Tua Tagovailoa is headed for the NFL draft, as is Jake Fromm. With player declarations coming fast and furious, it’s time to catch up on how these announcements are effecting this draft class as a whole. Plus, figure out which matchups to watch in the College Football Playoff championship game. Listen to the latest episode now on Spotify, Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts.
Declaration are coming in fast and furious. Tua Tagovailoa finally ended the wait as he declared on Monday, which is why these are coming out on Tuesday morning. The wide receiver class still looks incredible, but has lost a good chunk of its depth. We are still waiting for a number of players to make their final decisions and this board will change dramatically for February following the Senior Bowl. For where we are though in early January, this is where my board stands.
Now to clarify, big boards are meant to focus on the talent and upside of these prospects, almost in a vacuum. For more of how they will sort themselves out at the next level in terms of fit and value, that can be found in my latest mock draft, a three rounder right after the NFL regular season ended.
1. Chase Young, DE, Ohio State
No one should be questioning this any more. Chase Young is a special talent who will immediately transform a franchise’s front seven. If not for the need at quarterback, I would expect him to be the top pick in the draft.
2. Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
It has been an incredible run for Joe Burrow. He has rocketed up draft boards. He was not in my top 25 in September and was No. 17 in late October. His performances against Alabama, Auburn, Georgia and Oklahoma show why he is an elite quarterback prospect.
3. Jeffrey Okudah, CB, Ohio State
There might not be a larger gap between the top player and the next best prospect at a position in this class than Jeff Okudah and every other corner. He mirrors receivers exceptionally well and closes so well on the ball. Okudah should be a shutdown corner at the next level.
4. Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
In terms of physical tools and positive traits, Jerry Jeudy has everything you could ask for. He has struggled with some drops this season, but his route running and athleticism is top notch. He should still be the first receiver off the board.
5. Isaiah Simmons, LB/S, Clemson
Is he a safety? Is he a linebacker? Does it matter? Isaiah Simmons is a Swiss-army knife. In the right defense, he can be a game-wrecker. His versatility is second to none. His speed and instincts make him a good fit for just about any defense.
6. CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
This receiver class is incredible. CeeDee Lamb would be the top option in most draft classes and showed off once again against LSU. Even though Oklahoma got blown out, Lamb had a great game against a talented secondary.
7. A.J. Epenesa, EDGE, Iowa
It was a slow start to the year for A.J. Epenesa, but he finished playing some of the best football in the country. He has the size and technique to be a great 4-3 defensive end. I will need to go back to the film to figure out why he struggled out of the gate, but he destroyed USC’s Austin Jackson in the Holiday Bowl.
8. Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
Andrew Thomas is still the top offensive tackle on my board, but the gap has closed considerably. He has prototypical size, and has shown solid power as a run blocker. I like him a lot as a pass blocker and he is certainly battle-tested after playing for three years in the SEC.
9. Jedrick Wills, OT, Alabama
The reason the gap has closed on Andrew Thomas is because of the rise of Jedrick Wills. He played right tackle protecting Tua Tagovailoa’s blindside this season. He moves like an NFL tackle and should be able to contribute very early in his career.
10. Derrick Brown, DL, Auburn
Looking at Derrick Brown, he is an incredibly talented player. However, his overall value at the NFL level is up for debate. He will lock down the middle against the run, but he does not disrupt the passing game quite as much. Given the direction the NFL is headed, that could cause him to slide a little bit.
11. Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
We finally know! Tua Tagovailoa prevents this from being an underwhelming quarterback class. His injury history makes him a riskier prospect than we figured entering the year, but his upside is still tremendous.
12. Henry Ruggs, WR, Alabama
I cannot wait to watch Henry Ruggs run the 40 at the NFL combine. It will just be fun. He is a speedster with great ball skills and the ideal frame to compete in the pros. Ruggs will fundamentally change just about any offense he lands in.
13. Tyler Biadasz, C, Wisconsin
I am a bit higher on Tyler Biadasz than most, but that is because he is such a rock-solid prospect. He moves well, brings a level of toughness needed to play along the interior of the offensive line and understands blocking schemes.
14. Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson
Tee Higgins still has a great opportunity to bolster his draft stock. He will go up against some great defensive backs in the national title game. His size and body control make him a monster big-play threat.
15. Tristan Wirfs, OL, Iowa
I am still undecided for where exactly Tristan Wirfs will fit in the NFL. He has the size and build of a guard, but he moves more like a tackle. He reminds me a lot of Brandon Scherff. He should be a good player, but he might be best-suited to play on the interior.
16. Grant Delpit, S, LSU
Grant Delpit has the play style of an elite NFL safety. He just has missed a few plays this year. Physically, I think he will transition well, but he just needs to improve his tackling to warrant being a top-20 draft pick.
17. Javon Kinlaw, DL, South Carolina
There is no better interior pass rusher in this draft class than Javon Kinlaw. His numbers might not bear that out, but he moves so well for his size. Kinlaw constantly faced double teams as well and still managed to make an impact.
18. D’Andre Swift, RB, Georgia
The hype has cooled on D’Andre Swift after a lackluster close to the season. Swift still checks all the boxes for a top-tier NFL running back. He has enough receiving work and a light enough college work load to make you feel good about his ability to contribute in all facets of the offense.
19. Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU
I know recency bias is a real thing, but it is hard not to be impressed with his most recent tape. Justin Jefferson separates well and understands how to be effective as a route runner. Barring a terrible game against Clemson, he should land in the first round.
20. Kristian Fulton, DB, LSU
Kristian Fulton tracks the ball well and has the size needed to compete in the NFL. He needs to work on his hand usage and continue working on his technique. The biggest knock on Fulton’s play this year is he might be the third-best player in his own secondary.
21. Laviska Shenault Jr., WR, Colorado
There is not as much hype around Laviska Shenault Jr. as a lot of the other top receivers, but he should be in the same conversation. His athleticism and versatility make him a great option to work into any offense. His production took a hit, but he was dealing with injuries during the year.
22. Paulson Adebo, CB, Stanford
Teams looking for a ball-hawking corner will be high on Paulson Adebo. He has the size and physicality to fit well into zone-heavy defenses. He closes well on the ball and shows the ball skills to make impact plays.
23. Curtis Weaver, EDGE, Boise State
Curtis Weaver wraps up a great career at Boise State, finishing with 34 career sacks over his three years. He should be a situational pass rusher who can work his way into an every-down player before too long.
24. J.K. Dobbins, RB, Ohio State
J.K. Dobbins took a big bump after his performance vs. Clemson, but he has been building toward this in the second half of the year. His speed and hard-nosed style should translate well. His production makes him very enticing.
25. Yetur Gross-Matos, DE, Penn State
In addition to being a great pass rusher, Yetur Gross-Matos is a high-motor, high-character prospect. His production speaks for itself. Those other intangibles make it easy to feel good about building your culture and improving your football team.
26. CJ Henderson, CB, Florida
There is a bit of a troubling trend among Florida corners headed to the NFL. Vernon Hargreaves, Teez Tabor and Quincy Wilson have all failed to translate. That shouldn’t rule out CJ Henderson because each prospect is unique, but he will require some extra film study.
