Zach's Draft Corner: Revisiting Top 10 Mock/What to Watch
Image Credit: Auburn Athletics
Welcome to Zach’s Draft Corner, where it’s always amateur hour.
There have been a lot of changes since Week 4 of the college football season, when I presented my first mock draft. Teams have risen and fallen in the draft order, players have risen and fallen on the board, and a potentially catastrophic injury has occurred. Now seems like as good a time as any to re-visit the Top 10 mock draft that I wrote a couple of months ago to see what has changed and what hasn't.
1. Current pick - Cincinnati Bengals, Joe Burrow, QB, Louisiana State University
Previous pick - Miami Dolphins, Tua Tagovailoa, QB, University of Alabama
We have a new team picking first overall, and a devastating injury that brings along a new first overall pick. If Tua had not dislocated and fractured his hip in the freak play last week against Mississippi State, this would at least be a conversation. However, now is not the right time to discuss the Tua injury situation. Joe Burrow has looked like the best quarterback in college football this season, and his cleaner medical sheet will make him as close to a lock as possible to go first overall in April.
2. Current pick - Washington Redskins, Andrew Thomas, OT, University of Georgia
Previous pick - Cincinnati Bengals, Justin Herbert, QB, University of Oregon
Washington moves up one spot in the mock, but they keep the same pick. It is more obvious than ever that Trent Williams will not be back with Washington next season, and the offensive line has proved to be quite atrocious without him on the left end. While they could go Chase Young and improve an already good defensive line, I give them the best tackle in the class. Thomas is a complete football player, having the prototypical size and strength to go along with excellent technique. There really isn't a hole in his game, and Washington benefits from it.
3. Current pick - New York Giants, Chase Young, DE, Ohio State University
Previous pick - Washington Redskins, Andrew Thomas, OT, University of Georgia
Make no mistake about it, Chase Young is my top overall player in this year's class. Much like Nick Bosa, however, teams will pass on the top overall player if there is a great prospect at a position of importance on the board. The Giants are the benefactor this time around, grabbing a beastly pass rusher for a defense that is severely lacking at the edge position.
4. Current pick - Miami Dolphins, Tua Tagovailoa, QB, University of Alabama
Previous pick - Arizona Cardinals, Chase Young, DE, Ohio State University
Now is the right time to discuss the Tua injury situation. Let's make one thing clear, first. I do not have connections with NFL teams (shocker, I know). I will never know the medicals for Tua's situation outside of what is disclosed to the public. If you do not want to take a risk on a player who suffered from the same injury that ended Bo Jackson's legendary career in 1990, then that is your prerogative. Here is what I know: Medicine has progressed greatly since Jackson's injury. The surgeon gave Tua an "excellent" prognosis after his surgery, projecting him to make a "full recovery." It is possible he could start working out and throwing footballs come April.
If everything that has been made public comes true, then that means Tua could feel minimal after-effects from this injury. In that case, Tua still has the skillset that I find most appealing in this entire quarterback class, and I would not hesitate to spend a high first round pick on the kid. Miami is in the best position to sell this pick, as they have multiple first round picks in both 2020 and 2021. If Tua is not healthy enough to play again at this level, they can still take a quarterback in 2021.
5. Current pick - New York Jets, Jerry Jeudy, WR, University of Alabama
Previous pick - New York Giants, Jerry Jeudy, WR, University of Alabama
Same pick, same player, same city. The Jets haven't had a great receiver since Keyshawn Johnson, depending on how you feel about Wayne Chrebet. While they have additional needs, I am giving them one of the best receiver prospects of the past decade in Jerry Jeudy. Much like Andrew Thomas, Jeudy is a complete prospect for his position. He has size, fluidity in his movement, nuanced route running, reliable hands, and breakaway speed. Jeudy might only have average height, but the rest of his game is what you would get if you built a receiver in a laboratory.
