Several draft analysts like to predict what teams will do in the draft, but in my opinion, they can get somewhat redundant after a while- the predicted picks usually don’t skew much, and in the end, most mock drafts don’t reflect how the draft will play out. Instead, today, I’ll play the role of general manager for all 32 teams, and create a “what I would do” mock draft. Obviously, there will be players over-drafted based on public perception, but in this world, I’ll be working strictly off my draft board, since I’m playing the role of all 32 teams. Sure, this is an alternate universe, but it still reflects what the draft should look like, in my opinion- teams drafting players at the most valuable positions. So, without further adieu, the Cincinnati Bengals are on the clock!
*Consensus Rankings Based on Draft Network’s Predictive Rankings
#1 Pick: Cincinnati Bengals Select QB Joe Burrow, LSU
Draft Board Rank: 1st
Unless the Bengals can get four first-round picks, there is no way they should, and no way they will pass on Joe Burrow with the first overall pick. Not only is Burrow easily the best quarterback prospect in this class, but his accuracy, poise, and pocket presence make him arguably the best quarterback prospect in the past decade. Even behind Cincinnati’s subpar offensive line, I see him finding instant success, to the point where he’s considered a top-ten quarterback by the end of his first season. Andy Dalton has been a productive quarterback, but Burrow gives the Bengals their first true franchise quarterback since they drafted Ken Anderson in 1971.
#2 Pick: Dolphins (via Redskins) Select QB Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama
Draft Board Rank: 2nd
Consensus Rank: 3rd
In this trade, the Dolphins will send the 18th overall pick and some mid-round draft capital to move up from the 5th overall pick and select to their franchise quarterback. Ideally, Miami could select a quarterback that didn’t have the injury issues of Tua Tagovailoa, but the Alabama product has the accuracy and poise that teams covet, while the initial medical checks have been positive on his hip. Plus, there the drop-off between him and next quarterback in this draft is large, they’ll be too competitive to secure a franchise quarterback in next year’s draft- their division is very weak. Ideally, they’d have their offensive line and receiving corps in better shape, but with a solid bridge quarterback in place with Ryan Fitzpatrick, they can plan on Tagovailoa being properly supported and ready to start by 2021.
#3 Pick: Lions Select CB Jeffrey Okudah, Ohio State
Draft Board Rank: 4th
Consensus Rank: 5th
Since they utilize a defensive scheme with a lot of man coverage, the Lions ought to value cornerbacks more than the average team. After trading Darius Slay, they have a massive short-term and long-term need at the position, and luckily for them, Jeffrey Okudah is the perfect press-man corner for them. He’s experienced with a variety of coverages playing at Ohio State, has all the length and athleticism you could want- he’s the best cornerback prospect since Jalen Ramsey. Detroit may try to trade down and still land Okudah, but at the end of the day, he should be, and will be their main target.
#4 Pick: Giants Select Defensive Playmaker Isaiah Simmons, Clemson
Draft Board Rank: 3rd
Consensus Rank: 6th
By all reports, this is most likely going to be the pick for the Giants, as they are rumored to have heavy interest in Clemson’s Isaiah Simmons. However, note the position I assigned him with; he doesn’t have a traditional position, and is rather a versatile playmaker for a defense. If he’s strictly a linebacker or safety, he could excel in either role, but that would be limiting his value- he’s someone you must have a plan for and should build your defense around. Still, with plenty of length in his 6’4″, 240-pound frame, as well as his 4.39 40-yard dash speed, he’s a true unicorn. I see him as someone who’ll neutralize passing attacks over the middle of the field, and overall, he has the potential to impact a team as much as a defensive player can. I’m a little skeptical that the Giants have the modern-day approach necessary to employ him correctly, but he certainly could change the outlook of that defense for next season and beyond.