27. Terrell Lewis, EDGE, Alabama
Terrell Lewis projects as a great NFL pass rusher. He has the size, bend and speed to play as an edge rusher in a 3-4 scheme. Lewis bounced back well after missing 2018 due to injury.
28. Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
Traits wise, Justin Herbert could be top of this class. He has the size, arm talent and mobility that fits the bill for a prototypical pro passer. His film tells a different story. He will be an interesting study in the pre-draft process.
29. Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma
NFL teams are looking to add speed on defense more and more. That could push Kenneth Murray up a lot of draft boards. He made a lot of plays in a wide open conference. He has sideline-to-sideline linebacker potential.
30. Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama
With his size and athleticism, Trevon Diggs has the tools to be a starting corner in the NFL. He got beat up a bit by JaMar Chase when Alabama played LSU, which just goes to show he still has a bit of refining to do.
31. Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama
Xavier McKinney brings brash confidence and proven playmaking ability to the table. He has the versatility to drop back in coverage or make plays around the line of scrimmage.
32. Creed Humphrey, G, Oklahoma
Much like Tyler Biadasz, Creed Humphrey feels like a very safe pick. He will come in and play consistently from day one. He can lock up well in pass protection and is used to playing with mobile quarterbacks.
33. K’Lavon Chaisson, EDGE, LSU
K’Lavon Chaisson is one of the most intriguing draft prospects this year. He plays extremely fast and can be disruptive as a pass rusher. He is a bit undersized though and struggles to set the edge against the run. He will start as a situational pass rusher. Teams will have to hope he can develop into more than that.
34. Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU
He is an aggressive receiver who plays much bigger than his size. Jalen Reagor did not put up the same kind of numbers in 2019, but that does not diminish the speed and toughness he brings to the position.
35. Julian Okwara, EDGE, Notre Dame
Julian Okwara is another good fit to be a 4-3 defensive end who can rush the passer. He is not the most physically imposing, but he can use his quickness to set up opposing lineman well.
36. Cole Kmet, TE, Notre Dame
I will be honest, I haven’t done a ton of homework on Cole Kmet yet. He has the physical tools to be a great tight end in the NFL. He should be a bit more complete than his counterparts in this class.
37. A.J. Terrell, CB, Clemson
After a solid showing in the College Football Playoff semifinal, A.J. Terrell should be sitting somewhere in the top 50 on a lot of draft boards. He has good technique in coverage, which serves him well downfield.
38. Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin
There are two big red flags with Jonathan Taylor: fumbling and longevity. He just wrapped up one of the great careers we have ever seen, but he also has close to 1,000 career touches. That could end up causing him to break down earlier at a particularly bruising position. He also finished with 18 career fumbles.
39. Bryce Hall, CB, Virginia
I wish Bryce Hall hadn’t gotten hurt. I’m sure he does too, but I would have loved to see him play against Clemson and Florida to close the year. His impact on Virginia’s defense cannot be overstated. He was a true leader for that group.
40. Michael Pittman Jr., WR, USC
Talk about being a quarterback’s safety blanket. Michael Pittman finished with the fourth-most catches in college football this season. He should be a solid possession receiver with the potential to make the occasional big play. I like his consistency.
41. Ashtyn Davis, S, California
Cal finished the season on a high note by cruising past Illinois. Ashtyn Davis is drawing a lot of attention as well. His speed is great, as he is a member of the school’s track team. He will give a defensive coordinator a lot to work with when it comes to molding his game.
42. Austin Jackson, OT, USC
I had been leaning toward pushing Austin Jackson into the top 30 before the Holiday Bowl. He got worked over by A.J. Epenesa, but he also won a couple of those matchups. Those flashes show what Jackson can be with a bit more work on his hand placement and footwork.
43. Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson
Travis Etienne showed once again why he is one of the most explosive players in college football. He is a tough runner with a lot of heart. The concern is his vision. He struggles to find the hole sometimes, meaning he can strung out or get caught up with trying to hit a home run instead of taking what is available to him.
44. Malik Harrison, LB, Ohio State
In the right system, Malik Harrison can be a disruptive force. We saw that this year as Ohio State allowed him to attack downhill more often and utilized him as a playmaker. If he can improve on his reading of opposing offenses, he will be a very solid player.
45. Donovan Peoples-Jones, WR, Michigan
Coming out of an offense that had other solid receivers and that didn’t throw the ball a ton, Donovan Peoples-Jones’ numbers won’t pop out at you. He only 438 yards receiving this year, actually down from last year. His physical talent should lead to more production in the NFL.
46. Najee Harris, RB, Alabama
Najee Harris might be the most complete back in this class. He is not elite at much, but he does a lot well. He can be elusive or powerful in his running style. He has great athleticism, but not game-breaking speed. He showed some pass-catching ability this year as well. He reminds me a bit of Chris Carson.
47. Neville Gallimore, DL, Oklahoma
One of the more proven prospects in this range, Neville Gallimore will offer a steady interior presence who looks pro ready. His ceiling is not crazy high, but he has some craftiness to his pass rush style that should make him effective.
48. Chubba Hubbard, RB, Oklahoma State
There might not be a player that meant more to his offense than Chuba Hubbard did to Oklahoma State. He led the country in rushes and yards this season. He has the top-end speed teams will love.
49. Brandon Aiyuk, WR, Arizona State
Capable of taking the top off defenses, Brandon Aiyuk could move up after the Senior Bowl and combine. He got overshadowed a lot because he was playing for a middling team, but the talent is there.
50. Zack Baun, EDGE, Wisconsin
Zack Baun definitely strikes me as a prospect that is scheme specific. He is smart and pretty refined. I think there might be some physical limitations to his game though, which could limit his upside.
51. Jacob Eason, QB, Washington
From an arm talent perspective, Jacob Eason is an NFL quarterback. Unfortunately, he seems to lack the mobility and possibly the poise to play the position. This was his first year starting in a new system, so maybe he can learn over time, but he struggled at points this season.
52. Josh Jones, OT, Houston
Down the line, Josh Jones could be a starting left tackle in the NFL. He is still a little raw despite being a fifth-year senior. If he can be brought up to speed, he should be able to hold his own and develop.
53. Raekwon Davis, DL, Alabama
With a massive frame, Raekwon Davis certainly stands out. He just never really made the jump many anticipated. He should still be a serviceable NFL player, but he might never be a star.
54. Brycen Hopkins, TE, Purdue
In a weak tight end class, Brycen Hopkins had a real chance to be the top one taken until Cole Kmet announced he was leaving Notre Dame. Hopkins is a solid receiver with decent route-running savvy. He is not a blocker though, limiting his upside.
55. Prince Tega Wanogho, OT, Auburn
There is something to work with in Prince Tega Wanogho. He looks like he understands his assignments well, picking up stunts. He fared decently well against good competition. He is not a mauler, but he is pretty technically sound.
56. Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville
One of the largest players in the draft, Mekhi Becton will likely get a look from some teams wanting a tackle project. Others could want to kick him inside given his size. You can’t coach length though, which is why teams will be interested in him.
57. Jonathan Greenard, LB, Florida
Jonathan Greenard is shaping up to be a solid pass rusher. He finished the year with 9.5 sacks. It was a good sign after he sat out 2018 due to transfer rules. He proved himself in the SEC this year and should warrant Day 2 consideration.
58. Trey Smith, OL, Tennessee
After starting at left tackle in 2018, Trey Smith kicked inside and showed why he is a future NFL guard. He has raw power that he uses well. His medical past is a huge red flag with blood clots in his lungs costing him a lot of games during his career.
59. KJ Hamler, WR, Penn State
I am not as high on the speedster from Penn State as others. KJ Hamler is very small at 5’9″, 176 pounds. He seems destined to be a slot receiver. That doesn’t mean he won’t be effective, but I think it limits his upside.
60. Jeff Gladney, CB, TCU
While the Big 12 might not feature the best defenses, there are a lot of high-flying offenses Jeff Gladney had to go up against. He understands the technique required to play outside corner, even if he can’t always make the necessary play.
61. Nick Harris, OL, Washington
While he struggled at times in pass protection this year, Nick Harris has the footwork and size to translate well at the next level. He could help himself a lot in Mobile.
62. Troy Dye, LB, Oregon
Troy Dye would never be considered an NFL linebacker 10 years ago. As teams have opted for more speed on defense though, smaller linebackers have become more common. Dye likely needs to add a bit to his frame still to really sift though traffic and make plays, but he has a nose for the ball.
63. Trey Adams, OT, Washington
From a size profile, Trey Adams looks like an NFL tackle. He shows good initial punch to stem bullrushes and navigates well in the run game. The biggest question is his ability to move in space and slide as a pass blocker. He is someone to watch in Mobile.
64. Damon Arnette, CB, Ohio State
Damon Arnette made a good impression vs. Clemson with some solid play. He excels in press man coverage. If he shows out at the Senior Bowl, he could crack the top 50.
65. Daryl Williams, OL, Mississippi State
With the size needed to play inside, there is some concern about Daryl Williams’ power. He offers some flexibility along the interior, but he will have to do some work in an NFL weight room to be ready for the next level.
66. Justin Mandubuike, DL, Texas A&M
With solid measurables and an SEC pedigree, Justin Mandubuike will be on scouts radars headed into the combine. He still has a ways to go with his technique and foundation, but those are things that can be fixed with good coaching.
67. Hunter Bryant, TE, Washington
After catching passes from Jacob Eason all year, Hunter Bryant could shoot up some draft boards if he puts up gaudy numbers in Indianapolis. He doesn’t have a ton of film because of some injuries that kept him out during his first two years.
68. Jaylon Johnson, DB, Utah
Jaylon Johnson will be a player to watch at the Senior Bowl. He has some work to do technique wise. Given time, he could develop into a good outside option.
69. Lucas Niang, OL, TCU
Projecting as a right tackle, Lucas Niang saw his season end early. He underwent season-ending surgery to repair a torn hip labrum. He has the necessary power to play on the right side.
70. Jordan Love, QB, Utah State
While many will have Jordan Love mocked in the first round, I have a round 3 grade on him currently. He had a pretty rough season at Utah State without a ton of proven talent around him. His decision making was particularly concerning.
71. Ben Bredeson, OL, Michigan
Ben Bredeson has the power to be a punishing blocker along the interior of the offensive line. Scouts will like his size and ability to set up blocks at the second level.
72. Shaquille Quarterman, LB, Miami
Playing as an off-ball linebacker, Shaquille Quarterman was around the ball a lot. He finished the year with 107 tackles. He could be a projectable starter down the line.
73. Cameron Dantzler, CB, Mississippi State
At 6’2″, Cameron Dantzler is well-position to climb up the board if he runs well at the combine. NFL teams love corners that have a mixture of size and speed.
74. John Simpson, G, Clemson
If you want an interior lineman with lots of big game experience, John Simpson is your guy. He will start his third straight national championship game on Monday.
75. Jared Pickney, TE, Vanderbilt
Jared Pickney might not be the most polished receiving tight end in this class, but he brings some blocking to the table as well. He has the potential to be a well-rounded starting option.
76. Netane Muti, OL, Fresno State
Long term potential is big for Netane Muti. He does not figure to be a day one starter, but could develop into a quality lineman with the right coaching.
77. Kenny Willekes, EDGE, Michigan State
At times, Kenny Willekes can wreck games. He seems like a solid situational rusher with a high floor and low ceiling.
78. Darrell Taylor, EDGE, Tennessee
With his ability to drop into coverage and rush the passer, Darrell Taylor should find himself on the field right away. He will have a long way to go as run defender though.
79. Jake Fromm, QB, Georgia
No one player has slid more for me this year than Jake Fromm. He could be a great NFL quarterback in the right system surrounded by the right talent. He has an average arm, but good pocket presence. His athleticism leaves something to be desired as well.
80. Leki Fotu, DL, Utah
Considering how big Leki Fotu is, he is explosive off the line of scrimmage. If he can develop some consistency, he could end up being a steal.
81. Calvin Throckmorton, OT, Oregon
It is hard to say what Calvin Throckmorton’s best fit is at the next level. He the size to play outside, but seems to lack the footwork. He could kick inside, but he would have to refine his technique there. He offers a project with lots of upside.
82. Monty Rice, LB, Georgia
From an athleticism and size standpoint, Monty Rice is NFL ready. He just needs to put it all together to really capitalize on all the raw talent.
83. Albert Okwuegbunam, TE, Missouri
Albert Okwuegbunam was definitely underutilized at Missouri. Going from Drew Lock to Kelly Bryant at quarterback, his numbers declined a bit. His size and route running will make him more valuable at the next level.
84. Alton Robinson, EDGE, Syracuse
After an up and down career at Syracuse, Alton Robinson feels like a bit of a boom or bust pick. He had 10 sacks in 2018, but dipped to just 4.5 in 2019. He has potential, but consistency could be his biggest weakness.
85. Shane Lemieux, G, Oregon
Oregon had one of the best offensive lines in the country this year. Shane Lemieux played his part well. He is a polished blocker with limited athletic upside.
86. K’Von Wallace, S, Clemson
Great as a blitzer from the secondary, K’Von Wallace is a fun player for Brent Venables to use in his defense. He has enough versatility to find his way onto the field.
87. Evan Weaver, LB, Cal
A tackling machine, Evan Weaver lead the nation in tackles this season. He obviously has a good nose for the football and produces well.
88. Bradlee Anae, EDGE, Utah
With good speed off the edge, Bradlee Anae looks the part of a 3-4 stand up rusher. He is not crazy athletic, but he shows good burst to make some high-impact plays.
89. Hamsah Nasirildeen, S, Florida State
Hamsah Nasirildeen is a bit taller than most safeties, but lighter than most linebackers. He could be an interesting box safety type at the next level in the right defense.
90. Gabriel Davis, WR, UCF
Following a monster season, Gabriel Davis decided to leave early for the draft. He has good size and produced well this season. If he can post good times in the three-cone drill and 40-yard dash, he could push himself into the second round conversation with so many receivers returning to school.
91. Jabari Zuniga, EDGE, Florida
Injuries limited Jabari Zuniga to just five games this season. He has shown flashes of top-end pass rushing ability, but it is hard to know if he can be reliable.
92. Marlon Davidson, DE, Auburn
Marlon Davidson is a bit of a tweaner in the sense that he could be an end in either a 4-3 or 3-4 scheme. He would probably need to bulk up a bit more in a 3-4, but still possesses the requisite strength. He has a lot to clean up technically.
