Part 3 of our NFL Mock is finally here. In Part 1 and Part 2 we covered the first twenty picks of the draft and who we think the teams would and should take. Here, in Part 3, we cover the remaining twelve picks, and we get started with Philly.
#21 Philadelphia Eagles
Pick: Justin Jefferson, WR
The Eagles kick us off by taking the fourth receiver of this historic receiver class with Justin Jefferson from LSU. Last season the Eagles made the playoffs with Zach Ertz, Dallas Goedert, and a ragtag assortment of former practice squad and AAF (Alliance of American Football League) players at wide receiver. This is due to the Eagles neglecting to invest in their receivers for years now, resorting to aging Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson who played a combined 13 games for 649 yards and 6 touchdowns. Imagine what Carson Wentz could do with a real receiving corps.
There are some valid arguments that the Eagles could take a corner here even after trading with the Detroit Lions for Darius Slay. While this class of wide receivers is exceptionally deep, Jefferson is the last of the elite tier of receivers. In Part 2 of the Mock Draft we covered the strengths of the other elite receivers; Lamb specializes in the spectacular, Ruggs is the fastest man alive, and Jeudy runs the smoothest routes in the draft. Jefferson isn’t elite in any of those categories, but is above average at all three.
In 2019, Jefferson caught 111 passes for 1,540 yards from the slot, where he showed his ability to separate. He showed his flair for the spectacular with 18 touchdowns and some of the most fun catches I’ve watched. At the NFL Combine he ran a 4.43-sec. 40-yard dash showing off his above average speed. Jefferson is one of the most complete receivers of the draft.
Rookie wide receivers always struggle to transition to the NFL. Mostly due to the fact that college defenses primarily play a lot of zone instead of man coverage. Jefferson will slot in as the primary Y-Receiver, that Head Coach Doug Peterson will move all over the field. The only question is can he handle the transition?
LSU ran one of the most electric offenses that college football has ever seen in 2019. If there was ever a time for a receiver to transition to the NFL this would be it. Jefferson is going to a prime landing spot with no real competition. Alshon Jeffery hasn’t been the same in two seasons and he’s not getting any younger. Jefferson slots in as my WR3 in this class and should undoubtedly be a first round pick. For 1QB leagues he should go around pick eight, in Superflex around pick ten.
#22 Minnesota Vikings
Pick: Jeff Gladney, CB
The Vikings are without their top three cornerbacks from 2019. They’ll ask 2018 first-rounder Mike Hughes to man one side of the field. Jeff Gladney will play opposite him.
Head coach Mike Zimmer’s defensive scheme relies on its cornerbacks to hold up man-to-man with Cover-2 and Cover-3 zones in support. If Gladney’s ready for the assignment, he could transition into the slot with NFC North opponents Davante Adams and Allen Robinson in Cover-2 looks while the third cornerback plays outside.
Gladney is an intriguing fantasy option and worth a look as a CB2 in cornerback-required leagues. His ability to play in the slot could keep him closer to the line of scrimmage and in position to blitz occasionally. Divisional matchups against a couple of the league’s most targeted receivers should provide him the opportunities for tackles and passes defensed needed for IDP-relevance.
#23 New England Patriots
Pick: Jordan Love, QB
The Patriots’ 20-year reign of terror is finally over. Tom Brady is gone, the team’s offense is in shambles, and Bill Belichick is washed up now that he doesn’t have the GOAT. Alternatively, the Patriots will draft a quarterback in the first round who will kick us into the next phase of the dynasty to end all dynasties. Who could possibly replace the greatest quarterback Foxborough and the NFL have ever seen?
Jordan Love is an interesting prospect. In 2018 Love put in a solid season at a smaller school, 32 touchdowns and only 6 turnovers with a healthy 3,600 passing yards. In 2019, the wheels fell off. His head coach left for Texas Tech, taking most of his staff with him. Love still had 3,400 yards in 2019, but his impressive 5.33:1 touchdown to interception ratio came crashing down. Love threw 17 interceptions with only 20 total touchdowns, leaving him with a 1.18:1 ratio. This fall in production has caused his draft stock to take a hard hit to the point where people are discussing if he should even be a first round pick.
