DRAFT SEASON

Lance Zierlein NFL mock draft 1.0

Photo by Getty Images

This article originally appeared on NFL.com

Here's a look at my first mock of the 2020 NFL Draft, which will take place April 23-25 in Las Vegas. Remember, this mock is a projection of where I believe players will go -- not necessarily a reflection of my opinion as to where the players should go.

NOTE: The final draft order may change depending on the outcome of Super Bowl LIV.

PICK

1. Bengals

Joe Burrow - QB

School: LSU | Year: Senior (RS)

Burrow will need the scheme fit to be right, but his pinpoint accuracy and elite intangibles are hard to resist.

PICK

2. Redskins

Chase Young - Edge

School: Ohio State | Year: Junior

It's just a no-brainer here. Based upon pure talent and upside, Young is the clear front-runner in my book.

PICK

3. Lions

Jeff Okudah - CB

School: Ohio State | Year: Junior

Easy slot to fill with the Lions needing help opposite Darius Slay and Okudah possessing all the traits Matt Patricia could want.

PICK

4. Giants

Isaiah Simmons - LB

School: Clemson | Year: Junior (RS)

Rare height, weight, speed and versatility to be deployed in a variety of positions. He's only scratching the surface of his upside.

PICK

5. Dolphins

Tua Tagovailoa - QB

School: Alabama | Year: Junior

Obviously the medicals need to check out, but if they do -- race the card up to the podium.

PICK

6. Chargers

Justin Herbert - QB

School: Oregon | Year: Senior

Herbert certainly helped himself during Senior Bowl week, and the Chargers are in desperate need of finding their next QB1.

PICK

7. Panthers

Derrick Brown - DT

School: Auburn | Year: Senior

Brown is one of the draft's most talented players and is a need fit as well in Matt Rhule's first season as head coach.

PICK

8. Cardinals

Jedrick Wills - OT

School: Alabama | Year: Junior

Tackle depth in this draft allows the Cardinals an opportunity to let their free agents at the position walk and feel safe about landing a quality OT here.

PICK

9. Jaguars

Javon Kinlaw - DT

School: South Carolina | Year: Senior

Defense must be addressed. While CB and LB make sense, Kinlaw's freakish size, strength and Chris Jones-like upside is appealing.

PICK

10. Browns

Tristan Wirfs - OT

School: Iowa | Year: Junior

It might be tempting to take a receiver here and prepare to move on from Odell Beckham Jr., but receivers can be found outside the top 10 and Wirfs helps protect Baker Mayfield.

PICK

11. Jets

Mekhi Becton - OT

School: Louisville | Year: Junior

Built like a barn and possessing jarring power, Becton needs to keep his weight in check but has the feet to stay at left tackle.

PICK

12. Raiders

Jerry Jeudy - WR

School: Alabama | Year: Junior

The Raiders have a couple of selections in the first round and one of them has to be spent on a receiver. Why not take your pick of WR1s in this spot?

PICK

13. Colts

K'Lavon Chaisson - Edge

School: LSU | Year: Sophomore (RS)

If Indy loves Jordan Love, he could be the guy here, but Chaisson fits the rush profile the Colts covet. The redshirt sophomore has exciting potential.

PICK

14. Buccaneers

Jacob Eason - QB

School: Washington | Year: Junior (RS)

Tampa might trade back, but Eason could still be the target. While I expect him to be taken later than this pick, his stature and arm strength will give Bruce Arians some Carson Palmer vibes.

PICK

15. Broncos

Andrew Thomas - OT

School: Georgia | Year: Junior

Thomas doesn't always look pretty doing it, but guys get blocked. He's an instant upgrade over Garett Bolles and is a tough competitor.

PICK

16. Falcons

Zack Baun - Edge

School: Wisconsin | Year: Senior (RS)

Baun has rare athletic skills to play 4-3 outside linebacker on early downs and rush from the edge on passing downs.

