Draft season is in full swing, and with it, we’re starting to hone in on a good framework for what we believe could end up as final selections for teams come late April.
TDN’s own Drae Harris released his mock draft 5.0 this Monday, and with it came plenty to talk about. Let’s get into some of my favorite picks, biggest surprises, and more.
Best Value: Kansas City Chiefs select Alijah Vera-Tucker, IOL, USC
For as well as Vera-Tucker played at tackle this past season, and for as big of an offensive line need as the Chiefs have, this selected was a home run. Even the great Patrick Mahomes could not survive behind the dismantled offensive line the Chiefs had to play against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Super Bowl. Both of their starting tackles were out, and their interior offensive line left much to be desired, even from the regular starters. Vera-Tucker gives the Chiefs an instant upgrade on the interior with the flexibility to swing him over to tackle if they’re ever in a pinch or if it makes sense long term.
I thought the biggest shock for wide receivers in this mock was going to be the fact that two were taken in the top six and then the next wasn’t taken until pick No. 20. But then I saw who the pick was at No. 20 and that became the story itself.
Minnesota wide receiver Rashod Bateman is often seen as the next best receiver outside of the big three, which include Ja’Marr Chase, DeVonta Smith, and Jaylen Waddle, but in this mock, Harris had the Chicago Bears selecting the smooth moving Bateman over the speedster Waddle.
Bateman is often linked to the Bears, but in most cases, Waddle is already off the board. Here Harris kept the Bateman-Chicago link alive, but over the likes of Waddle, which is a pretty big endorsement.
Best Idea I’ve Never Had: New England Patriots select Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina
The Patriots roster does not boast much talent, but one of the few areas in which they are strong is in their secondary. So why would the Patriots use their first-round pick on that area of their team and not a player on offense, either a quarterback or a pass game weapon? I’m not saying they should go this route, but I do understand why it could make sense.
The Patriots were reportedly shopping cornerback Stephon Gilmore at the deadline last year, although the price they wanted made the situation seem more like “we’ll move on from him if you give us an offer we can’t refuse” and not “we’re trying to move on.” However, all of that to say, there is only one starter in these secondary for the Patriots who is under the age of 30, and that is restricted free agent J.C. Jackson. Plus, Gilmore is now in the final year of his contract.
I never thought of this idea, but I get it.
Head Scratcher: New York Jets select Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
This one kind of builds off the previous discussion of Bateman and Waddle. It is in no way questioning the Jets jumping all over Waddle if he were to make it to No. 23 for them to select with their second pick in the first round—that part is a no-brainer. The head-scratching part is Waddle making it to No. 23.
Yes, Waddle suffered the ankle injury that kept him out for most of the season, but I have to believe NFL teams will look past that. There haven’t been reports saying this injury will linger or that Waddle won’t be ready for the 2021 season. With that being the case, I think he’s going much higher than the 20s.
Best Pick of the Rest: Cleveland Browns select Jaelan Phillips, EDGE, UCLA
Former No. 1 overall recruit Myles Garrett on one side, former No. 1 overall recruit Jaelan Phillips on the other. That’s one heck of a pass-rush duo.
The Browns need a big-time boost from their pass rush opposite Garrett. Phillips being that player has the ceiling to be one of the best pass rush units in the NFL. Phillips has dealt with concussions during his collegiate career (the main reason he left UCLA, where he was originally playing), but when he’s healthy, he’s without a doubt the most talented pass rusher to pick this April.