6. Current pick - Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Kristian Fulton, CB, Louisiana State University
Previous pick - Denver Broncos, Grant Delpit, S, Louisiana State University
Same pick, same school, same position group, different player. Delpit has had an underwhelming season thus far, leading some to worry about him being overhyped. The Bucs have had notoriously bad cornerback play ever since they let Darrelle Revis go. They need a home run pick here to bring that secondary from the depths of the league to something that is at least respectable. While I think Jeffrey Okudah from Ohio State is the safe pick, Fulton has the higher ceiling due to his size and athleticism. I probably would prefer Okudah, but I think Tampa swings for the fences.
7. Current pick - Denver Broncos, Tristan Wirfs, OT, University of Iowa
Previous pick - New York Jets, A.J. Epenesa, DE, University of Iowa
Epenesa is still a top 10 player for me, but the change in team at this spot means that it is his teammate, Tristan Wirfs, getting drafted instead of Eppy. Wirfs is a strong, athletic kid would good technique, though he appears to have shorter arms than my top tackle in Thomas. Wirfs is also likely best in a zone scheme. Here come the Broncos, with Rich Scangarello trying to bring the Kyle Shanahan zone scheme to the Mile High City. Wirfs would be an instant upgrade on a disappointing Bronco offensive line.
8. Current pick - Atlanta Falcons, A.J. Epenesa, DE, University of Iowa
Previous pick - Oakland Raiders of Las Vegas, Kristian Fulton, CB, Louisiana State University
While the Falcons seem to be surging, their current record has them here at the 8th pick. After his one good season, Vic Beasley never materialized into the edge presence they wanted, and Takk McKinley has failed to live up to the expectations of a first round pick. I'm sure Falcon fans remember getting terrorized by Julius Peppers, so they will love to have their own version of him in Epenesa. Eppy might not have the freak athleticism Peppers had, but it's pretty close, especially for a kid who is 6'6" and 280 pounds. He can be a one-man wrecking crew anywhere along a defensive line, and is the perfect player to build a line around.
9. Current pick - Arizona Cardinals, Jedrick Wills, OT, University of Alabama
Previous pick - Jacksonville Jaguars, CeeDee Lamb, WR, University of Oklahoma
Here comes the shocker. The Cardinals need multiple offensive linemen. With the league going pass-happy, and with the Cardinals hiring a pass-happy coach, right tackle is becoming just as valuable as left tackle. Wills has gone under the radar so far this season because he does play on the right side, but he has actually looked better than his more touted teammate Alex Leatherwood. I think Wills makes the jump here to 9, much like how the 49ers own Mike McGlinchey went in this same spot in 2018. Lamb is still a great prospect. I just don't see the fit immediately in the top 10.
10. Current pick - Detroit Lions, Isaiah Simmons, LB/S, Clemson University
Previous pick - Carolina Panthers, Bryce Hall, CB, University of Virginia
Hall's injury pretty soon after I finished writing this will likely drop him down draft boards, especially given the top-end talent in this cornerback class. Carolina has also won a few games since the original mock, meaning it's now Detroit picking here. As much as I like Jahlani Tavai, the Lions don't have a star linebacker to worry about. With the trade of Quandre Diggs, they also don't have a safety worth worrying about. So why not draft a player who could legitimately play both positions? Simmons is the perfect weapon for a team lacking any semblance of star power up the middle, and can be a building block for a Lions defense that has been anything but ferocious.
Previous Bonus: 17. San Francisco 49ers, Tyler Biadasz, G, University of Wisconsin
Current Bonus: 32. San Francisco 49ers, Tylan Wallace, WR, Oklahoma State University
Well, well, well, how the turn tables. What was seen as a middle-of-the pack team has a record that would put them as Super Bowl Champions right now. The 49ers very well may not pick here, but should have some options if they do. Creed Humphrey out of Oklahoma could solidify the interior offensive line, but I don't think he makes it here. Bryce Hall out of Virginia is a strong possibility if the 49ers are happy with his medicals, but the secondary has played relatively well. With Arik Armstead potentially leaving for a richer contract, Raekwon Davis from Alabama seems tailor-made to slip into his spot with similar athleticism, body type, and skillset.
