2020 NFL Draft: Best team fits for prospects; why Cowboys should trade up, Patriots’ answer at QB and more

Tom Brady’s departure for Tampa Bay will usher in a new era era in New England. Brady’s heir apparent may very well be a member of the 2020 NFL Draft, as the Patriots currently hold the 23rd overall pick. 

Where there are several promising quarterbacks in the 2020 draft, the actuality of Joe Burrow or Tua Tagovailoa landing in New England is about as low as John Blutarsky’s grade point average. That being said, there is a top-tier quarterback that could very well be under center for the Patriots when the 2020 season begins. This player leads off our 10 best prospect fits heading into the draft. 

1. QB Jordan Love: Patriots

While they may have to trade up to get him, there’s a slight chance that Love, the third best quarterback in CBS Sports prospect rankings, will still be available late in the first round. After being an afterthought for most of his college career, Love’s draft stock soared after his impressive performance during February’s NFL combine. Love’s combine was so impressive that an anonymous NFL coach called him “a poor man’s Patrick Mahomes,” the 2018 league MVP and reigning Super Bowl MVP. Another evaluator compared him to Bills quarterback Josh Allen, who in his first year as a full-time starter led Buffalo to a 10-6 record and AFC playoff berth. 

In New England, Love would get the chance to work with Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, the Patriots’ offensive coordinator for each of their five most recent Super Bowl appearances. He would also have decent weapons alongside him in running back Sony Michel and receivers Julian Edelman, Mohamed Sanu and N’Keal Harry. 

One of the knocks on Love is his tendency to take a lot of chances down the field, as he often launched passes downfield without much — or any — hesitation during his college career. While that may scare off some teams, it’s something that can easily be homed in under the right tutelage, something Love would have in spades in New England. 

2. QB Joe Burrow: Bengals

Probably the most obvious fit on this list. Cincinnati needs a quarterback, and Burrow is the bets quarterback in the draft. The Bengals have the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 draft. And while there have been rumblings about Cincinnati trading out of that topic, it’s much more likely that the Bengals will stay there and will use the pick on the reigning Heisman Trophy winner. 

In Cincinnati, Burrow would work with second-year head coach Zac Taylor, who served as Jared Goff’s quarterbacks coach when the Rams captured the NFC championship in 2018. Burrow would have a formidable receiving corps in Cincinnati, a group that includes perennial Pro Bowler A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd (who eclipsed the 1,000-yard barrier last season) and John Ross. Burrow would also be complemented by running back Joe Mixon, who rushed for over 1,000 yards for a second consecutive season in 2019. 

Burrow may also have a chance to work with Andy Dalton, the team’s former franchise quarterback who remains on the roster despite reports that the Bengals were trying to trade him. While Dalton wants the opportunity to play, he would be a valuable mentor for Burrow, who would surely like to emulate the success Dalton and the Bengals had during his first several years in Cincinnati.

3. CB Jeff Okudah: Cowboys

While there should still be some very good cornerbacks available with the 17th overall pick, the Cowboys, who lost cornerback Byron Jones last month in free agency, should looking into the possibility of trading up to acquire Okudah, who is unanimously considered the best defensive back in the draft. Along with displaying an elite skill set during his time at Ohio State, Okudah also plays with a swagger that would surely be welcomed in Dallas and by the team’s rabid fan base. 

Okudah, whose ability has been compared to Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey, studies all of the NFL’s elite corners. He said that he specifically watches tape of Patrick Peterson and Stephon Gilmore, the league’s reigning Defensive Player of the Year. 

“I’ll never get complacent because I feel like there’s always a constant chase,” Okudah said during a recent appearance on NFL Network. “I’m chasing some of the great corners in the game right now, and there’s corners that are chasing me. I feel like, if you understand the constant chase, you’ll always be good on the field.”

One potential trade partner for the Cowboys could be the Panthers, who own the seventh overall pick but are likely open to moving back and acquiring extra draft capital.

4. LB Isaiah Simmons: Giants

Not only does Simmons fill one of the Giants’ biggest holes, the former Clemson standout’s skill set would fit extremely well into the type of system that new Giants defensive coordinator Patrick Graham wants to integrate in New York. 

Graham’s defense requires a versatile linebacker, one that can fill multiple roles when called up on to do so. That shouldn’t be much of a problem for Simmons, who lined up at every position except for defensive tackle during his time at Clemson. Simmons once saw time at five different positions during a game. 

“I think it’s really beneficial for me,” Simmons said during the NFL combine. “I know years ago it wasn’t good to be a position-less guy. But now it’s become a benefit for me just because of all the versatility I’ll be able to do — play linebacker, play safety, whatever it is. Mentally, I feel like there isn’t anything I can’t do.”

With the fourth overall pick, the Giants are in a favorable position to land Simmons, assuming that he isn’t selected by the Redskins or Lions, who own the second and third overall picks, respectively.

5. WR Henry Ruggs III: Raiders

The Raiders, dating back to when the late Al Davis was still making personnel decisions, are synonymous with having fast playmakers that include former receiver Cliff Branch and running back Bo Jackson. 

