Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Jim's Mock 2020 NFL Draft: Goin' Local

Our colleague Jim Fitch is back after a long Enuffa.com absence, and he's here to talk football!

Hi all, and welcome to my contribution to the endless flood of 1st-round mocks, which you are likely already tired of.

Full List of 2020 Ravens NFL Draft Picks

This one should, hopefully, be kind of fun, though. Two of the (few) upsides of the COVID-19 pandemic are time to read, and time to write. And I loves me some football reading. So what I have done for this mock is a bit different: I have read, and watched, and listened to, as much local and team-specific football journalism I can possibly consume. And, as one does, I have come to love some, to like some, and to dislike some. And for every team, I have a new local favourite source.

For each pick, I will share that new local favourite source with you. And then I will pick exactly who that source tells me to pick, providing of course that the player is still available. If that source has selected a trade, I will make that trade, but only if a local source covering the other team that I like (not necessarily my new local favourite, but a good source) has proposed the same trade for first-round purposes). If the player selected by my new favourite local source has already been drafted, though, I will make a selection for that team myself.

Okay, then: with all of that junk out of the way, let’s step to the socially-distanced podium. The Bengals are on the clock.


The local source: The Cincinnati Enquirer Bengals Beat Podcast.  Available on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, iHeart Radio – all of the usual suspects. It’s really fun. Try it out.

Their pick: QB Joe Burrow, LSU.

Is the player available?: this is the first pick.

The pick: QB Joe Burrow, LSU. And absolutely no one is surprised.


The local source: Jerry Brewer of The Washington Post. The Post has lots of strong football columns, and they do not all agree on what ought to happen with this pick. I am going with Brewer here, because I just love his writing style.

His pick: https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/redskins/chase-young-is-the-obvious-pick-for-the-redskins-and-theres-no-need-to-overthink-it/2020/04/17/73b45e5c-810a-11ea-9040-68981f488eed_story.html

Is the player available?: Yup.

The pick: EDGE Chase Young, OSU. I would trade down. Young is utterly incredible; his ceiling comparison is, not kidding, Michael Strahan. But this team is swiss cheese, and also has a youthful defensive line featuring multiple first-round picks. It’s nice to have an embarrassment of riches at a key unit, but not if every other part of your team, you know, sucks?


The local source: Chris Burke, Lions columnist for The Athletic (subscription-only): over a decade of national experience at ESPN, Motown native, data out the wazoo, and eminently readable.

His pick: TRADE: Miami receives 2020 1st (3rd overall); Detroit receives 2020 1st (5th overall), 2020 2nd (39th overall).

Can a quality Miami local source trade partner be found? Yes. Mike Tanier, Dolphins columnist for the Bleacher Report makes the identical trade here: https://bleacherreport.com/articles/2884700-2020-mock-draft-mike-taniers-final-predictions. Both Burke and Tanier also select the same players at 3 and at 5, too, which makes this easier for yours truly.

The pick: QB Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama. Without tanking.


The local source: Steve Serby of The New York Post. Nobody should read The Post. But you already knew that. Everybody should read The Post Sports. But you already knew that, too. His mock is really good, I think. It’s at https://nypost.com/2020/04/18/nfl-mock-draft-5-0-giants-resist-trade-tom-brady-gets-help

His pick: OT Jedrick Wills, Alabama.

Is the player available?: Yes.

The pick: OT Jedrick Wills, Alabama. No complaints at all here.


The local source: Burke (Det), and Tanier (Mia).

Their picks: CB Jeff Okudah, OSU.

Is the player available? Yes.

The pick: CB Jeff Okudah, OSU. Any time you can pick up a high 2nd-round pick and still get the player you were probably taking anyway, you nod and smile.


The local source: Gilbert Manzano, Los Angeles Daily News. I had literally never read a single one of his columns before doing this. I am a lucky guy: tons of good stuff, not mostly about football but a strong read every time. His mock is at https://www.dailynews.com/2020/04/15/manzano-chargers-trade-up-to-snag-qb-in-nfl-mock-draft-1-0/

His pick: TRADE: LAC receives 2020 1st (3rd overall); Detroit receives 2020 1st (6th overall), 2020 2nd (37th overall), 2021 3rd; LAC select Tagovailoa; Detroit selects Okudah.

