The Lanthorn NFL Draft Guide

Courtesy of MLive

Courtesy of MLive

Sean Cauvet and Kellen Voss

With the 2020 NFL Draft commencing virtually on Thursday, two of our staffs biggest draft nerds put their heads together to help preview the event. Welcome to the first ever Lanthorn NFL Draft Guide, featuring player rankings by position and a mock draft of the Top 10

Player Rankings


  1. Joe Burrow, LSU
  2. Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama
  3. Justin Herbert, Oregon

Predictably, we have Burrow ranked as the top quarterback in the 2020 class. I think that Burrow has many different traits that will serve him well in the NFL, such as his arm strength, accuracy and most of all his confidence. Although he did have tremendous talent around him at LSU, he broke the single-season touchdown record with 60 passing and 5 rushing scores. Tagovailoa comes in at number 2 because of his accuracy and track with playing well in big games, such as winning the national championship in 2018. He would be ranked number 1, but there are long-term injury concerns with Tua. Lastly, Herbert from Oregon is also a great prospect. At 6’6”, Herbert has the prototypical size that NFL GM’s are searching for. He has the most experience out of all of the quarterbacks, but his play has been inconsistent. However, he played well down the stretch for the ducks and projects to be a very good starting quarterback in the pros. 

Running Backs

  1. Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin
  2. D’Andre Swift, Georgia
  3. J.K. Dobbins, Ohio State

Honorable mention: Zack Moss 

Jonathan Taylor is a man among boys when it comes to the running backs in this group. He more than filled the shoes of former Badger running backs in Melvin Gordon, John Clay and James White, as he totaled 200+ yards in 12 collegiate games. A dark horse Heisman candidate in 2019, Taylor is a classic every-down back who can run through defenders and has enough speed to at least get by in the NFL. Swift’s last name fits his description as a running back, as he is quite possibly the speediest back in this draft to go along with rare feel and vision in tight quarters that is rather unteachable in the NFL. Much like former Georgia running backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel two drafts ago, he can produce right away at the NFL level. Dobbins is the default No. 3 back on our board due to his average field vision and his inability to change speeds as quickly as the other backs listed above him, but he appears to be built out of stone and plays his best games against the best opponents, which NFL teams are going to value highly due to a lack of Pro Days and face-to-face meetings with players. Moss could end up being the steal of this draft, as the way he was able to break double-digit tackles a game draws comparisons to Seahawks great Marshawn Lynch. He comes from a successful culture in Utah, and could be a sleeper in fantasy the next few seasons if he gets into the right situation. 

Wide Receivers

  1. Ceedee Lamb, Oklahoma
  2. Jerry Jeudy, Alabama
  3. Henry Ruggs, Alabama

This is a loaded wide receiver class and will probably go down as the best ever. There are 6 or 7 that could go in the first round. Lamb had a great career at Oklahoma and projects as a great all-around receiver in the NFL. Jeudy is a close second and the best route-runner in the draft. He projects as a star at the next level because of his great ability to stop on a dime and his ability to get open. Ruggs, while not as polished as the other two, has the speed that would make the late Al Davis smile. He ran a 4.27 40-yard dash and his speed showed on film against good opponents. He has the potential to be the next Tyreek Hill. 

Tight Ends

  1. Cole Kmet, Notre Dame
  2. Adam Trautman, Dayton
  3. Harrison Bryant, Florida Atlantic

This isn’t a very deep tight end class, but at 6’5”, 250 lbs, Kmet projects as a starter at the next level. He isn’t particularly fast, but has good hands and is tough to bring down. Trautman, another big body, is similar to Kmet. He played at a smaller school but he has the potential to be a sleeper in this class, because of his lack of national exposure. To round it out, Bryant out of FAU has a big frame and held his own against Ohio State this year. He has good hands and can make tough catches in traffic. Although no one in this class projects to have an impact of a player like Travis Kelce, there is some value in picking up these big bodies in the second or third rounds when everyone is focused on the stacked class of receivers. 

Offensive Line

  1. Jedrick Wills, Alabama
  2. Tristan Wirfs, Iowa
  3. Andrew Thomas, Georgia

This is a very good tackle class. Wills out of Alabama projects as a top-10 pick and a long-time solution at left tackle in the NFL. He is a good all-around blocker and played against tough competition in the SEC. Wirfs hails from the “offensive line” factory of Iowa. Many Iowa lineman have done well in the NFL and Wirfs is also the most athletic of the lineman, which is very valuable in the NFL. He also projects as an elite left tackle prospect. Thomas, on the other hand, projects as a right tackle at the next level. He is the best run blocker in the class and was consistent in his career for the bulldogs. I expect all three to go in the top-15 of the draft. 

