The 2020 NFL Free Agency window has slowed down and now that players have shifted, we have a clearer picture of where prospects are more likely to land in the 2020 NFL Draft than ever before. While some franchises signed players of need, some didn’t and their draft plans perhaps have become more clear.
Take the Los Angeles Chargers, for instance. They didn’t sign a quarterback in the process and with the sixth overall selection, take Oregon QB Justin Herbert in the 2020 NFL Draft, according to ESPN’s Mel Kiper and his most recent mock.
Kiper says Herbert is the best chance to bridge their present with their future, in his writeup.
The Chargers appear uninterested in the quarterbacks in the free-agent or trade market, with Tyrod Taylor slotted in as their Week 1 starter. But maybe they’re not interested in another veteran because they know they’re in a good position to draft Tagovailoa or Herbert, and they can give Taylor the job while grooming a quarterback of the future. Based on their offseason additions (guard Trai Turner, offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga, defensive tackle Linval Joseph and cornerback Chris Harris Jr., among others), the Chargers think they can win now. Drafting the 6-foot-6 Herbert gives them the best chance to bridge their present with their future, similar to what the Chiefs did in 2017 when they drafted Patrick Mahomes.
Taking note here as we did earlier this offseason, Herbert was selected after Tua Tagovailoa and Joe Burrow but well ahead of Jordan Love who Kiper sends to the New England Patriots with the 23rd pick.
Herbert also marks the only Pac-12 player to be selected in the first round of Kiper’s latest mock draft. He was also placed as the 10th-best player, regardless of position, on Kiper’s draft board, saying:
Herbert is a maddening evaluation, though overall he showed improved accuracy and better decision-making this season. He can have games in which he looks rattled (he threw two fourth-quarter interceptions in the Ducks’ loss to Arizona State), but he also can take over games through his talent. As I wrote last May, he just looks like a potential No. 1 pick — great size, a powerful arm to make every throw, limited interceptions, good athleticism. Yet, he took a step back in consistency in 2018, and that’s why I thought he made a good decision to return to Oregon for his senior season. Herbert had 32 touchdown passes and five interceptions in 2019, and he showed off his athleticism with three touchdown runs in a Rose Bowl win over Wisconsin. Because of his physical tools, there will be teams that love him. But there also will be teams that stay away from him because of his inconsistent play.
Kiper’s top 25 prospects do not include any other Pac-12 players either so I dug a bit deeper. The Pac-12 is well represented in his positional rankings of the top 10 at each position.
Notables on offense include:
No. 8 QB: Steven Montez, Colorado
No. 5 RB: Zack Moss, Utah
No. 8 RB: Joshua Kelley, UCLA
No. 7 WR: Michael Pittman Jr., USC
No. 8 WR: Laviska Shenault Jr., Colorado
No. 9 WR: Brandon Aiyuk, Arizona State
No. 4 TE: Hunter Bryant, Washington
No. 7 TE: Devin Asiasi, UCLA
No. 9 TE: Colby Parkinson, Stanford
No. 7 OT: Austin Jackson, USC
No. 10 OG: Shane Lemieux, Oregon
No. 5 C: Nick Harris, Washington
No. 9 C: Jake Hanson, Oregon
No. 10 C: Cohl Cabral, Arizona State
And the notables on defense are:
No. 5 DE: Bradlee Anae, Utah
No. 5 ILB: Troy Dye, Oregon
No. 4 CB: Jaylon Johnson, Utah
No. 5 S: Ashtyn Davis, Cal
No. 8 S: Julian Blackmon, Utah
No. 9 S: Terrell Burgess, Utah
And how about some love for the specialists too:
No. 4 P: Michael Turk, Arizona State
No. 4 LS: A.J. Carty, Washington
Again, this draft should see a load of Pac-12 players selected within its seven rounds but likely just one or two in the very first round. Stay tuned as we’ll keep you updated on all the Pac-12 happenings around the 2020 NFL Draft.