With just about everything shut down around the world, its not that surprising that there hasn’t been much buzz of late regarding the 2020 NFL draft. However, with the draft now just over three week away there are some whispers starting to appear. In no particular order, the following are the gist of some of the items we are starting to pick up. although as usual, they come with the proviso that this is still the season of smoke and mirrors, so buyer beware:
- Hard to know what to make of it, but there are some whispers that both Auburn DT Derrick Brown and Clemson LB Isaiah Simmons, who have generally been considered to be red-chip prospects in the second-tier after the top grouping of LSU QB Joe Burrow and Ohio State DE Chase Young, have made some inroads into that top group, on more than one team’s board. Same for Ohio State CB Jeff Okudah, although his potential elevation isn’t quite as strong as the first two.
- From the ‘what comes around file …’ when the draft process started, Oklahoma WR CeeDee Lamb was considered to be the top receiver prospect with a chance to go in the first 5 picks. Lamb’s status, though, took a bit of a hit when he didn’t run quite as well as expected at the combine, and it appears he may fallen out of the top 10 on most teams boards. However, as teams went back to the film, they remembered why they liked him in the first place and it appears that he may have regained that top spot at the position and could end grading out near the top 5 when all is said and done.
- The hottest guy in the 2020 draft class these days appears to be LSU ILB Patrick Queen, who is starting to show up as a mid-to-late first round prospect on a number of team’s boards. Queen is a little undersized at just under 230 pounds, but he has 4.50 speed, which is combined with real toughness and excellent instincts. Right now its 50-50 whether Queen or Oklahoma’s Kenneth Murray is the second inside backer off the board next month.
- The other guy who has made a huge jump on boards around the league in recent weeks is Boise State OT Ezra Cleveland. The 6-6, 311-pounder kind of blew up last month’s combine when he ran a 4.93 40 that included an offensive line quickest 1.73 10-yard-split. That sent scouts back to the BSU game tape, where they saw that indeed that athleticism translated to the field. And with an expected run on OTs in the top half of this year’s opening round, with as many as a half dozen tackles going in the first 20 or so picks, Cleveland figures to be next man up with a chance to go in the latter part of the opening round. At the same time, though, we are also hearing that while the top 3-4 OTs are all still top 10-15 candidates, it appears there may be some slippage among the group as a whole, as no one has really been able to establish themselves as the clear #1 prospect at the position.
- The CB position, at least in the opening round range, isn’t all that deep this year, however, a couple of names that are starting to appear in that late opening round area are Jaylon Johnson of Utah and TCU’s Jeff Gladney, while emerging small-school safety Jeremy Chinn of Southern Illinois is making a name for himself in the early-to-mid second round territory. California S Ashtyn Davis has also moved into the same range, although some teams may hold back just a little because he didn’t run at the combine, and needless to say now won’t, but others are pretty confident that he does indeed have legit 4.4 type speed.