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.

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

ESPN Houston 97.5 FM
Mattress Mack and the Astros host Pearland Little League at Wednesday night's game. Photo by LittleLeague.org

Sure, it’s impressive that the Astros have made four World Series appearances in recent years, but they’re not alone. There’s another baseball team around here that’s also headed to its fourth World Series since 2010.

Pearland defeated Oklahoma, 9-4, on Tuesday to win the Southwest Regional and qualify for the Little League World Series starting Aug. 17 in South Williamsport, PA.

Most fans and media say the Little League World Series is held in Williamsport, but it’s South Williamsport, just a 5-minute stroll across a bridge over the Susquehanna River in north central Pennsylvania.

Pearland is on a torrid 13-game winning streak that swept through district, sectional, state and regional tournaments to earn the Little League World Series bid.

Here’s how difficult the road to the Little League World Series is. There are 15 teams in MLB’s American League. If the Astros finish with one of the two best records, they’ll have to win two playoff series to play in the World Series.

Little League is a little bigger than MLB. Little League is the largest youth sports organization in the world, with 2.5 million kids playing for 180,000 teams in more than 100 countries on six continents.

Pearland, representing East Texas, had to defeat All-Star teams from West Texas, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Louisiana, New Mexico, Arkansas and Colorado to win the Southwest Regional. The Little League World Series will host 20 teams - 10 from the U.S. and 10 from international regions.

If you have children that play Little League, or you’re just a fan, attending the Little League World Series should be high on your baseball bucket list.

I covered the Little League World Series in 2010 when Pearland made its first appearance and made it all the way to the U.S. championship game. It may have been my most fun assignment ever.

The Little League World Series is played by 11 and 12-year-olds in Little League’s major division. When ESPN and ABC air these games, they’ll present the players as innocent little kids, like Beaver and Wally or Tom and Huck. They’ll show the kids playing Simon Says with the Little League mascot called Dugout. They’ll ask the kids who’s their favorite big leaguer.

I was a Little League coach. I followed Little League All-Stars across Texas all the way to South Williamsport. These kids are absolute baseball maniacs with $400 gloves, $500 bats and Oakley sunglasses. I thought the Astros might call and ask where they got their super neat equipment.

Especially in Texas, these kids are built tough with long ball power and play year-round travel baseball with high-priced private coaches. This isn’t a choose-up game in the park where kids play in their school clothes, one kid brings a baseball and the players share bats. I looked at some of the Little Leaguers and wondered if they drove to the stadium.

I half-expected, when ABC asked who their baseball idol was, they’d answer “me!”

Here’s how seriously good these kids can play the game. Justin Verlander throws a 97-mph fastball. That’s pretty fast. It’s not rare anymore for a Little League pitcher to reach 70-mph on a fastball. The Little League mound is 46 feet from home plate. A 70-mph pitch in Little League gets to home plate in the same time as a 91-mph pitch from 60 feet 6 inches in MLB.

In 2015, a pitcher named Alex Edmonson fired an 83-mph heater at the Little League World Series. The reaction time a Little League batter had against Alex’s pitch was equal to a Major Leaguer trying to hit a 108-mph fastball. Good luck with that. Alex pitched a no-hitter and struck out 15 batters in six innings at the Little League World Series. Now 20, Alex is a relief pitcher for Clemson.

The Little League World Series is a trip. The easiest way to get there is to fly into Philadelphia and drive to South Williamsport. I sat next to CC Sebathia’s mother on the plane.

Admission to all Little League World Series games is free and snack bar prices are reasonable. A hot dog is $3. Alcohol and smoking are prohibited.

The first Little League World Series was held in 1947. Only 58 players have played in the Little League World Series and later played in MLB. The most famous are Cody Bellinger and Jason Varitek. Only two players from the Houston area made the leap: Brady Rodgers and Randal Grichuk both played on the 2003 team from Richmond, about 30 miles from Houston in Fort Bend County.

While you’re in South Williamsport, you should visit the Little League museum and Hall of Excellence. Among the inductees: Presidents Joe Biden and George W. Bush, Astros manager Dusty Baker, Kevin Costner, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Dick Vitale, Rob Manfred and someone who’d later play stadiums in a different way, Bruce Springsteen.

Speaking of Springsteen, I shattered a record at the 2010 Little League World Series. The record was Springsteen’s Born in the U.S.A. I was talking to a Little League executive while teams were warming up on the field. Born in the U.S.A. came over the stadium loudspeakers.

I told the executive, I’m a big fan but maybe this isn’t the best song you should be playing. The executive asked why not? Well, you might want to listen to the words. Born in the U.S.A. is a depressing song about a U.S. soldier who is sent to Vietnam and can’t find a job when he gets back home. It’s not exactly Yankee Doodle Dandy. You have teams from Asia here (Japan won the tournament that year). The executive said, please tell me you’re kidding. Here’s one verse:

Got in a little hometown jam

So they put a rifle in my hand

Sent me off to a foreign land

To go and kill the (what is considered a slur for Asians).

Later I got an email from the president of Little League International.

“Quite honestly, I've never listened closely to the words of Born in the USA. I see clearly how it is offensive to our Little League friends from Asian nations. I have directed our folks who coordinate the stadium music to discontinue playing it in the future.”

Play Centerfield by John Fogerty instead. The message of that song is, “put me in coach.” Little League couldn’t say it any better.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome