The long wait for the 2020 NFL draft is nearly over. The big, sure-to-be-unique virtual event kicks off Thursday at 8 p.m. ET, which means now’s the time to gather up everything I’ve heard and everything we can glean from draft news and rumors, and put it all together into one final mock draft. Here’s my best guess for how the first two rounds will play out:
1. Cincinnati Bengals: QB Joe Burrow, LSU
This pick has been all but a lock since before the college football season wrapped up. What else can I say about Burrow that hasn’t already been said in the past few months? Here’s the quick and dirty of it: He’s an über-accurate playmaker with an ice-in-his-veins demeanor who brings the potential to turn the Bengals franchise around and headline a new generation of quarterbacks in the NFL.
2. Washington Redskins: Edge Chase Young, Ohio State
The Redskins have an interesting choice here: They could shock us all and grab a quarterback like Tua Tagovailoa, trade back for a massive haul, or stand pat and take my top-ranked player in this class. I think they’ll do the latter. Young brings the potential to complete what might be the best defensive line group in the NFL next year. The Buckeyes pass rusher has an explosive first step, expert hand-fighting skills, and bendy agility. He could help elevate the players around him the same way Nick Bosa boosted the 49ers’ front last season. I can’t wait to see Young playing next to Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne, Matt Ioannidis, Ryan Kerrigan, and Montez Sweat.
3. Detroit Lions: CB Jeff Okudah, Ohio State
After trading Darius Slay to the Eagles, the Lions grab his replacement on the outside. Okudah is the total package as a corner, with electric feet, great size, and playmaking talent. He slides in as a day-one impact starter with the upside to be a repeat Pro Bowler. That figures to be a nice boost for the Lions defense, which gave up a league-worst 284.4 passing yards per game last year.
4. New York Giants: OT Tristan Wirfs, Iowa
It’s tempting to pair the Giants with Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons, but I can’t shake the thought that when the chips are down, GM Dave Gettleman is going to get himself another hog molly for the offensive line. Wirfs is a mountain of a man with top-tier movement skills in pass protection and a nasty streak in the run game. He gives Daniel Jones a much-needed protector and should help open up run lanes for Saquon Barkley.
5. Miami Dolphins: QB Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama
At this point it’s damn near impossible to know whether reports that Tagovailoa could fall down the board on draft day are legitimate or just team-generated smoke screens. My bet is that the Dolphins see Tua’s upside as worth the risk that comes with his series of serious injuries in college. Miami gets a new face of the franchise in the former Alabama passer, who boasts lightning-quick processing skills and very good accuracy at all three levels of the field.
6. Los Angeles Chargers: QB Justin Herbert, Oregon
With Tagovailoa off the board, the Chargers grab Herbert, securing a big, strong-armed, and athletic signal-caller with plenty of upside. The former Ducks passer lands in an offense with the type of star power he’ll need early on as he transitions to the pros, including pass catchers Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and Hunter Henry and running back Austin Ekeler.
7. Carolina Panthers: LB Isaiah Simmons, Clemson
Simmons isn’t an ordinary stack linebacker: The Tigers star brings incredible positional and schematic versatility, as he’s capable of lining up at both inside and outside linebacker spots, at safety, at slot cornerback, and even on the edge as a situational rusher. He’s long, hyperathletic, and instinctive and plays both the run and the pass. He’s the type of defender Carolina can rebuild its defense around.
8. Arizona Cardinals: OT Jedrick Wills Jr., Alabama
The Cardinals have work to do on the defensive side of the ball, but giving ascending star quarterback Kyler Murray more reliable protection up front should be priority no. 1. After signing left tackle D.J. Humphries to a long-term deal over the offseason, Arizona secures a plug-and-play bookend for the right tackle spot with this pick.
9. Jacksonville Jaguars: DT Derrick Brown, Auburn
The Jags could go in any number of directions here as they look to rehabilitate what was once a talent-packed defense, and they start right in the middle by grabbing Brown, my top-ranked interior lineman. Brown helps shore up a run defense that gave up the fifth most rushing yards in the league last year and allowed 5.1 yards per carry (second worst), and he provides a boost to the team’s pass-rush group by creating disruption from the inside.
