1st Round players to watch in the 2020 NFL draft
With the 2020 NFL Draft kicking off Thursday night, hear are my 1st round players to watch this year.
Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
The one name everyone will be highly anticipating. Once thought of as the top player in this draft, a late season injury has lowered Tua’s draft stock. Depending on who you ask, some experts will say he still goes in the top 5, and others will say he slides even further. Will Tua be the 2nd QB drafted or will the likes of Justin Herbert and Jordan Loves jump past him?
Jordan Love, QB, Utah State
Love is another name experts and teams have been split on. Some will say he’s a first rounder or even a top 10 pick. Yet, others will say he’s a day 2 project. Love has tremendous upside and unlocked potential. I’ll be watching to see the fit he has with the team that takes him and how long he remains on the board.
QBs Jacob Eason, Washington, and Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma
I grouped these two together because they have similar projections and uncertainty. Both could easily sneak into the first round or fall to Day 2. Hurts fits the more athletic trend emerging at the QB position, so I think he’d be the more likely candidate. I have concerns with his decision making and some other aspects of his game that would keep me from using a first round selection on him. Eason, on the other hand, has a huge arm, much in the mold of Josh Allen or Matthew Stafford. He doesn’t have the same running ability as Allen, but the arm makes him an enticing option for teams that like the deep ball.
Will there be a first round running back? The way I see it, there are 3 options: Georgia’s D’Andre Swift, Wisconsin’s Johnathan Taylor, and Ohio State’s J.K. Dobbins. None are worthy of going in the first half of round 1, but 1 or 2 could sneak into the back end. Teams can be reluctant to draft an RB in the first because of durability and longevity concerns. It also doesn’t help that the league has become so reliant on the passing game.
Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina
Kinlaw is a monster of a prospect, who gained steam with an outstanding Senior Bowl week. Although he got injured early and had to leave, his impact was still felt. He has elite abilities, and a team will getting a fantastic player with him. He is widely thought of as the 2nd best DT prospect behind Auburn’s Derrick Brown. Kinlaw has more of a pass rushing ability, and some see him as a top prospect. Still, the debate continues. Will Kinlaw crack the top 10 or see himself slide down the board?
Isaiah Simmons, ATH, Clemson
Simmons’s position is Defense. He can play anywhere and do it well. He can cover receivers as a corner, pass rush, drop back to safety, play linebacker. You name it, he’s probably done it. He projects best as a 4-3 outside linebacker, possessing the unique ability to cover the transcendent tight ends of this generation. Who gets him and how do they decide to use him?
Jeff Gladney, CB, TCU
Gladney’s name has not been brought up enough. He played well at a position that is not easy in the Big 12 Conference. Almost every week, he was stacked up against an elite NFL receiving prospect. Gladney is an underrated candidate for the late first round. More than likely, he’ll be a Day 2 selection, but don’t be surprised if someone likes him enough on Day 1.
Damon Arnette, CB, Ohio State
So much of the spotlight is on Ohio State’s other corner prospect, Jeff Okudah. While Okudah is the better of the two, don’t sleep on Arnette. The guy can play. He’s got the measurables and the physicality to succeed in the league. So much so that he received a first round grade from the advisory committee last year but decided to return to school. He now finds himself in a similar situation as Gladney: fringe 1st round but probably Day 2 player.
Cesar Ruiz, C, Michigan
A late addition to the 1st round players to watch list, the Michigan offensive lineman is one of the hottest names shooting up boards before the draft. He has the versatility to play both guard and center and would be a huge upgrade to any offensive line. He’s projected to go late in the first to early in the second round. I’d start watching for him around pick 17 with Dallas. I’m not saying that’s who will pick him, but that is the first spot I think he will be considered a viable option.
AJ Epenesa, DL, Iowa
Once thought of as the consensus second best edge rusher and a top 5 to 10 pick, Epenesa has seen his stock fall a bit. A large part of that is his slower 40 time from the NFL Combine. He’s now seeing projections fall anywhere from the middle first round to high second round. Not terrible, but a far cry from initial projections. He’s a very productive player, and at 6’6″ 275 lbs, has a great frame for a defensive lineman. He’s most played defensive end but could probably play some DT on pass rushing downs as well. He may go in the first round, but if he doesn’t, he won’t have to wait long on Day 2.
There you have it! Those are my 1st round players to watch. Enjoy the draft weekend everyone and feel free to mention anyone I may be missing in the comments.