With half of the season spent and the playoff picture beginning to winnow out the field, mock draft season is in full swing for several sad fanbases turning their eyes toward the future. And also the Dallas Cowboys.
Here at The Draft Network, you can read a new mock draft every Monday and see my review of each mock afterward, with second and third round updates coming later in the week. If you want to do your own mock draft for your favorite team, open our Mock Draft Machine and take control of the reins yourself!
I sat down with Trevor Sikkema’s Mock Draft 2.0 and walked through some of the most significant picks.
Best Value: New York Jets select Rashod Bateman
Rashod Bateman? The fifth wide receiver off the board? C’mon now!
This would be a huge win for the Jets, who lucked into Denzel Mims at the end of the second round last year and seem to have gotten a good return on him now that he’s back from injury—his Bills game wasn’t half-bad. But of course, with Jamison Crowder and Breshad Perriman filling out the rest of the depth chart, there is plenty of room for improvement here.
Bateman should not be the forgotten man in this wide receiver class just because he plays for Minnesota and quarterback Tanner Morgan, who seems to have taken a step back from last year. The new offensive coaching staff for the Gophers simplified Bateman’s route tree and targeted him more underneath, but he’s still that smart downfield route-runner with plenty of vertical speed and a flashy YAC threat to boot with his competitive toughness and surprising burst. Throw in the catch point skills, and this is a true X-receiver at Ni. 31 overall. For the talent-bereft Jets, that’s an immediate trigger pull.
Biggest Surprise: Jacksonville Jaguars select Mac Jones
The Jaguars make THREE first-round selections in this 2020 mock draft—their first is Kyle Pitts, the Florida Gators star, who they grabbed after a small trade back with the Denver Broncos; the second is Jaycee Horn, the rising South Carolina corner who made waves after a dominant performance against Auburn; and the third is yet another SEC stud in Mac Jones, who has proven this season he's more than Tua’s backup as the quarterback of the latest nuclear Alabama offense. The Jaguars used some of the capital from the earlier Broncos trade to defray the cost of moving back up into the first round.
I’m not sure Jones is a first-round player, but I like his odds better than another quarterback on this list, and I really like his ability to throw it vertically. For receivers like D.J. Chark and Chris Conley, not to mention the recently acquired Pitts, that’s a snug fit. He’s the anti-Minshew in that way, but he’s also the anti-Minshew in that he doesn’t exactly navigate a pocket or extend many plays, so I’m not sure this change is enough for Jacksonville’s offense—but it is fun to think about.
Best Idea I’ve Never Had: New England Patriots select Pat Freiermuth
Nobody ever really had the Freiermuth-New England idea because, well, nobody really thought the Patriots would be drafting this early. The Patriots also added multiple tight ends in last year’s draft in third-rounders Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene, though neither has taken the starting job from Ryan Izzo, and Keene just saw his first snaps last week in Asiasi’s absence.
The Patriots clearly need pass-catchers, and that’s what Freiermuth is at his best: a polished Mike Gesicki who can separate on intermediate breaking routes and bully safeties and modern linebackers with leverage. Freiermuth has been called the baby Gronk, which is an overbilling to his current college talent, but in a passing offense willing to feature the tight end at the NFL level, he can immediately step in and be one of the highest volume and most explosive pass-catchers at the position.
And again, that's what the Patriots need more than anything else: someone to catch the football.
Head Scratcher: Chicago Bears select Kyle Trask
I know that teams always end up reaching for need—and I know that, because of their current record and strength of roster, the Bears are as likely as any team in the league to reach for a need at quarterback.
But five—FIVE—quarterbacks went off the board before Trask, including Jones, who the Jaguars poached one pick in front of the Bears. Suffice to say, this was an active quarterback mock, and the potential to trade up was there.
So why are the Bears—who apparently have everything they need but a quarterback (ignore the struggling second-year running back, improving but still shaky interior offensive line, and soon-to-be-empty wide receiver cupboards)—reaching for Kyle Trask?! Trask has played well so far this season, there is no doubt about that. But just because he has an NFL size and arm doesn’t mean he’s worth a first-round pick. Better to either trade up for a top guy or just trade back and sign Jameis Winston.
Best of the Rest: Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson
Yeah, a bit of a sleeper here, just the greatest running back in Clemson history. You may have heard of him.
With LSU running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire as the first running back off the board with 32nd overall pick in last year’s draft, a running back has been selected in the first round in every year since 2014—when a poor class saw Bishop Sankey, Jeremy Hill, and Carlos Hyde as the first three backs off the board with picks in the 50s. In Sikkema’s mock here, no running backs go in the first round.
But we know that Etienne is as quality of a running back prospect as we can expect every year—and perhaps even more than recent first-rounders in Josh Jacobs and Edwards-Helaire, who don’t have the home-run speed Etienne boasts. How could he fall this far?
It reflects a change in the way running backs are valued, as we know and have seen in all areas of the game over the last five or so years. I think Etienne will end up a first-rounder—remember, it only takes one team—because, in terms of actual talent, he’s one of the best prospects in this class.
- Dec 01, 2022
- Nov 30, 2022