NFL Mock Draft with Top Ten Picks coming in from Matthew Freedman, with The Action Network:Isaiah Simmons(Clemson) to the Carolina Panthers if still on the board at #7

***********2020 NFL Mock Draft**********
The Top Ten Picks from Matthew Freedman with the Action Network…..
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The Top Ten Picks from Matthew Freedman with the Action Network…..
1. Bengals: Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
Position: QB | School: LSU
Height: 6’3” | Weight: 221 pounds
2020 Age: 24 | Class: Redshirt Senior
Recruitment Stars: 4
Projected Draft Round: 1
The Bengals need a quarterback, and Burrow just had the greatest passing season ever for a collegiate quarterback with 5,671 yards and 60 touchdowns to six interceptions. His 76.3% completion rate and 12.5 adjusted yards per attempt (AY/A) were immaculate.

2. Redskins: Chase Young, EDGE, Ohio State
Height: 6’5” | Weight: 264 pounds
2020 Age: 21 | Class: Junior
Recruitment Stars: 5
Projected Draft Round: 1
For the third time in five years, we’re going to see a Buckeyes pass rusher selected with a top-three pick. Like Joey Bosa (2016, No. 3) and Nick Bosa (2019, No. 2) before him, Young will be the first non-quarterback off the board in his class.

And if circumstances were a little different, it wouldn’t have been a stretch to see him go No. 1 overall. As an edge defender, Myles Garrett (2017) did even though his class had three strong quarterback prospects in Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson and Mitchell Trubisky.

In his standout junior season, Young had 16.5 sacks in 12 games and ranked No. 1 at his position with a 96.1 Pro Football Focus grade. Per PFF: “Young is the best edge prospect we’ve ever scouted.”

The unanimous All-American selection is as close as it gets to a top-two lock.

3. Lions: Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State
Height: 6’1” | Weight: 205 pounds
40-yard dash: 4.48 seconds
2020 Age: NA | Class: Junior
Recruitment Stars: 5
Projected Draft Round: 1
A few sharp drafters have mocked defensive tackle Derrick Brown (Auburn) to the Lions, who could certainly use help on the interior of their defensive line, but Okudah is the strong chalk at No. 3 and too much of a difference-making player and value to forego at this pick.

Last year, the Lions allowed a league-high 503.2 air yards and yards after the catch per game (per, and they traded away No. 1 cornerback Darius Slay this offseason. Even though they signed Desmond Trufant in free agency, they still need significant help in the secondary.

Okudah is a unanimous All-American selection and easily the top perimeter defender in the class: He held opponents to a passer rating of just 45.3 last year (per PFF).

At the combine he exhibited elite explosiveness with his 41-inch vertical and 135-inch broad jumps, and based on his college production and athleticism, the player to whom Okudah is most comparable as a prospect is Jalen Ramsey (per Player Profiler).

The Lions might desire to trade down 2-3 spots in order to pick up more draft capital, but I’m doubtful they will be able to find a trade partner: Based on the general market, quarterbacks Tua Tagovailoa (Alabama) and Justin Herbert (Oregon) seem likely to fall to picks Nos. 5-6 if the Miami Dolphins and Los Angeles Chargers simply stay put.

And, besides, even if the Lions trade down 2-3 picks, they’re still likely to get Okudah, so wouldn’t I just mock him to them at No. 3?

4. Giants: Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa
Height: 6’5” | Weight: 320 pounds
40-yard dash: 4.85 seconds
2020 Age: 21 | Class: Junior
Recruitment Stars: 4
Projected Draft Round: 1
This pick (I believe) is almost a 50/50 tossup between Wirfs and tackle Jedrick Wills Jr. (Alabama), but I lean just a little to Wills — at least right now.

The Giants might go with linebacker Isaiah Simmons (Clemson). Despite signing Blake Martinez to a three-year deal, they still need help at the position.

But they also need help on the offensive line. Left tackle Nate Solder is 32 years old, and right tackle Mike Remmers left in free agency.

The Giants just invested the No. 6 pick last year in quarterback Daniel Jones, and the organizational priority should be to give their developing passer as much offensive support as possible.

Picking at No. 4, they can get the top tackle in a strong draft class to protect their franchise quarterback, and general manager Dave Gettleman has tended to draft trench players when given the opportunity.

