There is no shortage of drama in football this week as Jalen Ramsey heads west and the College Football Playoff suffered a major shakeup as Georgia went down. Catch up on all of that and check out this week’s studs and sleepers. Plus find out which games to watch and the prospects to watch in each contest. You can find every episode on Spotify, Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to your podcasts.
It’s the first Monday in October, which means it’s time for another 2020 NFL mock draft. A lot has changed since my first mock draft in September. The quarterback class has gotten a bit deeper given the play of Joe Burrow and Jacob Eason. This is still an incredible class for wide receivers and running backs as well. Mix in an elite edge rusher in Chase Young and you’ve got a fun-looking draft class. Now mock drafts are more about the NFL side of things, figuring out which positions teams need to address in the upcoming offseason. For more of a college football focused look at these prospects, check out my latest big board.
The draft order is being determined is by the Super Bowl odds heading into Week 5 from Caesar’s Sportsbook. Tiebreakers were decided by strength of schedule. Obviously, this draft order is subject to a lot of change, but after four weeks of the NFL season, (I didn’t take Week 5 into account yet because it is not finished yet) this is where all 32 teams stand. Let’s dive into this October mock draft.
1. Miami Dolphins (20000-1) – Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
Let’s not overthink this any more. Josh Rosen has no supporting cast, but this offense lacks a clear direction forward. A rebuild with Tua Tagovailoa as the center piece is looking more and more likely. Tagovailoa has been the best quarterback at the college level this year. His touch on intermediate throws downfield is elite. He is decisive and intelligent. He will be able to command an offense for years to come. With three first round picks, the Dolphins will be able to add some talent around him too.
2. Washington (5000-1) – Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
Washington could go a number of directions here, but with Trent Williams still holding out, Andrew Thomas is a logical pick. Washington desperately needs to find a way to keep rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins upright. Thomas is the best pass blocker in this draft by a mile and is improving against the run. He is battle-tested having played in the SEC and would be able to step in on Day 1 to protect Haskins’ blindside.
3. Denver Broncos (2000-1) – Jeffrey Okudah, CB, Ohio State
This is one of the toughest teams to mock because of the talent that exists already on the roster. With Bradley Chubb and Von Miller, there is no need for Chase Young. With Emmanuel Sanders, Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton, I can’t see the Broncos taking Jerry Jeudy either. Instead, Denver nabs the top corner in the class after watching the secondary struggle in 2019. Chris Harris Jr. is 30 and there are trade rumors swirling. Jeffrey Okudah has the potential to be the best lockdown corner the league has seen since Darrelle Revis in his prime. He closes so well on the ball and is an excellent tackler in space.
4. Arizona Cardinals (2000-1) – Chase Young, EDGE, Ohio State
Arizona would be ecstatic if Chase Young fell to them at No. 4. After trying to find some veteran solutions in Terrell Suggs this offseason, the Cardinals need to address the long term need for a pass rusher. Chandler Jones would be the perfect mentor for the latest Ohio State star defensive lineman. Young does an excellent job setting the edge against the run and has a full arsenal of pass rush moves to terrorize opposing quarterbacks. He would immediately take some pressure off the struggling secondary.
5. New York Jets (2000-1) – Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
New York continues to have the top player on a lot of draftnicks boards fall to them. Jerry Jeudy is about as polished as a pro prospect can be coming out of Alabama. He fills a major need for New York and would be an upgrade over any player in their current receiving core. Sam Darnold needs a proven receiver to throw to if he is going to develop. Jeudy’s route running ability and consistency makes him a no-brainer here.
6. Cincinnati Bengals (1000-1) – Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
I initially had Jake Fromm mocked here, who I have ranked higher than Justin Herbert on my big board. However, I think Zac Taylor would love the opportunity to work with the toolsy Herbert instead. He has a big arm, but he seems to have some accuracy and technical issues that need ironing out. Andy Dalton is a free agent after the 2020 season, giving Cincinnati the perfect situation to break in a quarterback with lots of potential, but who might need a bit of time before he is ready to take over the starting gig.
7. Atlanta Falcons (200-1) – D’Andre Swift, RB, Georgia
While the Falcons have a number of needs, Atlanta does not want to miss out on a player in their own backyard. D’Andre Swift is about as pro ready as running backs come, with prototypical size, good hands out of the backfield and plenty of college production. The thing I love so much about him is his elusiveness and the lack of mileage he has picked up in college. With just over 300 carries in his college career, Swift should be primed for a long career in the NFL.
