With a quarter of the season spent and already a few teams buried from playoff contention, mock draft season is in full swing for at least a couple of fan bases—I’m looking at you, metro New York.
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 Drae Harris’ Mock Draft 2.0 and walked through some of the most significant picks.
Best Value: Pittsburgh Steelers select Samuel Cosmi
In a thin tackle class after star Oregon OT Penei Sewell, I’m big on Samuel Cosmi, who I think is sufficiently talented to warrant an early selection beyond his enticing tools, which typically get drafted early in the first round. Cosmi has the size that the Steelers like on the outside, with the quality foot quickness necessary to recover against top pass-rushers as he acclimates to NFL play in Year 1 of starting. They’ll want to bulk him up to fit their running game requirements, but over an offseason or two, I think he can fit the bill.
With the way tackle play has suffered, and subsequently been prioritized over the last 10 or so years of NFL play, grabbing the third tackle off the board at No. 25 overall projects to quality value for a team in need of an offensive line reload—only starting guard Kevin Dotson is signed beyond 2021.
Biggest Surprise: Las Vegas Raiders select Jayson Oweh
I did not expect to see Jayson Oweh in the top 16 of mocks until we at least checked in on his development in the upcoming Big Ten season. Oweh is a Feldman’s Freak, a renowned spectacle in the weight room and in his flashiest plays, but the meat and potatoes on a snap-to-snap basis aren’t there yet. Oweh wasn’t even a full-time player last season behind starters Yetur Gross-Matos and Shaka Toney.
Could Oweh end up a worthy prospect of the 14th overall pick? Sure. I appreciate the gumption of the prediction. With that said, the Raiders have clearly valued experienced starters with a ton of production in their drafting philosophy under new general manager Mike Mayock, and while that philosophy seems to have led them awry with their No. 4 overall selection of Clelin Ferrell in 2019, I don’t think they’ll be so quick to shuck in it favor of a clear project like Oweh.
Best Idea I’ve Never Had: Denver Broncos select Micah Parsons
Vic Fangio defenses and great linebacker play are synonymous. Navorro Bowman and Patrick Willis in San Francisco; Roquan Smith and some quality development on Nick Kwiatowski in Chicago; the continued emergence of A.J. Johnson and the improvement of Josey Jewell during his short stint in Denver. His defense is great for linebacker play.
But the Broncos still don’t have the talent at MIKE that you’d like, and Fangio’s ability to script exotic blitzes will open up a lot more with a top-flight athlete and processor in Parsons. The blitzing aspect is obvious: Parsons is built like an EDGE. But it’s his ability to win against blocks and scrape through multiple gaps as an off-ball player that will allow the Broncos to play light in the box and stay sound against the run. That’s the true vision for Fangio, who had a lot of success with the last star Penn State linebacker he coached in Bowman.
Head Scratcher: Jacksonville Jaguars select Dillon Radunz
I understand what we’re going for here. The franchise QB/franchise LT pairing makes a lot of sense, and after snagging Trey Lance at the top of the draft, grabbing a long-term starter and his buddy from North Dakota State makes a ton of sense. He can step in and play for you immediately.
But there’s only a gap at left tackle for the Jags if they don’t elect to return Cam Robinson, who is currently playing in a contract year after the Jaguars selected him just outside of the first round in 2017. And Robinson’s last two seasons duly threw that future contract into question: he missed all of 2018 with an ACL tear and came back in 2019 not looking like the same guy.
But in 2020? Robinson looks great thus far, and the Jaguars offense has arguably one of the best young tackle duos in the league in Robinson and right tackle Jawaan Taylor. Assuming Robinson stays healthy through 2020, I’d expect the Jaguars to extend him and use one of their first-round picks on defense, where they’ve bled so much talent over the last couple years.
Best of the Rest: Jay Tufele, iDL, USC
I nearly had Jay Tufele as my Best of the Rest last week, instead landing on Quincy Roche. Well, both were left off of the first round of Harris’ mock here, so I’ll talk about Tufele.
Tufele won’t play when the season begins for the Pac-12, as he committed to his opt-out in the initial cancellation of the season and elected not to return to the Trojans on the restart. I think he’s put enough on film in terms of hand usage, body control in gaps, and functional strength to be considered a first-rounder. On a one-gapping defense, his ability to get skinny and quickly square to tackle in the backfield should give him a high ceiling and a high floor in running game production as his pass rush continues to gleam under additional polish.