The Bengals grab Zac Taylor's quarterback of the future.
After surveying league sources over the injury to Tua Tagovailoa, the majority of sources voted for Burrow as the quarterback who will be the first one selected in the 2020 NFL Draft. Burrow (6-3, 221) was fantastic for LSU in 2019, completing 76 percent of his passes for 5,671 yards with 60 touchdowns and six interceptions. On the ground, he notched 368 yards rushing and five touchdowns. Burrow has the ability to start in the NFL given his quality size, functional mobility, and above-average accuracy. The senior played lights out and dominated the SEC.
In speaking to a few directors of college scouting for NFL teams, they felt that Burrow has looked good but has some limitations in arm strength for the next level. They based that off of watching Burrow in person during 2019 in games and practice. They thought that he is an efficient game manager with prototypical size, but his arm talent is not elite. Because of the skill-set limitations, they see him as a prospect with physical talent that is very similar to Andy Dalton. Some said they even had graded Burrow as a fourth-rounder at the beginning of this season, but with his incredible 2019, he skyrocketed. Burrow benefited greatly from a revamped scheme that was superb for LSU. He also had a very good offensive line, and some early-round receiver and running back prospects. Everything went right for Burrow and LSU in 2019.
Burrow flashed at times for LSU in 2018, showing some size and running ability. The Ohio State transfer completed 58 percent of his passes in 2018 for 2,894 yards with 16 touchdowns and five interceptions. He ran for 399 yards and seven scores.
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The Redskins take the best player in the 2020 NFL Draft and could form a legendary defensive line with Young, Jonathan Allen, Da'Ron Payne and Montez Sweat. The problem will be retaining them all, but Washington could look to deal with that a few years from now.
Young (6-5, 264) dominated a lot of the opponents Ohio State played in 2019 and missed two games with a suspension. He has some size to him to go along with speed and athleticism off the edge. With his superb first-step, pass-rushing moves, agility, and ability to close, Young looks like a future Pro Bowler who annually produces double-digit sacks. In 2019, Young had 16.5 sacks with 46 tackles, six forced fumbles, three passes batted and a blocked kick. With the way that Young dominated in 2019, he is the top prospect for the 2020 NFL Draft regardless of position.
With Nick Bosa injured for most of 2018, Young took advantage of the opportunity to have a breakout season. In 2018, he recorded 34 tackles with 15.5 tackles for a loss, 10.5 sacks, five passes broken up and two forced fumbles. As a freshman, he totaled 19 tackles with 3.5 sacks and one forced fumble.
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The Lions have the most interesting pick in the first round because of the variety of directions they could go. Since Darius Slay was traded, as expected, Ohio State cornerback Jeff Okudah would make sense for Detroit, but he is coming off a rough combine performance and some around the league feel he is sliding some. Meanwhile, they lost some veteran defensive tackles and replaced them with limited journeymen, so Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown also makes a lot of sense. Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons could fix a reoccurring problem area, but the Lions added a few veterans to go with their recent early-round picks. It will be fascinating to see which problem Detroit decides to address. I've heard more chatter from team people about the Lions taking Okudah, so I think that is the direction they will go.
Okudah has a great skill set with upside to develop. The 6-foot-1, 205-pounder is big, athletic, agile and can run. He is superb at blanketing receivers and preventing separation. Okudah has the entire physical skill set NFL teams hope to find in a No. 1 cornerback, and he put it all together with a dominant 2019 season. The junior totaled 35 tackles with nine passes broken up and three interceptions on the year. Okudah saw some brief action as a freshman, recording 17 tackles and a breakup before playing more as a sophomore. In 2018, he totaled 32 tackles with eight breakups. Okudah's rough combine performance could cause a slight slide, and he has some minor maturity concerns. Still, he profiles as a safe pick to become a good pro.
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The Giants need more offensive line talent to protect Daniel Jones and open holes for Saquon Barkley. Wirfs could start out at guard or right tackle, but in time, he could move to the left side as a replacement for Nate Solder.
Under head coach Kirk Ferentz, Iowa has produced a lot of good offensive line talent, so it was very noteworthy when Wirfs (6-5, 320) became the first true freshman to start at tackle under Ferentz. While being the regular starter on the right side in 2017, he did play left tackle in Iowa's bowl game to end his freshman campaign, but he was back at right tackle in 2018. Wirfs is a powerful right tackle who is a strong run blocker at the point of attack. He also has the quickness and athleticism to develop into a good pass protector. As a sophomore, he didn't allow a sack. Some NFL teams might consider moving Wirfs to left tackle.