8. Miami Dolphins via Pittsburgh Steelers (150-1) – A.J. Epenesa, DL, Iowa
After taking Tua Tagovailoa first overall, that means the Dolphins no longer need a quarterback. Pretty much every other spot is a position of need. A.J. Epenesa seems like a good place to start. At 6’6″, 280 pounds, he is built more like a defensive lineman than a true edge player, but don’t let that fool you. He is an elite pass rusher with the strength to push around opposing linemen. He uses his hands really well and shows a good motor. He is not going to be a speed rusher, but with his ability to dominant off the line, he won’t need to be. There is a reason people are comparing him to J.J. Watt.
9. Indianapolis Colts (125-1) – Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson
While Indy does have a true WR1 in T.Y. Hilton, there is not a whole lot of depth behind him at receiver. The collection of Zach Paschal, Deon Cain and Chester Rodgers is far from the most productive group. Enter Tee Higgins, who would offer a big-bodied, downfield threat who can win jump balls all over the field. He is probably the best red zone receiver in this year’s draft and would provide a nice complement to Hilton. Higgins struggles a bit with creating separation, but has the size, skill and catch radius for that to not matter much.
10. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (100-1) – Grant Delpit, S, LSU
This Buccaneers’ secondary needs an infusion of talent. Tampa has come up with it’s fair share of interceptions this year, but the Bucs gave up the second-most passing yards per game through the first four weeks of the season. Grant Delpit should help with that right away. He draws a lot of comparisons to former LSU standout Jamaal Adams. The two have similar playing styles, but Delpit is better in pass coverage. He hasn’t been the strongest tackler this year, but he diagnoses plays well and gets himself into good positions to be successful. If he can sure up his tackling, he has All-Pro potential.
11. New York Giants (100-1) – CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
The Daniel Jones era is off to a pretty good start, but the Giants could use some more help at receiver. Sterling Shepard has been great this year, but he is best suited as a second option. No one else in the New York receiving core is above replacement level other than Golden Tate, who is 31. CeeDee Lamb is a complete receiver with the ability to take the top off a defense. He fights for extra yards and has excellent vision after the catch. He would give the Giants another explosive playmaker along with Evan Engram. An offense featuring Shepard, Lamb, Engram and Saquon Barkley sounds pretty legitimate.
12. Oakland Raiders (75-1) – Laviska Shenault, WR, Colorado
Oakland entered the season expecting Antonio Brown to be its top receiving option. Let’s just say that didn’t work out and now the Raiders could use an upgrade at receiver. Laviska Shenault hasn’t had the best 2019 season at Colorado, but his talent is undeniable. He catches the ball away from his body and he turns into a running back after the catch. He has good speed for a 6’2″ 220-pound wideout and excels making plays down the seams. He would offer Derek Carr (or perhaps another quarterback, keep reading) a great target to boost the offense.
13. Tennessee Titans (75-1) – Jake Fromm, QB, Georgia
This feels like such a good fit for Jake Fromm. The Titans have a great offensive line, solid running game and a talented defense. Sound familiar to Fromm’s current situation? It’s time for the Titans to move on from Marcus Mariota. His contract is up after this season and he has not played consistently enough to warrant being brought back. Fromm is poised and intelligent. His accuracy has improved this season. He is the type of pro-ready quarterback a team like the Titans could use. He won’t turn the ball over and he has the arm talent to win games.
14. Jacksonville Jaguars (50-1) – CJ Henderson, CB, Florida
Going into the year, I really thought the Jaguars needed to go after a receiver in the first round. With the emergence of DJ Chark in his second year, that need does not feel as pressing and Jacksonville can shift its attention to finding its successor to Jalen Ramsey. CJ Henderson has the size and ball skills to be an NFL corner. He needs to improve as a press defender, but he has shown flashes of lockdown play. He won’t fill the hole a Ramsey departure would leave, but he would certainly help ease the loss.
15. Carolina Panthers (50-1) – Walker Little, OT, Stanford
The string of injuries Cam Newton has suffered over the past few years makes me look at that offensive line as a place where help is needed. Carolina has invested a lot of draft picks in recent years along the line, but with none of them proving to be a permanent solution, it’s time to add Walker Little. There is injury concern here with him suffering a season-ending knee injury in the first game of this season. However, Little projects as a future left tackle in the NFL. He is 6’7″ and weighs 315 pounds. You can’t teach size. He moves well and would be in the mix to start the 2020 season for the Panthers.
