How will the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft shake out?
Patriots beat writer Ben Volin makes his predictions.
1. Cincinnati Bengals
Needs: QB, TE, LB, G, WR, S
Pick: Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
Outlook: There’s still a small nag in my mind that the Bengals will trade a disgruntled Burrow to the Dolphins for a Herschel Walker-like haul. But most likely Burrow will become the Bengals’ first first-round quarterback pick since Carson Palmer in 2003. Next they need to get him help at offensive line, tight end and receiver.
2. Washington Redskins
Needs: DE, G/C, WR, TE, LB, CB
Pick: Chase Young, DE, Ohio State
Outlook: The Redskins need a lot of help up and down the roster, and a trade down wouldn’t be a bad idea. But there is no need to overthink this one. Young is an elite edge rusher (and a hometown kid) who would be a perfect fit in Ron Rivera’s new defense.
3. Detroit Lions
Needs: CB, G, DE, QB, OT, WR
Pick: Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State
Outlook: The Lions appear to be a prime candidate to trade back, and I think a team may want to jump up here to draft Tua Tagovailoa. But if a market doesn’t develop, the Lions should take Okudah, who will be an immediate starter and replace the departed Darius Slay.
4. New York Giants
Needs: OT, G, OLB, ILB, TE, CB, S
Pick: Jedrick Wills, OT, Alabama
Outlook: The Giants are another trade-back candidate, but they should keep the pick and beef up the offensive line. Several mocks have them taking do-it-all defensive star Isaiah Simmons, but their No. 1 mission is protecting QB Daniel Jones, and they have career backup Cam Fleming penciled in at right tackle. Wills played right tackle at Alabama and is a perfect fit.
5. Miami Dolphins
Needs: QB, OT, TE, S, LB, G/C
Pick: Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
Outlook: It’s hard to get a read on Tua’s situation. The Dolphins have given no indication they are in love with him. His injury history is scary, and there’s some buzz that he could drop into the teens (I still think there’s a chance the Patriots end up with him). But Tua is a much better prospect than Justin Herbert, and my gut says the Dolphins make the move to get him, even if it means a trade up.
6. Los Angeles Chargers
Needs: QB, OT, LB, WR, CB
Pick: Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville
Outlook: The Chargers are very much in the hunt for Tua or Herbert. But the brass may not have the job security to invest this pick in a developmental QB, and they have Tyrod Taylor in their pocket. They have a hole at offensive tackle and love massive linemen, and Becton (364 pounds) fulfills both needs. The Chargers can always take a QB at No. 37 or with a trade up.
7. Carolina Panthers
Needs: TE, DE, G, C, LB, CB, QB
Pick: Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson
Outlook: The Panthers’ offensive needs don’t match up with the draft board; the seventh pick is too early for a tight end or interior lineman. But they could have their pick of defensive stalwarts, and if Simmons makes it past the Giants, he would be a terrific fit as a replacement for Luke Kuechly, who retired.
8. Arizona Cardinals
Needs: OT, TE, RB, DE, CB
Pick: Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa
Outlook: The Cardinals look like another trade-down candidate, since they dealt their second-round pick (for DeAndre Hopkins) and must wait until 72 for their next pick. But grabbing Wirfs would make a lot of sense; he can play guard or tackle, and they can plug him in at right tackle as a rookie and instantly upgrade the protection for QB Kyler Murray.
9. Jacksonville Jaguars
Needs: QB, DE, G, TE, DT, WR, CB
Pick: Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn
Outlook: My gut says the Jaguars want a veteran QB such as Andy Dalton or Cam Newton instead of spending this pick on one. They need another edge rusher as they look to trade Yannick Ngakoue, and LSU’s K’Lavon Chaisson is tempting here. But Brown is still on the board, and the Jaguars would love to add a disruptive force to the middle of their defense.
10. Cleveland Browns
Needs: OT, G, S, LB, DT, WR
Pick: Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
Outlook: The Browns have a talented roster, outside of a glaring hole at left tackle. There’s a chance they trade for Redskins tackle Trent Williams (same with the other tackle-needy teams ahead of them), but getting the younger, healthier, and cheaper Thomas makes more sense.
