This is the first Cohen’s Corner entry in quite a while and at the rate we’re going, it might be the last for a bit as well. Most importantly I hope those of you who are reading and your families / friends are safe, healthy, and will stay that way long term.
While I’m very much looking forward to this week’s NFL Draft, it’s hard to be excited for much in sports beyond that. With the lack of progress we’ve seen in the nearly six weeks since sports were shut down, it’s hard to imagine we’ll have live baseball, basketball, hockey, and potentially football anytime soon.
If I was to make a bet today, I’d say the NHL season is done, the NBA’s is on life support, and MLB + College Football aren’t looking too good. I’d like to think the NFL has the potential of playing in empty stadiums come September but even that is hard to imagine at the moment.
Don’t get me wrong…I’m not trying to be all doom and gloom. But as it stands today, I’m having a hard time seeing mainstream sports getting back out there anytime soon.
For now, let’s enjoy this weekend’s NFL Draft and the potential of seeing these fantastic players on the playing field come the Fall.
Last year I tried to mock the first ten picks with some success but this year it’s that much more difficult with the lack of pre-draft pro days and further evaluations by team scouts.
Here’s one man’s guess as to how the top half of the first round looks with a comment on each pick below:
1. CINCINNATI: Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
A free square on the bingo board. Last year’s breakout star and Heisman Trophy winner becomes the next great hope for Cincinnati.
2. WASHINGTON: Chase Young, EDGE, Ohio State
Young is an absolute stud who follows in the lines of Joey and Nick Bosa from OSU. There’s no reason he shouldn’t be an overwhelming favorite for Defensive Rookie of the Year. It’s hard to see bust potential here barring injuries.
3. MIAMI DOLPHINS (projected trade with Detroit): Tua Tagovailoa, QB,
It likely would cost the Dolphins pick 39 to move up and select the biggest risk among QBs in the first round. I, for one, think Tua will be a solid NFL QB who absolutely needs a redshirt year in the pros to get healthy and learn the ropes. Learning under Harvard grad Ryan Fitzpatrick also doesn’t seem like a bad idea. Originally I had Tua going to the Chargers at this pick but the more I’ve read / heard, the more I think Miami makes the move up to secure their QB of the future.
4. NEW YORK GIANTS: Isaiah Simmons, OLB, Clemson
I saw Simmons make an interception in the Fiesta Bowl that was an out-of-this-world play for a hybrid linebacker. It makes sense for the rebuilding Giants to take the second best player on the board (behind Young) to reshape their defense.
5. DETROIT (projected trade with Miami): Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State
If the Lions can accumulate picks and pick up the draft’s best cornerback at #5, it’s an absolute steal for a franchise that needs some luck.
6. LOS ANGELES CHARGERS: Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
I’m not a huge fan of Herbert’s…in fact, there is definitely bust potential here based on what I’ve seen. But the Chargers are moving into a new stadium (presumably…then again, when will fans be able to go there?) so might as well take their QB of the future here. One good news for LAC, their ‘new’ uniforms are easily the coolest in the league!
7. CAROLINA: Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn
Brown is a beast in the middle and one of my favorite players in the draft. The Panthers almost have to take Simmons or Brown if they’re available, right?
8. ARIZONA: Jedrick Wills Jr., OT, Alabama
The Cards HAVE to take an offensive lineman here despite their desire to add another receiver. They MUST protect their biggest draft investment, Kyler Murray, with a competent left / right tackle. Any of the four top OL are good fits here so this is pure guesswork in projecting the Alabama tackle to AZ. If not Wills, Tristan Wirfs and his freakish athleticism makes a ton of sense.
9. DENVER (projected trade with Jacksonville): Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
In this scenario, the Jaguars acquire picks 15, 77, and 83 from the Broncos to move down six slots in the first round. Meanwhile the Broncos add to their nice nucleus with arguably the draft’s top wide receiver.
10. CLEVELAND: Tristan Wirfs, OL, Iowa
I wouldn’t be shocked if the Browns trade down but if not, they almost have to take one of the four top offensive linemen. Based on what I’ve seen and read, Wirfs might be my favorite.
11. NEW YORK JETS: Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
See the Cardinals and Browns for what the Jets should and likely will do.
12. LAS VEGAS: CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
This is a pick the Raiders have to make. They have no credible top receivers on the roster and I just don’t see a scenario which involves them passing on Lamb if he’s available.
13. PHILADELPHIA (projected trade with San Francisco): Henry Ruggs, WR, Alabama
The Eagles also are desperate for a speedy pass catcher and trade picks 19 & 53 to take the fastest and possibly most dynamic receiver in the draft. San Francisco needs to accumulate picks so I would assume more trades are coming later in the first round.
14. TAMPA BAY: Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville
The Bucs don’t have to move up as the choice is easy to add a protector for Tom Brady in the monstrous 6’7″, 368 lb tackle.
15. JACKSONVILLE (projected trade with Denver): Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina
The way the Jaguars are going, they’ll be lucky to win three games in 2020. What a disaster! Kinlaw will help the depleted defense as will the extra picks acquired by moving down.
16. ATLANTA: CJ Henderson, CB, Florida
Atlanta needs Henderson badly to replace the departed Desmond Trufant and I wouldn’t be shocked if they traded with Jacksonville (9) or Cleveland (10) to get him. In this scenario, they luck out while not having to trade additional compensation.
Projected landing spots for the other notable QBs:
- Jordan Love: Patriots (23)
- Jacob Eason: Colts (44)
- Jake Fromm: Buccaneers (76)
- Jalen Hurts: Saints (3rd round – trade up)
-Love’s fall won’t go beyond the Patriots or Saints in the first round. There’s some boom potential there.
-Eason has a tremendous arm but no idea where it’s going. He’d be a nice redshirt candidate learning from Philip Rivers in Indy.
-Likewise with Jake Fromm under Tom Brady and Bruce Arians in Tampa Bay.
-I’m bullish on Hurts becoming a legitimate starter in the NFL. Could he be the next Dak Prescott? I’d be all for my Packers taking him as Aaron Rodgers’ eventual successor.
-Speaking of the Packers, I’ll predict they take one of my favorite players in the draft, USC WR Michael Pittman, Jr. at #30. If so, getting a 6’4″ pass catcher is a home run for a team who needs another dynamic playmaker!
Best Bets (with decent odds)
-Tua as the 3rd pick: +400
-Simmons to the Giants: +275
-Thomas to the Jets: +500
-Jeudy to the Broncos: +300