By Harvey Hoffman
The NFL draft starts in 16 days — April 23-25, and here’s an interesting mock:
1. Bengals: Joe Burrow, Quarterback, LSU
Burrow is so accurate, and he enters the NFL with numerous NCAA records to his credit. No one will be happier with this selection than Cincinnati wide receiver AJ Green.
2. Redskins: Chase Young, Defensive End, Ohio State
Despite missing two games last season, Young was amazing and still had 16.5 sacks. He is the dominant defensive player the Redskins have not had in numerous years.
3. Lions: Jeff Okudah, Cornerback, Ohio State
Okudah is a shutdown corner who had three picks this past season. He also has a 41-inch vertical leap.
4. Giants: Isaiah Simmons, Outside Linebacker, Clemson
Simmons ran a 4.39 40-yard dash, the second-fastest time for a linebacker at the combine since 2006. This past season for the Tigers, he recorded 104 tackles, seven sacks, three interceptions and 16 tackles for a loss.
5. Dolphins: Tua Tagovailoa, Quarterback, Alabama
Miami needs a QB for the future and Tua seems to be their man. The only question is if the Fins trade up to make sure they get Tagovailoa. All reports show that he is 100 percent healthy and ready to do what he needs to do to be ready for the 2020 season.
6. Chargers: Justin Herbert, Quarterback, Oregon
With the Chargers not snatching up a QB in free agency (as of now, Tyrod Taylor is their starting QB) and the Dolphins looking at Tua, at No. 6 the Chargers keeping Herbert on the West Coast is the play.
7. Panthers: Derrick Brown, Defensive Tackle, Auburn
This is a perfect pick for the Panthers, who need to replenish their defensive front.
8. Cardinals: Andrew Thomas, Offensive Tackle, Georgia
Arizona needs to bolster its offensive line for Kyler Murray. Grabbing Thomas here can only help the trio of DeAndre Hopkins, Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk (possibly the best trio in the NFL).
9. Jaguars: Tristan Wirfs, Offensive Tackle, Iowa
Jacksonville could go after a quarterback here, but the smart call is rebuilding an offensive line, especially because the team doesn’t have a lot of playmakers and isn’t very good.
10. Browns: Mekhi Becton, Offensive Tackle, Louisville
Becton would be a nice complement to their free-agent offensive line pickup of Jack Conklin from the Titans. If the Browns grab Becton here, the excuses have to end for quarterback Baker Mayfield.
11. Jets: Jerry Jeudy, Wide Receiver, Alabama
Wide receiver Robby Anderson has been the Jets’ leader the past couple of seasons but has left New York for Carolina. The Jets need a new receiver for Sam Darnold and Jeudy is exactly what they need.
12. Raiders: CeeDee Lamb, Wide Receiver, Oklahoma
Lamb averaged 21 yards per reception last year and over the past three seasons at Oklahoma he had 3,200 yards and 32 touchdowns.
13. 49ers: Henry Ruggs, Wide Receiver, Alabama
We all know Ruggs ran the 40-yard dash in 4.27 at the combine. Kyle Shanahan’s offense needs a player like Ruggs since losing Emmanuel Sanders in free agency.
14. Buccaneers: Jedrick Wills, Offensive Tackle, Alabama
Tampa Bay needs to protect the GOAT (Tom Brady) and Wills seems to be their guy and he just so happens to be a southern guy.
15. Broncos: Austin Jackson, Offensive Tackle, USC
Denver needs weapons on offense but needs to build up its offensive line and Jackson has plenty of potential.
16. Falcons: Ross Blacklock, Defensive Tackle, TCU
The Falcons need help on defense and Blacklock is aggressive and extremely quick.
17. Cowboys: Kristian Fulton, Cornerback, LSU
When Fulton went up against Jeudy, Ruggs and Tee Higgins (of Clemson) last year, they had a total of 11 targets for just three receptions and 39 total yards. Fulton is a shutdown corner and it is obvious from that statistic.
18. Dolphins: Justin Jefferson, Wide Receiver, LSU
Jefferson had 111 receptions, 1,540 yards and 18 touchdowns last year. He also had nine catches in the championship game against Clemson, and in the semifinal game against Oklahoma he lit up the scoreboard with four touchdowns.
19. Raiders: CJ Henderson, Cornerback, Florida
Henderson led the Gators in defended passes the past two seasons. Three seasons ago, he had four interceptions and took two of them back for touchdowns.
20. Jaguars: Trevon Diggs, Cornerback, Alabama
21. Eagles: Tee Higgins, Wide Receiver, Clemson
Higgins averaged 20 yards a catch and had 13 touchdowns last season. In the past two seasons, he has 25 touchdowns at Clemson and with the Eagles light at receiver, he could play huge early on.
The Jaguars need help at cornerback and Diggs could start immediately.
22. Vikings: Xavier McKinney, Safety, Alabama
McKinney led Alabama in tackles last season and had three picks (1 TD) and four forced fumbles.
23. Patriots: Jordan Love, Quarterback, Utah State
It seems the Patriots are looking for a quarterback for the future and this might be their guy, especially since they didn’t dip into the free-agent QB pool. Love is getting plenty of “love” in draft talk despite tossing 17 picks last season after serving up only six in each of the previous two seasons. If any team can do wonders for a player at any position, it is the New England Patriots.
24. Saints: Javon Kinlaw, Defensive Tackle, South Carolina
Kinlaw is a smart tackle who can play a 3-4 or a 4-3.
25. Vikings: Patrick Queen, Linebacker, LSU
Queen is a king in the middle of the field and has great ability to cover tight ends or running backs. He had a great second half of the season and was everywhere in the championship game against Clemson.
26. Dolphins: Jonathan Taylor, Running Back, Wisconsin
A lot of mocks have D’Andre Swift being the first running back selected, but he was hurt at the end of the season and the facts can’t be denied on Taylor’s end. Taylor in three seasons had over 6,000 yards rushing and led the Badgers in rushing in every game but one.
27. Seahawks: K’Lavon Chaisson, Edge, LSU
Seattle needs a pass rusher like Chaisson. The Seahawks were 31st in the league with only 28 sacks last season.
28. Ravens: Yetur Gross-Matos, Edge, Penn State
He and newly acquired Calais Campbell can be quite the presence for the Ravens defensive line.
29. Titans: Joshua Jones, Offensive Tackle, Houston
Jones is the perfect replacement for right tackle Jack Conklin.
30. Packers: Brandon Aiyuk, Wide Receiver, Arizona State
Aiyuk averaged 18 yards a catch and had five games of 140-plus yards last campaign.
31. 49ers: Kenneth Murray, Linebacker, Oklahoma
Murray is a tackling machine who has big-time speed and would be a steal if he slips this far down the line.
32. Chiefs: D’Andre Swift, Running Back, Georgia
Swift can catch and has excellent quickness and would be a running back the Chiefs could count on for a long time.