With next to no live sport happening around the globe, sports fans everywhere are suffering from insufferable withdrawals and are now turning to things like e-sports, historical games and off-field stories to get their sporting fix.
On social media, networks like ESPN are filling up space with retro highlights whilst the NASCAR world cleverly created a virtual race using real drivers and commentators, driving on simulators from their lounge rooms.
For NFL fans, free agency and the draft lead-up has always been a major aspect of the league calendar.
In our current climate, we’ve never needed free agency and draft talk so badly.
Each morning, I wake up and can not wait to see who’s going where across the NFL as well as rumours and stories about stars such as Cam Newton and Tom Brady changing teams.
The height of the NFL free agency has passed but there are big name players like Jameis Winston and Newton who are yet to land new teams.
The NFL draft is scheduled to begin on April 23 – which we know will not happen. The draft may be pushed back months but that has hardly stopped draft experts like Mel Kiper Jr and Daniel Jeremiah from releasing mock drafts.
So, despite being nothing more than a fan from 15,000km away, it’s my turn to take a stab at the opening round of the 2020 NFL Draft – whenever that may actually occur!
1. JOE BURROW – CINCINNATI (QB, LSU)
Burrow produced the most dynamic and prolific season of college football ever from a quarterback during his championship run with LSU.
Yes, he had an array of weapons like few we’ve seen and he played in an amazing offensive system but Burrow stood tallest when it mattered most, which is something scouts will drool over.
The former Ohio State back-up displays poise, toughness and an extreme amount of belief in his own capabilities as well as those around him. Drafting Burrow could cause a spike in a Cincinnati’s performance immediately with AJ Green, Tyler Boyd, John Ross and Joe Mixon as offensive weaponry.
2. CHASE YOUNG – WASHINGTON (Edge, Ohio State)
Young is described by many as the most talented and dominant player in this draft. The 6-5″ caused six fumbles this season with the Buckeyes.
Young can become a defence-changer for the team that drafts him like fellow Buckeyes, Joey and Nick Bosa.
Young would immediately be the leader of the Redskins defence.
3. JEFF OKUDAH – DETROIT (Cornerback, Ohio State)
Out goes a Pro Bowl cornerback, in comes a future Pro Bowl cornerback – according to the Lions draft personnel.
Okudah has great size (6-1″) at corner and will immediately take the challenge of defending receivers like DaVante Adams, Adam Thielen and Allen Robinson who all reside in the NFC North.
4. TRISTAN WIRFS – NEW YORK GIANTS (Offensive Line, Iowa)
Just as you’d like from a highly touted offensive lineman, Wirfs will step straight in and protest Daniel Jones’ right hand side. Throughout his junior season, Wirfs stepped in at left tackle and was excellent but his true value lay at right tackle where he will be excellent in the run and pass game.
5. TUA TAGOVAILOA (QB, Alabama)
Before Joe Burrow happened and his hip gave way, Tagovailoa was touted as the No. 1 overall selection. Throw in an ankle complaint and the season – as well as his draft status – quickly began to change for the worse.
This week, we’ve seen video footage of Tua making sharp changes of direction and throwing the ball which will make prospective teams smile.
Miami has been nowhere for some time and whilst there is some risk in drafting the former Alabama standout, he could also become the Dolphins saviour!
6. JUSTIN HERBERT – LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (QB, Oregon)
I’m still leaning towards LA acquiring Cam Newton but the only other option would see them select Herbert at pick six.
A big strong QB with a big arm could slot straight into a talented offensive roster featuring Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Hunter Henry and recently re-signed Austin Ekeler.
7. ISAIAH SIMMONS – CAROLINA (Linebacker, Clemson)
Simmons threatened to ruin LSU’s offensive game plan in the National Title game. Carolina lost an all-time great LB in Luke Kuechly and Simmons would be an unbelievable replacement.
Big change has/is happening in Panther Land and Simmons can be an integral part of that change.
8. JEDRICK WILLS JR – ARIZONA (Offensive Line, Alabama)
Wills Jr is an immediate difference-maker on the O-line. With Kyler Murray needing to be protected and DeAndre Hopkins now into town, Wills Jr becomes a crucial factor in any success the Cardinals may have.
