The Senior Bowl is in the books. After a week of practices and prospect evaluations in Mobile, Alabama, here are The Baltimore Sun’s projections for each pick in the first two rounds of the 2020 NFL draft, which begins April 23 in Las Vegas:
1. Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
With nothing left to prove after a record-setting season, Burrow sat out the Senior Bowl. The next time he takes the field will be at Bengals training camp.
2. Washington Redskins: Chase Young, EDGE, Ohio State
Young finished the 2019 season as the highest graded pass rusher in scouting website Pro Football Focus’ five-year history examining college players. He can make a good defensive line even better.
3. Detroit Lions: Isaiah Simmons, LB/S, Clemson
The Lions need a defensive playmaker after finishing 28th in Football Outsiders’ DVOA in 2019. Simmons played snaps at safety, inside linebacker, outside linebacker, slot cornerback and outside cornerback and had seven sacks on 71 pass-rushing snaps.
4. New York Giants: Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State
The Giants tried to solved their cornerback issues in last year’s draft, with mixed results. Okudah has the size, athleticism and production to make an immediate impact for a beleaguered defense.
5. Miami Dolphins: Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
The health concerns will be a talking point until Tagovailoa throws a football again. Thankfully, the Dolphins can be patient with the former Crimson Tide star, who was one of the most efficient quarterbacks in college football history.
6. Los Angeles Chargers: Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
Herbert was named practice Player of the Week at the Senior Bowl, answering some questions about his accuracy and some ugly college performances. But there’s no denying the arm strength and athleticism. The Philip Rivers era is likely over.
7. Carolina Panthers: Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn
Gerald McCoy is a free agent and Kawann Short is coming off a season-ending shoulder injury. The Panthers had one of the league’s worst defenses, allowing a league-high 31 rushing touchdowns. Brown can immediately shore up the middle of the defense, which just lost future Hall of Fame linebacker Luke Keuchly to retirement.
8. Arizona Cardinals: Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
For the Kyler Murray-Kliff Kingsbury offense to take off, it needs another playmaker opposite 36-year-old Larry Fitzgerald. Jeudy is a polished route runner with game-breaking speed.
9. Jacksonville Jaguars: Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina
Kinlaw dominated one-on-ones in Senior Bowl practice, reinforcing his status as one of the draft’s best defensive players. He has graded extremely well as a pass rusher from the interior and would pair well next to Taven Bryan and Calais Campbell.
10. Cleveland Browns: Jedrick Wills Jr., OT, Alabama
The early run on quarterbacks pushes some of the high-end talent further down, and the Browns are the beneficiary here by landing perhaps the best tackle in the draft. Wills is a dominant run blocker who is only getting better at pass protection.
11. New York Jets: CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
Sure, the Jets need offensive line help more than anything, but passing up a talent like Lamb would be hard to do. In addition to his 14 touchdowns and 21.4 yards per catch, he broke 26 tackles on 62 receptions in 2019.
12. Las Vegas Raiders: Grant Delpit, S, LSU
Pairing Delpit with Johnathan Abram would give the Raiders a dynamic one-two punch in the secondary, which allowed 2,196 passing yards on gains of 20-plus yards in 2019, per PFF. Delpit can cover a lot of ground, stick with receivers and cleaned up a lot of his tackling problems toward the end of the season.
13. Indianapolis Colts: Jordan Love, QB, Utah State
Love’s stats were underwhelming in 2019, but he showed enough athleticism, accuracy and arm strength to warrant early-round consideration. With a solid Senior Bowl showing, the boom-or-bust prospect has earned a chance to be a starting quarterback, and the Colts need one after Andrew Luck’s retirement and Jacoby Brissett’s poor 2019 season.
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
The Bucs need to figure out a plan at quarterback first and foremost. With three quarterbacks already off the board and plenty of talent available, they can shore up their protection for whoever takes snaps under center in 2020.
15. Denver Broncos: Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama
A player as fast and as talented as Ruggs won’t slip very far. If the Broncos want a proper evaluation of Drew Lock, he needs another top-notch receiver to throw to opposite Courtland Sutton.
16. Atlanta Falcons: A.J. Epenesa, EDGE, Iowa
Only the rebuilding Dolphins recorded fewer sacks than the Falcons in 2019. Atlanta usually goes after edge rushers more athletic than Epenesa, but the former Iowa star can line up inside and outside and gets the job done with his relentless pursuit and strong hands.