I'm opting to go a different route here. The 49ers receiving corps has been brutal at points this season, with Dante Pettis's lack of development in his second year really hindering the group's future outlook. Deebo Samuel has been as fantastic as I thought he would be, and Emmanuel Sanders, if re-signed, has proven that he can still be an effective weapon when healthy. Given Sanders might be on his last legs, why not give the 49ers a receiver who I compare favorably to Emmanuel Sanders, only 12 years younger?
This pick would be perfect if the 49ers are able to trade down to a team at the top of the second round with an unsettled quarterback position, as Wallace may be a slight reach here when viewed along with the consensus. Teams like Washington, Detroit, the Los Angeles Chargers, or Tennessee could see a quarterback like Jacob Eason on the board and want the fifth year option that comes along with a first-round player. I could see Detroit, particularly, thinking that Eason is the perfect clone of Matthew Stafford and trading up with the 49ers to draft their heir apparent at the QB position, allowing the 49ers to fall back and not reach for a talent that could really improve their team.
The sheer amount of college games on at any given time can be completely overwhelming. Every week, in the TV Guide section of my column, I will choose the top two games at any given time slot and outline the various prospects you can watch in those games. That way, all you have to do is sit back, relax, and hit the “Previous Channel” button on your remote to toggle between games chock full of pro prospects. Here is your guide for week thirteen (all times Eastern, playoff rankings in parentheses).
As a reminder, we have a new format for the TV Guide this season. I’m going to list all of the draft eligible players that will impact the games themselves, meaning the lists will be pretty long. Then, I'll summarize each team by showing the players seriously in contention to be drafted at this point in time. However, it's important to know that one exceptional season can cause an impactful player to become a draftable player, so these names are still good to monitor.
Friday, November 22
Colorado State University at University of Wyoming, 9:30 PM, ESPN 2
Warren Jackson, Junior Wide Receiver, #9
Nate Craig-Myers, Senior Wide Receiver, #4
Cameron Butler, Junior Tight End, #16
Jalen Bates, Senior Defensive End, #1
Tron Folsom, Senior Linebacker, #24
Jamal Hicks, Senior Safety, #7
This is the only game on Friday, and it’s one you can skip in favor of socialization. Nobody on either squad is likely to be drafted. Jackson probably needs another year if he wants to continue the string of strong receivers from Colorado State. Tron Folsom, who makes me think of Johnny Cash on a light cycle, leads the defense, though likely not enough to get drafted (unless, of course, he gets to use the light cycle in the game).
Austin Conway, Senior Wide Receiver, #25
Logan Wilson, Senior Linebacker, #30
Antonio Hull, Senior Cornerback, #4
Alijah Halliburton, Senior Safety, #3
Nothing to see on this side. Instead, here’s George Strait singing “I Can Still Make Cheyenne”. It’s better for the state of Wyoming than anything the Cowboys put on the field this season.
Saturday, November 23
Penn State University (8) at Ohio State University (2), 12:00 PM, FOX
K.J. Hamler, Redshirt Sophomore Wide Receiver, #1
Pat Freiermuth, Redshirt Sophomore Tight End, #87
Will Fries, Junior Tackle, #71
Steven Gonzalez, Senior Guard, #74
Mike Miranda, Redshirt Sophomore Guard, #73
Michael Menet, Junior Center, #62
Robert Windsor, Senior Defensive Tackle, #54
Yetur Gross-Matos, Junior Defensive End, #99
Shaka Toney, Junior Defensive End, #16
Shane Simmons, Junior Defensive End, #34
Cameron Brown, Senior Linebacker, #6
Jan Johnson, Senior Linebacker, #36
John Reid, Senior Cornerback, #29
Tariq Castro-Fields, Junior Cornerback, #5
Garrett Taylor, Senior Safety, #17
Jonathan Sutherland, Redshirt Sophomore Safety, #26
This is the game of the week, and it’s not even close. The winner of this game is likely the representative for the Big Ten East in the conference championship, and will likely have the best chance of representing the Big Ten in the playoffs. Hamler and Freiermuth are playmakers on offense, and Fries, Miranda, and Menet has held up well all season. The stars, though, are Gross-Matos and Toney, who are maybe the top pair of defensive ends in the nation. Castro-Fields has had a ton of trouble this year, but still could be drafted in April based on athleticism alone.
