Bookmark this page for all notable underclassmen making their decisions on the 2020 NFL draft. We’ll be updating information on players as it becomes available and adding our own initial scouting views as well.
The deadline for underclassmen to apply for special eligibility is Jan. 17, 2020, followed by a three-day grace period where players can change their intentions. The NFL will release the full list of underclassmen who have been approved for entry into the 2020 draft and will sent to the 32 teams on Jan. 24.
Clemson RB Travis Etienne (junior)
A stunner! We fully expected this to be Etienne’s final college season back since about August, so Etienne deciding to return to school just wasn’t on our radar. He’s a fantastic runner who has had pretty good mileage the past three seasons (596 touches in 42 games), but he can come back to school and make a run at a third national-title game appearance and second championship alongside QB Trevor Lawrence.
— Travis Etienne Jr⁶𓅓 (@swaggy_t1) January 17, 2020
LSU TE Thaddeus Moss (junior)
It’s perhaps a bit of a surprise that Moss would declare for the 2020 NFL draft to some, but he finished strong with three TDs in LSU’s two playoff games (two in the title game) and showed some improvement as a blocker along the way. The son of Randy Moss started his college career back in 2016 at North Carolina State and spent the past two seasons getting ready to play, with foot injuries wiping out his 2018 season. The 6-3, 249-pounder has the ability to make highlight catches but has been a bit inconsistent this season. We see him as a late Day 2 or early Day 3 prospect in a thinner tight end class, but turning in some quality pre-draft workouts can boost his stock.
LSU EDGE K’Lavon Chaisson (junior)
The championship-winning Tigers have lost another key member. Chaisson has decided to enter the 2020 class, and it’s no shock based on the season he just had. Coming off a 2018 campaign that was almost entirely wiped out by a torn ACL in the opening game, Chaisson registered 60 tackles (13.5 for loss) and a team-high 6.5 sacks in 13 games in 2019. He missed the games against Northwestern State and Vanderbilt with an ankle injury and was limited in camp with injuries, so his durability must be checked. But his bend, reach, quickness and surprising edge-setting ability all scream first round.
LSU RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire (junior)
The price of winning a title? All your best players tend to leave. But it’s a trade LSU would make every time, and Edwards-Helaire was a huge reason the team even got to the college football playoffs. The 5-foot-7, 209-pound back will vie for the honor of being the 2020 NFL draft class’ shortest member, but my goodness does he pack a lot into that frame. Remember another famous hyphenated back, Maurice Jones-Drew? That’s our comp for CEH, who always seems to bounce off the first would-be tackler. He’s extremely tough, quick as a hiccup and remarkably tough. We think a third- or maybe fourth-round landing spot is Edwards-Helaire’s likely destination, but he’s the type of back to vastly outplay that spot.
Clemson WR Tee Higgins (junior)
Not a surprise at all, but Higgins has declared for the 2020 NFL draft. Even in a loaded WR class, Higgins is expected to be a top-40 pick, perhaps as high as the middle of Round 1 depending on how he tests athletically at the NFL scouting combine. He’s tall, long-limbed, athletic and possesses a massive catch radius, as well as terrific coordination along the sideline. The 6-4, 215-pound Higgins also displayed some nice toughness battling through an injury in the national title game. His game tape against Virginia this season was as good as we’ve seen from a wideout this entire draft cycle.
LSU S Grant Delpit (junior)
Two days after helping his team win the national title, Delpit is moving on to the NFL. The 6-foot-3, 203-pound Thorpe Award winner actually struggled at times this season, mostly with poor tackling (20 missed tackles, per Pro Football Focus), while also dealing with an ankle injury he suffered early in the season that never really went away. But Delpit’s range, intelligence and instincts are all high quality, and we suspect that he will end up a first-round pick when it’s all said and done — just perhaps not the top-10 prospect some felt he could be prior to the season.
LSU LB Patrick Queen (junior)
There were indications that Queen might return to school in 2020, but he has decided to forgo his final season of college for the NFL draft. Playing the “rover” spot manned in 2018 by eventual No. 5 overall pick Devin White, Queen started coming into his own in October and finished the year extremely strong. The converted running back is still developing his positional instincts, and he needs to wrap up better at times, but his physicality, coverage ability and hitting make the 6-1, 227-pounder a Day 2 possibility in April.
— 🦅... (@Patrickqueen_) January 15, 2020
USC OT Austin Jackson (junior)
The 6-6, 310-pound Jackson has declared for the 2020 NFL draft and projects as a top-50 pick, perhaps rising as far as the mid-first round. He’s a two-year starter at left tackle with good feet and fluidity, although a west-coast scout we spoke to felt Jackson needs to mature physically. He’s raw, but the potential upside is enticing. If he can refine his blocking technique, Jackson has a Pro Bowl ceiling. But Jackson’s bowl-game performance against Iowa’s A.J. Epenesa (three sacks allowed) is a good indication of where he’s at now.
Alabama RB Najee Harris (junior)
Consider us a wee bit surprised that Harris reportedly has decided to go back to Bama for his senior season. We had our concerns about him in the preseason, but Harris’ tremendous 2019 season had a lot of scouts buzzing and re-evaluating him. Had Harris come out, we had him pegged as a Day 2 prospect, but a strong final season might push him into the top-40 discussion for 2021.
Iowa OT Tristan Wirfs (junior)
Our top-rated offensive tackle has declared for the 2020 NFL draft. Wirfs has been a three-year standout for the Hawkeyes, playing both right and left tackle and was the first true freshman to start at tackle for head coach Kirk Ferentz. There might be no better combination of power, quickness and balance at the position this year, and we suspect that once Wirfs crushes the combine-testing portion of the process, he will have locked up a top-10 (and maybe top-five) spot in April.
Iowa EDGE A.J. Epenesa (junior)
A top-20 prospect, Epenesa has declared for the 2020 NFL draft. Although he started the season slowly, with one sack in his first four contests, the 6-6, 277-pound Epenesa finished the year on a tear with eight sacks and four forced fumbles in his final five games of the season. He wins as a pass rusher with power, leverage and handwork — and less with speed. But there’s a place for that type of ability in Round 1, scouts believe.
Oklahoma State RB Chuba Hubbard (junior)
Hubbard announced that he’ll be returning to Stillwater next year, which could propel him to the top of the RB pecking order in the next draft cycle. It was a crowded picture at the position in 2020, but we still felt he would have cracked our top five or six backs had he come out.
Baylor DL James Lynch (junior)
We’ve been all over the 6-4, 295-pound Lynch for a few months now, although it certainly sounds as if Matt Rhule taking an NFL head-coaching job had a lot to do with Lynch leaving school early. But his power, effort and knack for big plays in crucial moments are well-regarded in NFL circles, even if he has a bad knack for jumping early at times. Still, we expect him to be a Day 2 pick, perhaps as early as the mid-second round.
Thank you Baylor nation!✌🏻 pic.twitter.com/X7gRHbySHH
— James Lynch (@JamesHusker38) January 13, 2020
Illinois EDGE Oluwole Betiku Jr.
Betiku has declared for the 2020 NFL draft, and he’s a name who might be new to some folks, but there’s some intriguing talent here. The former top-50 recruit and USC commit was born in Nigeria, and he ended up in Champaign, following former Trojans DL coach Austin Clark to the Illini. The 6-3, 250-pound Betiku played only one full season of college ball this past year, and he racked up nine sacks and 13 tackles for loss in 10 games (nine starts), despite missing time in three of those games with injury. The lack of tape is worrisome, as are the repeated injuries, but he’s got enough pass-rush intrigue to be a late developmental pick.