17. Dallas Cowboys: Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama
The Cowboys often neglected their secondary under former coach Jason Garrett. No more. McKinney can play safety and nickel corner and has earned high marks from PFF in run defense, as a pass-rusher and in coverage each of the past two seasons.
18. Miami Dolphins (via Steelers): Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa
The Dolphins offensive line graded as the worst in the league in 2019, per PFF. Wirfs, a dominant run blocker and physical marvel (6-5, 322 pounds), can play tackle or guard at the next level.
19. Las Vegas Raiders (via Bears): Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson
Tyrell Williams is good, but he’s not a No. 1 receiver. Higgins can win jump balls downfield and haul in passes thrown anywhere near him, giving quarterback Derek Carr a go-to target.
20. Jacksonville Jaguars (via Rams): Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama
It’s only fitting that the pick the Jaguars received in the Jalen Ramsey trade is used to draft his replacement. Long and lean, Diggs has the ideal body type for a corner, and his play on the field wasn’t too shabby, either, forcing 11 incompletions and earning a 90.1 coverage grade from PFF.
21. Philadelphia Eagles: Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU
A field-stretching wide receiver might be at the top of the Eagles’ wish list, but with DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery set to return in 2020, cornerback is a more pressing need. Fulton has been a consistent top performer in one of college football’s toughest conferences.
22. Buffalo Bills: Laviska Shenault Jr., WR, Colorado
Shenault is the kind of athlete who can break tackles and make plays in space after the catch, which would add a new element to offensive coordinator Brian Daboll’s playbook. His big frame (6-2, 224 pounds) would also be valuable for a receiving corps that lacks size.
23. New England Patriots: Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU
Whether it’s Tom Brady throwing passes in 2020 or someone else, the Patriots need a receiver who can separate down the field. Reagor is an explosive athlete who can put a jolt into a lifeless offense.
24. New Orleans Saints: Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU
Jefferson, who made his living in the slot and attacking zone coverage, would be an ideal fit for Sean Payton’s offense opposite Michael Thomas. His quickness and route-running ability would take some of the pressure off one of the NFL’s best receivers.
25. Minnesota Vikings: C.J. Henderson, CB, Florida
The Vikings had one of the best pass defenses in the league in 2019, but that was largely because of the play of their linebackers and safeties. Cornerback could use an upgrade, and Henderson is athletic enough to play strong man coverage.
26. Miami Dolphins (via Texans): K’Lavon Chaisson, EDGE, LSU
With quarterback and offensive line accounted for and several more picks to come, the Dolphins can take a chance on an elite athlete who struggled with consistency. Chaisson came on strong at the end of the season (4½ sacks over the final four games) with his first-step quickness.
27. Seattle Seahawks: Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville
According to PFF, no qualifying quarterback has been under pressure on a higher percentage of their dropbacks since entering the league than Russell Wilson has. The Seahawks need as many competent offensive linemen as they can find this offseason.
28. Baltimore Ravens: Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma
The Ravens never quite filled the void left by C.J. Mosley, and L.J. Fort, Chris Board and Otaro Alaka are the only returning inside linebackers under contract in 2020. Murray offers high-end athleticism and sideline-to-sideline coverage in the middle of the defense and can also use his explosiveness as a pass rusher in the Ravens’ blitz-heavy scheme.
29. Tennessee Titans: Yetur Gross-Matos, EDGE, Penn State
If there’s one thing the Titans couldn’t do on defense during their remarkable run to the AFC championship game, it was rush the passer. Gross-Matos is still a bit raw, but he was productive in college and flashed signs of dominance with his length and athleticism.
30. Green Bay Packers: Brandon Aiyuk, WR, Arizona State
The Packers join the Bills, Patriots and Saints as contenders who need an upgrade at receiver. Aiyuk can stretch the field and is explosive with the ball in his hands, just what Green Bay needs opposite Davante Adams.
31. San Francisco 49ers: Jeff Gladney, CB, TCU
If the 49ers defense had one weakness, it was the cornerback spot opposite Richard Sherman. Gladney makes up for his small frame (5-10, 184 pounds) with his top-end speed, allowing just 19 catches for 470 yards on 78 targets 10-plus yards downfield over the past two seasons, per PFF.
