With LSU crowned the national champions, all prospects eligible for the 2020 NFL draft will turn their attention to draft prep (if they hadn’t already).
Both Clemson and LSU are loaded with NFL-caliber talent, some of whom will hear their names called early in future drafts. In fact, it’s likely that both quarterbacks in the national championship will go No. 1 overall in successive drafts—LSU’s Joe Burrow in 2020 and Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence in 2021.
In terms of the players from the title matchup that are eligible for the 2020 NFL Draft, eight of them appear in my top 50, assuming all underclassmen declare themselves for the draft.
The deadline for underclassmen to apply for entry into April’s draft is fast approaching (January 20). Some potential first-rounders—Alabama’s Devonta Smith and Dylan Moses, Florida State’s Marvin Wilson, Stanford’s Paulson Adebo, etc.—have decided to return to school for another season.
With that said, here are top 50 prospects for the 2020 NFL Draft:
1. Chase Young, EDGE, Ohio State | Height: 6' 5" | Weight: 265 pounds
Even though he won’t be the first pick in April, Young’s traits and production are exceptional. The explosive edge rusher led college football in sacks (16.5) and forced fumbles (seven) despite serving a two-game suspension for an NCAA rules violation.
2. Joe Burrow, QB, LSU | Height: 6' 1" | Weight: 216 pounds
Showing incredible poise in the pocket, toughness and accuracy, Burrow’s historic season helped to lead LSU to an undefeated season as he threw 60 touchdowns and only six interceptions. Despite facing seven top-10 opponents, it wasn’t until the national championship game (31/49, 463 yards and five touchdowns) that he failed to reach 70% completion rate this season.
3. Jeffrey Okudah, CB, Ohio State | Height: 6' 1" | Weight: 200 pounds
A first-team AP All-American like Young, Okudah has a legitimate shot at being the first cornerback selected with a top-three pick since 1997 (Shawn Springs to Seattle). Okudah has all the traits teams covet in a shutdown corner—size (6-1, 200), length, fluidity and athleticism—and led the Buckeyes in interceptions (three) and passes defended (12).
4. Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn | Height: 6' 5" | Weight: 318 pounds
Passing on an opportunity to be a first-round pick in 2019, Brown returned to school and has subsequently improved his draft stock. Brown moves well for his size and is dominant against the run as this stat from PFF illustrates.
5. Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama | Height: 6' 1" | Weight: 218 pounds
Provided team doctors are comfortable with his medical evaluations, which at this point are positive, Tagovailoa has shown incredible anticipation, accuracy and touch to all levels of the field at Alabama to warrant a high selection in April.
6. Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson | Height: 6' 4" | Weight: 229 pounds
A converted safety, Simmons is an athletic freak and the ideal modern-day three-down linebacker, but his versatility sets him apart. As PFF notes, he has more than 100 snaps (each) lined up on the defensive line, as a box linebacker, slot corner and free safety this season.
7. Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama | Height: 6' 1" | Weight: 192 pounds
While it was somewhat of a down year compared to his Biletnikoff-winning 2018 campaign, Jeudy closed the season with a bang (6/204/1 against Michigan) to finish with back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. Even if he’d lose a foot race to teammate Henry Ruggs III (then again, who wouldn’t?), Jeudy is an incredibly polished route-runner with breakaway speed himself.
8. CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma | Height: 6' 2" | Weight: 190 pounds
Lamb is a legitimate challenge to Jeudy to be the first receiver off the board in what is an absolutely loaded draft class. While he doesn’t possess elite speed, Lamb is a precise route runner and possesses enough speed to create separation to go along with his outstanding hands and body control.
9. Jedrick Wills, OT, Alabama | Height: 6' 5" | Weight: 320 pounds
A two-year starter at right tackle, Tua’s blind side, Wills is an elite run blocker that improved in pass protection as a junior.
10. Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia | Height: 6' 5" | Weight: 320 pounds
Thomas has started 41 games—15 at right tackle as a freshman and 26 at left tackle over the past two seasons. His combination of strength, athleticism and experience make him ready to start Day 1.
11. A.J. Epenesa, EDGE, Iowa | Height: 6' 6" | Weight: 280 pounds
Getting off to a slow start in 2019, Epenesa turned it on down the stretch with eight sacks and four forced fumbles over his final five games. While he isn’t explosive off the line, his combination of power, length, hand usage and motor make him the second best pass-rusher in this class after Young.
12. Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama | Height: 6' 0" | Weight: 190 pounds
With the ability to take the top off the defense, Ruggs is a legitimate threat to break the record for the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine. While he isn’t just a straight-line speed guy, the electric wideout has averaged 17.91 yards per touch and scored on one of four touches over his collegiate career.
13. Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina | Height: 6' 6" | Weight: 310 pounds
A first-team AP All-American as a senior, Kinlaw has the quickness, power and motor to be disruptive as an interior pass-rusher. Kinlaw has 10 sacks over the past two seasons including six in 2019.
14. Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa | Height: 6' 5" | Weight: 322 pounds
The first true freshman to start at offensive tackle during the Kirk Ferentz era, Wirfs topped Bruce Feldman’s “Freaks List” in 2019. Wirfs has yet to announce his intentions for the 2020 draft, but his strength and movement skills could allow him to play either right or left tackle at the next level.
15. Grant Delpit, S, LSU | Height: 6' 3" | Weight: 203 pounds
Playing through an ankle injury earlier in the season, Delpit struggled at times with missed tackles this year. When he’s at his best, however, Delpit is a true playmaker with eight interceptions and 24 passes defended over his three seasons in Baton Rouge.
16. Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson | Height: 6' 4" | Weight: 215 pounds
Not the type of receiver to blow past defenders, Higgins has a large catch radius and attacks and high points the football well. Excluding his rushing touchdown in Monday’s championship game, Higgins ends his junior season tied with DeAndre Hopkins and Sammy Watkins for the most receiving touchdowns (27) in Clemson history.
17. Yetur Gross-Matos, EDGE, Penn State | Height: 6' 5" | Weight: 265 pounds
With his length, agility and first step, Gross-Matos has been a productive pass-rusher for Penn State with 17 sacks and 34.5 tackles for loss combined over the past two seasons.
18. Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama | Height: 6' 2" | Weight: 207 pounds
The younger brother of Vikings receiver Stefon Diggs, (Trevon) Diggs has an ideal blend of size and athleticism. As a senior, Diggs had three interceptions and led Alabama in pass breakups (eight).
19. C.J. Henderson, CB, Florida | Height: 6' 1" | Weight: 202 pounds
While he isn’t the most reliable tackler, Henderson’s size and elite athleticism will serve him well as a press-man corner at the next level. Even though he had no interceptions in 2019, Henderson had six interceptions over the previous two years combined.
20. Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU | Height: 6' 0" | Weight: 200 pounds
Monday’s performance may not have been Fulton’s best, but the six-foot corner is a fluid athlete with excellent quickness and speed.
21. Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon | Height: 6' 6" | Weight: 237 pounds
A four-year starter at Oregon, Herbert possesses prototypical size, has a cannon for a right arm, is mobile and smart—won Campbell Trophy with a 4.01 GPA. While he makes his fair share of wow plays, it’s his lack of consistency that makes Herbert a polarizing prospect.
22. D’Andre Swift, RB, Georgia | Height: 5' 9" | Weight: 216 pounds
With the versatile skill set to be a three-down back at the next level, Swift is an elusive runner with a tantalizing combination of speed and power. Georgia’s multi-purpose back has rushed for more than 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons and has averaged more than 9.0 yards per catch on his 73 career receptions.
