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INDIANAPOLIS — We are finally just less than three weeks away from the beginning of the 2020 NFL Draft.
Although the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic has turned our everyday lives upside down — which very much includes how teams prepare for the draft — one thing that is unaffected is the ability to study players' film.
It's been about 3 1/2 weeks since we released our first version of the positional rankings, and plenty has changed as we continue to dive deeper.
Lists have extended to the top 10 players at each position group, and scouting reports on each player included are now complete, pending any new information that arises.
These rankings are weighed most heavily by players' performance on tape, although there are other small factors involved, such as on-field and off-field character as well as injury history.
- Joe Burrow, LSU
- Justin Herbert, Oregon
- Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama
- Jordan Love, Utah State
- Jacob Eason, Washington
- Jalen Hurts, Alabama
- Anthony Gordon, Washington State
- Jake Fromm, Georgia
- Brian Lewerke, Michigan State
- Nathan Rourke, Ohio
There's not much to leave up to the imagination when it comes to the top quarterbacks in this class. You see these top five or so typically ranked this way because it's what their tape shows, and it's clear to see their undeniable talent.
When it comes to Burrow, Herbert, Tagovailoa and Love, most people are probably pretty confident that they can all become difference-making franchise quarterbacks at some point. However, once you get into the next group, they are a bit more raw as pure quarterbacks and will need time to develop and get some issues in their game ironed out.
Nos. 9 and 10 for me, Lewerke and Rourke, are two players who will need to develop but have very high upside. Many people are already familiar with Lewerke and his playmaking ability, as he played at Michigan State, but Rourke is a name that rarely comes up. He's a dual-threat quarterback with some eye-popping numbers who could eventually come out of nowhere to make a name for himself in the NFL.
- Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin
- D'Andre Swift, Georgia
- J.K. Dobbins, Ohio State
- Zack Moss, Utah
- Clyde Edwards-Helaire, LSU
- Anthony McFarland Jr., Maryland
- Cam Akers, Florida State
- A.J. Dillon, Boston College
- Lamical Perine, Florida
- Eno Benjamin, Arizona State
I've had my eye on Taylor for a couple years now, and everytime I go back to it, he winds up being my top guy and makes it clearer each time. His blend of size, strength, speed and vision are attractive qualities, and his production over his career is undeniable.
After Taylor, you could make an argument for any of Swift, Dobbins, Moss or Edwards-Helaire to be the next man up. This group offers burst, playmaking ability and the ability to cause issues for defenses on the ground or through the air.
McFarland Jr., Akers and Benjamin are quicker, shiftier backs who have proven to be able to gash defenses for chunk gains. Meanwhile, Dillon and Perine do a lot of damage between the tackles and show quite a bit of toughness and determination. They both have a knack for busting more big runs for guys of their skillset than you'd think.
- Jerry Jeudy, Alabama
- CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma
- Denzel Mims, Baylor
- Henry Ruggs III, Alabama
- Brandon Aiyuk, Arizona State
- Justin Jefferson, LSU
- Tee Higgins, Clemson
- K.J. Hill, Ohio State
- Jalen Reagor, TCU
- Antonio Gandy-Golden, Liberty
This group of wide receivers is as good as advertised. There are guys who are likely to be available on Day 3 of the draft who likely would've been among the top 10 of the receiver rankings most other years.
As a whole — especially these top 10 — offer everything you could want in a receiver: size, speed, quickness, route running, the ability to win contested catches and plenty of productivity.
You've got your guys in Jeudy, Lamb, Mims and Ruggs III who make plays all over the field and could very well cement themselves as their new team's top receiver in a short matter of time. Aiyuk, Jefferson, Hill and Reagor are unique both before and after the catch and offer plenty of playmaking ability.
Higgins and Gandy-Golden are a couple of big, lengthy receivers who are contested-catch mavens. If not for a lack of elite athleticism, Higgins would likely be an unanimous top-five receiver, while Gandy-Golden reminds me a good deal of Denver Broncos Pro Bowl receiver Courtland Sutton when he was coming out.
