Editor’s note: This story first appeared on AMNY.com
The 2020 NFL Draft might be in its most basic, unimpressive setting in years — being carried out in the basement of commissioner Roger Goodell while teams make their picks from home — but it’s going to be one of the most-watched editions ever.
The start of the first round on Thursday night will give fans their first live sporting event to consume in six weeks, which will be relished by millions who are hurting from the absence of athletics.
While there is no game or competition taking place, the draft provides an avenue for every NFL team to make considerable steps toward improving by having their pick of the litter of young, collegiate prospects ready to make the jump to the pros.
Before the picks are in, Metro released its final first-round mock draft of the year, predicting who each team will take in the first round.
Draft night usually brings its fair share of drama as well, so we’ll also tell you which teams to keep an eye out for when it comes to making a trade to improve their position within the selection process:
Metro Final 2020 NFL 1st-Round Mock Draft
1) Cincinnati Bengals- Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
The writing has been on the wall for the end of Andy Dalton’s time in Cincinnati. Now the Bengals get a new franchise passer.
2) Washington Redskins- Chase Young, EDGE, Ohio State
The Redskins nab the top talent in the draft, who is expected to anchor their defense for years to come.
3) Detroit Lions- Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State
Detroit lost their top corner in Darius Slay (Eagles), leaving a huge void in a spot that already needs a ton of help.
4) New York Giants- Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa
It will be difficult for the Giants to pass up on the versatile LB Isaiah Simmons, but their top priority has to be protecting Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley.
5) Miami Dolphins- Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
After months of “Tanking for Tua,” the Dolphins’ focus has shifted late to the promising Oregon passer.
6) Los Angeles Chargers- Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
While the Dolphins nab Herbert, Tagovailoa is a solid consolation prize to take over for Philip Rivers — even with uncertainty surrounding his injured hip.
7) Carolina Panthers- Derrick Brown, DL, Auburn
The Panthers’ defensive line is only half full. No better way to address that issue than nabbing the nation’s top interior D-lineman.
8) Arizona Cardinals- Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson
While the Cardinals could go offensive line here to protect Kyler Murray, the versatile, athletic playmaker in Simmons is too good to pass up for a defense that needs a playmaker in its front seven.
9) Jacksonville Jaguars- CJ Henderson, CB, Florida
After trading Jalen Ramsey and AJ Bouye, the Jaguars need star power at cornerback. Henderson could provide just that as the No. 2 CB available in the draft.
10) Cleveland Browns- Jedrick Wills, OT, Alabama
The Browns nabbed Jack Conklin to address the right tackle spot, now they need a left tackle to put Baker Mayfield in the best position to succeed. Wills would be that guy.
11) New York Jets- Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
The Jets could use an offensive lineman, sure, but third-year QB Sam Darnold needs legitimate playmaking threats on the outside, especially after Robby Anderson signed with the Panthers. Jeudy is the best pass-catcher available. This should be a no-brainer for the Jets.
12) Las Vegas Raiders- CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
They traded away Amari Cooper and the Antonio Brown experiment was a disaster. Derek Carr needs a No. 1 wide receiver to give the flourishing running back, Josh Jacobs, some support.
13) San Francisco 49ers- Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama
Three wide receivers in a row. You don’t see that often. But Jimmy Garappolo needs help on the outside, especially after the Niners saw Emmanuel Sanders join the Saints.
14) Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
Tom Brady was never athletic, but the 42-year-old needs to be protected at all costs. Thomas is a solid investment here.
15) Denver Broncos- Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU
Quarterback Drew Lock needs all the help he can get in Denver. Courtland Sutton is becoming a No. 1 threat, but Jefferson could supply a hefty 1-2 punch in the dynamic AFC West.
16) Atlanta Falcons- K’Lavon Chaisson, EDGE, LSU
The Falcons added Dante Fowler to kickstart their edge rush, but Chaisson would help catapult the position to a different level heading into 2020.
17) Dallas Cowboys- Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama
The Cowboys experienced losses along the offensive and defensive lines, but they’re deep enough to survive for the time being. McKinney is the best safety in the draft.
18) Miami Dolphins- Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville
The Dolphins had the league’s worst offensive line last year, which won’t be good for Justin Herbert or Tua Tagovailoa to step into. Becton was one of the best in the country at his position last year.
