On Monday, our esteemed colleague, Joe Marino, released his latest 2020 NFL mock draft — the fourth time this season he has undertaken such a task.
Mock drafts are a staple of any draft analyst's resume, and they are almost universally received with uncertainty, debate and at times anger by the fans of the teams forecasted. It's a bittersweet part of the gig.
Joe probably thought he was in the clear after his mock draft was released. He was wrong. Because this week's edition of Studs & Duds is dedicated to highlighting the best and worst fits from Marino's 2020 Mock Draft 4.0.
STUD: The Giants drafting Chase Young at 2
There is some buzz Dave Gettleman's prefers defensive tackles over defensive ends, but let's not make this harder than it has to be. Chase Young is the best player available and the New York Giants just invested a top-six pick in their quarterback of the future. No matter what happens to head coach Pat Shurmur and company, the Giants are going to need a better presence off the edge and Young next to these heavy-handed DTs is going to be a scary combination.
DUD: The Cardinals drafting Andrew Thomas at 6
Part of the appeal to Kyler Murray is you have got a player who can win in the pocket with his elusiveness. While drafting Andrew Thomas isn't a bad choice, but I certainly would like to see a more fleet-footed pass blocker (like Alabama's Jedrick Wills) to help the Arizona Cardinals open up more of the passing offense for Murray in Year 2. Did you know that Murray has the NFL's sixth shortest average of intended air yards per attempt in 2019? His average depth of target downfield is 6.9 yards — 33 NFL quarterbacks average a greater depth of target downfield this season.
STUD: The Lions drafting Derrick Brown at 5
Take the best player available and prosper. Don't look back, don't ask questions. Detroit Lions fans seem to be a finicky bunch based on my own experiences with mock draft targets, but Derrick Brown is a monster up front who would plug in nicely among the defenders the Lions are implementing in A'Shawn Robinson, Damon Harrison and Trey Flowers. Brown is versatile enough to play 1-technique, 3-technique, 4i-technique or 5-technique.
DUD: The Broncos drafting Jerry Jeudy at 10
It isn't that Jerry Jeudy is a bad player, far from it. If you account for the pure value on the board, Jeudy is one of the best players available at this juncture in the class. Denver Broncos Drew Lock has given the team some hope that he might actually be the QB of the future and building around him makes sense. However, the Broncos can get an equally attractive value at a more pressing need at cornerback. Denver already has a budding star at wide receiver in Courtland Sutton and a still promising youngster in DaeSean Hamilton to work with. Kristian Fulton of LSU makes more sense here as the Broncos’ best defenders with CB experience under contract for 2020 are Kareem Jackson and Duke Dawson.
STUD: The Vikings drafting Javon Kinlaw at 24
It is a match made in heaven between Javon Kinlaw and the Minnesota Vikings. They are going to run the risk of winning their way out of a fit with Kinlaw, but if he's there — as he is in this scenario — it is a home run for Minnesota. With star defensive ends Danielle Hunter and Everson Griffen, the Vikings would be wise to add a bit more dynamic play at the 3-technique inside. Kinlaw does exactly that.
DUD: The Panthers drafting Justin Herbert at 11
This was the five-alarm fire in Marino’s Mock Draft 4.0. Justin Herbert going to the Carolina Panthers sent their fans into a tizzy, and rightfully so. The Panthers are going to see a drastic amount of changes this offseason. Owner Dave Tepper has already fired head coach Ron Rivera and looking to overhaul the team's front office structure this offseason as well. Does that leave veteran quarterback Cam Newton on an uncertain footing with the team as he looks to bounce back from a foot injury? Perhaps. But I feel the only way Carolina moves on from Newton is if it gets a trade offer it feels is worthwhile — and I doubt anyone is going to sign up to give the Panthers a first-round pick given Newton’s recent shoulder and foot injuries. I would look for Carolina to target a stud that can help this team try to win with Newton, not make a pick with the intent to replace him.
STUD: The Ravens drafting Terrell Lewis at 32
When you think about the Baltimore Ravens organization, what comes to mind? Right now, the high scoring blur of an offense leads the headlines, but the Ravens have been a team that has always been built on defense. With Terrell Suggs gone and Baltimore facing the prospect of losing Matt Judon in free agency this offseason, getting another long-armed, potent presence off the edge makes a ton of sense. Given Terrell Lewis' physical gifts, he is something of a steal and a perfect fit to the Ravens at the end of the 1first-round.
DUD: The Browns drafting Alex Leatherwood at 14
The Cleveland Browns need to be careful with this whole "drafting according to need" thing. I am about addressing the needs on the roster, but selecting Alex Leatherwood here is as gross of a reach as you could possibly draw up. The Browns could easily fill a different position on the offensive line with a better value pick on the interior, or could have alternatively gone for a quality defensive player at free safety (Grant Delpit) or a pass rusher to play opposite Myles Garrett with Olivier Vernon hardly warranted his $15-million base salary. Remember, draft fans and aficionados, the draft is seven rounds long. You don't have to check the box in the first round.