Before NFL teams go on the clock this week as they’ve never done before — coaches and general managers making picks from their own homes — we put ourselves to the test to make our best guess at how the draft might unfold.
So here it is, The Seattle Times 2020 NFL mock draft featuring columnists Matt Calkins and Larry Stone and Seahawks beat reporter Bob Condotta.
The three took turns making picks, with a few inevitable curves thrown along the way to which the others had to react. Following each pick is a comment. We didn’t make any trades, which obviously won’t happen on draft night, and almost certainly won’t with the Seahawks, who haven’t used their original first-round pick since 2011. But to keep things simple — and to give readers a sense of how how the draft board currently looks — we left it alone.
So away we go.
1. Cincinnati Bengals
Calkins’ pick: QB Joe Burrow, LSU.
Comment: Burrow just had the best college season for a quarterback ever and checks all the NFL boxes. No-brainer.
Stone’s pick: DE Chase Young, Ohio State.
Comment: Unless it gets blown away with a trade offer, Washington is perfectly content to take the most dominant edge rusher on the board. Young should make an instant impact.
3. Detroit Lions
Condotta’s pick: CB Jeff Okudah, Ohio State.
Comment: If I were the Lions I’d be very tempted to take Justin Herbert or Tua Tagovailoa here. But Matt Patricia is a defensive guy and grabbing Okudah gives the Lions a replacement for Darius Slay, who was traded to the Eagles last month.
4. New York Giants
Calkins’ pick: OT Tristan Wirfs, Iowa.
Comment: Not a sexy pick, but the Giants need help on the O-line and Wirfs’ combine performance has had him surging up draft boards.
5. Miami Dolphins
Stone’s pick: QB Justin Herbert, Oregon.
Comment: The Dolphins need a quarterback — don’t they always? — and so it comes down to Herbert or Tua Tagovailoa. Tua might well have the higher upside, but his injury concerns will sway Miami toward Herbert.
6. Los Angeles Chargers
Condotta’s pick: QB Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama.
Comment: Tagovailoa’s health has been one of the biggest topics of the run-up to the draft, with some wondering if he could fall out of the top 10. But the view here is that the Chargers would be nuts to pass him up if he’s available. The Chargers have no long-term answer at quarterback, and this is one team for whom creating some excitement among the fan base and selling tickets seems an immediate priority. No player would create more excitement and intrigue in the L.A. market than Tagovailoa.
7. Carolina Panthers
Calkins’ pick: DT Derrick Brown, Auburn.
Comment: Brown is a top-tier talent that could have been a first-rounder last year if he didn’t decide to come back to Auburn. He should make an early impact on a Panthers team trying to rebuild.
8. Arizona Cardinals
Stone’s pick: WR Jerry Jeudy, Alabama.
Comment: Talk about giving weapons to Kyler Murray: The Cardinals have already added DeAndre Hopkins to a mix that also includes the No. 2 receiver in NFL history, Larry Fitzgerald. But you can’t have too many explosive targets, and Jeudy is as explosive as they come. Also, Fitzgerald turns 37 in August.
9. Jacksonville Jaguars
Condotta’s pick: DB/LB Isaiah Simmons, Clemson.
Comment: Yes, the Jaguars have Bellevue High’s own Myles Jack as a WILL linebacker, which is where many see Simmons playing long-term. But Jack has a big contract that the Jags might want to get out of in a few years, and Simmons is also regarded as able to play a number of different defensive roles. With the top QBs off the board, the Jags basically just go best player available.
10. Cleveland Browns
Calkins’ pick: OT Mekhi Becton, Louisville.
Comment: I put Wirfs above him, but will acknowledge Becton might be the best offensive lineman in this draft. And the Browns desperately need help up front.
11. New York Jets
Stone’s pick: WR CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma.
Comment: The Jets desperately need to spruce up an offense that was dead last in the NFL last year. They’d love it if Jeudy were available here, but Lamb is a beast after the catch.
12. Las Vegas Raiders
Condotta’s pick: DT Javon Kinlaw, South Carolina.
Comment: Receiver is another obvious need for the Raiders. But this is such a deep receiver class that the Raiders can probably get one of those a little later, and in this spot instead go for Kinlaw, generally regarded as the second-best DT available after getting seven sacks from the inside last year for the Gamecocks.
13. San Francisco 49ers
Calkins’ pick: WR Henry Ruggs III, Alabama.
Comment: Ruggs’ 4.27 40-yard dash time was the fastest at the combine this year. Put him on the field with George Kittle and Deebo Samuel, and Jimmy Garoppolo is swimming with weapons in San Francisco.
14. Tampa Bay Bucs
Stone’s pick: OT Andrew Thomas, Georgia.
Comment: One of a quartet of impact tackles on the board, the 6-foot-5, 315-pound Thomas fills a position of need for the Buccaneers, who need to keep Tom Brady upright.
15. Denver Broncos
Condotta’s pick: QB Jordan Love, Utah State.
Comment: Would Denver really go for a QB in the first round a year after taking Drew Lock in the second? Maybe not. But the Broncos probably should. Denver is locked in a division with Patrick Mahomes for the next decade or so. The Raiders are going to be aggressive about solving their QB issues. And the Chargers might well add Tagovailoa or Herbert this year. Unless the Broncos are absolutely sure about Lock — and I don’t know how they could be at this point — adding another QB to the mix who might be the real deal seems worth the risk. Still, a 20-17 TD-to-interception ratio last year is worrisome.
