2020 NFL Draft: Ranking players who deserve first-round grade

With the 2020 NFL Draft (April 23-35) just around the corner, teams are entering the final stages of prep for the event. With that in mind, I thought it would be a good time to unveil my ranking of the prospects who, in my estimation, are worthy of a first-round grade.

As you can see, with 32 selections in Round 1, I haven’t included enough players to fill every first-round slot, but that’s not the goal of this piece. You can check out my most recent mock draft to see my projection for the draft’s first 32 picks. These are the 27 prospects most deserving of that lofty first-round status, in my humble opinion.

To see every pick each team holds in the 2020 NFL Draft, click here.



Joe Burrow, QB

School: LSU | Year: Senior (RS)

The rise of this playmaker has been astounding in so many ways. Intelligent, athletic and tough. He creates, and finishes.



Chase Young, Edge

School: Ohio State | Year: Junior

I could SO easily have him in the No. 1 spot. Impacts every snap when he’s on the field, and will be the highest-graded player on most teams’ boards.



Isaiah Simmons, OLB

School: Clemson | Year: Junior (RS)

Versatility is the trait that’s most often cited for him in pre-draft discussions. Let’s not forget how he shows up in the right place (and with force) snap after snap.



Jeff Okudah, CB

School: Ohio State | Year: Junior

Takes very few false steps, blankets receivers and tackles well, too. Complete corner.



Tua Tagovailoa, QB

School: Alabama | Year: Junior

Wouldn’t we all love to be likened to a left-handed Drew Brees?! His injury history keeps him from a higher slot on this list, but with good health in the future, he could end up as the best player from this draft.



Mekhi Becton, OT

School: Louisville | Year: Junior

A big debate rages about who’s the best among the draft’s top four tackles. This behemoth with incredible agility is tops for me.



Derrick Brown, DT

School: Auburn | Year: Senior

The best inside defensive force in the draft. Plays the run, pushes the pocket against the pass and plays with great effort on every down.



CeeDee Lamb, WR

School: Oklahoma | Year: Junior

A wonderful mix of smarts, athleticism and wow plays. He knows where the end zone is, and gets there with frequency (25 TDs in the last two seasons).



Jerry Jeudy, WR

School: Alabama | Year: Junior

Tremendous package of precise route running, sticky hands and good speed. Has performed like a pro while still a collegian.



Javon Kinlaw, DT

School: South Carolina | Year: Senior

Has a phenomenal backstory, and plenty of knockback power to scare QBs.



Tristan Wirfs, OT

School: Iowa | Year: Junior

There was plenty of chatter about him potentially kicking inside to guard (or was that just me?!) heading into the NFL Scouting Combine. But his performance at the event solidified him as a Day 1 starting LT.



C.J. Henderson, CB

School: Florida | Year: Junior

Man coverage is his forte. Plasters to receivers, and will tackle.



Henry Ruggs III, WR

School: Alabama | Year: Junior

Not only is he the fastest player in the draft, he is willing to make the tough catches, too. Give him any space, and you might next see him in the end zone.



Jedrick Wills, OT

School: Alabama | Year: Junior

Great blend of size, quickness and nasty. Has been a right tackle, but can definitely play on the left side.



Justin Jefferson, WR

School: LSU | Year: Junior

Opened eyes to his ability to play outside the numbers, as well as in the slot, at the combine. Excellent body control and dominates the moment-of-truth balls thrown his way.



Ross Blacklock, DT

School: TCU | Year: Junior (RS)

Love his quickness off the ball, overall understanding of defense and eagerness to mix it up on every play.



Xavier McKinney, S

School: Alabama | Year: Junior

Can play in a variety of spots and excels in each of them. McKinney can rush the passer, cover in the slot and has a really good feel for the game.



Andrew Thomas, OT

School: Georgia | Year: Junior

If there is one player who I have too low, it’s this three-year starter with good footwork, hand placement and force in the run game.



Justin Herbert, QB

School: Oregon | Year: Senior

Prototypical size, one of the best arms in the draft and showed surprising movement skills in the postseason. His smarts are unquestioned, too (won the National Football Foundation’s Campbell Trophy, a.k.a. the academic Heisman).



K’Lavon Chaisson, Edge

School: LSU | Year: Sophomore (RS)

ATHLETIC! Innate leadership skills. Should be used in myriad ways off the edge.



Laviska Shenault, WR

School: Colorado | Year: Junior

One of my huge "crushes" in this draft. He’s exactly what a creative play-caller is asking his GM for — can make big plays from the perimeter, slot, as a runner and even as a Wildcat QB. He’s likely ranked higher here than he is on most boards. I’m happy to elevate him!



Jordan Love, QB

School: Utah State | Year: Junior (RS)

If he were entering the draft coming off his 2018 season at Utah State, his ranking would be higher here, as his follow-up campaign was not as impressive. That said, the talent and potential are there for him to be a top-10 pick if there is an early QB run.



Kenneth Murray, LB

School: Oklahoma | Year: Junior

So active. Pursues and catches the guys with the ball in their hands. Tackling machine.



Patrick Queen, LB

School: LSU | Year: Junior

Can be used in every defensive scheme, and when he sees the ball in front of him, he gets there in a flash.



D’Andre Swift, RB

School: Georgia | Year: Junior

The top-rated RB on many boards, he can do it all. Swift runs with power, vision, and catches the ball well out of the backfield. One key selling point? A low odometer (440 carries in three seasons at UGA). Plenty of tread left on his tires.



Jonathan Taylor, RB

School: Wisconsin | Year: Junior

I think people forgot that he was a high school sprint champ. He gave everyone a reminder at the combine with a sub-4.4 40. Taylor’s used to a heavy workload, and I believe he can catch the ball better than many suspect.



Antoine Winfield Jr., S

School: Minnesota | Year: Sophomore (RS)

Last year, I had Washington safety Taylor Rapp as one of my first-rounders, and many told me I was wrong to include him. I believed in him, though, and I have the same feelings about this youngster. His instincts remind me of Tyrann Mathieu’s. Bloodlines don’t hurt, either.

Follow Charles Davis on Twitter @CFD22.

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