The 2020 NFL Draft is drawing near as Pac-12 Prospects have made their cases to teams as to why they should draft them. The Pac-12 has many players who could help teams out this upcoming season.
This article is part of Unafraid Show’s two-part NFL Draft preview.
Quarterbacks Lead the Way for Pac-12 in 2020 NFL Draft
Justin Herbert – QB Oregon
Justin Herbert will be the first Pac-12 player off the board on Thursday. However, there has been more debate of who will go first between Herbert and Tua Tagovailoa. Some pundits even view Herbert as better than Joe Burrow, the presumptive first overall pick on Thursday. Herbert would be an interesting fit with certain teams such as the Miami Dolphins and Los Angeles Chargers. Both teams have receivers that could ease the pressure on Herbert. It will be interesting to see if Herbert is a day one starter or if he has to sit and learn. After being a starter for the majority of his college career, he has the potential to have a successful rookie season.
Listen to the best Pac-12 Podcast
Jacob Eason – QB Washington
Jacob Eason is primed to be a Day Two pick at the 2020 NFL Draft. Eason was the National Gatorade Player of the Year during his senior year of high school in 2015-16. However, Eason had an uneasy college career that started at Georgia. Still, Eason is a pocket passer that teams could see as an eventual starter. The best situation for Eason would be a place where there is an established veteran starter that he can learn from. Possible teams that fit that bill include the Indianapolis Colts and the New Orleans Saints.
Anthony Gordon – QB Washington State
Anthony Gordon was named Second Team All Pac-12 in 2019. Gordon was able to thrive in Mike Leach’s Air Raid system, making him an intriguing fit as a backup in some of the hybrid NFL systems. Gordon could be a legitimate backup with teams such as the Arizona Cardinals who employ Air Raid concepts. However, Gordon looks to be a Day Three draft pick in part because he played in the Air Raid system in college. The last quarterbacks to play in Mike Leach’s system, Luke Falk and Gardner Minshew, have both started NFL games. It will be interesting to see if Gordon could have a similar career trajectory.
Steven Montez – QB Colorado
Like Gordon, Steven Montez figures to be a late-round draft pick. Montez has great arm strength, but has flaws in his game. When he would extend plays during his time at Colorado, Montez would sometimes be able to find receivers open downfield. Those types of plays simply do not happen often in the NFL, but Montez’ ability to extend plays could help him as long as he takes care of the football.
Pac-12 Offensive Talent Present In 2020 NFL Draft
Zack Moss – RB Utah
Zack Moss figures to be one of the first running backs off the draft board. However, he may not hear his name called until Friday night. He ran a 4.65 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, which is considered underwhelming for a running back. On the flip side, Moss was First-Team All Pac-12 in 2019, rushing for 1,416 yards and 15 touchdowns. The cousin of Santana and Sinorice Moss, two former NFL wide receivers, Moss could be a good power back option for some teams. Potential fits for Moss include the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He proved himself as an effective pass-catcher at Utah with 28 receptions. Tom Brady loves throwing to his running backs, and Zack Moss would be an interesting piece in Bruce Arians’ and Byron Leftwich’s offense.
Michael Pittman Jr. – WR USC
Michael Pittman Jr. will probably be a Day Two draft pick. With a deep wide receiver class in the 2020 draft, Pittman will be a steal for whoever gets him. A Biletnikoff Award finalist, Pittman posted 1,275 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns in 2019 for the Trojans. With a bigger build, Pittman could complement a team who needs a possession receiver. Pittman ran a 4.52 40-yard dash at the NFL combine. He has the speed to do well at the NFL level.
Brandon Aiyuk – WR Arizona State
Brandon Aiyuk is in the same boat as Laviska Shenault as far as his draft stock. NFL Network reported that Aiyuk had core muscle surgery on April 7. Aiyuk is regarded by many as a first-round talent. He had big-play ability at Arizona State. The team that ends up drafting Brandon Aiyuk will be getting a playmaker that can excel in both the receiving and return game on special teams. A prime fit for Brandon Aiyuk would be the Green Bay Packers. Aaron Rodgers is still looking for a solid second receiver along with Davante Adams, and Aiyuk fits the bill.
Austin Jackson and Calvin Throckmorton Could Help Teams on Offensive Line
Austin Jackson – OT USC
Austin Jackson has the potential to be a first round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. His athleticism will attract teams on draft night. Teams may view Jackson as a project though because his fundamentals need work. A team who may look to draft Jackson either late in the first round or early in the second round could be the Denver Broncos. Jackson figures to compete for a starting job wherever he goes.
Calvin Throckmorton – OG Oregon
Calvin Throckmorton led a talented group of offensive lineman at Oregon in 2019. However, Throckmorton had an uneasy performance at the 2020 Senior Bowl. Still, he was a First-Team All Pac-12 Selection in 2019, and can play any position along the offensive line. Throckmorton finished his career at Oregon with a 3.8 GPA and Second-Team Academic All American honors. He will probably be a Day Two pick, but a team who wants an intelligent, versatile offensive lineman should know that Throckmorton fits that description.
Evan Weaver, Jaylon Johnson Lead Defensive Players from Pac-12 in 2020 NFL Draft
Evan Weaver – LB California
Evan Weaver garnered Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2019. However, he is projected to be a late-round draft pick because he is simply undersized. Despite that, Weaver led the country with 182 tackles during the 2019 season. He ran a 4.76 40-yard dash, and has the intangibles to be a contributing member for an NFL team. Weaver may not be the prototypical NFL athlete, but he will have a chance to prove himself if a team is willing to give him a chance.
Jaylon Johnson – CB Utah
Jaylon Johnson could be a first-round draft pick on Thursday. Johnson garnered First-Team All Pac-12 Honors in both 2018 and 2019. Johnson also received All-Academic honors. Teams that value a good mix of talent with hard work will see Johnson as someone they want on their football team. Standing at exactly six feet, some people may question Johnson’s size at the cornerback position. Still, he plays the position with physicality and is not afraid to challenge opposing receivers at the line of scrimmage. Don’t be surprised if Johnson is a late first-round pick on Thursday.
After 2020 NFL Draft, Pac-12 Players Will Start Next Chapter
There is plenty in store once the 2020 NFL Draft gets rolling on Thursday night. We will be able to see where all of the Pac-12 standouts from the 2019 season will end up starting the next phase of their football career.