The NFL draft is almost upon us, and I am sure we can all agree that the excitement is building, and despite the current circumstances (meaning it will be a very different atmosphere this year) it is still draft time all the same.
As such, I thought I would have a stab at my own mock draft. That said, although I have taken part in plenty of fantasy football mock drafts over recent years, I have never done one for the draft itself before, but I'm up for giving it a go!
With so many mock drafts already available online I am going to keep mine short and sweet (as much as possible) with my predictions for the first 32 picks; strap yourselves in because here we go.
Please note I have not gone too much into potential trades, therefore my draft plan could be well and truly blown out of the water come Thursday!
Pick 1 - Cincinnati Bengals
Joe Burrow - QB - LSU
It goes without saying that the Bengals need a QB, especially after the poor performance of Andy Dalton last season. Burrow is top of every mock draft (that I have seen), and that is hardly surprising given he is one of the top draft prospects across the board as a whole.
Pick 2 - Washington Redskins
Chase Young - DE - Ohio State
Chase Young is another player sweeping off the board in second spot time and time again. A brilliant edge rusher (which is exactly what Washington needs), who was a fantastic replacement for Nick Bosa when he went out injured in 2018 at Ohio State.
Pick 3 - Detroit Lions
Jeff Okudah - CB - Ohio State
Keeping it simple, the Lions need a cornerback, and unless they trade their pick with the Dolphins, Okudah won't be on the board for long.
Pick 4 - New York Giants
Tristan Wirfs - OT - Iowa
The Giants need a lot of defensive improvements this season (not that they didn't before), and if they hold their 4th pick Wirfs is the obvious choice. With the Giants' defensive needs as high as they are right now, I am going to throw in a curveball that if they traded down they may even take Isaiah Simmons, given he is an all-round defensive beast!
Pick 5 - Miami Dolphins
Justin Herbert - QB - Oregon
Given how much of a flop Rosen has turned out to be thus far, and Ryan Fitzpatrick (as much as I like him) being more than a little hit and miss, it is fair to say the Dolphins are screaming out for some talent at QB. Given that Joe Burrows is off the board, Herbert is the next best choice for certain.
Pick 6 - Los Angeles Chargers
Tua Tagovailoa - QB - Alabama
Provided Tua is still on the board at this point (which sadly, given his injury history he probably will be) he is an absolute steal. Given the departure of Rivers, I feel that QB is their strongest need. In fact, if it weren't for his previous injuries, Tua would probably be number 1 overall.
Pick 7 - Carolina Panthers
Derrick Brown - DT - Auburn
What do the Panthers need more than anything? Defensive lineman, that's what! Again, if he is still on the board, Isaiah Simmons has to be a tempting prospect, but I am hedging my bets that the Panthers will take Brown out of the two.
Pick 8 - Arizona Cardinals
Isiah Simmons - LB - Clemson
As a versatile defensive player, he is a solid pick for any team needing a linebacker, safety or maybe even cornerback! He is an all-round class player; exciting, explosive and talented. I think he would be a perfect fit at Arizona, a team who are already shaping up to be a real contender this coming season.
Pick 9 - Jacksonville Jaguars
C.J. Henderson - CB - Florida
Rewind two seasons and the Jags D was on fire, but now the secondary is looking more like a skeleton crew than the powerhouse it once was. Although there are so many holes that need filling here, cornerback has to be top of the list; having lost Bouye and Ramsey (one of the best cornerback duos in recent years), a decent cornerback would be undoubtedly appreciated.
Pick 10 - Cleveland Browns
Jedrick Wills - OT - Alabama
Provided the Browns down trade down (which they may well do), one of their biggest needs (along with Safety and linebacker) is an offensive tackle, making Willis a perfect fit. Especially as the top remaining OT, as by my reckoning, Wirfs should have already been picked up by the Giants at this point.
Pick 11 - New York Jets
Mekhi Becton - OT - Louisville
This year's draft is nothing if not full of OT talent, that much is for sure. Nor Jedrick Wills or Mekhi Becton are far behind Tristan Wirfs; therefore, provided Willis and Wirfs have already picked up by this point, Becton is definitely the next best thing.
Pick 12 - Las Vegas Raiders
CeeDee Lamb - WR - Oklahoma
First, what a name! Secondly, Lamb seems to be rated as the best receiver of his class. Although not the fastest, he tops out on everything else. Mayock and Gruden both seem very taken with this kid, a well-rounded receiver who can plug in and play.
Pick 13 - San Francisco 49ers
Henry Ruggs III - WR - Alabama
For a team who performed incredibly well last year and finished high, they have a fair amount of 'needs' within the team, especially on offence. One of their highest needs is wide receiver so this would be a logical choice, that is for certain. There is also a rumour they may trade down, but we shall see.
Pick 14 - Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Andrew Thomas - OT - Georgia
What good is having the most decorated QB in history, if he doesn't have time in the pocket to get the pass downfield? O-line protection is going to be paramount in Tampa, everyone knows Brady is much more of a pocket passer than a scrambler, so this really could be a vital selection for Tampa that they need to get right.
Pick 15 - Denver Broncos
Jerry Jeudy - WR - Alabama
Although there is potential for the Broncos to pick up Kenneth Murray (LB), of which they also have a need, I think they will be going down the route of spending their first pick on a wide receiver. Surely Jeudy would be a solid replacement for Emmanuel Sanders, someone who can grab the ball and GO!
Pick 16 Atlanta Falcons
K’Lavon Chaisson - DE/OLB - LSU
I have said it time and time again, that Super Bowl hangover still seems to be lingering in Atlanta. Chaisson seems to be a player also being eyed by the Cardinals, and if they can I feel it is likely the Falcons will try and trade up to pick up a corner. However, if things play out as they stand right now, I can see Chaisson making his way to Atlanta, as one of the best rushers on the board.