Oklahoma C Creed Humphrey (redshirt sophomore)
Some news that we were prepared to hear based on some recent conversations: Humphrey has said that he will return to school in Oklahoma. He was just starting to assert himself as one of the best interior linemen in the country prior to a couple of tough games down the stretch. Humphrey could be a first-round pick in a year’s time with more seasoning, but it does hurt the interior OL depth of this class.
Tennessee OL Trey Smith (junior)
A surprise to us: Smith has announced he will return to the Vols next season. We had Smith pegged as leaving for multiple reasons. One, he played very well this past season and could have been — in our eyes — one of the more talented OG prospects (who could play OT) in the 2020 crop. And two, considering Smith missed nearly half of the 2018 season with blood clots, that uncertainty made us think he might take the money and run, a belief shared by NFL folks as well. But Smith is back in college and will dot many All-America teams this summer and be part of the 2021 NFL draft.
Texas A&M WR Kendrick Rogers (redshirt junior)
We’ve been somewhat intrigued by Rogers the past two seasons, but his entry into the 2020 NFL draft comes with myriad questions, too. Rogers’ size (6-4, 204) is impressive, and he’s had a few eye-opening performances for the Aggies — most notably a seven-catch, 120-yard, two-TD game against Clemson in 2018. But Rogers also has had meager production (68 catches, 786 yards, seven TDs in 23 college games) and has been beset by injuries. His talent and upside suggest he should be drafted, but Rogers needs a strong pre-draft process amid an extremely deep WR class to guarantee that.
Jeremiah 29:11. Thank you Aggieland for all the great memories. 👍🏾 pic.twitter.com/TM1qVX11jl
— Kendrick Rogers Jr (@KJ_13_) January 8, 2020
Georgia QB Jake Fromm (junior)
Up until the past few days, it appeared Fromm might return to school amid uncertain draft projections. However, Fromm announced Wednesday that he’ll be entering the 2020 draft class. From an intangibles standpoint, Fromm has nearly everything you could hope for from a QB prospect. Mentally, he should be able to enter an NFL environment and understand exactly what is expected from him. Physically, however, he’s nothing special and is coming off a 2019 season in which he didn’t set the world on fire. NFL teams that place a higher value on the mental aspect of the position should like him more; clubs that are more enamored with a QB’s raw tools might not value him that high. The entire 2020 QB class is a tricky one to weigh, but Fromm could be the fourth, fifth or sixth quarterback drafted and right now figures into the second- or third-round range, based on what we’ve heard from NFL people.
Wisconsin C Tyler Biadasz (redshirt junior)
The Badgers’ center has declared for the 2020 NFL draft and could be one of the top interior offensive linemen off the board. That said, he’s likely not the late first- or early second-round prospect some might believe, as NFL scouts have concerns over Biadasz’s medical history and lack of top-tier athleticism. Still, we’re talking about an experience, smart and nasty blocker (check out the Iowa game, e.g.) from a Wisconsin program that’s about as good as it gets at producing NFL-caliber blockers. We think he could hear his name called somewhere in the latter stages of Round 2 down to the middle of Round 3.
Thank you Wisconsin for all the great memories and letting me fulfill my lifelong dream of being a Badger. I look forward to competing at the highest level. The NFL has always been my biggest dream and I can’t thank enough all the people that helped me along the way. #GodisGood pic.twitter.com/jTsU9k2ON1
— Tyler Biadasz (@TylerBiadasz) January 8, 2020
Hawaii QB Cole McDonald (redshirt junior)
McDonald announced that he would not be returning to Hawaii for his fifth year of eligibility and instead would enter the draft. He’s a fascinating project — and a total wildcard in the 2020 class. McDonald arrived in college as a running quarterback but flashed a loose, live arm the past two seasons, putting up some monster games (six 400-yard games, six games with four or more TDs). But he also was benched in the opener and only got his job back because of injury, struggling in the Mountain West title game but lighting up BYU in what would be his final college game for 493 yards, four TDs and no picks. McDonald is a total project but one with sky-high potential; the team that takes him on will see some Mahomesian traits but also some ugly habits that must be corrected.
Minnesota S Antoine Winfield Jr. (redshirt sophomore)
The son of the former Minnesota Vikings corner is a rare fourth-year sophomore, so the news of the talented Gophers defender declaring for the 2020 NFL draft is no surprise. One other big reason is that Winfield had a fantastic 2019 season (seven INTs, five in a three-game span) that saw him named first-team All Big Ten and winning the conference’s Tatum-Woodson Defensive Back of the Year. His bloodlines should serve Winfield well, and he clearly has excellent ball skills and tackling ability. There is a fear, however, that his size (listed at 5-10 and 205 pounds, although scouts believe he’s closer to 5-9) and workouts could work against him. We see him in the third- to fifth-round range right now.
Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa (junior)
The Crimson Tide quarterback, who suffered a dislocated hip this season, has declared. First, here’s the news on his decision. We also have some context on how his hip will affect his draft status and a column from Pete Thamel examining the mark Tua left on Bama and what’s next for him.
Alabama WR Henry Ruggs III (junior)
One of the fastest players in college football now will vie to be one of the fastest players in the NFL, as Ruggs has declared for the 2020 draft. Ruggs might have finished third on the Crimson Tide in receptions, receiving yards and TDs, but he’s an electric playmaker with terrific football character. His hustle plays — such as chasing down Tennessee’s Nigel Warrior 60 yards downfield after an interception — are what really excite scouts, along with Ruggs’ home-run ability as a receiver and returner. Although the underclassmen advisory committee gave Ruggs a second-round evaluation, per sources, we believe he easily will land in the first round once he runs his 40-yard dash at the NFL combine. In fact, he might not get out of the first 15 selections when it’s all said and done.
Iowa S Geno Stone (junior)
We mentioned earlier on Monday that we thought Stone might be a candidate to leave early, and later in the day he announced his intentions to declare for the NFL draft. Stone has some limitations, such as his height (5-foot-10) and speed (scouts have estimated he will run in the 4.6 range), but the second-team all-Big Ten coaches pick comes from a good pedigree at Iowa that has consistently produced quality DBs, and he is smart, tough and assignment-sound. We project him in the Day 3 range for now.
Alabama WR Devonta Smith (junior)
We’ve been hinting for more than a month that Smith could return to Alabama, as he announced Monday, even as he surprised many by leading the Tide in receiving yards (1,256) and TD catches (14), while averaging 18.5 yards on his 68 catches. In a WR group with Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs III and Jaylen Waddle, that’s stunning. But now Smith can help boost his stock even more and perhaps beef up his 175-pound frame a bit next season back in college.
Texas OT Samuel Cosmi (redshirt sophomore)
With some standout performances this season, the 6-7, 300-pound Cosmi caught the eye of many NFL evaluators as a potential star at left tackle. But Cosmi announced he’s returning to Austin next season, which could put him on track to be one of the first tackles selected in 2021. We love his athleticism and mean finishing ability.
Wisconsin WR Quintez Cephus (redshirt junior)
The 6-1, 207-pound Cephus has declared for the 2020 NFL draft, and he proved he’s an NFL-caliber talent with a strong senior season (59 receptions, 901 yards, seven touchdowns in 14 games for a run-heavy offense). But there are other questions the NFL needs answering before we can accurately stamp a draft grade on him. Cephus was allowed to return to football after being found not guilty on charges of rape, but NFL decision makers can be expected to grill him on the details of the case. He also has been injury-prone through parts of his career, but the allegations remain the biggest red flag. If those are answered, we believe he has the chance to be some team’s WR2 and be a solid contributor.