16. Detroit Lions (40-1) – Yetur Gross-Matos, EDGE, Penn State
After letting Ezekiel Ansah walk in free agency following an injury-riddle tenure in Detroit, it is time to find a replacement. Signing Trey Flowers helps, but adding the relentless Yetur Gross-Matos would make the pass rush a strength. He is excellent at keep offensive lineman from locking him with his hand usage. He has decent bend and is a punishing tackler. At 6’5″, 255 pounds, he has the versatility to stand up or get after the passer with his hand in the ground. He would be a fun player for Matt Patricia to work with.
17. Buffalo Bills (40-1) – Henry Ruggs, WR, Alabama
Buffalo has a championship level defense, but it needs to bring its offense up to speed. The best way to add speed is to draft Henry Ruggs. He might be the most explosive player in this class, with buzz about him potentially running a sub 4.3 40-yard dash. He would immediately provide Josh Allen a game-breaking receiver to complement the possession receivers they have in Cole Beasley and John Brown. Adding him to the offense would provide a big-play element Buffalo is definitely lacking right now.
18. Minnesota Vikings (28-1) – Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
Minnesota is fed up with inconsistent play from Kirk Cousins. His inability to complete deep passes downfield or show up in big games is maddeningly frustrating. Joe Burrow has shown he can do both of those things so far this year. His arm strength has been impressive and he looks sharp as a part of a rejuvenated LSU offense. He might not be ready to start Day 1 as there is likely going to be some time needed for him to transition to a true pro-style offense, but he wouldn’t be asked to do much right away. With a great running game and a top tier defense, Burrow would just be asked to take care of the ball. If he can keep playing at this level, he will lock himself in as a first round pick.
19. Seattle Seahawks (25-1) – Derrick Brown, DL, Auburn
Yes, the Seahawks traded for Jadeveon Clowney, but he could easily walk in free agency. Seattle can double down on the defensive line by adding Derrick Brown from Auburn. He is massive at 6’5″, 318 pounds. While he might have the build of a typical nose tackle, he moves a lot better than that. He had 4.5 sacks in 2018 and already has two heading into a game with Florida. Brown can generate pressure on the interior and is excellent against the run. Seattle has been trying to find talented defense linemen for a few years now and really struggled without Clowney on the field. Brown turns the line into an immediate strength.
20. Oakland Raiders via Chicago Bears (20-1) – Jacob Eason, QB, Washington
I told you it was coming! Cutting Derek Carr this offseason would save the Raiders $11 million in cap space and carries just $5 million in dead money. Oakland isn’t strapped for cash, but I don’t see Jon Gruden riding Carr into Las Vegas. Instead, he can get the strong arm quarterback he covets in Jacob Eason. Eason has had an interesting college career, losing his job at Georgia before transferring to Washington. He fits the size profile at 6’6″ and his improving accuracy has him trending into the first round. We have a small sample size of Eason playing at a high level, but if he continues to light up the scoreboard and demonstrate his ability to lead Washington through the Pac-12, he should hear his name called on Day 1.
21. Baltimore Ravens (40-1) – Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU
Baltimore made a decision in April to add more speed to the offense by drafting Marquise Brown. This offense could use a few more explosive players, so Baltimore nabs Jalen Reagor. He plays a similar style to Brown, but he is a little more physical. He has great burst, above average hands and plays much larger than his frame (5’11”, 195 pounds). While he primarily takes the top off the defense, Reagor had 72 catches as a sophomore. He is more than just a burner downfield. He hasn’t been as productive so far this year and, in a deep wide receiver class, that could cost him a spot in the first round.
22. Miami Dolphins via Houston Texans (33-1) – Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa
In this mock draft, the Dolphins have already addressed the quarterback position and defensive line. Now it’s time to protect that invested they made first overall. Tristan Wirfs is a right tackle, but he is a damn good right tackle. He is a punishing blocker who finishes his assignments. He holds up just well enough in pass protection. There is definitely some room for him to clean up his footwork. A good way to take pressure off a young quarterback is to run the ball. Wirfs will certainly help with that.
