PFF GM Mock Draft: Patriots select potential replacement for Tom Brady at No. 23

With the pre-draft process at a standstill and the actual NFL Draft date still up in the air, this year’s draft will assuredly be unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. For us at PFF, though, the tape was always king. The cancellation of pro days only makes the reliance on that tape more prevalent throughout the league. With that being said, here’s our mock draft of what we would do if we were GMs of every team in the NFL (not necessarily what we think will happen).

1. Cincinnati Bengals — QB Joe Burrow, LSU

He’s been the pick since midseason and won’t change until whenever the draft kicks off. Burrow was not only the highest-graded quarterback inside the pocket last year, but also the highest-graded outside the pocket. Slam. Dunk.

2. Miami Dolphins (via Washington Redskins) — QB Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama

Nothing changed on field in the #TankforTua sweepstakes. Burrow came out of nowhere and the hip injury threw a wrench into Tagovailoa's long-term health prospects, but Tua was still the same elite prospect when healthy. He’s the only SEC QB in our six years of grading to have two seasons graded over 90.0. The Dolphins have the draft capital to make the move.

3. Detroit Lions — Edge Chase Young, Ohio State

Edge may not be as valuable as cornerback, but we feel more confident projecting elite edge talent to the NFL than corners. There’s little doubt in our mind that Young is going to be a dominant pass-rushing force from day 1.

4. New York Giants — CB Jeffrey Okudah, Ohio State

Okudah ticks about as many boxes at the corner position as any prospect in recent memory. What I love is the consistency. You have to go back to Ohio State’s bowl game against USC during Okudah’s freshman year to find the last time he allowed over 50 yards in coverage. With so many needs on the Giants' roster, they can go best player available.

5. Washington Redskins (via Miami Dolphins) — OT Andrew Thomas, Georgia

Trent Williams ain’t walking through that door anytime soon, and the Redskins can’t afford to subject Dwayne Haskins to the line they had last year. Thomas was earning above-average pass blocking grades (76.7) as a true freshman in the SEC.

6. Los Angeles Chargers — OT Jedrick Wills Jr., Alabama

As selfishly as I want to see Isaiah Simmons paired with Derwin James, the Chargers have a prime opportunity to take advantage of a loaded tackle class and fix their line once and for all. Wills led all tackles in the draft class in big-time blocks this past season.

7. Carolina Panthers — LB Isaiah Simmons, Clemson

Carolina needs to add any cornerstone-type piece it can to the defense after bleeding so much talent in recent years. Simmons projects to be exactly that, as he’s not only versatile but also productive. Simmons earned coverage grades of 88.2 and 90.0 the past two seasons.

8. Arizona Cardinals — OT Tristan Wirfs, Iowa

Wirfs is the perfect athletic fit for an offense that ran more screens than any other offense in the NFL last year. Wirfs set the offensive linemen combine records for both the broad (10-foot-1) and vertical (36.5 inches) jumps. He also only allowed one pressure in his final seven college games.

9. Jacksonville Jaguars — WR Jerry Jeudy, Alabama 

Don’t overthink this Bama receiver. He is special by any on-field measure. You don’t put up 1,313 yards and 14 touchdowns as a 19-year-old in the SEC by accident. He’s got a complete WR1 skillset.

10. Cleveland Browns — OT Josh Jones, Houston

Jones may not have the freakish measurables of some of the other tackles in the draft class, but all he’s done this past season is not lose. He allowed only four pressures all season long and proved it wasn’t a fluke with a 57% win rate in the one-on-ones at the Senior Bowl. He’s ready to pass protect now.

11. New York Jets — WR Ceedee Lamb, Oklahoma

Lamb may not be the freak that some others are in the draft class, but he also might be the surest thing at the receiver position. He broke 26 tackles on 62 catches this year and racked up 32 touchdowns in his college career.

12. Las Vegas Raiders — WR Henry Ruggs, Alabama

Ruggs’ 4.27 speed an 42-inch vertical will play at the next level. He may not be as complete a receiver as Lamb or Jeudy, but where he wins is the most valuable. The question that needs to be asked, though, is this: With those immense physical tools, why was he fourth on Alabama’s own roster in deep catches last year with four?

13. Indianapolis Colts — DT Javon Kinlaw, South Carolina

At 6-foot-5 with 34 ⅞-inch arms, Kinlaw was built in a lab to rush the passer in the NFL. With only a couple pass-rushing moves, Kinlaw already had the highest pass-rushing grade of any DT in the draft class in 2018 and the second-highest this past season.

14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers — S Grant Delpit, LSU

The Bucs have thrown draft capital at the secondary, but, until it really sticks, we suggest throwing more. Delpit showed special playmaking ability as a 20-year-old sophomore in the SEC when he picked off five passes and broke up seven more.

15. Denver Broncos — CB Kristian Fulton, LSU

Hampered by an ankle injury for much of the year, Fulton didn’t quite live up to the lofty standards set in 2018. Go back and check that tape and you’ll see some of the best breaks from off-coverage in this class. The comparison for him actually in the PFF Draft Guide is none other than newly acquired Broncos corner A.J. Bouye.

