no love drew

KN Predicts 2020 NFL Draft

Pace Academy alumnus, Andrew Thomas ’17 is projected to be an early first round pick. Photo: @nolovedrew on Instagram

Cincinnati Bengals, Pick 1: Joe Burrow, QB, LSU

No surprise here. Burrow set a handful of single-season FBS records in touchdowns, total offense and other categories, resulting in the greatest season of all time for any college QB. He also led the LSU Tigers to a national championship trophy. After current quarterback Andy Dalton’s underwhelming season, the Bengals are in the market for a replacement, and Burrow is the perfect guy. Additionally, Burrow was born and grew up in Cincinnati which gives him that hometown hero archetype. 

Washington Redskins, Pick 2: Chase Young, DE, Ohio State

The Redskins got very lucky with Young falling to second considering they do not desperately need a quarterback. The 6’5,” 265-pound defensive end had 16.5 sacks in 12 games and won the 2019 Chuck Bednarik Award, given to the best defensive player in the country. Young is also considered the top prospect in this class ahead of No. 1 pick Burrow. Paired with Montez Sweat and Matt Ioannidis, this front seven could be scary. 

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

Detroit could definitely trade this pick, but this mock draft will have no trades for simplicity. Considering Darius Slay still probably will not get that new deal he wanted, the 29-year-old cornerback has one more year on his contract. What that means is that the Lions could be in the Jeff Okudah market. There is no defensive back in this draft class close to Okudah. The man is a straight ball-hawk and has not allowed over 50 yards in a game in his last two seasons. 

New York Giants, Pick 4: Mekhi Becton, OL, Louisville

Sticking with Duke’s Daniel Jones, the Giants do not have to worry about a QB with their early pick. There is a lack of youth in the Giants’ tackle core and keeping the young Daniel Jones protected and comfortable in the pocket will be key to his development. With that said, Joe Judge is likely to splash on offensive tackle early in the draft. This means that Giants are going to have to pass up prospects like Isaiah Simmons but there are second-rounders like Patrick Queen that have very high potential. Towering at 6’7” and weighing a whopping 370 pounds, Becton is going to be a powerful force his entire career. The future is bright for the New York Giants.

Miami Dolphins, Pick 5: Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama

This is a fun one for Miami. Even though Ryan Fitzpatrick performed decently last year, let’s be honest, he is not going to last much longer as a starting QB. After his horrific injury in his junior year, Tua declared for the draft and is expected to be healthy by April. The Hawaiian born QB has been a key part of Alabama’s success over the past three years and will heavily contribute in Miami. 

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

The LA Chargers clearly need a new QB desperately. Phillip Rivers is terrible and backup Tyrod Taylor simply is not talented enough to start. The Chargers could settle for a mediocre player like Teddy Bridgewater or Marcus Mariota in free agency, but Justin Herbert comes with more potential and upside. Recently completing his senior season, Herbert really emerged this year as a leader for the Oregon Ducks. In the Rose Bowl, Herbert led the team to victory with three rushing touchdowns which is unusual for his play-style. This performance proved that Herbert does not just possess an impressive arm but also a high football IQ ready for the NFL.

Carolina Panthers, Pick 7: Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson

Isaiah Simmons is going to be staying in the Carolinas. With Luke Kuechley’s surprising retirement, the Panthers are looking for a hard-hitting, intelligent player to fill that role. There is no argument about it, Simmons is a head-hunter and the most versatile defender in this draft class. It is insulting to denote him as a linebacker considering he played 116 snaps at OLB, 299 at ILB, 262 at CB, 132 at FS, and 100 SS. This choice is painful for the rest of NFC South which is going to be facing him twice a year now. 

Arizona Cardinals, Pick 8: Jedrick Wills Jr., OL, Alabama

After two consecutive years of picking a QB in the first round, Arizona now needs to focus on protecting their potential franchise player, Kyler Murray. The Cardinals could use help at the guard and tackle position and Jedrick Wills from Alabama is a perfect fit. Wills is a versatile offensive lineman who has played both positions well. He is also considered the number one offensive line prospect for the 2020 draft class.

Jacksonville Jaguars, Pick 9: Derrick Brown, DL, Auburn

The Jacksonville Jaguars have the key components to be a playoff team and are most likely sticking with Gardener Minshew and Nick Foles at QB. There is a stout defense in place with some big names like Calais Campbell and adding another monster on the defensive line looks favorable. Coming off a decent senior season, Derrick Brown could be the guy down in Jacksonville. He is the top defensive line prospect in the draft and having Campbell and Yannick Ngakoue as mentors will help a ton.

