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Mock Draft Roundup: All the Pac-12 players mocked in the 2020 NFL Draft across the country

Mock drafts aplenty; where are the Pac-12 players linked?

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NFL: Combine Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Every website seemingly produces its own mock draft nowadays, sometimes even letting non-draft pundits take their turn at mock drafts all for the clicks. While we’re not going to take a stab at mocking the Pac-12 players on their journey to the NFL, we can take a look and discuss the interesting landing spots of all the Pac-12 players from these mock drafts across the country.

Where are they headed? Who’s going in the first? Second? Are any of them more favorable than others? Let’s discuss.

CBS Sports 2020 NFL Mock Draft, outside-the-box first round | CBS Sports (March 4, 2020)

Oregon QB Justin Herbert at No. 14 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
They named this mock draft perfectly as this has the Dallas Cowboys trading up to No. 5 to select Tua Tagovailoa as well as Jordan Love going at No. 6 to the Chargers. Herbert would take over for Jameis Winston in this scenario, unless the Bucs resign Winston after his 30-interception season.

Feels like a free square until Tampa Bay actually steps up and agrees to pay Jameis Winston.

Sports Illustrated NFL Mock Draft 9.0, post-combine mock | SI (March 3, 2020)

Oregon QB Justin Herbert at No. 7 to the Carolina Panthers
Alright, we’ll see a ton of Herbert in the top five picks but nothing as crazy as what we see in SI’s post-combine mock. This has the Chargers trading up to No. 3 to grab Tua Tagovailoa and the Dolphins selecting Jedrick Wills at offensive tackle at No. 5 which means Carolina gets their heir-apparent at the quarterback position to Cam Newton.

New head coach Matt Rhule says he’s “unbelievably excited” to work with Cam Newton, but that doesn’t necessarily answer all of the questions regarding his status in 2020 and beyond. While Herbert needs to be more consistent, he has great size, arm strength, plus mobility and the intelligence to develop into the team’s long-term starter. Meanwhile, the Senior Bowl’s Jim Nagy called concerns about Herbert’s quiet leadership style a “false narrative” and went on to say that Herbert has “far more charisma than many NFL starters we’ve been around.”

Arizona State WR Brandon Aiyuk at No. 24 to the New Orleans Saints
This draft has so much movement ahead of this pick at 24 but it’s still exciting for Aiyuk who gets to go play with future Hall of Fame QB Drew Brees for at least 2020. Aiyuk would become the Saints No. 2 receiver opposite Michael Thomas and would add a deep threat as well as a short-area receiver for Brees to check down to or find in a designed short throw while allowing him to break passes loose with his after-the-catch ability.

While the two sides have yet to agree to a new deal, Drew Brees has announced that he will return for his 20th NFL season. Adding a playmaker opposite Michael Thomas would make sense. Coming off a breakout senior season, Aiyuk has the speed and open-field vision to rack up yards after the catch in bunches.

USC OT Austin Jackson at No. 31 to the San Francisco 49ers
This isn’t the only time we’ll see Jackson mocked in the first round as left tackles are becoming incredibly valuable at the next level, especially someone with first-day starting ability written all over him. Jackson is as big and athletic as he is mean and can finish plays in the run game and keep Jimmy Garoppolo clean on his dropbacks.

With no picks in Rounds 2 to 4, the 49ers will likely look to trade back from this spot to acquire more picks. If they don’t trade back, finding a long-term replacement for Joe Staley makes sense even though John Lynch expects him to return for one more season. Jackson is an athletic left tackle prospect that would fit well with what Kyle Shanahan wants from his offensive linemen.

Todd McShay Post-Combine Mock Draft for Round 1 | ESPN+ (March 2, 2020)

Oregon QB Justin Herbert at No. 13 to the Indianapolis Colts
This one is interesting because it has Herbert as the fourth quarterback taken behind Jordan Love and the SEC duo of Tua Tagovailoa and Joe Burrow. We all know Herbert likely won’t be taken above Burrow and could even slide behind Tagovailoa but to see him officially below Love is interesting even if it is a good landing spot with the Colts. Indianapolis will be in search of a franchise quarterback since former Stanford Cardinal Andrew Luck abruptly ended his career last August. Herbert would likely sit behind Jacoby Brissett for a season in Indy and as McShay says, that would be a good thing:

In the first season since Andrew Luck shockingly retired, the Colts’ passing game averaged 194.3 yards per game, third-worst in the league, under Jacoby Brissett. Luck had them at No. 6 in the NFL the previous season, and the aerial attack flameout left the Colts at 7-9 in a division that featured two playoff teams. A change under center is likely needed. Brissett has another year on his deal, and that’ll be important. Herbert needs a little more time. The 6-6 gunslinger tested well at the combine and lit up the Senior Bowl in January, but consistency concerns haven’t gone away. He has the physical traits you want in a quarterback, including a big arm and mobility, but questions about whether he can lead an NFL offense explain why Herbert is available to the Colts at No. 13.