Thank You Badger Nation ! It’s been a great ride and I’m ready for the next chapter. Thanks for all the support 8️⃣7️⃣ pic.twitter.com/GRy3irWrAn
— Quintez Cephus (@QoDeep_87) January 6, 2020
Mississippi State LB Willie Gay Jr. (junior)
The 6-2, 240-pound Gay has declared for the 2020 NFL draft. His evaluation will require a bit deeper digging from NFL teams on both the foot injury that wiped out more than half his 2019 season and some character concerns that arose when he was suspended for reportedly paying a tutor doing classwork for him. Gay also reportedly was involved in an altercation with Bulldogs starting QB Garrett Shrader in bowl-game practices, which forced Shrader to miss the Music City Bowl because of the upper-body injury he suffered as a result. In only five games as a junior, Gay had 28 tackles and 3.5 tackles for loss, but his evaluation is tricky because of the other factors we mentioned. Day 3 feels like the highest the talented Gay could do right now.
— Willie Gay Jr. (@WillieG___) January 6, 2020
Virginia Tech RB Deshawn McClease (redshirt junior)
A mild surprise — to us, anyway — that McClease would declare and not take the sixth year he was granted, even with a solid finish to his season. That included a career high in rush yards (126) in the bowl game loss to Kentucky, his final college game. After taking a medical redshirt season early in his career, the 5-foot-9, 190-pound McClease steadily improved over his final three seasons as a solid runner for the Hokies, even as it once appeared he would transfer out last year. But given the rare RB depth of this class and some questions about McClease’s size and contributions in the passing game, we think his landing spot is late on Day 3 or possibly as a priority free agent.
— Virginia Tech Football (@HokiesFB) January 6, 2020
Alabama S Xavier McKinney (junior)
One of the most trusted figures on Alabama’s defense is declaring for the 2020 NFL draft. McKinney is often labeled a box safety, but that’s not doing him justice, we feel. He spent nearly equal time in the box, covering the back end or walking out as a slot defender. McKinney’s versatility, hitting ability and football intelligence will be well-regarded in the NFL, and it could translate him to being the first or second safety drafted this April. We view him as a top-40 possibility right now.
— Alabama DieHards (@AlabamaDieHards) January 5, 2020
Alabama WR Jerry Jeudy (junior)
No stunner here. Jeudy has declared for the 2020 NFL draft, and the shock would have been had he returned to school. Even in a slightly disappointing season in 2019, Jeudy remained one of the most prolific receivers in college football with his silky-smooth athleticism and wicked route running. Not the biggest receiver or possessing elite straight-line speed, Jeudy nonetheless profiles as a difference maker — and perhaps WR1 in a noted class at the position — in the league. We get some Stefon Diggs vibes from Jeudy and believe he’s a top-20 pick, although not the lock to land in the top 10 that some might believe.
Alabama OT Jedrick Wills Jr. (junior)
It’s no surprise that Wills has declared for the 2020 draft considering that he rose as much as any OL prospect this season. Considered a possible Day 2 pick entering the year, Wills started dominating — especially during SEC play — and caught the eyes of many NFL evaluators. He’s a clear-cut first-round pick now, and a possible top-10 selection. We think OT1 honors could come down to Wills, Iowa’s Tristan Wirfs and possible Georgia’s Andrew Thomas in what’s considered a very good year at the top of the draft at the position.
— Jedrick Wills Jr.® ➕🌎☄️💕 (@JWills73) January 4, 2020
Michigan WR Donovan Peoples-Jones (junior)
If you looked strictly at the statistics (103 catches, 1,327 yards, nine TDs in 37 games), you might think Peoples-Jones is making a mistake declaring for the 2020 draft. But we’re here to tell you he has some big supporters in the NFL who believe Peoples-Jones was never utilized especially well with the Wolverines. Consistency remains an issue, and he hasn’t stayed healthy throughout his career, but Peoples-Jones possesses top-40 talent and could surprise some people with where he ends up. He’s well built at 6-2 and 208 pounds, extremely intelligent and has the potential to be a far better pro than a college player.
Forever Go Blue !! 💙 pic.twitter.com/310Z8NnKiX
— Donovan Peoples-Jones (@dpeoplesjones) January 4, 2020
Ohio State CB Shaun Wade (redshirt sophomore)
In a mild upset, Wade is headed back to school for what could be another run at a championship for the Buckeyes. Wade manned the nickel at OSU and still has some room for growth, but he was bandied about in the top-50 range for his upside and versatility had he declared. Wade likely will be expected to man one of the outside CB spots next season that will be vacated with the losses of Jeffrey Okudah and Damon Arnette Jr.
Georgia S Richard LeCounte III (junior)
The Bulldogs received some great news when LeCounte announced he was returning to school for next season. He’s a rangy, instinctive safety who could be asked to take over more of a leadership role with J.R. Reed graduating. We believe LeCounte could rise into the first- or second-round range in 2021 with a strong final season.
Year 4 Let’s Do It !! pic.twitter.com/TJ7jdSPN0Y
— Richard LeCounte III (@LilEasy_35) January 4, 2020
Fresno State OG Netane Muti (junior)
The talented guard has declared for the 2020 NFL draft, and if his health concerns are answered Muti could be considered one of the better interior offensive line prospects in the class. But Muti hasn’t played a full season since 2017, missing the entire 2018 season with an Achilles injury and missing all but three games this season with a foot injury. There just frankly isn’t a lot of recent tape on the 6-foot-3, 307-pound Muti, and his evaluation is extremely complicated. He might be a Day 2 talent, but Day 3 appears to be his most likely landing spot with all the questions.
The Armor of God. Ephesians 6:10-20 🙏🏽 pic.twitter.com/JPeYNEFio2
— Netane Muti🇹🇴 (@netane_muti52) January 4, 2020
Wisconsin RB Jonathan Taylor (junior)
The dominoes keep falling! One of the strongest RB classes in recent memory got even deeper with Taylor’s (expected) announcement to join the 2020 NFL draft.
Taylor has been the best running back in college football over the course of the past three years combined, and he should test very well at the NFL combine as well. The two biggest concerns for NFL evaluators will be Taylor’s fumbles (18 in three seasons) and his contributions to the passing game, but he has elite production, character and athleticism, so it’s hard to imagine him falling out of the first 50 or so picks in April.
Georgia RB D’Andre Swift (junior)
The Bulldogs star made his NFL intentions official on Friday and should compete with Ohio State RB J.K. Dobbins to be the first running back off the board.
Swift was limited in the Sugar Bowl because of a shoulder injury that he suffered late in the season. But he was fantastic when he was healthy. Swift rushed for 1,218 yards and seven touchdowns on just 196 carries. That strong junior season came after he had 163 carries for 1,049 yards and 10 touchdowns as a sophomore. Swift averaged over six yards a carry in each of his three seasons with the Bulldogs.
He also can be a receiving threat out of the backfield. Swift had 73 catches for 666 yards and five scores in his career. Whoever drafts him will pick up a three-down back that can contribute right away.
