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 latest entry 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 NFC North and South divisions. As a fun bonus, betting props will be included where appropriate, too.
In case you missed our previous piece, click here for our AFC North and South mock.
Jeremy Chinn, S, Southern Illinois; Zack Baun, LB, Wisconsin; James Proche, WR, SMU; Josiah Scott, CB, Michigan State; Tyler Bass, K, Georgia Southern; Reggie Robinson II, CB, Tulsa; Javelin Guidry, S, Utah
Although Isaiah Simmons is rightly getting a lot of praise for his versatility, size and athleticism as a “positionless” defender, Chinn (+150 to be drafted Day 1) presents stupendous value here and has a similar skill set to Simmons despite hailing from a small school.
Chinn is more of a defensive back than Simmons, and has ball skills and vicious hitting ability to boot. The Bears would love to plug him in anywhere as a rookie on their stout defense.
It’s easy for players to get lost in the shuffle of a star-studded, deep receiver draft class. Proche may be one of those guys, but don’t sleep on him. He nabbed 111 receptions last season and 93 the year before, totaling 27 touchdowns in that span.
With a deep ball specialist in Nick Foles presumably taking over for Mitch Trubisky at quarterback, Proche is the type of high-volume target and downfield specialist Foles would love to have at his disposal.
Jeffrey Okudah, CB, Ohio State; Curtis Weaver, DE, Boise State; Neville Gallimore, DT, Oklahoma; Lynn Bowden, WR, Kentucky; Darrell Taylor, EDGE, Tennessee; Hakeem Adeniji, OL, Kansas; Michael Warren II, RB, Cincinnati; Saahdiq Charles, OT, LSU; Carter Coughlin, LB, Minnesota
In this scenario, the Chargers — who in our AFC piece, took Justin Herbert instead — like Tua Tagovailoa and leapfrog Miami to nab him at No. 3 overall. Then, the Lions pick up LA’s 2021 first-rounder and get the player they would’ve selected anyway had they stayed put.
Detroit (-167) is a heavy favorite to land Okudah, per DraftKings. He fills an immediate need and is by all accounts the best cornerback prospect in the draft.
While many of the Lions’ higher selections in this scenario build out the defense, Bowden is an exception. He played some quarterback at Kentucky and can run a Wildcat package, in addition to functioning as a receiver-backfield combo threat in the mold of Percy Harvin.
KJ Hamler, WR, Penn State; Lucas Niang, OT, TCU; Harrison Bryant, TE, FAU; Cameron Brown; LB, Penn State; T.J. Brunson, LB, South Carolina; Kevin Dotson, G, Louisiana; Steven Montez, QB, Colorado; Ja'Marcus Bradley, WR, Louisiana; Bryce Huff, EDGE, Memphis; Jordan Fuller, S, Ohio State
Aaron Rodgers’ receivers in recent years outside of Davante Adams have all been relatively unheralded but passable options. Most of them have nice size and a good catch radius. “Fast” isn’t a term that would really describe any of them.
Hamler would change that. No. 30 overall may seem too rich to invest in a 5-foot-9 wideout. Not in this case, because Hamler is a speed demon who'd help the Packers better capitalize on their legendary signal-caller's tremendous deep ball accuracy.
The idea with Niang to Green Bay is to replace Bryan Bulaga at right tackle, and few if any prospects in the second round would be more up to that task. Bryant would be amazing value for the Packers in the middle rounds, as NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein compares him to 49ers superstar George Kittle.
Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU; Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson; Logan Wilson, LB, Wyoming; James Lynch, DL, Baylor; Khalid Kareem, EDGE, Notre Dame; Jake Fromm, QB, Georgia; Charlie Heck, OT, North Carolina; Antoine Brooks Jr., S, Maryland; Tyrie Cleveland, WR, Florida; Daniel Thomas, S, Auburn
Instead of making a bunch of late-round picks, we made an exception to the first-round-only trade rule. Here, the Vikings stockpile a couple extra for next year and move up in the seventh round to build out safety depth with Thomas and Brooks before him. The futures of Anthony Harris and Harrison Smith are foggy at the minute.
But to kick off, after losing Xavier Rhodes and Mackensie Alexander to free agency, Minnesota goes in on LSU’s Fulton as a new lockdown corner on the outside. A reader astutely pointed out, when at first this pick was Trevon Diggs, that the Vikings probably wouldn't want any part of him, considering they just traded his older brother, Stefon.
Sometimes people troll, even in a hypothetical, destined-to-go-wrong mock draft article. Yours truly was convinced in this case. To be fair, Peter King didn't let the Diggs family connection stop him from putting the Alabama star with Minnesota in his mock draft.