32. Kansas City Chiefs: Zack Baun, LB, Wisconsin
Baun doesn’t have the size or strength to be a consistent edge rusher in the NFL, but he projects as a top-notch off-ball linebacker, capable of running with receivers and tight ends in coverage and generating pressure as a blitzer.
33. Cincinnati Bengals: K.J. Hamler, WR, Penn State
At 5-9 and 174 pounds, there’s no getting past Hamler’s size limitations. But he’s an explosive athlete who can work outside or in the slot, giving presumptive No. 1 pick Joe Burrow a home-run threat.
34. Indianapolis Colts (via Redskins): Michael Pittman Jr., WR, USC
35. Detroit Lions: Jaylon Johnson, CB, Utah
36. New York Giants: Terrell Lewis, EDGE, Alabama
37. Los Angeles Chargers: Austin Jackson, OT, USC
38. Carolina Panthers: Jalen Hurts, QB, Oklahoma
Even if Cam Newton returns, long-term health questions remain for the soon-to-be 31-year-old quarterback. Hurts is a dynamic runner and was much-improved as a downfield passer in 2019. Putting him alongside Christian McCaffrey in the backfield would be fun to watch.
39. Miami Dolphins: D’Andre Swift, RB, Georgia
40. Arizona Cardinals: Josh Jones, OT, Houston
41. Cleveland Browns: Ashtyn Davis, S, California
42. Jacksonville Jaguars: Patrick Queen, LB, LSU
43. Chicago Bears (via Raiders): Jake Fromm, QB, Georgia
Time is running out for Mitchell Trubisky. Fromm might not have the splashy arm strength or athletic traits most teams covet, but he’s poised, experienced and had just seven turnover-worthy throws compared with 24 big-time throws in 2019, per PFF’s grading.
44. Indianapolis Colts: Neville Gallimore, DT, Oklahoma
45. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Julian Okwara, EDGE, Notre Dame
46. Denver Broncos: Marlon Davidson, EDGE, Auburn
47. Atlanta Falcons: Bryce Hall, CB, Virginia
48. New York Jets: Isaiah Wilson, OT, Georgia
49. Pittsburgh Steelers: Netane Futi, G, Fresno State
What the Steelers decide to do with their only pick inside the top 114 selections will be fascinating. Do they target an edge rusher with Bud Dupree hitting free agency? Do they pick a wide receiver or a tight end? Do they take a chance on a quarterback to back up Ben Roethlisberger? The offensive line is getting older, and Futi was downright dominant in college.
50. Chicago Bears: Cesar Ruiz, G/C, Michigan
51. Dallas Cowboys: A.J. Terrell, CB, Clemson
52. Los Angeles Rams: Jonah Jackson, G, Ohio State
53. Philadelphia Eagles: Jauan Jennings, WR, Tennessee
54. Buffalo Bills: Bradlee Anae, EDGE, Utah
55. Atlanta Falcons (via Patriots): Tyler Biadasz, G/C, Wisconsin
56. Miami Dolphins (via Saints): Prince Tega Wanogho, OT, Auburn
57. Houston Texans: Damon Arnette, CB, Ohio State
58. Minnesota Vikings: Lloyd Cushenberry III, G/C, LSU
59. Seattle Seahawks: Darrell Taylor Jr., EDGE, Tennessee
60. Baltimore Ravens: Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor
Mims impressed during Senior Bowl practices, showing improved route running and footwork. He’s a solid blocker, too, something the Ravens expect from their wide receivers, and his size (6-3, 206), speed and athleticism make him a valuable target for an offense that could use another playmaker on the outside.
61. Tennessee Titans: J.K. Dobbins, RB, Ohio State
62. Green Bay Packers: Kyle Dugger, LB/S, Lenoir-Rhyne
You don’t often see Division II prospects taken in the first 64 picks, but Dugger has put himself in the conversation after a strong week at the Senior Bowl. He can stick with receivers with his length and speed and can make plays in the running game despite his stature (6-1, 218). Ohio State’s Malik Harrison, Oregon’s Troy Dye and Appalachian State’s Akeem Davis-Gaither might be in play here, too, but Dugger has shown he’s worth the risk.
63. Seattle Seahawks (via 49ers): Ross Blacklock, DT, TCU
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64. Kansas City Chiefs: Cameron Dantzler, CB, Mississippi State