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A dueling banjos’ first-round mock draft

Who goes where in this 2020 NFL Draft? Here’s the best first-round mock you’ll find in November of 2019.

NCAA Football: Louisiana State at Alabama
Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

There is not a doubt in my mind that the best part of my first year in college was the cool people I got to meet. Coming from a small town in the middle of nowhere, all of the different perspectives from all these different parts of the state and country really opened my eyes. I went to my first Buffalo Wild Wings, cried as I ate their Blazin’ wings, and learned to appreciate things I would have never considered before.

Like why someone would willingly root for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

J.T. Olson swears it made sense growing up in downstate Michigan. After all, the Lions were mired in yet another rebuild and growing up with Derrick Brooks, John Lynch and Ronde Barber was legit. Who was I to judge? I fell for the Broncos after growing up in Packer Land.

It’s been years since we first met, and he remains one of the best friends I have on this planet. More than once we’ve caught up after years apart and fell into conversations about team building, draft strategy, and All-Time player rankings. So it only made sense to reach out to him for my first attempt at an alternating first round Mock Draft.

The rules going in were simple: I’d get the odds, he’d get the evens. We followed Tankathon for the order outside of the Super Bowl teams. The scheduling gods did throw a little wrench at us with the prime time games. We also threw in a trade.

Let’s get to it.

1. Cincinnati Bengals - QB - Joe Burrow, LSU

JoRo: Ryan Finley is probably going to be a decent backup, but Cincinatti has a chance to solve their quarterback situation with any option from a loaded draft.

2. Washington - ED - Chase Young, Ohio State

J.T: Young is the best player in the draft. He has elite pass rush potential and all the physical tools you could ask for. Not the biggest need for Washington, but this is a talent they can’t pass on.

3. New York Giants - WR -Jerry Jeudy, Alabama

JoRo: Even with Golden Tate and Darius Slayton showing out on Sunday, the best way to ensure Daniel Jones has a fair chance to succeed is to surround him with talent on offense. Jeudy would give the Giants the best receiver they’ve had since... Odell Beckham Jr.

4. Miami Dolphins - QB - Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama

J.T: The Dolphins need a quarterback to build around and it doesn’t look like it’s going to be Josh Rosen. Tagovailoa is extremely accurate and can make big plays with his legs. The rebuild starts right here.

5. New York Jets - OT - Andrew Thomas, Georgia

JoRo: When Kelvin Beachum is your best left tackle, you need a left tackle. Thomas is bringing up comparisons to former Jet D’Brickashaw Ferguson. Love this pick, mad he didn’t slide.

6. Atlanta Falcons - CB - Jeffrey Okudah, Ohio State

J.T: Okudah has great physical tools in terms of size, speed, and agility. He’s also got good awareness and ball skills. He’s the total package to be a lock down corner in the NFL.

7. Cleveland Browns - OT - Tristian Wirfs, Iowa

JoRo: Baker Mayfield has issues that go way beyond the offensive line, but with John Dorsey’s reported interest in Trent Williams and a craptastic record, Wirfs is too good a prospect to pass on.

8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - DL - Derrick Brown, Auburn

J.T: Brown is a monster defensive tackle who can move all over the line. A top notch run defender with pass rush upside can cause chaos in the trenches. Put him next to Vita Vea and this is a dominating front for the Bucs.

9. Denver Broncos - WR - Henry Ruggs III, Alabama

JoRo: Rich Scangarello has a need, a need for speed.

Some will hate this pick because it isn’t a tackle. They’ll point to Alex Leatherwood or Austin Jackson. I see it, but after Saturday’s LSU-Alabama game, I need to take a closer look at Leatherwood’s season and I don’t have Jackson in this tier of prospects right now.

I also see an offense that just played Diontae Spencer on 50% of its offensive snaps and could use a legitimate burner on motion and deep routes to open up room for the rushing attack, Noah Fant and Courtland Sutton.

Phillip Lindsay won’t complain if Ruggs demands so much attention he and Royce Freeman can operate against lighter boxes, so I won’t either.