- Hunter Bryant, Washington
- Harrison Bryant, Florida Atlantic
- Adam Trautman, Dayton
- Brycen Hopkins, Purdue
- Cole Kmet, Notre Dame
- Albert Okwuegbunam, Missouri
- Devin Asiasi, UCLA
- Thaddeus Moss, LSU
- Josiah Deguara, Cincinnati
- C.J. O'Grady, Arkansas
This isn't the flashiest year for tight ends, but it is not lacking playmakers. There are players who can stretch the field, like both Bryants and Trautman at the top of the list, while Kmet and Moss are among the best blocking tight ends in this group.
Regardless, the group offers versatility as pass catchers and capable blockers while also being able to line up inline, off the line, in the slot and out wide.
- Tristan Wirfs, Iowa
- Jedrick Wills Jr., Alabama
- Josh Jones, Houston
- Andrew Thomas, Georgia
- Mekhi Becton, Louisville
- Austin Jackson, USC
- Robert Hunt, UL-Lafayette
- Hakeem Adeniji, Kansas
- Prince Tega Wanogho, Auburn
- Lucas Niang, TCU
Whether you consider them developmental, or players who can hit the ground running, this is an impressive group of tackles this year; arguably the deepest I've seen in some time.
Overall, this group of 10 put on a show at the Scouting Combine, showing that big fellas can move unnaturally well for their size. In a modern NFL game in which offenses are spreading out more and more, it's critical to have blockers that can get out and move.
We could see about five or six tackles taken in the first round, and I would be surprised to see most or all of these 10 guys off the board by the time Round 3 is up.
INTERIOR OFFENSIVE LINE
- Tyler Biadasz, Wisconsin
- Jonah Jackson, Ohio State
- Kevin Dotson, UL-Lafayette
- Ben Bredeson, Michigan
- Cesar Ruiz, Michigan
- Nick Harris, Washington
- Matt Hennessy, Temple
- Lloyd Cushenberry III, LSU
- Darryl Williams, Mississippi State
- Damien Lewis, LSU
This is a nasty group of interior linemen this year that has mauling the defender in mind, trying to pancake them whenever possible.
While many of these guys can get out and move on pull blocks or lead block on screens, they all have the strength to impose their will on the man across from them. That's no surprise considering four of the top five are from the Big Ten Conference, is it?
- Chase Young, Ohio State
- K'Lavon Chaisson, LSU
- Julian Okwara, Notre Dame
- Yetur Gross-Matos, Penn State
- Terrell Lewis, Alabama
- Josh Uche, Michigan
- A.J. Epenesa, Iowa
- Kenny Willekes, Michigan State
- Anfernee Jennings, Alabama
- Bradlee Anae, Utah
"The Predator," Chase Young, is the unanimous top edge defender in this class, and many people's top non-quarterback in the whole draft. While he's in his own zip code when it comes to the top of this class, there is plenty to offer from the others whether you're looking for pure pass rushers, or edge-setters who can play the run.
For the most part, Chaisson, Okwara, Gross-Matos, Lewis and Uche all offer the weak-side, lengthy, bendy pass-rushing abilities. They may start out as designated pass-rushers when they hit the NFL, but becoming full-time, three-down players should be attainable for all.
Epenesa, Willekes, Jennings, Anae all offer a bit of pass-rush help, but can also help right away against the run, and could be versatile pieces to use for defenses that operate primarily out of a four-man front.
INTERIOR DEFENSIVE LINE
- Derrick Brown, Auburn
- Neville Gallimore, Oklahoma
- Javon Kinlaw, South Carolina
- Ross Blacklock, TCU
- Marlon Davidson, Auburn
- Jordan Elliott, Missouri
- Justin Madubuike, Texas A&M
- Raekwon Davis, Alabama
- Rob Windsor, Penn State
- Rashard Lawrence, LSU
This appears to be a unique year for defensive tackle talent in the draft. Oftentimes, some of the top interior defenders are space-eating run-stoppers who offer very little in the way of an interior pass rush. However, this year that is not the case.
While Brown and Kinlaw are big-time run-stoppers, there is wide belief that they can develop quality abilities to rush the passer and provide the critically-important interior pressure on the backfield. Gallimore is a bit of the opposite as an athletic defensive tackle who offers more as a pass-rusher right now than a run defender.
As far as depth goes, it's not the greatest year for defensive tackles on paper, but Brown, Kinlaw, Gallimore, Blacklock and Davidson are all (or almost) expected to be gone inside the top 50.
- Isaiah Simmons, Clemson
- Kenneth Murray, Oklahoma
- Patrick Queen, LSU
- Khaleke Hudson, Michigan
- Zack Baun, Wisconsin
- Malik Harrison, Ohio State
- Troy Dye, Oregon
- Evan Weaver, California
- Logan Wilson, Wyoming
- Markus Bailey, Purdue
If you like guys who could be considered the ultimate weapon for any defensive scheme and can play multiple spots, then Simmons should be your jam. Size, athleticism, instincts, versatility; he's got everything you'd need.
Two athletic, tough, rangy prospects, Murray and Queen, should also be off the board by the time Round 1 concludes. After the top three, I'm not sure any draft analyst has their linebackers ranked the same.
For me, I'm intrigued by the range of Hudson, Dye, Wilson and Bailey as well as Baun's ability to rush the passer, and Harrison and Weaver's run-stopping prowess.
- Jeffrey Okudah, Ohio State
- Trevon Diggs, Alabama
- Jeff Gladney, TCU
- C.J. Henderson, Florida
- Damon Arnette, Ohio State
- Kristian Fulton, LSU
- A.J. Terrell, Clemson
- Jaylon Johnson, Utah
- Bryce Hall, Virginia
- Troy Pride Jr., Notre Dame
Like his Buckeye teammate Young, Okudah is the hands-down top prospect at his position. Okudah is a physical, shut-down corner who has plus athleticism and moves so fluidly that it's almost not worth quarterbacks testing the air his way.
After that, you can take your pick for what you want in a cornerback.
Maybe you want some guys with a little size and craftiness like Diggs, Henderson, Johnson and Hall. Maybe you're willing to sacrifice a little size in favor of athleticism and feistiness; then Gladney, Arnette, Fulton, Terrell and Pride Jr. may be what you're looking for.
- Jeremy Chinn, Southern Illinois
- Kyle Dugger, Lenoir-Rhyne
- Xavier McKinney, Alabama
- Grant Delpit, LSU
- Antoine Winfield Jr., Minnesota
- Alohi Gilman, Notre Dame
- Ashtyn Davis, California
- Terrell Burgess, Utah
- Antoine Brooks Jr., Maryland
- Jordan Fuller, Ohio State
Safety always seems to be the position in which there's the biggest variance between rankings, both within analysts and between analysts and actual team draft boards.
While McKinney and Delpt come from blueblood programs that boast big-time safety talent consistently, and both have a case for being the top safety this year, I am most intrigued by a couple of small-school prospects in Chinn and Dugger.
Both players had somewhat historic performances at the Combine when factoring in their size and athleticism. Although they played at small schools, you want to see them whoop the competition, and that's what they did. I think there's some interesting things that teams could do with them in the NFL.
There's a lot of toughness in this safety class, especially looking at Winfield Jr., Gilman and Brooks Jr., but there is also a fair amount of versatility when looking at Davis, Burgess and Fuller.
2020 NFL DRAFT PROSPECT PROFILES
- K.J. Hill | Wide Receiver | Ohio State
- Jerry Jeudy | Wide Receiver | Alabama
- Derrick Brown | Defensive Tackle | Auburn
- K'Lavon Chaisson | Edge Defender | LSU
- CeeDee Lamb | Wide Receiver | Oklahoma
- Tristan Wirfs | Offensive Tackle | Iowa
- Neville Gallimore | Defensive Tackle | Oklahoma
- Jeff Gladney | Cornerback | TCU
- Brandon Aiyuk | Wide Receiver | Arizona State
- Jonah Jackson | Interior Offensive Lineman | Ohio State
- Trevon Diggs | Cornerback | Alabama
- Hunter Bryant | Tight End | Washington
- Julian Okwara | Edge Defender | Notre Dame