With the 2020 NFL Draft just around the corner, teams are wrapping up their prospect evaluations and running through scenarios that could play out once picks start being made on April 23. Now, even with best-laid plans, sometimes the board just doesn't fall a team's way. But what if it did? NFL.com draft analysts Chad Reuter and Lance Zierlein are operating in that scenario as they identify the ideal top two picks for every club, with Reuter making the selections for NFC teams and Zierlein taking the AFC. They used their own prospect rankings and assessment of team needs as a guide. Note that some prospects are connected to more than one team -- this is not a mock draft, and players can be ideal fits for multiple clubs.
With his athletic ability and toughness, Queen would be an ideal selection for the linebacker-needy Ravens in the first round. A run on receivers in the first 50 picks could force the Ravens to turn their attention to guard, where Clemson's Simpson has the size, strength and ability to help fortify that position after the retirement of Marshal Yanda.
The addition of Josh Norman -- signed a one-year deal last month -- gives the Bills an opportunity to take and develop Igbinoghene. He is big, strong and explosive, but somewhat raw with his coverage technique. Teams I've spoken with have some concerns about Taylor, but talent isn't one of them. He's twitched-up with rush potential waiting to be unlocked.
Burrow is cemented into the top pick -- there is no way the Bengals would go in any other direction lest they invite the wrath of their entire fan base. He's accurate, smart and has rare intangibles. I don't see a top linebacker falling to them at No. 33, but grabbing the ultra-athletic Jackson would provide the Bengals freedom to play last year's first-rounder, Jonah Williams, at right tackle, where he might be best suited.
Thomas is hard-nosed, well-coached and comes from a winning program. He's a football fit, but also a culture fit. With the second-round pick, Reagor would not only infuse more juice into the Browns offense as a three-level target, he could also be Odell Beckham's successor if the Browns move on from the mercurial talent and his hefty cap figure after next season.
Providing Drew Lock with a deep weapon like Ruggs would also help Courtland Sutton and the rushing attack, as safeties will be on notice throughout the game. Kareem Jackson is a hard-nosed safety who can support the run, but Chinn provides a younger option with excellent size, explosiveness and ball skills, as well as a little more alignment versatility.
After dealing one of their second-round picks for Brandin Cooks, the Texans can lock in on adding cornerback help and re-stocking their defensive line. Johnson has the traits and balls skills the Texans are looking for at cornerback. Elliott plays with good toughness and disruption along the interior. He should help fill the hole left by the departure of D.J. Reader in free agency.
Indianapolis might be able to add a talented receiver like Pittman with "play now" talent and toughness. Lewis is a long but unpolished rusher with some injury concerns to sift through, but Colts GM Chris Ballard likes the type of length and rush potential that Lewis offers.
The Jaguars could opt to restock the defense with their two first-round picks. Brown has some dominant moments on tape and could help shore up the middle of the D. Baun offers the ability to play off-ball linebacker on early downs while rushing off the edge on passing downs.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
Gladney is a ballhawking cornerback with inside/outside versatility and a swagger that matches with Tyrann Mathieu's on the backend. While No. 63 might be a little earlier than I would take Hennessy, he has the physical attributes to fit quickly into a move-oriented running game as a rookie starter on the interior.
LAS VEGAS RAIDERS
I know everyone wants to plug in CeeDee Lamb or Jerry Jeudy with the 12th pick -- and so do I. However, a macro-view of the first round in conjunction with a look at the Raiders' top needs reveals an opportunity to land the most athletic cornerback in the draft at No. 12 (he probably won't be available at No. 19) before adding a receiver with outstanding ball skills and inside/outside alignment potential with their second first-rounder.
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS
The Chargers are content to roll with Tyrod Taylor in 2020, so adding Justin Herbert and allowing him to learn behind the veteran is an optimal situation. They should be able to grab a starting-caliber tackle with their early-second-round pick, and Ezra Cleveland has been generating some buzz in that general area of the draft.
» Round 1: No. 5 overall -- Jedrick Wills, OT, Alabama
» Round 1: No. 18 (from Steelers) -- A top quarterback
You will have to stay with me on this one for a second. The Dolphins have loads of draft capital and unless they are completely comfortable with Tua Tagovailoa's medical situation, they would be well-served taking the best tackle in the draft at No. 5 before using some of that capial to slide back up for Tua, Justin Herbert or Jordan Love, depending on how the board shakes out. If they try to do it the other way around (picking a QB first), there might not be very good value for their positions of need. Use your picks to get the best players.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
Bill Belichick covets size and length along the edge from his defensive linemen and Gross-Matos fits that mold. He's an ascending talent with loads of potential. Jefferson's father, Shawn, is a former NFL wide receiver and the current receivers coach for the Jets, so Van's elite route-running should come as no surprise and gives him a shot to become Julian Edelman's eventual replacement.
NEW YORK JETS
It feels as though the Jets will be locked in at tackle and wide receiver with their first two picks. They must give Sam Darnold more help. If one of the top four tackles gets to No. 11, the Jets will be hard-pressed to pass on him. Shenault is a high-upside talent with great size who has dropped a little due to a core muscle injury that required surgery this offseason. He offers unique versatility for Adam Gase's offense, though.
Akers is a smooth, three-down option who can come in and take on starting carries right away to help diversify the Steelers' offensive attack. Edwards is recovering from the broken foot he suffered while training for the NFL Scouting Combine, but has the size and toughness for contested catches underneath and the speed to attack defenses down the field.
Re-signing former first-round pick D.J. Humphries secured the left tackle spot for the Cardinals. Picking Thomas (or Iowa's Tristan Wirfs if he's available) gives Kyler Murray a worthy strong-side bookend, as the former Georgia Bulldog played right tackle his true freshman season. With their second-round pick dealt away in the DeAndre Hopkins trade, the Cards will have to wait until the third round to make their next selection. Look for them to possibly take a power back like Moss to complement the transition tagged Kenyan Drake.
I expect Atlanta to try and trade up for one of the top defensive tackles or athletic linebacker Isaiah Simmons. Barring either of those outcomes, however, I suspect GM Thomas Dimitroff will be interested in securing Chaisson, a bendy but tough edge player worthy of a mid-first-round selection. Davidson is an interesting prospect because he spent a lot of time on the edge at Auburn but gained significant weight after the 2019 season to shift to a three-technique spot. Teams utilizing three-man fronts might still consider him a five-technique prospect, but I see the Falcons using him as an explosive interior option.
If Jeff Odukah is on the board when the Panthers select at 7th overall, he should be the pick. But assuming the top corner is no longer available, Carolina fills in big gaps on the defensive line caused by the departures of free agents Gerald McCoy and Dontari Poe. Whether it's Brown or former South Carolina star Javon Kinlaw, finding big bodies up front will be a priority. In Round 2, the Panthers likely take an SEC corner like Fulton or Trevon Diggs to replace former second-round selection James Bradberry, who signed with the Giants in March.
Chicago is without a first-round pick again this year due to the trade for sack artist Khalil Mack. Fortunately, they have a couple second-round picks, including one from the Raiders in the Mack deal, that they can use to address two major areas of need: center and safety. Ruiz is an athletic player who has the football intelligence to step into the starting role on Day 1. Chinn's size and hitting ability will allow him to play in the box when Pro Bowler Eddie Jackson is in centerfield, while his overall athleticism will enable him to handle deep coverage duties and work in the slot.
Murray is one of the top 20 prospects in this class because of his physical and mental toughness, as well as his positive character. The Cowboys re-signed Sean Lee, but his career is near its end. Dallas invested premium picks at linebacker in 2016 (second-round pick and first-round value Jaylon Smith) and 2018 (Leighton Vander Esch, 19th overall), so let's keep the even-year LB selections coming with Murray, who can play on the weak side. Diggs is one of several former SEC cornerbacks who could bolster the team's depth at that position. He's a big, strong outsider corner capable of taking over the spot vacated by the departed Byron Jones. Note that Dallas has two 2021 free agent cornerbacks in Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis. My guess is that the Cowboys will look to the middle rounds of the draft to add another pass rusher, as they did with Dorance Armstrong and Joe Jackson the past couple of years.
The Lions will have a tough choice to make if the first two picks of the draft are quarterbacks. Chase Young's talent on the edge would be extremely difficult to pass up, but in terms of team needs, it's difficult to argue against Okudah. His length and toughness will allow him to match up against the league's top receivers. Gallimore's get-off is impressive, and the Lions are looking for a three-technique to pair with free agent nose tackle acquisition Danny Shelton.
GREEN BAY PACKERS
Packers fans are screaming for a pass catcher in Round 1, and it's difficult to blame them given the inconsistency around Aaron Rodgers the past couple of seasons. However, it's likely that the top receivers -- CeeDee Lamb, Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs III -- will be gone by the time the team picks. We're not projecting trades here, so I'll go with the team's next biggest need -- cornerback. Jaire Alexander is holding down one spot just fine, but Kevin King's future in Green Bay past 2020 is unclear. Even if King plays well this fall, Alexander could easily move to the slot while Johnson and King stay outside. Attrition at the position also necessitates depth. I suspect Green Bay will find a fine receiver, such as the elusive Hamler, is available to them in the second round, just as Randall Cobb was back in the day.
LOS ANGELES RAMS
The Rams have not had a first-round pick since they selected quarterback Jared Goff No. 1 overall in 2016. But with two picks in the mid-second round this year, including the one recently gained from Houston for Brandin Cooks, GM Les Snead can make some hay. Fortifying the interior of the team's offensive line is a must, so grabbing Ruiz (one of LSU's starters, such as center Lloyd Cushenberry or guard Damien Lewis, would also work if Ruiz is gone) would be a smart plan with their first pick. Although they'll miss out on the draft's elite edge prospects, they could land players like Uche or Notre Dame's Julian Okwara at 57th overall to help improve the team's pass rush. As for one team grabbing two players from the same college in the same round? It happens more often than you might think. For example, the Saints selected two Ohio State players in the second round in 2016 -- receiver Michael Thomas and safety Vonn Bell.
The Vikings' depth at receiver was already questionable before the trade of the disenchanted Stefon Diggs to Buffalo. So I expect them to bolster that position group with one of their two first-rounders. Mims has the size and speed to be a similar downfield threat as Diggs. The question is what they do with the other pick. Cornerback is a major need for the team, but I'm not sure there will be one still available worthy of either the 22nd or 25th overall picks. If they choose to wait until the second round to address that need (and add another CB later on, as well), then Minnesota should look to grab one of the few top 50-value pass rushers in the draft in Gross-Matos. His length, strong hands and hustle make him a probable starter at the next level.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
The Saints' roster is as solid as any in the league. I will not be shocked if they trade out of the first round to add to their limited trove of draft picks (five total), settling for depth rather than immediate starters. It would make the most sense to me for the Saints to pick former Georgia starter Jake Fromm in the second round, once they've traded down. However, Sean Payton could take a chance on Love's potential if the Utah State product is still available late in Round 1. The Saints traded their second-round pick to Miami last year to move up in Round 2 for offensive lineman Erik McCoy, so unless they pick up more assets, they'll be waiting until late in Round 3 to make their next selection. Enter an intriguing corner prospect like Robinson. Forget that he's under 5-foot-9 and is not an elite burner; the guy's simply a very good football player who will play in the NFL for a long time.
NEW YORK GIANTS
The Giants are almost certainly going to address the right tackle spot early in the draft, the question is, with whom? Becton, a massive human with very light feet, played both sides of the line at Louisville when the team switched the line's strong and weak formations. If Lamar Jackson was still the Cardinals' quarterback, we would have been talking about Becton all season long. Signing free agent Kyler Fackrell builds edge rusher depth, but GM Dave Gettleman will be looking for more in this draft. If Weaver is healthy enough to return to his 2018 form, he'll be a force on the outside.
There's not much to say about Philadelphia's need at receiver that hasn't already been said 1,000 times. Jefferson fills Nelson Agholor's vacated spot, contributing as a complement to DeSean Jackson (if the veteran's healthy) and Alshon Jeffery before coming into his own late in his rookie season or in Year 2. Anae is a similar player to current EaglesDerek Barnett and Brandon Graham -- not the most athletic player on the field but tough-minded, active and reliable. The team can fill their other needs (stack linebacker, center, another receiver, running back) with their third-round compensatory pick and three fourth-round selections.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
Last year's second-round pick Deebo Samuel offered a glimpse of his ability during his rookie season. Adding another receiver who can emulate what Emmanuel Sanders brought to the passing game is a necessity, and potentially part of the reason the team traded defensive lineman DeForest Buckner to the Colts for the 13th overall selection. Jeudy's smooth routes and run-after-catch ability will entice the Niners, though the other two elite receiver prospects, CeeDee Lamb and Henry Ruggs III, would be fine options, too, if available. I would think GM John Lynch would try to move down from 31st overall to grab more picks, as the Niners wouldn't pick again until the fifth-round (No. 156). Whether they pick at 31, or move down into Round 2, I would think a likely target would be Cushenberry or his teammate, guard Damien Lewis. Cushenberry could slide to guard or step into the pivot right off the bat for the 49ers if Weston Richburg (torn Patella tendon) is not ready to go.
Seattle is another team likely trying to move out of the first round -- but will all of these teams find trade partners? Probably not. The Seahawks' athletic profile points me to two players they could take in the first round: Blacklock and Yetur Gross-Matos. Blacklock was a defensive tackle for the Horned Frogs, but I could see him as a strong-side end for the Seahawks if they want Jarran Reed and Poona Ford on the field. Reagor couId be picked earlier, but it seems like every year a couple of receivers we didn't expect end up waiting for the call toward the end of the second round. Combining his talents as a playmaker after the catch with D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett would be a big plus for Russell Wilson.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
Tom Brady needs to be protected. The Buccaneers have a glaring hole at right tackle. Wills' athleticism, nasty streak and improvement during his redshirt sophomore season in 2019 make him a logical choice. I don't care much about CEH's 4.6 40 time at the Combine. He's a stud back who is difficult to tackle and can make plays in the passing game. He deserves to be picked earlier than 45th, but we've seen numerous quality running backs slip into the mid-second round: Le'Veon Bell, Derrick Henry, LeSean McCoy, Ray Rice and Miles Sanders to name a few. It's quite possible Edwards-Helaire, D'Andre Swift or Jonathan Taylor could be available for Tampa Bay.
Dwayne Haskins may turn out to be a good NFL quarterback, but I will be surprised if new coach Ron Rivera doesn't bring in Tua to be a difference-maker on the field and in the locker room. If Rivera choses to stick with Haskins, though, then pass rusher extraordinaire Chase Young would be the obvious pick at No. 2 overall. Washington, who traded its second-round pick to Indianapolis during the 2019 draft to move up for edge rusher Montez Sweat, can go in several directions in Round 3. I think in Edwards they have the opportunity to uncover another hidden gem at receiver to complement last year's find, Terry McLaurin. Edwards is an underappreciated prospect who wins downfield and has good strength and agility in the open field. I don't have them taking an offensive tackle above because I suspect they will trade disgruntled left tackle Trent Williams for a pick in this draft, which they'll use on his replacement.