NFL Mock Draft: Justin Herbert Leapfrogs Tua Tagovailoa; Four QBs In Top 10

Welcome to NESN.com’s 2020 NFL Mock Draft, version 2.0. While the draft order undoubtedly will change as teams wheel and deal, we kept this particular mock trade-free.

We did add a twist, though, to spice things up: Outside of the top two picks — which we consider no-brainers — we weren’t allowed to select players in the same spot they went in our previous mock draft.¬†

1. Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
Last week: Burrow
As we said last week: Don’t overthink it, Bengals.

2. Washington Redskins: Chase Young, EDGE, Ohio State
Last week: Young
Washington will have offers to trade out of this spot, but it shouldn’t. Young is a phenomenal talent who will make an immediate impact.

3. Detroit Lions: Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson
Last week: Jeffrey Okudah, CB, Ohio State
Matt Patricia would love to have a player as versatile and athletic as Simmons — who played everywhere from cornerback to middle linebacker with the Tigers — to plug into his Bill Belichick-inspired defense.

4. New York Giants: Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa
Last week: Jedrick Wills, OT, Alabama
Four talented tackles are jockeying to be the first one selected: Mekhi Becton, Andrew Thomas, Wills and Wirfs. In this mock, Wirfs’ dazzling NFL Scouting Combine performance propels him to the top spot, with the Iowa product becoming the first draft pick of the Joe Judge era.

5. Miami Dolphins: Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon 
Last week: Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
Given their pick of all non-Burrow quarterbacks, the Dolphins take the safe route (from an injury perspective) and choose Herbert over Tagovailoa.

6. Los Angeles Chargers: Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
Last week: Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
The reports about Tua’s health concerns reek of pre-draft spin from teams hoping he drops. He does slip a bit in this mock, but not far: the Chargers, who have a serviceable interim starter in Tyrod Taylor, scoop him up at No. 6.

7. Carolina Panthers: Jeffrey Okudah, CB, Ohio State
Last week: Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson
Auburn’s Derrick Brown would be a strong candidate here, but landing Okudah — the undisputed No. 1 cornerback in this class — at No. 7 is a steal. He’d fill a need, too, as Carolina lost top corner James Bradberry in free agency.

8. Arizona Cardinals: Jedrick Wills, OT, Alabama
Last week: Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa
With DeAndre Hopkins aboard, the Cardinals’ offense should be a ton of fun to watch this season — assuming an offensive line that ranked 25th in sack rate in 2019 can keep Kyler Murray upright. Wills primarily played right tackle at Alabama, which happens to be the weakest spot on Arizona’s O-line.

9. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jordan Love, QB, Utah State
Last week: Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn
Four QBs in the top 10? Hell yeah, let’s get nuts. The Jags like Gardner Minshew enough to trade Nick Foles and his bloated contract, but Minshew didn’t look like a surefire franchise quarterback last season. Love’s penchant for interceptions (17 last season) makes him a prime bust candidate, but Jacksonville is banking on his upside here.

10. Cleveland Browns: Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
Last week: Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville
Thomas is Pro Football Focus’s highest-ranked tackle, and he fills a clear need for Cleveland, who added right tackle Jack Conklin in free agency but still have a hole on the left side.

11. New York Jets: Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville
Last week: Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
Wide receiver is another glaring need for New York — hence our earlier Jeudy pick — but with the last of the Big Four tackles still on the board, the Jets, who ranked 30th in sack rate in 2019, go big instead. Becton ran a remarkable 5.1-second 40-yard dash at 6-foot-7, 364 pounds.

12. Las Vegas Raiders: Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
Last week: CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
The Raiders probably would be surprised to see Jeudy, Lamb and Henry Ruggs III all still available at No. 12. Any of the three would be a nice upgrade for one of the NFL’s least impressive receiving corps. We’ll go with Jeudy this time.

13. San Francisco 49ers (from Indianapolis): Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn
Last week: Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina
Very tempting to choose Lamb or Ruggs here to replace the departed Emmanuel Sanders, but Brown — a likely top-10 pick — was too good to pass up here. The Niners could use a D-line boost after trading DeForest Buckner, and there will be plenty of wideouts available later.

14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama
Last week: Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
Offensive tackle is Tampa Bay’s biggest need, but with the top four prospects at that position all taken, Jason Licht instead opts for a luxury pick. Ruggs, a burner who ran the 40 in 4.28 seconds, will be a dangerous third option behind stars Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, assuming he’s able to work his way into Tom Brady’s circle of trust.

15. Denver Broncos: CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
Last week: Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama
Lamb might be the best wideout in this draft. Pairing him with budding star Courtland Sutton would create a dynamite young receiving duo in Denver.

16. Atlanta Falcons: Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU
Last week: K’Lavon Chaisson, EDGE, LSU
Cornerbacks currently on Atlanta’s roster: Isaiah Oliver, Kendall Sheffield, Blidi Wreh-Wilson, Jordan Miller. That’s it. Some draft analysts prefer Florida’s C.J. Henderson, but we’ll go with Fulton, PFF’s 15th-ranked prospect.