93. Anfernee Jennings, EDGE, Alabama
Earning his way into playing time as a block shedder, Anfernee Jennings is not an explosive athlete. He understands how to use his size and strength to reach the quarterback though.
94. Matthew Peart, OT, UConn
Mostly untested, Matthew Peart is starting to catch the eye of NFL scouts with his size and traits. He is fairly raw and definitely needs a few years to develop.
95. Nick Coe, DL, Auburn
Surrounded by great talent on the defensive line at Auburn, Nick Coe has stood out as a solid run stopper. He did not register a sack in 2019, but should be a solid 3-4 defensive end.
96. Tyler Johnson, WR, Minnesota
The community is very split on him. Tyler Johnson had a phenomenal year at Minnesota, but did not receive a Senior Bowl invite. He has displayed above average route running with good enough hands to make the jump.
97. Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor
A great athlete, Denzel Mims posted some monster numbers down the stretch. He benefited from playing some bad Big 12 defenses, but his size and body control should see him translate well.
98. Alaric Jackson, OT, Iowa
Not as highly touted as his teammate Tristan Wirfs, Alaric Jackson is actually the one playing left tackle at Iowa. His massive frame could make him a projectable starter down the line.
99. Devin Duvernay, WR, Texas
With his speed and savvy, Devin Duvernay became Sam Ehlinger’s favorite target this season. He can operate out of the slot, but needs to improve his route running.
100. Jake Hansen, OL, Oregon
As the leader of this Oregon offensive line, Jake Hansen could be another Duck joining the pro ranks. He won’t blow you away with his game, but he holds up well in protection.
For more NFL Draft coverage, check out the Aftermath’s NFL Draft Podcast, with new episodes every Thursday.
I’m finally back behind the mic! Glad to have the podcast up and running again because there is tons to talk about. I break down Tua Tagovailoa’s draft decision, discuss the head coaching vacancies in the NFL and review the best performances from the College Football Playoff semifinals. Check out the show on Spotify, Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to your podcasts.
The NFL regular season is officially in the books. That means the offseason starts now for 20 NFL clubs with four more set to join them by this time next week. If you have been paying attention to draft buzz throughout the season, you will know there are a few slam dunk quarterbacks, an incredible class of skill position players and one franchise-altering edge rusher. I have been following the draft closely for the better part of five years now and this feels like one of the deepest draft classes we have had in a while. In honor of that, this is my first three-round mock of the year.
For this mock draft, there were no trades allowed and the order is based upon the current NFL standings and playoff seeding, according to Tankathon. When picking for each team, I tried to take into account overall talent, team need, positional value and scheme fit, roughly in that order. As the draft gets closer and I get a chance to watch more prospects, I will be able to mock players better for scheme fits. On top of that, teams will begin to address needs in free agency and schemes will change as coaching regimes change. I expect this to look nothing like how the actual draft will unfold, but for now, this is how I see it. Let’s get going.
1. Cincinnati Bengals (2-14) – Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
Did you watch LSU play Oklahoma? Then you know why Joe Burrow is the top pick in the draft. The Heisman winner accounted for eight touchdowns and punched the Tigers’ ticket to the national championship game. He projects to be Cincinnati’s future franchise quarterback.
2. Washington (3-13) – Chase Young, EDGE, Ohio State
Washington fans have to be ecstatic to earn the second spot because it means their team can select Chase Young. He had a dominant junior season, leading the nation with 16.5 sacks, despite missing a game for a questionable NCAA suspension. Expect him to be an elite pass rusher right away.
3. Detroit Lions (3-12-1) – Jeffrey Okudah, CB, Ohio State
While the Lions miss out on Chase Young, they get a really good consolation prize in his teammate Jeff Okudah. Okudah has the making of a lockdown corner with his size, athleticism and incredible hand usage. Detroit gave up the most passing yards per game this season. Adding the top defensive back seems like a good place to start.
4. New York Giants (4-12) – A.J. Epenesa, Edge, Iowa
New York finally started to show some signs of life offensive and while the offensive line still needs some work, edge rusher is a huge need. No one has had a better second half of the year than A.J. Epenesa. He has the size and skills to terrorize an opposing quarterback. Considering the Giants face Carson Wentz and Dak Prescott four times a year, an elite pass rusher is a must-have.
5. Miami Dolphins (5-11) – Tua Tagovailoa, QB Alabama
All of this will depend on Tua Tagovailoa’s medical, but assuming he is cleared to play within the next calendar year, I expect the Dolphins will have no problem selecting him here. They have tons of draft capital to build around him and a veteran quarterback to help him transition. This feels like the perfect fit.
6. Los Angeles Chargers (5-11) – Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
Los Angeles could try to leapfrog the Dolphins in order to grab Tua Tagovailoa, but Justin Herbert has the physical tools to develop into a great quarterback in his own right. He has to work on his downfield accuracy, but with no succession plan to Philip Rivers, Herbert would be a logical choice.
7. Carolina Panthers (5-11) – Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
Two teams in the NFL gave up 58 sacks this season. Carolina was one of them. With Andrew Thomas still on the board, this seems like a good way to get the Panthers offense back on track, regardless of who is playing quarterback. Thomas is pro ready and should hold down the left side of Carolina’s line for the next decade.
8. Arizona Cardinals (5-10-1) – Isaiah Simmons, LB/S, Clemson
No one is quite sure how to explain what Isaiah Simmons does. In simplest terms, he is special defensive playmaker. He can line up at safety, slot corner or linebacker and play at a high level in all three spots. With a ton of holes to fill on defense, picking up a do-it-all talent like Simmons is a great move.
9. Jacksonville Jaguars (6-10) – Derrick Brown, DL, Auburn
Guess who had the fifth worst run defense in the NFL this season? While fans might be hoping for a receiver or a corner to replace Jalen Ramsey, Derrick Brown has the potential to be an immediate difference maker. He is the best run stuff in this class and can cause problems as a pass rusher as well. Regardless of what scheme the Jaguars run next year, Brown will improve this pathetic run defense.
10. Cleveland Browns (6-10) – Jedrick Wills, OT, Alabama
With Freddie Kitchens gone and a mess of offensive talent, the Browns need to rebuild their offensive line. Jedrick Wills has the highest ceiling of any lineman in this draft. He is battle tested coming from Alabama and should immediately improve the protection of Baker Mayfield’s blindside. Maybe then the former Oklahoma quarterback can starting hitting his Pro Bowl receivers.
11. New York Jets (7-9) – Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa
It was a strange season for the Jets and while the defense was a pleasant surprise, the offense was a disaster. New York finished dead last in yards per game and second to last in points per game. While pretty much outside of quarterback and running should be on the table here, fixing the offensive line has to be the priority. Tristan Wrifs can be a day one starter at either tackle or guard spot. He should help keep Sam Darnold cleaner and open more holes for Le’Veon Bell.
12. Las Vegas Raiders (7-9) – Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
Mike Mayock might actually sprint to the podium if this happens. Oakland is in desperate need of a receiver and while a good one is bound to be there at 12, Jerry Jeudy falling here is the best-case scenario. After a less-impressive junior year, Jeudy should still be the first wideout off the board and immediately become Derek Carr’s favorite target.