I think the Patriots will be taking a quarterback to compete with Jarrett Stidham for the keys to the Patriots future. Stidham looked above average in preseason games in 2019, but preseason stats don’t count and we shouldn’t be just handing anything over to anyone. They need to earn it, it’s the Patriots’ way. Someone I like to compete with Stidham is Jordan Love. He’s shown he can be a proficient pocket passer when things are built around him, and Bill Belichick will put Love in the best possible situation to succeed.
From a fantasy standpoint if the Patriots drafted Jordan Love in the first round, in any superflex league I’m doing the same. I am fully aware that the Patriots don’t have the best skill position corps in the NFL but they still have an amazing offensive line, an amazing defense, and a head coach who will do what it takes to get the weapons he needs. The Patriots will be taking weapons in this draft as well with at least one of their twelve draft picks, and they’ve shown if those players don’t work out they’re willing to trade for one. Jordan Love in traditional 1QB leagues would be my third ranked quarterback in this class who would be an ideal stash and save if you have the depth to handle it.
#24 New Orleans Saints
Pick: Patrick Queen, LB
The Saints have lacked a presence in the middle of their defense for years, but it’s not for lack of effort. Top-100 picks and free-agent additions have cycled through since 2015 first-round selection Stephone Anthony busted.
The Saints’ thin depth chart at linebacker should enable Queen to step in right away, nearly full-time. He’ll have defensive tackles in front of him tasked with keeping him clean, which he’ll need to be successful in the NFL. He has ample speed to chase running backs to either sideline.
Patrick Queen’s presence at middle linebacker will enable Demario Davis to roam more in 2020. Davis enjoyed a banner year covering tight ends, blitzing, and making splash plays.
Provided Queen doesn’t fall on this face in training camp, he’s a high-floor LB3 with room for more. The Saints have become accustomed to playing downhill, and 2020 should be no different with the return of every core player. The pressure their defense can put on opponents should help Queen to his share of tackles for loss and fortuitous turnovers.
In a tackle-heavy format, Queen is comfortably the top rookie IDP for 2020 fantasy leagues and is a quality asset in balanced-scoring redraft and dynasty leagues. Queen is an attractive dynasty rookie draft target late in round 2 after 2020’s wealth of quality wide receivers.
#25 Minnesota Vikings
Pick: Denzel Mims
Stefon Diggs is gone, Odell is nowhere to be found, and the Vikings’ Superbowl window is closing. The Vikings have an obvious need at receiver with Adam Thielen being the only proven asset in the passing game. They need a player who can step into Diggs’ shoes and perform in year one. Of every player in this class, I believe Denzel Mims has the easiest transition to fantasy stardom in his rookie season.
Denzel Mims is a bigger body at 6’3” who played for former Baylor and current Carolina Panthers’ head coach Matt Rhule. Mims put his name on the map at the Senior Bowl where he balled out amongst other elite talents. He pushed his draft stock even further up the board with an amazing NFL Combine performance which included a 4.38-sec. 40-yard dash, a 38.5” vertical, and a 131” broad jump. He’s NFL ready and is the perfect fit for the receiver needy Vikings.
As I’ve repeated multiple times throughout this series, the biggest issue for receivers transitioning to the NFL from college is nobody plays against press coverage. Mims is the exception to that rule. Mims played almost all of his snaps on the outside, only going to the slot for a grand total of 81 total snaps in his college career. On the outside Mims faced a high rate of press and man coverage during his time at Baylor and he put on a show, consistently getting open. If the Vikings want someone to replace Diggs and help push them back to the playoffs they need Mims with this pick.