16. Atlanta Falcons — Edge Curtis Weaver, Boise State

Weaver just wins. Plain and simple. His 22.9 pass-rushing win rate last season trailed only Chase Young’s in the draft class. He may not have the ideal body type, but his 7.00 three-cone at 265 pounds is indicative of the bend he brings to the table as a pass-rusher.

17. Dallas Cowboys — S Xavier McKinney, Alabama 

The Cowboys add another do-it-all defender over the middle of the field. While Isaiah Simmons has gotten all the hype for his versatility, McKinney took over a quarter of his snaps at free safety, box safety and slot cornerback — all while earning an 88.4 overall grade. 

18. Miami Dolphins (via Pittsburgh Steelers) — CB C.J. Henderson, Florida

Henderson has all the man coverage traits you could want, and the Dolphins are one of the man-heaviest defenses in the NFL. Even with some injury-related struggles this past season, Henderson never allowed more than 20 catches in any season of his college career.

19. Las Vegas Raiders (via Chicago Bears) — CB Jaylon Johnson, Utah

This may seem a tad high for Johnson, but he was that impressive on the field down the stretch for Utah. Over his last seven games, Johnson allowed nine catches on 22 targets for 112 yards and had four pass breakups along with one interception.

20. Jacksonville Jaguars (via Los Angeles Rams) — DT Derrick Brown, Auburn

I wrote last week about why we’re lower on Brown than most, but it’s not necessarily all Brown’s fault. We’re simply low on the value of defensive tackles. Brown does project as an elite run defender the likes of which Jacksonville has been missing on the interior.

21. Philadelphia Eagles — WR Jalen Reagor, TCU

The Eagles' need for speed was obvious last year and Reagor certainly brings that to the table. He may have “only” run a 4.47, but his 42-inch vertical and 11-foot-6 broad jump suggest he’s far more explosive than that 40 time.

22. Buffalo Bills — WR Tee Higgins, Clemson

Higgins’ catch radius and ability to separate for a bigger wide receiver is exactly what the doctor ordered for Josh Allen. Higgins hauled in 15 of 23 deep targets last season.

23. New England Patriots — QB Justin Herbert, Oregon

This is about the range where we’d start to feel comfortable taking a chance on Herbert. After a breakout sophomore campaign, Herbert never quite took the next step and earned overall grades of 82.6 and 76.6 the past two seasons.

24. New Orleans Saints — WR Laviska Shenault Jr., Colorado

Shenault’s growing injury history is scary, especially given his likely high-volume usage at the next level. Still, you can’t coach what he brings to the table, as his 29 broken tackles in 2018 are still there waiting to be tapped into.

25. Minnesota Vikings — Edge A.J. Epenesa, Iowa

With no more Everson Griffen, the Vikings add another jumbo base end to pair with Danielle Hunter. Epenesa has the added ability to solve their interior rushing woes, too, as he can kick inside in obvious passing situations and still win.

26. Washington Redskins (via Miami Dolphins via Houston Texans) — WR Denzel Mims, Baylor

The Redskins almost poetically select this year’s Senior Bowl darling after last year’s went for nearly 1,000 yards for them as a rookie. Mims faced more snaps against press coverage than any other receiver in the draft class and looks NFL-ready in that regard.

27. Seattle Seahawks — CB Trevon Diggs, Alabama

The scheme fit is perfect for Diggs and his 32 ¾-inch arms. Playing somewhere that he can press snap after snap will take full advantage of Diggs’ skillset. He forced incompletions on 11 of 52 targets this year.

28. Baltimore Ravens — LB Zack Baun, Wisconsin  

The Ravens' blitz-heavy defense is a perfect fit for Baun’s skillset. His 91.0 pass-rushing grade and plus overall athleticism will make him a weapon on blitzes and stunts for years to come.

29. Tennessee Titans — Edge Julian Okwara, Notre Dame

While Okwara has gotten dinged heavily for his inconsistency on tape, he still won as a pass-rusher more than pretty much everyone else in the draft class. He ranked third in the country in pass-rushing win rate on pass plays that weren’t play action, screens or quick game.

30. Green Bay Packers — LB Kenneth Murray, Oklahoma

Murray isn’t a scheme fit everywhere at linebacker, but for what the Packers asked Blake Martinez to do last year, Murray should excel. He’s exceptional working downfield and can close as quickly as any backer in the class.

31. San Francisco 49ers — S Ashtyn Davis, California

An injury has kept Davis out of the entire pre-draft process, but we don’t need a 40-time to tell us that he can fly. Davis covers as much ground on the back end as any safety in the class, and the 49ers have been stockpiling athletic coverage defenders in recent years.

32. Kansas City Chiefs — CB A.J. Terrell, Clemson

Any defensive help will do here. Terrell has some of the smoothest hips in the draft class and possesses all the tools to become a top-flight corner in the NFL. He was hardly tested, though, with only 44 targets in 15 games this past season.

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