Joe Burrow looking deep in LSU's national championship win over Clemson
Photo credit Jonathan Bachman, Getty Images

1. Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Burrow, QB, LSU

There have been rumblings Burrow may prefer to play elsewhere, but I’m not about to upset the apple cart, at least not this early in our simulation. This should be a pretty open and shut case. When you’re a rebuilding team like the Bengals and there happens to be a Heisman-winning quarterback available who just threw for 60 touchdowns while leading his team to an undefeated season and a National Championship, you don’t walk to the podium to draft that player—you run. A master dissector with startling accuracy and a remarkable football IQ, Burrow isn’t going to fix all the Bengals’ problems, but he’ll fix his fair share. More importantly, he’ll give a struggling franchise a star it can lean on for years to come. – Jesse Pantuosco, RADIO.COM

2. Washington Redskins: Chase Young, Edge, Ohio State

After all the noise this offseason, months of rumors hinging on every single update on Tua Tagovailoa's health, the Redskins will write this story exactly as it should be written, by making the obvious, sensible pick staring them in the face in Chase Young. The Redskins will wrap their arms around second-year quarterback Dwayne Haskins once and for all, hoping Young creates such havoc alongside the fearsome foursome of Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne, Matt Ioannidis and Montez Sweat, that opposing quarterbacks simply cannot operate. It’s a hold-your-nose approach, to be sure, because the Redskins will have trouble scoring in their own right, but Young is the type of can’t-miss prospect a defensive minded head coach like Ron Rivera just cannot resist. – Chris Lingebach, 106.7 The Fan

3. Detroit Lions: Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State

The Chase Young dream dies at No. 2, as expected. And as expected, the Lions take Young’s former teammate to bolster a secondary that A) gave up the most passing yards in the NFL last season and B) no longer has three-time Pro Bowler Darius Slay. The Lions are a candidate to trade down here, most likely with the Dolphins or Chargers. Either way, Okudah feels like their guy. He’s long, physical and thrives in press coverage, all staples of Matt Patricia’s defense in Detroit. Patricia and GM Bob Quinn are facing a make-or-break season and Okudah has the talent to help them win now. – Will Burchfield, WXYT

4. New York Giants: Jedrick Wills, OT, Alabama

Some fans may want to see linebacker Isaiah Simmons out of Clemson taken in this spot, but with four highly touted offensive tackles in this draft class, GM Dave Gettleman is going to make sure to get his hands on one of the “hog mollies.” At fourth overall, the Giants will have their pick of the litter of offensive linemen. Wills has been heavily linked to the team and seems like an ideal fit. He can start at right tackle immediately and scouts believe he can transition to left tackle in the future. It’s possible the Giants trade down, but that’s not Gettleman’s M.O. His philosophy is to build in the trenches and that is exactly what he will do. – John Healy, RADIO.COM/WFAN

5. Miami Dolphins: Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama

Ultimately, all the chatter about Justin Herbert and the Dolphins proved to be a smoke screen. This time of year, it's foolish to believe everything you hear, especially if it contradicts the Dolphins and their year-long fascination with Tagovailoa. Since Brian Flores became the head coach and GM Chris Grier began to tear down the roster, it was always about being able to grab the prolific, yet injury-riddled, Alabama QB in 2020. The negative for Miami is that they'll never be able to personally evaluate Tagovailoa's health status before the draft. The positive for Miami is that they traded away key-players such as Laremy Tunsil, Kenny Stills, and Minkah Fitzpatrick with the intention of using that draft capital to acquire their quarterback of the future. As it turns out, their man falls to them at No. 5 while keeping their entire treasure trove of draft picks. – Jonathan Zaslow790 The Ticket​

Oregon QB Justin Herbert escapes for a long touchdown
Photo credit Steve Dykes, Getty Images

