The 2020 NFL Draft is coming up fast, and is going to be our major source of sports entertainment for the foreseeable future. Starting on April 23, loads of young men will be looking to make their NFL dream a reality. For fantasy players, this new influx of talent will be something to monitor closely, as there should be tons of viable options taken from a loaded 2020 class. Here is the nuts and bolts of what you need to know about all of the major prospects.
Players listed in order of Grinding the Mocks expected draft position (EDP)
Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
EDP: 1The presumed top pick in this year’s draft was also the Heisman winner for the 2019 college football season. Here is where some various Burrow 2019 stats rank among all seasons since 2000:
Touchdown Passes (60) – 1
Completion Percentage (76.3) – 2
Pass Efficiency Rating (202) – 2
Passing Yards (5,671) – 3
There should be no doubts that Burrow is an elite prospect in the mold of a Baker Mayfield, who also transferred and put up prolific collegiate numbers in a great offense. As with any rookie QB, elite fantasy production should not be expected in year one, but he has a tremendous future for those playing in dynasty leagues.
Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
EDP: 4There was only one player to have a better pass efficiency rating than Burrow in a season with at least 200 pass attempts. That player was Tua. Tagovailoa had a marvelous last two years at Alabama, throwing 76 touchdowns and just nine interceptions in 24 games. He also has excellent mobility, though we did not get to see him participate in any drills at the Combine. The reason for that is the rub with Tua, and why he isn’t the slam-dunk top pick as projected heading into 2019 — injury. He suffered a dislocated hip against Mississippi State, which ended his season and has a prolonged recovery period. There is speculation that whatever team drafts him will let him sit out the entire 2020 NFL season to be safe, though he is expected to be ready physically in time for the season.
Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
EDP: 6.7The third QB projected to go inside of the top 10 is Herbert, but his profile is nowhere near as special as the other two top passers. Herbert was a four-year starter at Oregon, with a career-average of 8.2 yards per pass attempt. He has been solid, but not spectacular for the Ducks. Herbert has a massive frame, coming in at 6-foot-6 and 238 pounds. He has a huge arm, and ran a 4.68 40-yard dash, giving him high upside as a runner for both real-life and fantasy football. Think Josh Allen here, but with a more proven track record as a passer.
CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
EDP: 12.2Lamb is an explosive playmaker out of Oklahoma, and currently positioned to be the top WR off the board in April. He had over 1,100 yards with double-digit touchdowns in each of the past two seasons. Lamb also has some experience in the run game and as a returner. His 40-yard dash time at the Combine was probably higher than many expected (4.5), but the productivity speaks for itself. Lamb still is not yet 21 years of age.
Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
EDP: 12.8Jeudy was everyone’s favorite WR prospect heading into 2019. While he appears to have a lot of competition, that does not steal any of his shine. He has compiled 145 receptions for 2,478 yards and 24 touchdowns the past two seasons as the top target for Tua at Alabama. Jeudy projects as someone who can play all over the field, and that versatility gives him upside similar to other Alabama wideouts we’ve seen over the years. His footwork his impeccable, making him a true technician of the position.
Henry Ruggs, WR, Alabama
EDP: 16If you’re looking for speed, Ruggs is your guy. He ran a 4.27 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, a top-five time all-time. His athleticism is demonstrated not just in his carer 17.5 yards per reception, but also in his 75-yard touchdown run he had in his final year. The gravity around a player like Ruggs is fantastic for NFL teams, as he should have a massive impact on how opposing defenses play whichever offense is fortunate enough to draft him. Ruggs could end up being a more valuable real-life asset than fantasy asset, but he certainly still has long-term WR1 upside.
Jordan Love, QB, Utah State
EDP: 16.6Love has been a riser throughout the draft process and it looks as though the presumed fourth QB off the board will go inside the top half of the first round when all is said and done. His best season came as a sophomore at Utah State, when he threw for 32 touchdowns, six interceptions and averaged 8.6 yards per attempt. Love’s play fell off as a junior, but scouts still love the traits that he brings to the table. Love has mobility, though it is worth noting his athleticism disappointed a little bit at the Combine. There are a lot of question marks here to me, but that leaves Love with a wide range of outcomes both in draft position and future success.
Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU
EDP: 22.3Jefferson put on an absolute show at the Combine, posting a 4.43 40-yard dash, 37.5 inch vertical jump and 126 in broad jump. He did all of this while weighing 202 pounds. Jefferson had a monster season to finish his LSU career, recording over 1,500 yards receiving and 18 touchdowns. He had his college breakout during the 2018 season, when Jefferson dominated a lackluster LSU passing game. After proving he can do the same with more volume in 2019, there is true stud potential here at the NFL level.
Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson
EDP: 28.5Higgins hasn’t had the same amount of buzz as the other prospects, but do not mistake that for him being not as good. In a machine-learning model that I built to project WR success, Higgins actually came out as the WR with the best chance to succeed at the NFL level. He has the most prototypical NFL frame of all of the players mentioned so far, checking in at 6-foot-4 and 216 pounds at the Combine, and ran a 4.43 40-yard dash at his Pro Day. Higgins scored 25 touchdowns in the past two seasons for Clemson and had a 36-yard rushing touchdown in the National Championship game against LSU. As you can see, this class is loaded with WR talent and it wouldn’t surprise me to see Higgins become the best of the bunch.