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17. Dallas Cowboys: K’Lavon Chaisson, EDGE, LSU
Last week: C.J. Henderson, CB, Florida
Robert Quinn and his 11 1/2 sacks left for Chicago in free agency. Chaisson still is developing, but he’d fit in nicely opposite two-time Pro Bowler DeMarcus Lawrence.

18. Miami Dolphins (from Pittsburgh): Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama
Last week: Josh Jones, OT, Houston
McKinney would be a great fit in Brian Flores’ defense, which currently is light at the safety position. LSU’s Grant Delpit is another potential first-rounder, but his tackling issues are concerning.

19. Las Vegas Raiders (from Chicago): Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina
Last week: Jordan Love, QB, Utah State
Jeudy and Kinlaw would be an incredible — and, in all honestly, probably unrealistic — first-round haul for Jon Gruden’s club.

20. Jacksonville Jaguars (from Rams): Jordan Elliott, DT, Missouri
Last week: Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama
Elliott has been overshadowed by Brown and Kinlaw, but he’s an enticing prospect in his own right. He registered 18 tackles for loss over the last two seasons and has the potential to be a dominant interior pass rusher.

21. Philadelphia Eagles: Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU
Last week: Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor
Jefferson put up video-game numbers for the national champion Tigers, catching 111 passes for 1,540 yards and 18 touchdowns last season. And the Eagles badly need help at wideout after being forced to rely on nobodies like Greg Ward Jr. late last season.

22. Minnesota Vikings (from Buffalo): C.J. Henderson, CB, Florida
Last week: Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU
With Mackensie Alexander (free agency), Trae Waynes (free agency) and Xavier Rhodes (cut) all leaving Minnesota this offseason, the Vikings are running low on cornerbacks. They grab Henderson over Diggs and Clemson’s A.J. Terrell.

23. New England Patriots: Zack Baun, LB, Wisconsin
Last week: Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma
The smartest move for the Patriots, whose next pick isn’t until No. 87, would be to trade back and acquire a second-round pick or two. But if they stay put, Baun would be a perfect fit for a defense that lost two of its top three linebackers (Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins) in free agency. There’s a lot of Van Noy in Baun’s game. He was a productive edge rusher at Wisconsin (12 1/2 sacks, 19 1/2 tackles for loss in 2019) who also can play off the ball. We also considered Baylor wideout Denzel Mims, Iowa defensive end A.J. Epenesa and Boise State offensive tackle Ezra Cleveland with this pick.

24. New Orleans Saints: Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma
Last week: Patrick Queen, LB, LSU
If there’s any hole in New Orleans’ well-stocked roster, it’s at linebacker. This draft broke well for them, as they have their pick of Murray or Queen at No. 24.

25. Minnesota Vikings: Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson
Last week: A.J. Terrell, CB, Clemson
Minnesota’s other obvious need is at wideout following the Stefon Diggs trade. Higgins is a big target (6-foot-4) with excellent ball skills who would complement Adam Thielen well.

26. Miami Dolphins (from Houston): Ezra Cleveland, OT, Boise State
Last week: Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama
In our first mock, the Dolphins addressed offensive tackle at No. 18 and safety at 26. Here, they flip-flop and wind up with Cleveland, one of the most athletic tackles in this draft.

27. Seattle Seahawks: A.J. Epenesa, EDGE, Iowa
Last week: Yetur Gross-Matos, EDGE, Penn State
Epenesa didn’t test particularly well at the combine, but that shouldn’t scare teams off. He’s a big-bodied (6-5, 275), powerful defensive end who racked up 22 sacks and 31 tackles for loss over the last two seasons.

28. Baltimore Ravens: Patrick Queen, LB, LSU
Last week: Zack Baun, LB, Wisconsin
The Ravens never really replaced C.J. Mosley, who left in free agency before last season. Queen fills that void.

29. Tennessee Titans: Yetur Gross-Matos, EDGE, Penn State
Last week: Austin Jackson, OT, USC
Right tackle is a question mark after Conklin’s departure, but the Titans also need pass-rush help.

30. Green Bay Packers: Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor
Last week: Laviska Shenault, WR, Colorado
The Packers haven’t drafted a receiver in the first round since 2002, but their strategy of pairing star Davante Adams with a bunch of late-rounders hasn’t worked in recent years. If Mims, whose stock has steadily risen since his excellent combine performance, is available at No. 30, Green Bay should pounce.

31. San Francisco 49ers: Brandon Aiyuk, WR, Arizona State
Last week: Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU
After taking the “best player available” route earlier with Brown, San Francisco addresses its wideout need with its second first-round pick. Aiyuk’s NFL comp, according to The Athletic’s Dane Brugler: Sanders.

32. Kansas City Chiefs: D’Andre Swift, RB, Georgia
Last week: Kristan Fulton, CB, LSU
Re-signing Bashaud Breeland lowered defending champs’ need to add a new cornerback. Swift is the latest player to come off Georgia’s running back assembly line, and he’ll be another weapon in Kansas City’s dynamic offense.

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Thumbnail photo via Vasha Hunt/USA TODAY Sports Images

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