6. Los Angeles Chargers: Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon

Certainly, one could talk themselves into selecting a potential star offensive lineman here. However, while it appears that the Chargers will open the 2020 season with Tyrod Taylor as their starter, he's likely to be a bridge between Philip Rivers and the next franchise quarterback. Herbert would have the chance to sit behind Taylor for part or all of 2020 and then immediately join a pretty talented roster. The Chargers need a star quarterback for two reasons; to keep up with the Chiefs in the AFC West and to establish some sort of foothold in Los Angeles. With Burrow and Tagovailoa off the board, Herbert is the most ideal selection here. – Tim Kelly, RADIO.COM

7. Carolina Panthers: Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson

Carolina gets its potential defensive star of the future in Simmons and a guy who can play multiple positions right away on a defense that is lacking star power. Linebacker isn't the most pressing need for the Panthers right now as they also need plenty of help on both the defensive and offensive lines as well as their secondary, but I don’t see Marty Hurney and Matt Rhule passing on a top talent like Simmons. He’s the perfect fit for the modern NFL defense with the ability to play linebacker, safety, cornerback and defensive end. The Panthers could opt to go with current need at No. 7 and take a guy like Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown, but Simmons has the higher upside with a lot more versatility. – Jason Huber, WFNZ

8. Arizona Cardinals: Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa

After acquiring All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins in a trade, this is a relatively easy selection in terms of position—the Cardinals need to upgrade their offensive line in front of reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year Kyler Murray. While there doesn't appear to be a consensus in terms of who is the best of the top four offensive linemen, Jedrick Wills Jr. is already off the board in this mock. That leaves former Iowa offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs as the best remaining. As he showed at the NFL Combine, Wirfs is one of the most athletically gifted offensive lineman to enter the draft over the last five years. Adding him to a budding Cardinals' offense makes them a threat, even in a very competitive NFC West. – Tim Kelly, RADIO.COM

9. Jacksonville Jaguars: Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn

I have to be feeling pretty good if I'm the Jaguars right now as there have been murmurs Brown could go as early as fourth overall to the Giants. If Dave Caldwell is going by the best player available approach—which he should, considering the monumental rebuild that Jacksonville is facing—then Brown seems like the obvious selection at No. 9. Sure, the offensive line and secondary need help as well, but in terms of a pure impact player, Brown might have the highest floor and ceiling in the remaining draft pool.

What about Javon Kinlaw, another intriguing defensive tackle? CBS Sports analyst Brian Jones discussed why he prefers Brown, noting Kinlaw still needs to develop while Brown is ready to make an impact as soon as he steps onto an NFL field. For Jacksonville, the 2019 SEC Defensive Player of the Year would help ease the pain of Yannick Ngakoue's seemingly inevitable departure. He’ll also bolster a run defense that was abysmal in 2019, allowing the second-most rushing touchdowns (23) and the second-highest yards per carry (5.1). – Jordan Cohn, RADIO.COM

10. Cleveland Browns: Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia

If the board falls this way on April 23, Browns general manager Andrew Berry may do cartwheels. Berry would be in position to land arguably the top offensive tackle available in this year's class in Georgia's Andrew Thomas. A first-team AP All-American and All-SEC first-teamer in 2019, Thomas would be the final piece of a reshaped offensive line in front of quarterback Baker Mayfield. Thomas possesses the versatility and athleticism in both the pass and run blocking game to slide into Cleveland's new wide-zone blocking scheme seamlessly. After spending $42 million on Jack Conklin at right tackle, Berry finally fills future Hall of Famer Joe Thomas' shoes with another Thomas, and on a team-friendly rookie contract.