23. San Francisco 49ers (20-1) – Bryce Hall, CB, Virginia
No team in the league (other than maybe the Eagles) is in need of secondary help in the short term than the 49ers. If San Francisco wins the Jalen Ramsey sweepstakes, then this pick becomes completely irrelevant. Because that hasn’t happened yet, the 49ers would do well to select Bryce Hall. He has the makings of a shutdown corner. At 6’1″, he will be able to take on just about any NFL receiver. He is a proven tackler and opposing teams have already learned its best not to throw at him. He has good positioning and tracks the ball well. He breaks well on the ball as well. Hall would fit well across from Richard Sherman as early as 2020.
24. Green Bay Packers (16-1) – Tylan Wallace, WR, Oklahoma State
It is time to give Aaron Rodgers some help outside of Davante Adams. Adams is an elite receiver, but after that, the Packers have a bunch of middling and unproven receivers. Tylan Wallace would help fix that. He is an explosive playmaker on the outside who can run past defenders and rise above corners to make plays. He is a decent route runner, with room for improvement. He put up 200-plus yards on both Texas and Oklahoma last year. Even though he is coming from a pass-happy offense, he is actually a good run blocker. He is a bit light right now listed at just 185 pounds, but if he can find a way to add a bit more muscle to his frame without sacrificing his speed, he looks like a future number one receiver.
25. Los Angeles Chargers (30-1) – Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin
It is no secret Melvin Gordon will not be wearing a Chargers uniform next year. While Austin Ekeler has looked great this season, he is not your typical bellcow back that will run the ball 20-plus times a game. Jonathan Taylor could be that at the next level. He does it now at Wisconsin. In reality though, I think Taylor’s tough style of running and powerful approach would blend really well with Ekeler and give Los Angeles a similar combo to what it has now with Gordon and Ekeler. Just for way cheaper.
26. Cleveland Browns (25-1) – Tyler Biadasz, C, Wisconsin
Someone needs to protect Baker Mayfield. The Browns signal caller took 12 sacks in the first four games of the season. Given the rest of the talent on this offense, it is time for Cleveland to address the offensive line. It could opt for a tackle here, but instead I think they grab the best interior lineman in the draft in Tyler Biadasz. He is a rock for the Wisconsin offensive line, rarely ceding ground. He does a nice job setting up his blocks in the run game and is about as consistent as they get in pass protection. Wisconsin regularly produces good NFL linemen, including Travis Fredericks, who has a real claim to the title of best center in the league. I think Biadasz might challenge him one day for that designation, making him a slam dunk pick for the Browns.
27. Philadelphia Eagles (16-1) – Krisitan Fulton, CB, LSU
As mentioned for the 49ers, the Eagles desperately need secondary help. Sidney Jones has been unable to stay on the field and the combo of Avonte Maddox and Ronald Darby isn’t cutting it. Kristian Fulton could be the latest superstar defensive back out of LSU. He needs just a bit of time to transition to the NFL. He has ballhawking corner potential, coming off a season where he had five interceptions. He uses his hands well, but still needs to work on some of his technique when jamming corners. He could rise up draft boards with games against Auburn and Alabama still on the schedule. If he performs there, he will be pushing much higher in the first round.
28. New Orleans Saints (14-1) – Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson
The Saints have been trying to acquire linebackers for a few years now. They signed DeMario Davis last year and traded for Kiko Alonso this year. To help solve the problem long term, they should draft Isaiah Simmons. Simmons fits what New Orleans likes to defensively and would definitely increase the overall speed at the position. He is a converted safety who excels in coverage and is an above average blitzer. He is not going to rack up double-digit sacks, but he has the instincts and athleticism to make a lot of disruptive plays.
29. Los Angeles Rams (11-1) – Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama
This Rams defense is not the one we saw a year ago. Aqib Talib will turn 34 in February and the secondary could use a boost. Trevon Diggs is big for a corner at 6’2″ and 205 pounds. He missed a lot of time last year after breaking his foot, but he has looked sharp so far in 2019. Diggs played a bit out of the slot last year and shows some good versatility. He doesn’t have the most fluid hips of all time and he definitely need to improve how he attacks ball carriers in space, but his size and long arms make him a player who can contribute early on and has room improve in the future.
30. Kansas City Chiefs (9-2) – Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson
This would just be unfair. Travis Etienne has been one of the most explosive and elusive players in college football over the last two years. Him playing in an Andy Reid offense with Patrick Mahomes would be nearly unstoppable. Etienne is an improving pass catcher who doesn’t see a ton of targets. Given the injuries and overall rotation of the Kansas City backfield, Etienne would be a great pick. LeSean McCoy is is 31 and Damien Williams is probably best-suited to be a change of pace back. Etienne would provide stability at the position and give the Chiefs another offensive weapon for opposing defenses to worry about.
