The first round of the NFL Draft is set to go off on Thursday night, and here’s our best guess at how things will shake out for the first 32 picks.
Though trades are expected Thursday night, this draft was conducted without them, taking the 32 selections as they are currently scheduled.
1. Cincinnati Bengals, Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
This is happening. Let’s move on.
2. Washington Redskins, Chase Young, EDGE, Ohio State
Our top-rated player, and other than perhaps trading down, there’s almost nothing else that Washington could do here that makes any sense.
3. Detroit Lions, Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State
With several needs that do not necessarily include quarterback, the Lions could definitely move down here. If they stay, getting the top corner in the draft should be an easy call.
4. New York Giants, Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
It’s a deep group of tackles, so the Giants are another team that could trade down for a quarterback-seeking club. Jedrick Wells and Tristan Wirfs are perhaps more popular picks here, but the Giants want their offense based on Saquon Barkley, and Thomas’ power in the run game is unsurpassed.
5. Miami Dolphins, Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
The Dolphins don’t absolutely need a quarterback, with 2018 No. 10 pick Josh Rosen waiting in the wings. But that also makes them the perfect team to take a chance on Tagovailoa’s questionable hip. They have three first-round picks and another developing quarterback option, so if he doesn’t work out, it’s a hit they can absorb.
6. Los Angeles Chargers, Justin Hebert, QB, Oregon
Philip Rivers is gone, and Tyrod Taylor has a career quarterback rating under 90. It’s clearly a need, and while Hebert might be a bit of a reach at No. 6, he’ll give the Chargers a someone they can sell in SoCal.
7. Carolina Panthers, Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson
While Carolina’s offensive moves got all the headlines this offseason, the retirement of Luke Kuechly left a big hole in the middle of the Panthers’ defense. Simmons isn’t the same kind of player, but can certainly help replace Kuechly as an impact talent in the middle level of the defense. With 16.5 tackles for loss, eight sacks, three interceptions and two forced fumbles in 2019, he’s a splash play waiting to happen.
8. Arizona Cardinals, Derrick Brown, IDL, Auburn
Offensive tackle is also a need for the Cardinals, but stud defensive tackles don’t come along very often and that’s exactly what Brown appears to be. Arizona’s defense was dead last in yards allowed in 2019, and Brown can help especially help shore up the Cardinals run defense.
9. Jacksonville Jaguars, Javon Kinlaw, IDL, South Carolina
Calais Campbell was a 6-foot-8, 300-pound Pro Bowl lineman for the Jaguars before being traded to the Baltimore Ravens this offseason. Kinlaw is 6-foot-6, 310 pounds and the top-rated interior defensive lineman by a long shot with Brown off the board. Seems like a good fit.
10. Cleveland Browns, Jedrick Wells, OT, Alabama
The Browns have been sniffing around Washington’s Trent Williams, who is reportedly available in a trade, but have not pulled the trigger. What might they be waiting for? A situation like this, where they’d have their pick of Wells, Tristan Wirfs and Mekhi Becton at tackle. Wells is the top-rated of the three, though Becton’s experience at left tackle may be a draw. With so many options, a trade down could be in the cards, as well.
11. New York Jets, CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
The Jets need playmakers for Sam Darnold, and they’ll have their pick with all of the top of a deep group of receivers still on the board. Denver, which also has a wide receiver need and has 10 draft picks, could be primed to move up here to get their preferred target. If the Jets stay put, Lamb has the versatility to play anywhere and is a big-play threat whenever he gets the ball.
12. Oakland Las Vegas Raiders, CJ Henderson, CB, Florida
The Raiders are on the clock in the first round and there’s a speed demon wide receiver available. But alas, Al Davis is no longer here to make this a no-brainer prediction. Yes, the Raiders have a need at wide receiver, but they also need a cornerback, and with a much thinner class at corner than at wide out, it makes much more sense to grab Henderson here and still be able to get a good receiver at No. 19.
13. San Francisco 49ers, Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
Tackle is also an option here, but Jeudy can be a day-one playmaker opposite Deebo Samuel and help San Francisco offset the loss of Emmanuel Sanders to free agency. Jeudy is a very-polished route runner and someone that the 49ers could place their championship-level expectations on right away after playing in big games at Alabama.
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa
After spending $50 million on a 42-year-old quarterback in Tom Brady, the Bucs will place an emphasis on keeping his new red and pewter uniform clean by taking Wirfs, the most athletic of the big tackles available. Becton is also an option, but Donovan Smith already mans the left side, leaving Wirfs to his natural right tackle spot.