Arizona State WR Brandon Aiyuk at No. 24 to the New Orleans Saints
Aiyuk tested well at the NFL combine including measuring in with an incredible wing span that basically means he’s open, even when he’s covered. The Saints need a viable No. 2 opposite Michael Thomas and this would be a great landing spot for Aiyuk.

Part of the reason Michael Thomas caught 147 balls and had 28 more targets than anyone else in the NFL in 2019 is he is ridiculously talented at football. The other reason? The Saints have long needed a quality No. 2 wideout option. Aiyuk averaged 18.3 yards after the catch last season at Arizona State, and his strong combine workout showcased the kind of explosion he’d bring to the table for Drew Brees and New Orleans. As an added bonus, Aiyuk has plenty of versatility in where he lines up and can also return kicks.

Matt Miller’s 2020 NFL Mock Draft post-combine predictions | Bleacher Report (March 2, 2020)

Oregon QB Justin Herbert at No. 6 to the Los Angeles Chargers
No typo there, Miller sends Herbert to the Chargers after the Dolphins take Tagovailoa at No. 5. No matter which way you slice it, it seems that Herbert’s spot to be drafted all comes down to one reason: ‘he’s the best quarterback on the board.’ Yeah, we know that.

There are a few scenarios in which the Los Angeles Chargers draft an offensive tackle here after acquiring a quarterback via trade or free agency, and that’s honestly a more likely scenario. But pre-free agency, this team has a massive need under center, and with Justin Herbert on the board, it’s the best move. But if Cam Newton is available at a low cost from the Carolina Panthers, he makes sense as the Chargers look to improve the position and make a splash before moving into a new stadium.

Could we see a scenario in which this pick is traded for Newton and the No. 7 selection? I think so. But if not, then Justin Herbert is the best option at quarterback. The 6’6”, 236 pound athlete with a big right arm and impressive mobility could draw in the West Coast fans while also giving head coach Anthony Lynn a young quarterback to groom and grow with.

There are many options on the table, but without projecting trades, Herbert is the best choice pre-free agency.

USC OT Austin Jackson at No. 18 to the Miami Dolphins (via PIT)
If the Dolphins do in fact select Tagovailoa at No. 5 (or Herbert), it’s obvious that they’ll shift priorities to selecting some protection for their new franchise quarterback. They’re void a left tackle after a trade last season and Jackson slides in there nicely after allowing just 14 pressures last year.

After grabbing quarterback Tua Tagovailoa at No. 5 overall, the Dolphins must focus on protecting him after trading left tackle Laremy Tunsil to the Houston Texans for a collection of draft picks prior to the 2019 season. Luckily enough, USC’s Austin Jackson is on the board and ready to slide into a left tackle job after holding it down for the Trojans.

Jackson does have some struggles on tape—notably against Iowa in his final college game—but he has athleticism, length and poise at the position that are hard to coach. The hope is that his NFL team will refine his inside game and add strength, in which case he projects as a very good starting left tackle.

The Dolphins have the coaches in place to improve Jackson’s game and a major need at left tackle. As the draft nears, this potential marriage looks better and better.

Arizona State WR Brandon Aiyuk at No. 30 to the Green Bay Packers
Yes! Aiyuk gets to receive passes from Aaron Rodgers and that should be a dream come true for any Aiyuk fan. He’s a straight-line kind of receiver who has great deep-ball skills but is just as shifty on screens and short slants. Rodgers would be ecstatic with this pick.

The Packers would love to see a top-tier linebacker prospect here and may be the team to pull the trigger on the first tight end in the draft depending on how free agency goes, but in this mock draft, it’s all about the wide receiver position with an excellent prospect who can dominate from the slot.

