With significantly 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 Brentley Weissman’s Mock Draft 3.0 and walked through some of the most significant picks.
Best Value: Cleveland Browns select Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame
This is such a good value because it’s such a good fit. The Browns so desperately need a coverage linebacker, and Owusu-Koramoah is perhaps the best player in that role in this draft—it’s about as simple as that. The Browns have been leaking to tight end targets and running back check-downs all season, and Owusu-Koramoah’s proven ability to handle slot receivers should translate nicely to NFL-caliber athletes at tight end and running back.
The value of linebackers in the first round overall is a question mark, but with the way modern offenses are built, you need underneath zone defenders who can exist in conflict—run/pass, hi-lo, whatever—and not only survive, but make impact plays. Owusu-Koramoah has the quickness and instincts to win even when put in conflict.
Biggest Surprise: Pittsburgh Steelers select Shaun Wade, CB, Ohio State
I really like this one. The Steelers defense has been tremendous at all three levels (and most metrics agree), but there’s no denying the fact that Joe Haden is getting older—and while Steven Nelson was a good free agent signing, he’s definitely more a CB2 than CB1. The Steelers should prioritize adding talent to the secondary to remain deep and effective against forever improving wide receiver corps around the league.
Wade is a nifty add because he can start in the nickel with Mike Hilton and backup the outside corners in the event of an injury. He’s a quality zone player who’s ready immediately for the Steelers’ zone heavy approach, but can be an eraser in man coverage with more time. Good pick for now and for later.
Best Idea I’ve Never Had: Minnesota Vikings select Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern
The Vikings, unfortunately, feel like an effortless pick at this stage: if there’s a quarterback, you give him to Minnesota—and if there isn’t, you give them Wyatt Davis, the mauling guard from Ohio State. Well, Davis is great, but Slater is a really interesting alternative option. Not only is he delightfully physical and able to finish as Davis does, but he has sick mobility to climb to the second level, and the experience at tackle to potentially fill that role for the Vikings once Riley Reiff vacates it.
While he may not be elite at guard the way Davis has been, he solves more problems for Vikings.
Head Scratcher: New York Jets select Pat Freiermuth, TE, Penn State
I don’t have too much of an issue with this pick—Freiermuth would immediately be a starter, take a majority of snaps, and I’m confident he would be pretty good pretty quickly in the league. His frame is built out and he got a solid route tree relative to the average college tight end.
With that said, he’s not much of an in-line player or blocker, so he’s not bringing much in the way of the running game—and while he’s a good wide receiver, players like Minnesota’s Rashod Bateman, LSU’s Terrance Marshall, and Purdue’s Rondale Moore are still available. I think the Jets need playmakers everywhere, and Freiermuth may be the best tight end left, but he isn’t the best playmaker.
Best of the Rest:
The two players I seem to always drop in this spot are Dylan Moses and Rondale Moore, both of whom didn’t make Brentley’s first round. In that I’ve written about them before, so here are a few more names who are fringe first-rounders who didn’t make the cut:
- Tulsa LB Zaven Collins
- Stanford CB Paulson Adebo
- Oklahoma iOL Creed Humphrey
- Ohio State WR Chris Olave