With the 2020 NFL draft quickly approaching, we at abe have come up with ideal seven-round mock scenarios for all 32 NFL teams.
Most of these picks are destined to go wrong beyond the easy ones the first round has to offer. That said, it’s fun to project where the best college players might land in the pros, how their skill sets translate to the league, and in this instance, how they fit within their hypothetical rosters.
In this next edition of abe Insights’ 2020 NFL mock draft series, which limits trades to within the first round and comes courtesy of Pro Football Network simulations, we’ll take a look at the AFC East and West divisions. As a fun bonus, betting props will be included where appropriate, too.
A.J. Epenesa, DE, Iowa; Ke’Shawn Vaughn, RB, Vanderbilt; Javaris Davis, CB, Auburn; Quintez Cephus, WR, Wisconsin; Trajan Bandy, CB, Miami (FL); D.J. Wonnum, EDGE, South Carolina; Kyle Murphy, G, Rhode Island
Sacrificing its first-round pick to land a game-changing receiver in Stefon Diggs was well worth the price for Buffalo.
Young signal-caller Josh Allen needed someone more established like Diggs so as not to burden John Brown with a No. 1 wideout label. Cole Beasley was the next-best in-house receiver, and the Bills recognized that wasn’t good enough.
As for the picks, Epenesa is a powerful player whose production over the past two seasons (30.5 tackles for loss, 22 sacks) can't be denied. He can set the edge versus the run and open up 2019 first-rounder Ed Oliver to thrive as an interior pass-rusher.
Vaughn is a fun SEC prospect who’d complement Devin Singletary well in a 1-2 backfield punch, and Davis is a small but speedy nickel corner who could challenge for playing time out of the gate.
Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama; Jedrick Wills, OT, Alabama; Grant Delpit, S, LSU; Josh Jones, OT, Houston; Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor; Brandon Aiyuk, WR, Arizona State; Solomon Kindley, G, Georgia; Justin Strnad, LB, Wake Forest; Michael Ojemudia, CB, Iowa; L'Jarius Sneed, CB, Louisiana Tech; Quartney Davis, WR, Texas A&M; Jon Runyan Jr., G, Michigan; Charlie Woerner, TE, Georgia; JaMycal Hasty, RB, Baylor
Imagine if Miami not only lands Tagovailoa, who’s healthy enough to partake in training camp, but also snags his blindside protector from college in Wills. A trade could be in order, and the selection of Jones still sees the Dolphins address offensive tackle at least.
In this scenario, Wills doesn’t have to transition to left tackle, which is absolutely ideal for him and his draft suitor. That position change could cause him to fall to the Dolphins despite the fact that DraftKings has Wills (-121) as the favorite to be the first offensive lineman drafted.
DeVante Parker is the only younger, surefire star in the Dolphins receiving corps. This draft class would change that with a size-speed darling in Mims and one of the best after-the-catch receivers in the draft in Aiyuk, who doubles as a return specialist.
Jordan Love, QB, Utah State; Akeem Davis-Gaither, LB, Appalachian State; Tyler Johnson, WR, Minnesota; Davion Taylor, LB, Colorado; Ben Bredeson, G, Michigan; Dalton Keene, TE, Virginia Tech; Reggie Robinson II, CB, Tulsa; Jake Hanson, OL, Oregon
In this scenario, the Pats sacrificed several picks to move up to Atlanta’s pick at No. 16 from 23 in order to land Love.
New England (+600) is DraftKings’ third favorite to land Love, behind Indianapolis and New Orleans, both of whom pick after the Patriots’ first pick. Interestingly, FanDuel has Jacksonville (+300) as the favorite, so maybe the Pats would have to really maneuver to land their future face of the franchise.
After posting a TD-INT ratio of 20:17 this past season, doubt has been cast on the Utah State gunslinger. Turn on Love’s tape from the 2018 campaign, though, and you can see the makings of a superstar who threw 32 touchdowns to just six picks.
Love lost his coach, his entire offensive line and had no pass-catchers to speak of in his final collegiate season. The Patriots need to do more work to acquire receivers themselves, but they have the culture and organizational stability to develop Love as Tom Brady’s heir apparent.
Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama; Noah Igbinoghene, CB, Auburn; Prince Tega Wanogho, OT, Auburn; Jacob Phillips, LB, LSU; Collin Johnson, WR, Texas; Lavert Hill, CB, Michigan; Alex Taylor, OT, SC State; Malcolm Roach, DL, Texas
Third-year quarterback Sam Darnold gains the best route-runner in the class with Jeudy in this simulation. Although Darnold is pretty good at making plays off-schedule, those are when he tends to force balls into tight windows and rack up turnovers in bunches.