13. Indianapolis Colts (7-9) – CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
With no quarterbacks worth taking here, Indy gets some help for whoever may be under center next season. CeeDee Lamb is explosive and can often times make a huge play out of very little. He would be a great complement to T.Y. Hilton and boost the Colts’ offensive potential exponentially.
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-9) – Grant Delpit, S, LSU
Tampa Bay could be shopping for a quarterback as well, but I am not buying the hype on Jordan Love or Jacob Eason. Instead, the Buccaneers continue to add difference makers to Todd Bowles’ defense. Grant Delpit should immediately improve the backend for Tampa and give Bowles another player he can blitz.
15. Denver Broncos (7-9) – Henry Ruggs, WR, Alabama
Denver seems to have its number one receiver in Courtland Sutton, but after that has a bit of a void for explosive playmakers. I write this in every mock draft, but Henry Ruggs is the fastest player in college football. He would give the Broncos their equivalent of Tyreek Hill and make life a lot easier for Drew Lock.
16. Atlanta Falcons (7-9) – Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU
Atlanta’s second-half resurgence knocks them out of range for the top edge rushers, but corner is still a major need. Kristian Fulton has the field sense and speed to play across from Desmond Trufant right away. He would continue the Falcons transformation on defense.
17. Dallas Cowboys (8-8) – Javon Kinlaw, DL, South Carolina
After missing out on the playoffs, Dallas is likely to move on from Jason Garrett. Without a ton of disruptive plays this year defensively, the Cowboys would be wise to add the best interior pass rusher in this class in Javon Kinlaw. He is adept at working through double teams, regularly drawing them at South Carolina. He would make a fun pairing with DeMarcus Lawrence along that defensive line.
18. Miami Dolphins via Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8) – Alex Leatherwood, OT, Alabama
With the franchise quarterback already on board, Miami needs to ensure he will stay upright. Alex Leatherwood is no stranger to playing alongside Tua Tagovailoa. He started the previous two seasons at right guard and left tackle respectively. Leatherwood figures to be someone who can grow into a role along the line.
19. Las Vegas Raiders via Chicago Bears (8-8) – CJ Henderson, CB, Florida
Even with the emergence of Trayvon Mullens down the stretch, Las Vegas (that’s weird to type) could still use some help in the secondary. The Raiders did jettison Gareon Conley midseason after all. Henderson has the physical tools to become a starting corner at the next level. He might take a year to truly reach that threshold, but he offers the team a projectable starter.
20. Jacksonville Jaguars via Los Angeles Rams (9-7) – Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson
Gardner Minshew worked his magic often this year to power the Jaguars offense. With a couple of playmakers already in place, Jacksonville needs a downfield threat. Tee Higgins brings incredible size, body control and focus to the table, consistently winning jump balls in traffic. He would provide Minshew with a great red zone option as well.
21. Philadelphia Eagles (9-7) – Paulson Adebo, CB, Stanford
I know Eagles fans want a receiver here, but there are a lot on the board and have you watched your secondary play? Paulson Adebo is a ballhawking corner with eight career interceptions to his name. He has great size and is not afraid to get physical. Philadelphia could use a bit of his fire on defense.
22. Tennessee Titans (9-7) – Tyler Biadasz, C, Wisconsin
Lost in the miraculous Ryan Tannehill comeback is the issues plaguing the Titans offensive line. Tennessee has been better at protecting Tannehill of late, but needs to address the interior of the line. Tyler Biadasz is the best offensive line prospect still on the board and would be a day one starter. He is no stranger to power run either coming from Wisconsin.
23. Buffalo Bills (10-6) – Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU
Happen to watch Joe Burrow torching Oklahoma’s defense? Then you definitely heard this guy’s name a lot. Justin Jefferson has been one of the top receivers in college football this year and took that too a new level with four touchdowns in the semifinal. He would step in as the Bills top receiver and form a solid trio with John Brown and Cole Beasley.
24. Minnesota Vikings (10-6) – A.J. Terrill, CB, Clemson
I expect the hype around A.J. Terrill to grow following a stellar performance facing Ohio State. He held up well in coverage and showed a good ability to break on the ball. At 6’1″, he would be a great addition to a Minnesota secondary desperately needing another outside corner.
25. Miami Dolphins via Houston Texans (11-5) – Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama
After spending two picks on offense, the Dolphins find someone to play opposite Xavien Howard. Trevon Diggs has shown flashes of lockdown corner potential. His size and athleticism alone will entice a team to spend a first round selection on him.
26. Seattle Seahawks (11-5) – Curtis Weaver, EDGE, Boise State
Seattle needs a pass rusher in the worst way. Enter Curtis Weaver. He had at least 9.5 sacks in each of his three season at Boise State. At 6’3″, 265 pounds, he would project well as an end in Seattle’s 4-3 system. He should have an immediate impact for a team that needs help right away.
27. New England Patriots (12-4) – Dylan Moses, LB, Alabama
After missing the entire season with a torn ACL, Dylan Moses’ draft buzz has quieted significantly. It is easy to forget he was one of the best linebackers in the country in 2018. With Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins set to hit free agency and Dont’a Hightower approaching 30, Moses would help fill the void and become a leader in the future.
28. New Orleans Saints (13-3) – Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU
This is one of my favorite pairings of prospect and team. New Orleans desperately needs receiver help. Michael Thomas is a beast, but there is a significant drop off after that. Surrounding Drew Brees with as much talent as possible in his final years seems to be the priority, so adding Jalen Reagor fits the bill. He has great top-end speed, but also attacks the ball well and plays with a chip on his shoulder. He would be fun to watch in Sean Payton’s offense.
29. Kansas City Chiefs (12-4) – Creed Humphrey, G, Oklahoma
Kansas City has one mission: protect Patrick Mahomes so he can lead them to a Super Bowl. Beefing up the interior of the offensive line is a good way to do just that. Creed Humphrey is just a redshirt sophomore, but he is also a two-year starter on one of the most prolific offenses in the country. He moves well and can step into the starting lineup right away.
30. Green Bay Packers (13-3) – Laviska Shenault Jr., WR Colorado
Give Aaron Rodgers more weapons! Davante Adams is great, but Green Bay needs some other reliable contributors. Laviska Shenault has the versatility to take this offense to the next level. Colorado used him as a wildcat quarterback just to get the ball in his hands more. He is the type of player who Rodgers can trust to make a play when he needs him to the most.
31. San Francisco 49ers (13-3) – DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
Deebo Samuel has come along well, but Emmanuel Sanders is a free agent at the end of the year. San Francisco needs some more options for Jimmy Garoppolo to throw to. DeVonta Smith has had a great year at Alabama and consistently blows past opposing defensive backs. I am a little concerned about his durability at the next level, as he only ways 175 pounds. If he can bulk up a little without compromising his speed, he could be a difference maker.
32. Baltimore Ravens (14-2) – Yetur Gross-Matos, Edge, Penn State
Baltimore rounds out round one by continuing to build depth along the defense. Yetur Gross-Matos is a high-motor, high-character player with solid production coming out of Penn State. He should be a situational rusher right away with the potential to earn more snaps as he develops his coverage skills and technique.
33. Cincinnati Bengals (2-14) – Kenneth Murray, LB
Cincinnati needs more speed on defense after giving up the most rushing yards per game. Kenneth Murray has plenty of speed to go with good instincts and good production at Oklahoma.