Cleveland Browns, Pick 10: Andrew Thomas, OL, Georgia

The Cleveland Browns had such a disappointing season this year and some of that must be attributed to their offensive tackles. Throughout the year, the Browns’ tackles yielded tons of pressure for Baker Mayfield. With that, Pace Academy’s own Andrew Thomas could be finding his home in Cleveland next season. Thomas is a dominant run blocker with quick feet and outstanding hands. He is not as great of a pass blocker but still has plenty of room to grow and mature as he enters the NFL.

New York Jets, Pick 11: Tristan Wirfs, OL, Iowa

Although the Jets could go with a receiver here, the team needs to be smart. There are going to be talented receivers available in free agency such as AJ Green and Randall Cobb, so the Jets need to go with the position that is not a dime a dozen. Frankly, the Jets need to fill a lot of holes, and starting at the offensive line position is smart. Tristan Wirfs is the best offensive line prospect left. After Wirfs is picked, the remaining field of offensive linemen is not too safe.

Las Vegas Raiders, Pick 12: Ceedee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma

For their first season in Las Vegas, the Raiders are looking to be a pretty well-rounded team. The team has holes to fill but has enough cap space to make the necessary transactions. One of those holes is at receiver. Ceedee Lamb is a great option for the Raiders at the 12th pick. He has been compared to NFL stars such as Deandre Hopkins and Odell Beckham Jr. Lamb is going to live up to these standards and will be a complement for the new, electric Vegas franchise.

Indianapolis Colts, Pick 13: Javon Kinlaw, DL, South Carolina

The Colts need a big off-season this year and Javon Kinlaw would be a good addition for this team. A QB could be chosen with this pick, however, the Colts are not as desperate as teams like the Dolphins and Bengals because Jacoby Brisset had a fine season after Andrew Luck retired. Kinlaw’s huge body combined with his speed and agility will be dominant for years in the future. 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Pick 14: Jordan Love, QB, Utah State

Although this may seem a little early for Jordan Love, the Buccaneers badly need a QB. Head coach Bruce Arians is clearly unhappy with Jameis Winston; evident by his former statements about the past Heisman trophy winner. Love has a similar play style to Super Bowl champion Patrick Mahomes, which is becoming the desired archetype these days. Love has tons of room to grow at the NFL level and could be a scary player in a few years.

Denver Broncos, Pick 15: Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama

The Broncos are going to have a tough decision here with whether to go for a defensive back or receiver, but Jerry Jeudy at pick 15 is a steal. Jeudy is a great after-the-catch receiver and has been compared to Amari Cooper. He has that superstar ability to turn a 15 yard curl route into a 70 yard touchdown. 

Atlanta Falcons, Pick 16: AJ Epenesa, DL, Iowa

This is the ideal pick for the Falcons. The 2019 season was underwhelming for the Falcons pass rush and the team has recently announced that Vic Beasley will not be resigned. AJ Epenesa is smooth and long with great hands. He shucks the pass and run block well and can get around the edge rather well. 

Dallas Cowboys, Pick 17: Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU

America’s team has a lot of key resigning coming into this offseason. Key players like WR Amari Cooper, QB Dak Prescott and CB Byron Jones all need a contract extension for the upcoming season. The Cowboys could use some depth at cornerback and Fulton will probably slide into a starting position by the start of the season.

Miami Dolphins, Pick 18: K’Lavon Chaisson, DL, LSU

The Dolphins acquired this pick via the Pittsburgh Steelers. Luckily, Miami does not need to worry about their secondary as much as their front seven. K’Lavon Chaisson is an explosive lineman and has a fierce competitive nature. His presence in the Sunshine State will be noticeable and impressive. 

Las Vegas Raiders, Pick 19: Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama

The Raiders tend to draft from prestigious, successful colleges and Trevon Diggs is no exception. Considering the two starting corners for the Raiders had a combined two interceptions this season, a change is needed. Diggs is a man coverage corner with superb footwork, speed and aggression. His football IQ could use some work, but after his first rigorous training camp and season, he should be good to go.

Jacksonville Jaguars, Pick 20: CJ Henderson, CB, Florida

With the selection of defensive lineman Derrick Brown earlier, the Jaguars will focus on their secondary here. Although they have a few good years left in them, AJ Bouye and DJ Hayden are getting old. CJ Henderson will bring the youth and explosiveness which will complement these veterans nicely. Henderson is super fluid in man coverage and his zone coverage game is impressive as well. The Florida man could become a standout in this draft class and will not be moving too far from Gainesville come April. 

Philadelphia Eagles, Pick 21: Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama

The Eagles’ receiving core is not terrible but could use some help. Henry Ruggs could be deadly teaming up with Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholar. Although his route running is nothing special, Ruggs is a raw athlete with great speed capable of burning any defensive back downfield if they do not watch out. 

