I remember when Pete Carroll took over for the Seattle Seahawks in 2010, they had the sixth overall pick in the draft. They also had the 14th overall pick thanks to a draft day deal the year before in which the Denver Broncos sent their 2010 first rounder to Seattle in exchange for the 37th overall pick in 2009. Both teams got defensive backs who would change their franchise’s fortunes forever: the Seahawks selected Earl Thomas in 2010, while the Broncos made that previous move to select Alphonso Smith, who changed Denver’s future simply because he wasn’t Earl Thomas.
(Smith was off the Broncos roster quite literally before Thomas debuted in Week 1 of his rookie season.)
But the focus for Seattle up top would obviously be which player Pete selected with his first choice as the Seahawks head coach. Sam Bradford, Ndamukong Suh, and Gerald McCoy looked locked into spots a bit too high for Seattle, but names like Trent Williams, Eric Berry, C.J. Spiller, Ryan Mathews, and Brandon Graham were bandied about at pick six. Once Williams and Berry came off the board, two choices who very well may have been ranked higher than the player they chose, the Seahawks made no hesitation in taking the best tackle available: Russell Okung out of Oklahoma State.
As Chargers fans are well aware, Okung has had a very good career at left tackle, if not for the fact that his only 16-game season came with the Broncos in his one season there. (Hey, same amount of time spent in Denver as Alphonso.) Okung’s presence at left tackle for Seattle lines up with their rise from the bottom to the top and the Seahawks also dropped a notch among the league’s greats right around the time that he departed in free agency because they’ve hesitated to pay offensive linemen on big contracts.
(Note: Okung was drafted pre-2011 rookie wage scale, so technically they already paid Okung a lot.)
Settling your left tackle position can reap massive benefits for a struggling franchise, so picking Okung at six will always be sensible. But it doesn’t have to necessarily be a left tackle, as a quarterback or a pass rusher or maybe even sometimes a tight end and a corner and a safety like Earl Thomas can do the same. Just perhaps stay clear of Spiller and Mathews.
Here we are in 2020, the start of another decade, and it’s LA picking sixth overall. There will be quarterbacks. There will be pass rushers. And oh yes, there will be
Knowing that Tom Telesco is so unlikely to trade out of six, it’s easier than to just run a bunch of top-5 mocks and see what the Chargers’ board could look like when they’re on the clock. I’ll get that started with this scenario, one that I think does make sense, even if the trades and decisions will probably be considered a little controversial and dare I say draw the comment, “your an idiot.”
But it’s a mock draft. Literally who cares? Teams must consider every possible scenario and ones that motivate discussions around the teams, prospects, and needs will be ideal.
Here’s a top-5 that I hope does that.
1. Cincinnati Bengals - Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
Don’t even scout another player, for fear of angering the Burrow.
2. Miami Dolphins (via trade) - Chase Young, DE, Ohio State
I know, this one is a shocker, but I think there’s some logic to the idea that Washington trades down, even though it will cost them the best pass rushing prospect since ... you know what, let’s not do this again like we did to the last six “best pass rushing prospects.” Young looks incredible, I don’t doubt it. But Washington has selected a defensive lineman in the first round in each of the last three years and they suck, they suck, they really, really suck. Not the players, the team.
Young would probably make them better but Washington could likely get an incredible draft haul and now that Bruce Allen has finally been fired (the team reportedly won’t hire a new GM until after the draft) maybe the front office will do something that doesn’t suck. That’s either draft Young or see if you can get a trade package that helps you get an elite prospect anyhow plus additional first round picks. What’s not surprising is that I have that team moving up as the Dolphins.
What is surprising is that they aren’t taking a quarterback.
Miami hired Brian Flores as head coach and made a trade for Josh Rosen in 2019 and while Rosen looked terrible for another NFL stint, he’s still only 23 and was again surrounded by some of the worst talent in the league. I’m guessing that Rosen fit what Flores was looking for when they traded a second rounder for him, and while that doesn’t preclude them from drafting a QB by any means, do you see one here besides Burrow who blows you away? Here’s what I think is a better idea:
Trade picks 5, 26, 39, and Houston’s 2021 first round pick to Washington, receive a guy who instantly becomes the best player on your defense, if not the whole team. Three firsts and a second is a lot to give up, but at that point the Dolphins have built an intriguing front-7 with Young, Christian Wilkins, Taco Charlton, Davon Godcheaux, and Charles Harris. They’ve also retained the 18th overall pick they received in the Minkah Fitzpatrick trade, as well as the second rounder they got from the Saints. If by March we’ve seen that Miami has acquired a veteran QB to start in 2020, another reason for them to stick out another year of development with Rosen and continue to try and build around the position.
Every team in the AFC East has some weird, young QB prospect they’re developing, even the Patriots. No team in the AFC East has a front-seven player like Young, not even the Patriots.
3. Indianapolis Colts (via trade) - Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
Knowing that the Chargers won’t move up, but hesitant to let 10 more picks happen before they select, Colts GM Chris Ballard opts to secure his quarterback of the future by trading picks 13, 34 (Washington’s second rounder), 110, a 2021 first, and CB Quincy Wilson to the Lions for pick 3.
Detroit GM Bob Quinn is giving up a lot of real estate here by moving down 10 picks but now has back-to-back picks at the top of the second round, plus a 2021 first rounder that I could see actually being pretty good if Indy falters, which is possible. Especially if their top pick is a QB who is unlikely to help a ton next season, but Ballard needs to address his mistake of extending Jacoby Brissett by showing the team has a high-end QB prospect to build around for the future.
I originally had the Colts also swapping the fourth for a fifth, but I think the Lions have just enough leverage here to stand pat given that they’ll be missing out on Okudah and some really good prospects.
4. New York Giants - Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State
New head coach Joe Judge comes from New England and the Patriots really only went hard on a few major outside free agents over the last decade. That small group includes Darrelle Revis and Stephon Gilmore. If Okudah falls out of the top three — and given that the top-two seem like locks and pick three could easily be used as a jumping-up point for a QB — then I don’t think New York would hesitate on him or trade down. This is a potential dream scenario for Judge.
5. Washington (trade down) - Isaiah Simmons, S/LB, Clemson
I’ve noted Washington’s reasons for trading down and they now get to pick again at 26 and 39, two picks that help ease the loss of pick 34 which they used to move up for pass rusher Montez Sweat last year. Their needs give them all kinds of possibilities here, but Simmons feels like a Best Player pick that helps them no matter where he plays on the field.
Would you rather have just one player (Chase Young) or would you rather have three (Simmons, maybe a receiver at 26, maybe a corner at 39) plus another first rounder in a year? Giving up a prospect like Young would be a big move, but I think it’s one that makes sense for both organizations given where they’re at respectively.
6. LA Chargers ...
I’ll leave that for part two. In the meantime, you can rate and review (and probably unsubscribe) from my top-5 draft. But also, give me your top-5 mock. What’s your safest top-5 and your “shocking” top-5?
And most importantly, which player would you want the Chargers to draft if these five are off the board? Here’s Daniel Jeremiah’s top 50 prospects for reference.
“Safe” example, aka the Kiper draw:
- Bengals: Burrow
- Washington: Young
- Lions: Okudah
- Giants: Simmons
- Dolphins: Tua