9. ANDREW THOMAS – JACKSONVILLE (Offensive Line, Georgia)
Many think Jacksonville will take a QB but the team loves Gardner Minshew and the hierarchy might go all-in on his abilities.
Thomas will make Minshew’s life easier but he will also become Leonard Fournette’s best friend, creating holes all over the place for the fellow former SEC stud.
Thomas starts week one as the left tackle.
10. JOSH JONES – CLEVELAND (Offensive Line, Houston)
Jones is listed much lower on many draft boards but Cleveland are in desperate need of quality on the offensive line to protect Mayfield.
Jones had a great four-year career at Houston and his 320-pound frame was on full display at the Senior Bowl.
11. CEEDEE LAMB – NEW YORK JETS (Wide Receiver, Oklahoma)
Lamb is widely considered the top WR prospect so it only makes sense a team needing pass-catchers takes him. Sam Darnold saw ‘ghosts’ last season but he needs to see open receivers moving forward and Lamb is elite in most areas.
More than 1,300 yards on just 62 receptions saw Lamb develop into a deep threat, helping lead the Sooners to a College Playoff appearance.
12. HENRY RUGGS III – LAS VEGAS (Wide Receiver, Alabama)
There’s a chance Ruggs possesses the most exciting all-round skillset of any of the electrifying receivers in this crop.
He was often overshadowed by his Crimson Tide team mate, Jerry Jeudy, but the 5-11″ speed freak has rocketed up draft boards after his 4.27 dash at the Combine.
13. K’LAVON CHAISSON – SAN FRANCISCO (Edge, LSU)
Most see Chaisson as the best edge defender not named Chase Young.
His Sophomore season was outstanding, leaders the LSU defensive line with 13.5 tackles for loss. His versatility is his major weapon which will suit the Niners already imposing front seven.
14. MEKHI BECTON – TAMPA BAY (Offensive Line, Louisville)
Defensively, Tampa has acquired some talent. Offensively they already have the requisite weapons. Oh, and a man named Tom Brady just arrived in town.
So, protecting TB should be the No. 1 goal from now until week one.
Becton does that thanks to his size (6-7″ 324) but he does need some work before becoming the Pro Bowl calibre tackle he can be.
15. XAVIER McKINNEY – DENVER (Safety, Alabama)
Another Alabama alum lands in round one with stud safety going to the Mile High City. McKinney can do some of everything – come up and stop the run as well as defend vigorously in coverage when required.
16. CJ HENDERSON – ATLANTA (Cornerback, Florida)
Henderson fills a need for the Falcons who are on the cusp of a rise back to prominence or an all-out clean out.
Henderson defended some elite receivers in the SEC and handled them well. At 6-1″, the former Gator should be able to run and jump with a couple of handy NFC South WR in Michael Thomas & Mike Evans.
17. DERRICK BROWN – DALLAS (Defensive Line, Auburn)
Auburn provides Jerry Jones with a thumper on the D-line at 17 with Derrick Brown arriving in Dallas.
Brown logged a shade below 50 career sacks as a Tiger and should be an immediate starter for a Cowboys defence needing consistent pass rush and disruption.
18. KRISTIAN FULTON – MIAMI (Cornerback, LSU)
Fulton often went under the radar at LSU as freshman sensation Derrick Stingley Jr and safety Grant Delpit stole the headlines.
Fulton was a quiet achiever for the Tigers but did defend 14 passes and performed strongly in the College Playoff.
19. JUSTIN JEFFERSON – LAS VEGAS (Wide Receiver, LSU)
Jefferson exploded to prominence in the College Playoff semi-final with a devastating performance, amassing 227 yards on 14 receptions and scoring four touchdowns.
Amazingly, Joe Burrow actually missed Jefferson on two more scores in that game as well.
Jefferson put an exclamation point on his worth with a 4.43 dash at the recent combine.
20. JAVON KINLAW – JACKSONVILLE (Defensive Line, South Carolina)
Jacksonville has talent on the defensive line but replacing Calais Campbell will be a priority for a team still looking to lean heavily on its defence.