#5: Redskins (via Dolphins) Select WR CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma
Draft Board Rank: 6th
Consensus Rank: 13th
The Redskins’ main priority in this draft should be to trade down and accumulate draft assets, as they don’t have a second-round pick and have so many long-term needs to fill. However, even with edge rusher Chase Young on the board in this scenario, I believe it’s imperative that they properly support Dwayne Haskins. Unless he’s in a better position to succeed, it’ll be impossible for Washington to be able to tell if Haskins has what it takes to be their franchise quarterback; right now, they only have one competent receiver in Terry McLaurin. Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb would complement McLaurin tremendously with his run-after-catch skills and tremendous ball skills, and all of a sudden, Haskins would have two #1 receivers to target. As great as a player as Young is, he wouldn’t move the needle as much as Lamb would, considering how poorly constructed the Redskins’ offense is at the moment.
#6 Pick: Chargers Select QB Jake Fromm, Georgia
Draft Board Rank: 5th
Consensus Rank: 91st
Oftentimes, teams can become too enamored with a player’s arm strength or athletic tools, which leads to them over-drafting players who aren’t fit to play the quarterback position in the NFL. What they should value more, meanwhile, is stable quarterback play, which is what Georgia’s Jake Fromm would provide to a team. He’s not a great athlete and lacks top-tier arm strength, but he’s smart, accurate enough, and has tremendous pocket presence; his skill set will translate well to the NFL. The Chargers should definitely look to trade-up for Tagovailoa, while a tackle is tempting here, but it would be very convenient for them to find a quarterback in this year’s draft. After all, several of their key contributors have contracts set to expire, and having a quarterback on a rookie contract would really help. Luckily for them, Fromm likely will be available in either the second or third round, so they could grab a franchise tackle AND then secure the services of a future starting quarterback. Regardless, he’ll be a very valuable selection for whomever drafts him.
#7 Pick: Panthers Select EDGE Chase Young, Ohio State
Draft Board Rank: 8th
Consensus Rank: 2nd
By no means am I trying to diminish Chase Young’s abilities by ranking him as the eight most valuable prospect. He’s a sure bet to be a high-end pass rusher for a team, but with edge rusher not being a very valuable position, he’ll have to be a superstar to be as impactful as some of the players ranked ahead of him on my draft board. The goal of the draft is to bring in players who’ll help you win games, rather than draft All-Pros. I see Young as a fringe top-five pick, which speaks to how tremendous of a prospect he is, but he should not be drafted over Okudah and Simmons, who can have a meaningful effect on a team’s pass coverage. As for Carolina, they’re in great position to select the best defensive player available after reshaping their offense, with either Simmons and Okudah representing the best-case scenario.
#8: Cardinals Select CB Kristian Fulton, LSU
Draft Board Rank: 10th
Consensus Rank: 24th
The Cardinals are widely expected to select the best offensive tackle available, but in my mind, they may want to reconsider that approach. After all, they ranked eighth and third in pass-block grade and pass-blocking efficiency, respectively, per Pro Football Focus; Marcus Gilbert and Justin Murray can get the job done at right tackle, especially since their deficiencies can be mitigated for head coach Kliff Kingsbury’s offensive scheme. In fact, after acquiring DeAndre Hopkins, Arizona has surrounded Kyler Murray with enough to succeed, and in the end, it’ll come down to their young players to guide them offensively. Now, it’s time to rebuild the defense, which needs help in every area. One area is pass coverage, as they’re in need of another cornerback, while Patrick Peterson will be a free agent next offseason. Kristian Fulton isn’t on Jeffrey Okudah’s level, but he’s the clear second-best cornerback in this class; he’s technically sound, capable of playing in any scheme, and has the rare pass breakup skills that teams covet from the cornerback position. Ideally, the Cardinals could trade down from the 8th overall selection to accumulate more assets, especially since they don’t have a second-round pick, but Fulton would be a perfect fit for them.