31. Dallas Cowboys (9-1) – Julian Okwara, EDGE, Notre Dame
Dallas has had a lot of success drafting Notre Dame players (see Zach Martin, Jaylon Smith). Adding another one, this time to the defensive line seems like a quality move. The Cowboys invested a lot of money into DeMarcus Lawrence, but they also took a one-year flier on Robert Quinn for a reason. Dallas needs someone to play across from Lawrence, and Julian Okwara can do just that. He plays down hill and uses his hands well to fight through blocks. He has the ability to bully smaller tackles and enough speed to chase down plays. He is a bit undersized, weighing just 240 pounds, but if he can put on some weight, he would be a great 4-3 end in this system.
32. New England Patriots (5-2) – Curtis Weaver, EDGE, Boise State
Predicting what the Patriots are going to do is impossible. It is also pretty difficult to identify any of this team’s needs given how soft their schedule has been to open this season. Best bet is that Bill Belichick will continue to add to this defense. Curtis Weaver is a powerful pass rusher who has good technique and heavy hands. He also has 26.5 career sacks in 30 games so there is plenty of production and a larger sample size. He reminds me a little bit of Trey Flowers, who left the Patriots this past offseason in free agency. Given that he can play against the run as well, I think New England will find enough value to tab him at the end of the round.
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Check out the newest episode of the Aftermath’s NFL Draft Podcast, complete with a full first round mock draft. This is an inside look at the mock draft for podcast listeners. Also see who made the cut for this week’s studs and sleepers. You can find the show on Spotify and wherever you listen to your podcasts.
- Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
You could argue this should be Chase Young, but Jerry Jeudy is about as slam dunk of a pick as it gets. He has the physical tools to play like Odell Beckham Jr. There is some aspect of his game that reminds me of Marvin Harrison. He plays faster than his raw speed will indicate and demonstrates incredible route-running ability. I don’t expect him to go first overall because of the position value, but he is the best pro prospect in this draft.
- Chase Young, DE, Ohio State
I can almost guarantee you Jeudy and Chase Young will be the top two prospects all the way through the draft. Unlike Jeudy, there is some possibility Young goes first overall based on his positional value. He is an excellent pass rusher, but he also does a nice job against the run. He excels at setting the edge and checks every box when it comes to physical skill. I’ve seen comparisons to Von Miller, and that is probably not far off.
- Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
He is not going to be for everyone. Much like Kyler Murray a year ago, Tua Tagovailoa lacks the size of the prototypical NFL quarterback. However, his poise, touch and accuracy make him an NFL-ready passer who has athletic upside. He won’t be Patrick Mahomes, launching the ball 50-plus yards down field or firing in bullet passes, but he can run an offense efficiently and effectively. The thing to like most about him? Eight interceptions in 580 career passes so far. His decision making is impeccable and possibly even the best in the class.
- A.J. Epenesa, EDGE, Iowa
Despite not being a traditional college football power, Iowa produces NFL-ready talent every season. A.J. Epenesa is no exception. He has gotten off to a slower start this year, but he fits the mold of a great NFL defensive lineman. He is not an elite athlete, but Epenesa has good power and discipline. He uses his hands well to keep offensive linemen from locking him up. He forces a ton of fumbles as well. He needs to pick up the production though this year.
- D’Andre Swift, RB, Georgia
He might not be as prolific at the college level as some of the other backs in this class, but he is the polished and versatile. DeAndre Swift is a complete back with good hands, above average vision and tons of college production. He spent the last two seasons splitting time with Nick Chubb, Sony Michel and Elijah Holyfield. Now, he gets the chance to be the feature back and he has taken it well. He is more elusive than fast, but he has enough speed to break off big plays. Swift features heavily in the passing game and does not have a ton of mileage on his legs either after splitting time throughout his college career.
- Jeffrey Okudah, CB, Ohio State
The more I watch Jeffrey Okudah, the more impressed I am by his skill. He just looks so natural as a lockdown corner. He is a great tackler in space and excels in bump-and-run coverage. Okudah will sometimes end up running the route for the receiver because his hips are so fluid and he has great eye discipline. He can be a little aggressive at times, which makes him susceptible to double moves, but he seems to have enough relative speed to make up for it in most cases. If he runs well at the combine, we could be talking about a top-five pick.
