With the NFL combine behind us, we’re just two weeks from the start of free agency and 52 days away from the 2020 NFL draft. And after teams spent the past week in Indianapolis talking to and evaluating prospects, things are becoming more clear at the top of Round 1.
Are the Bengals set to take LSU quarterback Joe Burrow with the No. 1 overall pick? What could the Redskins do with the No. 2 pick? How high will the first wide receiver go? We asked the NFL Nation reporters who cover teams picking in the top 10 to answer a question about each team’s outlook for April’s draft:
Let’s put a number on it: The chances Cincinnati stays at No. 1, takes Joe Burrow, and keeps him are ___.
99.9%. The Bengals had their first extended meeting with Burrow at the combine and were happy with how things went. The former LSU quarterback also dispelled the notion that he wouldn’t play for Cincinnati if it drafted him.
Nothing is ever a sure thing until it happens — the team will watch Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa and Oregon’s Justin Herbert throw at their respective pro days — but it’s virtually impossible to see the Bengals taking anyone but Burrow with the top pick. — Ben Baby
What would it take for the Redskins to trade the No. 2 pick and not take pass-rusher Chase Young?
A massive haul. New coach Ron Rivera wants to build both lines, and he has a chance to create a powerful one on defense with the Ohio State defensive end, whom the Redskins feel checks “all the boxes.” The best guess: It would take multiple first-rounders and possibly a starting-caliber player for them to trade down. Or picks in the second or third round and another first in 2021.
If they trade left tackle Trent Williams, who held out for the 2019 season, they could take an offensive tackle and then a receiver. Both would help. — John Keim
Rank these scenarios with the No. 3 pick in order of the likelihood of the Lions doing them: Trading back; drafting a quarterback; drafting a non-quarterback.
1. Trading back. Working with the likelihood that Joe Burrow and Chase Young go 1-2, Detroit could command trade value for No. 3 with quarterback-needy teams. Provided one or two of those teams is interested in making sure they secure Tua Tagovailoa, the second-ranked QB in this class, the Lions could land a lucrative package by trading back.
2. Drafting a non-quarterback. If Tagovailoa goes No. 2, it would leave Young for Detroit at No. 3. Even if Young goes No. 2, if the Lions fall in love with Ohio State cornerback Jeff Okudah, Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons or Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown, they could make sure they nab an elite talent at No. 3.
3. Drafting a quarterback. It’s not impossible to see the Lions taking Tagovailoa, but considering the team’s needs and the expectation of winning in 2020, this seems like the least likely possibility. — Michael Rothstein
Could the Giants think about a wide receiver or offensive lineman here, or is this pick all about defense?
Offensive line is definitely realistic, with Iowa’s Tristan Wirfs a player they like. The Giants have to think about protecting their investment in quarterback Daniel Jones and are in need of a right tackle now and a left tackle of the future. Wirfs played both left and right tackle for the Hawkeyes.
A tackle at pick No. 4 or in a trade-down scenario makes sense. Not so much for a wide receiver, especially with so little ($22 million vs. cap) invested in their defense. — Jordan Raanan
Miami has three first-round picks (Nos. 5, 18 and 26). How would you define a successful Round 1 for the Dolphins?
A successful Dolphins first round would include landing their franchise quarterback (Tua Tagovailoa is a possibility), a front-seven pass-rusher (Iowa’s A.J. Epenesa makes sense) and a starting offensive tackle (Houston’s Josh Jones is a good fit).
Everything starts at quarterback for Miami, so expect the Dolphins’ first selection to come at that position. After that, attention should go toward its offensive line, which gave up the most sacks and produced the fewest rushing yards last season, and edge rushers, because the Dolphins ranked last in the league in sacks. — Cameron Wolfe
Are the Chargers more likely to sign a quarterback in free agency or draft one in the first round?
After moving on from Philip Rivers, the Chargers finally will seek a long-term answer at the position, and it’s likely they will take a young quarterback at No. 6. They will kick the tires on Tom Brady, but they don’t often get a pick this high and three years ago passed on drafting Patrick Mahomes or Deshaun Watson. With Mahomes in the division and the Chiefs coming off Super Bowl win, they are now paying the price. That can’t happen again.
Coach Anthony Lynn would like a mobile quarterback who takes care of the football. Prospects who fit and could be available at No. 6 include Tua Tagovailoa, Justin Herbert and Utah State’s Jordan Love. — Eric D. Williams
With Carolina potentially taking a hit along its front seven in free agency, is this pick likely to be used on a defensive lineman or linebacker?
I wouldn’t totally rule out a quarterback here, but it could go either way with a defensive lineman or linebacker. Auburn’s Derrick Brown and Clemson’s Isaiah Simmons both would fill a need. Brown would be ideal to pair inside with Pro Bowler Kawann Short with the team expected to move on from Dontari Poe. Simmons can play linebacker or safety and would be ideal for a team trying to replace Luke Kuechly. It’s a can’t-lose situation with either prospect. — David Newton
Could Arizona take a receiver here, and who are the candidates if it does?
Even after drafting three receivers last year, the Cardinals are still looking for that game-changing playmaker. Besides 37-year-old Larry Fitzgerald, the Cardinals don’t have a consistent big-play threat with Christian Kirk dealing with injuries the past two seasons and none of the receivers from the 2019 draft playing consistently if at all.
Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy or Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb could be an option here. Lamb would give the Cardinals an instant connection between him and quarterback Kyler Murray because they played together at Oklahoma. Jeudy is just flat-out talented, so Arizona can’t go wrong. Another possibility for the Cardinals is to trade back, acquire some picks and draft LSU’s Justin Jefferson and reunite him with assistant wide receivers coach Jerry Sullivan, with whom he worked in college. — Josh Weinfuss
With two picks in Round 1 (Nos. 9 and 20), which positions are the Jaguars’ priorities?
The Jaguars’ defense is a shell of the unit that was one of the league’s best in 2017, and their biggest weakness last season was against the run. They have to replace tackle Marcell Dareus, who made a significant difference when he was on the field versus when he wasn’t (more than 50 yards per game allowed). Auburn’s Derrick Brown and South Carolina’s Javon Kinlaw are the names to watch at No. 9.
The Jaguars feel offensive line is one of their strengths, so there are a multiple ways they could go at No. 20, but staying on defense seems like the best idea. Cornerback will be a major need, especially if they move on from A.J. Bouye. LSU’s Kristian Fulton is a name to watch, too. — Michael DiRocco
Cleveland needs to upgrade at left tackle. Will it look to free agency or stick with the draft?
Considering the Browns also need to address right tackle, it seems likely they’ll select a tackle here, regardless of free agency. This is a solid draft for tackles in Round 1: Alabama’s Jedrick Wills Jr., Louisville’s Mekhi Becton, Houston’s Josh Jones and Georgia’s Andrew Thomas all look like potential franchise left tackles.
If the Browns can address right tackle in free agency — Jack Conklin, anyone? — they could then zero in on adding their blind-side protector of the future through the draft. — Jake Trotter