16. Atlanta Falcons
Calkins’ pick: CB C.J. Henderson, Florida.
Comment: Jeff Okudah is the only cornerback in this draft better than Henderson, who I was surprised to still see on the board. This would be a steal for Atlanta, which needs help on the back end.
17. Dallas Cowboys
Stone’s pick: DE K’Lavon Chaisson, LSU.
Comment: The Cowboys could go for a cornerback, but if Chaisson is still on the board, an edge rusher to match with DeMarcus Lawrence will prove irresistible.
18. Miami Dolphins
Condotta’s pick: OT Jedrick Willis, Alabama.
Comment: If the Dolphins somehow get Tagovailoa — who is left-handed — then adding Willis, who is regarded as maybe the best right tackle available in this class, makes even more sense. Regardless, the Dolphins really need to upgrade their line.
19. Las Vegas Raiders
Calkins’ pick: CB Kristian Fulton, LSU.
Comment: The Raiders need a cornerback who can play right away, and Fulton, who stood out with the national-championship winning Tigers, should be able to do that.
20. Jacksonville Jaguars
Stone’s pick: DE A.J. Epenesa, Iowa.
Comment: With 22 sacks over the past two years, Epenesa will fill a need on the defensive line for Jacksonville.
21. Philadelphia Eagles
Condotta’s pick: S Xavier McKinney, Alabama.
Comment: The Eagles are starting over at a safety spot after releasing veteran Malcolm Jenkins last month. McKinney can play either safety spot and in the slot, the kind of versatility more valuable than ever in today’s NFL.
22. Minnesota Vikings
Calkins’ pick: WR Justin Jefferson, LSU.
Comment: Jefferson caught 111 passes for a monstrous 1,540 receiving yards last season, all while reeling in 18 touchdowns. Throw in a 4.43 40, and the Vikings’ O becomes a bigger threat.
23. New England Patriots
Stone’s pick: QB Jacob Eason, Washington.
Comment: If you haven’t heard, the Patriots have a sudden need at quarterback for the first time in two decades. Eason is a high-upside project that Bill Belichick won’t be able to pass up.
24. New Orleans Saints
Condotta’s pick: WR Tee Higgins, Clemson.
Comment: Sure, the Saints just signed Emmanuel Sanders to pair with Michael Thomas. But Sanders is a 5-11 slot receiver and also 33 years old. With Drew Brees truly a year-to-year proposition at this point, the Saints might well decide to just load up on all the receivers they can get to take advantage of Brees while they have him, and Higgins — listed at just under 6-3, and 215 pounds — is a perfect complement to what the Saints have, ready to step right into a significant role as an outside receiver.
25. Minnesota Vikings
Calkins’ pick: CB Noah Igbinoghene, Auburn.
Comment: There are a lot of cornerbacks bunched at this point in the draft, but I think Igbinoghene separates himself as a first-rounder. The former receiver is raw, but is brimming with upside.
26. Miami Dolphins
Stone’s pick: WR Brandon Aiyuk, Arizona State.
Comment: The Dolphins could use a game-breaker, and Aiyuk averaged 18.3 yards per catch and 31.8 yards per kickoff return for the Sun Devils. He has an 81-inch wingspan, if you’re into that kind of thing.
27. Seattle Seahawks
Condotta’s pick: DE Yetur Gross-Matos, Penn State.
Comment: No one reading this far needs reminding that the Seahawks need help with their pass rush. Gross-Matos has emerged as a really popular choice for the Seahawks in mock drafts, which means it probably won’t happen (or Seattle will just trade down). Still, he makes a ton of sense for Seattle to consider, on paper a prototype pass-rusher off the edge who wowed on the big stage last year when he had two sacks and 3.5 tackles-for-loss in Penn State’s close loss at Ohio State.
28. Baltimore Ravens
Calkins’ pick: LB Zack Baun, Wisconsin.
Comment: Baun had 12.5 sacks and 19.5 tackles for loss last season with the Badgers. He should help contribute to an organization that prides itself on D.
29. Tennessee Titans
Stone’s pick: DE Marlon Davidson, Auburn.
Comment: Even after adding Vic Beasley Jr. during the offseason, the Titans could still use an edge rusher. Davidson stayed in college all four years and had 7.5 sacks as a senior.
30. Green Bay Packers
Condotta’s pick: WR Laviska Shenault, Colorado.
Comment: There’s no question the Packers need receivers, with no one really able last year to grab the number two spot behind Davante Adams. Whether they’d really go for Shenault here is another matter as the former Buffs star is regarded as a real boom-or-bust player. But the Packers have 10 picks and might think they can get another WR later, as well, and take a shot on the potential of Shenault — who seems to be regarded this year the way DK Metcalf was last year.
31. San Francisco 49ers
Calkins’ pick: OL Cesar Ruiz, Michigan.
Comment: Ruiz is an agile center who could add depth to the 49ers’ interior and play in multiple spots. His 5.08 40 time — not bad for a guy weighing 307 pounds — was noteworthy at the combine.
32. Kansas City Chiefs
Stone’s pick: RB J.K. Dobbins, Ohio State.
Comment: The one area on offense the Super Bowl-champion Chiefs need to shore up is running back, and it comes down to Dobbins, Wisconsin’s Jonathon Taylor or Georgia’s D’Andre Swift. It’s hard to argue with the guy who rushed for 2003 yards (6.7 yards per carry) and 21 touchdowns for the Buckeyes in 2019. He also caught 23 passes.