Can a quality Detroit local source trade partner be found? Yes. Benjamin Raven of https://www.mlive.com/lions proposes the same trade, except a 2020 5th-rounder instead of the 2021 3rd-rounder.

Is the player available?: No. Miami pulled the trigger on Tagovailoa earlier, as you see, and DET picked at five. So, for the first time, I get to make a pick.

The pick: QB Justin Herbert, Oregon. They should not do this, by the way: I have Herbert as my QB4, with a 2nd-round grade. But this remains the pick.


The local source: Meowmix – A Carolina Panthers Podcast. Fun stuff. Find it at all of the usual suspects.

Their pick: LB/S Isaiah Simmons, Clemson.

Is the player available?: Yes.

The pick: LB/S Isaiah Simmons, Clemson. This is great value here. The ultimate Swiss-Army knife, capable of total dominance if used correctly.


The local source: Jess Root of Cards Wire and the Rise Up, See Red podcast. In truth, I was quite disappointed with pretty much all of the Arizona-based content out there, but this isn’t horrible, anyway. The mock is at https://cardswire.usatoday.com/gallery/436042/ .

His pick: OT Mekhi Becton, Louisville. I hate this pick, by the way. Right position, super-wrong player choice. Seen him as high as 4 still, for some incomprehensible reason.

Is the player available? Yep.

The pick: OT Mekhi Becton, Louisville.


The local source: Mia O’Brien, sports anchor for First Coast News. Her mock, including a nice summary of other mocks’ projected Jaguar picks, is at https://www.firstcoastnews.com/video/sports/nfl/jacksonville-jaguars/mia-final-monday-mock-draft/77-4a1dda0d-5732-45df-9c78-510d7997695c.

Her pick: DT Derrick Brown, Auburn. They could go a million different ways here, but this is a disciplined selection

Is the player available?: Yes.

The pick: DT Derrick Brown, Auburn.


The local source: Dan Labbe of Cleveland.com. A really solid source, given his endless scout contacts. Here’s his mock: https://www.cleveland.com/browns/2020/04/a-tackle-help-on-defense-and-the-cleveland-browns-perfect-nfl-draft-2020.html

His pick: OT Andrew Thomas, Georgia. GREAT value here: I think he’s actually going to be the best of the Big-three-plus-Becton-ewwww top-end tackles in an elite class.

Is the player available?: Yes.

The pick: OT Andrew Thomas, Georgia.


The local source: Serby, of The Post. Link is above.

His pick: OT Mekhi Becton, Louisville. I’d have less trouble with Becton here at 11 (but still trouble).

Is the player available? No. In this mock he’s gone to Arizona at the eight hole. Jets dodge a bullet, for once. I get to pick! I am sorely tempted to start the run on wide receivers here …. but I am risk-averse.

The pick: OT Tristan Wirfs, Iowa. Corn-fed super-intelligent monsters are not exactly common, you know?.


The local source: Nick Ellis, of the super-well-named Just Blog Baby. Here’s his mock: https://justblogbaby.com/2020/04/20/raiders-2020-nfl-draft-trades-first.

His pick: TRADE – Atlanta receives 2020 1st-round (12th overall); Las Vegas receives 2020 1st-round (16th overall), 2020 3rd-round (78th overall). At 12, Atlanta selects DT Javon Kinlaw, South Carolina. At 16, Las Vegas selects WR Henry Ruggs III, Alabama.

Can a quality Atlanta local source trade partner be found? No. And I tried. I get all of this logic. I do not hate this trade. But Atlanta’s local crew are not buying it. I’m seeing some very bold trades up into the top ten or even five (not happening, that one) from Atlanta-based mockers, but no one wants this, so as Commissioner of my Couch, I void this trade. I will select for Las Vegas here.