10. Cleveland Browns: OT Andrew Thomas, Georgia
This one’s a no-brainer for the Browns, who get the most polished and game-ready left tackle in the draft. Thomas brings excellent length, power, and movement skills to the position and is a perfect fit on the blind side opposite free-agent addition Jack Conklin in new head coach Kevin Stefanski’s zone-blocking scheme.
11. New York Jets: OT Mekhi Becton, Louisville
The Jets’ no. 1 goal in this draft should be to begin building a stronger support system around quarterback Sam Darnold, and they get off to a good start with the 6-foot-7, 364-pound Becton. He is shockingly nimble in pass protection but finishes with a fury in the run game. He gives the Jets’ offensive line the type of physical edge it needs to turn that group around.
12. Las Vegas Raiders: WR Jerry Jeudy, Alabama
Jeudy is a perfect fit for Jon Gruden’s West Coast offense, an elite separator who runs crisp routes, can get open in the short and intermediate zones, and has the speed to take the top off a defense. He gives a shallow Las Vegas receiver group the type of big-play, go-to guy it needs.
13. San Francisco 49ers (from Colts): WR Henry Ruggs III, Alabama
It’s a tough call here for the 49ers with both Ruggs and CeeDee Lamb still on the board, but GM John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan opt for the lid-lifting speed threat out of Alabama. Ruggs is a great fit for Kyle Shanahan’s play-action-heavy offense, with turbo-jet speed to get behind a defense and underrated creativity as a yards-after-the-catch runner. With Ruggs joining George Kittle and Deebo Samuel, the Niners offense looks like a nightmare for opposing coordinators.
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: OT Josh Jones, Houston
The Bucs go all in on building around Tom Brady with this pick, grabbing the Senior Bowl standout in Jones. He’s a smooth athlete with great length, good bend, and impressive hand-fighting skills. He slides in at the right tackle spot from day one and provides the Tampa Bay line with a boost.
15. Denver Broncos: WR CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma
GM John Elway wastes no time in building a fearsome pass-catching group around second-year quarterback Drew Lock, adding Lamb to a group that already includes a budding superstar in Courtland Sutton and a high-upside tight end in Noah Fant. Lamb is a big-time playmaker who’s strong at the catch point and incredibly slippery after the catch; he adds a unique dimension to an ascending offense.
16. Atlanta Falcons: CB CJ Henderson, Florida
After moving on from Desmond Trufant earlier this offseason, the Falcons look to restock the shelves at the position by grabbing Henderson. The Florida product brings electric feet and natural playmaking instincts to a secondary that will need all the help it can get in 2020, when it’ll face off against the likes of Drew Brees and Tom Brady in the NFC South.
17. Dallas Cowboys: Edge K’Lavon Chaisson, LSU
The Cowboys solidified the interior of their defensive line in free agency, adding Gerald McCoy and Dontari Poe, and they bolster the edge group by grabbing Chaisson here. The LSU star is an explosive athlete, and while his production for the Tigers isn’t what you’d hope to see from a first-round pick (just 6.5 sacks in 13 games last year), Dallas is betting that he’s still just scratching the surface of his potential.
18. Miami Dolphins (from Steelers): DT Javon Kinlaw, South Carolina
After adding a potential franchise quarterback with the first of its three first-round picks, Miami turns around here and adds to the defensive trenches. Kinlaw is a long, powerful, and athletic interior lineman who pairs perfectly with the team’s top pick from last year, Christian Wilkins, to form a dynamic and versatile interior duo.
19. Las Vegas Raiders (from Bears): QB Jordan Love, Utah State
Gruden just can’t pass up Love’s scintillating ceiling. While the Utah State product’s numbers took a nose dive in 2019, his size, strong arm, and athleticism all represent moldable developmental traits. That might take a little bit of time, but with Derek Carr entrenched as the team’s starter―at least for now―Love wouldn’t have to start in year one.
20. Jacksonville Jaguars (from Rams): CB A.J. Terrell, Clemson
With Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye both now gone, Jacksonville needs an infusion of talent at corner. The Jags get that here in Terrell, a long, battle-tested defender who plays with physicality and toughness at the catch point.