Mims would fall as my WR4 in this class behind only CeeDee Lamb, Jerry Jeudy, and Justin Jefferson. He lands in the perfect landing spot to utilize his talents allowing him huge year one potential. He’s also a lesser known name that can potentially be gotten at a discount that will outperform the players taken before him. While everyone is clambering to get Jeudy, Jefferson, Lamb, and the running backs, Mims is just falling ever farther down the draft board. Right now in 1QB leagues he’s being drafted at the end of round one or the start of round two. That’s almost a round cheaper than Lamb or Jeudy and he could have similar or better production. In Superflex he’s even lower at early to mid round two which just means you can cash in on him even cheaper. Be on the lookout for this guy in your leagues.
#26 Miami Dolphins
Pick: Josh Jones, OT
The Dolphins have already gotten the quarterback they are hopeful can be the face of their franchise for years to come. To keep Tua the face of their franchise with all his injury concerns they need to be able to protect him. With the number of teams that need offensive line help the Dolphins can’t afford to wait until the second round to get the top guy left on the board. This leaves them taking Josh Jones from Houston.
Josh Jones has a lot of potential in his game. He’s built like a solid lineman should be built, has the measurables that he needs, and has shown on tape he’s a great player. The issue is he’s going to take some time to transition to the NFL. Unlike some of the top prospects in this draft like Tristian Wirfs or Andrew Thomas, Jones has a lot of holes in technique that he needs to address before he can be considered an elite talent. Luckily for him, the Dolphins also drafted Tua who will also need time to adjust to the NFL.
This pick for fantasy has a net positive impact for the Dolphins’ skill players, but only because they had the worst offensive line unit in the entire NFL in 2019. Anything they add to it will improve it, even if who they add isn’t NFL ready. Though I don’t think there will be a significant enough improvement to actually boost anyone in fantasy. Like I mentioned in Part 1 of this series, the Dolphins are in full rebuild mode and they’re doing it quickly. Watch out for the skill players in 2020, but for now in 2019 don’t go out of your way to acquire assets.
#27 Seattle Seahawks
Pick: Yetur Gross-Matos, DE
The Seahawks have a gaping hole at weakside defensive end after the failed Ziggy Ansah experiment and their inability to extend Jadeveon Clowney. With Clowney banged up for much of the year, the team’s pass rush finished in NFL’s bottom five in QB sacks and pressures.
Yetur Gross-Matos should step in right away as a contributor to the Seahawks’ steady rotation of defensive linemen. He’ll back up 32-year-old Bruce Irvin to open the season, a player Gross-Matos should overtake in time with experience and development.
Yetur Gross-Matos is a high-ceiling edge prospect on a team with sustained success. The Seahawks have rebuilt their secondary by trading for Quandre Diggs and Quinton Dunbar. Their pass rushers should have time to reach opposing quarterbacks.
Although not a redraft asset for 2020, he is worth consideration in the fourth round of dynasty rookie drafts with balanced scoring. He should grow into a fantasy DE2 in his second or third year.
#28 Baltimore Ravens
Pick: Cesar Ruiz, C
Not many teams are in as good a position headed into the draft as the Ravens are. Their list of needs is so low that they have full flexibility with this pick to go in any direction they choose. They could take a defensive end for depth behind future free agent Matt Judon, they could take another wide receiver to pair with Marquise (Hollywood) Brown, they could even draft a replacement for Mark Ingram who’s slowly coming to the end of his long career. I wouldn’t be surprised if they went in any of these directions, but I have them going for Cesar Ruiz the center from Michigan.
The Ravens don’t need a center, they have Matt Skura starting who is more than competent. The reason the Ravens look at Ruiz here is to replace former guard Marshal Yanda who was an eight-time Pro Bowler. Ruiz entered the draft as a center but he has experience bumping out to guard at his time in Michigan and he has shown he can play it quite well. This is a bit of a riskier pick here but the Ravens love to take risks when nobody expects it.
The loss of Marshal Yanda can’t be understated for the Ravens offensive line. Yanda was the captain of the line and he was the anchor who helped hold it all together. That offensive line is what helped Lamar Jackson break the record for most rushing yards by a quarterback with 1,206. He also helped the offensive line buy time for Jackson to throw for 36 touchdowns. If the Ravens are going to repeat an amazing fantasy campaign in 2020, they will need Ruiz to step up immediately.
