Sports don’t exist anymore. Too many people. Too much sweat. All those bodies entangled and coughing on one another. Strange butts squatted in tiny seats scooted up against each other. Coughing on popcorn. Thousands of hands touching the same handles. A perfect place for the invisible enemy to hop in a pair of grayed lungs, fly to new homes, new work places, into new nasal cavities and airways.
But sports can’t entirely go away. We are dumb creatures that need recreation and pleasure. So sports transformed into other things. The stock market is sports. There’s numbers. There’s immediate winners and losers. The jersey colors are green and red. It’s irrational. Making correct decisions based on the information provided doesn’t guarantee results; sometimes a giant hedge fund pumps, and sometimes the ball bounces in a funny way.
Video games are sports. Old Playstations have been dusted off. Neon green cases have been pulled out of garages. Hit sticks are flipped. College basketball dynasties are simulated. Some, rather than doing anything else, like reading a book or going for a walk, are watching players play the video games of the games they are paid to play against the players they play against by playing themselves.
The premier sport during this time period has been the NFL Draft. Luckily for us, this stupid thing that we enjoy hasn’t coincided with the terror that “little bug” has flooded the world with. This sport is carrying on like nothing can happen this fall. The sun will wash away the spiders and the Corona. That will be that, something we can all look back on and laugh about. Phew, that was a pretty crazy time.
Over the previous couple of months, we’ve argued about which quarterbacks will be taken in the first round, who’s your wide receiver number five, interior defensive line hand usage, pad level, fraudulent Pro Days, and mock draft spider webs have been the monomaniacal athletic focus. Taking the form of Twitter threads, big boards, and of course, mock drafts, all placed in bottles and published at sea.
This is my mock draft. This is the only one I got. After this weekend, once the biggest sport around comes to an end, hopefully by May, June, just sometime, anytime soon, we can go back to living the little lives that we liked to live. Maybe not, but hopefully so.
1. Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Burrow (Quarterback, LSU)
Joe Burrow can’t miss was the central plot to the 2019 college football season. He carried out a great offense developed by Joe Brady, who gets to do the same thing in Carolina, and distributed the ball to an eclectic group of skill players. Yeah, I know, I get it, college production doesn’t really translate to the NFL, but a 76.3% completion percentage, and 60:6 touchdown ratio is absolutely absurd, and is one of the all-time great seasons ever played at that level.
The two most important traits for a quarterback is accuracy and decision making. Burrow has both of these. I’m also at the point where I wouldn’t even consider taking a quarterback early in the draft unless they are mobile. Burrow is “sneaky” athletic. His speed really surprises defenders. In a calm manner he can dodge pressure, make throws on the run, and scamper through the center of the field to pick up enough.
The arm strength is whatever. That’s not my concern. Mine is the age. He was 23 last season, and was 5 years older than some of his opponents. Of course he should have been great. He said so himself.
Regardless, sometimes you have to go under to go over. Last seasons’ 2-14 Bengals season was the under from mediocrity. Burrow represents the chance for them to go over, and finally escape those years of unfulfilled mediocrity. A dominating defensive line. Burrow throwing to A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd, Auden Tate, John Ross (if he even exists), and Joe Mixon. The Bengals will be a fun Sunday afternoon in 2020.
2. Washington Redskins: Chase Young (Edge, Ohio State)
I have a confession. Washington is my favorite NFC East team. I lived in the area for a fall. Virginia is prettier than it should be. I loved listening to the bar patrons scream for broken ankles, and snapped collar bones, after their seventh Miller Lite before noon, while I watched Ryan Mallett play professional quarterback. I’m not a big fan of the nickname, but I dig the colors. Maroon and yellow is omg so hot.
The problem has been the on field play. They had won at least seven games with one playoff appearance for the previous four years, until, well, last season happened. And during this time, I can’t name one interesting thing about watching those teams play. When will Jordan Reed get hurt? Is Kirk Cousins worth $35 million? Alfred Morris had a cute season. Vernon Davis jumped over a guy once. Real riveting stuff.
Chase Young will change all this. He has one of the best bends I’ve ever seen, and creates split second exterior pressure. With him, 2019 NFL Combine demigod Montez Sweat, Ryan Kerrigan’s biceps, their first round Alabama interior duo of Daron Payne and Jonathan Allen, and Matthew Ionadis providing some interior rush juice, all coached up Ron Rivera, there’s finally something notable here, something besides the pretty colors you see while you think about the leaves.
3. Detroit Lions: Isaiah Simmons (Linebacker, Clemson)
Matt Patricia and his soup stained sweater is another rotten plum dropped from Bill Belichick’s tree. It’s not about culture, it’s not about doingyerjerb, it’s not about versatility, it’s not about multiplicity, it’s about having the greatest quarterback of all-time taking a discount contract, and having a genius coach who understands value and how to scheme to his opponent better than any general manager and coach in the league. That’s the secret.