Washington RB Saivon Ahmed (junior)
Ahmed declares after a junior season spent as Washington’s No. 1 back. He had 1,020 yards and 11 touchdowns on 188 carries in his first season as the Huskies’ featured rusher. Ahmed spent the previous two seasons as the No. 2 back behind Myles Gaskin and rushed for 608 yards and seven scores in 2018.
Ahmed likely projects as a day three selection in this loaded running back draft class. His departure means that Washington will have a new starting quarterback and a new starting running back in addition to a new offensive coordinator in new coach Jimmy Lake’s first season in 2020.
Ohio State EDGE Chase Young (junior)
Well, the big fish is in the pond. It’s not surprising to hear officially, but the Buckeyes’ extremely talented pass rusher has entered the 2020 draft pool. He was the best defender in college football last season and is expected to be the No. 2 overall pick in a few months’ time — either to the Washington Redskins or to some other team trading up. There just aren’t too many reasonable scenarios where Young falls past the third pick, in our minds. He’s a rare, game-changing talent who might earn a pre-draft grade even higher than Nick Bosa, last year’s No. 2 overall selection (and Young’s former teammate) who is having a tremendous rookie season.
James 1:17... Buckeye For Life...✌🏽❤️ pic.twitter.com/symHLRRuCB
— CY2 (@youngchase907) January 3, 2020
Notre Dame TE Cole Kmet (junior)
Ladies and gentlemen, we have a new TE1 for the 2020 class. After Kmet got back into the swing of things following a broken collarbone that derailed the start of his season. But it was clear to us that Kmet was just a different breed from the other prospects at the position we’d been studying. The 6-6, 258-pound Kmet is still learning to harness his power as a run blocker, but he’s shown some real skill for catching the ball after a fairly limited role his first two seasons in South Bend. The Irish have been cranking out the TE talent for years, but in our mind Kmet eventually has the chance to be their best tight end since Tyler Eifert. We’ll say Kmet projects to the top 50 picks now, but he likely will rise into the first-round discussion before long.
Alabama OT Alex Leatherwood (junior)
Leatherwood announced on Twitter that he had “unfinished business” and would be returning to school in 2020. This is huge for Bama, obviously, as Leatherwood took a step forward as the team’s left tackle this past season. NFL scouts have been intrigued with his development after shifting from right guard, but the first-round buzz seemed to taper off quite a bit as the season wore on. In the 2021 draft, Leatherwood could be one of the first few tackles selected with a strong senior season.
Thank you for the endless support Bama Nation! We’re coming for it all in 2020! pic.twitter.com/qMToSUPQp7
— Alex Leatherwood (@Alskee_) January 2, 2020
Oklahoma LB Kenneth Murray (junior)
The clear leader of the Sooners’ defense, Murray has opted to declare for the 2020 NFL draft. The 6-2, 249-pound team captain was OU’s leading tackler with 102 (17 for loss), and he added four sacks and five QB hits in a strong 2019 campaign. As the season wore on, NFL scouts became more enamored with his striking ability, his closing speed and his strong range. Murray will whiff on tackles on occasion and might not be an exceptional tester at the NFL scouting combine, but our belief is that he’s the second-best LB prospect (behind Clemson’s Isaiah Simmons) and could be a late first-round pick in a year where the position is considered thin.
— Kenneth Murray (@Kmurrayy_9) January 2, 2020
Ohio State CB Jeffrey Okudah (junior)
Following his brilliant performance in the playoff semifinals against Clemson, Okudah has declared for the 2020 NFL draft. This was widely expected given that Buckeyes sources have told us they didn’t expect Okudah to last longer than the top 10 if he were to come out early. The 6-1, 199-pound press-man corner has stepped up his game in a three-pick, nine-PBU season, shutting down nearly every receiver he faced in 2019. Even with some missed tackles late in the season marring his scouting report, Okudah could be drafted as high as the third overall pick, and we think the top 10 is his floor.
Penn State WR KJ Hamler (redshirt sophomore)
A great WR class just got another boost from the inclusion of Hamler, who declared for the NFL a few hours before the calendar flipped. The 5-9, 174-pound Hamler is a speed merchant in the mold of DeSean Jackson and could pump some life into a vertical passing game. In his two seasons (26 games) in Happy Valley, Hamler caught 98 passes for 1,658 yards (16.9-yard average) for 13 TDs. He also rushed 17 times for 87 . yards and a TD and was a dangerous punt and kick returner. Hamler might be considered a first-round lock — especially if he runs one of the fastest 40-yard dashes, as expected — in a normal year, but the loaded crop at the position could push him into the early part of Day 2.
Texas A&M WR Quartney Davis (junior)
Davis has entered the NFL draft but has some work to do to separate himself in a crowded WR class. He set career highs this season with 54 receptions and 616 receiving yards and had a solid 2018 season but battled injuries early in his career. But even if he never makes it in the NFL, Davis etched his name in Aggies lore with the game-winning score in the seven-OT, 74-72 win over LSU (the Tigers’ last loss, by the way) in 2018. We project him as a possible Day 3 draft pick.
Thank You Texas A&M University! Gig’em 👍🏾 pic.twitter.com/iCV75FmVna
— Quartney Davis (@QuartneyDavis1) December 31, 2019
Notre Dame RB Tony Jones Jr. (redshirt junior)
The 5-11, 220-pound Jones, coming off his best seasons with the Irish, has entered the NFL draft. He ran for 857 yards and six touchdowns and caught 15 passes for 104 yards and a score in 12 games. His NFL projection is tricky, as he’s battled injuries and hasn’t been extensively used in a featured role. But if Jones can test well, he has a chance to be drafted and vie for an NFL roster spot.
— Tony Jones Jr. (@TonnJoness) December 31, 2019
Ohio State RB J.K. Dobbins (junior)
Following a brilliant college semifinal performance against Clemson, Dobbins unsurprisingly has thrown his hat into the 2020 NFL draft ring. The 5-10, 214-pound Dobbins crossed the 2,000-yard rushing plateau in the game and finished the season with 21 rush TDs, plus 23 catches for 247 yards and two more scores. After a so-so 2018 season, Dobbins now has entered the late first-round discussion, reminding us a bit of Mark Ingram, the former 28th overall pick of the New Orleans Saints in 2011.
I will forever be a buckeye! ❤️ pic.twitter.com/5TFhsPto9l
— Jk dobbins (@Jkdobbins22) December 30, 2019
Florida State DT Marvin Wilson (junior)
This surprises us a bit, but Wilson has said he will return to FSU under new head coach Mike Norvell. This is a big win for the Seminoles, as Wilson was one of the best defensive linemen in college football this season prior to suffering a season-ending hand injury in early November. Had he come out, Wilson projected as a top-50 selection, possibly even a late first-rounder. We now think he can vie for the top half of Round 1 in 2021 with a strong senior season.
— FSU Football (@FSUFootball) December 30, 2019
Michigan State CB Josiah Scott (junior)
The Spartans’ best defensive back has declared for the draft. Undersized at 5-10 and 175 pounds, Scott nonetheless led the team with three interceptions and eight passes broken up. Although he had a few rough outings, such as the Indiana game (two TDs allowed, two penalties), his natural cover skills are interesting. The question will be whether he can hold up to the grind of the NFL after missing parts of two games this season. Scott also hasn’t played much in the slot since his freshman year in 2017, but that could end up being his NFL position.
