Prospect Preview: 2020 Defensive Tackles

Defensive tackle is one of my favorite positions to scout and watch for fun. The battle between massive men in the trenches isn’t just about pure strength. Those battles are filled with so much nuance and skill that it is like watching “dancing bears”. Some of the physical feats that these men can pull off while weighing over 300 pounds are just astounding to me. 

We were spoiled by a truly special group of defensive tackle prospects last year headlined by two top-10 picks in Quinnen Williams (Number 3) and Ed Oliver (Number 9). My final big board for the 2019 draft class included nine defensive tackles in the top 60 and twelve in the top 100. I knew there would be a drop off this year after last season, but somehow I was still disappointed in what I saw from most of the players I watched for the 2020 class. 

As always any comments or questions be sure to hit me up on Twitter @DanteCollinelli

 

Number One: 

Raekwon Davis, Senior, Alabama 

IMG_2146
Raekwon Davis

Here’s a list of Alabama defensive lineman that either plays defensive tackle or are hybrids between the edge and the inside drafted since 2011. Marcell Darius, Tim Williams, Dalvin Tomlinson, Da’ron Payne, Jonathan Allen, Quinnen Williams, and A’Shawn Robinson. That’s a list of some really productive players all coming from Alabama. Raekwon Davis is next in line to continue this tradition of Alabama defensive lineman being great NFL players. Davis would have been a first-round grade for me last year but chose to go back to school. Davis is refined technically with his hand usage and pass rush moves. He’s a very smart player who understands blocking schemes and how to shoot gaps in order to disrupt plays. I saw him win with some bend on the inside as well which points to a lot of upside as a rusher. Davis is a rare player where not only does he have a high floor but also has a high ceiling that can be developed. I watched tape of Davis from 2017 and 2018 and saw a good amount of improvement in his pass rush plan. He still has a little ways to go in that area, but if he improves again during the 2019 season we could be looking at him as a lock to be picked in the top-10. 

Number 2: 

Derrick Brown, Senior, Auburn 

IMG_3017

Similar to Raekwon Davis, Derrick Brown had a good amount of hype around him as a draft prospect during last year’s college football season. Brown was ranked as a first-round pick by ESPN’s Mel Kieper Jr for a good chunk of the season. To say the least, I was coming into Brown’s tape with a certain level of expectations, and he just didn’t meet them. However, I don’t think Brown is a bad player or anything since he comes in at number two on this list. There are flashes of dominance from Brown when he’s able to pin his ears back and rush the quarterback. You can see the natural strength and athleticism that would point to a first-round type of player. The issue for me was that he’s a little too inconsistent with those flashes of dominance. His hand placement can come and go at times. When he gets off the ball quickly and wins with his first pass rush move it’s quite pretty. With that said, his pass rush plan is something that also comes and goes. Brown has all the natural tools to be a highly regarded prospect when the draft rolls around, but I need to see more consistency in his technique and pass-rush plan for that to happen. 

 

Number Three: 

Rashard Lawrence, Senior, LSU 

IMG_3019

If you couldn’t tell there is a pretty big gap for me between the number one and number two players on this list. Well, there is also a pretty sizable gap between the number two and number three player on this list. Although, Lawrence has some intriguing traits that I think are worth buying into at this point in the process. His first step off the snap and just overall quickness on the inside is very appealing in pass rush situations. He’s got a good snatch and rip move that typically gives him inside leverage which he uses to get to the quarterback a lot. My issues with Lawrence are centered around his play against the run. I thought he was a little light in the pants and didn’t have a great anchor. Sometimes he would stray from his gaps and that lead to some pretty big runs right where he was supposed to be. He needs to do a better job of shedding blockers in the trenches while also staying home in his gap. I’m excited to see Lawrence play in 2019 because a lot of his mistakes at this stage are very fixable. 

Number Four: 

Javon Kinlaw, Senior, South Carolina 

IMG_3018

Speaking of players who have tremendous upside as a pass rusher but struggle against the run we have Javon Kinlaw. Kinlaw comes in a 6’6 and it’s easy to see his natural length show up on tape. As a pass rusher, he does a great job getting off the ball quickly while using his long arms to put offense lineman back on their heels immediately. The first rep on the thread below is a great example of what I just described. Kinlaw has a nice swim move in his arsenal of pass rush moves as well. It’s rare to find rep against the passing game where Kinlaw doesn’t at least disrupt the integrity of the pocket a little bit. The problem comes when he’s asked to defend the run, and it’s not pretty. Kinlaw is listed by South Carolina at 302 pounds, but man, he gets thrown around on the inside like nobodies business. There are way too many reps where Kinlaw is getting pushed a couple of yards off the ball or getting sealed off allowing the running back to run right through where he was supposed to be. He needs to develop some kind of reliable anchor during the 2019 season in order for him to be in the top-50 conversation when the draft rolls around. 

Number Five: 

Jordon Scott, Junior, Oregon 

IMG_3020

Mister Scott is a thick young man in the middle of the Duck’s defense. Oregon has him listed at 6’1 and 329 pounds. Wanna talk about stout in the middle? Scott is almost impossible to move out of his gap and has plenty of natural strength to control the lineman in front of him. One of the things that sold me on Scott was his first step quickness. For someone that weighs 329 pounds, he’s got some real explosiveness to his game. My big hang up with Scott is that I think he’s a true “zero technique”. The zero technique refers to a player who lines up directly over the center and that is losing some value at the NFL level right now. Like I said earlier, Scott’s quickness is very intriguing so if he can put together a season that includes like 5.0-6.5 sacks he will shoot up this list as someone I think can be used in more ways than he was in college. 

