With the first week of NFL free agency over, we have our clearest picture yet of what teams need heading into the draft April 23-25 in Las Vegas.
Here are The Baltimore Sun’s projections for each pick in the first two rounds:
1. Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
The quarterback carousel is slowing down, and Andy Dalton is still a member of the Bengals. Will he stay in Cincinnati to help mentor Burrow, or be traded to another team looking for a veteran presence in its quarterback room? It’s a rare offseason in which the supply of quarterbacks exceeds the demand, so Dalton’s future might be holding the clipboard for the incoming No. 1 pick.
2. Washington Redskins: Chase Young, EDGE, Ohio State
Washington clearly prioritized improving its defense in free agency, signing linebacker Thomas Davis, cornerback Kendall Fuller and safety Sean Davis. Young could step in and be a force on the edge immediately, which might help Washington’s defense transform into one of the league’s best. With one pick in the top 65, the Redskins could trade this selection for extra picks, but the simplest move — selecting the hometown star — might end up being the best one for the team’s immediate success.
3. Detroit Lions: Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson
After the Lions traded Darius Slay to the Eagles, they signed former Falcons cornerback Desmond Trufant to replace him. Detroit still needs to upgrade its secondary, but the play it got from its linebackers in 2019 isn’t going to cut it. With the addition of Jamie Collins Sr. and the versatile Simmons, who could also play safety and slot cornerback, the Lions can turn a weakness into a strength.
4. New York Giants: Jedrick Wills Jr., OT, Alabama
If the Giants want to get more out of star running back Saquon Barkley and give young quarterback Daniel Jones time to throw, offensive line help is the top priority. Wills has quick feet and quick hands, and plays with a mean streak. He’ll help the Giants improve in the trenches immediately.
5. Miami Dolphins: Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
With all the moves the Dolphins made in free agency — including signing star cornerback Byron Jones to a five-year, $82 million deal (with a record-setting $54 million guaranteed) — the Dolphins will simply be too good in 2020 to be in contention for one of next year’s top draft-eligible quarterbacks. With a prime spot in this year’s draft, and the assets to trade up if necessary, expect Miami to pick its quarterback of the future. Tagovailoa, with a clean bill of health and plenty of talent, could grow into one of the game’s best quarterbacks.
6. Los Angeles Chargers: Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
There’s still a chance the Chargers make a move to add Cam Newton or Jameis Winston, but Los Angeles appears content to roll with Tyrod Taylor in 2020, who served as a bridge to Baker Mayfield in Cleveland two years ago. At 6-feet-6 and 236 pounds with a big arm, Herbert has all the physical tools needed to succeed. A year on the sideline learning behind a veteran might be what’s best for his development.
7. Carolina Panthers: Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State
Okudah falling to Carolina would be a nice gift for first-year coach Matt Rhule, who made the bold decision to sign quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and move on from Cam Newton. Okudah has the size, length and speed to be a perennial Pro Bowl contender, and that’s great value to have on a rookie contract for a team looking to get back into contention.
8. Arizona Cardinals: Derrick Brown, DL, Auburn
With the steal of the offseason, the Cardinals acquired star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins from the Texans for David Johnson and a second-round pick, addressing one of their biggest offseason needs. Offensive line remains an area of concern, and the Cardinals could have their pick of tackles here, but a disruptive interior presence such as Brown can help shore up what was one of the NFL’s worst defenses in 2019.
9. Jacksonville Jaguars: Javon Kinlaw, DL, South Carolina
After trading Pro Bowl defensive end Calais Campbell to the Ravens, the once-formidable Jaguars defensive front is in need of an upgrade. Kinlaw brings an explosive first step to the interior of the defense, and with Yannick Ngakoue and Josh Allen rushing from the ends, Jacksonville can start to regain some of the defensive magic that helped propel the franchise to the edge of the Super Bowl.
10. Cleveland Browns: Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville
Remember all the hype the Browns received last offseason after adding Odell Beckham Jr. and Olivier Vernon to an already-talented roster? We know how that ended. But is it fair to wonder whether Cleveland might again be one of the offseason’s big winners? By signing tight end Austin Hooper, right tackle Jack Conklin and safeties Karl Joseph and Anderson Sendejo, the Browns addressed some of their biggest needs. If they can add a foundational left tackle, which Becton can be if he reaches his vast potential, Cleveland is set to be a real contender. Seriously.
11. New York Jets: Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
With such a deep class of receivers, it’s a little strange to see none come off the board in the first 10 picks. That might make this selection a little trickier for the Jets, who need to decide whether it’s more important to surround quarterback Sam Darnold with weapons or capable linemen. With two of the top-tier tackles still available, the bet is that the Jets take one here and pick a receiver in the later rounds.
