We now find ourselves one week away from the opening night of the 2023 NFL draft. Last week, the first of three mock drafts leading to up to draft day was released.
The focus of the first mock was finding landing spots that would be the best case scenario for BYU’s draft hopefuls. These picks gave the players early success as well as filled team needs.
This week, the draft will take a 180 degree turn. This will be based on what could be more of a worst case scenario for these players. The landing spots are ones the players may not come in and have success as early.
Pick 84-Miami Dolphins
Blake Freeland, OT
Finding a poor spot for Freeland proved to be the most difficult of the players in this mock. Of course, he could have been selected by a team that had no need for a tackle therefore it would be a bad team to go to by default.
However, this should be a team that realistically could take a tackle within the second to fourth round range. It gets more difficult to place a pick at that point because many of the obvious teams with offensive tackle needs will have selected one prior to Freeland.
The reason it was so hard to place what could be a bad spot for Freeland was because he will most likely come in and compete for a spot wherever he gets drafted. He may not win the starting job, but he will be given a shot.
With Miami, the reasoning behind this pick is because of the challenges Freeland would have if he did win the starting job.
Miami needs to improve their protection of Tua Tagovailoa. With limited draft capital, it’s reasonable to think they could improve both the inside and outside of their line in rounds two and three.
Freeland would compete with Austin Jackson, who Miami hasn’t been thrilled with, for the starting role at right tackle. Unlike every other team, the right tackle position in Miami has the unique responsibility of protecting Tua’s blindside.
Freeland very well could come in and do a nice job at the position, but it’s the particular situation and responsibility he would have that makes this a poor spot to be drafted. The responsibility of protecting Tua’s blindside as a rookie is a tall task with high stakes. Everyone should remember what happened to Tua last season. With the multiple concussions he suffered the Dolphins cannot afford to have him keep taking hits like he did.
Next season, some of the pass rushers Freeland would face are Joey Bosa, Micah Parsons, Maxx Crosby, and Chase Young just to name a few. That’s a lot of elite talent coming off the edge. The task would be tall and the responsibility great should Freeland be selected by the Dolphins and win the job.
Pick 147-Tennessee Titans
Jaren Hall, QB
Let’s assume for a second that the Titans are already prepared to move on from 2022 3rd rounder Malik Willis as their future QB. That would make them prepared to take a QB, preferably earlier for them, in this year’s draft.
Now let’s assume the Titans miss out on a few of the higher end QBs such as Anthony Richardson and Will Levis, as well as draft board riser Hendon Hooker. That would leave Hall as one of the top remaining options if the Titans would like to still take a QB.
Similar to Freeland, speaking strictly on opportunity to compete Hall would have a fair shot. Ryan Tannehill is on the last year of his deal and the 35 year old leaves a lot to be desired as a passer.
Malik Willis was a third round selection a year ago and came into the year with a lot of hype around him. He followed up that hype with abysmal performances in three starts last season. Completing 50% of his passes and only throwing for 234 yards and and three interceptions in those starts.
It seems like the Titans could be ready to move on already from the second year QB which makes the option of quarterback even more likely.
The opportunity to compete is where the good would stop for Hall and the bad would begin.
The Titans, to put it lightly, are a mess for any QB. They have absolutely no weapons for a QB to throw to and run one of the most run heavy offenses in the league. Despite Derrick Henry taking a slight step back in 2022 that will continue to be the case moving forward. Any QB is trapped in that offense to hand the ball off forever and occasionally throw to one of the nobodies at receiver. Also, Mike Vrabel is a defensive minded head coach so a QB gets no help in that regard either.
Hall coming into Tennessee would mean he could compete from Day 1, but he’s competing for possibly the most lack luster starting job in the NFL.
Pick 180-Arizona Cardinals
Puka Nacua, WR
The Cardinals could have a need for a wide receiver depending on the status of Deandre Hopkins. It seems clear the star receiver would like a trade from Arizona which would leave a hole in the wide receiver room.
There are two scenarios how this could go poorly for Puka Nacua.
Scenario one is Deandre Hopkins is not traded and stays in Arizona. This would make Nacua no higher than wide receiver four on the depth chart entering camp, but even then he would probably be lower being a rookie.
Lead by Deandre Hopkins, Marquise Brown, and Ronadale Moore it would be tough for Nacua to crack significant snaps for the offense, and that’s just mentioning the starters. Finding his way lower on the depth chart could prove troublesome, especially if the injury bug follows Nacua to the NFL.
Scenario two is Deandre Hopkins is indeed traded away from Arizona. This makes the need for another wide receiver more prevalent and opens up the chance for Nacua to earn more snaps.
Sounds like a good thing, right?
Potentially, yes. However, there is the part in this where Kyler Murray will not be playing a large portion of the season. Due to surgery repair on his ACL and meniscus it seems he could be missing at least half the season and sounds like it could be even longer if Kyler wants to take his time with rehab and recovery.
That would leave the Cardinals with a QB room of Colt McCoy, David Blough, and Jeff Driskel. Not great options for a receiver to be getting the ball from. Despite the opportunity an absence of Hopkins would bring, Nacua would not be in an offense that would be able to get him the ball efficiently.
It seems his options would be potential depth chart burial or not having a competent QB to get him, or others for that matter, the ball.