 

Numbers 6-13 

 

Number 6: Robert Landers, Senior, Ohio State 

Number 7: Raequan Williams, Senior, Michigan State 

Number 8: Leki Fotu, Senior, Utah 

Number 9: Lorenzo Neal, Senior, Purdue 

Number 10: McTelvin Agim, Senior, Arkansas

Number 11: Benito Jones, Senior, Ole Miss 

Number 12: Neville Gallimore, RS Senior, Oklahoma 

Number 13: Marvin Wilson, Junior, Florida State 

 

Prospect Preview: 2020 Offensive Tackles

The term “franchise left tackle” is starting to become a little outdated with the current direction of the NFL. There is an emphasis on interior pressure and the guard position is gaining more and more importance. Additionally, now that there are so many good pass rushers in the league the right tackle has become just as important as the left tackle. For instance, Von Miller typically lines up on the right side of the line and will be a first ballot Hall of Famer. 

Last year’s group of tackles was pretty weak outside of Jonah Williams if you ask me. Willams went 11th overall and got hurt already, so we won’t see him this season. Andre Dillard was drafted in the first round but should sit his first season in Philadelphia. I actually like Juwaan Taylor and Cody Ford more than Dillard who were both drafted in the second round by the Jaguars and Bills. Don’t even get me started on the huge reach made by Houston taking Tytus Howard in the first round. 

I say all of that because offense tackles see a similar “draft inflation” that quarterbacks do. They will get drafted higher than they should because of perceived positional value. The 2020 class has some hope to be better than 2019 but a lot of underclassmen will have to declare in order for that to truly happen. 

As always any comments or questions hit me up on Twitter @DanteCollinelli

 

Number One: 

Andrew Thomas, Junior, Georgia 

Georgia v LSU

Thomas is just soooooo smooth in everything that he does. His kick slide is quick and with no wasted movement. On almost all of his pass reps, he is waiting for the defender to arrive with his base already set in order to absorb contact. He did a nice job of pushing defenders around the outside of the pocket allowing for his quarterback to step up and make throws in the pocket. In the running game, I thought Thomas did a good job collapsing the line of scrimmage creating some good outside rushing lanes. He showed an ability to seal off defenders in the hole allowing for running lanes right off of his hip. There is a good example of him doing that against Alabama in the thread below. My concerns with Thomas center around how he handles inside moves because that’s the only time you see him get beat. He just needs to clean up his hand usage in those situations, and he should be just fine. Thomas as the athletic profile that teams are looking for at the tackle position which will help him greatly if he decides to declare this year. 

Number Two: 

Tristian Wirfs, Junior, Iowa 

IMG_2995

Honestly, I could have switched Thomas and Wirfs on this list and still felt good about it, he’s that good. Something that stuck out to me with Wirfs is how hot his motor runs on every play. I saw him run down defenders off of an interception and saw him always looking for work when left without anyone to block. Wirfs does a great job mirroring defenders when pass blocking using quick feet and smooth hips. He has powerful hands that he uses to stun defenders in their tracks before they can even get into their first pass rush move. As a run blocker, there are plenty of reps where Wirfs finishes his defender into the ground or pushes them five yards up the field. The reason I put Wirfs second and not first is that I think Wirfs is just slightly less athletic than Thomas at this stage. There is an entire season of tape to be seen still, so I wouldn’t be surprised if Wirfs finishes as OT 1 due to his technical prowess in all facets of the game.

Number Three: 

Trey Adams, Senior, Washington 

IMG_2095
Trey Adams

Trey Adams makes his second straight appearance on a prospect preview list. He was my number two tackle going into the 2019 draft season, but he suffered an injury and missed a good chunk of the season. He returned and played in the Pac-12 championship game as well as the Bowl game against Ohio State. He looked like he was back to his pre-injury self in those games, so I’m excited to see what he does this year. I thought Adams did a good job using his length to keep defenders off of his chest creating some separation. Adams has really good recovery speed when he gets beat off the edge. It doesn’t happen a whole lot, however, he’s great at using his recovery speed to guide defenders way outside the pocket. In the running game, I saw him use leverage and leg drive in order to create displacement at the line of scrimmage. If Adams can continue to improve this season and stay healthy he will be in the first round conversation come draft time. 

 

Number Four: 

Alaric Jackson, Junior, Iowa 

IMG_2996

Not gonna lie to you all this is where the drop off point for me is in the tackles I’ve seen so far. For the first three players, I saw paths for them to be first round picks but from here on out I am a lot more skeptical. Jackson has plenty of good traits as the starting left tackle for the Hawkeyes. I think he has good natural length and does a good job of using it to keep defenders at bay. I thought he did a solid job of handling multiple pass rush moves when the defender was able to string them together. Jackson was effective when asked to seal block on the outside creating some good running lanes. Something negative that popped out on tape for me was that Jackson seemed to end up on the ground too often for me. In the running game, especially, I saw too many reps where defenders would just swim move him to the ground and then disrupt the play. I saw a couple of reps where he fired out in the run game and barely made contact with anyone at all. To be fair, I did watch him right after I watched Wirfs and the difference in the physicality they play with is startling. I don’t wanna sound too down on Jackson because he does plenty of things that I like but he’s a couple of steps behind his teammate at this stage in the process. 

 

Number Five: 

Calvin Throckmorton, Senior, Oregon

IMG_2997

Here we have yet another Oregon offensive lineman making it into my top 5. Throckmorton is a weird player to watch on tape because he will move around the Oregon offensive line during the course of one drive. Throckmorton logs most of his reps at right tackle but played a couple of games at right guard. Ironically, I actually think Throckmorton’s tape at right tackle is much better than his tape at guard. Throckmorton did a good job using his length and natural play strength to move guys in the running game. As a pass blocker, I thought Throckmorton did a good job getting to his spots and using his hands to stun defenders. I thought Throckmorton lacked athletic ability on tape. He wasn’t asked to pull out in front of a lot of runs and didn’t look overly smooth when out in space. Throckmorton’s versatility makes him a relatively safe prospect to project to the NFL level. 