Jeudy is the type of playmaker who can separate easily and open up the rest of the offense. He should kick off a big run on receivers, as DraftKings lists Jeudy (+125) as the favorite to be the first wideout off the board.
As for the Auburn tandem behind Jeudy, first is Igbinoghene, who's a clear need pick and fits coordinator Gregg Williams' paradigm of toughness and physicality. Wanogho has loads of unexplored upside and would help the effort to protect Darnold.
Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU; Justin Madubuike, DT, Texas A&M; Darnay Holmes, CB, UCLA; Ben Bartch, OT, St. John’s; Bryce Hall, CB, Virginia; Trevis Gipson, DE, Tulsa; Yasir Durant, OT, Missouri; James Smith-Williams, EDGE, NC State; Parnell Motley, CB, Oklahoma; Jonathan Garvin, EDGE, Miami (FL)
The Athletic’s Michael Lombardi reported Denver is trying to move up to Cleveland’s pick at 10 to nab a wideout. It seems unnecessary, because in this simulation, the Broncos stayed put at No. 16 and landed Jefferson, a stud playmaker who can start opposite Cortland Sutton right away.
There aren’t a ton of flashy picks here for Denver beyond the former LSU star. Just a lot of depth building at key spots such as offensive tackle and cornerback.
Ja’Wuan James is a fine pass protector, but was limited to three 2019 games due to a knee injury. He signed a four-year, $51 million deal in free agency last offseason, so the production was disappointing.
Bartch has tons of athleticism and could be a future left or swing tackle, while Durant is an intriguing right tackle option who could replace James down the road.
A.J. Terrell, CB, Clemson; Albert Okwuegbunam, TE, Missouri; Willie Gay Jr., LB, Mississippi State; Alton Robinson, EDGE, Syracuse; Larrell Murchison, DT, NC State
A running back at the end of the first round might serve Kansas City well. However, Patrick Mahomes and the passing attack will carry the offense and make any back look pretty darn good. Heck, the Chiefs could even find a gem in an undrafted free agent.
FanDuel has the Chiefs (-186) more likely to use their first pick on defense rather than offense (+146) by a pretty wide margin. Terrell helps a more pressing need in the secondary as a lengthy press corner who can give the Chiefs’ pass-rushers like Frank Clark and Chris Jones more time to get home.
Okwuegbunam is a freak athlete who'd benefit from Travis Kelce's presence to draw favorable matchups. Gay ran a 4.46-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine and would give Kansas City serious juice as a sideline-to-sideline linebacker.
Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama; Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama; Ashtyn Davis, S, California; Bryan Edwards, WR, South Carolina; Damon Arnette, CB, Ohio State; Troy Dye, LB, Oregon; Khalil Davis, DT, Nebraska
Despite the world-class speed Ruggs brings to the gridiron, he’s more than a one-trick pony. The Crimson Tide star is a polished route-runner who’s the type of home-run threat Vegas is missing on the outside.
DraftKings lists the Raiders at +500 to take Ruggs, and since they have two first-rounders, they can maneuver to get him if necessary. Not a bad value bet, considering how unpredictable the draft tends to be.
An underrated prospect in his own right, Edwards is a beast at 6-foot-3, 212 pounds who steadily produced for four years in college despite shabby quarterback play. He’s a potential upgrade out wide — even as a rookie — over drop-prone Nelson Agholor and underachieving fourth-year veteran Zay Jones.
Having rid themselves of Gareon Conley in a trade last season, Fulton is an excellent, clean prospect from LSU’s defensive back factory who allowed a career completion percentage of 43.6% and can be an instant, impactful starter.
Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon; Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama; Lloyd Cushenberry, OL, LSU; Eno Benjamin, RB, Arizona State; Josiah Deguara, TE, Cincinnati; Justin Herron, OT, Wake Forest; Juwan Johnson, WR, Oregon
It’s hard to envision Tagovailoa dropping to L.A. at sixth overall. DraftKings has Herbert (-110) as a slight favorite to be the third QB drafted over Tagovailoa (+110). In any event, the Chargers get their eventual Tyrod Taylor replacement in Herbert.
Word is Taylor is ready to show he can be a dual-threat dynamo reminiscent of Lamar Jackson in 2020. Even if that sounds like a puff-piece pipe dream, Taylor and L.A. provide fertile ground for Herbert to develop. Taylor was an absolute pro when he mentored top pick Baker Mayfield in Cleveland, so he knows the drill should he not assert himself as the clear-cut starter under.
Otherwise, this roster is loaded and ready to contend. Keep an eye on McKinney if he’s still on the board in Round 2. He’s capable of playing anywhere in coverage, not just deep safety. McKinney would be another Swiss Army Knife type to complement fellow safety Derwin James.
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