15. Denver Broncos, Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama
The Broncos might move up to make sure they get the receiver they want, but they’d probably be very happy with Ruggs falling into their lap. Ruggs ran a 4.27 40 at the combine, best amongst receivers, and will give Drew Lock a pure speed threat to go with big target Courtland Sutton.
16. Atlanta Falcons, K’Lavon Chaisson, EDGE, LSU
The Falcons big needs are all on defense, but with the top tackles and corners gone, edge rusher presents a pick of value. Chaisson had 13.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks for LSU last season and is the second-best edge rusher in the draft after Young.
17. Dallas Cowboys, A.J. Terrell, CB, Clemson
Corner is the Cowboys’ biggest need after Byron Jones bolted to Miami in free agency. Terrell isn’t one of the top corners that Jerry Jones and company were likely would hoping would fall here, and safety is an option, but with both starters set to become free agents after 2020, corner feels like to big of a need to ignore.
18. Miami Dolphins, Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville
With their top pick taken on risky Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, the Dolphins will help protect him with Becton, the top remaining tackle, though his left-side tendency clashes with Tagovailoa’s left-handedness.
19. Las Vegas Raiders, Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU
The Raiders’ gamble pays off, landing one of the top wide receivers after already taking a corner. Jefferson is sure-handed and has rare deep speed from the slot, with a 4.43 40-yard dash.
20. Jacksonville Jaguars, Yetur Gross-Matos, EDGE, Penn State
With Kinlaw shoring up the inside, Gross-Matos will help the Jaguars get their pass rush going and re-establish a dominant defensive line in Jacksonville. The secondary is also a need, but with the top players already off the board, Gross-Matos brings high levels of upside to the bottom third of the first round.
21. Philadelphia Eagles, Brandon Aiyuk, WR, Arizona State
The Eagles need a wide receiver, and though four have already gone, they still have their pick of a few talented ones. Aiyuk’s run-after-catch ability makes him a threat to play right away while he continues to build strength and physicality.
22. Minnesota Vikings, Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU
Trae Waynes is gone and Fulton is a direct replacement, bringing the size and press physicality that Minnesota wants. Had some off-the-field troubles at LSU that probably depressed his draft stock, making him a high-upside, but higher-risk pick later in the first round.
23. New England Patriots, Jordan Love, QB, Utah State
This pick probably won’t happen here, with the Pats likely to move up to get a quarterback, or be able to move out of the first round and still get Love, who showed flashes of brilliance at Utah State, but also worrying amounts of inconsistency. It’s an ego pick for Bill Belichick, and if he gets the best out of Love, it will have been worth it.
24. New Orleans Saints, Patrick Queen, LB, LSU
The Saints need an inside linebacker after A.J. Klein’s departure through free agency. Queen is among the best insider backers in the class at a not-very-deep position and played down the road at LSU. Seems too easy.
25. Minnesota Vikings, Jeff Gladney, CB, Missouri
Back-to-back corners is a bit much, but Gladney is undersized by physical slot corner that Minnesota could also move around the defense if necessary.
26. Miami Dolphins, Cesar Ruiz, IOL, Michigan
Ruiz is the best interior lineman in the draft and along withBecton will give Miami a huge strength up front on offense as a foundation.
27. Seattle Seahawks, Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama
Safety isn’t a huge need for Seattle, but getting the top-rated one this far down in the draft will be too much to pass up, helping Seattle rebuild the Legion of Boom.
28. Baltimore Ravens, Kenneth Murray, ILB, Oklahoma
Inside backer is the Ravens’ biggest need and Murray can get downhill in a hurry. Great fit.
29. Tennessee Titans, A.J. Epenesa, EDGE, Iowa
The Titans have bodies on their defensive line, but outside of Jeffery Simmons, no one that can be a disruptive force. Epenesa can be that, and comes with day-one ability.
30. Green Bay Packers, Laviska Shenault, WR, Colorado
A perfect late-first pick, Shenault has physicality and playmaking potential, but lacks the polish of some of the earlier wide receivers.
31. San Francisco 49ers, Josh Jones, OT, Houston
With their big need taken care of, the Niners can go best player available here and get a starting-caliber lineman late in the first round.
32. Kansas City Chiefs, Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama
Diggs has all the physical tools to be just about anything at the NFL level, but needs polish to become a pure starting corner. Otherwise, he could be a sub-package and special teams monster for the returning champs.