Arizona State’s Brandon Aiyuk is fantastic with the football in his hands. With the ability to line up outside or inside the formation, Aiyuk brings versatility and big-play potential at wideout. The Packers have talent in Davante Adams and Allen Lazard but nothing like the juice Aiyuk brings after the catch.

Mike Renner’s Post-Combine Mock Draft | PFF (March 2, 2020)

Oregon QB Justin Herbert at No. 5 to the Miami Dolphins
This one is a common place for Herbert so far this offseason as the Dolphins are QB-needy and Herbert is either the second- or third-best quarterback in this class depending on where you look. Herbert is picked behind Burrow and Tagovailoa once again here.

Miami doesn’t have to go QB if Tua is off the board at No. 2. That being said, Herbert has unsurprisingly aced the pre-draft process and admittedly offers a ton of clay to mold at the next level. An underrated aspect of his game is that he can legitimately add to any run game in the NFL — similar to what Josh Allen has done in Buffalo. Herbert ran a 4.68 40 in Indy and had excellent jumps (35.5-inch vertical and 10-foot-3 broad jump).

Colorado WR Laviska Shenault Jr. at No. 24 to the New Orleans Saints
This is one we haven’t seen too much of, not only Shenault to the Saints but Shenault to the Saints in the first round, mind you. He’s every bit the talent but his injury history and relative shortcomings following surgery news at the combine will ultimately be his downfall in the draft if teams don’t believe his body can hold up to a 16-game (well, maybe 17-game) schedule.

Shenault’s 4.58 40 can go in the trash, as he pulled up lame during the run with a groin injury. His upcoming surgery along with his now-lengthy injury history will undoubtedly drop his stock come draft day. The Saints could be the beneficiaries, though, as Shenault has top-10 talent with the ball in his hands.

Sikkema’s 2020 NFL Mock Draft 6.0 | The Draft Network (March 2, 2020)

Oregon QB Justin Herbert at No. 5 to the Miami Dolphins
Another one except this one has Herbert going off the board to Miami ahead of Tagovailoa. Sikkema goes into detail about why he thinks Miami would go Herbert instead of Tua. Also of note here, he has Jordan Love at No. 27 to the Chargers in a trade up

I know Miami Dolphins fans have been in on Tua Tagovailoa since the middle of the college football season — some even earlier than that — but the reality is the rumors of Miami potentially having more interest in Justin Herbert than Tagovailoa has legs.

The combine’s value goes beyond just the drills. It’s a week where we get to talk to those inside team circles and prospect camps, and the rise of Herbert is very real — we heard this even before the Sun Sentinel’s report that Tagovailoa was not so re-assured after his meeting with Miami.

Over the course of the Senior Bowl and the combine, Herbert has put his leadership questions to rest and seems to have passed every test teams have given him.

USC OT Austin Jackson at No. 36 to the New York Giants
It’s no surprise the Giants need help along the offensive line and if they’re sold on Daniel Jones at quarterback, the rebuilding process around their second-year quarterback begins with a tackle addition in Jackson who is an absolute stud.

Utah CB Jaylon Johnson at No. 42 to the Jacksonville Jaguars
Johnson is every bit of a lockdown corner and can succeed in a heavy man coverage scheme for the Jaguars as that transition would be a welcome sign for the former Ute. He ran a press-man heavy defense with Utah and did so in incredible fashion as he anchored what was arguably one of the top secondaries in the entire country last year.

Colorado WR Laviska Shenault at No. 44 to the Indianapolis Colts
Shenault would make a great target for Jacoby Brissett this season and then whoever they go with in 2021. Shenault’s ability to play outside would bode well for them after they selected Parris Campbell to man the slot in last year’s draft.

Arizona State WR Brandon Aiyuk at No. 48 to the New York Jets
The Jets need playmakers for Sam Darnold and Aiyuk makes too much sense as a deep threat, playmaker on short-area throws and as a return specialist.

UCLA CB Darnay Holmes at No. 71 to the Los Angeles Chargers
Staying Holme(s), sorry I had to do it, as he joins an uber-talented secondary who should only improve in 2020 as Holmes could even man the outside starting spot opposite Casey Hayward.

Cal S Ashtyn Davis at No. 80 to the Las Vegas Raiders
Davis is a ball-hawk in its full sense of the word and the Raiders secondary is in dire need of those kind of players on the back end just like they are true pass-rushers. Davis fits the build of a Raider defensive back.