Defensive Tackles

  1. Derrick Brown, Auburn
  2. Javon Kinlaw, South Carolina
  3. Justin Madubuike, Texas A&M

Brown and Kinlaw should be the headliners of this group. Brown, at 6’4” and 326 lbs, is a space eater. He excels at stopping the run and should be a plug-and-play type of guy for whoever takes him. He is an immediate impact for a team looking to improve their run defense. Kinlaw isn’t as good against the run, but he is more athletic and a better pass rusher. He has a great knack for knocking the ball out of quarterback’s hands and should be a major disruptor at the next level. Lastly, Madubuike doesn’t project as a top first round pick due to character concerns. However, a smaller prospect at 293 lbs, he has the ability to impact games in a major way with his quickness.

Defensive ends/EDGE Rushers

  1. Chase Young, Ohio State
  2. K’lavon Chaisson, LSU
  3. Terrell Lewis, Alabama

Young is the holy grail of the draft. If not for an incredible year from Joe Burrow, Young would be a lock for the top pick. He was an absolute problem for opponents and should be even better than the Bosa brothers, who also hailed from Ohio State. He is very athletic, can win with strength and should be a leading cause of insomnia for offensive coordinators for the next 10 years. Chaisson is also an elite prospect, and the best defensive player on the national championship team. He can bulk up in the NFL and has the speed to put up double-digit sack numbers every year. Although he has an injury history, Lewis has the potential to be a great edge rusher. He was a difference-maker against SEC competition and has the size scouts look for. He might not hear his name called very early on Thursday night, but will be a very good player at the next level.


  1. Isaiah Simmons
  2. Patrick Queen
  3. Kenneth Murray

There really isn’t anyone like Simmons in the NFL right now. At 6’4” and 238 lbs, he ran a 4.39 40-yard dash at the combine in February. He has played significant snaps at linebacker, edge rusher, cornerback and safety at Clemson. He is a defensive coordinator’s dream specimen because of his versatility and should go very early. Queen out of LSU is a sure tackler and was all over the field for the national champions. At 6’1” he is on the shorter side, but will provide good value to whoever takes him because of his speed and versatility. On a bad Oklahoma defense, Murray was a constant playmaker. He ran fast at the combine with a 4.50 40-yard dash and has a lot of experience. He doesn’t have many weaknesses and projects as a long-time starter in the league.


  1. Jeffrey Okudah, Ohio State
  2. CJ Henderson, Florida
  3. Damon Arnette, Ohio State

Okudah should be a top-five pick and is one of the most well-rounded cornerback prospects we have seen. He has great speed, great instincts, played against great competition and is a very good tackler, which is valuable for a corner. He should be an immediate difference-maker at the next level. Henderson is very quick and had a good 2019 season for the gators. He isn’t the best tackler but he has great ball skills and should be a star within a few years. Arnette, also out of Ohio State, got the benefit of covering no. 2 receivers for most of the year but he did very well. A senior, he is a hard-hitter and very physical with receivers. He is also very versatile which NFL teams value greatly.


  1. Xavier McKinney, Alabama
  2. Grant Delpit, LSU
  3. Jeremy Chinn, Southern Illinois

McKinney, a hard-hitting safety, is a lock for the first round. He has everything you can ask for in an NFL safety and is great against the run and the pass. Delpit has good size and had a better 2018 season than he did in 2019, but was a constant playmaker for the tigers. He projects as a good strong safety at the next level. Chinn is a very versatile player. He has very good size at 6’3” and could be a safety-linebacker hybrid in the NFL. Although he went to a small school, he could be a surprise player that gets drafted earlier than people expect.

The Official Lanthorn NFL Mock Draft

While they are arguably the best part of the draft, this mock draft will feature no trades since those are so unpredictable

1. The Cinncinati Bengals select Joe Burrow

This is quite frankly the most obvious pick in the draft. Based off of his 2019, Burrow doesn’t have any weaknesses. He has a cannon of an arm, phenomenal awareness in the pocket, and an overall swagger that will make him destined to be at least a solid NFL starter. It’s a little concerning that he had a meteoric rise and only seemed to go off in 2019, but there’s a legitimate case to be made that his 2019 was the best college football season ever by a starting quarterback. Tua Tagovailoa (whose name I spelled right on the first try-looks like I’m too enthralled in draft coverage) may end up being a better pro, but the hip injury is as scary and multiple leg injuries in a calendar year, especially in a year when NFL guys can’t run their own physicals. Teams will proceed with caution on Tagovailoa, making the Burrow pick a no-brainer

2. The Washington Professional football team selects Chase Young

 While Burrow is the best quarterback of this draft, Chase Young may end up being the best player in this draft. He is a rare physical specimen who managed to exponentially improve every season at Ohio State. The Bosa Brothers were both top-5 picks because of their dominance with the Buckeyes, but Young may be better than both of them. Adding Young to a defensive line featuring Ryan Kerrigan, Montez Sweat, Da’Ron Payne and Jonathan Allen gives Washington a tremendous defensive line and can finally give those D.C. fans something to root for.

3. The Detroit Lions select Jeffrey Okudah

Fans of the Detroit Lions know better than anyone that the team has a lot of needs, but the most pressing is in the secondary after All-Pro cornerback Darius Slay signed with Philadelphia. As a big, physical corner who won’t get bullied by big receivers, Okudah is an ideal fit in the Lions defense opposite Desmond Trufant, and can be a cornerstone of the defense for the rest of the decade

4. The New York Giants select Jedrick Wills

With the Giants investing their last two first round picks on offensive playmakers Saquon Barkley and Daniel Jones, it would be wise of them to use this pick on a quality tackle to protect them. Like many of the former Alabama players before him, Wills should be able to make a seamless transition into the NFL with his quick punches, twitchy feet and his ability to block like a tight end in the open field.

5. The Miami Dolphins select Tua Tagovailoa

Several draft experts have predicted that, if he can stay healthy, Tagovailoa will wind up being the better pro quarterback because his dominance in college was across two whole seasons and a national championship where he replaced Jalen Hurts in the second half to help win Alabama it’s latest title as a true freshman. That scary hip injury he suffered last season will damage his draft stock, but he helped strengthen a winning culture at Alabama. All that winning will come in handy for Tagovailoa, as with pro days and in-person meetings with players being cancelled, that’s one of the tried-and-true statistics that these NFL teams can fall back on.

6. The Los Angeles Chargers select Justin Herbert

With Philip Rivers leaving for the Indianapolis Colts, the Chargers have a whole to fill at the quarterback position for the first time in what feels like 300 years. With Burrow and Tagovailoa off the board, it makes the most sense for the Chargers to draft Herbert. There is a deep dropoff from Burrow and Tagovailoa to the Oregon product, but Herbert at least sees the field well, scans opposing defenses like a computer, and has a quality deep ball similar to that of Josh Allen’s in Buffalo. Look to see the Chargers pull a similar situation to the Browns in 2018, as they start the year with Tyrod Taylor while Herbert is groomed and adjusts to NFL defenses. With Austin Ekeler, Keenan Allen, Mike Williams and Hunter Henry as available weapons, as long Herbert can remain accurate with his throws, he should have a productive rookie season

7. The Carolina Panthers select Derrick Brown

With the way this mock draft falls, the Carolina Panthers may get lucky and get the steal of the draft here in Derrick Brown. Brown is deemed as the third best player in this draft by Mel Kiper after the former Auburn captain started the past three seasons at Auburn, where he had 159 tackles, 32 tackles for loss and 12 sacks. Brown has incredible stamina and saves his best football for the brightest moments, as in their win against Alabama last season, he batted down two Alabama passes to force them into a field goal attempt that went awry. Those defensive plays by Brown helped Auburn win the Iron Bowl, and with Gerald McCoy and Dontari Poe no longer on the roster, perhaps Brown can make those plays in the Carolina blue

8. The Arizona Cardinals select CeeDee Lamb

As the top receiver on the board, this pick is a no-brainer for the Cardinals. As a handsome man detailed for Clutchpoints last week, Lamb already has chemistry with Kyler Murray from their college days and develop nicely with future Hall-of-Famers DeAndre Hopkins and Larry Fitzgerald in his war room. Fitzgerald isn’t getting any younger, so this pick is hopefully a chance to snag the Cardinal great’s replacement. While they do have holes to fill on the offensive line, the idea of lining up Lamb, Hopkins, Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk in an Air Raid offense is surely to make Kliff Kingsbury drool, and gives Arizona one of the best wide receiver corps in the league.

9. The Jacksonville Jaguars select Isaiah Simmons

With all of the holes on the Jacksonville Jaguars, it would be wise for them to draft for best player available in this slot. As Zack Goodrow detailed in his free agency updates last week, the Jaguars lost a few talented defenders in A.j. Bouye and Calais Campbell. With Okudah off the board, the Jaguars should try to disguise their inconsistent secondary with a good pass rush. Isaiah Simmons is the swiss army knife of this draft, as he can rush the passer, is a consistent tackler at both outside linebacker spots, and is more than capable of picking off quarterbacks with his length and defensive I.Q. While #MinshewMania runs amuck on the offensive side, pairing Simmons with All-Pro Yannick Ngauye is at least a place to start rebuilding that defense that carried them to the AFC Championship game just a few years ago.

10. The Cleveland Browns select Tristan Wirfs

While this may be deemed as a boring pick, after the flashy offseason the Browns had last season that didn’t pan out, they could use some boring picks. Cleveland did address it’s offensive line needs with the acquiring of Jack Conklin over free agency, but they could still use another tackle opposite him. Tristan Wirfs could pan out to be the most talented lineman in this draft, as the former state wrestling and shotput champ has incredibly nimble feet to pair with his incredible drive. Drafting Wirfs and giving Mayfield more protection could help him to improve off his sophomore and perhaps get the Browns closer to sacred playoff grounds.