34. Indianapolis Colts via Washington (3-13) – Jacob Eason, QB, Washington
Quarterback number four falls to the second round. I don’t think the Colts’ front office is sold on Jacoby Brissett after the season. Jacob Eason has a ways to go, but certainly has the arm talent to eventually start in the NFL.
35. Detroit Lions (3-12-1) – Terrell Lewis, Edge, Alabama
The Lions continue to rebuild their defense, this time adding a pass rusher. Terrell Lewis registered 11.5 sacks returning from an injury that cost him all of 2018. If he can improve his functional strength, he could be a steal here.
36. New York Giants (4-12) – Austin Jackson, OT, USC
Austin Jackson is definitely a bit raw. We saw that when A.J. Epenesa schooled him in the Holiday Bowl. Still, his massive frame makes him good left tackle prospect. He could grow into being Daniel Jones’ blindside protector.
37. Los Angeles Chargers (5-11) – J.K. Dobbins, RB, Ohio State
Los Angeles grabs the first running back of the draft. J.K. Dobbins showed against Clemson why he is a special runner. With Melvin Gordon’s future unknown, Dobbins teams up with Austin Ekeler.
38. Carolina Panthers (5-11) – Marvin Wilson, DL, Florida State
NFL games are won in the trenches, so after bolstering the offensive line, Carolina can turn to the other side of the ball. The Panthers were awful against the run this year. Marvin Wilson needs a bit of technical refining, but can be disruptive force in the middle of any defense.
39. Miami Dolphins (5-11) – K’Lavon Chaisson, Edge, LSU
Miami continues to address needs and find high ceiling players. K’Lavon Chaisson flies around the field. The athleticism jumps off the page and if he can add to his 6’4″ frame, he could be an elite NFL pass rusher.
40. Arizona Cardinals (5-10-1) – Prince Tega Wanogho, OT, Auburn
Arizona needs to keep Kyler Murray healthy. Prince Tega Wanogho has the size of a prototypical tackle who is comfortable moving and blocking in space. He fits well with a mobile quarterback like Murray.
41. Cleveland Browns (6-10) – Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama
Cleveland add another Alabama prospect, this time to bolster the secondary. Xavier McKinney has huge playmaking ability with some versatility. He should step in as a starter right away.
42. Jacksonville Jaguars (6-10) – Shaun Wade, CB, Ohio State
Primarily a nickel corner in college, Shaun Wade has picked up a lot of momentum in recent weeks. He is physical and comfortable playing press coverage. I would love to have seen him play outside more, but he can learn at the next level.
43. Chicago Bears via Oakland Raiders (7-9) – Michael Pittman Jr., WR, USC
While everyone seems ready to move on from Mitchell Trubisky, it is important to note his supporting cast isn’t very good. Chicago should retool the offense around him first before giving up. Michael Pittman has big play ability and the size to translate to the NFL.
44. Indianapolis Colts (7-9) – Julian Okwara, Edge, Notre Dame
With some pending free agents, Indy can restock its defense by adding a proven pass rusher. Julian Okwara is still developing his pass rush moves and needs to improve his strength, but he could develop into a starter.
45. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-9) – Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville
Tampa Bay needs to replace the right side of its line after a rough season. Mekhi Becton is a bit of a project, but possesses incredible size. Tampa can let him learn on the right or even start him at guard.
46. Denver Broncos (7-9) – Josh Jones, OT, Houston
Josh Jones bring a lot of raw skill as a prospect. He definitely needs some refining, but at 6’7″, Denver can take him knowing that size won’t be an issue. He could replace Garrett Bolles in 2021.
47. Atlanta Falcons (7-9) – D’Andre Swift, RB, Georgia
With Devonta Freeman coming off an injury-plagued season and looking like a cap casualty, Atlanta will need another option in the backfield. D’Andre Swift put together another impressive season. He could take over as the lead back right away.
48. New York Jets (7-9) – Ben Bredeson, G, Michigan
New York desperately needs to continue rebuilding its offensive line. If Sam Darnold is going to be the future at quarterback, he needs time to throw. Ben Bredeson is a big body with improving technique. He looks good at the point of attack, but needs work at the next level.
49. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8) – Brycen Hopkins, TE, Purdue
After letting Jesse James walk, Pittsburgh was hurting for options over the middle. Brycen Hopkins is a great route runner who needs some fine-tuning elsewhere in his game. He would offer the Steelers a matchup advantage in the passing game.
50. Chicago Bears (8-8) – Hunter Bryant, TE, Washington
Chicago has had basically zero production from the tight end position all year. Hunter Bryant is typical move tight end with good open-field ability. He would be another weapon for Mitchell Trubisky to grow with.
51. Dallas Cowboys (8-8) – Bryce Hall, CB, Virginia
One of the best corners in the country before he got hurt, Bryce Hall could be a future number one corner. He has good size for the position and fills a clear need for Dallas. Would be a great pairing with Byron Jones.
52. Los Angeles Rams (9-7) – Walker Little, OT, Stanford
Missed the whole season after tearing his ACL in the season-opener, but Walker Little looks the part of an NFL left tackle. He needs to work on his hand placement and film study to improve his anticipation. Little could take over if Andrew Whitworth ever decides to retire.
53. Tennessee Titans (9-7) – Zack Baun, Edge, Wisconsin
Despite being a redshirt senior, Zack Baun would probably need a bit of time to acclimate to the NFL. He has tremendous burst, giving him the potential of being an every down pass rusher. He will need to add to his frame and tighten up his technique to be consistently effective.
54. Philadelphia Eagles (9-7) – Brandon Ayiuk, WR, Arizona State
Now Philly add its wide receiver. Brandon Ayiuk is a deep ball threat who excels at creating separation downfield. He needs to work on beating the press, but looks like an immediate impact player.
55. Minnesota Vikings (10-6) – Neville Gallimore, DL, Oklahoma
Neville Gallimore likes to play downhill and cause havoc. He has great strength to force his way into opposing backfields. Minnesota should get some value out of him as a rotational right away who can work his way into an every down player.
56. Buffalo Bills (10-6) – Jabari Zuniga, Edge, Florida
Despite a great season from Buffalo’s defense, it still needs more pass rushers. Jabari Zuniga has the size and speed to fit as a 4-3 end for the Bills. Expect him to be a situational player as he adds to his long frame.
57. Houston Texans (11-5) – Jaylon Johnson, CB, Utah
Even after trading for Gareon Conley midseason, Houston needs help in the secondary. Jaylon Johnson is an aggressive corner who plays with a lot of intensity. If he can clean up his hand usage, he could be an impact starter.
58. Seattle Seahawks (11-5) – Jeff Gladney, CB, TCU
Jeff Gladney shows up on film as a solid tackler and does a nice job sticking with receivers in bump and run coverage. He could be a riser during the predraft process. Seattle would be happy to add him to a secondary that needs a boost.
59. Atlanta Falcons via New England Patriots (12-4) – Raekwon Davis, DL, Alabama
With Grady Jarrett under contract for the foreseeable future, the Falcons need someone to play alongside him on the interior. Raekwon Davis has not been as disruptive this season, but looks the part of an NFL interior lineman with good power.