The pick: WR CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma. That run on WRs starts now, and Vegas grabs a fine one (my 2nd-favourite of this deep class, and best-fitted to John Gruden’s scheme).


The local source: Tommy Call of 95.7 The Game, San Francisco’s best sports-radio station. Here is his mock: https://957thegame.radio.com/articles/san-francisco-49ers/nfl-draft-san-francisco-49ers-7-round-nfl-mock-draft

His pick: DT Javon Kinlaw, South Carolina. See that trade I just had to void? This is why I was surprised I could not find a dance partner in Atlanta. Kinlaw only does one thing well, but it’s shooting gaps like a laser-guided missile. Disruption.

Is the player available?: Yes.

The pick: DT Javon Kinlaw, South Carolina.


The local source: Shawn Spencer of fan site The Pewter Plank. There are some terrible Bucs “journalists” out there, but these amateur fans have some fine content to get lost in. Here’s their mock: https://thepewterplank.com/2020/04/04/tampa-bay-buccaneers-complete-nfl-mock-draft-2-0/

His pick: OT Jedrick Wills, Alabama. Gotta keep that shiny new/old toy upright.

Is the player available?: No. This prime “hog-molly” is already gone to the New York Giants at four, covetous as they are of all hog-mollies. I get to make a pick!

The pick: DT Jordan Elliot, Missouri. Not a sexy pick, and if the board falls this way the Bucs may well look to trade down. They really, really need an OT here, but all four of the three good tackles (see what I did there?) are gone. They could use a running back, too, but all RBs are realistically a reach here. So it’s gotta be a front-seven defender. On my board, that leaves Elliot or EDGE A.J. Epenesa, Iowa. The big run-stuffer wins a coin-toss, as Epenesa has some technique red flags, especially around pad level.


The local source: Tylor Walden of entertaining fan site Predominantly Orange. Here’s his mock:

His Pick: WR CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma

Is the player available?: No. Las Vegas took him at twelve.

The pick: WR Jerry Jeudy, Alabama. Nice consolation prize: the top WR on my board in what might be the best overall receiver class of all time.


The local source: D. Orlando Ledbetter of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the paper of record over there and overall a great newspaper for sports fans. His mock can be found at https://www.ajc.com/sports/football/led-mock-draft-falcons-sit-tight-and-get-henderson/fkndAtSzqfSW3k9VFRvpTL/.

His pick: CB C.J. Henderson, Florida.

Is the player available?: Yep.

The pick: CB C.J. Henderson, Florida. A step down from Jeff Okudah, but he’s Jeff Okudah.


The local source: Mauricio Rodriguez of the truly great Inside The Star, considered by many to be the best NFL team fan site of all. Here’s his mock: https://insidethestar.com/mauricios-mock-draft-1-0-cowboys-get-their-guy-on-defense/

His pick: EDGE K’Lavon Chaisson, LSU.

Is the player available?: Yep.

The pick: EDGE K’Lavon Chaisson, LSU. Raw as hell and with more red flags than a 70’s Kremlin parade, but the athleticism cannot be denied.


The local source: Dave Hyde of The South Florida Sun-Sentinel. A collection of that paper’s columnists’ mocks can be found at https://www.sun-sentinel.com/sports/miami-dolphins/fl-sp-draft-dolphins-staff-predictions-20200420-gw7cnanjbnas5md4tlxaytd26m-story.html.

His pick: OT Josh Jones, Houston.

Is the player available? Yes.

The pick: OT Josh Jones, Houston. While there’s a real step down from (ugh) Becton to Jones, you cannot teach huge, and with three first-round picks and glaring needs in the trenches, this is probably the right pick here.


The local source: Ellis of Just Blog Baby.

His pick: CB C.J. Henderson, Florida.

Is the player available?: No. He headed to Atlanta with the sixteenth pick. Yay another Jim pick!