- Jake Fromm, QB, Georgia
I know I am definitely higher on him than a lot of other people, but I have been really impressed with Jake Fromm. He goes up against great competition all the time and does an excellent job leading his team. He is a field general who commands the offense, he has NFL-caliber arm strength and he seems to be improving his accuracy. He might not be as flashy as some of the other quarterbacks in this class, but he feels like a rock solid prospect with a long pro career ahead of him.
- Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson
Jerry Jeudy is head and shoulders above everyone else in this class, and it is a very good receiver class. Tee Higgins is the best of the rest. He has an incredible catch radius, very reliable hands and runs his routes well. In my opinion, he has saved Trevor Lawrence’s rocky start from going completely off the rails. Higgins regularly wins jump balls and adjusts to make catches. The biggest knock is the lack of speed, but he feels a lot like fellow former Clemson receiver Mike Williams, just without the injury history.
- Grant Delpit, S, LSU
If you are looking for the next great LSU defensive back, Grant Delpit is it. He is cut from the same cloth as Jamaal Adams, but excels more down field than in the opponents backfield. He is excellent at diagnosing plays and shows great closing speed. Deplit looks very comfortable in coverage as well. The concern that keeps cropping up on film is his tackling. He arrives at the right place at the right time, but doesn’t always complete the play. Tackling isn’t the most important skill needed as a versatile safety, but one he will need to work on to be worth a top-10 pick.
- CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
Had CeeDee Lamb come out last year, he probably would have been the top receiver off the board, ahead of teammate Marquis Brown. Instead, he comes out in a great receiver class and drops to WR3, which is impressive, because he is still the 10th player on my board. He runs really well and is not afraid to go across the middle. He shows excellent ability to make big plays after the catch and fights for extra yardage. He is not as dominant as Tee Higgins in the red zone, but he is much better at creating separation and giving a quarterback a nice window to hit.
- Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
Now in his third year of facing future NFL talent playing in the SEC, Andrew Thomas is finally draft eligible and should be the first offensive lineman off the board. He is an excellent pass blocker with solid footwork. He does not get bullied too often and knows how to handle speed rushers. He is not one of those road grading linemen in the running game, but he understands how to seal the block to create a running lane. He has already faced Julian Okwara this year and fared well. He will get plenty more chances to show why he is the top tackle prospect this year.
- Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin
There is not a more accomplished running back through his first two years in college football history than Jonathan Taylor. He has been a bellcow at Wisconsin posting over 2,000 yards from scrimmage each of the past two seasons. After signs early in his career that fumbling would be an issue, he has worked to cut down on them. Already this season, Taylor is showing his development as a receiver, with more catches through four games than he had in either of his previous two seasons. One major concern is the number of touches he has had in his college career. Durability has never been an issue, but he already has 690 carries in his college career. That starts to take a toll eventually.
- Derrick Brown, DL, Auburn
Derrick Brown is an athletic space-eater. He uses his hands well to attack offensive linemen and also disrupt passing lanes for opposing quarterbacks. Brown is surrounded by other future NFL talent on the Auburn defensive line, but he stands out as the best of them. He won’t be the type of pass rusher we’ve seen Aaron Donald turn into, but he can collapse a pocket very quickly with his interior pressure. He isn’t very agile or quick, playing as more of a nose tackle type, but he has enough speed to chase down the quarterback.
- Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson
I know I made this comment about CeeDee Lamb, but in another draft, Travis Etienne would probably be the first player at his position to come off the board. He is an incredibly elusive runner who does a good job of keeping his legs churning for extra yards. He has game-breaking speed and can stop on a dime to make a defender miss. He also contributes consistently in the passing game, as he already has 10 catches this season. He finished seventh in the Heisman voting last year, which just goes to show the value he has for that Clemson team.
- Yetur Gross-Matos, DE, Penn State
If there is someone in this class that could work their way into the top 10 with an impressive combine, that is Yetur Gross-Matos in my mind. He has shown great ability as a pass rusher over the past two years at Penn State. Gross-Matos has heavy hands that allow him to fight through blocks and turn linemen to close down openings. He is disruptive in the run game as well, shooting into the backfield to blow up plays. I expect him to work best as a down lineman in a 4-3 defense. If he can find a way to reach double-digit sacks this season, he could hear his name called very early come April.