No player in this year’s draft has a faster recorded time in the 40-yard dash than Ruggs, who ran a 4.27 at the combine. The Raiders, following the failed Antonio Brown experiment, are still in search for Brown’s replacement, and are expected to find him with one of their two first-round picks. That receiver may end up being Ruggs, who averaged an impressive 17.5 yards per catch during his time at Alabama. Ruggs would join a Raiders receiving corps that currently includes Tyrell Williams, Hunter Renfrow and tight end Darren Waller, who paced the silver and black in receptions (90) and yards (1,145) last season. 

While his highlight tapes mostly focus on his ability to turn swing and slant passes into big gains (including his 81-yard score during Alabama’s 2019 victory over South Carolina), Ruggs has also shown the ability to win 50/50 battles in the end zone, something he specifically displayed during Alabama’s 2018 win over Auburn. 

The one glaring blemish on Ruggs’ college resume was his lack of success in Alabama’s bowl/playoff games. In his final three bowl/playoff games, Ruggs managed to catch just six passes for 44 yards in a touchdown.

6. DL Derrick Brown: Jaguars

After trading perennial Pro Bowler Calais Campbell, Brown, the top-rated defensive lineman in the draft, would be an idea fit for the Jaguars, who own the seventh overall pick in the draft. A unanimous All-American last season as well as the SEC’s Defensive Player of the Year, Brown was also the 2019 recipient of the Lott IMPACT Trophy, an award that’s annually given to nation’s top defensive player who “excels in both performance on the field and character off it.” 

The addition of Brown would surely help a Jaguars defense that finished 28th in the league in rushing yards allowed and 31st in the NFL in rushing touchdowns and yards per carry allowed.   

7. RB Cam Akers: Buccaneers

While they’re pretty much stocked at receiver, the Buccaneers need to make upgrades on the offensive line and at the running back position during the draft. Expect Tampa Bay to use the 14th overall pick on their offensive line while possibly using their second round pick — the 45th pick in the draft — on a running back, one that could provide a similar service that Dion Lewis and James White (capable receivers out of the backfield) provided to Brady in New England. 

Akers, who enjoyed a productive career at Florida State, appears to be a perfect fit for Brady and the Buccaneers. While there isn’t one aspect of his game that necessarily stands out, Akers is an extremely well-balanced running back that possess a good blend of power, speed, agility and pass-catching ability. One of his greatest strengths is his ability to make quick decisions while getting into the second-level of a defense without much resistance. And while he was mostly a north-south running at Florida State, Akers, by virtue of his underrated cutback ability, still made plenty of plays outside the hash marks. 

Akers would be a welcomed addition for Brady and Bruce Arians, who is known for finding creative ways to get his running backs involved in the offense.

8. WR Justin Jefferson: Packers

With the 30th overall pick, the Packers are expected to select a receiver that will look to help bolster Green Bay’s passing attack for the 2020 season. An ideal fit for the Packers would be Jefferson, a 6-foot-3, 192-pound target that caught 111 passes for 1,540 yards and 18 touchdowns during his final season at LSU. 

Throughout his the 2019 season, Jefferson showed the ability to come down with 50/50 balls. He also displayed an ability to beat one-on-one coverage down the field. Jefferson also caught a slew of deep passes from Burrow while also showing the ability to turn modest gains into back-breaking plays.

9. RB D’Andre Swift, Chiefs

The idea was actually floated by CBS Sports senior writer and Pick Six Podcast host Will Brinson during CBS Sports’ Mock Draft 2.0. While the Chiefs have several other needs, they may decide to spend the 32nd overall pick in the draft on the running back position while giving Patrick Mahomes another weapon for the 2020 season. 

Swift, the top-ranked running back prospect in the draft, was still one of the nation’s most prolific running backs over the past two years, rushing for 2,267 yards and 17 touchdowns at Georgia while averaging 6.3 yards per carry. Swift achieved these numbers despite playing in the formidable SEC, a conference that boasts some of the nation’s toughest run defenses.

10. WR Brandon Aiyuk, Colts

After trading away their first round pick to acquire former 49ers defensive tackle DeForest Buckner, the Colts would be well-served using their second-round pick (the 34th overall pick) on the best receiver that is still available. That receiver may be Aiyuk, whose current injury situation (he recently underwent core muscle surgery) will likely contribute to him falling to the second round. 

Aiyuk, who is currently CBS Sports’ seventh best receiver and 38th best player in this year’s draft, enjoyed a breakout season for the Sun Devils in 2019, catching 65 passes for 1,192 yards and eight touchdowns while averaging a whopping 18.3 yards per catch. A consistent performer, Aiyuk caught at least five passes in eight different games during the 2019 season. He was especially good during his final six games, catching 33 passes for 534 yards and three touchdowns during that span. That stretch of games does not include his seven-catch, 196-yard, three touchdown performance in the Sun Devils’ win over Washington State on Oct. 12. 

In Indianapolis, Aiyuk would fill the Colts’ need hole at the third receiver spot alongside T.Y. Hilton and Zach Pascal. He would be a welcomed addition for quarterback Philip Rivers, who is hoping to cap off his career with a Super Bowl win. 

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