#9 Pick: Jaguars Select OT Andrew Thomas, Georgia
Draft Board Rank: 11th
Consensus Rank: 10th
There’s a variety of routes the Jaguars could take with their two first-round picks, but I’d love to see them improve their offense. Based on their trades of veteran assets, they clearly aren’t looking to compete in 2020, so there’s no reason to try to improve their defense. Rather, they should try to put second-year quarterback Gardner Minshew in the best position to succeed as they evaluate him, and he’ll need better pass protection. Jacksonville is hoping that former second-round pick Jawaan Taylor to be their future right tackle, but Cam Robinson is clearly not the answer at left tackle, and Georgia’s Andrew Thomas is best left tackle in this draft class. He maybe isn’t as exciting as Mekhi Becton, but he’s much more refined both as a pass protector and run blocker, and also has more than enough athleticism and strength to succeed. He’ll likely be available for Jacksonville, and unless someone else magically falls, he’s likely their best option.
#10 Pick: Browns Select OT Tristan Wirfs, Iowa
Draft Board Rank: 13th
Consensus Rank: 7th
Jedrick Wills Jr. is the best offensive tackle in this draft class, in my opinion, but his limited experience on the left side on the offensive line could hurt his stock for teams in need of a strict left tackle, such as the Jaguars or Browns. Plus, teams will have their own draft boards based on how certain prospects fit into their scheme, and Tristian Wirfs feels destined to play in head coach Kevin Stefanski’s zone-blocking scheme. The Iowa product’s athletic traits are unprecedented, and it shows how he blocks in space. That’s a major skill needed to succeed in this type of offensive scheme, and as a result, he has to be a premier target for Cleveland. All of a sudden, the Browns could have one of the top offensive lines in future to go along with a lot of playmakers for Baker Mayfield.
#11 Pick: Jets Select OT Jedrick Wills Jr., Alabama
Draft Board Rank: 8th
Consensus Rank: 11th
With the 11th overall pick, the Jets could look to trade back, but assuming they can’t, they ought to take either the best offensive tackle or receiver available. Sam Darnold currently doesn’t have the pass protection or receiving corps needed to produce at a high level, and all rumors suggest that New York will improve their offense with this pick. It came down to Alabama products Jedrick Wills Jr. or Jerry Jeudy, but in the end, the Jets need two starting tackles, so Wills Jr. got the edge here. Last season, New York ranked 30th in pass-blocking efficiency last season, according to Pro Football Focus, and starting Chuma Edoga at right tackle won’t help matters. Wills Jr., especially if kept on the right side, is the best pass protector in this draft class, while the power he plays with is off the charts. He’s very close to being a blue-chip right tackle, and would certainly make a meaningful impact for Darnold in his third season under center.
#12 Pick: Raiders Sign WR Jerry Jeudy, Alabama
Draft Board Rank: 7th
Consensus Rank: 14th
The Raiders, in need of a true #1 receiver, would be ecstatic to have the chance to select Jerry Jeudy with the 12th overall pick. He and CeeDee Lamb are two of the top receiving prospects in recent memories, though, at the moment, the case can be made the Alabama product is the more refined prospect. His route-running ability is unprecedented for a college prospect, while he can make plays after the catch, be a deep threat, and work on the outside or in the slot. He, deep threat Tyrell Williams, and slot receiver Hunter Renfrow, in addition to tight end Darren Waller, would give Derek Carr enough playmakers to prove that he is their long-term quarterback; the value of getting Jeudy with his pick is off the charts.
#13 Pick: 49ers (via Colts) Select WR Henry Ruggs III, Alabama
Draft Board Rank: 18th
Consensus Rank: 12th
Jeudy to the San Francisco 49ers may be one of the best fits in the entire draft, as his route-running was tailor-made to play for head coach Kyle Shanahan’s scheme. Still, in this scenario, San Francisco is able to secure the best deep threat in this draft class. Henry Ruggs III is a dynamic offensive weapon with 4.27 speed, but he’s more than just a speed weapon. He has the vertical ability to win at the catch point, is incredible after the catch, and is a better route-runner than he gets credit for. Shanahan would love to have a playmaker like this to scheme up production for, and for an offense missing a #1 receiver, Ruggs III could be what Dante Pettis was supposed to be for them.
#14 Pick: Buccaneers Select CB Jeff Gladney, TCU
Draft Board Rank: 12th
Consensus Rank: 23rd
The Buccaneers would love for one of the top offensive tackles to fall to them, but if one of them doesn’t and they can’t trade down, they can’t be afraid to upgrade their secondary. Carlton Davis, Jamel Dean, and Sean Murphy-Bunting are solid young cornerbacks, but they all have small sample sizes of success, while Murphy-Bunting was only mediocre as the team’s nickel corner. Jeff Gladney isn’t the biggest player at just 5’10”, but he plays like a 6’3″ corner- he’s as physical as it gets. Plus, his ball skills, instincts, and technique are off the charts; he’d be an upgrade over any of Tampa’s current group of cornerbacks. Pass coverage is the most important part of a team’s defense, and with how volatile coverage is, you can never have too many cornerbacks. The Bucs may simply have to take the best player available, and in this case, it’s the feisty TCU cornerback who is warranted of the 14th overall selection.
#15 Pick: Broncos Select CB Trevon Diggs, Alabama
Draft Board Rank: 14th
Consensus Rank: 55th
Gladney would be a natural fit in head coach Vic Fangio’s complex defensive scheme, but alas, they’ll have to move to their next target to find their starting cornerback opposite of AJ Bouye. Trevon Diggs won’t work in several defensive schemes, given his limited makeup speed and struggles in man coverage, but he’ll work in Fangio’s scheme, which runs a lot of quarters coverages- that’s what Diggs played the most in at Alabama. In the right situation, the Alabama product’s ball skills and length will stand out, which is why he’s a true first-round prospect. Denver should be looking to add speed to their receiving corps for quarterback Drew Lock, but if not, cornerback is the next priority, and they address that here with Diggs.
#16 Pick: Falcons Select CB CJ Henderson, Florida
Draft Board Rank: 16th
Consensus Rank: 17th
In a dream scenario, the Falcons will have the chance to draft Florida cornerback CJ Henderson, which is what they’ll get to do here. Any of the other cornerbacks previously mentioned would work here, but Henderson’s athleticism and skills in man coverage are exactly what head coach Dan Quinn is looking for. Atlanta’s offense is still fantastic, but honestly, they need at least two new cornerbacks given how weak they are at the position. Unless a premier prospect falls or they trade down, it almost feels like their in a pass/fail situation in terms of grading their draft- it would be shocking and probably not logical to not come out of the first round with a cornerback.
#17 Pick: Cowboys Select CB AJ Terrell, Clemson
Draft Board Rank: 17th
Consensus Rank: 50th
The Cowboys, assuming they can come to an agreement with quarterback Dak Prescott on a long-term extension, have had a very productive offseason considering how many pending free agents they had. However, after losing Byron Jones, they’ve yet to address the cornerback position, and if they don’t take one early in the draft, it could be what dooms them now, as well as in the future. New defensive coordinator Mike Nolan is likely going to have a diversified coverage scheme, so Clemson’s AJ Terrell would make a lot of sense. He’s skilled in man coverage, but he’s also super athletic and disciplined enough to play in any sort of coverage scheme; I don’t get why many don’t see him as a first-round pick with how valuable cornerbacks are. Terrell, in my opinion, is on the same level as Henderson and Diggs, but based off of team preference, he’s the only who fills Dallas’ major long-term need in this scenario.
#18 Pick: Redskins (via Dolphins) Select OT Josh Jones, Houston
Draft Board Rank: 25th
Consensus Rank: 37th
It would be ideal for star tackle Trent Williams and the Redskins to work out their grievances so he can start for them next season, but assuming he doesn’t play another down for them, Washington will have a major long-term hole at tackle. This is precisely why trading down makes so much sense for them, as not only do they come away with an elite receiving prospect in Lamb, but also Josh Jones, who can be their franchise left tackle. The Houston product has some work to do with his pass sets, but he’s athletic and will work well I space, and over time, will be a future starting-caliber tackle. He’d wrap up quite the haul for the Redskins, who could go from having one of the worst offenses to a productive unit with just two draft picks.