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The Dolphins take their future franchise quarterback. There have been reports that the Dolphins prefer Herbert over Tua Tagovailoa, but in speaking to people around the league, they believe that Miami is leaning toward taking Tagovailoa, who is the player head coach Brian Flores wants.
In 2019, Tagovailoa completed 71 percent of his passes for 2,840 yards with 33 touchdowns and three interceptions. He had two rushing touchdowns as well. The 6-foot, 217-pounder is an aggressive passer who doesn't hesitate to challenge defenses downfield. He throws a very good deep ball, showing a quality arm and an ability throw well-placed passes. He may not have an elite cannon, but his arm looks good enough. In the pocket, Tagovailoa shows patience and doesn't panic when his first read is covered. With his presence and feel, Tagovailoa has the ability to throw the ball accurately with timing and precision to lead his receivers to yards after the catch. He is a good athlete with enough quickness to get yardage on the ground too. His mobility and athleticism allow him to buy time and escape sacks. There are also times when Tagovailoa shows an ability to scramble and make throws off platform to move the chains. If it weren't for his dislocated hip and durability concerns, Tagovailoa would be a lock as a high first-round pick.
After his heroic effort to win the National Championship in 2017 for Alabama, Tagovailoa was even better as a sophomore, completing 69 percent of his passes for 3,966 yards with 43 touchdowns and six interceptions. He also is a good athlete with some running ability, notching five rushing touchdowns in 2018.
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The Chargers land their quarterback of the future. Back at the all-star games, we wrote how the Chargers really liked Herbert, so I think they would be pleased to land him as their replacement for Philip Rivers.
In 2019, Herbert completed 67 percent of his passes for 3,471 yards with 32 touchdowns and six interceptions. He ran for four touchdowns as well. He has all the tools to be a good NFL starter. Throughout his time at Oregon, Herbert (6-6, 236) displayed his powerful arm, mobility, good decision-making, and accuracy. But there were some uneven moments for Herbert when his instincts seemed a bit off. Some team sources question his leadership for the next level due to him being a quiet kid who has lived in the same area his entire life.
In 2018, Herbert completed 59.4 percent of his passes for 3,151 yards with 29 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He only played in eight games during 2017, but completed 67 percent of his passes for 1,750 yards with 13 touchdowns and three interceptions while running for five touchdowns that season. As a freshman, Herbert completed 64 percent of his passes for 1,936 yards with 19 touchdowns and four interceptions.
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The Panthers have a lot of needs, and among them is a nose tackle to stuff the run and a cornerback to replace James Bradberry. If Derrick Brown is off the board, I think C.J. Henderson will be the pick. But if Brown gets to Carolina, I think he will be the choice.
Multiple team sources told me that if Brown had entered the 2019 NFL Draft, they had him graded higher than Ed Oliver and Christian Wilkins because Brown is a freak athlete with a rare combination of size, power, speed and athleticism. The 6-foot-4, 326-pound Brown contains a ton of upside and is just scratching the surface of what he is capable of doing. He is very strong and powerful, which lets him toss blockers aside and wreck plays at the line of scrimmage. Brown also has the quickness to fire into the backfield and pressure the quarterback from the interior.
Brown recorded 55 tackles with four sacks, four passes batted and two forced fumbles in 2019. He dominated many opponents while displaying off his amazing skill set. Brown totaled 48 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 10.5 tackles for a loss and one forced fumble in 2018. Over the past two seasons, teams sent consistent double teams at him, but he still managed to stuff runs and cause disruption.
Brown had an impressive 2017 season, playing well down the stretch when Auburn made a run into the SEC Championship. He totaled 56 tackles with 3.5 sacks, nine tackles for a loss, one pass broken up and two forced fumbles as a sophomore.
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I think Arizona trades down and targets a defender like Kinlaw. They've never adequately replaced Calais Campbell, and Kinlaw would be an immediate upgrade to their defense. If the Cardinals don't trade down and are forced to stick and pick, I could see them taking Kinlaw or Alabama right tackle Jedrick Wills.
