Ready or not, here the NFL Draft comes.
Despite a belief from NFL general managers that it would behoove the league to postpone the NFL Draft because of the effects of COVID-19, ESPN's Adam Schefter and Dianna Russini reported earlier this week that the NFL intends to move forward with the draft beginning on April 23.
With that in mind, here's the latest RADIO.COM Sports NFL Mock Draft, as we inch closer towards what's likely to be the next major sporting event:
Dolphins Move Up to Select Tua Tagovailoa
1. Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Burrow - Quarterback, LSU
2. Washington Redskins: Chase Young - Defensive End, Ohio State
3. Miami Dolphins (trade up with Detroit Lions): Tua Tagovailoa - Quarterback, Alabama
4. New York Giants: Isaiah Simmons - Linebacker, Clemson
5. Detroit Lions (trade down with Miami Dolphins): Jeff Okudah - Cornerback, Ohio State
Part of the advantage of hoarding picks is that it allows you to out-leverage any other team that would be attempting to move up ahead of you. In this case, the Dolphins own three first-round picks in this year's NFL Draft, two first-round picks in the 2021 NFL Draft and four second-round picks over the next two NFL Drafts as well. If they feel confident in Tua Tagovailoa's health - and do indeed prefer him over Justin Herbert - then there's no reason that any other team should be able to leapfrog them. In this scenario, the Dolphins take a risk on Tagovailoa's health - sort of the opposite of what they did with Drew Brees ahead of the 2006 season - and move up two picks to assure that the Los Angeles Chargers don't trade up and take him before they get a chance to.
Chargers Stand Pat, Still Land Justin Herbert
6. Los Angeles Chargers: Justin Herbert - Quarterback, Oregon
7. Carolina Panthers: Derrick Brown - Defensive Tackle, Auburn
8. Arizona Cardinals: Tristan Wirfs - Offensive Tackle, Iowa
9. New York Jets (trade with up Jacksonville Jaguars): Mekhi Becton - Offensive Tackle, Louisville
10. Cleveland Browns: Andrew Thomas - Offensive Tackle, Georgia
Perhaps there will be a Wild Card early in the 2020 NFL Draft - something like the Washington Redskins or Detroit Lions selecting a quarterback. If not, though, you begin to wonder if it will be necessary for the Chargers to move up to secure former Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert. If they want to select former Alabama signal caller Tua Tagovailoa, they almost certainly will have to get in front of the Miami Dolphins to have a chance to do so. However, if they are weary about Tagovailoa's health or unable to get in front of the Dolphins, there no longer seems to be a need to move up an additional pick or two to assure no one else takes Herbert. We'll assume that the Lions and New York Giants aren't going to take a quarterback. The Panthers just signed Teddy Bridgewater to a deal that guarantees him $33 million, so they probably aren't going to use this pick on a quarterback. Any other quarterback-needy teams - the Jacksonville Jaguars, Las Vegas Raiders, Indianapolis Colts - would probably be uncomfortable with how much they would have to mortgage to move ahead of the Chargers and select Herbert. So, having missed out on Tom Brady in free agency, the Chargers select Hebert with the No. 6 overall pick in our latest mock, knowing he'll probably sit behind Tyrod Taylor for at least part of the 2020 season.
Broncos Draft Combine Star to Add to Budding Young Offense
11. Jacksonville Jaguars (trade down with New York Jets): Javon Kinlaw - Defensive Tackle, South Carolina
12. Las Vegas Raiders: Jerry Jeudy - Wide Receiver, Alabama
13. San Francisco 49ers: CeeDee Lamb - Wide Receiver, Oklahoma
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jedrick Wills Jr. - Offensive Tackle, Alabama
15. Denver Broncos: Henry Ruggs III - Wide Receiver, Alabama
If Henry Ruggs III was overshadowed by Jerry Jeudy at Alabama, the blazing fast 21-year-old fully stepped out of the shadow at last month's NFL Combine. Ruggs' 4.27 40-yard dash time was the fastest of any player that competed at this year's NFL Combine, cementing his status in tier-one of a loaded wide receiver class. Though a team hoping to inject juice into their offense - like, say, the Philadelphia Eagles - would love to get in position to draft Ruggs, it feels unlikely they'll give up what it will take to get in front of the Denver Broncos at pick No. 15. That makes Ruggs ending up in Denver feel like the most likely scenario. In Denver, he would join an impressive young offense being built around second-year quarterback Drew Lock. Both wide receiver Courtland Sutton and tight end Noah Fant had breakout seasons in 2019, and the Broncos have also added Melvin Gordon to a running back room that already included Phillip Lindsay. The Broncos have their work cut out to be able to compete with Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC West, but adding Ruggs would put them another step closer towards doing so.