 

Numbers 6-10:  

Number 6: Prince Tega-Wanogho, Senior, Auburn 

Number 7: Lucas Niang, Senior, TCU

Number 8: Walker Little, Junior, Stanford 

Number 9: Trey Smith, Junior, Tennessee

Number 10: Brady Ailleo, Senior, Oregon  

 

Players I need to Watch still: 

Number 1: Mekhi Becton, Junior, Louisville

Number 2: Austin Jackson, Junior, USC

Number 3: Drew Richmond, RS Junior, Tennessee

Prospect Preview: 2020 Interior Offensive Linemen

For a long time, the interior of the O-line was a position that was neglected by a lot of NFL teams in the draft. Recently, however, we have seen an uptick of interior O-lineman being taken in the first round of the draft. In 2018 we saw four interior linemen go in the first 35 picks of the draft including three first rounders. Quenton Nelson went 6th to the Colts, Billy Price went 20th to the Bengals, Frank Ragnow went 21st to the Lions, and Will Hernandez went 34th to the Giants. In 2019, we saw Chris Lindstrom get taken 14th overall by the Atlanta Falcons. 

I remind you all of this because the interior of the offensive line is just as important as the offensive tackles. These are the people who need to block the likes of Aaron Donald, Chris Jones, and Geno Atkins. 

Sometimes I like to divide centers from guards but the positions are becoming more and more blurred with so many players being able to play both guard spots and center. This year’s class has some really intriguing interior players so let’s get to it. 

As always any comments and questions feel free to reach out on Twitter @DanteCollinelli

 

Number One: 

Tyler Biadasz, Junior, Wisconsin 

IMG_2979

Wisconsin just seems to have an assembly line of NFL offensive lineman every single season. Last year Biadasz was one of four Wisconsin O-linemen who could have entered the 2019 draft, but he chose to go back to school for his Junior season. Due to his movement skills, elite anchor, and fantastic mirroring skills Biadasz was a top 25 player for me until he made the choice to go back to school. I found out, on Twitter, recently that the NFL draft decision committee gave Biadasz a “Return to School” grade, which is outrageous. I don’t think they saw the same tape that I did because he would have been a  first-round pick last year. Biadasz uses leverage and leg drive to be a people mover in the run game and does a great job pulling out into space to be the lead blocker on running plays. I’m interested to see how Biadasz handles having so many new offensive linemen around him this season. Continuity is big deal for a lineman, so Biadasz will have a lot of adapting to do this season. 

 

Number Two: 

Creed Humphrey, RS Sophomore, Oklahoma 

IMG_2980

Oklahoma had one of the best offenses in the entire country which had plenty to do with their talent at all the skill positions but their offensive line didn’t get enough credit. Dru Samia, Ben Powers, and Bobby Evans were all drafted in 2019. With that said, Humphrey might be the best of the group. He does a great job moving to the second level and finishing linebackers while having a great anchor in the passing game. He does a great job sliding his feet and looking to help out his fellow guards with the more troublesome interior defenders. Humphrey is inexperienced so he could use some more work identifying twists and stunts up front. He’s a prospect that I will be looking for to take a huge jump in play this season despite having a lot of new faces around him. All of the physical tools are there for him to be a first-round pick, so if he continues to build on a strong freshman season look for Humphrey to shoot up boards around draft season. 

 

Number Three: 

Shane Lemieux, Senior, Oregon

IMG_2982

The Oregon offensive line has 5 players that will at least get a look from NFL teams, and two of them will appear on this list (Spoiler Alert). Lemieux is up first for me, and I know that may be an unpopular opinion. Lemieux comes in third for me because I just love his style of play up front. I’m a sucker for guards that are absolute bulldogs in the run game and have that killer mentality up front. Will Hernandez ended up being a top 20 player for me in 2018, and I see a lot of the same style when it comes to Lemieux. The senior guard does a great job using leverage, hand usage, and leg drive to move people in the running game. I saw him finish so many people into the ground on tape which really gets my blood pumping. In the passing game, I think Lemieux has a good enough anchor to hold up against some of the bigger DTs in the NFL. Lemieux struggles a bit in space and isn’t a great climber to the second level which limits his upside a good bit. If Lemieux can improve his pass blocking technique and prove to be a better player in space then he can be the first true “guard” off the board in April. 

 

Number Four: 

Jake Hanson, Senior, Oregon

IMG_2981

Here is the other Oregon player that I promised to be on the list. Hanson is widely considered to be the best of the Oregon offensive lineman by the draft community, and I like him a good bit. If Lemieux is considered to be the hammer of the Oregon line then I would call Hanson the scalpel. He’s a great mover in space and looks to have some great burst out of his stance when asked to be the lead blocker on outside concepts. Hanson has good technique in the passing game using his powerful hands to stun defenders in there tracks while using his anchor to just absorb power rushers. I wish Hanson took a little more after Lemieux when it comes to the running game. He’s not bad in the running game by any extent, but I just wish he finished guys a little more often instead of just riding them. Hanson has the highest ceiling of the Oregon O-line, so I’m excited to see what he does this season in order to build on an already strong resume. 

