News & Analysis

Perfect prospect-team pairings for the 2020 NFL Draft

By now, you’ve probably seen over a dozen mock drafts with every different player imaginable going to your team. That’s just the way draft season works when the last live football was played three months ago. This isn’t a mock, per se, but rather identifying the player-team fits that are too perfect. Since the focus has been on Round 1 for months, we tried to skew more toward Day 2.

[Editor's note: Check out PFF's 2020 Post-Free Agency Mock Draft and NFL Draft Big Board. PFF Elite subscribers can also download the 1,100-page 2020 NFL Draft Guide.]

CB Jeffrey Okudah, Ohio State: Detroit Lions (Pick No. 3, potentially Nos. 5 or 6)

Last season, the Lions' 615 snaps in some sort of man coverage were the most of any franchise in the NFL. Okudah in man coverage for his career has allowed only 25 catches on 62 targets for 325 yards and 14 first downs with 13 forced incompletions The most man-heavy team with the top man corner seems like a match made in heaven.

OT Andrew Thomas, Georgia: Cleveland Browns (Pick No. 10)

Can almost insert any tackle here, but Thomas makes the most sense for a number of reasons. The first is that he actually played left tackle the past two seasons while Iowa’s Tristan Wirfs and Alabama’s Jedrick Wills have been career right tackles. The second is that he’s already damn good in pass protection. This past season at Georgia, Thomas allowed nine total pressures and didn’t have a single game where he gave up more than two. It was as clean a performance across the board as we saw in this tackle class.

LB Patrick Queen, LSU: New Orleans Saints (Pick No. 24)

The Saints' defense is almost spotless on paper — except for that one pesky linebacker position next to Demario Davis. They have 754 snaps from A.J. Klein to replace, but that shouldn’t be terribly difficult after he earned a 48.4 overall grade last year. Queen could slip all the way to No. 24 after linebacker-needy teams such as the Las Vegas Raiders and Jacksonville Jaguars added in free agency. The Saints would be the beneficiaries in that scenario, as Queen’s 4.5 speed and coverage ability would round out one of the best defenses in the NFL.

WR Michael Pittman Jr., USC: Indianapolis Colts (Pick No. 34)

Philip Rivers loves giving his receivers a chance to make plays down the field, but the Colts don’t currently have much in the way of size at the position on their roster. Pittman combines physicality with the ability to separate at the underneath and intermediate levels of the field in a way few others do in the draft class. And he almost never lets the ball hit the turf with five drops on 176 catchable targets in his career.

Nov 23, 2019; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. (6) reacts after a touchdown catch during the first half against the UCLA Bruins at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

S Antoine Winfield, Minnesota: Chicago Bears (Pick No. 43 or No. 50)

The Bears once again enter the NFL Draft without too many needs after some key free-agent signings. One spot left untouched, though, is the safety position, where Deon Bush is currently penciled in to be the starter after four years of basically riding the pines and signing a one-year, $1.4 million contract this offseason. Enter Antoine Winfield Jr. to a Bears defense that asks a from its safeties. The Bears' coverage schemes are as diverse as anyone's, and having a smart, instinctive safety is required on the back end. Pairing his seven interceptions with Eddie Jackson would be a dynamic duo for years to come.

OT Ben Bartch, St. John's: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Pick No. 45)

Jason Licht loves him some Division III offensive linemen. And why shouldn’t he? Ali Marpet (Hobart) has developed into one of the best guards in the NFL and Alex Cappa (Humboldt State) just earned a starting spot in Year 2. Bartch looks like the next in line after a dominant Senior Bowl performance that saw him win 58% of his reps in the one-on-ones. If the Buccaneers pass on a tackle in round one, Bartch looks like one of the only viable options to slot in early at tackle on Day 2.

CB Jeff Gladney, TCU: Denver Broncos (Pick No. 46)

This is yet another perfect scheme fit at the cornerback position. Vic Fangio’s Broncos play a ton of off-zone coverages, and that’s tailor-made to Gladney’s strengths. The biggest worry with the TCU corner was that, at only 191 pounds, he’d get tossed around at the line of scrimmage. Over the past three seasons, Gladney allowed an 84.3 passer rating in coverage on 429 snaps in press compared to a 52.3 passer rating on 750 snaps in off-zone coverage.

DI Justin Madubuike, Texas A&M: Minnesota Vikings (Pick No. 58)

The Vikings' need for interior pressure is obvious after Shamar Stephen and Linval Joseph combined for only 24 pressures on 797 total pass-rushing snaps this past season. Stephen himself had the lowest pass-rush win rate (2%) of any starting defensive tackle in the NFL. If Minnesota doesn’t address 3-technique with one of its first-rounders, Madubuike would make too much sense if still on the board at No. 58. He put up 40-plus pressures in each of the past two seasons and clocked a blazing 4.83 40-yard dash at the combine.

Sep 21, 2019; College Station, TX, USA; Texas A&M Aggies defensive lineman Justin Madubuike (52) celebrates after making a sack during the second quarter against the Auburn Tigers at Kyle Field. Credit: John Glaser-USA TODAY Sports

CB Bryce Hall, Virginia: Kansas City Chiefs (Pick No. 63)

Hall and his massive 78.5-inch wingspan (second longest of any defensive back at the Combine) were built to play in Steve Spagnuolo’s defense. The Chiefs play more press-zone than any team in the NFL — starters Charvarius Ward (417 snap) and Bashaud Breeland (312 snaps) playing the first and fourth most snaps in press coverage, respectively, of any corners in the league last year. Hall’s length at the line of scrimmage and ball skills at the catch point would be a perfect fit. He’s not the type of player who can mirror a receiver along an entire route, but over his career, he ended reps at the line before they even got started. In 271 career press snaps, he allowed only 17 catches on 48 targets for 237 yards and forced 13 incompletions.

LB Willie Gay Jr., Mississippi State: Cincinnati Bengals (Pick No. 65)

The Bengals' front office hasn’t had an issue taking chances on players with character concerns in the past, and while a new coaching staff is now in place, they may be able to look away from Gay’s off-field transgressions for his on-field play. Gay cheated on a chemistry test and punched quarterback Garrett Shrader in the face, leading to him being suspended for eight games this past season. When on the field, though, Gay has been nothing short of a playmaker. He earned a 93.9 coverage grade for his career on 293 coverage snaps while allowing only 21 catches on 37 targets for 183 yards. He’s got first-round physical tools, too, as he blazed a 4.46 40-yard dash at the Combine with a broad jump of 11 feet, 4 inches at 243 pounds.

WR K.J. Hill, Ohio State: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Pick No. 76)

The Buccaneers are the only team with two perfect fits, but they both make too much sense.  Hill’s football IQ and route-running were made to play with Tom Brady. The Ohio State wideout dominated defenders at the Senior Bowl en route to a 92% win rate in the one-on-ones. He’s so crafty at getting off the line of scrimmage and separating underneath. Brady has been the best in the NFL at syncing his timing and ball placement on those types of routes over the course of his career, and the Buccaneers don’t currently have a receiver like that on their roster.

Nov 9, 2019; Columbus, OH, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver K.J. Hill (14) scores a touchdown against the Maryland Terrapins during the second quarter at Ohio Stadium. Credit: Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

C Matt Hennessy, Temple: Los Angeles Rams (Pick No. 84)

Hennessy’s ability to play on the move is as good as it gets in this center class. He earned a 90.8 run-blocking grade on 104 outside zone runs last year at Temple. That was the second-highest mark of any center in the draft class this past season. The Rams ran the fifth-most outside zone runs last season (142) and the most in 2018 (217). Getting help on the interior is a must for Los Angeles.

TE Adam Trautman, Dayton: New England Patriots (Pick No. 87)

There’s no tight end in this class worth addressing with the 23rd overall pick, and without a second-rounder, the Patriots look to be on a collision course with a tight end in round three. That’s where Dayton’s Adam Trautman should come off the board, and the match couldn’t be more perfect. At the Senior Bowl, Trautman even said he’d rather throw a key block for a rushing score than catch a touchdown himself. He’s also a polished route-runner who can be a chain-mover for whoever is under center for the Patriots. Last season, Trautman embodied the Dayton passing game with 70 catches for 916 yards, 14 scores, 12 broken tackles and only two drops.

S K’Von Wallace, Clemson: Green Bay Packers (Pick No. 94)

With Tramon Williams still a free agent and the often-used dime safety position in Green Bay already a mess, Wallace could fill either role seamlessly. Wallace was listed as a safety for Clemson, but he took 644 of his 716 snaps this past season in either the box or slot. He’s been more than solid in that role, too, with a 92.1 coverage grade over his three seasons as a starter. He also crushed the combine with a 6.76 three-cone, 4.53 40-yard dash and 11-foot, 1-inch broad jump at 5-foot-11, 206 pounds.

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