Dolphins Work to Protect Tua Tagovailoa for Some Time
16. Atlanta Falcons: K'Lavon Chaisson - Outside Linebacker, LSU
17. Dallas Cowboys: Xavier McKinney - Safety, Alabama
18. Miami Dolphins: Josh Jones - Offensive Tackle, Houston
19. Las Vegas Raiders: Kristian Fulton - Cornerback, LSU
20. Jacksonville Jaguars: Grant Delpit - Safety, LSU
It's possible that the Dolphins use their second first-round pick on a luxury item, one of the tier-two wide receivers, for example. However, if they're betting on Tua Tagovailoa staying healthy at the NFL level, it would be malpractice to not leave a first round where you have three picks with someone that you believe will become a stalwart on your offensive line. Most scouting reports view Jones still as relatively raw, which isn't necessarily a bad thing if he's going to a team like the Dolphins, who are probably still a few years away from being ready to contend.
Vikings Land Former Star NCAA Receiver in Effort to Replace Diggs
21. Baltimore Ravens (trade up with Philadelphia Eagles): Kenneth Murray - Linebacker, Oklahoma
22. Minnesota Vikings: C.J. Henderson - Cornerback, Florida
23. New England Patriots: Zack Baun - Outside Linebacker, Wisconsin
24. New Orleans Saints: Patrick Queen - Linebacker, LSU
25. Minnesota Vikings: Justin Jefferson - Wide Receiver, LSU
Stefon Diggs was seemingly malcontent in Minnesota, and still due quite a bit of money on a five-year extension that he signed before the 2018 season. So while the Bills should be applauded for acquiring him, it was probably time for the Vikings to move on. Doing so netted them the No. 22 overall pick, leaving them with two picks in a four-pick stretch. With the pick that they acquired from the Bills, we have mocked the Vikings drafting former Florida cornerback C.J. Henderson, who some feel is the top overall prospect at his position in this draft. Meanwhile, with their original pick, the Vikings select former LSU star Justin Jefferson, who can help make up for the production lost with the trade of Diggs. Jefferson exploded for 1,540 receiving yards and 18 touchdowns in his junior season, helping LSU to win the College Football Playoff National Championship. Kyle Crabbs of The Draft Network believes that Jefferson can develop into "a deadly No. 2 threat," which is exactly what the Vikings are looking for to pair with Adam Thielen.
Packers Land Exciting Prospect With Injury Concerns
26. Miami Dolphins: D'Andre Swift - Running Back, Georgia
27. Seattle Seahawks: Yetur Gross-Matos - Defensive End, Penn State
28. Philadelphia Eagles (trade down with Baltimore Ravens): Jalen Reagor - Wide Receiver, TCU
29. Tennessee Titans: A.J. Epenesa - Defensive End, Iowa
30. Green Bay Packers: Laviska Shenault Jr. - Wide Receiver, Colorado
31. Las Vegas Raiders (trade up with San Francisco 49ers): Jordan Love - Quarterback, Utah State
32. Kansas City Chiefs: J.K. Dobbins - Running Back, Ohio State
After a disappointing NFL Combine, it was revealed that former Colorado wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. needed core muscle surgery. That surgery in itself is relatively routine, but it's part of a longer list of injuries that he's suffered in his young career, which may turn teams like the Philadelphia Eagles off. However, a team like the Packers, desperate to make the most of Aaron Rodgers' remaining years in the league, might be willing to take a risk on Shenault Jr., who NFL.com's Lance Zierlein says is "a high-end talent." If he stays healthy and pans out, which Zierlein acknowledges if far from certain, he could become a dynamic weapon in a receiving corps that already includes Davante Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling.