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INDIANAPOLIS — With just about a month and a half left until the 2020 NFL Draft arrives on Thursday, April 23, it's time to bust out the first edition of the Colts.com positional rankings.
The research doesn't stop until the draft does, but as of now these are what we'd consider the best players in the upcoming draft, by their position.
This draft has some areas that are incredibly top-heavy, making it difficult to separate those involved at the top, but others have clear-cut top dogs and lack clear depth throughout the draft.
These rankings are weighed most heavily by players' performance on tape. There are other factors involved, however, such as on-field and off-field character as well as injury history.
There are some players who, although I have technically finished watching their tape, I have designated to go back and watch a little more to settle some tiebreakers. Look for our 2020 Colts.com NFL Draft Positional Big Board 2.0 to drop towards the end of this month.
- Joe Burrow, LSU
- Justin Herbert, Oregon
- Jordan Love, Utah State
- Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama
- Jacob Eason, Washington
No surprise, Burrow earns the top spot here. His leap from 2018 to 2019 was astronomical. His ability to work the pocket and escape pressure while keeping his eyes downfield and deliver strikes is unrivaled in this draft.
While Tagovailoa has been entrenched among the top of this class for about a year and a half, he, along with Herbert and Love, have high ceilings but also concerns that need quelled. A recent report that Tagovailoa cleared his four-month medical check on his surgically-repaired hip is certainly a step in the right direction, however.
Eason tops off the next group of quarterbacks that feature several intriguing prospects. He's another high-upside player that succeeded both in the SEC and the Pac-12.
- Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin
- D'Andre Swift, Georgia
- Zack Moss, Utah
- J.K. Dobbins, Ohio State
- Cam Akers, Florida State
This group lost some luster with Travis Etienne and Chuba Hubbard returning to school, but it's still an outstanding class of runners near the top. It seems like no one has the same order of top five, but it usually features a mix of the same guys.
Taylor takes my top spot here with his build, blend of vision and power and apparently, speed. Swift and Moss bring somewhat similar skillsets as three-down players, able to run inside and outside as well as contribute as receivers and pass protectors.
Dobbins and Akers are a couple of impressive playmakers who are able to hit the home run. Both could use some work in pass protection to prove they are true three-down backs.
- Jerry Jeudy, Alabama
- CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma
- Denzel Mims, Baylor
- Brandon Aiyuk, Arizona State
- Henry Ruggs III, Alabama
What a historic class of receivers this truly should be. Speed, size, length, mechanics, leaping ability — this group has everything you could want.
For my money, Jeudy is the top dog of a class that could have several different candidates for that honor. His blend of speed, quickness, hands and technical abilities should lead to a long, fruitful career, and he's drawn comparisons to current and potential future Hall-of-Fame wideouts.
Lamb and Mims bring length, athleticism and the ability to make the spectacular catch that makes it hard to take your eyes off of what they may do next. Aiyuk is somewhat similar to Jeudy as a well-balanced receiver who has quick feet, runs crisp routes and provides electricity after the catch.
Ruggs III is arguably the biggest wildcard among the top receivers, and is No. 1 for several smart analysts. He's got sportscar speed but not the body of work, production-wise, as some others. He is somewhat similar to Washington Redskins star Terry McLaurin last year as a speedster with obvious playmaking abilities and technical abilities, but who had to share the field in college with a group of other talented pass-catching stars.
- Hunter Bryant, Washington
- Adam Trautman, Dayton
- Brycen Hopkins, Purdue
- Cole Kmet, Notre Dame
- Thaddeus Moss, LSU
This isn't the most star-studded tight end class we've seen, but it's got some really good players, nonetheless. This group of five are all adequate blockers, but they really bring athleticism to the table as well. The majority can get downfield and also create some yards after the catch. Trautman is especially intriguing because he showed some dominant tape from the FCS level.
- Tristan Wirfs, Iowa
- Josh Jones, Houston
- Jedrick Wills Jr., Alabama
- Andrew Thomas, Georgia
- Mekhi Becton, Louisville
This is an incredibly deep class of tackles — especially those projected in the first two days of the draft. There could be at least six tackles taken in the first round and a dozen off the board inside the top 75 picks or so.
The Combine really showed off these guys' ability to move their enormous frames, especially Wirfs, who had a downright historic performance. Jones, Wills Jr., Thomas and Becton all appeared to cement themselves into the first round as well.
Who will be the first tackle off the board? Who knows. This is another position group in which there is no consensus; just a bunch of players who offer plenty of potential to love.
INTERIOR OFFENSIVE LINE
- Tyler Biadasz, Wisconsin
- Jonah Jackson, Ohio State
- Ben Bredeson, Michigan
- Lloyd Cushenberry III, LSU
- Cesar Ruiz, Michigan
The Big Ten churning out top offensive line prospects? Imagine that! Wisconsin takes my top spot this year with its center, Biadasz (not pronounced how it looks, but he fits the bill), pancaking his way to my top spot. This entire top group has that "dog" to its game where it wants to maul defenders and clear wide-open run lanes.
- Chase Young, Ohio State
- K'Lavon Chaisson, LSU
- Julian Okwara, Notre Dame
- Yetur Gross-Matos, Penn State
- Terrell Lewis, Alabama
Not only is Young this draft's top edge defender, but he is most people's top non-quarterback prospect in this draft. He's got an obvious blend of size, speed and athleticism that makes him a potentially dominant prospect. He has right-end pass-rushing ability in a left-end's frame.
Chaisson, Okwara and Lewis are a few athletic, bendy pass-rushers who offer a ton of upside projected over the next few years. Gross-Matos is a somewhat similar player with a little more overall size and length, but not quite as much athleticism.
INTERIOR DEFENSIVE LINE
- Derrick Brown, Auburn
- Neville Gallimore, Oklahoma
- Javon Kinlaw, South Carolina
- Ross Blacklock, TCU
- Justin Madubuike, Texas A&M
This defensive tackle class is pretty top-heavy before it loses a bit of its pop as you get about 10 or so-deep. Both Brown and Kinlaw offer great power and run-stuffing ability. Both need polish and development as interior pass rushers, but they show the traits to get there.
Gallimore, on the other hand is much more of an interior pass-rusher than a run-stopper like the other two. He moves like a defensive end in a defensive tackle's body and has a very high ceiling if he can maximize his talents.
Blacklock and Madubuike are a pair of three-technique tackles who have a lot of room to grow, but have that upside if they can work on things such as moves and counter moves to free themselves from blocks a little more often in order to affect run lanes and penetrate the backfield.
- Isaiah Simmons, Clemson
- Kenneth Murray, Oklahoma
- Patrick Queen, LSU
- Malik Harrison, Ohio State
- Zack Baun, Wisconsin
Simmons stands alone atop this class with an incredibly rare mix of size, speed and athleticism that would allow him to play just about anywhere on defense. Need him to play in the box and stop the run? Sure. He can also cover guys in the slot, back at safety or rush the passer. He can do it all.
Murray brings speed, range and tracking ability to the linebacker position, although he's going to be considered undersized for some teams. Likewise, Queen brings a similar skillset while not quite as aggressive, while Harrison has the size that any squad can fit into their scheme, but he's also got the open-field movement abilities of guys much smaller than him.
Baun is a bit of a different breed because you see him mixed in with both edge defenders and off-ball linebackers. Although he had 12.5 sacks in 2019, many see him as a jack-of-all trades linebacker that may never leave the field.
- Jeffrey Okudah, Ohio State
- Trevon Diggs, Alabama
- Jeff Gladney, TCU
- C.J. Henderson, Florida
- Kristian Fulton, LSU
Okudah is the no-doubt top corner in this class. Wide receivers, reporters — he shuts everyone down. There's nothing not to like about him, and his natural athleticism and dedication to being a technician shows he should be around for a long time.
Between Diggs, Gladney and Fulton, they all offer toughness, athleticism and sticky coverage. While Diggs is big, strong and fast, Gladney and Fulton are a little smaller but just as physical.
Henderson may very well be the second corner off the board after Okudah. He is not as physical, but is every bit as athletic and tight in coverage.
- Xavier McKinney, Alabama
- Grant Delpit, LSU
- Antoine Winfield Jr., Minnesota
- Kyle Dugger, Lenoir-Rhyne
- Alohi Gilman, Notre Dame
It's a total toss-up at the top of this group between McKinney and Delpit, including for me, as the two players share the same grade currently. McKinney is known as an off-field football geek who is often found studying and is widely appreciated by Alabama's coaching staff, like his predecessor Minkah Fitzpatrick. He's versatile and brings that tough, Crimson Tide defensive mentality. Delpit looked like a superstar on tape in 2018 but took a bit of a step back in 2019, many believe due to ankle and shoulder injuries. Still, Delpit flashed plenty of that playmaking ability in 2019.
After that, it's anyone's guess as to who will be selected next in the draft. Many people like the small-school potential of athletic guys like Dugger and Jeremy Chinn, but I would also add in Winfield Jr., the son of three-time Pro Bowler Antoine Winfield. He's overcome injuries earlier in his career to resume his high expectations. Also in the mix is Notre Dame's Gilman, a true leader and ballhawk.