With a Master’s in computer science from Harvard in his pocket, no NFL GM may be more equipped to handle this year's virtual draft than Berry. Don't be surprised if Berry and the Browns move down from 10 and target Boise State offensive tackle Ezra Cleveland later in Round 1 while also collecting additional picks. – Daryl Ruiter, 92.3 The Fan

Alabama star Jerry Jeudy celebrates another trip to the end zone
Photo credit Harry How, Getty Images

11. New York Jets: Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama

The Jets will have a tough decision to make if the draft breaks this way. Do they bolster the offensive line or go with a No. 1 wide receiver? The Jets addressed the line concerns with their addition of George Fant in free agency and still have second-year tackle Chuma Edoga on the right side, so they can buy themselves some time to see how those two pan out. But if someone like Jeudy, who has the potential to be a star, is there at No. 11 it will be hard for New York to pass on him. Sam Darnold does not have a true go-to receiver and if Jeudy can follow the footsteps of other Alabama wideouts like Julio Jones and Amari Cooper, he would be an invaluable addition to the Jets’ offense. – John Healy, RADIO.COM/WFAN

12. Las Vegas Raiders: CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma

The Raiders have been in need of a No. 1 wideout since they traded Amari Cooper two seasons ago. They tried to fill that void last year with Antonio Brown, but we all know how that ended. Tyrell Williams showed promise and the team did add Nelson Agholor in free agency, but neither are true No. 1 options. CeeDee Lamb, who some argue is the top wideout ahead of Jeudy in the draft, could be the star receiver the Raiders need. Lamb’s explosiveness and ability to pick up yards after the catch have drawn him comparisons to other studs like DeAndre Hopkins and Davante Adams. – John Healy, RADIO.COM/WFAN

13. San Francisco 49ers: C.J. Henderson, CB, Florida

The pressure on John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan from the fan base to draft a wide receiver is at an all-time high and with Henry Ruggs just sitting there, you can bet Shanahan will be yelling through his Zoom to bring the speedster from Alabama to the Bay. However, Lynch will tell his young coach to chill, reminding him this is a deep receiver class. The 6’1,” 205-pound Henderson is rising up draft boards and fills a need for San Francisco with Richard Sherman, K'Waun Williams and Ahkello Witherspoon all slated for unrestricted free agency after 2020. This is a pick the 49ers won't regret. – Bonta Hill, 95.7 The Game

14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville

Phew. I’d be the Jordan Peele sweating GIF right now if John had pulled the trigger on Becton at 11 (I thought it was 50-50), but thankfully he got the receiver ball rolling instead, allowing me to swoop in and draft the 6’7,” 364-pound monstrosity on Tom Brady’s behalf. The Bucs’ window for winning is right now and they need to do all they can to protect their golden goose. That means keeping Brady in bubble wrap and Becton certainly has the goods to help on that front. Though far from a finished product fundamentally, Becton’s brute strength and surprising quickness for a player of his immense size (he clocked a respectable 5.1 at the Combine) give the promising 21-year-old plenty to work with. Becton, who played both tackle positions at Louisville, would likely fit best at right tackle with Donovan Smith entrenched on Brady’s blind side. – Jesse Pantuosco, RADIO.COM

15. Denver Broncos: Henry Ruggs, WR, Alabama

I was skeptical that Ruggs would still be available at this juncture, but here he is. Ruggs is a no-brainer at No. 15, giving Denver a much-needed field stretcher to pair with rising star Courtland Sutton on the perimeter. While he never put up gaudy counting stats in Tuscaloosa (it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle when you share a locker room with Jeudy, DeVonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle and a host of other future pros), Ruggs’ blinding, 4.27 jets make him a near-impossible assignment. He should mesh perfectly with vertically-inclined sophomore Drew Lock, a cannon-armed gunslinger who loves letting it rip. Had Bonta gone the Ruggs route at 13, I was prepared to take Henderson, an exciting cornerback prospect who could fill the void left by free-agent casualty Chris Harris. – Jesse Pantuosco, RADIO.COM

South Carolina DT Javon Kinlaw comes off the board at No. 16
Photo credit Jacob Kupferman, Getty Images

