After the conclusion of the NFL wild-card round, just eight teams are left competing for a Super Bowl title. The 24 other teams are already looking ahead to the offseason, free agency and the draft.
With that in mind, here are The Baltimore Sun’s projections for each pick in the first round, which begins April 23 in Las Vegas. (The order of picks 25 through 32 is projected.)
1. Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
Burrow is a one-season wonder, but that season ranks among the best in college football history. He’s shown elite pocket mobility and accuracy and has the potential to be a star.
2. Washington Redskins: Chase Young, EDGE, Ohio State
With former college teammates Dwayne Haskins and Terry McLaurin already in D.C., the Redskins might gain some new fans in central Ohio.
3. Detroit Lions: Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State
Okudah allowed just 3.1 yards per target in press coverage this season, according to scouting website Pro Football Focus, over 3.5 yards below the FBS average. He’ll help fix the woeful Lions defense immediately.
4. New York Giants: Jedrick Wills Jr., OT, Alabama
The Giants are a wild-card here, with the potential to trade down with a quarterback needy team, take their pick from a loaded wide receiver group or go after a much-needed defensive playmaker. Wills, however, offers an immediate upgrade for a mediocre offensive line.
5. Miami Dolphins: Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
All signs point to the Dolphins taking Tagovailoa, but can they wait this long to get him? The Chargers, Panthers, Raiders, Colts and Buccaneers all might try to trade into the top five to land the former Crimson Tide star.
6. Los Angeles Chargers: Jordan Love, QB, Utah State
If the Chargers are content to stay at No. 6, there’s a lot to like with Love. His 2019 numbers aren’t impressive (20 touchdowns, 17 interceptions), but he’s athletic and has the raw tools teams covet. With Philip Rivers possibly re-signing and Tyrod Taylor under contract in 2020, the Chargers can be patient with his development.
7. Carolina Panthers: Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
With Matt Rhule taking over as coach, the Cam Newton era in Carolina might be over. Backups Kyle Allen and Will Grier didn’t show much to get excited about in 2019, and Herbert’s traits might be enticing for a coach looking to build a young team.
8. Arizona Cardinals: CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
Kyler Murray needs a No. 1 receiver, and his old college teammate could fill that role. Kliff Kingsbury’s offense becomes a lot more fun with Lamb in the mix.
9. Jacksonville Jaguars: Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn
The Jaguars have several holes to fill, but the most glaring is the interior defensive line after the team finished 2019 ranked 31st in rushing defense DVOA.
10. Cleveland Browns: Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa
Left tackle is the Browns’ biggest need. After Cleveland fired general manager John Dorsey, what the front office decides to do here is anyone’s guess.
11. New York Jets: Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
The Jets might have five new starters on the offensive line in 2020. If running back Le’Veon Bell is going to live up to his contract, he’ll need better blockers.
12. Las Vegas Raiders: Isaiah Simmons, LB/S, Clemson
Simmons would give the Raiders an athletic, versatile piece in the middle of their defense, which ranked second worst in the league in DVOA.
13. Indianapolis Colts: Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
No matter who plays quarterback for the Colts, they’ll need another receiver to throw to alongside T.Y. Hilton, who turns 31 this year.
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina
The Bucs defense was much improved in 2019, finishing fifth in DVOA, and it can get even better by adding an athletic force next to Vita Vea in the interior.
15. Denver Broncos: Grant Delpit, S, LSU
The Broncos still have to figure out who’s going to play quarterback long-term, but the secondary is a more immediate problem. Delpit missed plenty of tackles this season, but he only allowed nine receptions in coverage, per PFF.
16. Atlanta Falcons: A.J. Epenesa, EDGE, Iowa
The Falcons finished tied for 29th in sacks last season. Epenesa can rush both inside and outside, giving Atlanta’s defensive front a needed boost.
17. Dallas Cowboys: Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama
The Cowboys need an upgrade in the secondary, especially if star cornerback Byron Jones leaves in free agency.
18. Miami Dolphins (via Pittsburgh): Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville
The Dolphins need help on the offensive and defensive lines, and the 6-foot-7, 369-pound Becton lays the boom, recording the second-most big-time blocks of any offensive tackle in the FBS, per PFF.
19. Las Vegas Raiders (via Chicago): Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama
The Raiders taking the fastest receiver in the draft is a throwback to the Al Davis era. But Ruggs has more than just speed, and he’ll give Vegas the No. 1 receiver it needs.
20. Jacksonville Jaguars (via Rams): Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma
Though a bit undersized (6-2, 243 pounds), Murray fits the mold of a modern linebacker with outstanding coverage skills.
21. Philadelphia Eagles: Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama
Diggs rebounded well from an injury-shortened 2018 season, allowing a passer rating of 44.5 on 52 targets, per PFF. After getting burned by D.K. Metcalf in the wild-card round, the Eagles need a true shutdown corner.
22. Buffalo Bills: Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson
Higgins’ huge catch radius and big-play ability (20.8 yards per catch in 2019) makes him a true downfield weapon. That’s just what quarterback Josh Allen needs.
23. New England Patriots: Cole Kmet, TE, Notre Dame
This might be considered a reach at this spot, but Kmet has the size (6-5, 250 pounds) and the versatility to make an instant impact for a Patriots offense in desperate need of playmakers.
24. New Orleans Saints: Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU
The Saints need to find a No. 2 receiver, and Reagor has speed to burn and the ability to make contested catches.
25. Tennessee Titans: Yetur Gross-Matos, EDGE, Penn State
Assuming the Titans bring back Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry, a dynamic pass-rusher is high on Tennessee’s wish list. Gross-Matos’ size (6-5, 264 pounds) and quickness would pair well opposite Harold Landry III.
26. Minnesota Vikings: Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU
Fulton played press coverage on the third-most snaps of any draft-eligible cornerback, per PFF, and rated as the best corner in the SEC. The Vikings could use another playmaker in the secondary.
27. Miami Dolphins (via Houston): K’Lavon Chaisson, EDGE, LSU
The Dolphins could use at least two starting-caliber edge rushers. It’s a safe bet they’ll look to the draft to secure one.
28. Seattle Seahawks: Austin Jackson, OT, USC
It’s pretty much a lock that the Seahawks will target an offensive lineman after struggling to protect Russell Wilson in 2019.
29. Kansas City Chiefs: C.J. Henderson, CB, Florida
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Henderson struggled some in 2019, allowing five catches of 40 or more yards, per PFF, but still has top-end traits that would make him attractive to a team in need of cornerback help.
30. Green Bay Packers: Laviska Shenault, WR, Colorado
Shenault plays like a running back with the ball in his hands, and often makes the first man miss. If he slips this far because of his injury history, he would be a steal for Green Bay.
31. San Francisco 49ers: Bryce Hall, CB, Virginia
Hall was dominant in 2018, but an ankle injury cut his season short in 2019. He’d be good value at the end of the first round for a 49ers secondary that struggled in the second half of the season.
32. Baltimore Ravens: Zack Baun, EDGE, Wisconsin
Baun is a fast riser on draft boards and could jump even higher with a big scouting combine performance. He finished second in the Big Ten in both sacks (12.5) and tackles for loss (19.5) and earned one of the highest pass-rushing grades in the country at 90.9, per PFF. Though he might end up being a better off-ball linebacker than pass rusher, he has the versatility and athleticism the Ravens covet.