PICK

17. Cowboys

Xavier McKinney - S

School: Alabama | Year: Junior

Assuming Dallas locks up pending free agent Byron Jones, McKinney would give the 'Boys a versatile, interchangeable safety who can also line up over the slot.

PICK

18. Dolphins

D'Andre Swift - RB

School: Georgia | Year: Junior

Tagovailoa might need a redshirt in Year 1, but Swift could give the Dolphins' offense an instant boost similar to what we saw with Josh Jacobs and the Raiders.

PICK

19. Raiders

Patrick Queen - LB

School: LSU | Year: Junior

The latest in a recent string of speedy linebackers from LSU, Queen helps fill a gaping hole in the Raiders' defense.

PICK

20. Jaguars

C.J. Henderson - CB

School: Florida | Year: Junior

Smooth cover corner with good size and speed to help fortify a secondary in need of another CB after Jalen Ramsey's departure.

PICK

21. Eagles

CeeDee Lamb - WR

School: Oklahoma | Year: Junior

Lamb has the ability to play inside or outside and is an instant playmaking option who should help alleviate pressure on Carson Wentz.

PICK

22. Bills

Tee Higgins - WR

School: Clemson | Year: Junior

What do you give a big-armed quarterback with spotty accuracy? I suggest a big, downfield wideout with good ball skills and an incredible catch radius.

PICK

23. Patriots

Cesar Ruiz - C

School: Michigan | Year: Junior

Intelligent and athletic with center/guard flexibility, Ruiz could take over pending free agent Joe Thuney's guard spot right away and stabilize New England's interior pass protection.

PICK

24. Saints

Henry Ruggs III - WR

School: Alabama | Year: Junior

Ruggs will come into the NFL as one of the fastest players in the game. He can take the top off defenses or hurt them on catch-and-runs.

PICK

25. Vikings

Jaylon Johnson- CB

School: Utah | Year: Junior

Johnson is a long, man-cover cornerback who could make both Xavier Rhodes (due to count $12.9 million against the cap in 2020) and Trae Waynes (pending free agent) expendable.

PICK

26. Dolphins

Josh Jones - OT

School: Houston | Year: Senior (RS)

How's this for a twist? The Dolphins draft a tackle from the University of Houston using the first-round pick they received from the Houston Texans for Laremy Tunsil.

PICK

27. Seahawks

A.J. Epenesa - Edge

School: Iowa | Year: Junior

The Seahawks must decide whether they want to be in the Jadeveon Clowney business. If not, Epenesa is way less explosive, but more skilled as a big rush end.

PICK

28. Ravens

Kenneth Murray - LB

School: Oklahoma | Year: Junior

Speedy linebacker with sideline-to-sideline range and third-down coverage ability who could challenge for a starter's role immediately.

PICK

29. Titans

Cam Dantzler - CB

School: Mississippi State | Year: Junior (RS)

Tall, thin cornerback who plays with an abundance of toughness and confidence. He allowed three catches for 21 yards vs. LSU and Alabama combined.

PICK

30. Packers

Justin Jefferson - WR

School: LSU | Year: Junior

The Packers' Aaron Rodgers window won't be open forever, so adding a talented inside/outside target with excellent ball skills makes sense.

PICK

31. Chiefs

Jonathan Taylor - RB

School: Wisconsin | Year: Junior

It almost doesn't seem fair to give the Chiefs another talented player at a skill position, but that's the way it goes in this mock.

PICK

32. 49ers

Trevon Diggs - CB

School: Alabama | Year: Senior

Diggs is a big, physical corner with outstanding ball skills who might be able to slide to free safety. Checks needed boxes for the 49ers.

Follow Lance Zierlein on Twitter @LanceZierlein.

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Here's what the data tells us about Bregman. Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

Alex Bregman had a rough season in 2020 by his standards. He slashed .242/.350/.451 in 42 regular season games. His regular season included a trip to the 10-day IL for a hamstring strain he suffered in mid-August. His surface-level struggles continued in the postseason, where he slashed .220/.316/.300 in 13 games. However, that postseason sample size does include a tough luck game against the Tampa Bay Rays where he went 0-for-5 with five hard hit balls.