12. Las Vegas Raiders: CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
How lucky would this be for the newest residents of Sin City? There’s debate over whether Lamb or Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy is the best receiver in this class, but give Lamb a slight leg up for his ability to break tackles and win at the catch point. After bringing in quarterback Marcus Mariota as competition for Derek Carr and revamping their defense in free agency, you can be sure the Raiders will be looking to compete in 2020.
13. San Francisco 49ers (via Colts): Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
By shipping out talented defensive lineman DeForest Buckner to the Colts for a first-round pick, the defending NFC champions have an opportunity to pick an instant-impact player. After watching Emmanuel Sanders leave for the Saints, Jeudy could be that player, with a natural feel for route running that could make him special in the slot.
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa
With Tom Brady in town, quarterback is no longer a pressing need for the Bucs. Now it’s about protecting the six-time Super Bowl champion to allow Bruce Arians’ offense to flourish with star wideouts Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. Wirfs can play guard or tackle, giving Tampa Bay much-needed depth up front.
15. Denver Broncos: Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama
Trading for Titans defensive tackle Jurrel Casey and Jaguars cornerback A.J. Bouye solidifies the defense, allowing the Broncos to take a swing for a much-needed big-play threat next to receiver Courtland Sutton on offense. Ruggs, who flashed sub-4.3 second speed in the 40-yard dash at the scouting combine, can take the top off the defense and turn underneath routes into big gains.
16. Atlanta Falcons: CJ Henderson, CB, Florida
With veteran Desmond Trufant gone, cornerback becomes a glaring need for Atlanta. Henderson can be the Falcons’ top cornerback immediately, with the athleticism and speed to stay in a receiver's hip pocket and a willingness to make plays in run support.
17. Dallas Cowboys: K’Lavon Chaisson, EDGE, LSU
Defensive end Robert Quinn, who signed with the Bears, was a big loss after a productive season in Dallas. Chaisson, who offers rare speed and bend as an outside rusher, can grow into a game-wrecker and draw some attention away from DeMarcus Lawrence.
18. Miami Dolphins (via Steelers): Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama
It’s only fitting that the Dolphins use the pick they acquired in the Minkah Fitzpatrick trade to take the next standout Alabama safety. With McKinney, newly signed Byron Jones and Xavier Howard, Miami can build one of the NFL’s best secondaries under former Patriots defensive coordinator Brian Flores.
19. Las Vegas Raiders (via Bears): Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama
After signing linebackers Nick Kwiatkoski and Cory Littleton in free agency, the Raiders no longer have a pressing need for a man in the middle. But the secondary still has plenty of holes, even after the additions of cornerback Eli Apple and safety Jeff Heath. Diggs has the size, strength and length to be a top-notch corner.
20. Jacksonville Jaguars (via Rams): Jaylon Johnson, CB, Utah
After Jalen Ramsey was traded last season, fellow cornerback A.J. Bouye was shipped to Denver before the start of free agency. That leaves the Jaguars thin on the back end, even after signing Darqueze Dennard to a three-year deal. Johnson has the physicality and athleticism necessary to succeed at the next level.
21. Philadelphia Eagles: Laviska Shenault Jr., WR, Colorado
It’s pretty clear that the Eagles will be going after a receiver with this pick, especially after trading for cornerback Darius Slay. The question is which one. Shenault has durability concerns, but he’s explosive and plays with the power of a running back in space, with strong hands and an excellent ability to track deep balls.
22. Minnesota Vikings (via Bills): Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson
After trading Stefon Diggs to the Bills, the Vikings suddenly have a hole at wide receiver opposite Adam Thielen. Higgins is a magician when the ball is in the air, able to contort his body and use his length to reel in catches from almost any angle. He could end up being the best wide receiver in this class.
23. New England Patriots: Zack Baun, LB, Wisconsin
No, it’s not a quarterback. It seems likely the Patriots are going to give Jarrett Stidham a try this season and perhaps take a swing at a new signal caller in the 2021 draft. Baun has drawn comparisons to former Patriots linebacker Kyle Van Noy, who left for the Dolphins in free agency. With his ability to rush the passer and cover receivers and tight ends as an off-ball linebacker, Baun can be a versatile chess piece in New England’s defense.
24. New Orleans Saints: Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU
The Saints found a No. 2 receiver to pair with Michael Thomas in free agent Emmanuel Sanders, but they might not be done looking for upgrades. Jefferson can play in the slot in three-receiver sets and is an effective blocker, with a natural ability to win contested catches. This receiver trio could wind up being the league’s most productive.