10. Arizona Cardinals - WR - CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma

J.T: When you have a rookie quarterback, you have to do all you can to help him. And with no offensive tackles I like in this spot, star wide receiver is the next best thing. Added bonus, it’s a receiver Kyler Murray already has chemistry with. Lamb is a great blend of size, hands, and athleticism, and will instantly be WR1 in Arizona.

11. Detroit Lions - ? - Isaiah Simmons, Clemson

JoRo: The unicorn lands in Motown as Bob Quinn selects another linebacker. Unlike Jarrad Davis, the former Clemson Tiger’s strengths lay in his work against the pass. Matt Patricia’s seat is red hot, so a linebacker/safety who can help right away makes sense. Best case scenario, Simmons turns into the kind of hybrid defender who can erase assignments at the second level eraser and also contribute on designer blitzes.

12. Los Angeles Chargers - QB - Justin Herbert, Oregon

J.T: Phillip Rivers is getting older and the Chargers have to think about the future. Herbert has all the talent you want in a franchise quarterback and could only benefit from sitting behind Rivers for a year. If this pick works out, then it keeps the Chargers in the playoff mix for the next 15 years.

13. Jacksonville Jaguars - S - Grant Delpit, LSU

JoRo: At one point, the LSU safety was a lock for the top ten, but questions about his tackling will dog him into the draft season. Tom Coughlin will convince himself it will improve at the next level in no small part because Delpit’s play in space. Remember Malik Hooker? He had questions about his ability to tackle too.

14. Oakland Raiders - LB - Dylan Moses, Alabama

J.T: Despite missing the 2019 season, Moses is one of the top linebacking prospects in the country. He has size and speed and seems to process things pretty well. The Raiders need a force in the middle of this defense and Moses can be that guy.

15. Tennessee Titans - ED - Curtis Weaver, Boise State

JoRo: According to Sports Info Solutions’ charting data, no team has done a worse job pressuring the quarterback before last Sunday than the Titans. They’ve been an elite run defense for most of the season but painfully inconsistent against the pass. Weaver gives them a bookend opposite Harold Landry and Cameron Wake’s eventual heir.

16. Philadelphia Eagles - Trevon Diggs, Cornerback, Alabama

J.T: Diggs has the size, athletic ability, and ball skills to thrive in the NFL. I see him as a guy who can play man or zone at a high level. He might be the missing piece to get the Eagles back to the top.

17. Oakland Raiders - ED/DL - A.J. Epenesa, Iowa

JoRo: Paul Guenther gets another prospect who many had as a top ten talent prior to the 2019 season. Epenesa was a ridiculous rotational player for the Hawkeyes but hasn’t broken out like another Big Ten lineman this season. Gruden and the gang won’t care, as he gives them a versatile inside/outside threat and a potential terror for passing downs.

18. Indianapolis Colts - DL - Javon Kinlaw - South Carolina

J.T: Kinlaw is explosive and disruptive. Great upside at a 3 tech in the NFL. Could be more consistent, but the talent is absolutely there and this coaching staff can maximize his ability.

19. Carolina Panthers - QB - Jordan Love - Utah State

JoRo: The kind of low floor, high ceiling prospect you take when you know you have someone to bridge the gap. Kyle Allen has been one of the biggest surprises in the league this season after taking over for Cam Newton. If you buy into QBWinz, it’s hard to believe Love would appeal to Marty Hurney. If you look beneath the surface though, it’s no sure thing Allen’s more than an over-performing backup. Love could be so much more.

20. Jacksonville Jaguars - CB - Kristian Fulton, LSU

J.T: Jalen Ramsey is out in Jacksonville and they need to replace him. Fulton is a guy who can press and play man to man coverage and become the Jags’ top cornerback. I’m not sure he’ll ever really replace what they lost in Ramsey, but Fulton doesn’t allow much separation.