Kinlaw was superb for the Gamecocks in 2019, totaling 35 tackles, six sacks and two passes defended. The big defensive tackle broke out in 2018 with 4.5 sacks, 10 tackles for a loss and 38 tackles. The first thing that stands out about Kinlaw (6-5, 315) is his size. He is a tall, thick and good-looking athlete. After passing the eyeball test, one can see some special ability as Kinlaw really fires off the ball. He is quick to close and has strength to fight off blockers. Kinlaw gets in trouble when he stands up too high and working on his technique will help him to get more out of his excellent skill set. The junior college product has a lot of upside and has the size to play a variety of techniques in a 4-3 or 3-4 defense.
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The Jaguars have a few directions they could go, but with Doug Marrone and Dave Caldwell on the hot seat, they could use a play-maker to help Gardner Minshew. They need Minshew to play well to save their jobs, and he could use a No. 1 receiver to go with D.J. Chark.
In 2019, Lamb recorded 62 receptions for 1,327 yards and 14 touchdowns. He also notched a rushing touchdown. Lamb didn't get the attention of teammate Hollywood Brown, but Lamb was very good for the Sooners in 2018. On the year, he hauled in 65 receptions for 1,158 yards with 11 touchdowns.
Team sources say Lamb (6-2, 198) has the body and physique of a No. 1 receiver in the NFL. They say he has great hands, runs good routes, and is a polished receiver. Lamb makes some ridiculous catches that are reminiscent of DeAndre Hopkins and Odell Beckham Jr. His body control, concentration, and ability to adjust are tremendous, and they put him in position to make a lot of difficult receptions. After the catch, Lamb is very dangerous with the ball in his hands, showing elusiveness and physicality as a runner. NFL evaluators love Lamb's run-after-the-catch skills, and some compare him to Davante Adams as a prospect entering the NFL. While he has good size, Lamb does not have mismatch speed according to team evaluators, and they expected him to be a 4.55 guy in the 40-yard dash - he ran 4.50 at the combine. Lamb is not overly fast, but he uses polished footwork and some suddenness to create separation. His route-running generates separation and makes up for the lack of elite speed.
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Cleveland could go with an offensive tackle or linebacker. After speaking with some around the league, they believe the Browns are leaning toward a tackle to protect Baker Mayfield. Paul Depodesta and Andrew Berry invested heavily during the 1-31 run with Cleveland, so I could see them going that direction again with putting premium resources into their blocking front.
In pass protection and the run game in 2019, Thomas was rock solid and had his way with defenders, including the edge rushers from Notre Dame and Florida. He was a reliable pass protector for Jake Fromm, displaying excellent feet, quickness, athleticism, and the size to anchor. In the ground game, Thomas was an asset to open holes for D'Andre Swift, and Georgia ran behind Thomas and Solomon Kindley in critical situations.
Thomas (6-5, 315) was very impressive at right tackle as a true freshman, starting there all season and helping the Bulldogs to produce a dominant rushing attack. He also flashed impressive athleticism and length in pass protection. With Isaiah Wynn moving on to the NFL, Thomas moved to left tackle for Georgia and was superb on the blind side over his final two seasons.
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Team sources told me they thought the Jets were leaning toward taking an offensive tackle or cornerback in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft. I think Jedrick Wills is their preferred tackle, but I think New York would be happy with Mekhi Becton or Andrew Thomas. If CeeDee Lamb got to this pick, it would be a tough decision, but I heard the Jets' preference is to take a tackle. Considering how much they have invested in Sam Darnold, it would make sense for them to put some resources into his blocking front.
The 6-foot-5, 312-pound Wills was the starting right tackle for Alabama over the past two seasons and was a steady performer for the Crimson Tide. He has the strength to open holes in the ground game with the quickness and athleticism to block on the edge. Teams are high on Wills' plug-and-play potential. Sources say they think he will likely be a top-12 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft and feel he has Pro Bowl potential.
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Mike Mayock and Jon Gruden would please Al Davis with this pick. I think Gruden wants to improve the speed and big-play threat of the Raiders' offense, and Ruggs is a game-changer.
Ruggs had 40 catches for 746 yards and seven touchdowns in 2019. Of the tremendous group of receivers from Alabama in 2019, Ruggs (5-11, 188) was the fastest, possessing a serious ability to stretch the field. Ruggs' production was held back by Alabama spreading the ball around to its stable of talented receivers, but Ruggs is a game changer to stretch NFL defenses vertically. In 2018, he totaled 46 receptions for 741 yards and 11 touchdowns. For the next level, Ruggs could be an elite speed receiver who changes defensive game plans while providing a scoring threat on any touch. He could be a Will Fuller- or DeSean Jackson-type receiver. Immediately, Ruggs will be one of the fastest wideouts in the NFL.