#19 Pick: Raiders (via Bears) Draft CB Cameron Dantzler, Mississippi State
Draft Board Rank: 19th
Consensus Rank: 72nd
In addition to a #1 receiver, the Raiders also must find a solution to their cornerback problem, as I’m not sure they have a starting-caliber option on the roster. Defensive coordinator Paul Guenther prefers his cornerbacks to be proficient in press coverage, which is why they were interested in Eli Apple before they couldn’t finalize an agreement. Diggs, Fulton, and Henderson would be the best options, but in this defense, Cameron Dantzler also would slot in tremendously. His lack of strength and poor 40-yard dash time has caused him to fall down draft boards, but I’m not sure there’s a more technically sound cornerback in this draft class outside of Okudah. Due to his athletic limitations, he’ll have to go to a press-heavy or zone-heavy type of defensive scheme, but he should be a day-one starter, assuming he adds mass. Right now, he’s probably considered a third-round prospect by most teams, so if Las Vegas can get him with one of their late day two picks, they shouldn’t budge. There’s a chance they can come out of this draft with Jeudy/Lamb and two starting cornerbacks, which would be an exceptional outcome.
#20 Pick: Jaguars (via Rams) Select WR Tee Higgins, Clemson
Draft Board Rank: 20th
Consensus Rank: 44th
He may not have the best top-end speed, but after the top three receivers in this draft class, there’s no doubt that Clemson’s Tee Higgins is the next best player at the position. Regardless of what his 40-time will tell you, he has sufficient speed and separation ability to thrive as a vertical threat, and he’s able to position himself to catch any sort of pass. After adding a franchise left tackle in Andrew Thomas, Jacksonville will be looking to add another receiver, and Higgins’ skill set complements slot receiver Dede Westbrook and speedster DJ Chark tremendously. In this scenario, it’s safe to say there wouldn’t be any excuses for Gardner Minshew not to produce at a high level.
#21 Pick: Eagles Select WR Laviska Shenault Jr., Colorado
Draft Board Rank: 21st
Consensus Rank: 39th
After acquiring Darius Slay from the Lions, the Eagles could still use another cornerback, but if they’re going to maximize on their potential in 2020 and beyond, they need to add another playmaker for their offense. With it looking less likely by the day that Ruggs III will fall to them at pick #21, Laviska Shenault Jr. may be their best fallback option. Carson Wentz’s best season came with Nelson Agholor serving as a vertical threat out of the slot, while head coach Doug Pederson loves to utilize screen passes. That’s where Shenault Jr. comes into the fold, as he can fill both roles, and be the missing weapon needed for Pederson and Wentz to take the offense to the next level. Even better, given Sheanult Jr.’s injury concerns, he may be a player that Philadelphia can get after trading back, which would allow them to accumulate the draft capital necessary to make them much more well-rounded; improving their pass coverage (cornerback, linebacker, safety) and offensive line depth would be smart.
#22 Pick: Vikings (via Bills) Select CB Jaylon Johnson, Utah
Draft Board Rank: 23rd
Consensus Rank: 66th
With an extra first-round pick after trading Stefon Diggs to the Bills, the Vikings have to address their two major long-term needs: cornerback and wide receiver. They could go either route here with their first pick, but in this situation, they grab a cornerback that head coach Mike Zimmer would love to have. Jaylon Johnson isn’t afraid to make plays and bait opposing quarterbacks, and his instincts make him a very similar prospect to Marcus Peters. He fits any defensive scheme, but his football IQ would allow him to flourish in Zimmer’s scheme. There will likely be even better cornerbacks on the board for Minnesota, and in a perfect world, they’ll be able to double-dip at the position by drafting two of: Fulton, Gladney, and Johnson.
