With the 2019 NFL Draft now in the rearview mirror, it’s time to focus on the prospects likely to be available next year. With that in mind, here’s our incredibly early ranking of the top 10 prospects for the 2020 NFL Draft.
1. Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
Tua Tagovailoa doesn’t have prototypical size for a quarterback, as he’s 6’1″ and 218 pounds. But he’s incredibly accurate and doesn’t make mistakes. As a sophomore in 2018, he completed 69 percent of his passes for 3,966 yards, with 43 touchdowns, and just six interceptions. He can move in the pocket and make plays on the run as well.
Despite showing a few warts in the SEC title game and the national title game against Clemson, Tagovailoa has all the makings of a franchise quarterback.
2. Chase Young, Edge, Ohio State
Chase Young was a five-star prospect out of high school and he’s lived up to that billing. At 6’5″ and 265 pounds, the imposing defensive end/edge rusher has been a terror during his two years in Columbus. In 22 career games, Young has racked up 19.5 tackles for loss and 12 sacks. Expect those numbers to increase substantially as a junior in 2019.
Young is a prototypical modern presence off the edge. He’s strong, fast and knows how to get into the backfield. He won’t last long come draft day.
3. Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
Justin Herbert decided to return to Oregon, which seems like a mistake in retrospect, since he was more highly-regarded than any of the quarterbacks in the 2019 draft. With size (6’6″ and 233 pounds), Herbert has all the tools to be a franchise quarterback. He struggled some in 2018, completing just 59.4 percent of his passes for 3,151 yards, with 29 touchdowns and eight interceptions.
Herbert could use a bounce-back in 2019, but given his size, athleticism and arm talent, he should be in high demand next year.
4. Walker Little, OT, Stanford
Walker Little is next in a long line of Stanford offensive linemen to wind up being draft prospects. At 6’7″ and 315 pounds, Little has immense size, fantastic feet and moves incredibly well. A former top recruit out of Texas, he’s lived up to the billing for the Cardinal.
In what should be a really deep tackle class, Little currently looks like the cream of the crop. He just turned 20 and will continue to develop as a potential franchise left tackle.
5. Raekwon Davis, DT, Alabama
Many expected Raekwon Davis to enter this year’s draft, but he opted to return to Alabama for his senior season. It was the right move. Davis will either be a 3-4 defensive end or a defensive tackle at the next level, and at 6’7″ and 309 pounds, he has the size to play either spot. Despite his bulk, he can move and is extremely skilled for a guy that big. In 31 career games, Davis has 11 sacks and 16.5 tackles for loss. He’ll have a chance to improve on those numbers this year.
This ranking assumes Davis will take a big jump this year. At this point, the talent doesn’t match the production. But I’m expecting that to change.
6. Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
Jerry Jeudy will be the next Alabama receiver selected in the first round. After winning the Biletnikoff Award and being an All-American in 2018, Jeudy could have been the first wideout taken this year. But, instead, he had to return to Tuscaloosa for his junior year.
Jeudy isn’t particularly big at 6’1″ and 192 pounds, but he’s fast and an incredibly smooth route runner with outstanding hands. He finished the 2018 season with 68 receptions for 1,315 yards and 14 touchdown. He averaged an utterly absurd 19.3 yards per reception.
I’m not sure anything can stop Jeudy from being the first receiver off the board next year.
7. Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn
Like Davis, Derrick Brown opted to return to college for his senior year, likely because of the depth the 2019 draft class had along the defensive line. The massive Auburn tackle should benefit from his extra season.
At 6’5″ and 318 pounds, Brown is enormous and has room to add more weight. In three seasons and 34 games for the Tigers, he has racked up 21.5 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks. He is excellent against the run and the pass and should improve specifically as a pass rusher in 2019. He and Davis will compete to be the first tackle off the board in 2020.
8. Laviska Shenault, WR, Colorado
Colorado isn’t exactly a program producing stars left and right, so the 2018 breakout from Laviska Shenault was pretty remarkable. The Desoto, Texas native exploded for 86 receptions, 1,011 yards and six touchdowns, plus an additional five scores on the ground. Oh, and he did all that despite missing three games due to injury. He was a do-everything playmaker for Buffaloes, even running some wildcat sets at quarterback.
Shenault is a physically imposing at 6’2″ and 220 pounds and defenders found it incredibly difficult to handle him last year. A first-team All-Pac-12 pick, he has power, speed and incredible hands. If he rounds out his route-running, Shenault could give Jeudy a challenge for the first receiver to come off the board.
9. Grant Delpit, S, LSU
Grant Delpit might be college football’s best defender in 2019. The LSU safety could have been overshadowed playing in the same defensive backfield as Greedy Williams in 2018, instead he shined. Delpit was a unanimous All-American as a sophomore last year, racking up 74 tackles, five sacks, five interceptions and 9.5 tackles for loss.
At 6’3″ and 205 pounds, Delpit has the size, athleticism and versatility to help against the run and bottle up tight ends in coverage. It would be a shock if he wasn’t the first safety to come off the board next year.
10. Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
Like Walker Little, Andrew Thomas is a massive tackle who could play on the left or right side. He’s 6’5″ and 320 pounds but carries it well. He started every game for the Bulldogs as a sophomore in 2018 and proved to both be technically sound and athletically explosive. His ceiling is incredibly high but so is his floor.
Thomas and Little will battle with Tennessee’s Trey Smith and Washington’s Trey Adams to be the first tackle selected in 2020. It’s a heck of a class.