After gathering info, this is the best decision for me... THANK YOU MICHIGAN STATE 💚💚 pic.twitter.com/57PKPikOiN
— Josiah Scott (@JosiahScott7) December 30, 2019
Oklahoma WR CeeDee Lamb (junior)
Arguably the best receiver in Sooners history, Lamb bid farewell to the program on Sunday when he declared for the 2020 NFL draft. A no-doubt first-round pick, Lamb will now vie to be the first wide receiver selected. His length, quickness, downfield ability and ball skills are all first-rate, and there could be some teams that will grade Lamb higher than anyone else at his position. A special talent.
Miami (Fla.) RB DeeJay Dallas (junior)
Dallas has opted to declare for the 2020 NFL draft, and he’s one of our favorite sleeper prospects at an extremely deep position in this class. He led the Hurricanes with a career-high 693 rush yards and eight touchdowns, also adding 14 receptions for 140 yards and two more scores. His career numbers are modest, he had to visit the school's sports psychologist to curb his fumbling issues earlier in his career and battled an elbow injury kept him out of the bowl-game loss. But Dallas’ toughness, passion, vision and shiftiness make him a fascinating Day 3 prospect.
Miami (Fla.) CB Trajan Bandy (junior)
Bandy announced on Instagram that he was declaring for the 2020 draft, citing “a number of unforeseen off the field circumstances and discussions with my family.” Although the undersized junior didn’t have a big final season (29 tackles, three sacks, a forced fumble, fumble recovery and eight pass breakups), he picked off four passes his first two seasons. At 5-9 and 190 pounds, Bandy projects to the slot, but he’ll have to clean up his tackling to get a look prior to the first four or five rounds, we suspect.
Trajan Bandy announces he has declared for the NFL draft. pic.twitter.com/0SESGFszFo
— David Furones (@DavidFurones_) December 27, 2019
Temple C Matt Hennessy (redshirt junior)
We speculated that Hennessy could declare in our bowl game prospects preview, and our gamble paid off. Hennessy will enter the 2020 draft mix, and his timing might be good with next year shaping up as a less-than-stellar group of interior OL prospects. The 6-4, 295-pound Hennessy has been a fixture at center the past three seasons and has graded out by Pro Football Focus as one of the better pass-blocking centers in college football the past two seasons. Hennessy lacks elite anchor strength, can be too penalty-prone (holds and false starts) and dealt with a knee injury. However, he’s smart, tough and effective and projects to the middle rounds.
TCU DL Ross Blacklock (junior)
The 6-4, 305-pound Blacklock has opted to declare for the 2020 draft. He was named first-team All-Big 12 and was honorable mention for the conference’s Defensive Lineman of the Year award. Blacklock has grown on us during the scouting process, playing very well this season following an Achilles injury that wiped out his 2018 season. Although his stats were not eye-opening in 2019 (40 tackles, 3.5 sacks), he’s a respected worker and gets a good push up front. The early projection for him is the third or fourth round.
Washington QB Jacob Eason (redshirt junior)
Eason declared after his one season with the Huskies, and it’s not a surprise. Even after an up-and down season, there were enough high notes in the 6-foot-6, 220-pound QB’s season to project him as a possible top-50 pick. The Georgia transfer has a big arm, great size, very good athleticism and makes as many high-end throws as any QB in the country. There are some frustrating moments on tape, though, as Eason still looks like an undeveloped processor and reader of defenses. Still, the upside is too high for him to likely fall too far. It wouldn’t be a shock if he ended up as a mid-first-round pick.
Boise State OT Ezra Cleveland (junior)
Cleveland has opted to turn pro, the Idaho Press first reported. The two-time first-team all-Mountain West tackle could be tried inside or outside in the NFL, but he has potential to be taken on Day 2 of the draft. Some scouts have wondered if he has the requisite strength to be an elite protector, but his technique is sound and his athleticism should grade as well above average.
Appalachian State RB Darrynton Evans (junior)
The 5-11, 190-pound back has opted to enter the 2020 NFL draft after a breakout season with the Mountaineers. Following an injury to Jalin Moore, Evans stepped up as the lead back with a Sun Belt-record with 24 touchdowns, plus 1,480 rush yards, leading to him being named the Sun Belt Conference offensive player of the year. It’s a deep RB crop, which could push Evans to Day 3 of the draft, but there’s a spot for Evans’ big-play ability.
— Darrynton Evans 🐶 (@ItzLiveee) December 25, 2019
Arkansas RB Rakeem Boyd (junior)
Boyd is staying in school, he announced, and it’s a huge win for new Razorbacks head coach Sam Pittman and offensive coordinator Kendal Briles. Arkansas is coming off a tough season, but Boyd was a clear bright spot with 1,130 rush yards and eight TDs on the ground. The 6-foot, 213-pound back should be one of the centerpieces of the offense next season again.
Wake Forest EDGE Carlos Basham (redshirt junior) and WR Sage Surratt (redshirt sophomore)
Great news for the Demon Deacons: Both Basham and Surratt have announced they’ll be coming back for another season in 2020. Surratt isn’t a huge surprise, even after a strong season, as he suffered a season-ending injury in November. But “Boogie” Basham was earning some Day 2 mention had he declared for this season, and he has a chance to be one of the top 10 or 15 seniors in the 2021 class. And if you’re following our Twitter account, you’ll know that we reported QB Jamie Newman is also likely to return after considering his options to declare for this upcoming draft. Wake should be a tough team again next year.
— Wake Forest Football (@WakeFB) December 21, 2019
Auburn EDGE-DL Nick Coe (redshirt junior)
Coe didn’t have a statistically impressive 2019 season compared to what he did in 2018, but the Tigers’ versatile lineman is someone who intrigues us in the 2020 class now that he’s opted to declare. Auburn used him more as a stand-up rusher this season, and the results were decidedly mixed. At 6-5 and 291 pounds, he’s better suited rushing from a three-point stance and not asked to scrape and flow laterally as much. We think he’s a hidden gem of sorts based on his breakout 2018 tape if he can prove to stay healthy and revive his stock a bit. Coe will sit out Auburn’s bowl game to start his draft preparation.
Auburn DE Nick Coe has announced on Instagram that he will not play in the Outback Bowl and will forgo his remaining eligibility with the Tigers. pic.twitter.com/IeZusY2mQS
— Justin Ferguson (@JFergusonAU) December 20, 2019
Stanford TE Colby Parkinson (junior)
Back in July, we listed 10 dark-horse candidates to make a run at the 2020 first round, and Parkinson was on that list. Looking back, we clearly missed on this one, even though Stanford’s offensive issues this season clearly had a pretty big effect on him. But Parkinson has entered the 2020 draft fray and has the size (6-foot-7, 251 pounds) and the high-point ability to be an intriguing TE option and a candidate to go higher than expected in a weaker crop at the position. Right now, we’d slate him as a Day 3 option before he tests.
Excited to fulfill my childhood dream! Go Card 🌲 #StanU #NFLDraft2020
“O Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you; I will praise your name, for you have done wonderful things, plans formed of old, faithful and sure.”
Isaiah 25:1 pic.twitter.com/hkTVG5wMOR
— Colby Parkinson (@CJ51) December 20, 2019
Colorado WR K.D. Nixon (junior)
We mentioned earlier this month that Nixon announced that he was set to enter the 2020 draft pool — and we frankly wondered about the wisdom of the decision. Well, someone talked some sense into the talented receiver, and he now has said he’s coming back to school. With Laviska Shenault Jr. and Tony Brown off to the NFL, Nixon could be the Buffaloes’ best deep threat next season.