Does Detroit know this? No. Those goblins that crawl out of New England’s queso bread bowls never realize this. Detroit will take Simmons because he played at a great program, he’s versatile, he does a lot of everything, and the Lions can now be even more multiple, and run a variety of different defenses, and then go on to have a bottom five pass defense once again.
4. New York Giants: CJ Henderson (Cornerback, Florida)
I know David Gettleman wants to take a guard or a tackle, or an interior run stopper, so they can win in the trenches, and establish and stop the run. But there isn’t someone really worth that selection. So he’ll build out the pass defense, especially since Deandre Baker had a rough go at it last year. He’ll prove how smart he is by not taking the consensus #1 cornerback Jeff Okudah.
5. Miami Dolphins Tua Tagovailoa (Quarterback, Alabama)
I dig Tua. Again, accuracy, decision making, and mobility. Plus I like his quick little zippy release and the whole left handed thing. And I know there’s injury concerns, mysterious surgeries, and his throwing motion has been scrutinized during the draft process. But he has the rest of it. The Dolphins need a quarterback. This is the best chance they’re going to have at it in the draft. 5-11 seems like the past with their coach, expensive offseason, and draft capital.
6. Los Angeles Chargers: Tristan Wirfs (Tackle, Iowa)
Everyone piles on Jameis Winston for throwing 30 interceptions. I get it. But Philip threw 20 of his own and he doesn’t get the same shame for making similar mistakes, albeit in a slower and older and sadder state.
I don’t blame him entirely though. His primary tackles last year were Trent Scott and Sam Tevi. An undrafted free agent and a sixth round pick. He spent the majority of last season stepping up and getting sacked from behind, running and cursing dang nabbits as he threw prayers off his backfoot. He’ll be beach house living in Indianapolis next season.
They traded Russell Okung, who only started six games last year, to Carolina for Trai Turner, to fill one of the guard positions. Wirfs is a monster, and an unbelievable power run blocker. I’m not too concerned about his imperfect at times pass protection technique. Hopefully they play both Wirfs and Turner on the same side next season. I’d watch them snap limbs and give Tyrod Taylor a path through the carnage in a power run scheme.
7. Carolina Panthers: Derrick Brown (Interior Defensive Line, Auburn)
This is my favorite pick of the draft. The Panthers lost the entirety of their pass defense last season: Mario Addison, Vernon Butler, Gerald McCoy, Eric Reid, and Luke Kuechly have all disappeared off their team. For a while there Carolina had an obsession with early round interior rushers and none of them really worked out. Star Lotulelei, Kawann Short, Kony Ealy, Vernon Butler, all scratched and clawed, but none of them turned into consistent Pro Bowl players.
I think Brown can be this. He’s like Fletcher Cox with arms the size of rotisserie chickens instead of HGH injected turkeys. If he adds 30 pounds or so he could become a similar player. An absolute interior wrecker who can dance like the bear at the end of the Blood Meridian.
8. Arizona Cardinals: Jedrick Willis Jr. (Tackle, Alabama)
Alabama is great at developing players at every position. Willis is another example of this. A pure pass blocking right tackle, who wouldn’t have to deal with the pressure of playing a new position, with opposite technique, since the Cardinals extended left tackle D.J. Humphries this offseason.
I want to see Kyler Murray play without worrying about pressure from the edges. He should keep his eyes straight ahead, then from there, he can roll up into a little cocoon at the slightest rustle coming from the brush. He’s too precious to actually get hit.
9. Jacksonville Jaguars CeeDee Lamb (Wide Reciever, Oklahoma)
The Jags have a wide receiver number one in D.J. Chark now, one of the members of the 2019 wide receiver one renaissance. He’s a sideline go up and get it guy. The Jags still like to spread things out on third down and throw cute little drags and slants and pick up yards after the catch. They released Marqise Lee this week. Lamb can fill that role, and immediately be one of the premier yards after the catch receivers. He was a carnival on Big 12 fields last year.
10. Cleveland Browns: Mekhi Becton (Tackle, Louisville)
Sssshhhhh don’t let anyone know that Cleveland’s pass protection was fine last year. Baker Mayfield turned it into a disaster by rolling right, instead of climbing, at the sniff of any pressure. The Browns won’t admit this. They already signed Jack Conklin to play right tackle. Left tackle Greg Williams trafficked a giant baby amount of marijuana through the desert this winter. Becton can play left. He can outside zone block. He’s very big.
11. New York Jets: Andrew Thomas (Tackle, Georgia)
The Jets have a new offensive line. They’ll never learn their lesson, don’t pay Seattle offensive linemen. They signed George Fant (tackle), Connor McGovern (center), Alex Lewis (guard), and Greg Van Roten (guard). They currently have former third round pick Chuma Edoga at left tackle. Let’s make it five for five.
12. Las Vegas Raiders: Jeff Okudah (Cornerback, Ohio State)
Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock are the NFL Draft’s hipsters. They’re going to reach. They’re going to take players no one has ever heard of. And they are going to do it all with dangling ear lobes, a red star shaded with black halves tattooed on their neck, and sip iced coffees while fighting over which vinyl to play throughout it.
They’ll be devastated when they can’t use their acumen to their advantage, and have to take the consensus number one, protypical shut down corner, with size and length and intrinsic understanding of playing the position.
13. San Francisco 49ers: Jerry Judy (Wide Receiver, Alabama)
The 49ers lost the Superbowl because Jimmy Garoppolo was too afraid to push it downfield against single high safety coverages, and the Chiefs were able to play eight man boxes and make up for their 31st ranked run defense. Jimmy took one chance. He missed it. That was that.
Kyle Shanahan doesn’t need a round one wide receiver. He can scheme anyone open. It’s a problem most would die to have.
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Javon Kinlaw (Interior Defender, South Carolina)
I feel for Javon. He’ll float from Mount Olympus and join us flesh bags down here and wait for his banal zoom call and feign happiness for being selected in the first round of this draft. He should be racing chariots and eating grapes in linen cloths. I don’t see him as a defensive tackle in the NFL, but as a one gapping 3-4 defensive end. Tampa could use him in a variety of wild ways, winning with sinew and outstretched arms, and getting plenty of one v. one matchups in a blitz heavy scheme.
15. Denver Broncos: Henry Ruggs III (Wide Receiver, Alabama)
The same as Jacksonville. A newborn number one wide receiver in Courtland Sutton, who primarily wins down the sideline. A young quarterback. They could use some yards after the catch lightning, someone who can decimate teams in the screen game, a perfect compliment to Denver’s run-run-run offense.
16. Atlanta Falcons: Patrick Queen (Linebacker, LSU)
The Falcons are fast. They love speed on defense. This sounds great every summer until they have the 27th ranked defense by week five and the entirety of their defense is hurt. They can get another go at it again. Queen and Deion Jones holding hands and covering backs like Christian McCaffrey and Alvin Kamara, running through the spaces Grady Jarrett creates.
17. Dallas Cowboys: Xavier McKinney (Safety, Alabama)
The Cowboys have a had a hole in the middle of the field for years. Jeff Heath has started at safety for the last three years. It’s time to plug it. McKinney is a genius player who can do a lot of everything.
18. Miami Dolphins: K’Lavon Chaisson (Edge, LSU)
From 18-20 you have three teams making their second picks, savoring the cost effective capital received from trading players for picks. Laremy Tunsil became #18. Khalil Mack became #19. Jalen Ramsey became #20. I like when things are cute and square and symmetrical.
The Dolphins had a hilarious pass rush last season. It was so despondent that Taco Charlton was their best pass rusher despite starting only five games. He had five sacks. Linebacker Vince Beigel led the team with 13 quarterback hits. They added pass defense talent, but still don’t have the pass rushing talent. Chaisson is a pure edge rusher and can fill this need.
19. Las Vegas Raiders: Tee Higgins (Wide Receiver, Clemson)
The Raiders had an Antonio Brown sized hole in their offense last season. After he burned his feet, lost his mind, tossed out a few crackers, forced a trade to New England, it was next man up, and this required Tyrell Williams to do something he’s never done before, carry a pass offense. This didn’t work. Beautiful rehab story Darren Waller led the team with targets. Derek Carr rolls right and finds Waller on a drag for seven.
Mayock probably loves Clemson wide receivers as much as Gruden loves crappy quarterbacks. Gruden’s hostel includes Marcus Mariota, Nathan Peterman, Deshone Kizer (My hope has no bounds), and Derrick Carr. Man, I love Jon Gruden. Mayock only has Hunter Renfrow.
20. Jacksonville Jaguars: Grant Delpit (Safety, LSU)
Entering last season I was excited for Ronnie Harrison. He was whatever. They had him playing more single than they should. Let’s end that. Delpit can play from middle of field to the sideline. No more Jarrod Wilson. No more Andrew Wingard.
21. Philadelphia Eagles: Denzel Mims (Wide Receiver, Baylor)
Denzel Mims makes the acrobatic sideline catches akin to the ones DeAndre Hopkins makes. Long stretchy fingers. Extended palms. Tips back to himself. The Eagles need a consistent wide receiver presence now that Alshon Jeffery is football old. I’m tired of watching Carson Wentz throw it to Zach Ertz twelve times a game.
22. Minnesota Vikings: A.J. Terrell (Cornerback, Clemson)
Out goes Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes, in comes another first round corner.
23. New England Patriots: Zach Baun (Outside Linebacker, Wisconsin
New England is going to trade down on Thursday and end up with some high character, multiple use, productive player, who can they can use in a variety of ways. They can have this in Baun. I don’t love Baun’s athleticism, and he struggled against real offensive tackles, but he’s refined, knows the position well, and should pick up 4-7 sacks year to year by beating up on the Bobby Harts of the world.
24. New Orleans Saints: Kenneth Murray (Linebacker Oklahoma)
Murray is the same player as Myles Jack. Change my mind. Oh wait, you can’t. He’ll be a zippy will linebacker, who can chase and tackle, bust through open gaps and make plays in the backfield, and defend the screen game. He’ll play with a mommy’s little monster bib and be spoonfed sweet potatoes from little glass jars. A nice player to pair with Demario Davis.
25. Minnesota Vikings: Justin Jefferson (Wide Receiver, LSU)
A first round pick. The rewards for trading wide receiver Stefon Diggs. Minnesota will still play a lot of two wide receiver sets. Jefferson is primarily a slot receiver, and they can have him play inside of Adam Thielen in slot sets.
26. Miami Dolphins: Josh Jones (Tackle, Houston)
The Dolphins don’t need a left tackle. They have Julien Davenport. They do need a right tackle. Jones is a left tackle, but has the athleticism to be able to play both left and right.
27. Seattle Seahawks: Neville Gallimore (Interior Defensive Line, Oklahoma)
The Seahawks had a bottom five pass rush last season. Jadeveon Clowney was the entirety of it, pressuring the quarterback, and doing what he does, barely missing sacks in the backfield. In the second tier of interior defenders, Gallimore is my favorite of the bunch. He’s a great looper and can create a pass rush on his own. He’ll struggle some against run heavy teams, but stopping the run doesn’t matter anymore. I don’t care what the coaching clinic videos say.
28. Baltimore Ravens: Brandon Aiyuk (Wide Receiver, Baltimore)
Baltimore had a spectacular offense last season. They had an all-time great run offense and one of the most efficient passing offenses in football. Lamar Jackson is an oracular short passer. The one thing they were missing were big plays. They only had 66 plus 20 yard plays, which was tied for 14th. Aiyuk can do similar things than the occasionally injured Marquise Brown, and he can run drags across the middle of the field and pick up more after the catch.
29. Tennessee Titans: Marlon Davidson (Unknown, Auburn)
The Titans salary dumped Jurrell Casey to Denver. I’ll miss him there in Tennessee. Rushing from the inside and outside, sacking quarterbacks with his butt crack hanging out. The only constant of the Titans’ below average pass rush. Davidson reminds me of Casey without the bullrush, something he should be able to develop; he isn’t a weak man. Plus he can do insane things like rush from an outside shade of the tackle despite grazing above 300 pounds. I can’t wait to watch him as a stand up ‘3’ tech rusher next season. Now all Tennessee needs to do is sign Clowney so I can bellow TITAN UP and get kicked out of Logan’s Roadhouse again.
30. Green Bay Packers: Michael Pittman Jr. (Wide Receiver, USC)
The Packers were the worst 13 win team I’ve ever seen. The 49ers crushing them was an inevitability. Their short passing game was obliterated, and Aaron Jones was demolished on all those flat routes Green Bay loves to throw. Long sustainable drives are for cowards. They need outside wide receiver talent. Davante Adams is spectacular, but he isn’t enough on his own, and there isn’t a linebacker worth this pick.
31. San Francisco 49ers: Yetur Gros-Matos (EDGE, Penn State)
San Francisco did the right thing by exchanging Deforest Buckner for a first round pick, and extending Arik Armstead, who’s breakout season last year was the result of him going from playing two gaps in 2018, to playing one gap in 2019. That left an enormous hole along their defensive line. Everyone likes to make A.J. Epenesa comparisons to Armstead or Buckner because he’s big. Epenesa doesn’t play like it. He’s a chop rip edge rusher who doesn’t affect the run game. Yetur Gros-Matos has the length and size, and actually plays like it.
32. Kansas City Chiefs: Jaylen Johnson (Cornerback, Utah)
Tackles well. Tall. Can play the slot. Sounds like a Chiefs cornerback. The Chiefs did lose some cornerback talent last offseason, and as badly as they’ll want to add more offensive speed to litter chopped walnuts to their fifteen scoop offensive sundae, this makes the most sense.