16. Atlanta Falcons: Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina

Kinlaw is a 6'5,” 315-pound D lineman who immediately bolsters the Falcons' defense in a division where they face Christian McCaffrey and Alvin Kamara twice a year. Dan Quinn, a coach with a defensive background, is very much on the hot seat entering 2020. While the Falcons theoretically have some offensive pieces that could allow them to be competitive, their defense has underwhelmed the past two seasons and they haven't been in a position cap-wise to add a ton of impact players. Kinlaw should substantially upgrade the team's run defense, providing cheap production to balance out some of Atlanta’s more expensive veterans. – Tim Kelly, RADIO.COM

17. Dallas Cowboys: K'Lavon Chaisson, Edge, LSU

The Cowboys would love to trade down here, but if they can't find a trade partner, Chaisson makes sense for a team with both short and long-term pass-rushing needs. Despite his boom-or-bust profile, Chaisson's athleticism and upside make him a worthwhile pick for Dallas. – Jeff Cavanaugh, 105.3 The Fan

18. Miami Dolphins: Josh Jones, OT, Houston​

No team in the NFL had more money to spend in free agency than the Dolphins. Coach Brian Flores is a defensive guy and the team spent on that side of the football. With three first-round picks, Miami will now focus on its offensive needs. After selecting their quarterback of the future in Tagovailoa at the top of the draft, the Dolphins’ top priority should be keeping Tua upright. Jones started 45 games at left tackle for Houston and is a perfect fit on Miami's offensive line. After trading away franchise left tackle in Laremy Tunsil last summer, the Fins have found his replacement in Jones. – Jonathan Zaslow, 790 The Ticket

19. Las Vegas Raiders: Jordan Love, QB, Utah State

The defense can wait. With a home run pick of CeeDee Lamb earlier in the draft (thank you, John Healy), the Raiders are giving Jon Gruden another massive-upside prospect in Jordan Love at No. 19. Love has been compared to a poor man’s Patrick Mahomes (the “poor man’s” is optional, but way more realistic) and with a less-than-stellar QB competition shaping up between Derek Carr and Marcus Mariota, the former Utah State Aggie could be in a position to earn a starting gig right away. While Vegas’ QB depth chart is crowded for the moment, there’s no guarantee Carr sticks around for the regular season as his release would free up a ton of cap room (albeit with a sizable dead cap hit, as well). – Jordan Cohn, RADIO.COM

20. Jacksonville Jaguars: Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU

Derrick Brown was a steal at ninth overall and though the Jaguars could use some help on their O line, the top five tackle prospects are already off the board. So instead, they’ll look to rebuild a defense still reeling from trades of Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye by drafting a championship-winning corner with potential to be a game-changer in the Jags secondary. Fulton can handle man coverage as well as any DB in this draft class, a clear need for Jacksonville after losing a pair of shut-down corners. These first two picks should help the Jags negate some of their recent losses, replacing them with talents capable of becoming impact players in due time. – Jordan Cohn, RADIO.COM

Justin Jefferson captures a wide-open touchdown for LSU
Photo credit Todd Kirkland, Getty Images

21. Philadelphia Eagles: Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU

Jefferson brings a great combination of size (6’1”/202), speed (4.43 forty at NFL Combine) and production (111-1,540-18 receiving line last season). He has some of the best hands in the draft, dropping only 11 balls in his three years at LSU, ideal for an Eagles team that has suffered mightily from drops the past two seasons. Jefferson had his best year in the slot, where he spent the majority of 2019, but has played on the outside as well, giving him the versatility the Eagles like from their receivers. Jefferson has the talent and personality to be an immediate star in Philadelphia. – Eliot Shorr-Parks, WIP

22. Minnesota Vikings: A.J. Epenesa, Edge, Iowa

Minnesota is going through a defensive transformation this year. After years of relying on savvy veterans, the Vikings parted ways with almost half their defensive starters this offseason. Epenesa will be tasked with replacing Everson Griffin and should pair nicely with Danielle Hunter on the edge. He had success as a pass rusher at Iowa (11.5 sacks last season) and was also a capable run-stopper at the collegiate level. Epenesa could become the next star in the Vikings’ “Purple People Eaters” legacy. – Dan Edwards, WCCO

