Mason Thompson | December 12th, 2019
We’re heading into week 15 meaning there are only three weeks left in the regular season. For a handful of teams, this means trying to clinch a playoff spot or claw their way to try and earn the last wildcard spot. For others though, these next weeks are used to evaluate talent to keep for next year on non-playoff teams. These teams get a head start on evaluating their roster for the upcoming months leading up to April’s draft.
This late into the season we finally have a good guess as to who will pick at which slot. There are still some key games in determining the draft order, like Sunday’s Dolphins/Giants game, that could impact where players could fall. The needs of teams right now could look a lot different come April after free agency but it’s never too early to take a look at what team’s needs are at this time of the year.
*Draft order is based off of Tankathon before Thursday’s Jets/Ravens game.
1. Cincinnati Bengals – Joe Burrow – QB – LSU
This is a match made in heaven. Burrow has took the college football world by storm this year and is even in contention for the Heisman. With the Bengals having no faith in Andy Dalton to lead the franchise anymore and Ryan Finley clearly not being ready to lead an NFL team, Burrow has to be the pick.
2. New York Giants – Chase Young – EDGE – Ohio State
The Giants passed on several pass rushers last year to take Daniel Jones. Only time will tell if that was the right choice as Jones is a turnover machine. Nonetheless, the Giants are the winners of the Chase Young sweepstakes with Cincinnati desperately needing quarterback help. The Giants pass rush is lacking besides rookie, Oshane Ximines showing flashes and Young can quickly turn that around.
3. Washington Redskins – Andrew Thomas – OT – Georgia
Washington is a prime candidate to receive a massive haul in a trade down. Unfortunately, I’m not including trades in this mock. The goal in this draft is to surround Dwayne Haskins with help, whether it be on the offensive line or at receiver. With Trent Williams half out the door and Brandon Scherff in the last year of his contract, I think it’d be smart for the Redskins to obtain an offensive lineman over a receiver. Thomas immediately would slot in as the team’s starting left tackle for years to come.
4. Miami Dolphins – Jerry Jeudy – WR – Alabama
I’m a firm believer that the Dolphins roll with Josh Rosen next year and use this draft to build around him. Well, selecting Jeudy is one way of giving him help. With the selection of Jeudy, the Dolphins would roll with him, Preston Williams, and DeVante Parker. The Dolphins should look to take the best player available at each slot and Jeudy is just that with this selection.
5. Detroit Lions – Jeffrey Okudah – CB – Ohio State
The Lions desperately need help on the defensive side of the ball. Whether or not Matt Patricia is retained as head coach, the Lions still need a second cornerback opposite of Darius Slay on the outside. Enter Okudah who is one, if not the best man coverage corner in the draft. With Okudah, Slay will have to do much less and the Lions should put up more of a fight in the 2020 season.
6. Arizona Cardinals – Tristan Wirfs – OT – Iowa
Kyler Murray is the most sacked quarterback in the league. The team completely disregarded the offensive line in last year’s draft, waiting until the sixth round to take a lineman. Wirfs is in contention to be the first tackle taken off the board and would be the starter at left tackle come September. Either way, this pick NEEDS to be an offensive lineman.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars – CeeDee Lamb – WR – Oklahoma
The Jaguars get a steal by selecting Lamb at seven. The team has been deprived of receiver talent since Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns left. The emergence of DJ Chark has been a pleasant surprise but Dede Westbrook isn’t cutting it. Lamb offers a different kind of weapon as not only does he have great quickness but he has tremendous strength as well to help in contested catches. Whoever is behind center, whether it be Nick Foles or Gardner Minshew III, will love to have Lamb.
8. Atlanta Falcons – Yetur Gross-Matos – EDGE – Penn State
Like Detroit, Atlanta has defensive needs across the board. This might be too high for Gross-Matos for some people but I feel some teams will prefer him as the second edge rusher off the board. If Dan Quinn is back, he will need impact edge rushers and he is certainly one. Gross-Matos has burst onto the scene this year, including a strong showing against powerhouse Ohio State.
9. New York Jets – A.J. Epenesa – EDGE – Iowa
With the trade of Leonard Williams during the trade deadline, the Jets have a massive hole at edge rusher. Epenesa has all the makings to be a stud for the Jets and Gregg Williams. Not only can he play on the edge but Epenesa can play on the interior as well to get an interior pass rush. The Jets still have a lot of work to do on both the offensive and defensive lines to be considered contenders.
10. Los Angeles Chargers – Jedrick Wills – OT – Alabama
The Chargers offensive line was put through the ringer against a dreadful Raiders pass rush on national television a few weeks ago and is in desperate need of help. Wills has been a steady riser throughout the college football season and that should continue in the coming months.