 

Number Five: 

Matt Hennessey, Senior, Temple 

IMG_2983

Y’all thought I wasn’t gonna be a homer at least once on these prospect previews? While there may be some prospects from more prestigious schools Hennessey provides a certain level of safety as a prospect that others don’t. If you follow Pro Football Focus on Twitter then you have probably seen that Hennessey grades out pretty well in almost every category. On tape, I saw a smart player who used angles and leverage to create running lanes for his backs. He knew when to disengage and get to the second level in order to seal off linebackers. I thought he did a good job at handling twists and stunts up front. In the passing game, I liked Hennesey’s anchor and ability to always get the job done. Hennessey is a little limited as an athlete and didn’t show the greatest burst or movement skills in space. Outside of that, it is quite hard to find a real weakness in Hennessey’s game because he is just so solid. Temple will be in a different offensive scheme this season, so I’m excited to see if Hennessey can continue to be such a solid blocker in the middle of the line.

 

Numbers 6-13

Number 6: Alex Leatherwood, Junior, Alabama

Number 7: Ben Bredson, Senior, Michigan

Number 8: Nick Harris, Senior, Washington

Number 9: Tommy Kreamer, Senior, Notre Dame

Number 10: Darryl Williams, Senior, Mississippi State

Number 11: Tremayne Anchrum, Senior, Clemson

Number 12: John Simpson, Senior, Clemson

Number 13: Logan Stenburgh, Senior, Kentucky

 

Players I need to watch still:

Number 1: Cohl Cabral, Senior, Arizona State

Number 2: Zach Shackleford, Senior, Texas

Number 3: Josh Knipel, Senior, Iowa State

Number 4: Kenny Cooper, Senior, Georgia Tech

Number 5: Joe Runyan, Fifth Year Senior, Michigan

Prospect Preview: 2020 Tight Ends

The tight end position has undergone a renaissance of the sort in the modern day NFL. Back in the early days, the tight end was just an extra blocker on the end of the line. Now, they are often times asked to do more receiving then actual blocking. 

Last years tight end class featured two first-round picks both of which finished draft season as top 10 overall prospects on my board. Outside of Noah Fant and TJ Hockenson, the rest of the 2019 class was considered to be deep and versatile. Sadly, after previewing the 2020 tight end class I am less than impressed. Don’t let that get your hopes down though because we still have the entire 2019 college football season before we can be certain about this classes talent level. 

Let’s jump into in my preseason tight end rankings for the 2020 draft class. As always if you have any comments or questions hit me up on Twitter @DanteCollinelli

 

Number One: 

Brycen Hopkins, Fifth Year Senior, Purdue 

IMG_2971

This is by far the hottest take so far in my “prospect preview series”. Hopkins is a relatively unknown prospect with very little recognition outside of the dire hard draft community. I was skeptical of Hopkins at first, but man he won me over with his fluidity and well-rounded game. Most of the tight ends in this class are much more receiver types than blocking types, and Hopkins was by far the smoothest of them all. His ability to flip his hips quickly and snap off routes separates him from the pack. Hopkins is able to do damage after the catch because it usually takes a couple of defenders to bring him down. My only concern with Hopkins is his usage in the Purdue offense. Most of his catches and targets are designed by the offense rather than him uncovering against man coverage. There is a play in the thread below that shows Hopkins getting open against man coverage, so I have some hope for him to improve in that category this year. If he continues to expand his game and gets some more production this season Hopkins could become a household name once the draft rolls around. 

Number Two: 

Grant Calcaterra, Junior, Oklahoma

OU TCU COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Remember when I mentioned that most tight ends in this class are more receivers than blockers? Yea so, Calcaterra is basically just a big wide receiver in the Oklahoma offense. He lines up in the slot and on the outside making him a true mismatch weapon for the Sooners. He’s got way to much speed and athleticism for linebackers to hang with him and he’s big enough to give a lot of safeties problems. Calcaterra has exceptional ball skills which are displayed nicely on the thread below. He wins at the catch point while using his body to box out smaller receivers. It is always good to see a big guy who knows he is big and how to use it. I know the NFL is moving toward tight ends who are purely receivers, but some teams will get turned off by Calcaterra’s inability to be an effective blocker. It wouldn’t surprise me if some teams or draft analyst end up grading him as a wide receiver. I’ll end on a positive note though, Calcaterra is much quicker and fluid than I expected which points to a high ceiling as a route runner.  

Number Three: 

Colby Parkinson, Junior, Stanford 

IMG_2973

Mr. Parkinson is massive! He is 6’7 and he uses every bit of that frame for the Stanford Cardinal. Parkinson is an elite redzone threat with his ability to box out defenders and bully them at the catch point. I was expecting Parkinson to be a stiff player because if his massive size, but yet again, I was wrong. Parkinson moves quite well for someone who is 6’7 both vertically and horizontally. Like Calcaterra, Parkinson is essentially just a gigantic extra wide receiver for the Cardinal offering very little as a blocker. Parkinson has yet to be the “starting” tight end for Stanford so it will be interesting to see how he handles being a volume pass-catcher this season. Parkinson does a great job working the seams and sidelines with go routes and fades, but I would love to see his route tree expand a little bit this season. Again, because Parkinson lacks true blocking ability that may turn some teams off from him. Parkinson screams potential, and I can’t wait to see what he does in 2019. 

Number Four: 

Hunter Bryant, Junior, Washington

IMG_2974

Okay so of all the tight ends that made my top five Bryant is by far the purest receiver. Occasionally you will see Parkinson or Calcaterra attempt to stay in and block but Bryant is 100% a receiver. He’s got an excellent athletic profile especially if you classify him as a tight end as Washington does. I would highly recommend going to YouTube and watching his highlight videos because there are some truly fantastic acrobatic catches on there. He’s a matchup nightmare and a legit threat after the catch. Not to beat a dead horse, but again tight ends who can’t block won’t be every team’s cup of tea. Another concern with Bryant is his availability on game days. Bryant has been banged up throughout his career and Washington has him listed at 6’2 and 240 which is smalllllllllll for a tight end. Teams usually like to inflate numbers so that means he may even be shorter and skinnier than what they have him listed. Bryant is due for a breakout season and will have better quarterback play with Jacob Eason becoming the starter instead of Jake Browning. He strikes me as the type of player who wows teams at the combine and shoots up draft boards late in the process. 