23. New England Patriots: Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma

This worked out perfectly for Bill Belichick as the Pats get their choice of the second-best linebacker behind Isaiah Simmons at No. 23. While Patrick Queen from LSU is intriguing, Murray makes the most sense for New England’s defense. Not only is Murray a tackling machine, totaling over 100 in each of his past two seasons, but he also had 17 for loss last year, showing he can make plays. This is also a potential spot where the Patriots could trade back to pick up a second-round pick (they have none), but if Murray is still available, it would be a solid selection. – Ryan Hannable, WEEI

24. New Orleans Saints: Patrick Queen, LB, LSU

New Orleans’ front office should be very pleased if the board falls this way. Queen is one of the more versatile linebacker prospects in this class and would fill a huge need for the Saints, who lost A.J. Klein to free agency and have two other key linebackers (Alex Anzalone and Kiko Alonso) recovering from season-ending injuries. Queen will also be a popular pick with the Saints’ fan base after leading LSU to a National Championship at the Superdome, where New Orleans plays its home games. – Amos Morale III, WWL 

25: Minnesota Vikings: Austin Jackson, OT, USC

Minnesota’s O line needs an overhaul. With a renewed investment in Kirk Cousins, the Vikings simply have to keep their quarterback upright this year. Rebuilding that unit begins with Austin Jackson. He brings great size (6’5”/322) and anchored a strong USC offensive line last season. The first-team All-Pac 12 tackle is a lock to be a Week 1 starter for the Vikes. – Dan Edwards, WCCO

Georgia's D'Andre Swift makes a beeline for the end zone
Photo credit Jamie Squire, Getty Images

26. Miami Dolphins: D'Andre Swift, RB, Georgia

The good news for the Dolphins’ running game entering 2020 is they return their leading rusher from last year. The bad news is their leading rusher was quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. After trading Kenyan Drake to Arizona last season, Kalen Ballage was given an opportunity and rushed for a mere 1.8 yards per carry, totaling just 135 yards in 12 games. The Fins brought in free agent Jordan Howard this offseason and pairing him with Swift will give Miami’s running game a new, fresh look. Whether Tagovailoa or Fitzpatrick is the starting quarterback, Swift gives the passing game another weapon, having caught 73 balls out of the backfield in his three years at Georgia. – Jonathan Zaslow790 The Ticket

27. Seattle Seahawks: Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama

The Seahawks seem to prefer athletic dynamos over high-floor guys, so I could see them trading out of this spot and recouping an extra pick or two for the second and third rounds, or reaching for a Combine standout who others might peg as a second-rounder. But short of that, they will probably be looking to bolster their pass rush and defensive backfield with this pick. With Jadeveon Clowney still unsigned, an edge rusher makes perfect sense here, but this year's class isn't especially deep. McKinney is as close to a known quantity as you'll find coming out of college given the large sample size and top-tier competition he played against. He's a safety by trade, but scouts say he can line up anywhere in the secondary. Lauded for his coverage prowess, McKinney is also a sound tackler. - Dan Mennella, RADIO.COM

28. Baltimore Ravens: Cesar Ruiz, C, Michigan

The Ravens make Ruiz the first interior offensive lineman off the board. While there are probably better-rated talents still available here, Ruiz is highly projectable given his experience and relative young age. The 20-year-old began his career as a guard before transitioning to center at Michigan, a move Baltimore has made with a couple other linemen in recent years. An insider linebacker would make sense for the Ravens in this spot as they seek to repair an uncharacteristically porous run defense, but with Queen and Murray off the board, they'll have to look elsewhere. When you have one of the league's best quarterbacks, it only makes sense to protect him and the Ravens could use a boost on their interior following the retirement of eight-time Pro Bowler Marshall Yanda. – Dan Mennella, RADIO.COM