Washington QB Jacob Eason at No. 81 to the Las Vegas Raiders
The Raiders go back to back with Pac-12 players and land their ‘quarterback of the future’ with Eason? Perhaps but with the 81st pick this isn’t likely a spot to land your future franchise quarterback, this seems more like a project quarterback spot.

USC WR Michael Pittman Jr. at No. 92 to the Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens have Marquise ‘Hollywood’ Brown to fly by defenders so a speed receiver is not necessarily on their radar in the third round. Instead, this is a great landing spot for Pittman who can win 50-50 balls and showed an innate ability to play faster than he tested at the combine with some serious short-area quicks at his disposal.

Washington iOL Nick Harris at No. 96 to the Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs get a valuable asset in Harris with the final pick of the third round as Harris was a stalwart against the run but may need some help in true pass sets as he adjusts to the NFL at his size.

Joe Marino’s 2020 NFL Mock Draft 6.0 | The Draft Network (February 24, 2020)

Oregon QB Justin Herbert at No. 5 to the Miami Dolphins
Surprise, surprise. In Marino’s mock of ‘what could happen’ it’s Herbert to the Dolphins as Marino puts it, a nice consolation prize.

The Dolphins can want Tagovailoa, but going 5-4 over the last nine games in 2019 put them in a compromising situation to secure him. Miami also has plenty of interest in Justin Herbert, who is an intriguing consolation prize and a physically-superior prospect. While Herbert is a somewhat polarizing player, his starting point for his NFL career is significantly greater than several other recent top-10 quarterbacks including Josh Allen, Daniel Jones and Mitchell Trubisky.

Colorado WR Laviska Shenault Jr. at No. 23 to the New England Patriots
It’s clear that the Patriots need playmakers outside. It’s not clear who will be throwing them the football in 2020 and that’s why Shenault would make sense here just like he does at No. 24 to New Orleans. He’s a physical talent and an incredibly difficult guy to tackle with the ball in his hands so find ways for whoever is at quarterback to get him the ball quickly and let him do the rest of the work.

I’m of the belief that Brady is heading back to New England and if that proves to be the case, every possible investment to improve the offensive personnel around him must be made. Shenault provides Brady with a big, physical and explosive weapon that can dominate after the catch and also win down the field. He’s an alpha at the catch point and is the type of weapon the New England offense needs to more consistently stay on schedule. He features the versatility to take hand offs and create offense for himself in space.

Arizona State WR Brandon Aiyuk at No. 30 to the Green Bay Packers
If you’re an ASU fan, you have to love mock draft season for Aiyuk as he gets mocked to be either the Saints or Packers No. 2 receiver and haul in passes from two all-time greats at QB. This one seems particularly interesting as Aiyuk’s vertical ability pairs nicely with Aaron Rodgers to improvise and throw deep.

The Packers need to deliver more meaningful weapons for Aaron Rodgers and Brandon Aiyuk is a dynamic option that can be used in a variety of ways. Aiyuk is electric with the ball in his hands and excels as a vertical receiver with upside to produce in the return game. That versatility will help Rodgers and the Green Bay offense be more potent moving forward.

Mel Kiper 2020 NFL Mock Draft 2.0 | ESPN+ (February 18, 2020)

Oregon QB Justin Herbert at No. 5 to the Miami Dolphins
We’ve seen this one before and we’ll see this one again as the Dolphins are mocked in just about every iteration to take a quarterback at five. This pick is likely a bit high considering Kiper has the Lions going Tagovailoa and the Dolphins taking ‘the best quarterback on the board’ who happens to be Herbert in his version.

With five picks in the first two rounds of this draft, Miami has to add a quarterback, right? What’s tough to predict is whether the Dolphins will instead look to the deep quarterback class in free agency, where they will have almost $100 million to spend. Would they rather have someone like Jameis Winston, if he doesn’t return to Tampa? What about Andy Dalton, who is likely to be cut by Cincinnati? Luckily, free agency happens before the draft in the NFL, so we’ll know in a month. For now, I think they should go with the top quarterback on the board, and that’s Herbert. I said during the season that he is a maddening evaluation because of his inconsistencies as a thrower, but he is rising after an MVP week at the Senior Bowl. Herbert has the highest ceiling of any of the quarterbacks in this class.

What’s your favorite landing spot for the Pac-12 players likely in this year’s 2020 NFL Draft?