As LSU and Alabama take the field in Tuscaloosa in an epic SEC matchup Saturday, it first is a big college football game. As a close second, it is a major showcase for a ton of near-future NFL talent.
The quarterbacks take the biggest spotlight, as there's a growing debate whether Tua Tagovailoa or Joe Burrow should be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. But there are many more exciting prospects with first-round quality from both programs. LSU and Alabama, along with other powerhouses, are featured prominently again in this week's mock draft.
From the updated 1-32 based on current NFL standings and playoff seedings, here is Sporting News' third in-season projection for the 2020 NFL Draft.
NFL mock draft 2020
1. Cincinnati Bengals (0-8)
Joe Burrow, LSU
Burrow has enjoyed a meteoric rise as the new Heisman Trophy favorite and appealing top QB prospect in this class. At 6-3, 215 pounds, he combines his mental and physical toughness in the pocket with a strong arm and accurate delivery. His leadership skills also have flourished in Baton Rouge. Coach Zac Taylor will see some Jared Goff qualities in Burrow as a traditional passer, which makes sense for the Bengals after their benching of Andy Dalton.
2. Washington Redskins (1-7)
Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
Assuming the Redskins want to stick with and develop first-round QB Dwayne Haskins in the right way with a new coach and are headed to part ways with Trent Williams, they need a new rock of a left tackle. Thomas matches great size (6-5, 320 pounds) with good hands and footwork, so he can also be an asset in the running game for Derrius Guice.
3. New York Jets (1-7)
Chase Young, EDGE, Ohio State
There's a fair chance Gregg Williams will not be around to lobby Adam Gase and Jets ‘ officials make this pick, but they should be hoping the two teams ahead think QB and offense first. Young is an explosive athlete who can solve the team's edge rush issues, which it has had limited success addressing. Young (6-5, 265 pounds) is a game-changing disruptor. He has followed up a 10.5-sack season with 13.5 already in eight games as a junior.
4. Miami Dolphins (1-7)
Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
Tagovailoa hasn't done much to drop his value, but the durability concerns, combined with Burrow's spectacular play, have caused him to slip for now in the eyes of many NFL observers. Contrary to popular growing belief, Tagovailoa when healthy is not just the product of the talented offense around him. He is an accurate, mobile deep-ball thrower with the upside of Russell Wilson, only left-handed.
5. Atlanta Falcons (1-7)
A.J. Epenesa, EDGE, Iowa
The Falcons might not have defensive-minded coach Dan Quinn around to help make this pick, but a long, lean 4-3 end who can disrupt in the backfield would be nice for the Falcons. Epenesa (6-6, 280 pounds) is a powerful, explosive, big-bodied player with some traits similar to those of Joey Bosa.
6. New York Giants (2-7)
Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
Odell Beckham Jr. is gone, and Sterling Shepard is facing an uncertain NFL future with his concussion issues. Daniel Jones has the elite back in Saquon Barkley and now needs his go-to outside receiver. Jeudy is a classic drive-finishing No. 1 at 6-1, 198 pounds. He also won't be the only 'Bama wideout taken in the first round.
7. Cleveland Browns (2-6)
Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa
Securing the edges of their offensive line, especially in pass protection, is the Browns' top priority. At 6-5, 315 pounds, Wirfs is the all-around stout tackle the Browns desperately need to fortify their front for the sake of both Baker Mayfield and Nick Chubb.
8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-6)
Jeffery Okudah, CB, Ohio State
Okudah has emerged as a premier ballhawk for the Buckeyes with his three interceptions in eight games and keeps getting better as a shutdown type at 6-1, 200 pounds. The Buccaneers have been awful on the back end with Vernon Hargreaves disappointing and Carlton Davis being a liability.
9. Denver Broncos (3-6)
Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
We're going back to QB for John Elway since Joe Flacco is no longer an option, Brandon Allen is not the answer and second-rounder Drew Lock might not get enough time to prove he can lock down the job. Herbert is an athletic, accurate playmaker who can continue to close the gap between himself and Burrow and Tagovailoa after making the wise decision to return to school — matching the mostly good decisions he makes on the field. After a slow start to the Ducks' season, he has revved up his performance to restore his first-round status.
10. Las Vegas Raiders (from Bears)
CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
The Raiders whiffed on Antonio Brown, but Tyrell Williams was a great signing and has been solid when healthy working as the necessary No. 1. But the Raiders could use an even better No. 1 who can do everything. Lamb has needed only 36 receptions in eight games to put up 816 yards and 11 TDs. At 6-3, 190 pounds, he is both a great vertical threat and a red-zone target.
11. Arizona Cardinals (3-5-1)
Grant Delpit, S, LSU
The Cardinals, who can't cover the tight end, need someone who can fly around the field and stop the run like an extra linebacker and make big plays while inside in coverage. Delpit plays like the Chargers' Derwin James with tremendous size (6-3, 203 pounds) for the position.
12. Detroit Lions (3-4-1)
Tyler Biadasz, G, Wisconsin
The Lions need to keep upgrading their power run blocking, because it clearly hasn't been good enough this season. Biadasz (6-3, 321 pounds) is next in the strong line of Badgers interior blockers (Travis Frederick, Kevin Zeitler).
13. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-5)
Yatur Gross-Matos, EDGE, Penn State
Yannick Ngakoue is a pending free agent who might be out of their price range, and Calais Campbell is 33. The Jaguars will need to re-supply their pass rush, and Gross-Matos (6-5, 242 pounds) is a well-built, explosive and versatile defender who can thrive in Todd Wash's 4-3 scheme.
14. Los Angeles Chargers (4-5)
Calvin Throckmorton, OT, Oregon
Throckmorton (6-5, 309 pounds) is putting together a fine senior season for the Ducks while blocking for Herbert. He is a smooth, agile pass protector with the upside to develop into a better run blocker in the NFL. Phiiip Rivers and Melvin Gordon could use him.
15. Tennessee Titans (4-5)
Jalen Hurts, QB, Oklahoma
Marcus Mariota and Ryan Tannehill are unsigned for 2020. This is a copycat league in which QBs from Oklahoma's great passing system were the past two No. 1 picks. The NFL is more open to dual threats of his ilk, and Hurts, at 6-2, 219 pounds, has good enough size with a welcome winning pedigree. The latest buzz on him can't be denied.
16. Las Vegas Raiders (4-4)
Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina
Kinlaw has been a big-time inside disruptor for the Gamecocks with five sacks in eight games. At 6-6, 310 pounds, he can be the new Geno Atkins in Paul Guenther's defense. He would look good playing with Clelin Ferrell and Maxx Crosby.
17. Miami Dolphins (from Steelers)
Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama
The Dolphins need to pair Tagovailoa with a potential dominant No. 1, so why not go to one of his key go-to guys with the Crimson Tide? Ruggs (6-0, 190 pounds) plays bigger than his size as a dynamic deep threat with underrated qualities as a possession man.
18. Philadelphia Eagles (5-4)
Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU
Everyone can see the Eagles’ desperate need for a lockdown corner who has a nose for big plays, given how messy that position has been or them in 2019. Fulton (6-1, 192) is a physical cover man with great technique and footwork, giving him shutdown upside.
19. Carolina Panthers (5-3)
Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn
The Panthers, after addressing the edge with Brian Burns and Christian Miller, need to beef up their front with a quick disruptor who makes plays in the backfield. Brown (6-5, 318 pounds) fits that mold.
20. Jacksonville Jaguars (from Rams)
Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama
The Jaguars can replace Jalen Ramsey with Diggs, who can pair well with A.J. Bouye because of his size (6-2, 207 pounds), strength and downfield speed. Diggs is rising fast with his big senior season (three interceptions in eight games).
21. Indianapolis Colts (5-3)
Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin
Marlon Mack is a good power back, but he has some durability issues and has lost some effectiveness behind the Colts' elite line and can't be a three-down option. Taylor (5-11, 219 pounds) has great vision and burst as a runner, and he doesn't get enough credit for what he can do as a receiver, which has been on display more this season.
22. Minnesota Vikings (6-3)
Creed Humphrey, CB, Oklahoma
The Vikings need to keep upgrading their run blocking to fit their new offensive identity with Dalvin Cook. Humphrey (6-4, 312 pounds) is a good hand-fighter who has great athleticism for the position.
23. Buffalo Bills (6-2)
Laviska Shenault Jr., Colorado
The Bills have a deep threat in John Brown and a steady slot presence in Cole Beasley. But they have a glaring hole at the other outside receiver spot, where Zay Jones didn't work out and former CFL standout Duke Williams isn't looking like the answer, either. Shenault is a more complete receiver at 6-1, 215 pounds.
24. Seattle Seahawks (6-2)
C.J. Henderson, CB, Florida
The Seahawks, two years removed from losing Richard Sherman, still need to get better at cornerback. Henderson (6-1, 202 pounds) plays bigger than he is with great athleticism and technique in his favor. He just needs to get a little more physical to be trusted against receivers who rely on body positioning to get open.
25. Dallas Cowboys (5-3)
Neville Gallimore, DT, Oklahoma
Gallimore (6-2, 301 pounds) is getting more attention for the punch he has shown on the Sooners' interior line this season, blossoming as a senior with three sacks. The Cowboys could use someone like him to further set the tone up front and get to the quarterback to complement what they have on the edge.
26. Kansas City Chiefs (6-3)
Isaiah Simmons, ILB, Clemson
The Chiefs have been trying to get by with a rotation in the middle, and the results have been awful, as they can neither stop the run nor cover backs or tight ends. Simmons (6-4, 229 pounds) is an extremely active player who seems to be all over the field at all times for the Tigers.
27. Miami Dolphins (from Texans)
D'Andre Swift, RB, Georgia
The Dolphins can complete their offensive skill rebuild by adding a feature back to support Tagovailoa and Ruggs. They need more of a power back with a dash of explosiveness and some receiving upside. Swift (5-9, 229) is capable of getting both the tough yards inside and breaking free for big plays in open field outside.
28. Green Bay Packers (7-1)
Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson
Higgins combines tremendous, No. 1-style size (6-4, 205 pounds) with explosiveness. He is averaging 21.8 yards per catch with three TDs for the Tigers in 2019. The Packers need to clean up the committee behind Davante Adams.
29. Baltimore Ravens (6-2)
Curtis Weaver, EDGE, Boise State
The Ravens need to find that dominant pass rusher for their 3-4 defense after losing Za'Darius Smith and Terrell Suggs. Weaver (6-3, 265 pounds) has been an absolute beast on the blue turf with 10.5 sacks this season.
30. New Orleans Saints (7-1)
Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU
The Saints need a dasher to complement Michael Thomas and stretch the field. Reagor fits the bill at 5-11, 185 pounds and also provides some nice run-after-catch skills.
31. New England Patriots (8-1)
Raekwon Davis, DT, Alabama
Davis (6-7, 312 pounds) is a massive, versatile player from a scheme and program Bill Belichick likes. He can line up at both end and tackle to eat space against the run.
32. San Francisco 49ers (8-0)
Kenneth Murray, ILB, Oklahoma
Between the flameout of Reuben Foster and the unfortunate injury to Kwon Alexander, the 49ers have had bad breaks on the second level despite multiple attempts to solidify themselves between an excellent defensive line and suddenly deep secondary. Murray (6-2, 243 pounds) is an active, rangy playmaker who can be as effective dropping back as he is getting downhill against the run or blitzing.