A three-year starter at a school with a history of producing NFL offensive linemen, Wirfs has an elite combination of strength and technique, and he exploded at the combine with position-best 36.5-inch vertical and 121-inch broad jumps.

There are questions as to whether Wirfs can play on the left side in the NFL, but at worst he looks like a top-tier right tackle, where he can line up before eventually replacing Solder on the blindside.

5. Dolphins: Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
Height: 6’6” | Weight: 236 pounds
40-yard dash: 4.68 seconds
2020 Age: 22 | Class: Senior
Recruitment Stars: 3
Projected Draft Round: 1
In my previous mock, I had Tagovailoa going to the Dolphins at No. 5, but I also said that “the Herbert heat is starting to pick up: There’s a chance that next week I’ll have him going to the Dolphins at No. 5 instead of Tagovailoa.”

And that’s where we are now.

There are rumors that the Dolphins might take an offensive tackle at No. 5 and look to draft a quarterback later in Round 1, but if they like a quarterback in particular — and there are real reports that they like Herbert and prefer him to Tagovailoa — then I doubt they will risk losing him.

Every reputable expert I’ve looked at has the Dolphins going with a quarterback at No. 5, and although it’s 50/50 between Tagovailoa and Herbert across the industry, most of the sharpest mockers are on Herbert.

As a prospect, I easily prefer Tagovailoa over Herbert — it’s not even close — but sometimes bad organizations make bad decisions. That’s why they’re bad.

6. Chargers: Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
Height: 6’0” | Weight: 217 pounds
2020 Age: 22 | Class: Junior
Recruitment Stars: 5
Projected Draft Round: 1
For the first time in 14 years, the Chargers will head into the season with someone other than Philip Rivers as their starting quarterback. Rivers is now with the Indianapolis Colts, and head coach Anthony Lynn has indicated that journeyman Tyrod Taylor is penciled in as the starter.

In other words, the Chargers are very much in the market for a quarterback of the future, and Tagovailoa looks like he could fall to them at No. 6.

If the Dolphins prefer Herbert or are worried about Tagovailoa’s medicals, then the Chargers might be as well, and that could drive them to take someone else, maybe Clemson’s Justin Simmons at linebacker or one of the top remaining offensive tackles.

But I think they’ll probably take Tagovailoa if he’s here.

Tagovailoa entered the 2019 college season as the presumptive No. 1 pick, but a potentially career-threatening hip injury in November has drastically changed his draft outlook.

His talent is unquestioned: In his abbreviated junior campaign, Tagovailoa completed 71.4% of his passes and had an elite 13.4 AY/A.

But multiple teams reportedly are worried about Tagovailoa’s health.

He has dealt with all manner of injuries over the past two years (broken finger, sprained knee, strained quad, twisted ankles, dislocated and fractured hip). More than a few NFL evaluators reportedly believe that Tagovailoa is fragile. Brittle. Too small to be a dependable starter.

And that might be the case.

But he’s worth the risk at No. 6.

7. Panthers: Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson
Height: 6’4” | Weight: 238 pounds
40-yard dash: 4.39 seconds
2020 Age: 22 | Class: Redshirt Junior
Recruitment Stars: 3-4
Projected Draft Round: 1
The Panthers have a lot of needs: Last year, they started a sixth-round rookie on the blind side. In previous versions of the mock, I had them going with an offensive lineman, but this offseason they acquired left tackle Russell Okung via trade, so there’s now less urgency for them to improve the line in Round 1.

As a result, I expect the Panthers will look to the defense at No. 7, with the pick ultimately coming down to Simmons or DT Derrick Brown (Auburn). Between these two players, I must go with Simmons.

Simmons has the higher rating in Gil Brandt’s Hot 150, Daniel Jeremiah’s Top 150, Josh Norris’ Top 150, The Draft Network’s prospect rankings, and PFF’s Big Board.

He’s also the higher-mocked player at Grinding the Mocks.

The Panthers need help on the interior of their defensive line, but they also need an off-ball linebacker after franchise mainstay Luke Kuechly retired this offseason.

And as good as Brown is, he’s not as dynamic as Simmons, who led Clemson in 2019 with 104 tackles, 16.5 tackles for loss and eight sacks — despite lining up as a safety or cornerback on 49.5% of his snaps (per PFF).