60. Kansas City Chiefs via San Francisco 49ers (13-3) – Malik Harrison, LB, Ohio State
Malik Harrison has been flying all over the field this year for Ohio State. He plays downhill and has a nose for the football. He is not forced to make a ton of reads, often times just attacking the offense. Harrison would help that Chiefs defense get faster.
61. Seattle Seahawks via Kansas City Chiefs (12-4) – Lucas Niang, OT, TCU
While Seattle has run out of running backs this year due to injury, it is at its best as a power run team. Lucas Niang has all the size and power needed to fit that scheme. He is bulldozing run blocker who can survive as a pass blocker on the right side.
62. Green Bay Packers (13-3) – Troy Dye, LB, Oregon
Troy Dye is a gritty playmaker with solid coverage skills and athleticism. He is definitely undersized for the position, but he should be able to add the weight necessary to be a middle linebacker. He would fill a huge need for the Packers.
63. Miami Dolphins via New Orleans Saints (13-3) – Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson
Miami’s backfield has been a revolving door this year, resulting in Ryan Fitzpatrick being the team’s leading rusher. Travis Etienne is a home run hitter with lot of elusiveness. He needs to improve his ability to find the hole, but when he does, he is extremely dangerous.
64. Baltimore Ravens (14-2) – Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin
Nobody ran the ball more than the Ravens in 2019. With Mark Ingram set to turn 30 and Gus Edwards headed for free agency, adding Jonathan Taylor sets up Baltimore well for the future. Taylor is one of the most accomplished backs in college football history. His hard-nosed running style fits exactly what this team is looking for.
65. Cincinnati Bengals (2-14) – Nick Harris, C, Washington
The Bengals have holes everywhere, but their offensive line was particularly bad this year. Nick Harris filling the middle plus the return of 2018 first round pick Jonah Williams should help a lot.
66. Washington (3-13) – Trey Adams, OT, Washington
If Dwayne Haskins is going to be the franchise quarterback, Washington needs to protect him. Trey Adams is massive and could eventually take over at left tackle.
67. Detroit Lions (3-12-1) – Donovan Peoples-Jones, WR, Michigan
Matt Stafford had a great season, but finding him more weapons is never a bad idea. With Danny Amendola set for free agency, Donovan Peoples-Jones can step in as the new number three receiver.
68. New York Jets via New York Giants (4-12) – Darrell Taylor, Edge, Tennessee
New York has needed an elite pass rusher for over a decade. Darrell Taylor likely isn’t the answer to the Jets’ prayers, but he should be a solid contributor early on.
69. Carolina Panthers (5-11) – Cameron Dantzler, CB, Mississippi State
Carolina has all kinds of question marks at corner. With great size, Cameron Dantzler could develop into a starting option.
70. Miami Dolphins (5-11) – Hamsah Nasirildeen, S, Florida State
After trading away Minkah Fitzpatrick, Miami has a void at safety. Hamsah Nasirildeen is unlikely to be as impactful in the short term, but projects as a long-term solution.
71. Los Angeles Chargers (5-11) – Darryl Williams, G, Mississippi State
It was a rough season for the Chargers offensive line. Darryl Williams should raise the level of play after a solid career in the SEC.
72. Arizona Cardinals (5-10-1) – K.J. Hamler, WR, Penn State
Larry Fitzgerald is going to retire eventually. K.J. Hamler likely won’t have the same kind of success, but he can help Arizona stretch the field right away.
73. Jacksonville Jaguars (6-10) – Ashtyn Davis, S, Cal
Jacksonville is getting by with Ronnie Harrison and Jarrod Wilson, but Ashtyn Davis offers more potential long term.
74. Cleveland Browns (6-10) – Netane Futi, G, Fresno State
Cleveland continues to rebuild its offensive line with a pro ready option in Netane Futi. He will just need to get acclimated to the NFL speed after playing in the Mountain West.
75. Indianapolis Colts (7-9) – Damon Arnette, CB, Ohio State
Damon Arnette has put together some very good film, but gets overshadowed by his teammates. If he stands out at the Senior Bowl, he could rise well out of the Colts range.
76. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-9) – Jordan Love, QB, Utah State
The quarterback drought ends as Tampa Bay takes on a project in Jordan Love. It is unclear what the Buccaneers will do at the position next year, but Love could be a future starter.
77. Denver Broncos (7-9) – Eric Stokes, CB, Georgia
Denver will likely be actively looking for cornerback help in free agency, but it can double down in the draft as well. Eric Stokes has blazing speed, but needs some refining in coverage.
78. Atlanta Falcons (7-9) – Alton Robinson, Edge, Syracuse
Alton Robinson took an interesting path to the NFL and has some boom/bust potential. Desperate for pass rush help, Atlanta is willing to take a flier on him.
79. New York Jets (7-9) – Sage Surratt, WR, Wake Forest
Sage Surratt made a name for himself by torching defensive backs this season. If he can stay healthy, he should be a solid contributor for the Jets.
80. Las Vegas Raiders (7-9) – Monty Rice, LB, Georgia
I really thought Jon Gruden would have drafted Roquan Smith if he had been on the board in 2018. The Raiders still need linebacker help and tab a different Georgia player this time in Monty Rice.
81. Las Vegas Raiders via Chicago Bears (8-8) – Tylan Wallace, WR, Oklahoma State
Back-to-back picks for Vegas sees them double up on receivers. Tylan Wallace is an excellent jump ball option who needs to improve his route tree.
82. Dallas Cowboys (8-8) – K’Von Wallace, S, Clemson
Dallas adds another young player to its secondary. K’Von Wallace shows good recognition skills and works well as a blitzer from the second level.
83. Denver Broncos via Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8) – Trey Smith, G, Tennessee
Denver has two solid running backs, but needs to improve the offensive line to maximize the value. The best friend of any young quarterback is a ground game and Trey Smith should help establish that.
84. Los Angeles Rams (9-7) – Kenny Willekes, Edge, Michigan State
Los Angeles is constantly looking to add edge rushers. Willekes should be able to contribute from day one, but seems like a finished product.
85. Philadelphia Eagles (9-7) – Brandon Jones, S, Texas
Brandon Jones is coming out of the wide open Big 12, but brings a hard-hitting presence to the defense. There are some concerns about his ability to hold up in coverage.
86. Tennessee Titans (9-7) – Jake Fromm, QB, Georgia
Even with Ryan Tannehill in town, the Titans need a long-term plan. If Tannehill can sustain this, Fromm could be trade bait down the line, but he could also be a future starter if surrounded with the right talent.
87. Buffalo Bills (10-6) – Alaric Jackson, OT, Iowa
The offensive line play in Buffalo improved dramatically this season, but the Bills can still solidify to make it a strength. Alaric Jackson has a lot of experience at left tackle playing in the Big Ten.
88. Minnesota Vikings (10-6) – Tyler Johnson, WR, Minnesota
Tyler Johnson had a breakout year as Minnesota put together an impressive season. The Vikings can keep him close to home and build some much-needed receiver depth.
89. Cleveland Browns via Houston Texans (10-6) – Rashad Lawrence, DL, LSU
LSU’s offense is getting all the plaudits this year, but its defense is doing its part as well. With NFL size, Rashad Lawrence should add some toughness to the Browns defensive line.
