Bassett NFL mock draft 1.0: Receivers dominate the 1st round

Bailey Bassett

1. Cincinnati Bengals, Joe Burrow, QB, LSU

Anytime a franchise quarterback is available with the top pick, a quarterback-needy team should scoop him up without any hesitation. The Bengals can reset the direction of the franchise that hasn’t won in the playoffs since 1990 by snatching the Heisman Trophy winner. Joe Burrow is the clear best quarterback in the class, in my opinion, since Patrick Mahomes.

2. Washington Redskins, Chase Young, EDGE, Ohio State

Chase Young is the best prospect in the draft and the best defensive talent to come out in years. He will be a day-one star for a team that lacks big-time playmakers. Expect Young to evoke fear in opposing quarterbacks early in his career.

Ad

3. Detroit Lions, Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State

The first two picks were gimmes, but this pick could go in a number of different directions. The Lions traded away star cornerback Darius Slay, and his replacement, Desmond Trufant, is no longer a CB1. The Lions need help in a lot of different areas on the defensive side of the ball, but getting someone who can lock down opponents’ top receivers will be key, especially in a division that features Adam Thielen and Davante Adams.

 4. New York Giants, Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama

This is one of the deepest receiver classes ever, but the Giants need to build around young quarterback Daniel Jones. Giving him a superb route runner to complement one of the best running backs in the game, Saquon Barkley, should take some of the load off of Jones’ shoulders.

 5. Miami Dolphins, Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama

Two Ohio State and Alabama players get selected within the top five. Miami could wait out a quarterback since they have two more first-round picks and a recent first-round selection in Josh Rosen, but quarterbacks tend to go early in the draft. If Miami believes Tua Tagovailoa is the guy and that his health concerns won’t be a problem, they should pounce on the Bama product. The presence of Rosen allows Tagovailoa to nurse his hip until he is ready to go and allows Miami to display to the league if Rosen is worthy of any sort of trade compensation. 

 6. Los Angeles Chargers, Isaiah Simmons, S/LB, Clemson

Instead of grabbing a quarterback, I expect the Chargers to tank for Trevor Lawrence next season. Tyrod Taylor can bridge the gap until then, allowing Los Angeles to snag the most versatile player in recent memory. Isaiah Simmons is a plug and play athlete that can line up all over the place, and he never has to come off the field. He took snaps at inside linebacker, outside linebacker, safety and cornerback last season. 

 7. Carolina Panthers, Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn

Carolina lost a lot of players in their front seven, and they would revitalize the trenches with this selection. Derrick Brown will do the dirty work and is good both against the run and as an interior pass rusher. 

 8. Arizona Cardinals, Andrew Thomas, OL, Georgia

Arizona needs to protect their franchise quarterback Kyler Murray, who was sacked 48 times last season. Some of that falls on the young quarterback who held onto the ball too long and scrambled a little too much, but the Cardinals don’t want Murray’s small stature to take that much of a beating again. This pick helps to rejuvenate this young offense with the acquisition of star receiver DeAndre Hopkins.

9. Jacksonville Jaguars, Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina

I’m not sold that Gardner Minshew is the long-term answer behind center, but they can give him a test run and look at Trevor Lawrence next year if it doesn’t work out. In the meantime, adding Javon Kinlaw will bolster the defense that lost so many defensive stars to the trade market this offseason. Jacksonville was getting too old and too expensive on the defensive end of the ball, and the 324 pound behemoth will help fill the void left by guys like Calais Campbell and Marcell Dareus.

10. Cleveland Browns, Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma

Cleveland has been a dysfunctional franchise and notoriously bad in the draft for years, but they seem to finally be turning a corner. Murray has the versatility to play anywhere on the second level and should be an upgrade to departed linebackers Joe Schobert and Christian Kirksey. The Browns also aren’t known for having the best of characters and a locker room guy like Murray should help. 

11. New York Jets, CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma

The Jets are thirsty for offensive playmakers, and they lost arguably their best receiver to free agency in Robby Anderson. A stud all-around receiver with big play ability makes perfect sense here, especially considering the Jets are also developing a young quarterback in Sam Darnold. 

12. Las Vegas Raiders, Xavier McKinney, DB/S, Alabama

In a deep receiver class like this, the Raiders can pass on a receiver and hope for one in round two or in their later first-round pick, allowing them to select the top defensive back on the board. Alabama always produces defensive talent, and Xavier McKinney can play right away. He is in some ways a poor man’s version of Isaiah Simmons with his versatility, and he can move around in sub-packages. 

Ad

13. San Francisco 49ers, Jedrick Wills Jr., OT, Alabama

The Niners have front seven depth and receive this pick after trading away former first-rounder DeForest Buckner, so going defense here doesn’t make a ton of sense. A receiver to pair with Deebo Samuel would be nice, but I don’t like Henry Ruggs III’s fit. Therefore, grabbing Jedrick Wills Jr. to replace the aging legend Joe Staley and to play on the opposite side of 2018 first-round tackle Mike McGlinchey would be ideal. 

 14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa

With the signing of future Hall of Famer Tom Brady, the Bucs are obviously in win now mode. Protecting a 42-year-old who doesn’t move like he once did is key, and that’s why Tristan Wirfs makes so much sense here. He quite frankly fell too far, as he has a case for the best offensive lineman in the draft.