 

Number Five: 

Micthell Wilcox, Senior, South Florida 

IMG_2975

I’m very familiar with Mitchell Wilcox as a draft prospect already despite it being so early in the process. He’s a player I got to scout live last season when South Florida visited Temple, and I watched some tape on him for last years draft because there were some rumblings he would declare with the 2019 class. Number one thing that sticks out with Wilcox is his mindset. This man hustles and puts effort into every play whether he is blocking or running routes. He’s one of the toughest prospects I have scouted so far. He works the middle of the field with no fear of taking big hits from safeties and linebackers alike. I saw him haul in some truly impressive catches while getting hammered over the middle. Wilcox is the only tight end on this list who I think has a chance to be a combo tight end. That means he can block and be a receiver. He’s not a great blocker by any stretch of the imagination but there are some good reps on his tape as both a run blocker and pass blocker. Wilcox doesn’t project as a great athlete which why he falls down to number 5 for me. He doesn’t appear to be explosive or very quick on tape which limits his upside a bit. Wilcox is a solid tight end prospect with a somewhat well-rounded game that I think is worth keeping an eye on. 

 

Numbers 6-12: 

 

Number 6: Jared Pinckney, RS Senior, Vanderbilt 

Number 7: Jacob Breeland, Senior, Oregon 

Number 8: Albert Okwuegbunam, RS Junior, Missouri 

Number 9: Harrison Byrant, Senior, FAU

Number 10: Luke Farrell, Junior, Ohio State 

Number 11: Kenny Yeboah, RS Junior, Temple 

Number 12: Brandon Fritts, Senior, North Carolina 

 

Players I need to watch still: 

 

Number 1: Chase Allen, RS Junior, Iowa State 

Number 2: Sean Mckeon, Senior, Michigan 

Number 3: Matt Bushman, Junior, BYU

Number 4: Jared Rice, Senior, Fresno State,

Prospect Preview: 2020 Wide Receivers

Wide receiver is one of my favorite positions to watch because of how diverse and nuanced the position is right now. There are many diverse types of receivers with different strengths and weaknesses. Smaller receivers are typically better with quickness and route running, but can’t high point the ball. Bigger receivers have trouble with route running but have great straight line speed and can high point the ball. There are a million variations with plenty of exceptions to those rules and that’s what makes this so fun. The nuance of the position lies with route running which has become one of the biggest predictors of success in the NFL. A receiver who knows when to make a well-timed head fake or stutter step can be extremely valuable.

The 2020 receiver class is something out of a dream because of the abundance of talent. Last years class was okay but didn’t have the “top-10” potential as this one does. In fact, I think the top two players on this list have a chance to finish the preseason in my top 10 overall players. The class is so deep that I had trouble separating all the players from 3-9 and then had trouble with 9-15. Everyone is so talented this year that I can already tell rankings are going to stress me out when April rolls around.

I don’t do official grades this time of year because so much will change over the upcoming season and draft process. Using some inference powers, however, I can say that at least all of my top 10 receivers would get consideration in my top 50 overall players. Meaning that none of them would get anything lower than a third-round grade for me. I can also say that my entire top-5 would get at least close to a first-round grade. For reference, I had just one first-round grade on a receiver last year (DK Metcalf).  

 

Number One:

Jerry Juedy, Junior, Alabama

IMG_2948

I have so many good things to say about Jerry Juedy I don’t even know where to start. He just makes everything on the football field look so easy and smooth despite going against tough competition in the SEC. His route running at all three levels of the field is great which combined with elite speed and quickness makes him a mismatch nightmare. He makes acrobatic catches pointing to superior athletic ability and strong reliable hands. He’s a hassle to bring down after the catch due to pretty juke moves and good spatial awareness. He does a good job with his releases at the line of scrimmage giving him instant separation. The only question mark with Juedy is how effective he is at the catch point. He’s not that big and typically when he is downfield he is already 15 yards behind the defense, so he doesn’t get a lot of “high pointing” opportunities. However, Juedy does have great body control allowing him to make diving and jumping catches so some of the traits are present for him to be successful in that area. Juedy is making an early push for my top overall player in the class.

Number Two:

Ceedee Lamb, Junior, Oklahoma

IMG_2949

Ceedee Lamb stood out to me a lot last season when scouting Kyler Murray, and I was not disappointed when I got to his tape this summer. For a smaller receiver, Lamb’s ability to win at the catch point and downfield is truly incredible. He makes acrobatic catches going over bigger cornerbacks all the time. When it comes to route running Lamb displays good vertical burst and lateral quickness allowing him to create separation. He showed some nuance in his route running by using head fakes and stutter steps to throw defensive backs off of their timing. Like Juedy, Lamb’s athletism jumps off the page with all the leaping and diving catches he’s able to make. In the thread below you’ll see the one-handed catch he made against UCLA. If that catch doesn’t convince you of his athletic traits then I don’t know what will. Lamb is in the conversation for WR 1 and a top-10 player on my preseason board.

Number Three:

Laviska Shenault, Junior, Colorado

IMG_2950

This is where things started to get difficult for me because I considered about six other players for this spot. I ended up going with Shenault due to his versatility as a player and his sheer production on the field. Shenault basically made up all of the Buffalo’s total yardage through their first five games last season, and when he got hurt Colorado went a huge losing streak. Shenault lines up all over the formation including the X position, in the slot, as a running back, and even as an H-Back. Shenualt is one of the most effective receivers in the country with the ball in his hands. He’s got great moves in the open field and has the power to push piles and an extra couple of yards. He’s got great hands which allows him to make plenty of catches outside of his body giving him a huge catch radius. His ability to track the ball down the field makes him a legit deep threat to go along with his prowess on shorter routes. I would love to see Shenault stay healthy and do some more traditional receiver things in the 2019 season, but his versatility and athletic profile are super intriguing.