11. Denver Broncos – Henry Ruggs III – WR – Alabama
The Drew Lock era is off to a rocking start in Denver. The best way to help a younger quarterback out is to give him weapons. With Ruggs, the Broncos finally have a down-field threat who has the potential to break the 40-yard dash record at the combine. The Broncos could use him in a variety of different ways, be it in the backfield or out wide. Whenever Ruggs has the ball, something electric happens, something that’s needed for the Broncos offense.
12. Carolina Panthers – Tua Tagovailoa – QB – Alabama
Three straight Alabama players go off the board with Willis, Ruggs, and finally Tagovailoa. With Cam Newton likely on his way out the door, the Panthers need a new franchise quarterback. It’s still unknown if Tua will actually declare with his recent injury. It will be one of the biggest stories of the draft process whether he declares or not.
13. Philadelphia Eagles – Kristian Fulton – CB – LSU
The Eagles defense has been a complete disaster this year and I’d be surprised if Jim Schwartz is back next year. With starters Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills having their contracts up after this year, cornerback is an even bigger need. The Eagles desperately need to help their offense out by having the caliber of defense they had on their super bowl run and Fulton could be a number one corner for years to come.
14. Oakland Raiders – Isaiah Simmons – LB/S – Clemson
The Raiders defense is atrocious. Sure, they’ve had a few bright spots like the Monday night game against the Chargers, but other then that it’s been horrific. The Raiders have desperately needed a difference maker at the linebacker spot for years. With Simmons, the Raiders get the ultimate wild card. He has the ability to play inside linebacker and help with run support while also being able to cover receivers and tight ends.
15. Indianapolis Colts – Derrick Brown – IDL – Auburn
Brown was considered a top-15 pick in last year’s draft before returning to school. This year, he is considered a top-five talent. With teams having other major needs and trying to remake their roster, Brown falls to the Indianapolis Colts. Chris Ballard would be ecstatic and immediately be on the phone calling Brown once the Colts get on the clock come April.
16. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Alex Leatherwood – OT – Alabama
Bruce Arians has showed that he can turn around this franchise. There are two clear needs that the team could address in the first round. I see the Buccaneers being a potential landing spot for Dalton, so offensive tackle becomes the top need. Both the left and right tackle spots need improvement and Leatherwood would be a piece to build around. He also has the flexibility to play guard as well.
17. Cleveland Browns – Grant Delpit – S – LSU
The Browns severely need an offensive tackle. Unfortunately, there are no tackles I see worth taking here. Fortunately though, the Browns get a steal by taking Delpit at 17, similar to the Chargers taking Derwin James a few years back. Damarious Randall and Morgan Burnett aren’t cutting it as the two starting safeties. Delpit has endured quite a slide due to tackling concerns but I feel John Dorsey would be smacking his gum extra hard to get him on the phone to come to Cleveland.
18. Oakland Raiders (From Chicago) – Trevon Diggs – CB – Alabama
As I said earlier, the Raiders defense is terrible and needs help at all three levels. Mike Mayock is smart and should know that his defense needs help, bad. Diggs fits what Mayock’s strategy was last year, which was to get highly coached players. He is extremely physical at the point-of-attack and could erase team’s number one receivers for years to come. There has been a question about his effort on the field but Jon Gruden should get plenty of effort out of him.
19. Jacksonville Jaguars (From LA Rams) – Shaun Wade – CB – Ohio State
The Jaguars traded Jalen Ramsey at the trade deadline and have had horrible cornerback play, outside of A.J. Bouye. While the coaching staff isn’t expected to be retained, the team needs a second corner. Wade is a redshirt sophomore and has the difficult decision on whether he should declare for the draft or not. He has the chance to be taken in the first round if he does declare and it seems like Jacksonville is a likely landing spot.
20. Tennessee Titans – Paulson Adebo – CB – Stanford
The Titans find themselves fighting for the AFC South title behind Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry, both who have contracts to renew following the season. I fully expect both to be on the team next year, leaving one key player potentially unsigned, Logan Ryan. With Ryan gone, that opens up a hole. Enter Adebo who is an ex-receiver who has great ball skills and physicality, all while having the ability to recognize routes. He isn’t as highly ranked as the likes of Okudah and Fulton, but he could have the same level of impact.
21. Dallas Cowboys – Xavier McKinney – S – Alabama
The Cowboys are likely looking at a complete coaching overhaul, meaning Rod Marinelli would be gone. The safety spot has been a need for a while now as Jeff Heath just isn’t cutting it. McKinney would offer more upside than Heath as he has the ability to cover as well as having explosive quickness and the ability to tackle. Whoever coaches the team next year would accept him to be the back-end of the defense.
