The Clarion’s 2020 NFL mock draft (picks 1-15)


Tammy Anthony Baker

Joe Burrow, the presumptive first overall pick, steps back for a pass. Photo taken from Wikimedia Commons.

Ethan Taylor, Staff Reporter

1st overall pick: Cincinnati Bengals

Who will they pick? Joe Burrow, quarterback from LSU

Comments: This isn’t even a question. Burrow is far and away the clear choice for a QB-needy Bengals team, and the Bengals have shown nothing to make the media believe otherwise. It’s hard to pass-up on a Heisman winning, 60-touchdown-throwing national championship winning quarterback when your current starter hasn’t won a playoff game in nine years.


2nd overall pick: Washington Redskins

Who will they pick? Chase Young, defensive end from Ohio State

Comments: Another obvious selection, as Young, the top player on most draft boards, looks to follow the footsteps of former Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa, who was selected second overall in 2019 by the San Francisco 49ers. Young led all of college football with 16.5 sacks as a junior, and finished third in heisman voting despite missing two games. The Redskins have a need at nearly every position, so they are almost in a  “best player available” state for the draft, with Young being a nice candidate to boost a middling Redskins pass rush with the second overall pick.


3rd overall pick: Detroit Lions

Who will they pick? Jeffrey Okudah, cornerback from Ohio State

Comments: Okudah showed outstanding ballhawking skills all season, rising up draft boards every week. The Lions recently traded away their top cornerback, Darius Slay, to the Eagles, leaving a major hole at cornerback. Okudah can step in immediately and take over that role from day one, with the potential to become the game’s next best cornerback. Did someone say Okudah Island?


4th overall pick: New York Giants

Who will they pick? Isaiah Simmons, linebacker from Clemson

Comments: Simmons is exactly what a struggling Giants defense needs to stimulate their rebuild. He has the ability to play at every level of the field, can line up against both tight ends and wide receivers and is as good of a pass rusher as anyone in the draft not named Chase Young. 6’4” and 240 pounds is already impressive, but add in a 4.39 sec. 40 yard dash time and a 39 inch vertical? Don’t be surprised if another team from New York (like the knicks?) come and scout a few of Simmons’ games this year. 


5th overall pick: Miami Dolphins

Who will they pick? Tua Tagovailoa, quarterback from Alabama

Comments: The Dolphins can’t start a 37 year old Ryan Fitzpatrick beyond 2020, and they are in the perfect spot to draft his predecessor with the 5th overall pick.Tagovailoa would benefit greatly by sitting behind Fitzpatrick for a season to learn the adjustments from NCAA to the NFL, and could even push for the starting job as early as week one. Tagovailoa has the highest ceiling of any quarterback in this draft if his hip returns to form, and it’s a risk the Dolphins have to take. 


6th overall pick: Los Angeles Chargers

Who will they pick? Justin Herbert, quarterback from Oregon

Comments: L.A. just parted ways with long time starter Phillip Rivers, and are on the market for a new quarterback for the first time in over a decade. Herbert and Rivers share multiple similarities, including the fact that they are both two of the tallest quarterbacks in the league, and they both share a high football IQ and awareness when in the pocket. 


7th overall pick: Carolina Panthers

Who will they pick? Derrick Brown, defensive tackle from Auburn

Comments: The Panthers lost four starters from their defensive front last season, most notably Luke Kuechly, and need a good run-stuffing tackle who can help take pressure off of an inexperienced linebacker group. The Panthers are another team who are in a position to grab the best available player on the board, so don’t be surprised if they were to trade their pick if none of the elite defensive prospects they wished to select are still on the board at pick seven.


8th overall pick: Arizona Cardinals

Who will they pick? Tristan Wirfs, offensive tackle from Iowa

Comments: The Cardinals offense took a massive jump this offseason after a mediocre 2019 by trading for All-Pro wide receiver Deandre Hopkins from the Houston Texans. They’re set at quarterback with former first overall pick Kyler Murray poised to improve off of an already impressive rookie campaign. The only thing left to do is build an elite line so Murray isn’t constantly pressured, and also so he can turn his elite running abilities into an asset rather than a necessity. Wirfs could do just that, standing at six feet, five inches tall and 320 pounds, he could quickly become a force to be reckoned with while protecting Murray’s blind side.


9th overall pick: Jacksonville Jaguars

Who will they pick? Jerry Jeudy, wide receiver from Alabama

Comments: If the Jaguars truly are looking to build their offense around second year quarterback Gardner Minshew, the least they could do for him is draft the top wide receiver in this year’s class to make up for the lack of help the Jaguars front office has provided Minshew this past off season, not to mention the fact that they have lost nearly every member of their dominant defense that carried them to the AFC Championship Game in 2017.


10th overall pick: Cleveland Browns

Who will they pick? Jedrick Wills Jr., offensive tackle from Alabama

Comments: The Browns have talent all over the field. They have a great receiving corps headed by Odell Beckham Jr., a top 10 running back in Nick Chubb and multiple former first round draft picks on the defensive side of the ball, including Myles Garrett and Denzel Ward. What they don’t have is a reliable offensive line to help young quarterback Baker Mayfield utilize his time in the pocket to allow his receivers to create separation and get open. Willis is another massive tackle, standing at six feet, five inches tall and 320 pounds, proving to be able to instantly help stop pressure from reaching Mayfield. 


11th overall pick: New York Jets

Who will they pick? CeeDee Lamb, wide receiver from Oklahoma

Comments: The Jets have a lot of issues on both sides of the ball. Their defense was well below-average last season and the offense was even worse. There’s a strong case to be made for the Jets to select a left tackle with this pick, and I wouldn’t be against that. They need help everywhere. And yes this draft is loaded with talent at wide receiver, but if they wait until the second round to select one, they’re missing out on their chance to draft a wide receiver who can not only make an impact right away, but also has the potential to form a deadly pairing with third year quarterback Sam Darnold, who could desperately use a reliable wide receiver after two seasons with constant change at the position.


12th overall pick: Las Vegas Raiders

Who will they pick? C.J. Henderson, cornerback from LSU

Comments: The Raiders have a need at nearly every defensive position, but teams have shown their defensive line much more respect than their secondary, and after their deal with CB Eli Apple fell through, the need at corner is obvious. Henderson is the most NFL ready cornerback in the draft, making this a safe bet for the Raiders. Now it’s up to them to take it. 


13th overall pick: San Francisco 49ers (from Indianapolis Colts)

Who will they pick? Henry Ruggs III, wide receiver from Alabama

Comments: The 49ers proved last season that they have a top five defensive unit in the NFL, and they also have two first round picks, meaning they can afford to select a WR here and still boost the defensive side of the ball later in the round. Ruggs is fast. He ran a sub 4.30 second 40 yard dash, causing him to be compared to Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill, whose nickname is “The Cheetah.” The 49ers lacked a standout wide receiver this year, and Ruggs could easily become that in no time.


14th overall pick: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Who will they pick? Mekhi Becton, offensive tackle from Louisville

Comments: When you sign the greatest quarterback of all time for his age 43 season, the offensive line becomes equally as important as any wide receiver on the roster, and that helps when you already have two Pro Bowl receivers on your team. Not to mention former All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski, who just came out of retirement to play with Tom Brady in Tampa Bay. Nonetheless, Becton was a standout tackle at Louisville, and should be able to bring the same level of play to the NFL, which would make everyone in Tampa Bay quite happy.


15th overall pick: Denver Broncos

Who will they pick? Tee Higgins, wide receiver from Clemson

Comments: Denver badly needs to construct a reliable receiving corps for second year quarterback Drew Lock, and adding Higgins is a step in the right direction. The Broncos have third year receiver Courtland Sutton coming back after a solid season, but everything besides that leaves much to be desired. Higgins has been the most reliable receiver for Clemson the past two plus seasons, and their overall team success has greatly boosted his draft stock. With the overload of talented receivers in the draft this year, the Broncos really can’t go wrong as long as they select one of the top pass-catchers still available come pick 15.