Laviska Shenault, WR, Colorado
EDP: 29.3Sheanult is one of the most interesting prospects in the entire draft. He has an extremely diverse skillset, which was on display throughout his Colorado career. He caught 10 touchdowns the past two seasons, dominating a very poor passing game, but also touched it 40 times as a runner, averaging 6.9 yards per carry with seven scores. Shenault scored on the very first touch of his college career, a return of a fumble by a teammate on a punt return. At 227 pounds, he is the definition of an athletic, movable offensive chess piece. The big rub here is that he had surgery after the Combine for a core muscle injury and has a concerning injury history.
Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor
EDP: 33.7Mims is another player who has risen a good bit since the Combine, but he likely deserved to be in the first-round conversation all along. He had over 1,000 yards and eight touchdowns as a sophomore and capped off his career with another 1,000 yard season with 12 scores. Mims ran a blistering 4.38 40-yard dash at the Combine and stands at 6-foot-3 and 207 pounds. This height/weight/speed/production combination would likely be a shoo-in first-rounder in another draft class.
D’Andre Swift, RB, Georgia
EDP: 33.8Swift is the top projected back in the draft, and you may remember him as the freshman dynamo eating into Nick Chubb’s and Sony Michel’s workload prior to them being drafted in 2018. Swift averaged 6.6 yards per carry for his career while playing in the SEC, certainly no easy feat. He also caught 73 passes, indicating that he should be a three-down threat at the NFL level. His landing spot will dictate just how high in rookie or season-long drafts you should take Swift. The talent is there.
Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU
EDP: 35Probably one of the more controversial draft prospects on fantasy Twitter is Reagor, as he is coming off of a disastrous 2019 campaign. It is worth noting just how bad his QB play was though — just 30.7% of Reagor’s targets were charted as accurate by Pro Football Focus. In 2018, Reagor went for over 1,200 total yards and 11 touchdowns. He has extensive history as a runner, averaging 9.3 yards per attempt on the ground, and was electric in the return game. The range of outcomes here is wide, but Reagor certainly has the potential to be a star.
Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin
EDP: 36.1Taylor is my personal favorite RB prospect, as he has been one of the most productive players at the position in college football history. Here is where Taylor’s career ranks among all RBs since 2000, and keep in mind that he only played three seasons at Wisconsin:
Rushing Yards (6,174) – 2
Rushing Touchdowns (50) – 30
Yards Per Carry (6.7) – 18 (minimum 400 carries)
Carries (926) – 15
It has been a prolific career, and one that has Taylor looking the part of a proven workhorse. He added 26 receptions in his final season, proving to NFL teams that his hands are worthy of playing on all downs.
Brandon Aiyuk, WR, Arizona State
EDP: 41.2Aiyuk is not a household name like some of the other WRs, but he had a load of productivity in his only season without current Patriots WR N’Keal Harry. Ayiuk had 2,499 all-purpose yards with 21 touchdowns at the junior college level before joining the Sun Devils, and has shown tremendous ability in the return game his entire career. He averaged 18.3 yards per reception in his final year. Ayiuk is older than a lot of the other players mentioned so far, having just turned 22 years of age.
J.K. Dobbins, RB, Ohio State
EDP: 45.6Dobbins entered the college football scene red-hot, with over 1,500 yards from scrimmage in his true freshman season. He took a step back as a sophomore, but managed to crest the 2,200-yard plateau as a junior. Dobbins is proven in both phases of RB play, having also caught 71 passes in his career. He elected not to run at the Combine, but NFL Draft Scout has his 40-time range between 4.3 and 4.48. The gap there is considerable, but even at the high end, Dobbins would look the part of a premiere prospect. With Pro Days cancelled across the country, we likely won’t see him run prior to the Draft.
Cole Kmet, TE, Notre Dame
EDP: 53.9There are no stud TE prospects in this draft, with Kmet being the best of the bunch. He has just 691 receiving yards for his career with only six touchdowns. Kmet was a two-sport athlete for most of his athletic career, focusing on only football for just this past season. That context is important to keep in mind and it could give us a better idea of Kmet’s athleticism. With that said, he is likely not going to be a fantasy option anytime soon. He isn’t the kind of game-changing talent that will make an impact early on, and TEs generally take a very long time to develop.
K.J. Hamler, WR, Penn State
EDP: 61.7The biggest question for Hamler is size, as he weighed in at just 178 pounds at the Combine. With that said, he should provide some value for an NFL team. Hamler produced as a receiver, rusher and returner while at Penn State, despite the fact they were not a very good passing game overall in his time there. The size and projected NFL role likely keeps Hamler from being a meaningful fantasy asset.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, LSU
EDP: 63.8Edwards-Helaire is one of the hottest names at the position, though he disappointed greatly at the Combine with a 4.6 40-yard dash at just 207 pounds. CEH averaged 6.6 yards per carry as the lead runner for LSU, and caught a whopping 55 passes in his final season. He also has produced as a kick returner all three years with the Tigers. The landing spot will have to be right, but with modern offenses turning more toward passing, Edwards-Helaire should have some PPR appeal. I am not sure if he can secure his own backfield.
Cam Akers, RB, Florida State
EDP: 73.7Akers was a top recruit coming out of high school, and had two 1,000 yard seasons while playing for Florida State. The Seminoles were not very good in his time there, and it lead to some poor yards per carry numbers. But don’t let those numbers deceive you because Akers can ball. He caught 69 passes in his career and finished with 34 total touchdowns. Akers ran a 4.47 40-yard dash at the Combine at a workhorse-worthy 217 pounds. Given his pedigree, it would not be a surprise to see Akers become one of the mid-round gems of the Draft.
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