21. Dallas Cowboys - DB - Xavier McKinney, Alabama

JoRo: Would you believe me if I told you Big D has one of the most disruptive pass rushes in football? Even still, they’re one of the most overrated defenses in all of football. Rod Marininelli’s defense has issues stopping the run and the pass, and remember they had serious interest in Jamal Adams. The truth is, despite all the stars at the linebacker position, tight ends have been a nuisance all season. McKinney is the kind of hybrid defensive back who can step in and upgrade the whole unit. You’ve seen what Minkah Fitzpatrick has done for Pittsburgh? He has that kind of potential.

22. Miami Dolphins - RT Jedrick Wills, Alabama

JoRo: What do you grab for a team that needs everything? Considering the fact that Tua is a southpaw, his blindside protector makes a lot of sense. He’d also give the Phish a road grader to build their rushing attack around.

23. Kansas City Chiefs - iOL - Creed Humphrey, Oklahoma

J.T: The Chiefs have issues in the middle of their offensive line. Humphrey can go a long way in fixing those issues. A guy who can run and pass block at a high level, he can be the body guard for Patrick Mahomes for the next dozen years or so.

24. Minnesota Vikings - OT - Trey Adams, Washington

J.T: After addressing the offensive line in the first round last year with an athletic guy who can get out and make blocks in space. This year, they go back to that same mold and get their left tackle of the future. Adams is a good pass blocker and is a perfect fit for the Vikings zone blocking scheme.

25. Buffalo Bills - WR - Laviska Shenault, Colorado

JoRo: John Brown has been fantastic for the Bills and looks like one of the most savvy free agent signings from the 2019 class. Cole Beasley has performed admirably as a slot weapon for Josh Allen, but my god, have you seen the rest of their receiving corps? Considering the way they’ve tried to manufacture offense for Isaiah McKenzie, something tells me Brian Daboll would find ways to get the ball into Shenault’s hands.

26. Miami Dolphins - iOL - Tyler Biadasz, Wisconsin

J.T: Biadasz is a powerful people move. He’s the kind of guy who can protect the quarterback and open things up in the run game. He’s one of the better players in the country and a good value as the Dolphins begin to build their foundation on offense.

27. Seattle Seahawks - ED - K’Lavon Chaisson, LSU

JoRo: Even with Clowney, Pete Carroll’s defense badly needs more oomph out of its pass rush. Chasson’s a riser after his 2018 was wiped out due to injury, but he offers freaky upside and was a terror in last weekend’s Alabama game. He’ll need to add polish to his game, but the sky is the limit.

28. Baltimore Ravens - ED - Julian Okwara, Notre Dame

J.T: Okwara is a great athlete. And while he is not yet the sum of his parts, his upside is very high. With the coaching staff Baltimore has, I have no doubt that they’ll get the most out of him.

29. Green Bay Packers- WR - Jalen Reagor, TCU

JoRo: Aaron Rodgers could use more weapons. It was the biggest complaint coming out of the Packers’ last off-season and remains a glaring issue today. It’s been said to the point where it feels cliche, but only because it’s so true. Reagor gives Matt LaFleuer a vertical threat who can also work in space off manufactured offense. He’s also a dangerous returner if they want to find other ways to get the ball in his hands.

30. San Francisco 49ers - CB - Paulson Adebo, Stanford

J.T: Adebo is a great fit for this San Francisco defense. He has the size and ball skills to be their future top corner. Consider the great pass rush upfront and Richard Sherman getting older, Adebo can be an impact player sooner rather than later.

31. New Orleans Saints - WR - Tee Higgins, Clemson

JoRo: Tedd Ginn Jr. is going to be 35 by this time next year, and Michael Thomas has more than three times as many receptions and targets as the next wide receiver in Sean Payton’s offense right now. The Tiger isn’t on Ginn or Jalen Reagor’s level as a burner, but he definitely offers a downfield component to his game.

* TRADE* 32. Chicago Bears - QB - Jacob Eason, Washington

J.T: It’s obvious that Mitchell Trubisky isn’t going to be the answer in Chicago. The sooner they can move on, the better. In this case, there is still a good quarterback option on the board, so moving up for him makes a lot of sense. Eason has very good physical tools and has shown flashes of brilliance. Maybe Trubisky can be a bridge as they bring Eason along, but this is a move the Bears have to make.