Number Four:

Tylan Wallace, Junior, Oklahoma State

IMG_2951

I don’t think you can be more of a Tylan Wallace fan than I am right now. Wallace blew me away after watching his film this week. Wallace is known as a premier deep threat at Oklahoma State, and he definitely lived up to his title. Wallace does a great job of tracking the ball down the field and has the body control/athleticism to make difficult catches on poorly thrown balls. He’s a smaller player but he was able to win a considerable number of jump balls at the catch point. Wallace has plenty of downhill speed to run straight by most defensive backs. Plus he’s a good deep route runner, so he checks every box you would have for a deep threat. The question I had with Wallace is how effective would he be in the shorter areas of the field? Well, I was happy to see that  Wallace deserves more credit for his short to intermediate route running. He’s got fluid hips and quick feet which makes for an easy projection heading into the NFL. My issues with Wallace are centered mostly around his limited route tree and occasional concentration drop. If he can iron some things out and expand his game a little more then Wallace could remain in the top five come April.

Number Five:

Colin Johnson, Senior, Texas

IMG_2952

Johnson is the first senior to make my top 5, however, he is the third receiver from the Big 12 conference to be on the list. Johnson stands out immediately when you but on his tape because of his massive 6’6 size. He does all the things well you would expect from someone his size like winning at the catch point, winning in jump ball situations, and winning in the red zone. While that is great and all the really intriguing part of Johnson’s game is how smooth he moves for someone of his size. He doesn’t appear to be stiff in the hips and looks like he has enough deep speed to be effective downfield in the NFL. Not only that, but he makes a lot of very difficult catches away from his body that point to an advanced athletic profile. My biggest concern with Johnson is that he is a bit of a one trick pony. His one trick is really great, but I would like to see him do a little more than just run go routes and fade routes. I say this because I think Johnson is capable of doing more not because I think he can’t.

 

Numbers 6-16

Number 6: Henry Ruggs, Junior, Alabama

Number 7: Tee Higgins, Junior, Clemson

Number 8: Tyler Johnson, Senior, Minnesota

Number 9: Donavan Peoples-Jones, Junior, Michigan

Number 10: KJ Hill, Senior, Ohio State

Number 11: Bryan Edwards, Senior, South Carolina

Number 12: Denzel Mims, Senior, Baylor

Number 13: Isaiah Wright, Senior, Temple

Number 14: TJ Vasher, Junior, Texas Tech

Number 15: Tarik Black, Junior, Michigan

Number 16: Kendrick Rodgers, Junior, Texas A@M

 

Players I need to Watch

Number 1: Devonta Smith, Junior, Alabama

Number 2: Tyrie Clevland, Junior, Florida

Number 3: Kalija Lipscomb, Senior, Vanderbilt

Number 4: Micheal Pittman Jr, Senior, USC

Number 5: Marquez Calloway, Senior, Tennessee

Prospect Preview: 2020 Running Backs

Scouting and ranking running backs is something that I struggle with almost every draft season. There is a huge debate about whether or not the position is even valuable anymore. If you ask some of the people who focus only on the analytics they will tell you that running ball is futile unless you score a touchdown every time. I don’t agree with those numbers or theories because I think a good running game makes everything easier on offense and that’s valuable to me.

Not only do I have to deal with the question “How valuable are running backs in today’s NFL?”, but I also must ask the question “Which style of running back is most valuable in today’s NFL?”. That is where I start to fight with myself while making rankings which is why this article is slightly late. It’s a lot like picking ice cream because there are so many different “flavors” of running backs. You have pure speed backs, receiving backs, one-cut backs, and power backs. You have shifty backs, stiff backs, and a lot of players who are somewhere in between. Figuring out which style a running back is and if it’s valuable or not is a long process.

The 2020 class is filled with high upside talent at the running back position after what I would consider to be a down year in 2019. I scouted 13 players for this summer preview and have 4 left over that I either didn’t get to or didn’t find enough tape on to feel good about ranking them. Full disclosure, I generally like all 13 running backs that I have ranked, so if you feel like your favorite guy is too far down the list just remember I don’t think they are bad. It’s a stacked class so some talented backs are further down the list.

As always if you have any comments or suggestions on some players I am missing feel free to hit me up on Twitter @DanteCollinelli.

 

Number One:

D’andre Swift, Junior, Georgia

NCAA Football: Vanderbilt at Georgia

During last season’s SEC championship game I tweeted out that I wish Swift was draft eligible for 2019 because he would have been RB 1 for me. Well, that was before I put Swift’s tape under the microscope and oh boy I was impressed when I finally did. The two best words to describe Swift are dynamic and versatile. His ability to make people miss in the open field and in tight quarters is intoxicating to watch. He’s versatile as a runner because he poesses quickness, power, and long speed all bundled together. Swift will use them all on runs sometimes and it just makes you think “What can’t this guy do?. His ability to be a legit receiver out of the backfield adds another layer to his versatility. I struggled to find things that I think Swift is “bad” at. Is he better at some things than others? Yes. Does he have any glaring weaknesses though? I honestly don’t think that he does. Remember how I was talking about ice cream earlier? Well, Swift is if all the flavors were combined and it still tasted good. He’s truly a unique player, and I can’t wait to watch him more this season. 