J.K. Dobbins, Junior Running Back, #2
Demario McCall, Junior Running Back, #30
K.J. Hill, Senior Wide Receiver, #14
Austin Mack, Senior Wide Receiver, #11
Binjimen Victor, Senior Wide Receiver, #9
Luke Farrell, Junior Tight End, #89
Rashod Berry, Senior Tight End, #13
Thayer Munford, Junior Tackle, #75
Jonah Jackson, Senior Guard, #73
Robert Landers, Senior Defensive Tackle, #67
Davon Hamilton, Senior Defensive Tackle, #53
Chase Young, Junior Defensive End, #2
Jonathon Cooper, Senior Defensive End, #18
Jashon Cornell, Senior Defensive End, #9
Malik Harrison, Senior Linebacker, #39
Pete Werner, Junior Linebacker, #20
Baron Browning, Junior Linebacker, #5
Tuf Borland, Junior Linebacker, #32
Jeffrey Okudah, Junior Cornerback, #1
Shaun Wade, Redshirt Sophomore Cornerback, #24
Damon Arnette, Senior Cornerback, #3
Jordan Fuller, Senior Safety, #4
Jahsen Wint, Junior Safety, #23
Ohio State has been cruising through this season, even when they played Wisconsin. This will be their toughest test of the entire season when they square off against the Nittany Lions. They bring plenty of firepower into this matchup, with Young, Okudah, Wade, and maybe even Arnette and Fuller being first round picks in that ferocious Buckeye defense. Landers, Harrison, and Borland round out the Buckeye defense that is shaping up to be one of the most talented in the country. The offense is full of speed, including Dobbins, Hill, and Farrell. The offensive line is the weak spot, if there is one, on this Buckeye team, but Munford should be able to make a team.
Oklahoma State University (21) at West Virginia University, 12:00 PM, ESPN 2
Dru Brown, Senior Quarterback, #6
Chuba Hubbard, Redshirt Sophomore Running Back, #30
Dillon Stoner, Junior Wide Receiver, #17
Tylan Wallace, Junior Wide Receiver, #2
Teven Jenkins, Junior Tackle, #73
Johnny Wilson, Senior Guard, #72
Marcus Keyes, Senior Guard, #75
Kyle Junior, Senior Defensive Tackle, #93
Calvin Bundage, Senior Linebacker, #1
Rodarius Williams, Junior Cornerback, #8
A.J. Green, Senior Cornerback, #4
If you want to spurn the game of the week in favor of watching the guy who I think could be wearing red and gold next season, feel free to switch over here and watch Tylan Wallace. Hubbard is also challenging for RB1 every week, coming from seemingly nowhere to be one of the best stories of the season. Stoner is more of a day three prospect. On defense, A.J. Green (not that one) is one of the top senior cornerbacks in the nation.
Austin Kendall, Junior Quarterback, #12
Kennedy McKoy, Senior Running Back, #6
Martell Pettaway, Senior Running Back, #32
George Campbell, Senior Wide Receiver, #15
Colton McKivitz, Senior Tackle, #53
VanDarius Cowan, Redshirt Sophomore Defensive End, #32
Reese Donahue, Senior Defensive End, #46
Keith Washington, Senior Cornerback, #28
We haven’t seen much of West Virginia this season, mainly due to the amount of outgoing talent from last season. Austin Kendall was a highly touted recruit in high school who transferred to Morgantown after losing out to Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray, and Jalen Hurts at Oklahoma. He has played moderately well, but Lincoln Riley made the right choice. Helping him out will be McKivitz on offense and Cowan on defense.