25. Minnesota Vikings: Yetur Gross-Matos, EDGE, Penn State
With Everson Griffen hitting free agency, the Vikings need another edge rusher. Gross-Matos has all the athletic traits you want to see from a stud pass rusher, and his ability to play inside and outside makes him even more valuable.
26. Miami Dolphins (via Texans): D’Andre Swift, RB, Georgia
The Dolphins have more important needs than running back, but they do need to eventually find some talent at the position. Swift can be a quality starter in Year 1, and has the potential to be one of the NFL’s best young running backs. With so many picks this year, Miami can afford to take a chance.
27. Seattle Seahawks: A.J. Epenesa, EDGE, Iowa
With Jadeveon Clowney still a free agent, the Seahawks might need to find an edge rusher. Epenesa isn’t a top-end athlete, but his size and production in college showed how effective he can be rushing the passer. His array of moves and strong hands would be a welcome addition to Seattle’s defensive line.
28. Baltimore Ravens: Patrick Queen, LB, LSU
Queen falling all the way to No. 28 seemed unthinkable just a few weeks ago, but with the Raiders and Jaguars each handing out big contracts to inside linebackers, the demand for one fell. The Ravens could have their next great linebacker in Queen, who showed athleticism, physicality and confidence in his one year as a starter for the national champions.
29. Tennessee Titans: Josh Jones, OT, Houston
With right tackle Jack Conklin heading off to Cleveland, the Titans have a hole to fill on the offensive line. Jones is still considered a work-in-progress, but his length and athleticism make him an intriguing prospect, especially for a run-heavy team such as the Titans.
30. Green Bay Packers: Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU
The Packers need to do everything they can to maximize their window of contention with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback. That starts by giving him more weapons, and Reagor, with his speed and ability to make defenders miss in open space, can provide a big-play threat opposite Davante Adams.
31. San Francisco 49ers: Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU
In one of the nation’s toughest conferences, Fulton allowed a 40% completion rate since 2018. He still has some weaknesses, mainly with his speed and recovery, but his production, athleticism and instincts make him a likely first-rounder.
32. Kansas City Chiefs: Jeff Gladney, CB, TCU
With highly rated linebacker Kenneth Murray still on the board, this could be a tough decision for the defending champs. But the Chiefs have just six cornerbacks on their current roster, with none making above $1 million per season. Gladney has been described as an irritant and a junkyard dog, bringing the kind of physical coverage a rebuilding secondary needs.
33. Cincinnati Bengals: Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma
34. Indianapolis Colts (via Redskins): Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor
35. Detroit Lions: Ross Blacklock, DL, TCU
36. New York Giants: Terrell Lewis, EDGE, Alabama
37. Los Angeles Chargers: Austin Jackson, OT, USC
38. Carolina Panthers: Marlon Davidson, EDGE, Auburn
39. Miami Dolphins: Tyre Phillips, OT, Mississippi State
40. Houston Texans (via Cardinals): Jordan Elliott, DL, Missouri
41. Cleveland Browns: Malik Harrison, LB, Ohio State
42. Jacksonville Jaguars: Lucas Niang, OT, TCU
43. Chicago Bears (via Raiders): Antoine Winfield Jr., S, Minnesota
44. Indianapolis Colts: A.J. Terrell, CB, Clemson
45. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, LSU
46. Denver Broncos: Isaiah Wilson, OT, Georgia
47. Atlanta Falcons: Grant Delpit, S, LSU
48. New York Jets: K.J. Hamler, WR, Penn State
49. Pittsburgh Steelers: Raekwon Davis, DL, Alabama
50. Chicago Bears: Ezra Cleveland, OT, Boise State
51. Dallas Cowboys: Bryce Hall, CB, Virginia
52. Los Angeles Rams: Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin
53. Philadelphia Eagles: Jordyn Brooks, LB, Texas Tech
54. Buffalo Bills: John Simpson, G, Clemson
55. Baltimore Ravens (via Falcons): Cesar Ruiz, C, Michigan
56. Miami Dolphins (via Saints): Lloyd Cushenberry III, C, LSU
57. Houston Texans: Chase Claypool, WR, Notre Dame
58. Minnesota Vikings: Amik Robertson, CB, Louisiana Tech
59. Seattle Seahawks: Alton Robinson, EDGE, Syracuse
60. Baltimore Ravens: Josh Uche, EDGE, Michigan
61. Tennessee Titans: Jabari Zuniga, EDGE, Florida
62. Green Bay Packers: Harrison Byrant, TE, Florida Atlantic
63. Kansas City Chiefs (via 49ers): J.K. Dobbins, RB, Ohio State
64. Seattle Seahawks (via Chiefs): Noah Igbinoghene, CB, Auburn