Higgins is the type of contested catch, downfield tracker whose ball skills will help quarterback Kirk Cousins continue to feast off of play action. Among Higgins’ catches at Clemson, 25.4% came on targets of 20 or more yards, and the Vikings may have to trade up for him, as DraftKings believes Higgins (-134) is more likely than not to be off the board in the top 32 picks.
Wilson averaged over 100 tackles per season in four years as a linebacker at Wyoming. He has the skills to start Week 1 alongside Eric Kendricks and Anthony Barr to make for a truly imposing trio at that position group.
K'Lavon Chaisson, EDGE, LSU; Laviska Shenault Jr., WR, Colorado; John Simpson, G, Clemson; Darrynton Evans, RB, Appalachian State; Antonio Gandy-Golden, WR, Liberty; Jared Pinkney, TE, Vanderbilt
After Ohio State’s Chase Young, Chaisson seems like the only pass-rusher certain to be worthy of a selection in the first half of Day 1. It’s all based on upside at this point, because the LSU product really has only one year of solid production and should’ve been more dominant based on his bend, speed and quickness on the edge.
But the Falcons need help after registering just 28 sacks last season, which tied for the second-fewest in the NFL. Chaisson, Dante Fowler Jr. and Tak McKinley would give Atlanta three viable pass-rushing threats.
A good sleeper here is Evans. No one really knows what the Falcons will get out of Todd Gurley in 2020, and Evans has a nose for the end zone, scoring 23 touchdowns in 2019.
Atlanta struggled in the red zone last year (No. 25 in TD percentage), particularly in targeting superstar receiver Julio Jones. Maybe Evans could be part of the solution, along with hypothetical draftee Shenault to join Jones and Calvin Ridley in the receiving corps.
Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn; Jaylon Johnson, CB, Utah; Adam Trautman, TE, Dayton; Keith Ismael, OL, San Diego State; Kindle Vildor, CB, Georgia Southern; Khaleke Hudson, LB, Michigan; Dezmon Patmon, WR, Washington State; Brian Herrien, RB, Georgia
If Isaiah Simmons isn’t there to replace the surprisingly retired Luke Kuechly in the heart of Carolina’s defense, Brown is a slam-dunk pick at seventh in the first round.
Carolina and Jacksonville are both +260 on DraftKings to take Brown. There just aren’t many 6-foot-5, 326-pound humans who move like the Auburn star does, and his skill set can help the Panthers run multiple schemes and fronts to throw opponents off.
The next two newly minted Panthers in this mock? Fill-ins for key players who left on the open market: Johnson to replace James Bradberry, and Trautman to replace Greg Olsen.
Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina; Jonathan Greenard, EDGE, Florida; James Morgan, QB, FIU; James Robinson, RB, Illinois State; Raequan Williams, DT, Michigan State
In the simulation run for the Saints, they got extremely lucky to have Kinlaw fall this far. FanDuel’s Over/Under for Kinlaw is 13.5. If the team really wants him, it may require a trade on Thursday night. There aren’t holes on the roster to speak of, but Kinlaw provides an immense boost on the defensive front.
We covered Greenard in our AFC North and South piece, and outlined how well he’d fit in Houston. With the Saints, he’d join Cameron Jordan and Marcus Davenport as playmakers on the edge and supply key depth and situational flexibility at that spot.
New Orleans passed on quarterback Jalen Hurts in order to select Greenard in this scenario, so instead, the Saints wait to nab Morgan as a developmental prospect who could thrive in the right environment and organization. Learning behind an all-time great like Drew Brees isn’t a bad place to be.
Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia; Antoine Winfield Jr., S, Minnesota; Matt Peart, OT, Connecticut; K.J. Hill, WR, Ohio State; Shaun Bradley, LB, Temple; Oluwole Betiku Jr., EDGE, Illinois; Bravvion Roy, DT, Baylor
Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles loves versatility and smart players to execute his complex schemes. Who better than the son of a standout NFL cornerback in Winfield to step in and upgrade a key spot as a Week 1 starter?
The real excitement comes in the first round, however. If Thomas is there at No. 14, you can bet Tampa Bay will pounce. The Georgia standout might be the best pure pass protector in the class, which is absolutely vital with newly acquired GOAT Tom Brady running the Bucs offense in 2020.
DraftKings has Thomas (+110) just a little outside the top 10 based on the odds. With the Jets, Raiders and 49ers in front of Tampa all in need of receivers, it’s not outlandish for Bucs fans to hope for Thomas to fall into their team’s lap. Otherwise, a trade up could be in the offing since Tampa Bay is in win-now mode.
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