J.J.’s NFL Draft Picks

Carolina’s pick and other musings on the best game in town

By J.J. Hipps

LENOIR, N.C. — The NFL Draft is about a week away and for me it is a much needed solace. We all deal with things differently, but football is something I have always loved. It’s something I have shared with my family and friends for as long as I can remember.

I look forward to the draft almost as much as I do to the regular season kickoff. Anxiously awaiting every pick, being shocked by trades, and all the other draft day storylines. This year, of course, is a little different. Teams cannot gather in their draft day war rooms like usual and the entire draft will be done virtually. This means that every owner, G.M., and coach will be connected through a computer or phone. The same goes for the players that are usually invited to the draft location to wait in the green room. This will definitely be the most unique draft and will probably not go as smoothly as drafts in the past, but it will be entertaining.

As crazy as it may sound to some of you, I make a mock draft every year for my own enjoyment. This year I have decided to share it with all my fellow football fans and discuss some of the picks with you. I could talk about every pick, but for the sake of article length, I have narrowed it down to a few key selections and teams.

The truth is, the Panthers need help at every level of their defense and Derrick Brown, defensive linemen, is the best way to start that rebuild.”

We’ll start with the number 2 pick and the Washington Redskins. Like every other mock draft I have seen this year I have Chase Young, defensive end out of Ohio State. This is the most obvious choice in the draft. Chase Young is ready to play from day one. Size, speed, and football IQ, he has it all. However, Washington could trade out of this spot to gather more picks for the future but I just don’t see the point in that. They have to stay put.

Next, let’s skip down to the 5th and 6th pick. These picks are important because this is where we will see Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert, two of the top three quarterbacks in the draft, come off the board, barring any trades. This was a tough choice for me. I truly believe Tua Tagovailoa will be the best quarterback in this draft class and the Miami Dolphins have been linked to him for years, but Tua’s injury history will probably keep them from making the right pick, especially considering the fact that no teams have been able to really evaluate the health of these players due to the pandemic. I have Miami taking Justin Herbert, quarterback from Oregon with the fifth pick and Tua Tagovailoa going to the Chargers with the sixth pick. I think Justin Herbert will be a good quarterback but I think Tua can be great. The Chargers really luck up here.

I can’t live in North Carolina, be a Panthers fan, and not mention who Carolina will be picking, so with the 7th pick in the 2020 NFL draft the Carolina Panthers will try to make things right by selecting the best prospect out of Auburn University weeks after releasing the best quarterback to ever come out of Auburn University, Cam Newton. The truth is, the Panthers need help at every level of their defense and Derrick Brown, defensive linemen, is the best way to start that rebuild.

Cowboy fans are everywhere so let’s take a look at who I have them selecting with the 17th pick. In my opinion, the Cowboys biggest need is at the cornerback position, but by this point in the draft, the top tier cornerbacks will be off the board, and the Cowboys will add depth to their pass rushing defense by drafting Yetur Gross-Matos out of Penn State. Yetur had great sack production in his last two years in college and with the proper coaching should be able to turn into a real problem for opposing quarterbacks.

Let’s finish this off with the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs. We all know that the Chiefs love offense and they love speed. They already have the fastest team in the NFL, why not add to it? This is where we see the first running back come off the board. D’andre Swift out of Georgia. He’s a little undersized but Kansas City has no problem with that. They’ll put his speed and quickness to good use early.

The NFL draft is impossible to predict. Trades will happen and there’s no way of really knowing which players will succeed and which will fail, but that’s the reason I watch. It is, by far, the most exciting part of the NFL offseason, and since none of us really have anywhere to be, watch with me! The NFL draft starts on April 23rd and runs through the 25th on ESPN and NFL Network. Below is my mock draft. 

NFL Mock Draft

  1. Cincinnati Bengals – Joe Burrow – QB – LSU
  2. Washington Redskins – Chase Young – DE – Ohio State
  3. Detroit Lions – Jeff Okudah – CB – Ohio State
  4. New York Giants – Jedrick Wills – OL – Alabama
  5. Miami Dolphins – Justin Herbert – QB – Oregon
  6. Los Angeles Chargers – Tua Tagovailoa – QB – Alabama
  7. Carolina Panthers – Derrick Brown – DL – Auburn
  8. Arizona Cardinals – Isaiah Simmons – LB – Clemson
  9. Jacksonville Jaguars – Javon Kinlaw – DL – South Carolina
  10. Cleveland Browns – Andrew Thomas – OL – Georgia
  11. New York Jets – Mekhi Becton – OL – Louisville
  12. Las Vegas Raiders – CeeDee Lamb – WR – Oklahoma
  13. San Francisco 49ers – Jerry Jeudy – WR – Alabama
  14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Tristan Wirfs – OL – Iowa
  15. Denver Broncos – C.J. Henderson – CB – Florida
  16. Atlanta Falcons – K’Lavon Chaisson – LB – LSU
  17. Dallas Cowboys – Yetur Gross-Matos – DL – Penn St.
  18. Miami Dolphins – Joshua Jones – OL – Houston
  19. Las Vegas Raiders – Patrick Queen – LB – LSU
  20. Jacksonville Jaguars – Jaylon Johnson – CB – Utah
  21. Philadelphia Eagles – Henry Ruggs III – WR – Alabama
  22. Minnesota Vikings – Trevon Diggs – CB – Alabama
  23. New England Patriots – Cole Kmet – TE – Notre Dame
  24. New Orleans Saints – Zack Baun – LB – Wisconsin
  25. Minnesota Vikings – Tee Higgins – WR – Clemson
  26. Miami Dolphins – Kenneth Murray – LB – Oklahoma
  27. Seattle Seahawks – A.J. Epenesa – DL – Iowa
  28. Baltimore Ravens – Justin Jefferson – WR – LSU
  29. Tennessee Titans – Laviska Shenault Jr. – WR – Colorado
  30. Green Bay Packers – Ross Blacklock – DL – TCU
  31. San Francisco 49ers – Cesar Ruiz – OL – Michigan
  32. Kansas City Chiefs – D’andre Swift – RB – Georgia

© J.J. Hipps, 2020. J.J. Hipps is a Blues guitarist, singer and songwriter from Caldwell County, N.C. Kansas City Chiefs helmet photo by Timothé Lejeune on Unsplash; L.A. Chargers photo by Anders Krøgh Jørgensen on Unsplash; NFL logo photo by HENCE THE BOOM on Unsplash; Football photo by Dave Adamson on Unsplash.