The pick: CB Kristian Fulton, LSU. That defensive backfield is not good. At all. I strongly considered S Xavier McKinney, Alabama, here, but I actually have a slightly higher grade on Fulton than I do on Henderson anyway, so I go with the position that the local source wanted.


The local source: O’Brien of First Coast News.

The pick: CB Kristian Fulton, LSU.

Is the player available?: No. I swear I did not do this to you on purpose, Mia, but I took Fulton myself for Las Vegas one pick ago. So, I get to pick again.

The pick: QB Jordan Love, Utah State. Let’s have some fun, shall we? I contend that Gardner Minshew can be an NFL QB. But others are not so sure, and I have a first-round grade on Love, whereas I do not have one on Herbert who just went sixth overall. This is a quarterback league, for better or for worse, so when it might be a position of need and you can take one with your second pick in the first round, you do it.


The local source: Brandon Lee Gowton of Bleeding Green Nation, my personal favourite of all team fan communities on the internet. His mock is here: https://www.bleedinggreennation.com/2020/4/13/21219437/2020-nfl-mock-draft-philadelphia-eagles-cj-henderson-cornerback-florida-first-round-pick-21-profile.

His pick: CB C.J. Henderson, Florida.

Is the player available? Nope. He’s still in Atlanta.

The pick: WR Henry Ruggs, Alabama. Ruggs lacks tools, really, as most Combine superstars do. But you can’t teach blazing speed, whereas you can teach discipline and (some) route smarts. There are some who think Ruggs is actually the best WR in this class and ought to go in the top 10, whereas others say he has “bust” written all over him. Both of those groups are just plain wrong. At twenty-one, at a position of undoubted need? Get all this here.


The local source: Luke Parrish of The Viking Age podcast, available at all the usual suspects. I hate hate HATE the Minnesota Vikings. Podcast’s cool, though.

His pick: WR Justin Jefferson, LSU.

Is the player available? Yes.

The pick: WR Justin Jefferson, LSU. With the departure of Stefon Diggs, WR is a major need. With two first-round picks, Minnesota might try to trade up into higher-rent WR territory, but as I said earlier this is an incredibly deep receiver class, and Minnesota has lots of needs. This pick makes sense. Vikings can still suck it.


The local source: Brady McAleer of the respected fan site Musket Fire. His draft is here: https://musketfire.com/2020/04/07/new-england-patriots-7-round-mock-draft/.

His pick: LB Zack Baun, Wisconsin.

Is the player available? Yes.

The pick: LB Zack Baun, Wisconsin. It’s rare for a linebacker to show both maturity and versatility at such a young age. This is not a sexy pick, but sexy doesn’t get you to 400 Super Bowls, and these crazy bastards know a little about that.


The local source: Michael Balko of Whodatdish. His mock is, um, pretty bad, honestly. I was shocked and disappointed to see that for a franchise with such rabid community support (and my wife’s favourite team, as it happens), there just isn’t the quality local content or knowledge we would expect. They deserve better: Whodatdish is a fun name, though. The mock is here: https://whodatdish.com/2020/04/16/new-orleans-saints-round-mock-draft-3/. I wouldn’t bother.

His pick: LB Kenneth Murray, Oklahoma.

Is the player available?: Yes.

The pick: LB Kenneth Murray, Oklahoma. No doubt about it, New Orleans needs help at linebacker. And apparently, one Kenneth Murray plays linebacker. I watch a tonne of tape, and I swear I cannot remember him. At all. I had to cheat and look him up on the Pro Football Focus big board. The good news? He’s there. The bad news? So are Troy Dye, Willie Gay, and Patrick Bloody Queen! Who Dat, indeed?


The local source: Luke Parrish of The Viking Age.

His pick: CB Kristian Fulton, LSU.

Is the player available?: No. I shipped him off to Las Vegas at pick number nineteen. I get to pick! For the team that I hate the most! Yay!

