One of the most difficult exercises of the NFL draft process is to construct a realistic mock draft — let alone two rounds before free agency. But that is exactly what my Locked On College Football co-host Jordan Reid did Monday with his fifth installment of the mock draft series.
Reid and I share a similar eye for scouting, so there are several picks in this mock draft I loved in regards to prospect-team fit. However, there were also some that made me scratch my head. So without further ado, let’s break this thing down.
What I Loved
New York Jets: Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville (11th overall pick); Lloyd Cushenberry III, IOL, LSU (48th overall)
This is the dream haul for the New York Jets. If this front office is truly investing in Sam Darnold as the future of the franchise, overhauling this offensive line needs to be priority No. 1. For some NFL teams, Mekhi Becton will be the top offensive tackle in this class. The same goes for LSU’s Lloyd Cushenberry III in regards to the center class. Both of these players are plug-and-play starters that will immediately boost the production of the running game and reduce the pressure off Darnold. I understand that wide receiver is also a huge need for New York, but the value was too great to pass on these two top offensive line prospects.
Tennessee Titans: Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU (29th overall); Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin (61st overall)
I’m admittedly lower on Kristian Fulton than the rest of the TDN staff, but this is the correct value for a player like him. I think he immediately becomes the top cornerback on the Tennessee Titans’ depth chart with his man coverage production and reactive quickness. As for the second-round selection, Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor, this might be my favorite pick of the entire mock draft.
Derrick Henry reportedly wants Ezekiel Elliott money, but with the construction of this offensive line, I think you can replace 75-80 percent of his production with a draft pick like Taylor on a cheap rookie contract. If Elliott’s contract is the bar for second-contract running backs, then every NFL team should feel comfortable letting them walk and drafting their replacements. It makes little sense to overpay when there is similar talent for about a third of the price. Specifically with Taylor, he would fit right in with this smashmouth rushing attack and would instantly become a Rookie of the Year favorite.
Dallas Cowboys: Grant Delpit, S, LSU (17th overall); Justin Madubuike, IDL, Texas A&M (51st overall)
I’ve said it time and time again: Grant Delpit would be my ideal selection for the Dallas Cowboys at No. 17. They’ve needed a deep safety for more than a decade. More specifically, they desperately need playmakers in the secondary. This is a defense that finished dead last in interceptions, and you have to think the top priority for new defensive coordinator Mike Nolan is to turn that around.
While Delpit may not be as consistent in run support as other safeties in this class, his ball skills and range as a centerfielder are unparalleled among other prospects. As for Justin Madubuike, he would be a perfect replacement for Maliek Collins, who is set to hit the open market this offseason. He is just as gifted as a pass rusher, but he offers much more value as a run stuffer up front as either a one or 3-technique.
What I Would Change
Los Angeles Rams: Julian Okwara, EDGE, Notre Dame (52nd overall)
It’s not that I don’t like this prospect-team fit because I think with Dante Fowler Jr. set to hit the open market, finding another pass rusher is one of the top priorities for the Los Angeles Rams. However, my gripe with this selection is that this seems way too low for Julian Okwara. He’s going to blow up the combine with his athletic measurables, and while he may not have the production of other top EDGE prospects, the NFL rarely passes on gifted pass rushers like him.
I think his floor is likely either the Seattle Seahawks or the Baltimore Ravens in the first round. If there’s one position other than offensive tackle that gets reached for in the NFL draft, it’s at edge defender. I’m not the biggest fan of Okwara, but I think he’ll be a first-round lock after the combine.
Carolina Panthers: AJ Terrell, CB, Clemson (38th overall)
For the opposite reason, I think the 38th overall selection is way too high for A.J. Terrell. He is extremely raw and was exposed in man coverage at many points throughout last season. His film simply got worse from 2018 to 2019. He needs to play with better patience at the line of scrimmage in press man coverage, and he doesn’t have the hip fluidity to stick with wide receivers in off man.
His best fit is in a zone-heavy scheme, but if you can’t reliably match up one-on-one at the next level, you’re not going to see many snaps. I think he will eventually get to a point where he can become a starter, but that is at least a couple years away. I’d be more comfortable drafting him towards the end of the third round, as opposed to the top of the second round.