23. J.K. Dobbins, RB, Ohio State | Height: 5' 10" | Weight: 216 pounds
Possessing excellent vision, balance and power, Dobbins broke Eddie George’s single-season school rushing record in 2019. That said, he’s a complete back that has been productive as a receiver (22-plus catches in all three seasons) and competes well in pass protection.
24. Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin | Height: 5' 11" | Weight: 219 pounds
Rushing for more than 6,000 yards and 50 touchdowns in his three-year collegiate career, Taylor has size, power and speed to both run away from defenders and break tackles. While he was more involved as a receiver as a junior, Taylor has had some issues with ball security and handled a monstrous workload—968 touches—while in Madison.
25. Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma | Height: 6' 2" | Weight: 243 pounds
With sideline-to-sideline range and a high motor, Murray has been a tackling machine for the Sooners with more than 100 tackles in each of the past two seasons and 17.0 tackles for loss in 2019.
26. Laviska Shenault, WR, Colorado | Height: 6' 2" | Weight: 225 pounds
Built more like a running back than a wide receiver, Shenault’s physical style and acceleration make him dangerous after the catch.
27. K’Lavon Chaisson, EDGE, LSU | Height: 6' 4" | Weight: 249 pounds
Only 20 years old (turns 21 in late July), Chaisson has elite speed off the edge. While he tore his ACL in the 2018 season opener, Chaisson led LSU in sacks (6.5), TFL (13.5) and QB hurries (six) and was more productive down the stretch with 4.5 sacks in his final four games.
28. Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville | Height: 6' 7" | Weight: 369 pounds
Becton has incredible agility and movement skills for a man his size, which led his former coach Bobby Petrino to compare Becton to Jonathan Ogden.
29. Austin Jackson, OT, USC | Height: 6' 6" | Weight: 310 pounds
Jackson has not yet officially declared and could benefit by returning for another season at USC, but he’s an extremely athletic left tackle that has the traits to go hear his name called on Day 1.
30. Jordan Love, QB, Utah State | Height: 6' 4" | Weight: 225 pounds
A three-year starter, Love had a disappointing 2019 season as he threw nearly as many interceptions (17) as touchdowns (20). His traits and cannon of an arm, however, will likely get him drafted in the first round.
31. Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama | Height: 6' 1" | Weight: 200 pounds
Like many of the other Alabama safety prospects before him, McKinney has the versatility to play strong and free safety as well as nickel corner. Adept in both run support and as a pass defender, McKinney had three interceptions for the Crimson Tide this season.
32. Jeff Gladney, CB, TCU | Height: 6' 0" | Weight: 183 pounds
Not the biggest corner, but Gladney plays more physical than his weight and is exceptionally fast (4.34 forty). Gladney has five career interceptions and 26 passes defended over the past two seasons.
33. Terrell Lewis, EDGE, Alabama | Height: 6' 5" | Weight: 251 pounds
Lewis missed virtually all of 2017 (elbow) and ’18 (ACL), but the former five-star recruit had a healthy and productive season in ’19. With outstanding length and an explosive first step, Lewis had a team-high 16 QB pressures this season.
34. Josh Jones, OT, Houston | Height: 6' 7" | Weight: 310 pounds
Although he’s a better as a pass blocker than run blocker, Jones was a four-year starter and has the movement skills and length to potentially land him in the first round.
35. Julian Okwara, EDGE, Notre Dame | Height: 6' 4" | Weight: 248 pounds
Okwara’s season was cut short (fibula) and he has lacked consistency, but he’s a long and explosive athlete that has racked up 13.5 sacks and 19.5 TFL in 22 games over the past two seasons.
36. Zack Baun, EDGE/LB, Wisconsin | Height: 6' 3" | Weight: 238 pounds
With a quick first step, high motor and intelligence, Baun has experience both rushing the passer and dropping into coverage. He finished 2019 with 12.5 sacks, 19.5 TFL, two forced fumbles and an interception.
37. Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU | Height: 6' 3" | Weight: 192 pounds
The big slot receiver had 30 catches for 448 yards and five touchdowns combined in the SEC Championship and College Football Playoff. Jefferson may not be elite at creating separation and may benefit from having a true No. 1 opposite him like with Ja’Marr Chase (not draft-eligible until 2021), but he’s excellent after the catch (see insane juke move) and in contested catch situations.
38. Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson | Height: 5' 10" | Weight: 210 pounds
Etienne may not be an every-down back at the next level, but his burst and acceleration and ability to cut on a dime make him a dangerous home-run threat. The back-to-back ACC Offensive Player of the Year has converted his 572 touches into 62 total touchdowns.
39. Damon Arnette, CB, Ohio State | Height: 6' 0" | Weight: 194 pounds
While Shaun Wade opted to return to Columbus, the Buckeyes could have had three corners in my initial top-50. A three-year starter at Ohio State, Arnette has good size and athleticism and benefited from returning to school another season with his improved play.
40. Brandon Aiyuk, WR, Arizona State | Height: 6' 1" | Weight: 206 pounds
With N’Keal Harry moving onto the NFL this past season, Aiyuk broke out for the Sun Devils with 1,192 yards (18.3 Y/R) and eight touchdowns in 2019. Dangerous in the open field, he has the ability to turn a short pass into a big play at any time.
41. Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU | Height: 5' 11" | Weight: 195 pounds
Even if he isn’t the biggest receiver, few in this draft class can match his speed and acceleration.
42. Isaiah Wilson, OT, Georgia | Height: 6' 7" | Weight: 340 pounds
A two-year starter for the Bulldogs at right tackle, Wilson is a huge reason, (literally, given his size) for the success that the team has had running the ball.
43. Jacob Eason, QB, Washington | Height: 6' 5" | Weight: 230 pounds
Eason has started in two of the past four seasons—2016 at Georgia and ’19 at Washington—as he transferred from Georgia after ’17. Eason has prototypical size, elite arm strength and the potential to creep into the back end of Round 1 in 2020.
44. Jaylon Johnson, CB, Utah | Height: 6' 0" | Weight: 195 pounds
A fluid athlete at his size, Johnson has started 29 games over three seasons and has seven career interceptions and 28 passes defended.
45. Cole Kmet, TE, Notre Dame | Height: 6' 5" | Weight: 250 pounds
A two-sport athlete (with baseball) at Notre Dame, Kmet initially planned to return to South Bend, but he could be the TE1 in a relatively weak class. Kmet has reliable hands, good athleticism and runs good routes.
46. Ashtyn Davis, S, Cal | Height: 6' 1" | Weight: 200 pounds
A Pac-12 champion in the 110-meter hurdles, the former track star walked on to the football team to start the past two seasons. The free safety has six interceptions in his two seasons as a starter.
47. KJ Hamler, WR, Penn State | Height: 5' 9" | Weight: 176 pounds
Hamler has elite quickness, acceleration and elusiveness in the open field and offers teams the versatility to contribute as a returner.
48. Hunter Bryant, TE, Washington | Height: 6' 2" | Weight: 239 pounds
A receiving mismatch, Bryant is a vertical threat with excellent run-after-catch ability. He finished his junior season with 52 catches for 825 yards (15.9 Y/R) and three touchdowns.
49. Michael Pittman Jr., WR, USC | Height: 6' 4" | Weight: 220 pounds
The son of former NFL running back Michael Pittman, Pittman Jr. excels in contested-catch situations, has strong hands and is a physical receiver. The USC wideout finished his senior season with 101 catches for 1,275 yards and 11 touchdowns.
50. Darrell Taylor, EDGE, Tennessee | Height: 6' 4" | Weight: 256 pounds
With his combination of speed, length and power, Taylor has recorded a total of 16.5 sacks combined over the past two seasons.
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