UCF RB Adrian Killins Jr. (senior)
Killins is a senior but he appears to be opting out of playing in the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl against Marshall with this announcement. One of the smallest (5-8, 168 pounds) but fastest players (sub-4.4 time) in the 2020 draft class, Killins projects in the Tarik Cohen-DeAnthony Thomas mold as a big-play threat as a runner, receiver and returner.
— AK9 (@ADRIANKILLINS9) December 19, 2019
Georgia OT Andrew Thomas (junior)
No surprise here, as Thomas has opted to declare for the 2020 draft. He’s an easy mover for such a massive man, and even in a top-heavy class of talented offensive tackles, Thomas has a chance to grade out as some teams’ OT1. There are some technique issues in his game that Thomas must work out of his game, but the extraordinary athleticism he displays will make him a top-15 pick, we believe, barring some unexpected turn of events. Bad news for Georgia fans is that Thomas has chosen not to play in the Sugar Bowl as he starts his draft prep, but if there’s a silver lining it’s that this could allow Isaiah Wilson — another talented Bulldogs blocker — to perhaps slide over from the right side and show NFL scouts he also can play left tackle.
Bulldog Nation, thank you for the memories ❤️🙏🏾 pic.twitter.com/nYXgMzxfaW
— Andrew Thomas (@allforgod_55) December 17, 2019
Louisiana Tech CB Amik Robertson (junior)
It’s not really a surprise that Robertson would declare for the 2020 NFL draft, as he has a 5-year-old son to take care of, and Robertson has spoken openly about wanting to provide financially for him. But on top of that, he’s had a prolific career as one of the best ballhawks in college football with 14 interceptions over the past three seasons. Robertson’s size (5-9, 184 pounds) could limit him in the NFL, and he can tend to gamble too much. But his playmaking ability, feisty edge and great feet are undeniable. Robertson is clearly a tricky prospect to evaluate and won’t be for everyone, but we think he could end up in the top 100 picks for the right NFL team.
Not too many people get this opportunity... its best i take advantage of it. Thanks for all the love and support from my bulldog brothers and bulldog community💙 pic.twitter.com/fg2xhJKTq2
— Amik Robertson (@_YoungTruth7) December 17, 2019
Louisville OT Mekhi Becton (junior)
Becton has declared for the 2020 draft and will skip the Cardinals’ bowl game against Mississippi State on Dec. 30. He might be the largest prospect in the entire class at 6-foot-7 and 369 pounds, but Becton pops off the tape with how well he moves for his size. There are sure to be Trent Brown comps for Becton, who might be top-60 selection — with a shot at the first round — with his athleticism, sheer mass, reach and ability to play left tackle in the pros. This is a man who scored a rushing TD for Louisville, so it’s going to be fascinating to see how he tests. There have been about two dozen offensive linemen north of 345 pounds at the NFL scouting combine the past two decades, and only one (Cordy Glenn, 2012) broke the 5.2-second mark in the 40-yard dash.
Stanford OT Walker Little (junior)
The Cardinal’s standout left tackle had his season derailed by a knee injury in the opener against Northwestern, and he announced Monday that he plans to return to school next season. It could pay off in a big way, as Little has the talent, size and athleticism to emerge as a first-round pick in 2021. In this year’s class, however, his projection would have been a lot murkier. We’ll be doing a lot of work on the 6-7, 312-pound Little this summer with the 2020 college season giving him the chance to reemerge as a standout.
Utah State LB David Woodward (junior)
The Aggies’ playmaker has declared for the 2020 draft following a season-ending injury (undisclosed) he suffered in November. Injuries are a big part of Woodward’s story, so his medical evaluation will be crucial — he suffered two broken vertebrae that caused him to miss his entire junior year and required him to wear a back brace. But Woodward was a standout performer in college, living up to the billing that comes with wearing the No. 9 jersey shared by NFL players from the school, Bobby Wagner and Kyler Fackrell. In a weaker LB class, Woodward could rise as an off-the-ball prospect, but his health is a major worry.
— David Woodward (@DavidWoodward33) December 16, 2019
Florida State RB Cam Akers (junior)
The 5-11, 212-pound Akers had a bounce-back season, rushing for 1,142 yards and 14 TDs in 11 games — even in a disappointing season for the Seminoles. But he announced he’s ready to make the jump to the NFL and will not participate in FSU’s bowl game against Arizona State. Although Akers can try to make too many moves when a more straight-ahead running style is called for, his ability to cut and go should make him a good fit in the league. As we’ve said many times, this is a loaded RB class, so his landing spot is tough to pinpoint now. But Akers will have a shot to be taken on Day 2 of the draft with a strong pre-draft showing.
Utah CB Jaylon Johnson (junior)
It’s not a big surprise that Johnson has announced he’s declaring for the NFL draft in 2020 following a strong season for the Utes outside of a few shaky games. The 6-foot, 195-pound corner thrived in a talented secondary, displaying toughness and physicality in man coverage. Johnson intercepted only two passes this season, which was down from his four picks in 2018, but we feel he played better overall in 2019 even if he can be grabby and overaggressive at times. A second-round landing spot is very likely, but he could sneak into the end of Round 1 with a strong showing prior to the draft or drop to Round 3 in a fairly deep group of corners.
Commit Your Actions To The Lord And Your Plans Will Succeed - Proverbs 16:3 🙏🏾 pic.twitter.com/A8BVIy17hA
— Jaylon Johnson (@NBAxJay1) December 14, 2019
Texas A&M DT Justin Madubuike (redshirt junior)
It’s not at all a shock that the 6-3, 304-pound Madubuike has opted to declare for the draft, as he’s a fourth-year junior who faced an absolute gauntlet of a schedule (five opponents ranked in the top 10 when playing the Aggies) and improved on his production from last season. Madubuike is a penetrating 3-technique who falls just below the upper-tier of DT prospects in this class but could work his way into the top 50 or 60 selections with a strong pre-draft process.
“Leave a mark they can’t erase, neither space nor time”- HOV❤️ pic.twitter.com/vsTlG9cZM1
— Justin Madubuike (@MadubuikeJustin) December 12, 2019
Mississippi State RB Kylin Hill (junior)
The 5-11, 215-pounder is the latest to enter the 2020 class of running backs, which could be among the deepest in years. The buzz on Hill has been surprisingly quiet for a player who rushed for 1,347 and 10 TDs this season and who hasn’t lost a fumble since midway through his freshman season in 2017. We expect that to change after the NFL scouting combine, as Hill reportedly can bench press 400 pounds and vertical jump 35 inches. If he tests well there and shows he can be a bigger factor in the passing game, Hill has a chance to crack the top 100 picks.
Arizona State RB Eno Benjamin (junior)
Benjamin has been one of our favorite studies in the 2020 NFL draft pool, and he now officially is entering said pool. Graduating in three years, Benjamin has been tremendous for the Sun Devils the past two seasons, scoring a combined 30 touchdowns over 25 games. It appears that the 5-10, 201-pound Benjamin will not play in ASU’s bowl game against Florida State and will start prepping for the draft. It’s an extremely deep RB class, and Benjamin has some things working against him, but we love his slashing, pinballing, high-effort style as a runner and believe he can still work his way into the top 125 picks. We’re still working to confirm whether Benjamin is eligible for the Senior Bowl, but it appears so; we’d assume he’d receive an invite to the game, especially at a position that typically lags a bit behind down in Mobile in terms of talent with so many underclassmen coming out at that spot.