Buffalo Bills, Pick 22: Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson

The Buffalo Bills really came alive this year and lost in heartbreaking style in the first round of the playoffs. The Bills defensive made major strides this year and the youth it obtained will continue to progress. On the offensive side, there are not too many gaps besides at the receiver position. Tee Higgins is a tall wide-out similar to Mike Evans in nature. Contested catching and red zone effectiveness are probably his best skills along with reliability, which is just what the Bills need. 

New England Patriots, Pick 23: Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama

Last season, the Patriots had one of the best defenses in the league. However, their secondary is undoubtedly getting old. Since the top four receivers have been picked, the Pats will settle for the best safety in the draft, Xavier McKinney. The Georgia native excels in ball skills and tackling as he busted opposers up all season long. Sliding McKinney into a secondary with Stephon Gilmore and Patrick Chung could prove devastating to opponents. 

New Orleans Saints, Pick 24: Laviska Shenault, WR, Colorado

The Saints are a great team and acquiring Laviska Shenault would be slightly unfair. Wide-out Michael Thomas is a star, arguably the best receiver in the NFL and QB Drew Brees is one of the best in the league as well. Shenault has great route running ability and hands. His physicality and speed also help for yards after the catch. 

Minnesota Vikings, Pick 25: Neville Gallimore, DT, Oklahoma

Linval Joseph, Everson Griffin and Danielle Hunter already form the defensive front for the Vikings, however, depth and youth is needed. Neville Gallimore could slide right into a starting position in Minnesota. Gallimore is a shifty, nimble player who can rush gaps well. His superb aggression and toughness is an important factor to his game as well.

Miami Dolphins, Pick 26: DeAndre Swift, RB, Georgia

The Dolphins have a major problem in the backfield. Miami simply does not have a viable running back due to injuries and bad performances. A running back needs to be taken pretty early for the Dolphins because it is one of, if not their biggest need. Similar to Dalvin Cook, D’Andre Swift possesses great power and speed. Swift is the best running back in the class and will be a fun player to watch in the league.

Seattle Seahawks, Pick 27: Yetur Gross-Matos, DL, Penn State

The current Seahawks defense is nothing like the legendary squadron from a few years ago, however the team has some pieces to build upon. Bobby Wagner, Jadeveon Clowney, Shaquill Griffin along with others form this above-average defense. Another edge rusher to compliment Clowney could be really beneficial for the Seahawks. Yetur Gross-Matos is an explosive defensive end but has some drawbacks. His pass rush needs help but this guy has the foundations to be great.

Baltimore Ravens, Pick 28: Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma

Since D’Andre Swift has already been taken, Baltimore passes up on a running back and goes with the linebacker out of Oklahoma. Kenneth Murray is going late in the first round, yet this is a super pick for the Ravens. Murray is a pure athlete and obtains impressive tackling skills. If he gets in the right scheme and fits in well, he could be outstanding in the NFL.

Tennessee Titans, Pick 29: AJ Terrell, CB, Clemson

What a season from the Tennessee Titans. This team is only on the up and up and this off-season will only make them better. The cornerbacks for Tennessee are getting old so injecting some youth into the position will help. AJ Terrell has the skills to slide straight into a starting spot for the Titans. He has smooth footwork in addition to talent at both man and zone coverage. There are not many downsides to Terrell which makes him a very safe option.

Green Bay Packers, Pick 30: Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU

The Green Bay Packers desperately need receivers. Besides Devante Adams, the rest of their wide-outs are subpar. After a strong College Football Championship run where Justin Jefferson recorded four TDs in the first half, his draft stock shot up markedly. Seen through his hand skills and route running, Jefferson is ready to be a solid number two for Green Bay.

San Francisco 49ers, Pick 31: Grant Delpit, S, LSU

Adding Grant Delpit to a young, extremely talented defense is simply unfair. The Niners defense already has top defensive talent such as Nick Bosa, Kwon Alexander and Richard Sherman just to name a few. Delpit’s above average football IQ paired with incredible speed and acceleration will make him a dangerous player at the next level. He needs to improve on his tackling ability but the pros far outweigh the cons with this College Football Champion.

Kansas City Chiefs, Pick 32: Ross Blacklock, DL, TCU

As Super Bowl Champions, the Kansas City Chiefs do not have many holes they need to fill. With that said, this pick will be used for a future starter that will be built and chiseled at through the Chiefs’ coaching staff. Chris Jones, an x-factor defensive lineman, dealt with the injuries the whole 2019-2020 season so acquiring a backup for him is wise. Ross Blacklock is a powerful player with immense strength and quickness. Even though the best DL will go in the early first-round, the Chiefs are not settling for mediocre defensive lineman; Blacklock is a diverse talent.

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