21. Philadelphia Eagles: WR Jalen Reagor, TCU
Last year, the Eagles sorely missed the field-stretching element that DeSean Jackson brings to the table. They give themselves some much-needed insurance in that area by grabbing Reagor at this spot. The Horned Frogs star is a highly explosive deep threat who can stress a defense deep, create big plays, and even help open things up for his teammates underneath. Philly could use him on sweeps and end arounds, too, to keep opponents off-balance.
22. Minnesota Vikings (from Bills): CB Jaylon Johnson, Utah
After releasing Xavier Rhodes and letting Mackensie Alexander and Trae Waynes walk in free agency, Minnesota has a clear need at corner. Johnson’s a polished, stingy cover corner who could start right away for the Vikings. He’s also a strong tackler against the run.
23. New England Patriots: Edge A.J. Epenesa, Iowa
It will be fascinating to watch where the Patriots go as Bill Belichick and Co. start life after Tom Brady. Grabbing Epenesa here gives the team another versatile defensive lineman with inside-out potential. The Iowa product is big, long, and strong, and while he lacks eye-popping traits as a rusher, he wins with leverage and technique. He could move along the line for New England and provide a boost in year one.
24. New Orleans Saints: WR Brandon Aiyuk, Arizona State
The Saints have a pretty balanced roster but, even after adding Emmanuel Sanders in free agency, could stand to add some depth at receiver behind Michael Thomas. Aiyuk is raw as a route runner but has exceptional movement skills and should factor as a run-after-the-catch threat and dangerous return man early in his career.
25. Minnesota Vikings: WR Denzel Mims, Baylor
With Stefon Diggs now in Buffalo, the Vikings look to bolster their wafer-thin receiver corps by grabbing Mims at this spot. He brings size, speed, and top-end contested-catch skills to Minnesota. He has the wheels to get deep behind the defense and provides Kirk Cousins with another big-play threat in the red zone.
26. Miami Dolphins (from Texans): OT Austin Jackson, USC
The Dolphins need to protect their quarterback investment, and few offensive tackles offer more scintillating upside this late in the round than Jackson. The USC star is still raw and developing as a blocker, but has unteachable size, length, and athleticism. He has the tools to develop into a longtime starter for Miami.
27. Seattle Seahawks: OT Isaiah Wilson, Georgia
Wilson is another high-upside tackle with rare size and movement skills. At 6-foot-6, 350 pounds, he brings people-moving mass and the type of power that would fit well in Seattle’s smashmouth run game. He’s still developing his technique as a pass protector, but his length (he has an 84-plus-inch wingspan) makes him tough to run around on the edge.
28. Baltimore Ravens: LB Kenneth Murray, Oklahoma
This pick might come down to Murray or LSU’s Patrick Queen, but Baltimore opts for the more experienced, stronger run defender of the two top linebacker prospects. The Sooners star is rangy, physical, and versatile―and brings the hard-hitting intensity the Ravens defense needs in the middle.
29. Tennessee Titans: Edge Yetur Gross-Matos, Penn State
Tennessee worked on its pass-rush group by adding Vic Beasley in free agency, but that doesn’t stop them from bolstering that group here with Gross-Matos. The Penn State standout is a long, athletic pass rusher with an explosive first step. He’s strong against the run and brings enticing upside to develop into a menace off the edge.
30. Green Bay Packers: WR Justin Jefferson, LSU
The Packers need to add some playmaking talent to their receiving corps and are happy to see Jefferson slip to this spot. The LSU superstar brings route-running chops to the middle of the field for Green Bay, with a fearless demeanor that gives him the ability to win above the rim on contested pass situations.
31. San Francisco 49ers: CB Trevon Diggs, Alabama
The 49ers grab some much-needed depth at the corner position with this pick, nabbing another receiver-turned-corner (like Richard Sherman) in Diggs. The Crimson Tide star boasts top-tier athleticism, speed, and plenty of physicality. He’s a bit raw, and he struggled in his matchup with LSU receiver Ja’Marr Chase in 2019, but he has all the traits to develop into a high-end starter.