Eno Benjamin is
🔱 Words & Actions
📚 Scholar Baller
🎓 Graduated in 3 years pic.twitter.com/aw5ENE8P9n
— Sun Devil Football (@ASUFootball) December 11, 2019
Utah State QB Jordan Love
Yahoo Sports’ Dan Wetzel was onto something with his tweet indicating the options Love was facing: stay in college — likely taking a grad-transfer season elsewhere — or declaring for the 2020 draft. Love chose the latter, which adds a layer of intrigue to the QB class this spring. We’re connecting dots here, one might surmise that Love received enough assurance that he could be a first-round grade, or at worst a second-rounder, before making his decision. But point blank: Love is a high-risk, high-reward prospect.
Boston College RB A.J. Dillion (junior)
Good scoop here from Yahoo Sports’ Pete Thamel, who reports that Dillon will declare for the 2020 draft following a 1,685-yard rushing season in 2019. Dillon also will skip the Eagles’ bowl game against Cincinnati. The 6-foot, 251-pound Dillon could run in the 4.4-second range in the 40-yard dash, per Thamel, which would be one of the best times for a back that size since T.J. Duckett ran a 4.45 at 254 pounds back in 2002. This is shaping up as a loaded RB class, and Dillon’s powerful style would have been more appreciated in the NFL a generation or two ago. However, there’s always a place for a bulldozing back with great athleticism in the league provided that Dillon can convince NFL evaluators he can factor into the passing game after catching only 21 passes (on 27 targets) for 237 yards and two scores in 35 college games.
Colorado WR K.D. Nixon (junior)
That’s now two Buffaloes receivers who intend to enter the 2020 draft — first Laviska Shenault Jr., and now Nixon. The 5-8, 185-pound Nixon is coming off a 35-catch, 465-yard, three-TD season and was only third on the team in targets. He’s a deep threat who is capable of taking the top off of a defense, a talented returner and even lined up occasionally as a Wildcat QB. But drops have been an issue at times and his size will work against him unless Brown can turn in a blazing 40-yard dash.
— KD Nixon (@Superstarnixon) December 10, 2019
Kentucky WR Lynn Bowden Jr. (junior)
Listing Bowden as a receiver only tells part of his story. The junior wideout was asked to switch to quarterback — a position he played in high school — and essentially save the Wildcats’ season amid a spate of injuries there. Bowden was tremendous, adding an incredible run threat at the position, and now he’s ready to take the step to the NFL. He declared for the 2020 draft on Monday, having mentioned previously that he has a young son to provide for, and will be a fascinating evaluation. Although Bowden spent more games (seven) at QB than at receiver (five) this season, his running ability — 1,136 rushing yards in those seven games, winning three SEC Offensive Player of the Week awards along the way — display the type of athlete the 6-1, 199-pound Bowden is. In his three years in Lexington, Bowden also caught 114 passes for 1,303 yards (11.4 average) with six TDs and was a dangerous punt and kick returners. The Randall Cobb comps are already in full swing.
— Lynn Bowden Jr (@LynnBowden_1) December 9, 2019
Washington TE Hunter Bryant (junior)
A candidate to be one of the first tight ends selected, Bryant officially announced his intention to enter the 2020 NFL draft. Although injuries limited him to nine and five games, respectively, in 2017 and 2018, the 6-2, 239-pound Bryant has stayed mostly healthy this season. He caught 52 passes for 825 yards and three scores this season and was on a tear down the stretch since his six-catch, 102-yard, two-TD game against Utah in November. Bryant’s health is a worry, as is his less-than-ideal size. But we think a top-50 selection feels likely given his excellent downfield receiving ability. He’s in the Irv Smith-Noah Fant mold but might not test quite as well as Fant or Evan Engram did at the NFL scouting combine.
The Marathon Continues... pic.twitter.com/OOnGFkYB4N
— hunter bryant (@blackbeast88) December 6, 2019
Florida CB C.J. Henderson (junior)
Henderson announced Friday that he will enter the 2020 NFL draft and — bad news for Gators fans — will not play in the school’s bowl game. The 6-1, 191-pound Henderson has battled an ankle injury this season that kept him out a few games, and his tackling issues have been a big topic this season in the scouting community. But Henderson has press-man cover skills and was called by Florida defensive coordinator Todd Grantham the best corner he’s ever coached. If Georgia CB Deandre Baker could be the 30th overall pick last spring, there’s no reason to think that Henderson can’t be taken in that range — or perhaps higher. At worst, we feel he’ll be a second-rounder. The NFL takes risks on talented corners with length, simple as that.
Mississippi State CB Cameron Dantzler (junior)
The 6-2, 185-pound Dantzler has been held back by injuries this season, but he has decided to declare early for the 2020 NFL draft. There are a lot of fans of his game, but answering those questions will be a big part of his evaluation, as he sat out multiple stretches of games this season with undisclosed issues. Dantzler has man-coverage skills and has a nose for the ball, but he also can be overaggressive and might not be able to handle more physical NFL receivers. Still, with his ball skills and length, Dantzler has a chance to land on Day 2 of the draft. His LSU tape this season was impressive, and scouts will look back at his strong 2018 performance as well to get a clear picture of his potential.
God has a plan for me. I want to thank everyone for the success I have had a Mississippi state. I want to thank my teammates, the coaches, and the best fans in the world for this wonderful journey. I will never forget the fun times we had. #HailState pic.twitter.com/a1bjDaCAUx
— Cam Dantzler (@camdantzler3) December 6, 2019
Michigan EDGE-LB Josh Uche (redshirt junior)
The Wolverines’ pass rusher — not surprisingly — has declared for the 2020 NFL draft. We say that less because he’s a surefire high-round pick and more that he’s a fourth-year junior who is eligible (and will be playing in) the Senior Bowl. Uche has a really interesting backstory, with his parents emigrating from Nigeria and Uche’s father originally pulling his son out of football for Josh to focus on academics in high school. But Uche developed into a good pass rusher at Michigan, and now the question is whether he can do so in the NFL at 6-foot-2 and 255 pounds. If he can show at the Senior Bowl that he can play on his feet, Uche could land in the top 100 picks.
Maryland RB Javon Leake
That’s now two Maryland running backs who have entered the 2020 NFL draft. We were a bit surprised to see the 6-foot, 210-pound Leake enter early, although he was named the Big Ten Return Specialist of the Year with a 26.6-yard average on kickoffs. Leake had 10 or fewer handoffs in every game this season save for one (23 against Indiana), but a 7.0 rushing average (and 7.7 over three seasons) is impressive, along with his eight TDs. But ball security (five fumbles on 214 career touches) and lack of receiving prowess are big concerns. Leake will have to prove to NFL evaluators he’s worth a Day 3 pick during the pre-draft process.
Terp nation thank you for everything!! ❤️🐢 pic.twitter.com/1xYBz6tNWJ
— JLeake (@ny_king20) December 4, 2019
UCF WR Gabriel Davis (junior)
The 6-3, 212-pound Davis announced Wednesday morning that he would be declaring for the 2020 NFL draft. This is not a huge shock considering the season Davis had, establishing himself easily as the best wideout in the AAC. He caught 72 passes for 1,241 yards (fifth-most in FBS) and 12 TDs (tied for eighth in FBS) in 2019, making clear strides in each of his three college seasons. The testing portion of the draft process will be important for Davis, who has good long speed but might lack suddenness. But even in a very deep WR class in 2020, Davis could land in the first 100 selections.