Kinlaw can get pressure from inside with his 6-5″ 325 pound frame.
21. DENZEL MIMS – PHILADELPHIA (Wide Receiver, Baylor)
Mims attacks the aerial ball and displays burst speed so Carson Wentz will enjoy this new weapon to play alongside Alshon Jeffrey and Zach Ertz.
At 6-3″, Mims is an incredible athlete with much upside and would be a great fit in the Eagles offence.
22. TREVON DIGGS – MINNESOTA (Cornerback, Alabama)
Another Alabama defender lands in round one.
Out goes one Diggs, in comes another but this version arrives in Minneapolis to replace Xavier Rhodes at CB.
Diggs is physical and loves to play close to the line of scrimmage, utilising his 6-1″ length to advantage.
23. EZRA CLEVELAND – NEW ENGLAND (Offensive Line, Boise State)
This big boy from Boise State can lockdown his piece of the O-line ensuring whoever is behind centre in New England has some quality protection.
The Patriots needs skill position help but it will be hard for Bill Belichick to overlook the quality line play he will get from Cleveland.
24. ROSS BLACKLOCK – NEW ORLEANS (Defensive Line, TCU)
The Saints are a loaded roster, particularly on offence so stocking up on the defensive line makes sense.
Blacklock is excellent off the snap and can disrupt the quarterback thanks to supreme athleticism.
25. BRANDON AIYUK – MINNESOTA (Wide Receiver, Arizona State)
Stefon Diggs leaves the Vikings, meaning there’s an immediate need for a team with designs on more playoff success.
Aiyuk did some sensational things at Arizona State under coach, Herm Edwards.
Aiyuk is only 6-0″ but he has an amazing ability to go after the high ball.
26. PATRICK QUEEN – WASHINGTON (Linebacker, LSU)
Queen flashed at LSU as a do-it-all linebacker with some pass rush skills.
He logged 12 tackles for loss, 3 sacks and a pick in an outstanding season for the Tigers.
He’s a new-age linebacker with speed and versatility.
27. AUSTIN JACKSON – SEATTLE (Offensive Line, USC)
Jackson will continue to build upon the ground and pound philosophy up in the Pacific North West. His real strength lies in pass protection, which Russell Wilson will enjoy.
28. AJ TERRELL – JACKSONVILLE (Cornerback, Clemson)
Terrell’s latest appearance on the gridiron was a bitter blow at the hands of superstar LSU receiver, Ja’Marr Chase. Truth be told, Terrell is an excellent corner with great ball skills. With Jalen Ramsey and AJ Bouye gone, the Jaguars look to Terrell to step in and start from the get-go.
29. COLE KMET – TENNESSEE (Tight End, Notre Dame)
Jonnu Smith is a developing tight end but Kmet can step in and continue to develop the culture of toughness on both sides of the ball under Mike Vrabel.
Kmet caught 43 balls including six touchdowns for the Irish last season.
30. JORDAN LOVE – GREEN BAY (QB, Utah State)
The Packers could use some help elsewhere on the roster but they may end Love’s slide and secure what they hope is Aaron Rodgers’ eventual successor.
Love will need – and receive – plenty of time to develop but he has the traits to make it.
31. KENNETH MURRAY – SAN FRANCISCO (Linebacker, Oklahoma)
The Bay Area boys already have an elite defence but Kyle Shanahan can scheme offence rather than drafting high-end talent so another athletic, explosive backer will do just fine.
32. GRANT DELPIT – KANSAS CITY (Safety, LSU)
For much of this early draft crop, Delpit was a lottery pick before some niggles saw him play below his best and teams begin to go cold.
The safety made splash plays for the Tigers both behind the line of scrimmage as well as in coverage but reports circling are suggesting his game may not translate to the next level. It’s been an interesting slide for Delpit this season, who did in fact win the Thorpe Award for best DB in college.
KC would love to team Delpit up with Tyrann Mathieu.
Note: I have ignored the possibility for trades, which will most certainly happen.
Enjoy your NFL Draft – whenever that may actually occur!