All-in-all, 2020 felt like a lost season for Bregman. He never really got going. He got off to a slow start, but he's always been a slow starter. Once he started to pick it up, he strained his hamstring, and he played poorly after returning from the hamstring strain. Then, he started to turn his batted ball quality around in the playoffs, but he hit into a lot of tough luck outs.

Hard Hit % - 33.6%

Barrel % - 3.9%

K% - 14.4%

BB% - 13.3%

Chase % - 18.1%

Bregman comes from the Michael Brantley school of hitters. He has elite plate discipline and elite bat-to-ball skills. This makes Bregman a fairly consistent hitter. That may sound odd considering his 2020 "struggles" but even an extended period of poor performance for him resulted in a .801 OPS and a 122 wRC+. If his valleys are still 22% better than the league average hitter, then that's a pretty reliable producer.

There aren't any alarming trends in Bregman's statistics. Yes, his K% was slightly up, his BB% is slightly down, but it isn't a massive difference in either category. His Chase % was up, but again, 18.1% is elite discipline. The biggest drop was in his Hard Hit%, where he fell from 38% to 33.6%. Even so, his average exit velocity only dropped .4 MPH, so there's not really a catastrophic trend here.

His .254 BABIP (Batting Average on Balls In Play) was low, but he's never put up really high BABIP numbers. In fact, his BABIP has gotten worse every year of his career, from .317 to .311 to .289 to .281 to .254. While his BABIP will likely spike back up next year, it isn't enough to be the difference between the 2019 and 2020 versions of himself. His xBA and xSLG weren't out of whack either. His .256 xBA isn't much better than his .240 AVG, and his .400 xSLG is actually worse than his .451 SLG.

Bregman is as forthcoming with his hitting mechanics, approach, and mental cues as any big leaguer out there. Here is what he had to say about his swing this year. This was a Zoom press conference with the media following the Astros game on September 25th against the Rangers.

Bregman says he wants to hit balls in the air to the pull side and on a line to the opposite field, but in reality, he was hitting flares to the opposite field and hitting them on the ground to the pull side.

The data mostly backs up that claim. In 2019, on balls hit to the pull side, Bregman had an average exit velocity of 90.7 MPH at an average launch angle of 16°, a 40% Hard Hit %, and a 16% HR%. Since Bregman has elite bat-to-ball skills, most of those metrics didn't change. In 2020, his average exit velocity was 90.6, essentially the same as 2019. His Hard Hit % was 42%, a touch better than in 2019. However, his average launch angle dipped from 16° to 11°, which contributed to his HR% dropping all the way to 9%. Bregman hit 47% of his pull side swings on the ground. In 2019, that number was 40%. He absolutely had less production to the pull side in 2020.

The data gets a little hazier going the opposite way when comparing 2019 to 2020, as Bregman actually performed slightly better to the opposite field in 2020 than 2019, but he also only had 20 batted balls to the opposite field all season. Considering the small sample size, it isn't worth diving too deep into the data.

He's right that most of the balls he hit that way were flares. He had an average exit velocity of 83.4 MPH with an average launch angle of 32°, but that's about the same as what he did in 2019. A lot of the statistical drop off comes from balls that were backspun rockets to the pull side in 2019 becoming top spinners or roll overs in 2020.

Bregman also performed horribly against breaking balls in 2020. He batted .150 with a .250 SLG against them in 2020. He had an 84 MPH Average Exit Velocity against them and whiffed 26.5% of the time against them.

It was a far cry from 2019, when he hit .265 with a .588 SLG, 87 MPH average exit velo, and whiffed 18% of the time.

Those numbers lend credence to his statement on his mechanics. It's tough for a hitter to have adjustability against breaking balls if he's blowing out his front side and pulling off of the baseball.

Bregman will spend the offseason working on these mechanical fixes and getting back to the hitter he used to be. If he's consistently hitting the ball in the air to the pull side next year, and he's performing better against breaking balls, then he should be right back in the mix for AL MVP.

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