Number Two:

Travis Etienne, Junior, Clemson  

IMG_2927

Etienne is known for his world-class long speed that he used it to burn defenders during the entire 2018 season. People, the young man can scoot! Etienne might end up being the fastest running back that I’ve scouted in my young career. He breaks down the angles of would-be tacklers so easily and it’s a pleasure to watch. In scouting, we talk about running backs having a “third gear” which refers to there max speed. Etienne is one of the few guys who has a “fourth gear” that he can get to. What makes his speed so effective is the great acceleration he has when hitting the hole. In short, it doesn’t take him very long to hit that “fourth gear” he’s so blessed with. Etienne surprised me with how good his contact balance is and how often he would break tackles in the weeds of the defense. He played with more power and urgency than some of the bigger running backs in this class. My only real complaints with Etienne are that he doesn’t have great usage in the passing game, and I wish he had a little more “shake” in his game. Etienne is a true homerun hitter which is where the NFL is trending at the running back position.

Number Three:

Jonathan Taylor, Junior, Wisconsin

IMG_2928

It feels like I’ve been watching Jonathan Taylor forever at the University of Wisconsin, but he’s just a junior. Taylor has spent the last two seasons making up about 85% of Wisconsin’s offense since they are allergic to good quarterback play. Taylor’s best trait is the way he blends both speed and power. Taylor does a great a job hammering away at the defense picking up 5-7 yards every play by running between the tackles. What surprised me was how many times he used his long speed to break away from defenders and create long touchdown runs. I was worried that Taylor would be a little one-dimensional, however, I could not have been more wrong. He even showed that he could run out of the shotgun later in the season when they switched quarterbacks (See Miami game). The two things I worry about with Taylor is milage and strength of his offensive line. Taylor is used as a workhorse for Wisconsin, so it’s hard not to wonder if he has used up some of his prime years already. Wisconsin’s offense line produces NFL talent every single season, and on tape, you can see them making Taylor’s job quite easy. The question for Taylor will be: Can he create for himself when things breakdown?

Number Four:

Ke’Shawn Vaughn, RS Senior, Vanderbilt

IMG_2929

Vaughn was an unknown to me heading into this scouting series. Despite seeing some things on Twitter about him, I was in the dark for the most part. Vaughn’s ability to break big-time runs jumped out to me right away. I encourage you to go watch his performance against Baylor in last years bowl game. He broke a couple of long touchdowns in that game all of which showed his amazing burst and long speed. Vaughn displayed some pretty nice contact balance allowing him to pick up a lot of extra yards after initial contact. He did a great job staying patient allowing his blockers to set up in front of him too. Vaughn carries enough shake in his game to make people miss in the open field, but he prefers to run them over most of the time. Vaughn is one of the few senior running backs in this class with some national media attention, so he’s got a unique opportunity to make himself the best running back of the senior class. However, he needs to get more involved in the passing game and be a little more decisive at the mesh point before he can claim that crown.

 

Number Five:

Zach Moss, Senior, Utah

IMG_2930

Moss is the other senior running back who has an early chance to be the best of the 4-year players. Like Vaughn, Moss wasn’t on my radar until I started working on this summer scouting series. I love running backs who hit the hole hard and Moss does that all the time so he quickly moved up my rankings. I thought his speed at the second level was great and pointed to him being a homerun hitter. If you haven’t noticed, that has been a common theme with all of these running backs so far. Moss posses solid contact balance and always fell forward for extra yardage which is another trait that I love to see in my running backs. One of the most frustrating things about Moss’s tape is that Utah lined him up as a wide receiver often but never threw him the ball. He would line up wide and in the slot only to be used as a decoy or as a blocker. When given a chance he looked natural catching the ball, but I need to see more of it. I have some questions about his vision as well. He can sometimes just miss holes entirely or just not wait long enough for them to open up. If Moss can make his vision more consistent and continue to be explosive he will shoot up boards during draft season when everyone catches on.

 

Numbers 6-13

 

Number 6: AJ Dillion, Junior, Boston College

Number 7: JK Dobbins, Junior, Ohio State

Number 8: Anthony Mcfarland, RS Sophomore, Maryland

Number 9: Reggie Corbin, Junior, Illinois

Number 10: Najee Harris, Junior, Alabama

Number 11: Eno Benjamin, Junior, Arizona State  

Number 12: Cam Akers, Junior, Florida State

Number 13: Kylin Hill, Junior, Mississippi State

 

Players I still have to watch/ need more tape on

 

Number 1: JJ Taylor, RS Junior, Arizona

Number 2: Darryton Evans, Junior, Appalachian State

Number 3: Greg Mccare, Junior, Central Florida

Number 4: Micheal Warren II, Junior, Cincinnati

Prospect Preview: 2020 Quarterbacks

I remember sitting down to write my prospect preview for quarterbacks last year and having a bad taste in my mouth. Last years class was bad, especially, when you consider that Kyler Murray and Dwayne Haskins were not on people’s radar until the middle of the college football season. This years class, however, is much better with some established talents along with quarterbacks I’m excited to see make big improvements in their play this season. I’ll break down my top 5 quarterbacks from the film I’ve watched so far and then give you the rest of my list after that. I watched 15 quarterbacks in total so far, but still have some I will get to before the season starts.

For each of my top 5 quarterbacks, I’ll include a brief explanation of what they do well and what they need to improve on this season. I will also link a Twitter thread that I posted with some game film explaining some of their better plays from last season. Also, remember these are preseason rankings a lot will change by the time I start actually grading these players. Let’s get the ball rolling with number one, shall we?