29. Tennessee Titans: Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama

The Titans also need help in their secondary with veteran Logan Ryan likely gone in free agency. After Okudah and Henderson, it's unclear who will be the third corner off the board. It might not be Diggs, but he could be worth a gamble given his effectiveness in college, when he was actually healthy. Diggs might otherwise be a top-15 pick if not for concerns about all those games missed. Injury woes aside, Diggs is talented and versatile, having transitioned from wide receiver as a freshman. He's also strong and physical, playing his best in press coverage. Mike Vrabel of all coaches should understand how to best deploy such a skill set. Plus, Tennessee has had success in the past with oversized Alabama products (see Derrick Henry). – Dan Mennella, RADIO.COM

30. Green Bay Packers: Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor

The Packers are in desperate need of a difference-making pass-catcher. Last season, Davante Adams was the only legitimate option Aaron Rodgers could trust. The No. 2 receiver on Green Bay’s roster was second-year UDFA Allen Lazard. The Packers have struggled to put good receivers around Rodgers for years and they need to address this shortcoming now before the future Hall-of-Famer leaves his prime. The last time Green Bay took a wideout this high was in 2002.

Mims isn't the most prolific talent in the class, but unless the Packers trade up for one of the more established receivers (Jeudy, Lamb or Ruggs), he’ll probably be their best option at this juncture. The Baylor product has a knack for coming down with 50/50 balls and had one of the most impressive Combines of any receiver in the draft. He had issues catching the ball in college but blamed some of those struggles on playing through a broken hand last year. Given their glaring need at the position, don't be surprised if the Packers add another pass catcher to pair with Mims in the later rounds. – Dan Plocher, WSSP

USC's Michael Pittman Jr. catches a ball in traffic
Photo credit Sean M. Haffey, Getty Images

31. San Francisco 49ers: Michael Pittman Jr., WR, USC

John Lynch rewards Kyle Shanahan's patience by giving him a 6’4,” 220-pound wideout who can go up and get it. Pittman, who comes from a football family—his father Michael was a Super-Bowl-winning running back for the Buccaneers while his younger brother plays at Oregon—had a senior season to remember at USC, snagging 95 receptions for 1,275 yards to go along with 11 touchdowns. And that was largely with a freshman quarterback under center. With veteran Emmanuel Sanders lost to free agency and Jalen Hurd’s back very much a question mark, it’s no secret the 49ers need to upgrade their receiving corps while adding another weapon for Jimmy Garoppolo. Pittman is a polished route-runner who loves to bully opposing cornerbacks. He ran a respectable 4.52 at the Combine, giving him just enough speed to complement Deebo Samuel and George Kittle in the passing game. I love Pittman in this spot and I think the Niners will too. – Bonta Hill, 95.7 The Game

32. Kansas City Chiefs: Zack Baun, LB, Wisconsin

Coming off a Super Bowl win and returning 20 of 22 starters, the Chiefs don’t have many holes to fill, giving GM Brett Veach some flexibility with the 32nd pick. Coming into the draft with only five picks in hand, it would certainly make sense to trade out of the first round and acquire a few more selections. If that doesn’t happen, look for Veach to shore up the second level of Steve Spagnuolo’s defense by selecting Zack Baun.

The Chiefs lack a true coverage linebacker. Anthony Hitchens and Damien Wilson are both at their best when running downhill and attacking the ball-carrier, but aren’t as comfortable covering tight ends and running backs over the middle. Baun is an explosive athlete with the speed and quickness to cover sideline to sideline. He also has enough burst to make plays in the backfield, as he showed by compiling 12.5 sacks and 19.5 tackles for loss at Wisconsin last year. A converted dual-threat QB turned linebacker, Baun is just now coming into his own and should have a bright future in Kansas City. – Justin ParrishKCSP

LISTEN NOW on the RADIO.COM App
Follow RADIO.COM Sports
Twitter | Facebook I Instagram