Posted Monday, March 16, 2020.
I've done this the past nine years, and I thought it would be fun to do it again. It's exactly what it sounds like - if free agency occurred in a draft format, who would be the top picks? I've excluded all the free agents who are either restricted or franchised.
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Real 2020 NFL Mock Draft
Cincinnati Bengals: Jadeveon Clowney, DE, Seahawks. Age: 27.
Drew Brees and Tom Brady would be tempting for the Bengals if they didn't have the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. Because they'll be able to obtain Joe Burrow, they can afford to take the best player available in this free agency mock, which is arguably Jadeveon Clowney. The current Seahawk would offer Cincinnati an enormous upgrade on the edge, which would help an ailing secondary and linebacking corps.
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Washington Redskins: Drew Brees, QB, Saints. Age: 41.
Ron Rivera watched Drew Brees torch his defense for years. Now, he won't have to worry about that with Brees joining the Redskins.
This may seem odd, as the Redskins have a young quarterback in Dwayne Haskins. However, they are not too far away from winning; they were 6-2 in 2018 when Alex Smith got hurt. Brees would allow the team to potentially make a deep playoff run as Haskins learns behind the future Hall of Famer.
Detroit Lions: Tom Brady, QB, Patriots. Age: 43.
Tom Brady wouldn't go to Detroit in real life. Money would be an issue with Matthew Stafford, and it's, well, the Lions, after all. However, Brady wouldn't have a say here, and I'm sure all of the former New England coaches and staffers would love having their former quarterback finally get Detroit over the hump.
New York Giants: Anthony Harris, S, Vikings. Age: 28.
The Giants had one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL last year. Their secondary was atrocious. The cornerbacks were particularly abysmal, but the safeties were nearly as bad. Landon Collins was missed, so here's a great replacement for him.
Miami Dolphins: Byron Jones, CB, Cowboys. Age: 27.
I imagine the Dolphins will use their first-round picks to upgrade their offense. They can sign some players to bolster the defense. This pick would be used on Byron Jones, the top cornerback on the market. The combination of Jones and Xavien Howard would make it very difficult for opposing teams to throw on Miami.
Los Angeles Chargers: Derrick Henry, RB, Titans. Age: 26.
The Chargers are bound to lose Melvin Gordon in free agency. Austin Ekeler can't handle a full workload, so they would be interested in obtaining Derrick Henry. The current Titan power back would be a terrific complement for Ekeler, though his offensive line in San Angeles wouldn't be nearly as good as it is in Tennessee.
Carolina Panthers: Jimmie Ward, S, 49ers. Age: 29.
Tre Boston is an impending free agent, while Eric Reid is coming off an atrocious season, so a new safety is desperately needed. As it so happens, one of the top free agents available happens to be a player at the position.
Arizona Cardinals: Shaq Barrett, DE/OLB, Buccaneers. Age: 27.
The Cardinals have needed a potent edge rusher across from Chandler Jones for quite some time. I'm sure they'd have interest in Shaq Barrett, who happens to be the top free agent still remaining.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Joe Thuney, G, Patriots. Age: 27.
The Jaguars are in full rebuilding mode, and I expect them to land Trevor Lawrence, which is what I have happening in my 2021 NFL Mock Draft. They'll need to make sure Lawrence is well protected upon arrival, which would explain this Joe Thuney selection.
Cleveland Browns: Cory Littleton, LB, Rams. Age: 26.
Cory Littleton is a budding star at linebacker. The Browns are set to lose Joe Schobert to the open market, so that wouldn't be a big deal in this scenario because Littleton would be an upgrade.
New York Jets: Amari Cooper, WR, Cowboys. Age: 26.
Wow, what a steal! I wanted to have Amari Cooper slotted a couple of selections earlier, but some of the teams didn't need receivers. The Jets obviously do, as Robby Anderson is about to enter free agency. Sam Darnold would love throwing to someone as talented as Cooper.
Las Vegas Raiders: James Bradberry, CB, Panthers. Age: 27.
The Raiders are expected to select a receiver at this spot in the NFL Draft. Free agency would be different, as the Raiders could focus on their secondary. James Bradberry is one of the better players on the board, and he would be a massive upgrade at the position.
Indianapolis Colts: Dak Prescott, QB, Cowboys. Age: 27.
Dak Prescott is an overrated quarterback who will be overpaid, but the Colts would select him in this scenario. He's an upgrade over Jacoby Brissett, and I could see Frank Reich getting the most out of him.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Bears. Age: 27.
I have the Buccaneers selecting Alabama's Xavier McKinney in my 2020 NFL Mock Draft. The Buccaneers have endured a weakness at safety for a long time, so perhaps they'll finally make amends for passing on Derwin James a couple of years ago.
Denver Broncos: Chris Harris, CB, Broncos. Age: 31.
The Broncos may not be able to retain Chris Harris in real life, but they can just select Harris in this weird mock draft, negating Harris' chances of signing with another team. Poor Chris Harris!
Atlanta Falcons: D.J. Reader, NT, Texans. Age: 26.
The Falcons have needed to bolster their defensive line for the longest time. Will this finally be the offseason in which they upgrade that area of their roster? We'll see.
Go to 2020 NFL Free Agent Draft: Picks 17-32
Sorry for cutting this into two halves; I've received complaints about load times and putting the mock draft on two pages saves bandwith.
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