Luckily for fantasy owners the transition from college to NFL for offensive guards is the easiest position on the line. Ruiz is a very talented prospect coming out of Michigan with practice swapping roles on the line. That versatility should help him adapt and transition to the NFL at a quicker than average pace.
I do think that the Ravens offense as a whole will be regressing this season because for 1) it’s hard to repeat that kind of season for anyone year to year and 2) because Ruiz has enormous shoes to fill.
Only time will tell if Ruiz can transition but fantasy owners should be at least prepared for slight regression.
#29 Tennessee Titans
Pick: A.J. Epenesa, DE
AJ Epenesa should step right into the starting role opposite phenom Jeffery Simmons in the Titans’ 3-4 front. He’ll be tasked with setting the edge or pushing the pocket in base sets. He’ll have opportunities to rush the passer from the interior of the Titans’ 4-2 nickel package.
Only elite defensive ends from 3-4 schemes are useful IDPs in fantasy football. Even in true-position formats, Epenesa’s role will support production from Simmons and the outside linebackers rather than his own stats. AJ Epenesa isn’t a fantasy factor in Tennessee.
#30 Green Bay Packers
Pick: Trevon Diggs, CB
The Packers have spent three top-50 picks on cornerbacks in the last three NFL drafts but take another shot at the position in the person of Trevon Diggs. Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine prizes press-man coverage specialists, a profile that Diggs fits to a ‘T’.
A press-man cornerback is an aggressive player that aims to get his hands on the ball. Green Bay cornerbacks have three top-20 finishes in pass break-ups over the past two years to their credit.
Diggs is an attractive fantasy option for those who wait to add cornerbacks to their rosters, if he wins the starting role. If he comes out of the gate slow, however, he can be replaced on rosters by streamers based on match-ups.
#31 San Francisco 49ers
Pick: A.J. Terrell, CB
A defense with no holes aims to upgrade the starting cornerback position opposite Richard Sherman. AJ Terrell should compete with Ahkello Witherspoon and Emmanuel Moseley, neither of whom played poorly in 2019.
Richard Sherman was one of three NFL cornerbacks targeted on fewer than 10% of his coverage snaps in 2019 (min. 25 coverage snaps). His elite company includes Byron Jones and Casey Hayward (numbers calculated from PFF.com stats).
The 49ers’ other cornerbacks thus see a little more action. If AJ Terrell earns a starting role, he’ll be worth a look in the right match-ups for IDP fantasy football in 2020.
#32 Kansas City Chiefs
Pick: Terrell Lewis, LB
The Chiefs have more holes on defense than any Super Bowl champion in recent memory. The team finished merely 20th in total quarterback pressures in 2019 according to Pro-Football-Reference.com.
The 32nd pick doesn’t afford them a player that can deliver immediate impact as a pass rusher. Terrell Lewis is a high-upside prospect who flashed in an injury-riddled career of only 26 games in college. Lewis should open his career as a situational pass rusher. He’ll need to improve his play strength to play in base sets and in run defense.
Lewis’s best fit in the Chiefs’ current defensive scheme is in Frank Clark’s weak side defensive end spot. Clark’s contract ensures a long tenure in Kansas City. The Chiefs will likely ask Lewis to add weight to his 6’5” frame and improve his tackling to play the strong side in future years.
Terrell Lewis is not a fantasy option for 2020. He’s worth a late pick in dynasty rookie drafts to be stashed on a taxi squad. The chance for a handsome payoff makes him a better selection than most of the defensive backs likely to go off the board before him in typical full-IDP leagues.
This concludes our NFL Mock Draft Series. Hope you enjoyed it, and even though this mock almost certainly winds up looking nothing like the actual draft, we hope you can take the insight that we’re providing to why each player would be an improvement for each team. You can find our next articles at Dynasty Football Factory coming soon and on Twitter @DFF_Calvin and @DynastyTRIdP. Hit us up with any thoughts or comments and good luck in your leagues.