The 2020 NFL Draft brought fans together for a sporting event for the first time in what seems like forever. Thirty-two players from the Pac-12 heard their names during the three days of the NFL draft. Many teams were able to add impactful Pac-12 players.
Chargers Make Justin Herbert QB of the Future As Sixth Pick of 2020 NFL Draft
Justin Herbert went sixth overall to the Los Angeles Chargers. The Chargers hope Herbert can be the second Oregon quarterback, after Dan Fouts, who brings success to their franchise. It is unfair to make comparisons between the two, but Herbert can have NFL success. He is the modern-day pocket passer who can use his legs to run if he must.
Austin Jackson Second Pac-12 Player Drafted In First Round of 2020 NFL Draft
In a move that may have surprised some, the Miami Dolphins selected USC offensive tackle Austin Jackson 18th overall. Jackson has the task of protecting Tua Tagovailoa’s blindside in Miami. Beefing up the offensive line by drafting Jackson was a good move for Brian Flores and the Dolphins, as Tagovailoa had a propensity for making plays on his own at Alabama. The Dolphins are trying to build their team from the ground up, and Austin Jackson figures to be part of the solution.
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Brandon Aiyuk Drafted in First Round Before Pittman Jr., Shenault
The San Francisco 49ers traded up with the Minnesota Vikings to the 25th overall pick, and selected Arizona State’s Brandon Aiyuk with the trade. Aiyuk was the third and final Pac-12 player taken in the first round.
Seeing Aiyuk drafted before Michael Pittman Jr. and Laviska Shenault was a bit surprising. However, Aiyuk does not have the extensive injury history that the other two have had in their college careers. Aiyuk gives the 49ers a speedy, skilled option. He should help fill the void left from the departures of Emmanuel Sanders and Marquise Goodwin.
USC wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. did not have to wait long on Day Two to hear his name called. The Indianapolis Colts selected him with the 34th overall pick.
Laviska Shenault has the most upside out of all the Pac-12 receivers. Still, he was on the board until the Jaguars took him 42nd overall. Shenault has first-round talent, but injuries played a part in him falling to the second round. If Shenault can stay healthy in the NFL, the Jaguars may have got the best receiver in the 2020 draft.
Eight Pac-12 Players Drafted On Day Two, Utah Leads Way with Four Selections
The Pac-12 had eight players taken on Day Two of the 2020 NFL Draft. Four of those players were Utah Utes. Jaylon Johnson was taken in the second round by the Chicago Bears. It was the Bears first pick of the draft, and they may have got a first-round talent in Johnson. Safety Julian Blackmon was drafted by the Colts in the 3rd round, one pick before Zack Moss was taken by the Bills. Pairing Moss with Devin Singletary in the Buffalo Bills’ backfield may prove to be an effective one-two punch on Sundays. Defensive back Terrell Burgess was the last Utah player drafted on Day Two by the Los Angeles Rams.
Potential Steals of 2020 NFL Draft Include Devin Asiasi, Evan Weaver
There were many potential steals of the 2020 NFL Draft from the Pac-12. First off, tight end Devin Asiasi was a third-round pick of the New England Patriots. The Patriots drafting Asiasi with Virginia Tech tight end Dalton Keene is reminiscent of the strategy Bill Belichick employed in 2010 when he took both Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. Asiasi flourished in Chip Kelly’s offense in 2019 and looks to build upon his success.
Evan Weaver was the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year. That means he was an early-round pick, right? Unfortunately, teams believed Evan Weaver was undersized, but he still has a great football acumen. The Arizona Cardinals took him in the sixth round of the draft.
The Colts drafted Jacob Eason, who could become their quarterback of the future, in the 4th round. Eason was a highly sought after quarterback after his high school career but had a rocky journey through college. He started his career at Georgia but did not get extended playing time with them. At Washington, Eason was able to show his skills, but he was unable to elevate Washington to national prominence this past season. Eason is in a good situation where he can sit and learn from Philip Rivers and head coach Frank Reich, who is known for getting the most out of his quarterbacks.
2020 NFL Draft Shows Pac-12 Has Work to do to Catch Up to Other Power 5 Conferences
In an NFL Draft that saw 14 SEC players taken in the first round, the Pac-12 only had 11 players taken across the first two days of the draft. Some may argue that there is an east coast bias in the draft also, but the Pac-12 simply has had trouble competing with the top football conferences in the country. The Pac-12 does not have a powerhouse program now, as the last team from the conference to make the College Football Playoff was Washington in the 2016-17 season. Conference trends are also seen in the draft, and it will be interesting to see if the Pac-12 is able to have more players drafted earlier in the future.