#23 Pick: Patriots Select OT Mekhi Becton, Louisville
Draft Board Rank: 27th
Consensus Rank: 8th
With impressive athleticism for someone who weighs 369 pounds, there’s a great chance that Louisville’s Mekhi Becton will be the first tackle drafted. While I admit he has a lot of upside, that would likely be a mistake. Becton doesn’t have much experience with true pass sets, and per Pro Football Focus, he’s struggled in those sets; that’s worrisome, since outcomes in true pass sets the most predictive measure of professional success. Therefore, I see Becton as definitely a tier down from Wills Jr., Thomas, and Wirfs, and I’d also much rather have Jones. It’s actually a shame that he will be over-drafted to a team that needs him to start right away, as the Patriots would’ve been an ideal landing spot. They’ve done a great job developing offensive linemen over the years, and since they could sit Becton for a season, he’d have time to refine his abilities. New England, who likely is looking towards 2021 to find their new quarterback, probably will look to trade down and acquire more capital for next year’s draft, but when they do pick, I expect them to take a long-term approach; offensive tackle, cornerback, and wide receiver are all potential areas where I can see them trying to improve.
#24 Pick: Saints Select QB Jordan Love, Utah State
Draft Board Rank: 15th
Consensus Rank: 25th
With only five picks in this year’s draft, the Saints aren’t in position to move up to select a quarterback. Nevertheless, if Jordan Love falls to them, they should seriously consider drafting him. This will likely be Drew Brees’ last season, and if he retires, New Orleans will be on the hook for a $20 million+ cap hit in 2021. With players such as Ryan Ramczyk, Marshon Lattimore, and Marcus Williams needing extensions, they don’t have the financial wiggle-room to keep them AND add a veteran quarterback; they could really benefit from a quarterback on a rookie contract. Love won’t work for every team, but after sitting behind Drew Brees for a season and being developed by head coach Sean Payton, he could thrive. New Orleans, in fact, may be the perfect landing spot for him, and although Love is a risky prospect, he’s more than just a product of raw tools- he has great pocket presence, solid accuracy, and was not supported well in college. He won’t be ready in 2020, but by 2021, he could take off in a perfect situation with the Saints.
#25 Pick: Vikings Select WR Justin Jefferson, LSU
Draft Board Rank: 22nd
Consensus Rank: 20th
As mentioned with their previous pick, trading Stefon Diggs opened up a massive need for the Vikings at wide receiver, and in this world, in addition to the real draft, LSU’s Justin Jefferson is a logical pick. He’s not a true outside receiver, but he’s athletic, technically sound as a route runner, and also has great contested catch ability, which is why I’m willing to ignore how schemed up a lot of his production was in college. Moving him to the outside is a bit of a projection, but in Gary Kubiak’s offensive scheme that runs mostly two-receiver sets and a lot of play-action, I believe his skills will be magnified. It would’ve been better for them just to keep Diggs, but Jefferson or Tee Higgins could help soften the blow of trading the star receiver.
#26 Pick: Dolphins Select WR Tyler Johnson, Minnesota
Draft Board Rank: 26th
Consensus Rank: 136th
If the Dolphins trade the 18th overall pick to make sure they get their franchise quarterback, then it’s unlikely they’ll be to add an offensive tackle, which would be a shame. However, they also need to add to their receiving corps, which should not include selecting a player like Sheanult Jr. or TCU’s Jalen Reagor, but also Minnesota’s Tyler Johnson. I don’t know why Johnson has been so overlooked in this year’s draft, but he has been- by most accounts, he’ll be a day-three pick. Yet, he was the most productive receiver in college football last season, and although he isn’t a superb athlete, he has elite separation ability. The similarities between him and Michael Gallup, or even Davante Adams, are almost too much; he may go down as the steal of the draft. In fact, he’d compliment bigger body targets Davante Parker and Preston Williams really well, so although he should be in every team’s plans on day three, Miami should be at the top of the list.