32. Kansas City Chiefs: LB Patrick Queen, LSU
The Chiefs have to patch holes at multiple spots on their defense but taking the rangy, versatile Queen is the perfect start. Queen brings top-tier athleticism and budding instincts to the position, with chops as a coverage defender, blitzer, and run defender.
33. Cincinnati Bengals: OC Cesar Ruiz, Michigan
After securing their franchise quarterback in the first round, the Bengals invest in protecting him here. Ruiz is my top-ranked interior lineman and should start from day one.
34. Indianapolis Colts (from Redskins): WR Tee Higgins, Clemson
The Colts are going all in on the 2020 season after signing Philip Rivers, and Higgins should give the team’s new veteran signal-caller a Mike Williams–like deep threat and red-zone target.
35. Detroit Lions: DT Ross Blacklock, TCU
The Lions badly need to upgrade the depth and talent on their interior defensive line, and Blacklock does just that; he’s an explosive and versatile defensive tackle who should make an impact early in his career.
36. New York Giants: Edge Terrell Lewis, Alabama
The Giants bolstered their offensive line with their first pick and move to the defensive line here. Lewis is long and athletic, and brings first-step explosiveness as a rusher.
37. Los Angeles Chargers: OT Ezra Cleveland, Boise State
After grabbing Herbert in the first round, the Chargers look to protect the new face of the franchise. The team already added Bryan Bulaga in free agency and grab a high-upside, athletic bookend tackle in Cleveland at this spot.
38. Carolina Panthers: CB Kristian Fulton, LSU
The Panthers need an infusion of talent at the cornerback position after trading away James Bradberry. Fulton should help a team that plays in the same division as Matt Ryan, Tom Brady, and Drew Brees.
39. Miami Dolphins: RB J.K. Dobbins, Ohio State
Ryan Fitzpatrick led the Dolphins in rushing last year. He is a 37-year-old quarterback. Might be time for an upgrade in the backfield.
40. Houston Texans (via Cardinals): Edge Zack Baun, Wisconsin
Houston uses one of its few remaining picks in this draft to grab a versatile edge rusher/linebacker hybrid. Baun brings a quick first step and the flexibility to play multiple roles in the Texans’ scheme.
41. Cleveland Browns: FS Xavier McKinney, Alabama
McKinney is exactly the type of versatile defensive back who could help the Browns defense get over the top in 2020. He’s rangy, versatile, and instinctive.
42. Jacksonville Jaguars: SS Grant Delpit, LSU
Delpit struggled with tackling in 2019 as he played through a nagging ankle injury, but he has top-tier play-recognition skills and the flexibility to be deployed all over the secondary.
43. Chicago Bears (from Raiders): CB Noah Igbinoghene, Auburn
Chicago added Artie Burns in free agency, but the former Steeler isn’t the long-term answer at corner. Igbinoghene has quick-twitch athleticism and a tenacious demeanor. He should fit right in with the Bears defense.
44. Indianapolis Colts: RB Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin
After grabbing a playmaking receiver in Higgins earlier in the round, Indy adds a big-time runner here. The former Badgers back has bell-cow size and home-run-hitting speed. He should have no trouble finding daylight behind the Colts’ top-tier offensive line.
45. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: RB D’Andre Swift, Georgia
With Brady under center, Rob Gronkowski coming out of retirement, and one of the best receiver duos in the game in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, the only thing the Tampa Bay offense needs is a big-time playmaker out of the backfield. Swift is a souped-up version of James White as a pass catcher and should immediately be a favorite target for Brady.
46. Denver Broncos: CB Jeff Gladney, TCU
After letting Chris Harris leave in free agency, Denver restocks the shelves at cornerback by grabbing Gladney. The Horned Frogs star has lightning feet and great ball skills, and plays with an edge.
47. Atlanta Falcons: Edge Josh Uche, Michigan
The Falcons need help at both the linebacker and edge rusher spots, and Uche brings the versatility to help at both.
48. New York Jets: WR Michael Pittman Jr., USC
After adding a Darnold-protecting left tackle with their first-round pick, the Jets look to bolster their quarterback’s pass-catching arsenal here. Pittman is big and fast, and has automatic hands.