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The 49ers grab a potential No. 1 receiver for Kyle Shanahan's offense. Jeudy and Deebo Samuel could form a phenomenal tandem in San Francisco.
Jeudy totaled 77 receptions for 1,163 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2019. In 2018, he totaled 68 receptions for 1,315 yards and 14 touchdowns. NFL scouts who attended Alabama's practices in the fall of 2017 told me Jeudy (6-1, 193) was the next great Crimson Tide receiver to keep the tradition going under Nick Saban that has seen elite receivers like Julio Jones, Amari Cooper and Calvin Ridley dominate the competition. Jeudy is similar to Cooper and Ridley in his skill set as Jeudy is a phenomenal route-runner who consistently generates separation through his speed and route-running. He is dangerous with the ball in his hands and is a big-play threat. He looks like a true No. 1 receiver for the NFL.
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The Bucs may have to trade up for one of the offensive tackles, but if the 2020 NFL Draft falls a certain way, a tackle could fall into their lap. I think if they could get one of Tristan Wirfs, Jedrick Wills, Andrew Thomas or Mekhi Becton, that would be the direction they go. If they can't move up for one of them and they all go off the board, I could see the Buccaneers taking South Carolina defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw as a Plan B.
Becton (6-7, 364) is a massive blocker who is a good athlete for his size. For the next level, it would help him to trim some weight and get in better condition. Becton has weight issues, and some teams have medical concerns with him relating to his back. However, some team sources have said he is extremely talented with a ton of upside. They say Becton has freak show athletic ability for a player of his size, calling him a more athletic version of Trent Brown. They think Becton could be a franchise left tackle, and some sources believe he could end up going as top-16 selection in the 2020 NFL Draft.
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I don't like this pick because I have a hard time seeing Simmons sliding this far, but if the Cardinals and Browns pass on him, then I think it will happen because I don't see any other team in the top 14 drafting Simmons. I'm very confident that the Giants and Panthers will pass on Simmons.
The Broncos have a lot of options, including going with a speed receiver or a linebacker. The linebacker talent is not nearly as deep in the 2020 NFL Draft, so Denver would get better value for its picks by taking a linebacker first and a receiver in Round 2. Here's a difference-maker for the middle of the Broncos' defense.
In 2019, Simmons totaled 104 tackles with seven sacks, one forced fumble, three interceptions and eight passes broken up. He collected 89 tackles with six passes broken up and one interception in 2018. The 6-foot-4, 238-pound Simmons is a sideline-to-sideline run defender who is fast and physical. He has good instincts and is a hard hitter. Simmons has rare pass-coverage skills and will be a dynamic weapon in the passing game. In zone coverage, Simmons covers a lot of ground, and he shows the ability to play man coverage on tight ends down the seam and running backs out of the backfield. Simmons even ran with slot receivers during the 2019 season. On top of being an asset in coverage, Simmons is very capable to contribute to the pass rush as he is a dangerous blitzer. Simmons is a tough run defender who flies around the field and is a physical tackler. His best fit for the NFL could come as a Will linebacker. Team sources have been raving about Simmons for years.
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There are teams in the top 10 that are considering C.J. Henderson, so the Falcons will probably have to trade up to land him. I think Atlanta will move up for Henderson, and I could see them doing with the Cardinals at pick No. 8. If the Falcons miss out on Henderson, they could look to add talent to the inside of their defensive line with a tackle like Javon Kinlaw. He would bring size and strength next to Grady Jarrett.
Henderson totaled 11 passes broken up and 33 tackles in 2019. He also missed three games with a leg injury. Henderson does a superb job in coverage, blanketing receivers with shut down potential. Henderson (6-1, 204) is big, fast and athletic to run the route and prevent separation. However, he is a poor tackler and needs to get more physical. Following his tremendous combine performance, Henderson has risen around the league and teams see him as having elite potential.
In 2018, Henderson totaled 38 tackles with two sacks, seven passes broken up, two forced fumbles and two interceptions. He was really impressive as a freshman, demonstrating excellent coverage and ball skills. Henderson totaled four interceptions with four passes broken up and 22 tackles that season. Henderson has excellent size to go along with speed and cover skills. He possesses a ton of upside as a cover corner, but he needs to improve his tackling and run defense.
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