With more than 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 fan bases turning their eyes toward the future.
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 3.0 and walked through some of the most significant picks.
Best Value: Minnesota Vikings select Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
The quarterback class is equal parts talented and unsettled. There are four quarterbacks who are going to go at the top of the draft, but nobody’s exactly sure just how early and in just what order they’ll go.
Wilson is the riser du jour at quarterback given his explosive arm and penchant for off-platform throws, and accordingly, many expect him to make it into the top 10 picks of this class come April. I’m not sure he’ll get all the way there yet, but as it stands, Minnesota should be happy to get a potential franchise passer outside of the top 10. When Draft Day comes, the Vikings’ dream scenario would be snagging a quarterback without trading up, especially considering that they’ve lost this year’s second-round pick already in the Yannick Ngakoue deal.
Biggest Surprise: Denver Broncos select Joseph Ossai, EDGE, Texas
A couple of layers of a surprise here. The first is the stock for Ossai: as a top-15 pick, Ossai will be expected to deliver quality starting reps in Year 1, and see his production reflected in his sack totals. Harris has Ossai as the third EDGE off the board behind Kwity Paye and Greg Rousseau, and before Azeez Ojulari, Jayson Oweh, and a slew of other talented players.
The second is the prioritization for Denver, who has some big needs on the offensive line and in the back seven of the defense. EDGE could become a big need for Denver: in 2021 they have a team option on Von Miller, currently recovering from injury, and have the last year on Chubb’s contract before his fifth-year option. But with Chubb and subpackage rusher Malik Reed both playing well this season, I’m not sure Ossai solves the immediate holes on the Broncos roster.
I think Ossai could end up being a top-15 pick; I think Denver could look to build out the future at EDGE. But right now, this is too early for me and Vic Fangio.
Best Idea I’ve Never Had: Tennessee Titans select Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa
I waffle on this one, actually. Not on whether it’s a good idea—it is. Collins is a great fit for the Titans defense as a humongous off-ball linebacker with thunderous fill-and-flow ability behind that two-gapping defensive front. Mike Vrabel loves physical players, and Collins is that whether on or off the line of scrimmage—and as an on-ball rusher or off-ball blitzer, he could bring value to their lacking pressure packages.
With that said, one of my biggest concerns with the Titans defense is the coverage on running backs, and while Collins is an impressive zone drop player at his size, he is not suited for sticking with running backs in man coverage. He would also mess with the balance between Jayon Brown and Rashaan Evans, which is a pretty solid linebacker duo despite the running back coverage issues.
Collins definitely fits what the Titans like, and would be productive in their defense—so that’s always good. It’s a great idea. But finagling the defense to accommodate all of their good players might get tricky.
Head Scratcher: Cleveland Browns select Derion Kendrick, CB, Clemson
I respect Harris’ love for Derion Kendrick, by whom I’m pretty intrigued. Folks have had Kendrick as a potential first-rounder for a while now, but I still see a player with snap-to-snap inconsistency on a learning curve. And that’s fine—you can draft those players in Round 1, and often have to when you’re a playoff team like Cleveland currently is.
But the Browns, who desperately need a Year 1 starter at corner opposite Denzel Ward, can’t really sit on a developmental track if they want their defense to take a step forward next season. There are corners with more pro-readiness available, like Eric Stokes or Paulson Adebo, and corners with comparative developmental profiles, like Shaun Wade and Tyson Campbell. I just can’t get on board with Kendrick as the top of the second tier of corners after Patrick Surtain II and Caleb Farley.
Best of the Rest: Alabama LB Dylan Moses
The Collins pick to the Titans was a good match, but his ascent into Round 1 officially made Dylan Moses LB4, at best, in this class. I just can’t get my head around it. Moses’ best play came a couple of seasons ago, and that always creates trepidation, but he’s dealt with injury and an alignment change in a ‘Bama defense without its typical surrounding talent. The athletic profile on Moses alone is Round 1 potential, and we’ve already seen him play at a polished, veteran level. I’m still in.