15. Denver Broncos, Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama

This flashy pick is sure to make Broncos fans happy, as Henry Ruggs III has remarkable speed, displayed by his 4.27 seconds 40-yard dash time. He will complement rising star Courtland Sutton perfectly. John Elway, Broncos general manager and president of football operations, is infatuated with Ruggs, furthering the likelihood of this pick.

16. Atlanta Falcons, C.J. Henderson, CB, Florida

The Falcons’ defense has a lot of holes, and in a thin defensive back draft class, C.J. Henderson is the way to go. Henderson is one of the more game-ready and polished players in the draft. They lost long-time Falcon Desmond Trufant, illustrating the positional need as well. 

17. Dallas Cowboys, Cesar Ruiz, C, Michigan

What was once the league’s most feared offensive line now lacks depth and some of the star talent it formerly had. Cesar Ruiz may be a little bit of a reach, but the Cowboys hope he can anchor the O-line for years like the recently retired Travis Frederick did since 2013.

18. Miami Dolphins, K’Lavon Chaisson, EDGE, LSU

Miami got their quarterback early and now can look to fill their many defensive holes. Their free agent acquisitions will help, but K’Lavon Chaisson has star potential. He is a boom or bust prospect, but Chaisson has the work ethic, speed and athleticism to give Miami’s defense a significant long-term boost. 

 19. Las Vegas Raiders, Brandon Aiyuk, WR, Arizona State

The Raiders plans work out here, as they can still grab a stud receiver. They choose Brandon Aiyuk, who serves as an Al Davis throwback type of selection. Aiyuk has great speed and is the top return specialist in the class.

20. Jacksonville Jaguars, A.J. Epenesa, DE, Iowa

Once again, the Jags bolster their defensive front that lost a lot of players. Earlier they took a disruptive interior player, and they can now pair him with an edge player in A.J. Epenesa.

21. Philadelphia Eagles, Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU

Everyone remembers the famous Nelson Agholor drop game. The Eagles have needed receivers for years, and here they can choose from two receivers who played vital roles in the college football championship game. They prioritize the slot rather than the outside with the LSU product.

22. Minnesota Vikings, Mekhi Becton, OL, Louisville

Here is another team that has struggled to figure out one position group for years. The Vikings hope Mekhi Becton can solve the lineman woes that have plagued them for years.

23. New England Patriots, Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon

I certainly don’t trust Brian Hoyer or Jarrett Stidham to be the quarterback for a franchise that has QB stability going back two decades. They can still get a free agent like Cam Newton or Jameis Winston, but both of those guys come with serious red flags. I think the franchise goes in a new direction and hopes Justin Herbert can be the next Patriots signal caller to see success with the team for an extended time. Here the Patriots potentially once again get a steal, as some people have Herbert mocked to as high as the fifth pick. Utah State’s Jordan Love is an option as well, as he can make those jaw-dropping throws.

24. New Orleans Saints, A.J. Terrell, CB, Clemson

The Saints roster is stacked, and therefore they can go with the best player available. On my board that is A.J. Terrell, who won’t have to have a big role day one since Marshon Lattimore is one of the best young corners in the league. 

25. Minnesota Vikings, Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama

The Vikings were hoping A.J. Terrell fell one more spot, but after a bad game at the highest stage in the spotlight of the national championship game, maybe that isn’t a bad thing. Minnesota replaces Stefon Diggs with his younger brother, who has familiarity with the team. Trevon Diggs will be asked to contribute right away with the recent departures of Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes.

26. Miami Dolphins, Ezra Cleveland, OT, Boise State

After snagging their quarterback of the future, the Dolphins need to get someone to protect him. This pick is all the more necessary considering the trade of Laremy Tunsil and the injury concerns associated with Tua Tagovailoa.

27. Seattle Seahawks, D’Andre Swift, RB, Georgia

Eventually, the Seahawks won’t be able to continue bringing in Marshawn Lynch for help, and D’Andre Swift has fallen way too far, even in a market that undervalues ball carriers. Last year, D.K. Metcalf bolstered this offense, and Swift can help in a similar manner while masking some of the offensive protection issues.

28. Baltimore Ravens, Patrick Queen, LB, LSU

The Ravens’ defense outperformed expectations last year, but the offense is set as long as Lamar Jackson keeps playing at an MVP level. Patrick Queen is a great run stopper for the middle of a defense known for glory.

29. Tennessee Titans, Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson

Corey Davis hasn’t panned out quite as they hoped when they selected him fifth overall a few years ago, and receivers are flying off the board left and right. The Titans avoid missing out and get a really good player and superb touchdown catcher in Tee Higgins.

30. Green Bay Packers, Grant Delpit, S, LSU

There is a bit of a drop-off after the first six wide receivers are taken; therefore, the Packers wait on the desperately needed running mate to Davante Adams. Instead, they go defensive back to further help a unit that was much improved last year. 

31. San Francisco 49ers, Jeff Gladney, CB, Texas Christian

Rarely does a Super Bowl contestant have the luxury of two first-round picks succeeding their appearance in the big game. The 49ers are another receiver-needy team that missed out on the run of pass-catchers, but Jeff Gladney is a decent backup option and the second player taken by San Francisco that can be a long-term starter.

32. Kansas City Chiefs, Zack Baun, LB, Wisconsin

The defending champions have one of the most explosive offenses ever. Defense is the obvious need, and Zach Baun is a good candidate. The linebacker can rush the quarterback or drop into coverage whenever needed. 

Bailey Bassett can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @baileybassett_.