Yours truly gets the honor of penning next Monday’s mock draft, but today is about putting Benjamin Solak’s 2020 NFL Mock Draft 5.0 under the microscope.
I’ve written a few of these critiques so far and I really enjoy it. But with this mock more than any other, I feel strongly about what I liked and did not like. This week’s 6-pack digs into those matters.
As an added layer to this analysis, I told Solak what the categories would be and asked for his prediction as to who or what I would select. Solak’s guesses are noted below each category.
I hope that this column has become a staple for you each week, but in case you are new, 6-Pack Thursday is my weekly brain dump on six football-related things that involve the NFL, college football or NFL draft.
Let's crack this thing open.
Favorite Pick: Derrick Brown To The Cardinals At No. 8
Solak's prediction: CeeDee Lamb to the Colts at No. 13.
It feels like the discussion around what the Arizona Cardinals will do with their top-10 pick is either to secure an offensive tackle or draft a wide receiver to help build up the offensive infrastructure around quarterback Kyler Murray. With that said, this defense needs a lot of help and we should be talking a whole lot more about the possibility of Arizona going defense at No. 8 overall, especially with left tackle D.J. Humphries re-signing and the overall depth of the receiver class.
The Cardinals featured the worst defense in football last season and an investment in Derrick Brown would add a blue chip talent to the interior defensive line to help Arizona turn the corner.
Biggest Surprise: Ashtyn Davis as the first safety off the board
Solak's prediction: Panthers trade up for Tua Tagovailoa.
You cannot be serious with this one. I want to be careful not to make it look like I don’t like Ashtyn Davis because I do. In fact, we had personal discussions during the season where I was much higher on him than Solak was.
Davis is an intriguing talent. His range, physicality and ball skills are all exciting qualities for an NFL safety and I think he’ll make a team quite happy as its eventual starting free safety. But whether it’s from an evaluation or predictive standpoint, Davis going ahead of Xavier McKinney is absurd. Grant Delpit and Antoine Winfield Jr. both have considerable cases for going ahead of Davis.
I agree that the valuation of safeties can be weird, but, dude, this is really weird — especially to the San Francisco 49ers where I think John Lynch has learned some lessons about taking toolsy but unrefined prospects.
Tell Me Why: Buccaneers Should Take Jacob Eason At No. 12
Solak's prediction: Dolphins take J.K. Dobbins at No. 26.
I think the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are going to go in a fresh direction at quarterback and I can even see Jacob Eason being a target … in the second round, not in a trade up in the first as Solak has it. Maybe they will, but tell me why they should? It doesn’t make sense to me.
Eason has the big arm we know Bruce Arians loves but he’s totally underdeveloped as a quarterback prospect.
First, he goes away from league trends in terms of what is working in the NFL. He has limited mobility or appeal to function off-script. He struggles to perform under duress and is a painfully slow processor that lacks consistency with working progressions and making quick decisions.
When considering which teams would want to invest in Eason, the list is quite small. Arians makes Tampa Bay a logical destination, but who else? Pittsburgh? Maybe. Tennessee? Perhaps. That’s about it.
Being a first-round quarterback comes with expectations and while Eason has all the size and arm talent you could ever want but his skill set is limited in ways that have me cautious about what he can be at the next level. Maybe the Buccaneers target Eason in the first-round but I’m nowhere near convinced they should.
Sneaky Good Selection: Tee Higgins To The Saints At No. 24
Solak's prediction: Ravens take Jalen Reagor at No. 28.
I’m not the biggest fan of Tee Higgins in general, but there are teams I like him for significantly more than others. His ball skills, body control and vertical receiving skills are exciting for a team that can actually take advantage of those traits. Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints can.
When surveying the Saints’ rosters, I don’t see a meaningful receiver outside of Michael Thomas. He caught an NFL record 149 passes in 2019 but the next highest total from a Saints receiver was Ted Ginn with 30 receptions. No other Saints wide receiver had more than 18 catches. Higgins would bring a complementary skill set to pair with Thomas as New Orleans works to optimize the diminishing window to win with Brees.
Best Value: Jeffrey Okudah To The Lions At No. 7
Solak's prediction: Jerry Jeudy to Raiders at No 19.
The Detroit Lions hasn’t been blessed with good fortune as a sports town but fleecing the Carolina Panthers in the trade back from No. 3 to No. 7 and still getting the player the would have selected at No. 3 would be unbelievable value.
Want to jumpstart your franchise? Come away with the following assets:
- Jeffery Okudah
- 2020 Round 2 (No. 38 overall)
- 2021 Round 1
- 2021 Round 4
- 2022 Round 2
Two years after the New York Jets traded up from No. 6 to No. 3 at the expense of three second-round picks, the return Detroit receives in this deal is incredible. Oh, by the way, Okudah is an elite cornerback prospect with every trait needed to become a lockdown corner early in his career.
I Don’t Get It: Panthers Trade Up For Tagovailoa
Solak's prediction: Ashtyn Davis as the first safety off the board.
The Panthers have a lot to consider when it comes to the quarterback situation, but one option they should table is trading up. Carolina has smashed the reset button. This team has holes galore and Matt Rhule has a seven-year contract to build the Panthers into a sustainable winner.
Not only is Carolina not ready from an infrastructure standpoint to bring in high first-round quarterback prospect, parting with that much draft capital is foolish. The Panthers need as many assets as possible to rebuild the roster and they would be depleted in a trade up. Not to mention the amount of stress it puts on Tagovailoa (or whatever QB) to come in and overcome all of the deficiencies on the roster. I don’t get it.