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Ryan McCloy’s 2020 NFL Mock Draft 2.0

We’re now within a week of the NFL Draft. The weather is getting warmer, the takes are getting hotter, and the mock drafts are getting bolder. As the coronavirus continues to rage through the country and the world, sports fans finally have an event in the near future to look forward to. That said, I personally would like to convey my personal wishes of well-being to all readers, friends, and loved ones. This crisis has affected us in ways we never could have predicted.

The same unpredictability applies to this year’s draft. While there seems to be consensus on everything from the top picks to the top players at their position, the absence of pro days, team physicals, and individual player workouts mean that teams will rely on unusual contacts and former employers/employees in the college game to provide advanced scouting.

 

 

Unlike my Mock Draft 1.0, this time I attempted to predict not only the picks but the trades as well. Over the past five drafts, there has been an average of approximately five first-round trades on draft night, ranging from two in 2015 to seven in 2018. With the depth of skill position players in this year’s draft, there are sure to be trades. However, with the strange circumstance of the year, I believe there will be little more than the average number of trades. This year, there will undoubtedly be surprises, shocks, and confusion among all of us who closely follow the draft. Today, I attempt to predict the surprises and decisions in the opinions of the resource-strapped NFL teams this offseason.

 

 

In this simulation, I mocked five first-round trades, including two in the top 5. Of course, as usual, there will be surprises on draft night, and, it seems, even more than usual. This goes back to the theme of my last 5-for-5 article: NO ONE KNOWS. This has never been more true than this year. That being said, in an unpredictable year, I attempt to do the impossible and predict what will happen. Behold, enjoy, and everyone, stay healthy!

1. Bengals – J. Burrow, QB LSU

2. Redskins – C. Young, DE OHIO STATE

3. Dolphins – T. Tagovailoa, QB ALABAMA

*Trade: Dolphins trade picks 5, 26 to the Lions for picks 3, 67*

4. Chargers – J. Herbert, QB OREGON

*Trade: Chargers trade picks 6, 71 to the Giants for picks 4, 238*

5. Lions – J. Okudah, CB OHIO STATE

*Trade: Dolphins trade picks 5, 26 to the Lions for picks 3, 67*

 

The most interesting developments of the top 5 are, first, that the Dolphins win the sweepstakes for the #3 overall pick from the Lions — this doesn’t come as much of a surprise, as they have the most to offer in terms of high-quality draft capital, and the fact that they’re not moving up too far makes the cost less extravagant — and secondly, that Joe Judge finally convinces Dave Gettleman of the benefits of trading down in the first round, even if it’s only 2 picks.

 

6. Giants – J. Wills, OT ALABAMA

*Trade: Chargers trade picks 6, 71 to the Giants for picks 4, 238*

7. Panthers – D. Brown, DT AUBURN

8. Cardinals – T. Wirfs, OT IOWA

9. Jaguars – I. Simmons, LB CLEMSON

10. Browns – A. Thomas, OT GEORGIA

 

The picks in the remainder of the top 10 are, as compared to the top 5, fairly pedestrian. The Giants end up with the same player they would have taken at 4, after Nick Saban’s glowing endorsement to his former pupil Joe Judge. The other four teams take the highest players on their draft boards, as no early trades drastically disrupted their plans. This group demonstrates the depth of the offensive line class, as Mekhi Becton, whom many have ranked as a top 5 overall talent, falls out of the top 10.

 

11. Jets – C. Lamb, WR OKLAHOMA

12. Raiders – J. Jeudy, WR ALABAMA

13. 49ers – C.J. Henderson, CB FLORIDA

14. Bucs – M. Becton, OT LOUISVILLE

15. Broncos – H. Ruggs III, WR ALABAMA

 

Three wide receivers in five picks in the top 15 just go to show the incredible talent in this year’s class. Through 15 picks, we’ve seen three quarterbacks, three wide receivers, three offensive tackles, and five defensive players. Whereas last year’s draft was heavy on defense, this year appears to be a highly offensive draft. However, the 49ers are able to nab the second-best corner in the draft. The Bucs, meanwhile, find impressive protection for Tom Brady.

 

16. Jaguars – T. Diggs, CB ALABAMA

*Trade: Jaguars trade Yannick Ngakoue, pick 20 to Falcons for picks 16, 78*

17. Cowboys – X. McKinney, S ALABAMA

18. Dolphins – D. Swift, RB GEORGIA

19. Raiders – A.J. Epenesa, DE IOWA

20. Falcons – Z. Baun, LB WISCONSIN

*Trade: Jaguars trade Yannick Ngakoue, pick 20 to Falcons for picks 16, 78*

 

Ah, our first few big surprises. Not that it’s a surprise that Yannick Ngakoue will be traded, but the destination may be an unexpected one. However, with the Falcons in desperate need of pass rush help after struggling in that department a year ago, and the Jaguars’ desire to trade ahead of the secondary-needy Cowboys to grab Trevon Diggs, the best cornerback available, this trade makes a lot of sense to me. Also, did anyone see a running back going this early? With the Dolphins in need and now only two first-round picks, they decide to pounce instead of waiting for what could end up being a second or third option later.

 

21. Eagles – B. Aiyuk, WR ARIZONA STATE

22. Vikings – K. Chaisson, DE LSU

23. Packers – D. Mims, WR BAYLOR

*Trade: Packers trade picks 30, 94, 192 to the Patriots for picks 23, 230*

24. Saints – P. Queen, LB LSU

25. Vikings – J. Jefferson, WR LSU

 

I would hardly call the Patriots’ trade back a surprise. Bill Belichick loves stocking up on draft capital whenever possible, and grabbing another top-100 pick in the process is just a cherry on top. The Packers need to find another weapon to help out Aaron Rodgers, but they decide that the best way to do so would be to jump in front of a Saints team in a similar situation. Elsewhere, Brandon Aiyuk has been one of the fastest rising prospects in the pre-draft process this year and now finds himself in Philadelphia in the top 21 picks, as we see another run of three wide receivers over a span of five picks.

 

26. Lions – J. Kinlaw, DT SOUTH CAROLINA

*Trade: Dolphins trade picks 5, 26 to the Lions for picks 3, 67*

27. Seahawks- Y. Gross-Matos, DE PENN STATE

28. Ravens – K. Murray, LB CLEMSON

29. Titans – A. Jackson, OT USC

30. Colts – J. Love, QB UTAH STATE

*Trade: Packers trade picks 30, 94, 192 to the Patriots for picks 23, 230*

*Trade: Colts trade picks 34, 75 to Patriots for picks 30, 125*

31. 49ers – L. Shenault, WR COLORADO

32. Chiefs – J. Taylor, RB WISCONSIN

 

Didn’t think the first Patriots trade was enough of a surprise? How about a second one? The Patriots end up with 5 top-100 picks after trading back yet again, and are still in prime position at #34 to land an impact player. The Colts decide not to wait to draft Philip Rivers’ successor, afraid another team may beat them to the punch. The Lions may have one of my favorite selections here in the first round, plugging another hole at DT, and looking like kings of the jungle after a very successful defensive first-round aided by a simple trade-back in the top 5. By the way, suddenly we’ve got two running backs in the first round; who would have thought? Somehow, seven wide receivers is less of a surprise.

Once again, there is no way to know what may happen, in any given year. This year, there will be even more surprises and uncertainty abound. Everyone enjoy the upcoming sporting event (finally!) and stay safe and healthy.

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