The pick: S Xavier McKinney, Alabama. I decided, grudgingly, to pick well for the purple thromboses, so I am not selecting the very best long snapper in D1, LS Reid Ferguson, LSU, here. He really is a great long snapper, btw. But you get my drift. Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford have been shredding the Minnesota backfield since forever: McKinney will be a starter in year one, and could well be one of the biggest steals in the draft. I like him more than S Grant Delpit, LSU, although Delpit would be a fine pick here too.


The local source: Dave Hyde of The Sun-Sentinel.

His pick: G/C Cesar Ruiz, Michigan.

Is the player available?: Yes.

The pick: G/C Cesar Ruiz, Michigan. I happen to agree with Hyde here: in my own raw mock, I selected Ruiz right here. It’s quite rare to see matches like that down below Pick 17 or 18, so we must both be right! That’s how it works, isn’t it?


The local source: Lee Vowell from solid fan site Twelfth Man Rising. His mock can be found here: https://12thmanrising.com/2020/04/06/seahawks-mock-draft-edge-rusher/2/ .

The pick: LB Zack Baun, Wisconsin.

Is the player available: No. He went to New England with the twenty-third pick.

The pick: EDGE A.J. Epenesa, Iowa. Thus endeth the fall of a divisive talent: I mentioned him at fourteen, he’s been very frequently mocked to New England at the aforementioned twenty-three, but some other high-quality evaluators see him as a mid or even late 2nd-rounder. This seems a good fit, though, and clearly Seattle needs to go front seven here.


The local source: Frank Platko of the Baltimore Beatdown podcast, available yadda yadda.

The pick: G/C Cesar Ruiz, Michigan.

Is the player available?: No. He took his talents to South Beach at twenty-six.

The pick: S Grant Delpit, LSU. Safety is not exactly a position of need for Baltimore, but this is a “BPA” value pick here, and clearly Baltimore has a creative culture. I always aim to take skill over need, anyway.


The local source: Erik Bacharach of The Nashville Tennessean. A Pulitzer nominee. That is cool. His mock is here: https://www.tennessean.com/story/sports/nfl/titans/2020/04/20/titans-mock-draft-aj-terrell-kj-hamler-lucas-niang/2982353001/ .

His pick: CB A.J. Terrell, Clemson.

Is the player available? Yes.

The pick: CB A.J. Terrell, Clemson. Incredible length – he’s like Stretch Armstrong. Premium position? Check. Position of need? Check. Solid selection.


The local source: Paul Bretl of The Dairyland Express. His mock is part of a three-way mock duel which is lots of fun and can be found here: https://dairylandexpress.com/2020/04/18/green-bay-packers-mock-draft-battle-4-0/

His pick: WR Justin Jefferson, LSU.

Is the player available?: No. He was sentenced to Minnesota at twenty-two.

The pick: WR Jalen Raegor, TCU. I considered going interior offensive line here, but an aging Aaron Rodgers needs playmaking weapons, and Raegor just has gigantic untapped talent. I know I keep talking about how great these WRs are, and it’s because they are.


The local source: Tommy Call of 97.5 The Game.

His pick: CB Jaylon Johnson, Utah.

Is the player available: Yes.

The pick: CB Jaylon Johnson, Utah. I love this pick. Johnson should not be a good man corner. Nothing about him is “right” – except all of his game tape. He just makes play after play, and does it no matter what he’s asked to do or whom he’s asked to cover. Quality player, worth the 1st-round selection no matter how “wrong” he is.


The local source: Kent Swanson, of fan site Arrowhead Pride. His mock is here: https://www.arrowheadpride.com/2020/4/3/21206543/the-perfect-kansas-city-chiefs-mock-draft.

His pick: LB Patrick Queen, LSU.

Is the player available?: Yes. He shouldn’t be, but yes.

The pick: LB Patrick Queen, LSU. There is virtually no chance that a player with as high of a floor and high of a ceiling as Queen is still here at the last pick of the first round. Of course, this mock features zero RBs, and I’m not that surprised at what I guess should seem shocking, so maybe he will be.

Well, that’s all. I eagerly await being proved crazy in every possible way. Which might be why I used other people’s picks, who knows? Thanks for coming out.

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