#27 Pick: Seahawks Select EDGE Curtis Weaver, Boise State
Draft Board Rank: 28th
Consensus Rank: 69th
The Seahawks are in a very strange position, as they’re a solid team, but they also have a large number of needs. After trading for cornerback Quinton Dunbar, they an underrated secondary to complement an efficient passing offense, and with that, they actually need to get better at less-valuable positions. A main one is edge rusher, as Seattle struggled to rush the passer even with Jadeveon Clowney, and if he doesn’t come back, they could be in a tough position. Javon Kinlaw and AJ Epenesa each earned serious consideration for this pick, but assuming they’re looking for a prototypical edge rusher, I’m a huge fan of Boise State product Curtis Weaver. Not only was he very productive in college, but he also has a variety of refined pass-rush moves, while he can play with his hand up or in the dirt. If they give last year’s first-round pick LJ Collier a bigger role as their “big edge” player in their system, Weaver would be the best option. Once they address edge rusher, though, slot cornerback, a third receiver, and offensive line help are all other needs at the moment.
#28 Pick: Ravens Select WR Devin Duvernay, Texas
Draft Board Rank: 32nd
Consensus Rank: 146th
I seriously contemplated bolstering the Ravens’ pass rush, but they’ve already made moves to bolster their pass rush this offseason, so instead, it made sense to supply reigning MVP Lamar Jackson with a much-needed playmaker. Marquise Brown is able to take the top off of defenses, but Baltimore needs an intermediate receiving threat. They’ll most likely be able to draft Shenault Jr., which would be downright scary, but Devin Duvernay is also a player who could fill that role for them. Though he’s strictly a slot receiver, he’s athletic, has great hands, and is incredible after the catch, which would all work fantastically in Baltimore’s offense. Currently, Jackson relies too much on his tight ends to make plays, but when they’re neutralized, the offense needs another answer. I’d like for them to target a receiver early, but regardless, Duvernay is an underrated prospect who they should covet on the second day of the draft.
#29 Pick: Titans Select IDL Javon Kinlaw, South Carolina
Draft Board Rank: 30th
Consensus Rank: 15th
The Titans have a major long-term need at cornerback, and could even look to bolster their depth at offensive tackle and receiver. However, in this scenario, none of the top cornerbacks fit their defensive scheme, which utilizes a decent amount of man coverage, so they instead could look to bolster their pass rush. An edge rusher like Curtis Weaver would work, but they did just trade Jurrell Casey, so in this world, they’ll replace him with interior rusher Javon Kinlaw. The South Carolina product will be off the board by this point, which probably isn’t great value, but if you’re going to take an interior defender, I’d much rather bet on his upside as a pass rusher over Derrick Brown’s certainty as a run defender. The fit with Kinlaw and the Titans is actually really strong, though, luckily for them, a cornerback like Gladney or Johnson will likely be available for them.
#30 Pick: Packers Select WR Denzel Mims, Baylor
Draft Board Rank: 31st
Consensus Rank: 28th
I’m not as high on Denzel Mims as some other draft analysts, who even see him as the fourth-best receiver in this draft class, but based on the value of the position, he’s a solid option at the end of the first round. The Baylor product’s athletic traits are off the charts, and although he didn’t run a diverse route tree in college, did show the capabilities to do so at the Senior Bowl. The Packers could upgrade their pass coverage, but after not adding any impactful receivers in free agency, they’ll need to find a complementary option for Davante Adams. Jefferson and Higgins are more refined players, and thus are better fits, but in this world, Mims is the next best option for them.
#31 Pick: 49ers Select CB Bryce Hall, Virginia
Draft Board Rank: 24th
Consensus Rank: 79th
The 49ers added a much-needed weapon for their offense with Henry Ruggs III, and with their next first-round pick, I’d assume they’ll trade down to acquire the mid-round draft capital they currently don’t have. Whenever they do end up picking again, however, cornerback is quietly a major need- it’s not a great job to rely on Emmanuel Moseley and Ahkello Witherspoon, while Richard Sherman is in the final year of his contract. Bryce Hall is the perfect prospect for their cover-three scheme, as his instincts in zone coverage and physicality are tremendous, while he’s as disruptive at the catch point as it gets. Had he declared for the draft last season, he would’ve been a first-round pick, but now, he’ll fall to a team in the second or third round. Trading back and selecting the Virginia product has to be a dream scenario for the 49ers.
