The NFL Combine may have solidified which players will go in the Top 11 of the NFL draft (mostly), just not necessarily in what order. One truth about this time of year is that everybody lies. And there seem to be more wild rumors about the top of this draft than there's been in recent years.
It's never too early to take a shot at separating fact from fiction, though, even though free agency in two weeks will change everything and teams are still about seven weeks from finalizing their draft board. So here's my second projection of how the first 11 picks of the 2020 NFL draft will go, including the picks for the Giants (at 4) and Jets (at 11) -- assuming they decide to stay put.
1. Cincinnati Bengals - LSU QB Joe Burrow
Ignore everything else. This is happening. The moment he stepped to the combine podium and confirmed he'd play for the Bengals if they took him, they put his name in ink on their card. They need a quarterback badly, and he's overwhelmingly considered the best of this draft.
2. Washington Redskins - Ohio State DE Chase Young
I know Giants fans desperately want the Tua Tagovailoa-to-Washington rumors to be true, but I'm not ready to buy in yet. Even though it happened with the Cardinals a year ago, it's still incredibly rare for a team to draft a quarterback in the first round in back-to-back years. Also, remember, the Redskins coaches wanted Daniel Jones last year while owner Dan Snyder wanted Dwayne Haskins. Is Ron Rivera's first act as Redskins coach really going to be dumping the quarterback his boss wanted?
3. Detroit Lions - Clemson LB Isaiah Simmons
First, if the Redskins do take a quarterback, then Chase Young lands here (sorry, Giants fans). Also, this is really the hot spot for teams who want to trade up and land a quarterback of their own (sorry, Giants fans). Nobody will want to trade up to 4 and risk someone jumping ahead of them to 3. So if the Giants are going to deal, it'll happen when they're on the clock. If the Lions stay and Young is gone, Simmons is the next best defender on the board.
4. GIANTS - Louisville OT Mekhi Becton
The Giants love Iowa's Tristan Wirfs, and maybe even moreso after the 6-5, 320-pounder ran a 4.85 in the 40, which is pretty ridiculous for a guy his size. But GM Dave Gettleman loves his big men … well, big. And no one is bigger than the 6-7, 364-pound Becton, who by the way ran a 5.1 in the 40 -- also pretty ridiculous. Not everyone thinks Becton is the best of this bunch of O-line prospects, but yes, size does matter.
5. Miami Dolphins - Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa
They may have to move up to get him -- and they might. But this has made sense since the beginning of last season when the Dolphins seemed to be Tanking for Tua. If he's waiting for them at 5, they'll grab him and let him sit behind Ryan Fitzpatrick for a year -- or at least for the start of the year. The Dolphins aren't in a rush because they're not close to contending.
6. Los Angeles Chargers - Oregon QB Justin Herbert
There are some mixed feelings around the league about Herbert. He was impressive at the combine, but some scouts were down on him after his final college season -- down enough to think he shouldn't go in the Top 10. Utah State's Jordan Love is going to get a lot of love at this spot in the coming weeks, but Herbert is probably more likely at this point.
7. Carolina Panthers - Ohio State CB Jeff Okudah
The Panthers most likely are going to lose James Bradberry in free agency, where he'll be one of the top cornerbacks available. The polished and confident Okudah would be the perfect replacement. And many think if he drops this low, he's an absolute steal.
8. Arizona Cardinals - Iowa OT Tristan Wirfs
QB Kyler Murray took a beating last season. And if they're going to run Kliff Kingsbury's Air Raid offense, they'll need Murray to stay healthy. That makes Wirfs perfect, both for his blocking ability and his athleticism. The Cards need their tackles to move to keep out in front of Murray. Wirfs can do that as well as anyone.
9. Jacksonville Jaguars - Auburn DT Derrick Brown
There was buzz at the combine that Brown is the best defender available (even though Young is likely to have more of an impact). The Jaguars' defensive front has been picked apart in recent years and they need a force in the middle like this 6-5, 318-pounder to help their pass rush out and stop the run, too. They need an offensive lineman as well, but this need -- and this value -- is greater.
10. Cleveland Browns - Alabama OT Jedrick Wills
There are four offensive tackles that almost everyone seems to believe tower over the others in the draft, but given how many teams need them, there is a real possibility that the Big Four will be off the board by the time the Jets pick at 11. The Browns seem certain to take one off the board right before the Jets pick. And if the 6-5, 320-pound Wills is here, he's probably a notch above the guy they'll leave for the Jets.
11. JETS - Georgia OT Andrew Thomas
This is the big decision everyone is forecasting for Jets GM Joe Douglas -- faced with the top receiver on the board (probably Alabama's Jerry Jeudy) or what might be the fourth lineman on his board, what does he do? My bet remains that he'll go the tackle route since the receiver class is so deep he'll surely be able to find a good one in Round 2. As for which tackle, they'll take whichever one is left -- in this case the 6-5, 315-pounder who was long thought to be the best one in the draft (but not anymore).