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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Urquidy should get the nod over McCullers. Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

After being basically overmatched in their season opening loss at Kansas City, the Texans try it this week against the other team vastly superior to them in the AFC last season with the Baltimore Ravens at fan-less NRG Stadium Sunday. They met last year with the Ravens humiliating the Texans 41-7 in Baltimore.

The Chiefs are a tough measuring stick, but the Texans didn't measure up in any area. Meanwhile, in their opener last Sunday the Ravens bashed the Browns 38-6 with reigning NFL MVP Lamar Jackson completing 20 of 25 passes with three touchdown passes and no interceptions. Jackson ran only seven times, last time he had fewer carries was the season opener last season. On paper there is little reason to think the Texans win. They have no position unit advantage with the possible exception of wide receiver, but given the puny outputs of Brandin Cooks, Randall Cobb, and Kenny Stills in Kansas City let's see them have a good game before giving them any checkmarks over opponents. The Ravens are seven point favorites.

The playoffs are in sight for the Astros

The Astros continue to slog (slog, not slug) their way to the postseason. Entering the weekend with just 10 games left in this truncated regular season they sit as a paragon of mediocrity: 25 wins and 25 losses. That has about clinched a playoff spot though since in the gimmicky short season postseason format the Astros are a virtual lock to qualify by finishing second in the American League West. They are three games ahead of Seattle. If somehow they wind up tied there is no one game playoff, and the Astros have already clinched the tiebreaker over the Mariners. The Astros play only lousy teams to close. Three this weekend vs. the Diamondbacks, then three to try to polish off the Mariners in Seattle, then four in Arlington at the Rangers.

The Astros' bullpen will be stronger in the playoffs

The Astros' lousy bullpen has been a big weakness in the 60 game schedule and would have been a bigger problem over a 162 game schedule. In the playoffs, that weakness could be greatly diminished. In the opening round best of three Zack Greinke is sure to start one of the first two games. If Justin Verlander makes it back to start the other, that leaves just one starting spot left for Dusty Baker to decide likely between Jose Urquidy and Lance McCullers. That would add Framber Valdez and Christian Javier to the Astros' pen.

Since the Astros will have no playoff games at Minute Maid Park, Urquidy (with two more decent starts) should get the nod over McCullers. It is bizarre that McCullers has been so regularly outstanding at MMP while so often inept elsewhere. In five home starts this season McCullers has a 1.42 earned run average. In four road starts his ERA is 13.50. It's not just a short season small sample size thing. For his career McCullers has 44 home starts, ERA 2.51. 45 road starts (plus three relief appearances), ERA 5.22. It's not as if MMP is a great pitchers' park.

Timing is running out for the Rockets

The Rockets turned out to be irrelevant as real NBA championship contenders go. The Lakers are excellent so there is no shame in losing to them, but the Rockets getting destroyed in the fourth quarter of two games and then not even being competitive in the closeout game made a complete mockery of General Manager Daryl Morey's "we should win this thing" claim. With one of the oldest starting lineups in the NBA the Rockets' future is perilous. Head Coach Mike D'Antoni opting to not be part of it in telling the organization goodbye without even waiting on a new contract offer. If for the third consecutive offseason the Rockets make personnel moves on the cheap, they are not to be taken seriously as a title threat in 2020-21.

The Denver Nuggets should give the Lakers a better series than did the Rockets. That in and of itself isn't saying much, but the Nuggets are younger, deeper, and more versatile than the Rockets.

Last season Kyle Lowry played stellar point guard in helping the Toronto Raptors win the NBA championship. This season Goran Dragic is playing stellar point guard in helping the Miami Heat to within two wins of playing for the NBA championship. Once upon a time the Rockets had Lowry and Dragic on their roster at the same time. The Rockets are at 25 seasons and counting since last playing in the NBA Finals.

Buzzer Beaters:

1. Maybe a postseason revival is to come, but Jose Altuve has never so regularly looked so messed up at the plate. His batting average down to .216, Altuve has been by far the worst Astro regular in 2020.

2. Other than at the Masters it looks like it will be a major surprise (and event) if Tiger Woods seriously contends to win another major.

3. Best doodles: Bronze-Yankee Silver-Snicker Gold-Golden

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