11. New York Jets
Needs: OT, G, C, DT, OLB, CB
Pick: K’Lavon Chaisson, DE/OLB, LSU
Outlook: The Jets are another team in the offensive tackle/Trent Williams mix, and probably would take a tackle if one of the top four falls to them. But they also need depth in the defensive front seven, particularly at edge rusher. Chaisson is an elite athlete who had 9½ sacks last year and also can drop into coverage.
12. Las Vegas Raiders
Needs: WR, DE, CB, QB
Pick: Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
Outlook: The Raiders never replaced Antonio Brown last year, and they need some buzz as they head to Vegas, so having them draft a receiver is one of the easiest predictions in the draft. In our mock, they get the pick of the lot, taking Jeudy over CeeDee Lamb in a coin flip.
13. San Francisco 49ers
Needs: WR, DT, G, OT, CB, S
Pick: CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
Outlook: The 49ers are a serious trade-back candidate, as they have picks 13 and 31 and don’t select again until 157, in the fifth round. If they do pick here, it’s tempting to take DT Javon Kinlaw to replace DeForest Buckner. But the Niners lost Emmanuel Sanders in free agency and will trade or release Marquise Goodwin. Lamb will be an explosive addition.
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Needs: WR, OT, RB, CB
Pick: CJ Henderson, CB, Florida
Outlook: The Bucs filled most of their needs with veteran free agents. But I see two glaring holes on the roster — at right tackle and cornerback, which the Bucs can fill with picks 14 and 45. I think they would rather draft a tackle at 14, but Henderson is a solid fit, and a tackle can be had in the second round.
15. Denver Broncos
Needs: WR, DE, DT, OT, G
Pick: Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina
Outlook: The Broncos badly need help at wide receiver, and it’s tempting to take Alabama’s Henry Ruggs or LSU’s Justin Jefferson here. But the receiver class is loaded, and the Broncos really need to beef up their defensive line after losing Derek Wolfe.
16. Atlanta Falcons
Needs: TE, DE, G, CB, RB, LB
Pick: Patrick Queen, LB, LSU
Outlook: The Falcons have generated a lot of buzz that they could trade up, and I could see it if they want to grab one of the two cornerbacks, Okudah or Henderson. But they need help at all three levels of the defense, and could use a speedy tackling/blitzing machine in Queen.
17. Dallas Cowboys
Needs: WR, TE, DT, LB, CB
Pick: Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma
Outlook: The Cowboys need another receiver to pair with Amari Cooper, and definitely need another cornerback to replace Byron Jones. But their linebacker corps has major question marks, and Murray would be a terrific addition as a three-down standout and future centerpiece.
18. Miami Dolphins
Needs: QB, OT, TE, S, LB, G/C
Pick: Josh Jones, OT, Houston
Outlook: I don’t believe the Dolphins will use all three of their first-round picks, and almost certainly won’t use all of their six in the top 70. But if you’re going to draft a quarterback, you’d better protect him. Jones was a four-year starter at Houston and could help immediately.
19. Las Vegas Raiders
Needs: WR, DE, CB, QB
Pick: Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
Outlook: The Raiders really could use another edge rusher or cornerback, but the value doesn’t match up at this pick. Instead they shock the world and end the slide for Herbert, sticking him behind Derek Carr and Marcus Mariota on the depth chart and taking all the pressure off Herbert from having to play right away.
20. Jacksonville Jaguars
Needs: QB, DE, G, TE, RB, LB, CB, S
Pick: Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama
Outlook: The Jaguars thank the Raiders for taking Herbert off the board, because that’s a decision I don’t think they want to make. They really need to rebuild their defense, and after taking Brown at No. 9, they snag Diggs, a 6-foot-1-inch cornerback, to replace the departed Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye.
21. Philadelphia Eagles
Needs: WR, LB, DT, DE, G
Pick: Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU
Outlook: The Eagles are a trade-up candidate and join the Raiders as the two obvious teams looking for a wide receiver. But they may be able to sit back at 21 and land a potential star in Jefferson, who has a great combination of size and speed and will be a great understudy to Alshon Jeffery.
