The 2020 NFL Draft is just a few days away, and while it is no longer going to have boats ferrying the draftees into Roger Goodell’s warm embrace, players will still be drafted. Even though pro days and visits have been cancelled, there is still plenty to analyze and keep us occupied in advance of one of the biggest weekend’s on the NFL’s offseason calendar.
The L.A. Times does an annual mock draft giving team beat writers a chance to pick for the team they cover. As far as inside information or even gut calls go, beat reporters should have more insight than your average mock drafter, giving this mock some extra appeal. The only trouble is that they can’t trade and there’s a real chance we see some movement early in the draft as teams jockey for their favorite quarterback. But, this is still an interesting mock that goes toward what teams are truly looking for in the draft.
Below is a look at the Top 10 and offensive skill position players that went in the first round of the L.A. Time’s mock draft.
Without teams like the Lions or Giants trading out of their picks, the Top 10 looks very much like what you will find across the industry and if trades weren’t allowed, my Top-10 would look pretty much like this one:
1. Bengals – Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
2. Washington – Chase Young, ED, Ohio St
3. Lions – Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio St
4. Giants – Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson
5. Dolphins – Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
6. Chargers – Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
7. Panthers – Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn
8. Cardinals – Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa
9. Jaguars – Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
10. Browns – Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
Team reporters didn’t go all in on quarterbacks except for the three we expect to go early. Players like Jordan Love and Jacob Eason stayed out of the first round, which is expected but we know how teams end up getting a little over excited about grabbing a quarterback.
Burrow and Tagovailoa are the two best prospects in the draft and as long as the Dolphins and Chargers fill good about his hip, they will look to trade up with the Lions to grab him, as Washington appears sold on taking Chase Young. Personally, I like Tagovailoa’s upside more in fantasy longterm, but understand the injury risk involved. Both should be useful fantasy players in their careers though, while the rest of the field have work to do.
Running back value has steadily declined in recent years, so it is no surprise to not see one taken in the first round. There is a chance De’Andre Swift, Jonathan Taylor or even Clyde Edwards-Helaire sneak into the first if a team gets antsy and doesn’t have a second-round pick in good position, but the draft is actually deep for running backs and I expect there to be a run early on Day 2. Teams could trade up to secure their man, with many of those second rounders set up to be fantasy contributors their rookie season.
You’ve heard it a thousand times by now but there is no-doubt this is an extremely deep draft for wide receivers. For fantasy, even the best wide receivers take some time to become a top fantasy player, but recently there have been more that contribute early than in the past. After Jeudy, Lamb, Ruggs and maybe Jefferson, we are likely to see wide receiver order very widely, but for the most part teams can’t go wrong with the talent available.
The Jaguars taking Jeudy makes sense, but they have so many holes right now that they could take a wide variety of positions. There’s little doubt that Jeudy is set up for a long career atop the depth chart wherever he goes and taking the best available talent makes sense. The Raiders appear more than ready to take a receiver and Lamb is a home run pick. They will be happy if he is there at 12. Many mock drafters have Ruggs going to Denver to give another element to the passing game next to Courtland Sutton and unless someone grabs him first, I expect the Broncos to end up with the speedster. Jefferson and the Eagles also seem destined to happen as long as the team agrees with the consensus on his ability. After Jefferson though, things get a little hairier. But, those Top-4 receivers have the ability to make a fantasy impact quickly and should be secure in a starting job come Week 1.
Jacksonville Jaguars (9): Jerry Jeudy
Las Vegas Raiders (12): CeeDee Lamb
Denver Broncos (15): Henry Ruggs
Philadelphia Eagles (21): Justin Jefferson
Green Bay Packers (30): Brandon Aiyuk
San Francisco 49ers (31): Denzel Mims