Pick 17 - Dallas Cowboys
Xavier McKinney - S - Dallas Cowboys
McKinney seems to be the sound choice across many mock drafts for the Cowboys, given that safety is one of their biggest needs heading into the draft. McKinney would go straight into starting safety; not that this will be a problem for a player as proficient in coverage as he is
Pick 18 - Miami Dolphins
A.J. Epenesa - DE - Iowa
This pick was actually pretty tricky for me, as I was torn between A.J. Epenesa and Zack Baun. I chose Epenesa and here is why; in 2019 he had 22 sacks compared to Baun's 12.5, with Miami having the least sacks last season. Secondly, Epenesa is an all-out edge rusher with the most speed and productivity out of the two.
Pick 19 - Las Vegas Raiders
Kristian Fulton - CB - LSU
The Raider's two biggest needs right now are a wide receiver and cornerback, given I have them picking a top class wide receiver with their first pick, this has got to be an obvious choice for their second. Fulton broke up an impressive 14 passes whilst helping the Tigers win the 2019 national title.
Pick 20 - Jacksonville Jaguars
Justin Jefferson - WR - LSU
The Jags have so many needs it's hard to narrow down the ones that are most pressing, and I was torn between Jefferson or Josh Jones (OT). However, what swings it for me, is that Jefferson is fresh out of LSU, a college that has produced countless top-class players, especially when it comes to wide receivers (OBJ and Jarvis Landry). I would be so excited if we could get another talented receiver on the books.
Pick 21 - Philadelphia Eagles
Patrick Queen - LB - LSU
If you take Isaiah Simmons as a strong safety/overhang defender type, then Queen is by far the top (pure linebacker) prospect in this year's draft. One of the Eagles' primary needs is linebacker, so my money goes on Queen for sure this pick.
Pick 22 - Minnesota Vikings
Trevon Diggs - CB - Alabama
Another team with a strong need for a cornerback (like many) are the Vikings. The only thing that could put a spanner in the works is the fact that Trevon the younger brother of ex-Viking, Stefon Diggs. That said, you can imagine Trevon could be an incredible corner, given his older brother is one of the best receivers in the league; just imagine seeing those two face off against each other on the field, that would be incredible.
Pick 23 - New England Patriots
Jordan Love - QB - Utah State
A Brady-less Patriots team is waiting for someone to take the helm at QB, and I'm not sure they will want to be solely reliant on Jarrett Stidham. With some strong coaching, this kid could easily clean up his footwork and accuracy. On the plus side Love is physically strong with a big arm and an athletic body. If they don't trade up, and Love is still on the board, he is 100% my pick for them.
Pick 24 - New Orleans Saints
Kenneth Murray - LB - Oklahoma
I have seen quite a few people pick Murray further up in the draft, so this one is reliant on him still being available for the Saints when their pick rolls around. If Murray is indeed still there for the taking, one of the Saints' biggest needs is at linebacker. Two key things with Murray is that he is fast, and is just as good at dropping back, as he is against the run or blitz. This will be an absolutely steal for the Saints if they can manage it.
Pick 25 - Minnesota Vikings
Yetur Gross-Matos - DE - Penn State
The Vikings are in need of an edge rusher, and Gross-Matos is a player coming up time and time again in each and every mock draft I have seen, and for all the right reasons!
He is a strong, versatile defender made for causing utmost disruption for whoever he comes up against, especially against the run.
Pick 26 - Miami Dolphins
Austin Jackson - OT - USC
It could seem a little generous to predict Jackson going in the first round, but I think he would be a great fit for a Dolphins team, who are definitely going to be building themselves back up this season. Jackson has fast footwork and is an impressive athlete. The only reason he may not go in the first round is that his technique could use a little work.
Pick 27 - Seattle Seahawks
Lavishka Shenault - WR - Colorado
The Seahawks are full of offensive talent, and are guaranteed to be a force to be reckoned with this coming season. But Shenault could be a player for years to come. Although his team struggled during his final college season, Shenault's individual performance is nothing to be sniffed at, with 56 catches for 764 yards and 4 touchdowns.
Pick 28 - Baltimore Ravens
Zack Baun - LB - Wisconsin
Although the Ravens are pretty stacked with talent on both sides of the ball, an edge rusher is something they seem to have been looking for. Given my battle to choose between Baun and Epenesa previously (Miami at 18), Baun has to be the best guy on the board at this stage, provided the draft follows my plan exactly... a girl can dream at least!
Pick 29 - Tennessee Titans
Isiah Wilson - OT - Georgia
The Titans, despite their unprecedented season in 2019 with Tannehill at the helm, are in need at quite a few positions as it turns out. Edge, linebacker and offensive tackle to name but a few. I would say Wilson is their best option. Although he is not overly strong on the left side, he is a pure power blocker on the right, and definitely worth the gamble I should think.
Pick 30 - Green Bay Packers
Tee Higgins - WR - Clemson
Higgins has a lack of strength but if you have someone like Aaron Rodgers slinging the ball with precision, is that really going to be that much of an issue? Rodgers can the ball where his receiver can catch it comfortably, yet just out of reach of the safety/corner, so I think Higgins could be right at home with the Packers. He has a skill set is similar to that of Chargers receiver Mike Williams.
Pick 31 - San Francisco 49ers
A.J. Terrell - CB - Clemson
It's fair to say that another need on the 49ers list it is cornerback. Terrell plays well both inside and out, and in both man and zone schemes. His technique needs a little refining, but I think overall Terrell is a good choice for the 49ers this far into the first round.
Pick 32 - Kansas City Chiefs
Cesar Ruiz - C/G - Michigan