22. Minnesota Vikings
Needs: WR, G, DE, LB, S, CB
Pick: Yetur Gross-Matos, DE, Penn State
Outlook: The Vikings have a glaring hole at receiver after trading Stefon Diggs, but they can address that later in the draft. They badly need to add youth to an aging defense, and need an edge rusher to replace Everson Griffen. Gross-Matos is a lengthy edge rusher who had two productive college seasons.
23. New England Patriots
Needs: QB, TE, LB, WR, OT, DE, S, FB, K
Pick: A.J. Epenesa, DE, Iowa
Outlook: I still think there’s a chance they land Tua. There’s also a good chance they try to trade down and collect more picks. If they stay at 23, they have needs across the board and can just take the best player available — in this case, a sturdy, run-stopping defensive end who played for Kirk Ferentz, one of Bill Belichick’s trusted friends.
24. New Orleans Saints
Needs: QB, TE, LB, CB, DT
Pick: Jordan Love, QB, Utah State
Outlook: The Saints look loaded for 2020, giving them the flexibility to go all-in on a successor to Drew Brees in the draft. I think they are in the Tua hunt, and are crazy enough to give up next year’s first-round pick to get him. If not, they go with Love, who has a ton of room to grow and will have the luxury of sitting behind Brees for a year.
25. Minnesota Vikings
Needs: WR, CB, G, DT, LB, S
Pick: Jeff Gladney, CB, TCU
Outlook: The Vikings can find a receiver in the second round. They need to keep restocking the defense, especially at cornerback, where they lost Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes this offseason. Gladney was a four-year starter at TCU with the physicality and competitiveness that should fit well in Minnesota.
26. Miami Dolphins
Needs: QB, OT, TE, S, LB, G/C
Pick: Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama
Outlook: After taking a quarterback and an offensive tackle, the Dolphins can go best player available at 26. McKinney is a versatile weapon who can play deep center field, man coverage, and up in the box. He’d replace the departed Reshad Jones and would be a terrific fit for Brian Flores’s defense.
27. Seattle Seahawks
Needs: OT, G, DE, WR, LB, CB
Pick: Cesar Ruiz, G/C, Michigan
Outlook: The Seahawks usually trade their first-round pick, so here’s betting they trade down again. They need help on the defensive line, but their offensive line has been subpar for years. They need a tackle and a guard, and snag the draft’s top interior player in Ruiz.
28. Baltimore Ravens
Needs: G, RB, TE, OLB, ILB, S
Pick: Zack Baun, LB, Wisconsin
Outlook: The Ravens just lost guard Marshal Yanda to retirement, and I think they would love to get Ruiz in this draft. But they also have a sizable hole at linebacker, and Baun is an explosive and versatile defender who had 12½ sacks and 75 tackles last year.
29. Tennessee Titans
Needs: TE, WR, OT, QB, OLB, CB
Pick: Henry Ruggs, WR, Alabama
Outlook: The Titans could use another edge rusher, but free agent Jadeveon Clowney might make more sense than reaching for one at 29. They also need another weapon for Ryan Tannehill, and adding Ruggs’s world-class speed to A.J. Brown could make this offense tough to stop.
30. Green Bay Packers
Needs: G, WR, LB, CB, DE, QB
Pick: Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor
Outlook: The Packers have more needs than you’d expect from a team that reached the NFC Championship game. But they really need another receiver to complement Davante Adams, and have several good options here. Mims’s production (28 TDs in the last three seasons) gives him the edge.
31. San Francisco 49ers
Needs: WR, DT, G, OT, CB, S
Pick: Ezra Cleveland, OT, Boise State
Outlook: The 49ers need to find a nose tackle, but the board doesn’t fit the need here. More pressing is getting a left tackle for the future. They hope to get Joe Staley back for one more season, giving them the luxury of bringing Cleveland along slowly.
32. Kansas City Chiefs
Needs: G, OT, CB, TE, RB, LB
Pick: A.J. Terrell, CB, Clemson
Outlook: The Super Bowl champs don’t have many glaring holes, but there are needs on the interior offensive line and in the secondary. Terrell is a big (6-1), physical cornerback who gives them much-needed depth at the position. They can find a guard or tackle later in the draft.
Ben Volin can be reached at email@example.com.