The former Alabama standout is exactly the sort of quarterback every team should want leading their franchise. He's an accurate passer to all levels. He's mobile within the pocket and outside of it, causing headaches for defenses. He's a fierce competitor. He's a true leader on and off the field who will entice free agents to come play in D.C.
His injury history will scare off some teams, possibly including Washington. Owner Daniel Snyder saw his last quarterback picked at No. 2, Robert Griffin III, lose time to injury. Head coach Ron Rivera just suffered through two seasons with his top gun in Carolina, Cam Newton, out or less effective than normal due to injury. I cannot blame them for being risk-averse in this situation.
However, Tua is exactly the sort of player on whom I'd take a chance. In this seven-round mock draft, the Chargers snap him up with the sixth overall pick. Whichever franchise selects Tua next week will reap the benefits for the next decade or more.
This mock draft will not benefit from 11th-hour information leading up to Thursday's draft, so it will likely not be as accurate as others published closer to the event. But it does offer some scenarios as food for thought, and gives a general road map on where middle- and late-round players might fall.
Burrow comes home to try to lead the Bengals out of the also-ran category. I won't bet against him.
Mr. Young is aptly named. He is going to chase NFL quarterbacks for the next decade-plus.
Matt Patricia gets his version of Stephon Gilmore, the outside shutdown corner he coached for one year in New England before heading to the Motor City.
**PROJECTED TRADE WITH DOLPHINS.** GM Dave Gettleman told us he was "open for business" at the NFL
Scouting Combine. This move down is similar to the Mitch Trubisky trade from three years ago, but the price (late second-rounder, early third-rounder and a 2021 third-rounder) has gone up a bit given the interest in Herbert's services.
The Chargers get a steal here. Tua should lead this team to success for a long time -- IF his injury history was more fluke than trend.
**PROJECTED TRADE WITH CARDINALS.** The
Falcons move up to give
Grady Jarrett a partner because interior pressure throws off quarterbacks. Brown may not be
Aaron Donald in terms of quickness, but his pure strength and hustle makes life quite uncomfortable for offensive linemen and everyone in the backfield.
Henderson's combination of size (6-foot-1, 204 pounds) and speed (4.39-second 40-yard dash) will be too much for the Jaguars to pass up given their lack of depth at cornerback.
There have not been many offensive tackles in recent years with Becton's combination of size (6-foot-7, 364 pounds) and foot quickness. He's a finisher and has the ability to play right tackle on the Jets' revamped line.
Lamb's the top receiver in this class. Maybe not in terms of speed but everything else. The Raiders plug him in on Day 1 so he can take Jon Gruden's offense to another level.
Emmanuel Sanders' arrival midway through last season proved how much the Niners were missing another receiving threat beyond All-Pro
George Kittle and rookie
Deebo Samuel. While Samuel showed real playmaking ability in the short and intermediate range last year, Ruggs' ability to take the top off defenses should open up big plays downfield and more room for others to work underneath.
Thomas could go earlier because of his length and sturdy build (6-5, 315). The Bucs would love to see him or Becton in this spot so they can protect new sensation "Tampa Brady."
Jerry Jeudy could be the pick here, but given the depth at receiver in this draft, the
Broncos might simply pick the best player on the board -- either Murray or
Javon Kinlaw. Murray is a ruthless force on the field and a leader off it. Teams will not regret selecting him in the top half of the first round.
**PROJECTED TRADE WITH FALCONS.** Arizona's sitting pretty in the first round, able to meet a need in the teens while grabbing extra picks from whichever team has interest in their eighth overall slot. In this mock scenario, the
Cardinals pick up the
Falcons' second-round selection this year and in 2021 to drop down eight spots. Oh, and Arizona gets the second-best edge player in the class.
There are always one or two teams that use a first-round pick on a player they simply like a lot -- even if he doesn't address a glaring need. Tyrone Crawford's future with the Cowboys is up in the air a bit due to his price tag (Dallas could save $8 million against the cap by releasing him) and recent injury (had season-ending hip surgery in October), so could the Cowboys shift Gerald McCoy outside to play next to Kinlaw and Dontari Poe? I wouldn't be surprised.
The Dolphins need two starting tackles, and there's no reason to think that Wills, who played on the right side at Alabama, couldn't handle either OT spot.
GM Mike Mayock dips back into the Clemson well to pluck some much-needed depth at cornerback.
Opinions are all over the board on Jeudy. Some believe he'll go to Denver or Dallas well before the Eagles are on the clock. Others believe he'll slide down. I try to identify some surprises in my mock, so I'll say Jeudy falls a few spots like Marquise "Hollywood" Brown did last year. The Eagles luck into finding a very talented receiver at 21.
**PROJECTED TRADE WITH PATRIOTS.** Once again, the
Packers trade up to grab a starter in the secondary, just as they did last year to secure safety
Darnell Savage. The team's cornerback group could use more depth, so Johnson -- and his ability in press coverage -- would be a welcome addition to this unit.
**PROJECTED TRADE WITH SAINTS.** The
Browns pick up a third-rounder this year and a first-rounder in 2021
*and still* fill a pressing need.
It's possible the Vikings will trade this pick at some point, maybe for Jacksonville edge rusher Yannick Ngakoue or for Cleveland receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (I know the Browns have said they're not looking to move him, but crazier things have happened.) But for now, Gross-Matos is the pick here, as the Vikes address two of their top three needs in Round 1.
It wouldn't shock me if Taylor was selected at No. 14 by Tampa Bay or No. 18 by Miami. However, running backs are increasingly tough sells early in the first round. Taylor's speed and durability will be difficult for Miami to pass four times within the top 39 picks, so if they don't take him here, they might do it early in Round 2.
Maybe the Ravens will have to trade up to acquire Queen. But on the other hand, it was only a year ago that GM Eric DeCosta patiently waited for Hollywood Brown to fall to Baltimore at No. 25 overall. Either way, the LSU stud will fill a big hole in the middle of the team's defense.
** PROJECTED TRADE WITH PACKERS.
Patriots swap first-rounders with the
Packers and add third- and sixth-round picks in this move. My guess is that New England will then use its bevy of picks to move up in the second or third rounds -- or they might trade some combination of their (now) five selections between Nos. 87 and 125 for 2021 second- and third-rounders. Meanwhile, the Pats land a versatile defensive lineman here with real potential as an outside/inside force.
**PROJECTED TRADE WITH 49ERS.** Bill O'Brien is not afraid to go after (or send away) players. If he hadn't broken his fibula in November, Okwara would have received much more first-round talk this year. If the medicals are fine, the
Texans will view him as a strong and agile edge rusher for the foreseeable future.
Cushenberry is a man in the middle -- with a capital "M." If the Patriots don't pick him, then Kansas City should solidify the line in front of Mahomes without hesitation.