- Laviska Sheault Jr., WR, Colorado
Heading into the season, I had very high expectations for Laviska Shenault Jr. He hasn’t quite lived up to them yet, but his raw talent should see him go in the first round regardless. He excels at beating receivers off the line and making plays downfield, which is impressive for a 6’2″, 220-pound receiver. He is almost like a running back after the catch, showing good vision and power with the ball in his hands. Colorado likes to use him as a wildcat quarterback sometimes, just to get the ball in his hands. He has had some minor injuries that have kept him off the field at times this year, but his tape is very impressive.
- Walker Little, OT, Stanford
Heading into the year, Walker Little was an exciting prospect who had to answer a couple questions about technique and agility. He never really got a chance to, suffering a season-ending knee injury in the season opener against Northwestern. Little has some solid tape from a year ago and has a massive frame that projects well to the next level. He is not as polished as Andrew Thomas, but he has a lot of upside. On the bright side for Little, the injury happened so early in the year that he may be able to do some drills by the time the combine rolls around to sure up his draft stock.
- Henry Ruggs, WR, Alabama
Henry Ruggs might be the best playmaker in all of college football. He is electric with the ball in his hands and there is already buzz about him potentially running a sub 4.3 40-yard dash at the combine. He can get lost in the shuffle with so many great receivers playing alongside him at Alabama, but he is who the Tide turns to when they need a big play. His hands are fine and there is definitely some injury concern with him. His status is up in the air for Bama’s next game against Texas A&M after suffering a leg injury. Creating separation won’t be a problem for Ruggs who could be a fine toy for offensive coordinators to deploy.
- Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
When it comes to Justin Herbert, the arm talent is there, but the more I watch him, the less sure I am about the rest of his game. He seems to fade a bit when Oregon faces top-tier opponents and has some small technical things he needs to clean up that affect his accuracy. While he probably has better physical tools than Tua Tagovailoa or Jake Fromm, he is not there on the mental side of things. He will need a bit of work before he is ready to be a starter in the NFL. With the right coaching though, he could be a Pro Bowl passer one day.
- Tyler Biadasz, C, Wisconsin
Wisconsin, much like Iowa, does an excellent job of producing players ready to make the jump to the next level. Tyler Biadasz is definitely the top interior line prospect at the point in the draft process. He gets off the line well and does a really nice job finishing blocks. He has the power to run over smaller lineman and almost never gets pushed back thanks to a strong base and good technique.
- Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa
I did say Iowa does a good job of producing NFL talent right? Tristan Wrifs is looking like one of the top tackle prospects in the upcoming draft, with a big frame and lots of experience playing in the Big 10. What holds him back from being higher up on this list is he plays right tackle instead of left. Now, Wirfs does have the size to slide over, but he is better as a run blocker than as a pass blocke and one of the biggest knocks has been his foot speed. He has the potential to be a plug and play type pick on the right side for a team looking for line help.
- Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson
As a converted safety, Isaiah Simmons is better in coverage than your average outside linebacker. He is fast and a good tackler in space. He shows a good ability to wreck havoc in the backfield as well either as a blitzing pass rusher or against the run. As the tight end position continues to evolve, the need for teams to find players capable of covering them. Simmons should be able to do that and then some.
- CJ Henderson, CB, Florida
And here starts the run on cornerbacks. I will admit I haven’t really made a full determination on the order of these next three players. It feels very close to me between them all. CJ Henderson has had moments of brilliance at Florida, but has battled through injuries this year. He has good size for an NFL corner. I want to see him on the field later this year matching up with the top talent to see if he can prove his worth.
- Kristian Fulton, DB, LSU
Much of what I said about Henderson applies to Kristian Fulton as well. He has faced great competition and shown flashes of potential. He thankfully hasn’t had the same injuries has Henderson, but I still want to see him prove himself late in the year.
- Bryce Hall, CB, Virginia
Teams have already picked up on the fact that throwing at Bryce Hall is a bad idea. He headlines an impressive Virginia defense fresh off a solid showing against Notre Dame. The secondary held Ian Book to just 165 yards passing and played better than that scoreline would indicate. With good size and speed, Hall has the physical tools to make an early impact at the next level.
The latest episode of my NFL Draft Podcast is out now! There is lots of stock up and stock down top about prospects from all over the country. As always, I preview the best games to watch this weekend so you know what to look for. Check it out now here on Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts. Make sure you share, rate and subscribe!