University of Texas at Baylor University (14), 3:30 PM, FS1
Sam Ehlinger, Junior Quarterback, #11
Collin Johnson, Senior Wide Receiver, #9
John Burt, Senior Wide Receiver, #1
Devin Duvernay, Senior Wide Receiver, #6
Parker Braun, Senior Guard, #73
Zach Shackelford, Senior Center, #56
Gerald Wilbon, Senior Defensive Tackle, #94
Malcolm Roach, Senior Defensive Tackle, #32
Jeffrey McCulloch, Senior Linebacker, #23
Brandon Jones, Senior Safety, #19
Ehlinger looked like he was poised for a big season, but something is missing. He might do well to return to school, but losing his top targets in Johnson and Duvernay to the NFL also might hurt him even more next year. He’d also lose out on Braun and Shackelford protecting the interior. Texas has one of the better defenses in the Big 12, led by Jones and Roach in the secondary.
Charlie Brewer, Junior Quarterback, #12
JaMycal Hasty, Senior Running Back, #6
Denzel Mims, Senior Wide Receiver, #5
Chris Platt, Senior Wide Receiver, #14
Jake Fruhmorgen, Senior Tackle, #63
Johncarlo Valentin, Senior Guard, #57
Sam Tecklenburg, Senior Center, #52
James Lynch, Junior Defensive Tackle, #93
Bravvion Roy, Senior Defensive Tackle, #99
James Lockhart, Senior Defensive End, #9
Blake Lynch, Senior Linebacker, #2
Jordan Williams, Senior Linebacker, #38
Jameson Houston, Senior Cornerback, #11
Chris Miller, Senior Safety, #3
Denzel Mims is the only guy likely to be drafted for the Bears this season, but he’s a good player to have represent the school. The comparison to former Bear Josh Gordon (on the field) are evident, as he uses his length exceptionally well to high point passes and has pretty great speed for a guy with his size. He drops passes a bit too often for my liking, but his ceiling is as high as any receiver in the class.
Texas A&M University at University of Georgia (4), 3:30 PM, CBS
Kellen Mond, Senior Quarterback, #11
Kendrick Rogers, Junior Wide Receiver, #13
Jhamon Ausbon, Junior Wide Receiver, #2
Quartney Davis, Junior Wide Receiver, #1
Dan Moore, Junior Tackle, #65
Carson Green, Junior Tackle, #54
Justin Madubuike, Junior Defensive Tackle, #52
Michael Clemons, Redshirt Sophomore Defensive End, #91
Tyree Johnson, Redshirt Sophomore Defensive End, #3
Anthony Hines III, Redshirt Sophomore Linebacker, #19
Charles Oliver, Senior Cornerback, #21
Larry Pryor, Senior Safety, #11
Mond has fallen a bit in the quarterback rankings, and this week might be his last chance to prove he deserves to be drafted. Rogers and Davis are late-round receiver prospects. On defense, Madubuike, Clemons, Johnson, and Hines all have potential, but need strong performances to be anything other than day three prospects.
Jake Fromm, Junior Quarterback, #11
D'Andre Swift, Junior Running Back, #7
Brian Herrien, Senior Running Back, #35
Tyler Simmons, Senior Wide Receiver, #87
Matt Landers, Redshirt Sophomore Wide Receiver, #5
Demetris Robertson, Junior Wide Receiver, #16
Lawrence Cager, Senior Wide Receiver, #15
Charlie Woerner, Senior Tight End, #89
Eli Wolf, Senior Tight End, #17
Andrew Thomas, Junior Tackle, #71
Isaiah Wilson, Redshirt Sophomore Tackle, #79
Solomon Kindley, Junior Guard, #66
Ben Cleveland, Junior Guard, #74
Tyler Clark, Senior Defensive Tackle, #52
Julian Rochester, Senior Defensive Tackle, #5
Malik Herring, Junior Defensive End, #10
Monty Rice, Junior Linebacker, #32
Tae Crowder, Senior Linebacker, #30
Eric Stokes, Redshirt Sophomore Cornerback, #27
Tyrique McGhee, Senior Cornerback, #26
J.R. Reed, Senior Safety, #20
Richard LeCounte III, Junior Safety, #2
Georgia seemed to make easy work of Auburn last week, and look to do the same this week against the Aggies. Regardless of whether you think Georgia deserves this spot, they are here and will remain here until the SEC championship unless they see another upset. Swift and Thomas will absolutely have first round grades at the end of the day. Led by Fromm, their offense is stacked for college. However, Simmons, Landers, Robertson, Woerner, Wilson, Kindley, and Cleveland are probably closer to day three prospects at this point than first rounders. The defense is not quite as stacked as far as quantity, but they do have quality safeties in Reed and LeCounte. Herring, Rice, and Stokes round out the defensive side of the ball as late round hopefuls.