49. Pittsburgh Steelers: RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire, LSU
With James Conner headed into the final year of his contract, the Steelers look to the draft for his long-term successor. Edwards-Helaire is a dynamic, tackle-breaking back with natural receiving talent.
50. Chicago Bears: SS Jeremy Chinn, Southern Illinois
After losing Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in free agency, the Bears find a replacement in Chinn, an über-athletic, versatile defensive back with limitless upside.
51. Dallas Cowboys: FS Antoine Winfield Jr., Minnesota
With both Clinton-Dix and Xavier Woods slated for free agency in 2021, Dallas grabs Winfield to bolster their secondary. Winfield has rare instincts and hits like a brick.
52. Los Angeles Rams: OG Robert Hunt, Louisiana-Lafayette
The Rams offense fell apart last year, and it all started up front. Hunt brings guard-tackle versatility and gives L.A. the chance to shore up one of its biggest weak spots.
53. Philadelphia Eagles: LB Jordyn Brooks, Texas Tech
The Eagles get an aggressive downhill defender here in Brooks, who racked up an incredible 20 tackles for a loss last year to go with three sacks.
54. Buffalo Bills: Edge Jabari Zuniga, Florida
Zuniga played hurt most of last season but boasts an intriguing combination of size and explosiveness on the edge. The former Gator can line up at multiple spots on the line.
55. Baltimore Ravens (from New England): OC Lloyd Cushenberry III, LSU
The Ravens need help on the interior offensive line and Cushenberry brings day-one starting potential at center. He’s a thick, stout pass protector who can move people in the run game,
56. Miami Dolphins (from Saints): LB Akeem Davis-Gaither, Appalachian State
Davis-Gaither is one of the most intriguing players in this class. He’s got some similarities to Isaiah Simmons in that he’s listed as a linebacker but plays all over the formation, lining up as a safety and de facto edge rusher at times. He gives Brian Flores a movable chess piece on defense.
57. Los Angeles Rams (from Texans): LB Malik Harrison, Ohio State
The Rams find their replacement for Cory Littleton. Harrison is a long, rangy defender with the athleticism to factor against both the run and the pass.
58. Minnesota Vikings: DT Marlon Davidson, Auburn
The Vikings addressed two glaring needs with their duo of first-round picks and now add some depth to the defensive line, grabbing the versatile and physical Davidson. The former Auburn star played mostly on the edge last year but projects as an interior defender in the pros.
59. Seattle Seahawks: Edge Darrell Taylor, Tennessee
Even if Seattle manages to coax Jadeveon Clowney back for 2020, the team needs to continue to build out its depth in the edge rush group. Taylor is big, explosive, and physical―and is still just scratching the surface of his potential.
60. Baltimore Ravens: WR Laviska Shenault Jr., Colorado
The Ravens add more talent to their receiver corps, grabbing the incredibly athletic Shenault with their second pick in the round. Shenault has the speed to take the lid off a defense but should fit right into the team’s creative ground game, bringing the physicality and power of a de facto running back.
61. Tennessee Titans: CB Cameron Dantzler, Mississippi State
With Logan Ryan gone, the Titans add depth to their cornerback spot here. Dantzler plays a fiery, aggressive brand of coverage, planting himself in opponents’ personal bubbles and refusing to leave.
62. Green Bay Packers: LB Willie Gay Jr., Mississippi State
The Packers need an injection of speed in the middle of their defense, and Gay does just that. The Mississippi State standout is an electric athlete with sideline-to-sideline range and a big-hitting style of play.
63. Kansas City Chiefs (from 49ers): CB Damon Arnette, Ohio State
After grabbing Queen with their first-round pick, the Chiefs continue adding talent to their defense here, grabbing a stingy cover corner in Arnette. He never garnered as much hype as his pair of big-name teammates in Young and Okudah, but he has athleticism, ball skills, and versatility to play inside and out.
64. Seattle Seahawks (from Chiefs): WR Chase Claypool, Notre Dame
Claypool checks so boxes for the Seahawks: He’s big, physical, and fast on the outside and gives the team another field-stretching deep threat to feature in the play-action passing attack. He’s versatile enough to line up on the inside and threaten the seam, and should be a big contributor on special teams.