22. Miami Dolphins (From Pittsburgh) – Jonathan Taylor – RB – Wisconsin
The best way to help a young quarterback is by giving him a strong running game. The Dolphins are currently relying on Patrick Laird to manage majority of their carries. Yuck! Taylor had incredible production at Wisconsin as he is one of the most complete backs to come out in a while. He still has room to improve as Wisconsin hasn’t used him in the passing game as much as they should. Miami would be wise to take him and give him around 20 carries a game.
23. Miami Dolphins (From Houston) – Tyler Biadasz – IOL – Wisconsin
Why not pair Taylor with his best lineman from Wisconsin? Biadasz can play any of the three spots on the interior of the Dolphins’ line. Another way to help out Rosen if he’s the starter next year is to get him help any way possible. This mock has them getting perhaps the best receiver, running back, and interior offensive lineman in the draft.
24. Minnesota Vikings – Creed Humphrey – IOL – Oklahoma
Another year, another offensive lineman for the Vikings. Pat Elflein hasn’t lived up to his potential and while Garrett Bradbury has been solid, there’s still room for improvement on the interior. I’d keep Bradbury at center and select Humphrey to play left guard. He has immense strength to help pave gaps for Dalvin Cook to run through as well as help give Kirk Cousins more time in the pocket.
25. Buffalo Bills – Tee Higgins – WR – Clemson
The Bills have found a steal in John Brown. The defense is stout across the board but Josh Allen needs more weapons. With Allen’s deep ball, Higgins is a perfect fit. He has great speed and has the catch radius to snag Allen’s less-than-accurate deep balls. Higgins struggles with routes but has the speed to outrun anyone. The Bills should try to help Allen anyway they can.
26. Kansas City Chiefs – Travis Etienne – RB – Clemson
The Chiefs have used several different running backs all year and are currently relying on LeSean McCoy for a large amount of carries. Etienne isn’t the fastest but is similar to Lamar Miller for the fact that he makes everyone look slow around him at times. He can also be used out of the backfield for Patrick Mahomes, similar to the way they used Kareem Hunt during his rookie season.
27. Green Bay Packers – Dylan Moses – LB – Alabama
The Packers have needed a difference-maker at linebacker for years. They are currently ranked in the bottom-five for run defense while Blake Martinez is a liability in coverage and his contract is up after this year. Moses hasn’t played this year due to a torn ACL but should be back in time for the beginning of training camp. He is super athletic and has shown enough on tape to warrant being a first-round pick. The Packers would be getting him at a discount here.
28. Seattle Seahawks – Javon Kinlaw – IDL – South Carolina
The Seattle defense has taken a step back this year. Kinlaw would present a great interior defensive lineman who has a great first step to burst through the line of scrimmage. He has a high ceiling, and John Schneider and Pete Carroll would love him on their defense. It wouldn’t surprise me if Kinlaw hears his name in the top 15 picks come April.
29. New England Patriots – Terrell Lewis – EDGE – Alabama
With Derek Rivers on injured reserve and multiple contracts expiring at outside linebacker, the Patriots need some edge help. Lewis is a freak specimen with the ability to be a speed rusher or use his power to break through blocks. At 6-foot-5, 250 pounds, Bill Belichick will be itching to get him on the field. His health is a big red flag with major elbow and ACL injuries during his college career. If any team is to dig deep enough on a player, it’s the Patriots.
30. New Orleans Saints – Justin Herbert – QB – Oregon
Herbert has experienced an up-and-down season this year. After being the projected top quarterback in last year’s class, he’s experienced a free fall this year. Drew Brees isn’t getting any younger and has shown signs that his arm strength is dwindling. Teddy Bridgewater is likely out the door for a starting spot elsewhere. Herbert would come in and learn behind Brees and Sean Payton, a great advantage for a young franchise quarterback.
31. Baltimore Ravens – K’Lavon Chaisson – EDGE – LSU
The Ravens lost Za’Darius Smith last off-season and while the defense has been stout, it could use another premier edge rusher. Chaisson is undersized but has enough quickness to beat out tackles on the edge. He has a high motor which Baltimore will love.
32. San Francisco 49ers – Austin Jackson – OT – USC
The 49ers have one cornerstone tackle in Mike McGlinchey but Joe Staley isn’t getting any younger. Jackson is one of the tackles that people have tagged as being a “project”. Jackson can start out at a guard spot while Staley is still reliable at left tackle. Following Staley’s retirement though, he can play at either tackle spot. The 49ers would be wise to get their offensive line set for Jimmy Garoppolo to succeed as much as he has this year.
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