FILE - In this April 25, 2019, file photo, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell speaks ahead of the first round at the NFL football draft in Nashville, Tenn. In a memo sent to the 32 teams Monday, April 6, 2020, and obtained by The Associated Press, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell outlined procedures for the April 23-25 draft. The guidelines include no group gatherings. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, FIle)

NFL Draft: Kiper Locks in his Mock

This year’s NFL Draft, which gets underway on Thursday night, won’t be the same as years prior. There won’t be a stage to walk across and the coveted green room will be virtual — as will the rest of the draft. 

In wake of the Covid-19 pandemic that continues to sweep across the U.S., the NFL will be holding the 2020 draft virtually. 

Here’s what can be expected Thursday as the first round of the draft plays out in the State of Florida.

Florida Gators

The Gators have had 52 first-round draft picks. with number 53 likely just around the corner. While there are a handful of former Gators who will be tuned into the draft to hear their name called, there is only one expected to be taken in the first round. 

As Florida’s coach Dan Mullen has said, “You’ve got to be a baller to wear number 1.” 

And after trading in number 5 after his first two seasons, cornerback CJ Henderson donned the coveted 1 jersey in 2019. And rightfully so. 

According to Pro Football Focus, when in single coverage, Henderson has played 172 snaps, 49 of which Henderson’s receiver was targeted. Of that, Henderson gave up just one touchdown. 

Following his college career in Gainesville, Henderson earned himself an invite to the NFL Combine earlier this year. 

After completing the 40-yard dash in 4.39-seconds and repping 225 pounds on the bench 20 times, Henderson earned a prospect grade of 6.72. In layman’s terms, prospective draftees are graded on an eight-point scale. In Henderson’s case, his grade indicates that he is a “year one quality starter.”

Henderson is widely expected to hear his name called in the upper half of the first round on Thursday night. 

According to Mel Kiper’s final mock draft, Henderson could be claiming loyalty to the Los Angeles Raiders, who have the 12th overall pick of the draft. 

Miami Dolphins

What the Dolphins do at number five has been one of the most talked about things in the draft. After the  ‘Phins’ “Tank for Tua” campaign, Kiper expects them to get their wish, but they didn’t have to tank for it. 

With the fifth pick of the draft, Kiper expects Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa to be calling South Beach home. 

Later in the round, Miami will have an additional opportunity to add to their roster. With the 26th overall pick, which was acquired from Houston, the Dolphins will add to their numbers up front. 

Kiper anticipates the Dolphins to select Josh Jones, an offensive tackle out of Houston. 

Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars will be able to grab two picks in the first round with the ninth pick and the 20th overall pick, with the latter of the two coming from the Los Angeles Rams. 

According to Kiper, Ohio State’s Jeff Okudah could likely be heading to Duval at number nine; this would help the Jags replace Jalen Ramsey, who has since moved on to the Rams. 

At number 20, Kiper has Jacksonville beefing up the offensive line with Austin Jackson, a tackle out of USC. 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Unlike their northwestern counterpart, Tampa Bay has just one pick in the first round. 

With a mid-round pick at number 14, Kiper expects three offensive linemen to go before the Bucs get on the clock. And given Tampa Bay’s recent acquisitions in Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski, a new target for Brady might be the move for the Bucs. 

In Kiper’s final mock draft, he expects Tampa Bay to find a new wide receiver in LSU’s Justin Jefferson. 

It all starts Thursday night

The first round of the NFL Draft will get underway on Thursday night at 8 p.m.

For Mel Kiper’s entire final mock draft, click here.

 

About Ainslie Lee

Ainslie is a journalism major at the University of Florida where she specializes in Sports Media. Her main passion is college football as it was a huge part of her childhood. Ainslie serves as a current correspondent for the Ocala Star-Banner, a newspaper for the Ocala, Florida area. She currently covers Marion County high school sports.

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