The 2019 Butkus Award winner and a unanimous All-American selection, Simmons is a versatile middle-of-the-field defender who can stop the run, rush the passer and cover running backs and tight ends.

His potential is almost otherworldly: “Simmons played 100 or more snaps at edge defender, linebacker, strong safety, free safety and slot cornerback, all while grading out above 80.0 as a run defender, tackler, pass rusher and coverage defender” (per PFF).

With his elite combine performance, Simmons has seemingly locked himself into the top 10.

Of all the prospects from the past two decades, the guy to whom Simmons is most physically similar — based on their combine performances — is all-world wide receiver Calvin Johnson (6-foot-5, 239 pounds, 4.35-second 40-yard dash).

Simmons could experience a Derwin James-esque Round 1 slide, but the NFL would be foolish to let a player of his talent fall down the board.

8. Cardinals: Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn
Height: 6’5” | Weight: 326 pounds
40-yard dash: 5.16 seconds
2020 Age: 22 | Class: Senior
Recruitment Stars: 5
Projected Draft Round: 1
In the previous version of the mock, I had the Cardinals going with an offensive tackle (Jedrick Wills Jr.), but the Cardinals are reportedly smitten with Brown, so if he falls to them at No. 8, there’s a decent chance they’ll take him. He’ll certainly add some muscle to the interior of their defensive line.

A unanimous All-American selection and locker-room leader, Brown is perhaps the best run defender in the class, and his steadiness is likely to appeal to the Cardinals, who ranked No. 26 last year with a PFF defense grade of 62.6.

Although he’s not much of a sack artist — he had just four quarterback takedowns last year — Brown is sufficiently disruptive as a pass rusher, and over the past two seasons, he has earned top-10 PFF grades at the position.

Because he’s not an elite interior pass rusher, I doubt Brown will ever be an All-Pro player, but he seems likely to be an above-average and reliable long-term starter, and for an organization that needs to ensure it doesn’t draft a bust, that’s probably good enough.

9. Jaguars: Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina
Height: 6’5” | Weight: 324 pounds
2020 Age: 23 | Class: Senior
Recruitment Stars: 4
Projected Draft Round: 1
This is early for Kinlaw, whom Jacksonville might be able to get if they trade back, but I can see the Jags drafting him if they stay at No. 9.

The Jags could use an upgrade on the interior of the line. Last year they were No. 31 against the run in Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric, and Kinlaw should help.

A junior college transfer with a notable nasty streak, Kinlaw has three years of starting experience in the SEC, and relative to Brown, he might be the more complete player. Kinlaw can disrupt as a pass rusher and anchor well enough against the run. He probably has the greater physical talent.

But Kinlaw is also inconsistent, and he has average-at-best technique. Far too often, he is beaten by inferior offensive linemen.

I’m not an expert when it comes to pigskin trench warfare, but to my untrained eye, Kinlaw is a classic boom-or-bust prospect — and that feels like the kind of guy the Jags would draft high in Round 1.

10. Browns: Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
Height: 6’5” | Weight: 315 pounds
40-yard dash: 5.22 seconds
2020 Age: 21 | Class: Junior
Recruitment Stars: 4-5
Projected Draft Round: 1
The Browns need to improve their protection for third-year quarterback Baker Mayfield, and despite stealing right tackle Jack Conklin away from the Tennessee Titans with a three-year deal, they still need to upgrade their offensive line.

Left tackle Greg Robinson is a free agent, and after he was arrested by border patrol in February with a human-sized amount of marijuana …

… I doubt the Browns will wish to re-sign him.

Enter Thomas: A three-year starter with experience at both tackle spots and a unanimous All-American selection to his name. An above-average run blocker and solid pass blocker, Thomas is technically sound and used to playing in a pro scheme.

Jedrick Wills Jr. is an option to go here, but he played only right tackle in college, and given that the Browns already have Conklin, I could see them going with Thomas, who has played at left tackle for the past two years.

Thomas has the potential to be the true heir to future Hall-of-Famer Joe Thomas’ long-vacant franchise tackle throne, and on the left side, he could form a commanding combo with Pro-Bowl guard Joe Bitonio.