University of Oregon (6) at Arizona State University, 7:30 PM, ABC
Justin Herbert, Senior Quarterback, #10
C.J. Verdell, Redshirt Sophomore Running Back, #7
Juwan Johnson, Senior Wide Receiver, #6
Jacob Breeland, Senior Tight End, #27
Calvin Throckmorton, Senior Tackle, #54
Brady Aiello, Senior Tackle, #66
Shane Lemieux, Senior Guard, #68
Dallas Warmack, Senior Guard, #75
Jake Hanson, Senior Center, #55
Jordon Scott, Junior Defensive Tackle, #34
Austin Faoliu, Junior Defensive Tackle, #52
La'Mar Winston Jr., Senior Linebacker, #32
Isaac Slade-Matautia, Redshirt Sophomore Linebacker, #41
Troy Dye, Senior Linebacker, #35
Deommodore Lenoir, Junior Cornerback, #6
Thomas Graham Jr., Junior Cornerback, #4
Oregon has been rolling ever since their week one loss to Auburn, and hope to continue doing so right into the Pac 12 championship and the playoffs. You should know by now that Justin Herbert and Shane Lemieux are first round talents, the Oregon offensive line as a whole is nothing to take lightly, and everyone else on offense should get drafted at some point. On defense, it’s the linebacker duo of Dye and Slade-Matautia that you should keep your eye on.
Eno Benjamin, Junior Running Back, #3
Brandon Aiyuk, Senior Wide Receiver, #2
Kyle Williams, Senior Wide Receiver, #10
Zach Robertson, Senior Tackle, #51
Steven Miller, Senior Guard, #71
Cohl Cabral, Senior Center, #73
Roe Wilkins, Senior Defensive Tackle, #95
George Lea, Senior Defensive Tackle, #17
Tyler Johnson, Redshirt Sophomore Defensive End, #41
Kobe Williams, Senior Cornerback, #5
Chase Lucas, Junior Cornerback, #24
Call me crazy, but this is my upset special of the week. Oregon, on the road as they try to sleepwalk through the rest of their schedule, against a feisty team coached by an excellent football coach in Herm Edwards. I think Arizona State has a chance to outright win over the Ducks. Eno Benjamin continues his strong push for at least day two status as a running back, and is the top prospect for the Sun Devils. Robertson, Johnson, and Lucas are the remaining draftable prospects at this time.
Texas Christian University at University of Oklahoma (9), 8:00 PM, FOX
Sewo Olonilua, Senior Running Back, #33
Darius Anderson, Senior Running Back, #6
Jalen Reagor, Junior Wide Receiver, #1
Anthony McKinney, Senior Tackle, #68
Lucas Niang, Senior Tackle, #77
Cordel Iwuagwu, Senior Guard, #70
Ross Blalock, Junior Defensive Tackle, #90
George Ellis III, Redshirt Sophomore Defensive Tackle, #93
Corey Bethley, Junior Defensive Tackle, #94
Shameik Blackshear, Senior Defensive End, #91
Montrel Wilson, Senior Linebacker, #18
Garret Wallow, Junior Linebacker, #30
Jeff Gladney, Senior Cornerback, #12
Julius Lewis, Senior Cornerback, #24
Innis Gaines, Senior Safety, #6
TCU took a huge hit earlier this season with Niang, a borderline first round tackle, sustaining a season-ending injury. Reagor is now the star prospect to keep an eye on when TCU is on offense, while Gladney did nothing but raise his stock with huge game after huge game. On some boards, Gladney is a first round prospect now. Olonilua, Anderson, and Blalock are the other names to keep an eye on.