— Gabriel Davis (@DavisGB1) December 4, 2019
Oregon State WR Isaiah Hodgins
Hodgins busted onto the college football scene with a big season in 2019, and now he plans to take his game to the next level. On Tuesday night, Hodgins announced he’d be declaring for the 2020 NFL draft, making a great receiver crop even deeper. Hodgins caught 86 passes (sixth-most in FBS) for 1,171 yards (ninth in FBS) and 13 touchdowns (tied for fifth). He also added 52 grabs of 10 or more yards, which was second-most in FBS this season. The son of former NFL fullback James Hodgins has really nice body control at 6-foot-4 and 209 pounds, and he was credited with a mere one dropped pass this season by Pro Football Focus. Some scouts have dinged him a bit for raw route running, but there’s no question he’s ascending and could end up pushing to be a top-100 pick.
Long talks with God...🤞🏽 pic.twitter.com/gwFB6lcYdK
— Isaiah Hodgins (@IsaiahHodgins) December 4, 2019
Penn State EDGE Yetur Gross-Matos (junior)
It’s been fun to watch Gross-Matos develop this season, turning promise into production. And in the midst of a junior season in which he’s leading the Nittany Lions in sacks (8.5), tackles for loss (14) and QB hits (seven), Gross-Matos said Tuesday he’ll skip his senior season and enter the 2020 NFL draft. The good news for Penn State: Gross-Matos isn’t planning on skipping the team’s bowl game. We feel like there’s a strong chance Gross-Matos ends up in Round 1, barring some unexpected turn of events. The 6-5, 259-pound edge rusher is a long-levered, athletic specimen who has developed a better feel for the game. When Gross-Matos goes after the QB, he has a plan now, which wasn’t always the case earlier in his career. And his next life plan is the NFL, where he’ll be highly coveted.
Maryland RB Anthony McFarland Jr. (redshirt sophomore)
When we spoke to the electric (and well-dressed) McFarland back at Big Ten Media Days in July, we asked him what the deciding factor would be for his decision to enter the 2020 NFL draft or return to school. His answer? “Health.” That makes sense in light of Tuesday’s news that he is planning on coming out, considering he was hampered by an ankle most of the season. That hurt McFarland’s production after a hot start to the 2019 campaign, but his darting athleticism is an NFL-caliber trait — as a runner, receiver and returner. Where he ends up will be fascinating, though, because his durability will be questioned at 5-foot-8 and 193 pounds. We could envision a Day 2 landing spot with a strong pre-draft process.
Colorado WR Laviska Shenault Jr.
It’s not really a surprise that Shenault would forgo his final season to enter the 2020 draft. Even with a down season statistically in which he was playing hurt, Shenault started reminding people of his immense talent with a strong finish down the stretch. The Buffaloes played him everywhere — out wide, in the slot, in the backfield, as an occasional returner and even as a Wildcat QB. We believe that the 6-2, 220-pound playmaker will answer questions about his health and test well, which should make him a top-40 selection come April.
Missouri C Trystan Colon-Castillo (redshirt junior)
Consider us a bit surprised at Colon-Castillo’s decision to come out with a year of eligibility remaining, but he turns 22 years old in March, has started since his freshman season and he might have been compelled to declare now following the dismissal of Mizzou head coach Barry Odom. That’s now three of the first five known underclassmen in college football to declare coming from the Tigers. Based on our initial looks, Colon-Castillo is a better pass blocker than run blocker, although his performance — and that of the entire Mizzou OL — appeared to take a step backward in 2019 after a strong performance in 2018.
Thank you mizzou for everything🐯✊🏼 pic.twitter.com/P1yYScRTO4
— Trystan Castillo🇵🇷 (@TCastillo55) December 3, 2019
Penn State C Michal Menet (junior)
It’s not a surprise that Menet would return for his final season in 2020 — if anything the surprise is that he might have considered it. Menet has been a solid starter for the Nittany Lions, and he’s a team captain, but a tough outing a few weeks ago at Ohio State might have firmed up any doubts he might have had about whether declaring early was a good idea. But this is another key player returning to Penn State next season, which makes you think head coach James Franklin could be back with a shiny, new contract in the days to come.
— Michal Menet (@Mike_Menet62) December 3, 2019
TCU WR Jalen Reagor (junior)
It was a trying season for Reagor and the Horned Frogs, who had an inconsistent passing game and finished 5-7, but the wideout announced his intention to enter the 2020 NFL draft. Reagor saw his receiving yards drop (from 1,061 in 2018 to 611 this season) as well as his TD grabs (from nine to five) with freshman QB Max Duggan taking over. But the book on Reagor is that the 5-11, 195-pound speedster remains extremely dangerous and could be a possible late first-round pick. The son of former NFL defensive tackle Montae Reagor is expected to be a huge tester at the NFL scouting combine, possible breaking the 4.3-second mark in the 40-yard dash.
Missouri TE Albert Okwuegbunam (redshirt junior)
Most draft pundits believed Okwuegbunam was planning on coming out this season after he at least flirted with the idea one year ago. It’s easy to see why the 6-5, 255-pound tight end could have fans with his easy movement skills and red-zone production. But Okwuegbunam hasn’t developed as hoped and was a major disappointment in the second half of the season as his hands and separation ability failed him more often than not. Even in a weaker tight end class, we’re not sure if Okwuegbunam has a chance to crack the draft’s first 50 picks after he was a popular first-round name in very early mock drafts.
Missouri DT Jordan Elliott (redshirt junior)
Elliott announced his intention to declare for the 2020 draft, and this one doesn’t surprise us a bit. The Texas transfer carried over a strong finish to his 2018 campaign and was Mizzou’s most impactful defender throughout the season. We highlighted the 6-4, 315-pound disruptor as a possible dark-horse first-rounder back in July, and our best guess right now is that he could fall somewhere in the Day 2 range — perhaps even early in Round 2.
Penn State TE Pat Freiermuth (sophomore)
The true sophomore technically was eligible because he was three years removed from his high-school graduation, spending a year at prep school before coming to Happy Valley. The Massachusetts native has been called “Baby Gronk” at times, but even in a breakout 2019 season, Freiermuth apparently wants to spend more time in college before testing the NFL waters. He announced on Twitter his intention to return to the Nittany Lions in 2020, which adds another talented TE name into the potential 2021 draft pool.
Arizona RB J.J. Taylor (redshirt junior)
The 5-6, 185-pound scatback was the first known underclassman to declare early for the 2020 NFL draft. He’s been set back by injury and a tough season in general for the Wildcats’ offense, but he has toughness and some receiving ability. We believe he’s a Day 3 pick at this time.
Notre Dame TE Cole Kmet (junior)
The 6-6, 258-pound junior has been a breakout performer despite suffering a broken collarbone in August. He’s the Irish’s second-leading receiver despite missing three games. But Kmet has said he will return to school and also play baseball again for Notre Dame (he’s been their closer) in the spring. Kmet could change his mind after the bowl game, as some scouts believe he could be a top-50 selection, but for now he joins what appears to be a loaded 2021 TE draft class.
Notre Dame OT Liam Eichenberg (junior)
The school has had a long, recent lineage of producing pro-caliber blockers, but Eichenberg said he wants to return for his senior season in 2020. The 6-6, 308-pound left tackle won the job in the spring and has improved his play down the stretch, despite committing a rash of penalties this season. He will dot some All-America teams next season and be in line to prove himself as a Day 1 or 2 NFL prospect in 2021.
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