19) Las Vegas Raiders- Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU
The Raiders got their franchise WR earlier in the draft, now they pick up some much-needed help in the secondary.
20) Jacksonville Jaguars- Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina
Calais Campbell and Marcel Dareus are gone on the interior. Star edge rusher Yannick Ngakoue could be traded, too. The Jags need help on the D-Line and Kinlaw is the second-best interior lineman in the 2020 class.
21) Philadelphia Eagles- Patrick Queen, LB, LSU
The Eagles need a wide receiver more than anything, but at their current standing, they stand to miss out on the top-four prospects of the draft. They could make a stretch for Colorado’s Laviska Shenault Jr., or they could take the country’s No. 2 linebacker behind Simmons in Queen. Jatavis Brown, TJ Edwards, and Nate Gerry leave plenty to be desired right now.
22) Minnesota Vikings- Jeff Gladney, CB, TCU
The Vikings parted ways with their top three cornerbacks from last season. Gladney is the best cornerback left available in this mock.
23) New England Patriots- Jordan Love, QB, Utah State
The post-Tom Brady era is poised to start with Brian Hoyer and Jarrett Stidham, which is underwhelming. Jordan Love has some concerns, but the Utah State passer is a highly-touted option.
24) New Orleans Saints- Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma
The Saints don’t need much, but the concerning injury history of middle linebacker Kiko Alonso could prompt them to draft Murray, who has the makings to star at the position.
25) Minnesota Vikings- AJ Epenesa, EDGE, Iowa
Everson Griffen isn’t coming back, which leaves a void on the edge. Epenesa has shown huge amounts of promise in the defense-heavy Big Ten.
26) Miami Dolphins- D’Andre Swift, RB, Georgia
The Dolphins got little production out of their ground game after Kenyan Drake was dealt to Arizona. With their third pick of the draft, the Dolphins will only get better by picking up the top rusher available.
27) Seattle Seahawks- Yetur Gross-Matos, EDGE, Penn State
They could use an offensive lineman, but the defense-first Seahawks have Jadeveon Clowney on the trade block, meaning they have to fill that hole on the edge.
28) Baltimore Ravens- Zach Baun, EDGE/LB, Wisconsin
The Ravens needs help on the edge and at the linebacking position, so why not pick up a guy that is versatile enough to try at either spot?
29) Tennessee Titans- Justin Madubuike, DL, Texas A&M
For a pass rush that will need a boost after the departure of Jurrell Casey, Madubuike could add pressure against the aerial attack from the inside.
30) Green Bay Packers- Laviska Shenault Jr., WR, Colorado
Aaron Rodgers can’t do it by himself, so the Packers need to get him some pass-catchers during this draft.
31) San Francisco 49ers- Cesar Ruiz, OL, Michigan
A name you won’t hear often in first-round mocks, but Ruiz could bolster the interior of San Francisco’s offensive line well, even if it means shifting him from his more natural center spot.
32) Kansas City Chiefs- AJ Terrell, CB, Clemson
If the Chiefs need help anywhere, it’s at the cornerback spot. Terrell would be the best remaining option at the position.
Teams who could try to trade up
Atlanta Falcons (Pick #16): The Falcons need to bolster their defense, starting at the cornerback position. Reports are tabbing them to try and move up to get one of the top two corners in Jeff Okudah or CJ Henderson, who are expected to go within the top-10.
Philadelphia Eagles (Pick #21): Injuries to DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery showed just how little depth the Eagles had at wide receiver last season. With both of their top-two receivers over 30, Philly needs a franchise receiver to pair with Carson Wentz. Moving up to get pass-catcher like Jerry Jeudy, CeeDee Lamb, Justin Jefferson, or Henry Ruggs III would be an enormous get for them.
New England Patriots (Pick #23): The Patriots need to find Tom Brady’s successor and have been accruing draft capital to package in a deal if there are teams in the top-10 looking to trade down. Both the Lions and Giants have expressed interest in dealing their No. 3 and No. 4 picks, which would allow them to have their pick of either Justin Herbert or Tua Tagovailoa, but the Patriots might not have enough in terms of draft picks to offer to make such a deal happen. They have no second-round picks to support their 23rd-overall selection, two third-round, and two-fourth round picks (one from the Rob Gronkowski trade).