#32 Pick: CB Damon Arnette, Ohio State
Draft Board Rank: 34th
Consensus Rank: 67th
You don’t have to be a flashy player to be a starting-caliber cornerback in the NFL- consistency and having no major weakness are underrated aspects of the position. Damon Arnette will be 24-years-old at the beginning of the season, and doesn’t have any standout tools, but he can be a starter in any defensive scheme. Still, I’d like for him to land in a press-zone scheme, and that’s what the Chiefs run with defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. It’s no secret that Kansas City is in need of reinforcements with their pass coverage, and in this deep cornerback class, they’re in position to do so. Linebacker, pass rush, offensive line, and more playmakers are all mid-round draft needs, but, in my opinion, it’d be foolish for them to not come out of this draft with Fulton, Gladney, Johnson, or Diggs. Heck, they could even take on of those guys, and then draft Hall, Dantzler, or Arnette in the middle rounds- Kansas City could fix their secondary in one draft, which would be fantastic.
#33: Bengals Select WR Jalen Reagor, TCU
#34: Colts Select WR Michael Pittman Jr., USC
#35: Lions Select EDGE AJ Epenesa, Iowa
#36: Giants Select WR Brandon Aiyuk, Arizona State
#37: Chargers Select WR Van Jefferson, Florida
#38: Panthers Select IDL Derrick Brown, Auburn
#39: Dolphins Select CB Darnay Holmes, UCLA
#40: Texans Select CB Noah Igbinoghene, Auburn
#41: Browns Select S Grant Delpit, LSU
#42: Jaguars Select S Xavier McKinney, Alabama
#43: Bears Select S Antoine Winfield Jr., Minnesota
#44: Colts Select IDL Jordan Elliot., Missouri
#45: Bucs Select OT Jack Driscoll, Auburn
#46: Broncos Select WR John Hightower, Boise State
#47: Falcons Select LB Willie Gay Jr., Mississippi State
#48: Jets Select WR Isaiah Hodgins, Oregon State
#49: Steelers Select OT Lucas Niang, TCU
#50: Bears Select WR KJ Hamler, Penn State
#51: Cowboys Select WR James Proche, SMU
#52: Rams Select CB Essang Bassey, Wake Forest
#53: Eagles Select S Kyle Dugger, Lenoir Rhyne
#54: Bills Select TE Adam Trautman, Dayton
#55: Ravens Select CB Amik Robertson, Louisiana Tech
#56: Dolphins Select OT Matt Peart, UConn
#57: Texans Select WR Gabriel Davis, UCF
#58: Vikings Select S Ashtyn Davis, California
#59: Seahawks Select WR Donovan Peoples-Jones, Michigan
#60: Ravens Select WR/TE Chase Claypool, Notre Dame
#61: Titans Select CB Troy Pride Jr., Notre Dame
#62: Packers Select CB Lavert Hill, Michigan
#63: Chiefs Select LB Patrick Queen, LSU
#64: Seahawks Select IOL Netane Muti, Fresno State
In the first round, here is how many players were selected in the first round at each position:
*= Isaiah Simmons is a hybrid
Now, when we extend it to the second round, here are our final results:
Obviously, there are a lot of talented wide receivers in this draft, so although they flew off the board in this fantasy world, teams will be able to get great values later on. Teams can never have too many cornerbacks and receivers, which is what I realized with this exercise- so many teams should address either of those positions early in the draft. Meanwhile, the linebackers and interior defenders appear the most likely to be over-drafted, as there aren’t any blue-chip players at either position; they’re getting compared to their draft contemporaries, rather than being projected to the next level. Overall, though, teams should always be looking for players who impact the passing game on either side of the ball, which is what I tried to accomplish by playing the role of general manager for all 32 teams.