90. Las Vegas Raiders via Seattle Seahawks (11-5) – Jalen Hurts, QB, Oklahoma
I can’t imagine that Jon Gruden walks away from this draft without a developmental quarterback. Derek Carr has been great at times, but I still don’t think the Raiders are sold on him. Jalen Hurts had a great college career and needs a lot of technical work, but his physical skill set makes him an intriguing prospect. He could always have a Taysom-Hill-like role.
91. New England Patriots (12-4) – Jared Pinkney, TE, Vanderbilt
Maybe Rob Gronkowski comes back and this pick is irrelevant, but until that happens, the Patriots desperately need tight end help. Jared Pickney is a chain mover with some blocking potential.
92. Green Bay Packers (13-3) – Matthew Peart, OT, UConn
Green Bay nabs a developmental tackle to stash behind Bryan Bulaga and David Bakhtiari. Matthew Peart is raw and untested, but has a lot of intangibles to work with.
93. Kansas City Chiefs (12-4) – Chuba Hubbard, RB, Oklahoma State
Damien Williams had an uneven year and LeSean McCoy is not a long-term answer. Chuba Hubbard has been outstanding and could be a dynamic player for Andy Reid to lean on.
94. New Orleans Saints (13-3) – Lloyd Cushenberry III, G, LSU
New Orleans addresses the interior of its offensive line. With Andrus Peat headed for free agency, Lloyd Cushenberry could be his successor.
95. Denver Broncos via San Francisco 49ers (13-3) – Leki Fotu, DL, Utah
Denver uses this pick from the Emmanuel Sanders trade to build some defensive line depth. Leki Fotu was a mainstay on an underrated Utah defense.
96. Baltimore Ravens (14-2) – Gabriel Davis, WR, UCF
While much of Baltimore’s game is predicated in running the ball, Lamar Jackson could use some more receiving options to throw to. Gabriel Davis is a crafty route-runner who should complement Marquise Brown nicely.
For more NFL Draft coverage, check out the Aftermath’s NFL Draft Podcast, with new episodes every Thursday.
Bowl season is officially upon us. It kicked off on Friday with a pair of games featuring a number of intriguing draft prospects. While a good chunk of draft prospects will sit out of these games to prepare for the NFL draft, there is still a lot of work to be done for prospects looking to make an impact on a more national stage. Utah State quarterback Jordan Love definitely looked sharp in his eventual loss to Kent State. The result doesn’t matter. He took care of the ball, with lone interception coming off a tipped pass that should have been caught. His draft stock received a small boost in the process, as it was a positive note to leave with evaluators heading into the pre-draft process.
There are quite a few other prospects who could do a lot to benefit their draft stock in their upcoming bowl games. Here are some of the biggest ones to keep an eye on.
Shaun Wade, CB, Ohio State
You have no doubt heard about Jeff Okudah by now. He is the consensus top corner in the class and expected to be a top-10 pick. Playing alongside him is Shaun Wade, a redshirt sophomore who commands the nickel. It is not a guarantee Wade will declare, but his play during the College Football Playoff could go a long way in making that decision for him. He will get a chance to go up against a loaded receiving core at Clemson. Tee Higgins, Amari Rodgers, Justyn Ross and Joseph Ngata are likely the second-best group in the country, behind Alabama. If Wade can have a good day against that group and even potentially facing LSU’s high-powered offense, he should lock himself in as a late first round pick.
Carlos Basham Jr., EDGE, Wake Forest
Basham’s name is becoming more common in draft circles after a strong redshirt junior season. He has 10 sacks and 17 tackles for loss this year. In a class that lacks a ton of depth behind Chase Young, there is an opportunity to separate from a lot of the other mid-tier prospects facing Michigan State in the Pinstripe Bowl. He has the size to be an edge rusher at the next level, either as an end in a 4-3 scheme or standing up in a 3-4 set up. A solid outing against a Big Ten team could help propel him into the conversation to go early on Day 2 of the draft.
Austin Jackson, OT, USC
It’s hard to imagine a USC player possibly being under the radar given the history the school has in college football. Not to mention, the Trojans are ranked again entering bowl season. However, Austin Jackson is not a household name yet. He has not gotten the same press as Georgia’s Andrew Thomas, Iowa’s Tristan Wirfs or Alabama’s Jedrick Wills. Jackson could find himself right in the mix to be drafted alongside these players in the first round with a good showing against Iowa in the Holiday Bowl. He will get a chance to face a talented Hawkeye’s defensive line, lead by projected first round pick A.J. Epenesa. With so many NFL teams needed improvement at left tackle, a good game from Jackson could make his size and footwork impossible to pass up come draft day.
Collin Johnson, WR, Texas
Texas has not had the type of season fans were expected after ranking in the preseason top 10. It has been a tough year for Collin Johnson as well. After entering the year looking like he would be one of the first 10 receivers off the board, he has slipped due to a number of injuries and a lack of game-breaking speed. He still has plenty of athletic ability and has put up good numbers since returning in mid-October. Putting together some good game tape against a suffocating Utah secondary in the Alamo Bowl would go a long way to putting him back on the right track. If Johnson performs against the likes of Jaylon Johnson, Julian Blackmon and Terrell Burgess, who all figure to be drafted this year, it would give the Texas senior a much-needed boost ahead of the Senior Bowl and combine.
Donovan Peoples-Jones, WR, Michigan
Really any of the trio of Michigan’s top receivers could be here. Donovan Peoples-Jones, Tarik Black and Nico Collins have all garnered varying amounts of draft buzz, but Peoples-Jones seems to be leading the pack. He will get an incredible opportunity to prove himself going up against the Alabama defense in the Citrus Bowl. With a secondary that boasts Day 1 hopeful in Xavier McKinney (Trevon Diggs is sitting out), Peoples-Jones will have his work cut out for him. If he shows he can generate separation from Patrick Surtain, that will be a good sign for his ability to translate to the pros. As a junior, he won’t be in the Senior Bowl, so this is his last real chance to showcase on-field traits before the combine.
Troy Dye, LB, Oregon
When you think of toughness and grit in college football, one of the first teams that comes to mind has to be Wisconsin. Troy Dye will get a chance to face that stout offense in the Rose Bowl this year. He is a tackling machine with good speed. Dye has even played through injury this season with a broken thumb. That screams toughness to me, but the biggest knock on Dye is his lack of strength. After all, he only weighs 225 pounds, very light for an NFL linebacker. If he can put together some good tape and make some disruptive plays against a Badgers front that features the best center in college football in Tyler Biadasz and a legendary running back in Jonathan Taylor, he could push himself firmly into the round one conversation heading into the Senior Bowl.
Solomon Kindley, G, Georgia
While Georgia’s offense has struggled in the second half of the season, this offensive line has still been one of the best in the nation, featuring a pair of draft prospects. Not quite as well known as the guy he plays next to in Andrew Thomas, Solomon Kindley has been showing up in the middle rounds of a lot of mock drafts. He will matchup with Baylor in the Sugar Bowl, which brings with it the challenge of facing the disruptive James Lynch. With Thomas set to sit out the game, this is a big opportunity for Kindley to show how good he can be in a vacuum. If he can hold up in protection and keep Lynch from wrecking the running game, that could go a long way in helping solidify his draft stock in a year without a ton of elite interior offensive prospects.