NFL mock draft: How the Tampa Bay Times sees the first round playing out

We expect quarterbacks and tackles to come off the board early, and for there to be a run on receivers in the opening round.
Published Apr. 22, 2020|Updated Apr. 23, 2020

TAMPA — The NFL draft is just a day away. To celebrate, we took a stab at our own mock first round.

We kept the existing draft order, understanding that trades can be made. We found that the top three quarterbacks should go where most expect, and that there could be a run on wide receivers early.

Related: Based on what we’ve seen, these backs could help the Bucs

In our draft, the Bucs landed the last remaining of the four elite offensive linemen.

Here’s a look at how we see the first round shaking out:

1. Cincinnati Bengals

Joe Burrow, QB, LSU

As sure a thing as there can be in this draft, the Bengals will take the Heisman Trophy winner in the hopes that he becomes their franchise quarterback.

2. Washington

Chase Young, DE, Ohio State

Arguably the best overall talent available in this year’s draft class, he has everything to make him a star.

Related: Once homeless, Javon Kinlaw now one of the best players in NFL draft

3. Detroit Lions

Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn

The Lions’ defense needs help in a lot of ways, and Brown allows them to put the best interior lineman right in the middle.

4. New York Giants

Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson

It’s tempting to go with an offensive lineman here, but Simmons — a hybrid linebacker/safety — can be the impact player on defense the Giants need.

5. Miami Dolphins

Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon

The Dolphins are seemingly sold on Herbert. Passing on Tua Tagovailoa may end up being a mistake.

6. Los Angeles Chargers

Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama

The Chargers are a good fit for Tua, because playing behind Tyrod Taylor can ensure he doesn’t rush back after last year’s injury.

7. Carolina Panthers

Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State

The Panthers’ defense needs a serious makeover, including replacing lockdown cornerback James Bradberry.

Related: Which offensive tackle would make the Bucs happy? One of these four

8. Arizona Cardinals

Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa

The most athletic of the four elite offensive linemen in the draft, Wirfs can jump in immediately and protect quarterback Kyler Murray.

9. Jacksonville Jaguars

Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina

The Jags have plenty of defensive needs. Kinlaw might have the best physical tools in the entire class, regardless of position.

10. Cleveland Browns

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Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville

Needing o-line help, the Browns go for broke with the high-upside Becton. He’s a physical force.

11. New York Jets

Jedrick Wills, OT, Alabama

The Jets have to like being able to get possibly the most polished offensive lineman in the draft at No. 12.

Related: Bucs need an offensive lineman. Projecting the position is no exact science

12. Las Vegas Raiders

CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma

Speaking of polished, Lamb is the most NFL-ready receiver in a generationally deep receiver class.

13. San Francisco 49ers

Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama

Good hands, great route runner, Jeudy can help fill the void left by Emmanuel Sanders’ departure.

14. Tampa Bay Bucs

Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia

Unable to trade up, the Bucs take the top offensive tackle available. If Thomas is a consolation prize, he’s a good one.

15. Denver Broncos

Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama

The Broncos need a deep threat to help quarterback Drew Lock, and they get that in Ruggs.

16. Atlanta Falcons

C.J. Henderson, CB, Florida

Henderson and Odukah are the two elite cover corners in this draft, and corner is the Falcons’ biggest area of need.

Related: Below-average Bucs must build around Tom Brady in NFL draft. Here’s how.

17. Dallas Cowboys

K’Lavon Chaisson, DE, LSU

The Cowboys need an edge rusher to place opposite DeMarcus Lawrence. Chaisson is a freakish athlete with big-time potential.

18. Miami Dolphins

Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU

After getting their quarterback of the future with Herbert, the Dolphins get him a solid receiver with great ball skills in Jefferson.

19. Las Vegas Raiders

Jordan Love, QB, Utah State

Love just seems to fit the Raiders. He could be great or throw his way out of the league, and Jon Gruden likes the challenge.

20. Jacksonville Jaguars

Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma

Murray might be the most explosive linebacker in the draft class. After getting Kinlaw earlier, the Jags build their defense in the front seven.

21. Philadelphia Eagles

Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson

The Eagles need the best receiver available, and Higgins is the most complete, having shown a combination of size, speed and ball skills in college.

Related: Will Bucs find a protector for Tom Brady in NFL draft?

22. Minnesota Vikings

Brandon Aiyuk, WR, Arizona State

The Vikings need some receiving threats, and Aiyuk is a big-play receiver who makes his living piling up yards after the catch.

23. New England Patriots

Zack Baun, LB, Wisconsin

The Patriots are facing an overhaul at the linebacker position, so it’s nice to add a player who can rush the passer as well as play coverage like Baun.

24. New Orleans Saints

Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama

The Saints go for the best player available, and McKinney can make plays everywhere — in the box, in the slot and playing back.

25. Minnesota Vikings

A.J. Terrell, CB, Clemson

A smooth corner with good size is a welcome addition for a Vikings team that lost its top three cornerbacks.

Related: Is a future Bucs quarterback among these 10? Aim low

26. Miami Dolphins

Josh Jones, OT, Houston

Some think there’s a big gap between the big four linemen and Jones, but there might not be.

27. Seattle Seahawks

Austin Jackson, OT, USC

Jackson has NFL-caliber size and length. He was a little inconsistent in college, but if he clears that up, he can be a force.

28. Baltimore Ravens

Patrick Queen, LB, LSU

Had a breakout season last year with the Tigers. Built more like a safety, he’s a ballhawk who would fit the Ravens well.

Related: As Bucs eye a developmental quarterback in NFL draft, one player stands out

29. Tennessee Titans

A.J. Epenesa, DE, Iowa

At 6-feet-5, 280 pounds, he’s a physical force coming off the line — and the Titans need help at edge rusher more than anywhere else.

30. Green Bay Packers

Michael Pittman, Jr., WR, USC

Son of the former Bucs running back of the same name, Pittman is a big physical receiver who is also a strong route runner.

31. San Francisco 49ers

Antoine Winfield, Jr., S/CB, Minnesota

Another player with recognizable NFL pedigree, Winfield can do all in the secondary — play up on the line in press coverage or float out into space.

32. Kansas City Chiefs

Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU

A fearless cornerback who likes to play press coverage but still has some room to grow. But the talent is there.