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What to do at 23

NCAA Football: Texas at Oklahoma State Brett Rojo-USA TODAY Sports

With the dust settling on the Sam Darnold trade, I believe we can comfortably decipher that the 2nd pick will be a QB. More specifically that QB will most likely be Zach Wilson. Like it or hate it, that is most likely what will transpire. What is a little murkier, is what we do at pick 23. The possibilities here are numerous, but there are a few choices that make more sense than others. If there is a move that you like more than the ones I have listed, please share them below.

The OL Option:

Item 1 on our needs list is filling the 2 human size voids at left guard and right guard. Just like last year with left tackle, JD recognized the need and filled the void early. It is reasonable to believe he will do this again this year. Scouting offensive linemen is Joe’s bread and butter. There are three guys I think Douglas will target, but there is only two of them who I believe will be there at 23. The first guy is Teven Jenkins. Teven fits the mold of the type of players we have been bringing in. He is a bully. Everything he does, he does with a great vengeance and furious anger. Jenkins is also a hybrid, so if the occasion arises, we could kick him outside in a pinch.

The next guy is Oklahoma center, Creed Humphrey. JD seemed reluctant to go after expensive free agent centers in free agency. I get where he is coming from. He just went that route last year with Connor McGovern. Creed would offer Joe a reset. Humphrey would give Douglas a rookie reset and also 10+ years of upside to grow with Wilson. Creed is hands down the best pure center in this draft and would be perfect for our scheme. Move CMG to right guard for a year. I can think of worse situations.

The CB Option:

Outside of the offensive line, our next biggest need is cornerback . Right now the only cornerback I have any confidence in is Bryce Hall. Even with him, it’s not a lot. We need help here badly. This could all change in the coming weeks with some signings, but if we go into draft day with the way things sit now, Joe could be looking at this very top heavy cornerback class. We have a little more allowable margin of freedom here.

First up is Caleb Farley. Farley opted out of the 2020 season and recently missed his pro day to get his back cleaned up. If it weren’t for these two things, Farley would clearly be cornerback 1. The guy is exactly what the league is looking for. He long (6’2”). He’s fast. He’s explosive and he’s fluid. You put all these together and you get a cornerback prospect with top tier upside. There is of course risk with his back, but at what point is it worth it to take a chance? Joe might think that point is pick 23.

Then there is one of my favorite cornerback prospects, Greg Newsome ll from Northwestern. Newsome is a as sold as they come. He just does it all and does it the way it should be done. He is technically sound. He’s fast and fluid. Most of all, he is probably 2nd to only Surtain in mental processing. There are two knocks on him though. The first being that he also has injury concerns. He has missed significant time from a variety of issues. The 2nd is that he may already be at his ceiling. His floor might be very high, but how much better can he really get?

The Trade Up Option:

Maybe the best option at 23 is to not actually stay at 23. We have acquired a lot of draft capital as of late, and it is burning a hole in Joe’s pocket. Is getting a lot of players better than getting the players we want? I don’t think it is. Douglas might not want to risk seeing who is left once pick 23 swings around. If there is a prospect that Joe has graded very highly within striking distance, he could pounce like the fleet footed draft puma that he is. This opens the door a gaggle of prospects.

Jaycee Horn is my number 1 cornerback and could see himself sliding to a respectable place for us to draft. Horn checks all the boxes as well. He also has the intangibles you look for. Much like Jenkins, he is a bully. He is the kind of cornerback that will talk all the trash, and then back it up. In coverage, he will fight you to the bitter end for leverage. He is also scheme diverse which is what puts him on top of my rankings. Saleh has a tendency to switch up his coverages a lot, so we need defensive backs that can roll with whatever Saleh throws at them.

Patrick Surtain should also get a look here. Surtain is the most cerebral corner in this draft and he is disciplined. He didn’t have a single penalty called against him in all of 2020. That’s crazy in an era where everything favors the receiver. When the ball is in the air, there is no one I would rather have back there tracking it down. His ball skills are 2nd to none in this class. The only reason I don’t follow most of the trends and put him #1 is that he might not be as scheme diverse. I see him having the most impact in press man. While he can survive in zone, he just isn’t the same.

Moving back to the interior offensive line, I would look to take Alijah Vera-Tucker. AVT, as I like to call him, is the perfect movable piece to have along our offensive line. He has the movement skills to hang with EDGE defenders and the strength to hold up against bigger interior guys. He is a technician and a model offensive linemen. I can see him having an all pro career inside for us. If any of our tackles ever went down, I would also have no issues having him start at either tackle position.

The Trade Back Option:

There is a good possibility that the value just won’t be there at 23. Maybe the injury history of Farley and Newsome scares JD. Maybe Jenkins goes before 23. Then what? If the value isn’t there, there is no reason to reach for someone. Trading back into the 2nd and accumulating some more picks isn’t a horrible idea. I wouldn’t trade back too far though. I wouldn’t go further than pick 46.

The Wildcard Trade Up Option:

All of those other moves don’t seem very far fetched, right? All of them fall in the realm of possible. This last one would be a wild trade, but also make a lot of sense. What is the guy we trade up for is Notre Dame linebacker, Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (JOK)? One could argue that LBer is more valuable than CB in a Robert Saleh defense. He wants to win his battles with the front 7 and let his defensive backs pick up the scraps. It would almost be unfair to let a weapon like JOK fall into the hands of linebacker kingmaker, Robert Saleh. Our linebacker core is woefully insufficient. JOK’s versatility and explosive playmaking make him an ideal fit for our defense. Sometimes you need a guy that moves at a different speed than anyone else on the field. That used to be Adams. JOK could fill that void for a long time.

No wide receivers? No Edge Rushers? No running backs? What gives Matt? While there is value here for these positions, the timing and need are off. Our front 4 and WR group are ready to go for this year. Those team meetings are already crowded. With RB, we could add a guy, but I am pretty happy with who we have. Drafting premium WR/EDGE/RB talent here in the 1st round would be luxury picks. And that’s a luxury we don’t have.