With nearly three-quarters 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 Trevor Sikkema’s Mock Draft 3.0 and walked through some of the most significant picks.
Best Value: Denver Broncos select Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech
A top-10 player at a premium position, and a position of need, outside of the top 10? Send it in.
NBC color commentator Cris Collinsworth was enjoying the matchup between Kansas City speed demon Tyreek Hill and Broncos’ rookie third-round corner Michael Ojemudia, who has been a critical player for Denver during A.J. Bouye’s injury-riddled season. I think Ojemudia has acquitted himself well for a third-round rookie transferring from a zone-heavy Iowa defense to a system suddenly playing a lot more man coverage than he bargained for. He’s a good building block for the future.
With that said, Bouye is hardly trustworthy, and Bryce Callahan is ideally a slot cover defender. Bringing in a player like Farley, who can succeed in all coverage shells and handle WR1s in press, will alleviate the need for Bouye and Ojemudia to play above their weights. The Broncos’ defense under Vic Fangio is only a couple of pieces, and some health, away from looking like his Bears and Niners units of old. This move nearly gets them there.
Biggest Surprise: Philadelphia Eagles select DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
This is far more about the spot than it is about the player and the team. The Eagles need a wide receiver, and Smith is a great one.
Sixth overall is a scary proposition, however. The history of sub-180 pound receivers in the NFL is a scary one, as only DeSean Jackson, John Brown, and Emmanuel Sanders have produced multiple 1,000-yard seasons in the NFL under 180 pounds. That list includes two deep threat players—that’s not Smith’s game. He’s a route-runner, a separator, a tough player over the middle with great hands.
Betting on an outlier in the first round is tricky, but you can go for it when a player has elite film, as Smith does. With the sixth overall pick, however, you’re looking for a franchise-changing wide receiver. Multiple 1,000-yard seasons is the expectation, and that would make Smith a historic outlier. This would be quite the gamble for a team with a thin margin for error.
Best Idea I’ve Never Had: New Orleans Saints select Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida
Most first-round mock drafts include five wide receivers—great class!—and those five inevitably include Ja’Marr Chase, DeVonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle, and Rashod Bateman.
After that spot, you get a couple of names. I’ve seen Terrace Marshall from LSU a lot recently; Purdue’s Rondale Moore too, but much more at the beginning of the season. I like Chris Olave for that spot, but Sikkema—ever the Gator—likes Kadarius Toney. And why not?
The Saints under Sean Payton have proved that they can at least generate a passable offense with pretty much anyone at quarterback, and while they should still be considered with the future at that position, there is no passer worth the pick at No. 31. Why not add to the arsenal for whomever lines up under center?
If it’s Hill, Toney’s ability to line up at running back and wide receiver gives you more flexibility for backfield shenanigans and schemed touches. If it’s Brees, he loves shallow targets anyway, and those are the sort of plays Toney can turn into chunk gains. He works both ways.
Head Scratcher: Los Angeles Chargers select Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU
It’s a great wide receiver class, and the Chargers would do well to dip into it. Beyond Keenan Allen, they only have Mike Williams, who’s on an expiring deal after 2021—Hunter Henry, their quality pass-catching tight end, is up for an extension after this season. With the franchise quarterback in hand in Justin Herbert, surrounding him with talented pass-catchers should be their priority.
Not at No. 4 overall, however.
Even if they don’t return Henry and let Williams walk, the Chargers have peppered their roster with young players—Jalen Guyton, Tyron Johnson, K.J. Hill, Joe Reed—with the intention of letting them fight for more playing time. They can easily add more young wide receivers in the later rounds and continue feeding that crucible.
With such a poor offensive line limiting their running game, and continued injuries in the secondary creating holes in their pass defense, waiving at such corners as Patrick Surtain II and Caleb Farley as they pass them by is too much for me to swallow. Chase is a luxury they should target with a tradeback, if it all.
Best of the Rest: LSU WR Terrace Marshall Jr.
It’s been a wide receiver-heavy article thus far and we’re gonna finish that way as well. Marshall has officially opted out for the rest of the season as LSU football spirals, but he did enough this season to establish that he can handle more responsibility than he got when fighting for targets with Ja’Marr Chase and Justin Jefferson. A big-bodied speed threat with great deep ball tracking, his explosive play profile is that which teams covet in the first round. He’s not a lock to get there, but I think it’s getting close.
- Aug 22, 2022
- Aug 22, 2022