Still Grazin’? A couple post-Draft thoughts with JoRo and J.T.

One Pick J.T. made that you love?

JoRo: I thought the Eagles got a real steal with Trevon Diggs. People finally seem to be warming to him, but he’s started for Nick Saban for two years and covered the best the SEC has to offer. Diggs has played both inside and outside for the Tide, offers something along the line of scrimmage, and can still run deep downfield to contest deep passes. He’s long, athletic, and should start from day one in Philadelphia’s scheme.

One Pick JoRo made that you love?

J.T: AJ Epenesa to the Raiders at 17 is absolutely fantastic value. He is a powerful edge rusher who can compliment guys like Mo Hurst and Clelin Farrell and give the Raiders pass rush some real bite. We saw what John Gruden can do with a great defense who can rush the passer with their front four when he won a Super Bowl in Tampa Bay and this would be a great step in bringing that kind of identity to Oakland.

One Pick J.T. made that you hate?

JoRo: I’m not so sold on Herbert that I was ready to grab him at nine, but seeing him stay in the division makes me uneasy. If he reaches his ceiling, the Broncos would continue to reside in one of the toughest QB divisions in the league for the next decade plus.

One Pick JoRo made that you hate?

J.T: Jordan Love to the Panthers. I get the logic behind it: draft a high upside quarterback to replace Cam Newton and develop behind Kyle Allen for a bridge year. Makes perfect sense. However, I think Love is so far behind from a mental standpoint I find it hard to justify him going in the 1st round.

Hardest pick to make?

JoRo: Right now I’ve got three clear tiers for where I want the Broncos to go, and when J.T. grabbed Derrick Brown it sent me to the top of the second tier. I tried to move down, but no one had a reason to bite unless you think the Colts or maybe the Titans wanted to jump LA to secure Herbert.

Stuck at nine, I wound up torn between Kinlaw, Diggs, Epenesa, Ruggs, Lamb, and Alex Leatherwood. It took me ten minutes to decide and even still I’m wondering if I should have grabbed someone else. Leatherwood’s performance last Saturday left me nervous enough that I didn’t want to reach, but I still like him enough I was trying to deal my way back up above the first half of round two.

Easiest pick to make outside the top five?

J.T: Ceedee Lamb to the Cardinals. They need a playmaker at wide receiver. Lamb is a great prospect. Best of all, he already has a chemistry with franchise quarterback Kyler Murray. Reunite these two stars and let them grow and thrive in Arizona.

JoRo: The Browns for sure. The only hesitation I have is because I need to study Tristian Wirfs’ snaps at left tackle to get a better feel for him there. Greg Robinson isn’t the worst starting left tackle in the league, but I had that pick pre-written because I knew what I’d do if he was available.

Who are some prospects left on the board you really like?

J.T: I really like Prince Tega Wanogho and Alex Leatherwood as two offensive linemen who are still on the board. I could see either stepping in and being a day one starter as a rookie. I also really like D’Andre Swift, who is my top ranked running back at this point. I could see him going in the back end of the first and being an impact player. CJ Henderson is a corner out of Florida who has good cover skills. Ashtyn Davis is a safety I really like with range, ball skills and physicality.

JoRo: I remain tentatively high on Alex Leatherwood, I’m also intrigued by Prince Tega-Wanogho and Austin Jackson. This draft really fell in a good way for the Broncos to address the left tackle position in round two, which I didn’t expect.

While he isn’t the sexy name, I believe Jake Fromm could wind up with a better professional career than three of the quarterbacks taken ahead of him here. He has the look of an Andy Dalton type: you aren’t running to buy his jersey, but he’ll do enough to win you games if the rest of the team is decent.

With Davonta Smith, Tyler Johnson, and Justin Jefferson on the board, there remains a lot of talent at the receiver position. It’s still pretty early in the process, but this really does look like one of the best classes ever at the position.

Lastly, we didn’t draft a single back. I kept deciding between DeAndre Swift, Jonathan Taylor, and _____, and the latter would win. That could be the way it shakes out, but part of me suspects someone will grab a “generational” talent.