 

Number One:

Tua Tagovailoa, Junior, Alabama

IMG_2902

Tua burst onto the scene when he saved the Alabama season two years ago by leading a second-half comeback against the Georgia Bulldogs in the National Championship game. Since then, the draft community has billed him as a future number one pick with lots of potential. The tape that I watched was very impressive and might be worthy of the top overall pick. Tua’s ability to throw with touch to all three levels of the field jumps out right away. He anticipates well and throws before his receivers make their breaks. He does a great job using pump fakes to move safeties off of his eventual target. My favorite trait, however, is his movement while inside the pocket. He does a masterful job of stepping up and sliding left or right to avoid pressure in order to make accurate throws. My biggest concern right now with Tua is centered around his health. He was banged up during the end of the season and had a minor procedure done on his ankle. If Tua can stay healthy and improve with processing coverages it will be hard to argue against him as QB 1 next April.

Number two:

Justin Herbert, Senior, Oregon

IMG_1986
Justin Herbert

Last year, Justin Herbert entered the season as my QB 1 and remained there until he chose to go back to school for his senior year. He gets unseated by Tua here, but I think the gap between them is much closer than people think. Herbert is a big athletic quarterback who throws a beautiful ball. Herbert looks like he has above-average arm strength that lets him work in the middle of the field effectively. He works the quick game well by being on time with the football and taking what the defense gives him. Herbert is great when asked to throw on the run keeping his accuracy and velocity despite being off platform. My biggest concern with Herbert is centered around how much the Oregon offense inflates his stats. This isn’t uncommon for college quarterbacks, but the Oregon offense does give him a lot of easy completions that won’t be there in the NFL. If Herbert continues to improve in the mental areas of the game (and gets some receivers who can catch) he has a chance to compete for the number one quarterback spot in the 2020 class.

Number three:

Jake Fromm, Junior, Georgia

IMG_2903

If you are heavily involved in draft Twitter then you know that Jake Fromm is not exactly loved by the community. I understand the concerns that some people have with Fromm, but I think he does way more things well than he does poorly. Fromm works the quick game exceptionally well working on time with his receivers and has good ball placement. Fromm is a master of the back shoulder throw consistently throwing it with timing and accuracy to all levels of the field. Fromm, typically, does a good job with reading defenses and attacking his one v one matchups which is a trait that few college quarterbacks have. The complaints against Fromm I feel like can be summarized into one category “he plays it way too safe by checking down all the time”. I agree with that complaint and would love to see him stretch the field more while being more accurate with his deep ball. Saying Fromm is bad because he plays it safe at times is just a bad take though. I think the real issue is that he has some unfair expectations placed on him. People are expecting him to be more dynamic than he is because he forced two other 5-star quarterbacks to transfer out of Georgia. Fromm is a super solid option at quarterback and has a whole year to show he is more dynamic as a passer so let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Number four:

KJ Costello, Junior, Stanford

KJ Costello

Costello caught my eye last season when I was watching tape on former Stanford receiver JJ Arcega-Whiteside. After doing my film study on him earlier this week I was pleasantly surprised by what I saw. Costello works the seams and the middle of the field very well because of good arm strength and good ball placement. I mention this trait because some college quarterbacks can be totally averse to using the middle of the field. Like Fromm, Costello throws a lot of nice back shoulder throws, especially in the red zone. He knew the strengths of his receivers and tight ends, and he always gave them a chance to go up and make a play on the ball. I liked that he took advantage of soft coverage a lot allowing his receivers to just eat up easy yards. Costello struggles at times with his accuracy when he has to move off of platform. If he’s allowed to stand in and make throws he is fine but when asked to move he can struggle. He has a tendency to throw off his back foot at times which needs to be cleaned up this season. One last thing about Costello, I would like to see him throw with way more touch in 2020 its missing from his tape. If Costello can clean up those things then I think you have a quarterback prospect who makes NFL throws and has improved every year. That is really all you can ask for at this point in the draft process.

Number Five:

Jordan Love, Junior, Utah State

IMG_2905

I tend to be pretty skeptical of small school quarterbacks with big-time arms, so Jordan Love was pretty far down my watch list. Clearly, he surprised and impressed quite a bit to make into my top 5. The first thing that jumped out to me was Love’s arm strength to all levels of the field. He’s got an absolute cannon and can rip it with the best of them. He surprised me by showing off some touch throws, which I highlighted in my mini film breakdown on Twitter. Love also has excellent movement skills which allows him to scramble forward for yards and create easy throwing lanes for himself. I liked that Utah State, despite running a very simple offense, gave Love some freedom to audible at the line last year. The problems with Love are typical of quarterbacks with a lot of arm strength. He can be erratic at times and will overthrow receivers leading to easy interceptions. Utah State’s offense gives him a lot of easy looks with screen and swing passes, so that’s another concern for me as well. If Love can take a jump in the mental part of the game and improve his accuracy then we might be looking at a first-round quarterback in April.

Numbers 6-15

 

Number 6: Jacob Eason, Junior, Washington

Number 7: Brian Lewereke, Senior, Michigan State

Number 8: Cole Mcdonald, RS Junior, Hawaii

Number 9: Shea Patterson, Senior, Michigan

Number 10: Steven Montez, Senior, Colorado

Number 11: Jake Bently, Senior, South Carolina

Number 12: Joe Burrow, Senior, LSU

Number 13: Sam Ehlinger, Junior, Texas

Number 14: Felipe Franks, Junior, Florida

Number 15: Nate Stanly, Senior, Iowa

 

Players I still need to watch

Number 1: Jalen Hurts, Senior, Oklahoma

Number 2: Blake Barnett, Senior, South Florida

Number 3: Shane Buechele, Senior, SMU

Number 4: Anthony Russo, RS Junior, Temple

Number 5: Riley Neal, Graduate Student, Vanderbilt

Number 6: Jarrett Guarantano, RS Junior, Tennessee