With the NFL Draft on the horizon, I thought it might be a fun exercise to complete a new Mock Draft each week leading up to it. Each week I will complete a seven round mock draft with an emphasis on a certain position (excluding QB) in Rd 1 and throughout the draft to start to get a feel for what players might be available, how the board might fall when emphasizing a certain position in Rd 1. This will also give me a way to scout individual players selected in the mock, before diving into my annual scouting of each position group for draft prep. I will use Pro Football Network since they have a trading option that can be used in future mocks. As offseason events such as the Combine and Free Agency occur, the draft board, players and team needs will come more into focus, so we can see the evolution of this process each week. I will try not to select the same players each if possible so we can get a look under the hood of some different players for each mock draft.
MOCK DRAFT 1
Rd 1- Peter Skoronski, OT Northwestern
Pro: Borderline elite footwork and lateral agility. Extremely high football IQ quickly picking up stunts and twists. Better in pass pro than run blocking due to his ability to anchor his base.
Con: Lacks ideal first punch and pure power. More of a finesse player with good fundamentals than a pure mauler.
Rd 2- Andre Carter, Edge Army
Pro: Great initial burst off the line, repeatedly makes plays behind the LOS, knows how to use his long frame and arms to keep defenders from his body, good lateral movement to the edge when chasing and tackling.
Con: Lean frame can get bullied against bigger OL, needs to upgrade pass rush moves/plan, needs better eye discipline on RPO and fakes.
Rd 3 - Luke Musgrave, TE Oregon State
Pro: Elite athlete with elite speed and burst. Has an enormous catch radius and excellent hands. Can stretch the seam of the field vertically to the intermediate and deep third of the field with ease. Exceptional at selling the block, only to release off the line.
Con: Needs to improve his functional strength at the POA to become a competent blocker, needs better awareness of zone defenses and where to sit in the open space, needs to develop route tree and his finesse in running routes.
Rd 4 – Dontayvion Wicks, WR Virginia
Pro: Natural playmaker with the ball in his hands, large catch radius, exceptional long speed. Great twitch and short area quickness.
Con: More of a long strider on deep routes taking a while to get to top speed. Needs to do a better job of learning how to beat defenders off the line and stacking them quickly to utilize his deep speed.
Rd 5 – Jaxson Kirkland, OG/OT Washington
Pro: Extremely nasty and physical at the POA, has positional flexibility playing both OG and OT, plays with great balance, massive frame is tough on defenders to get to his edge.
Con: Improving strength is a must. Really needs to improve his lower body strength in order to be able to drive defenders more easily. Heavy feet and limited athleticism could force him inside at the NFL level.
Rd 6- Shaka Heyward, LB Duke
Pro: Really good in zone coverage where he can use his speed to react and tackle. Very physical at the POA to take on lineman on his terms. Good timing and instincts on A gap blitzes.
Con: Needs to improve his football IQ to be able to read and diagnose plays quicker where he can use his speed to negate plays instead of freezing then reacting to make tackles after the play develops. Can be baited with double moves and pump fakes to pull him out of position in zone coverage. Sometimes plays to aggressive in run defense causing him to get washed out in a sea of bodies rather than scraping into the hole to make the tackle.
Rd 7- Moro Ojomo, DL/DE Texas
Pro: High motor player with good hands. Has decent power at the POA to hold blocks and diagnose plays. Has a knack of getting skinny to get into the backfield and disrupt plays. Probably better suited as an interior pass rusher. Good fit for a 2-gap defensive scheme
Con: Does not fend off blocks from bigger heavy-handed linemen. Does not have great lateral movement which hurts sideline to sideline pursuit against outside zone rushers. Has limited drive power, so must use finesse to beat defenders.
The takeaway from this mock was that we were still able to get a quality OL at pick 21 and still had good options for Edge and skill positions in later rounds, but we were unable to find a suitable DB to bring into the fold where we were picking each round. I could have grabbed one in Rd 5, but since we were OL focused in this mock, I wanted to come away with at least one starter and another player that could be a quality depth/swing piece.
The player I was most impressed with in this mock was Musgrave. He was extremely athletic and has elite burst and speed for the TE position. He would immediately become a top receiving option in the offense. He will never be a prototypical inline pass catching TE like a Jason Witten because of his blocking ability. He would excel as a move TE that can be flexed into the slot where he would create a matchup problem for the defense and with a clean release, could pressure the deep part of the field and up the seam. As we get deeper into the draft season it would not surprise me to see him as a solid Rd 2 or borderline Rd 1 draft pick.
There it is Week one in the books. Let me know how you think this one shook out, and your thoughts on any of these players for the Chargers. Thanks.