Way too early look at SEC’s 10 potential first-rounders in 2020 NFL Draft
Another NFL Draft is in the books, and for the 13th consecutive year, the SEC led all conferences in total draft picks with a stunning 64 players taken over the 7 rounds. They also produced the most first-round draft picks (9) for the 8th time in 9 years.
Looking ahead to the 2020 NFL Draft (no, it’s never too early), you can expect another smorgasbord of top talent coming from the SEC to further flood the NFL ranks, as it will once again produce a bevy of first-round draft picks.
Here are 10 potential first-round draft picks for the 2020 draft, and remember, it’s not just seniors included – we’re also including underclassmen who will be eligible.
10. Jake Fromm, QB, Georgia
There are concerns about Fromm’s velocity and his ability to make tight window throws at the next level, but it’s hard to argue with his production. As a true freshman, he completed 62.2% of his passes for 2,615 yards with 24 touchdowns and just 7 interceptions en route to the Bulldogs first conference title since 2005. He improved as a sophomore (67.4%, 2,761 yards, 30/6) nearly leading the Dawgs to another conference title. If Fromm does leave a year early, he’d be best suited to play in a West Coast-based scheme, where his quick release and accuracy in the short and intermediate passing game can be emphasized.
9. Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama
Diggs quickly became the most reliable cover corner for the Tide last year and was terrific in man coverage before breaking his foot halfway through the season. What he truly meant to the Tide’s pass defense was evident throughout the postseason and especially in the national title game. Diggs has the size (6-2/200), physicality and hips in transition to play press at a high level, but the click and close ability to play off and zone, as well. Had he not broken his foot last year, there’s a chance he could have been a first-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.
8. Nick Coe, DE, Auburn
The 6-5, 282-pound Coe flashed as a freshman in 2017, tallying 29 tackles and 2 sacks, but really burst onto the scene as a sophomore last year, racking up 13.5 TFLs and a team-high 7 sacks. If you really want to see his potential, plug in the tape against Ole Miss last year, when he racked up 3.5 sacks going against Greg Little, who was just picked 37th overall. He’s still refining his rush technique, but he can win with both speed and power, which is necessary at the next level.
7. Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
Perhaps no receiver in college football last year was as explosive or dynamic as the 6-1, 192-pound Jeudy, who caught 68 passes for 1,315 yards and 14 touchdowns while winning the Biletnikoff Award, given to the nation’s best receiver. Jeudy possesses terrific deep speed to take the top off a defense, but the burst and lateral quickness to make plays after the catch underneath. To be honest, there should probably about 3 Alabama receivers on this list.
6. Raekwon Davis, DE/DT, Alabama
Davis went into his junior season last year as a strong candidate to be a top 10 pick after a strong sophomore campaign where he racked up 8.5 sacks, and proving to be virtually unblockable in the Playoff games. He didn’t follow that up with the season many were expecting (just 1.5 sacks), and wisely decided to come back for his senior year to repair his draft stock. There’s no denying his freakish skill set, however, because humans who are 6-7, 316-pounds simply shouldn’t be able to move the way he does, but he has to show more consistency.
5. Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn
Had the 2019 NFL Draft not been historically deep along the defensive line, there’s almost no chance Brown would be coming back for his senior season, because he’s without a doubt a first-round talent. The 6-5, 325-pounder has a rare combination of size and athleticism, with the bulk to anchor the interior against double (and even triple) teams, but the burst to and flexibility to penetrate the line and pressure the quarterback. If he continues on his developmental arc, he’s a cinch to go near the top of the first round next spring.
4. C.J. Henderson, CB, Florida
Henderson showed lockdown cover ability as a true freshman in 2017 (4 interceptions, 2 touchdowns), and continued improving his overall game as a sophomore by improving against the run and rushing the passer (5 TFLs, 3 sacks). The 6-1, 191-pounder saw his interceptions drop last year (just 2), but the main reason for that is that opposing quarterbacks are terrified to throw his way. He’s the latest in a long line of standout corners for the Gators in recent years, and ultimately might be the best prospect of them all.
3. Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
There’s a good chance that Tagovailoa would have been considered the top QB in the 2019 NFL Draft had he been eligible, but he still has (at least) one more year to go. The 6-foot, 230-pounder became a sensation with his second-half heroics in the National Championship Game as a true freshman, and followed that with one of the greatest seasons by a QB in SEC history, throwing for 3,966 yards (69% completion) with 43 touchdowns and just 6 interceptions, averaging a stunning 11.2 yards per attempt. His arm strength, velocity, touch, timing and accuracy are top of the line, but he does need to work on quickening his delivery before this time next year.
2. Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
In my opinion, there was not a better OT in the SEC last year, and remember, 3 SEC tackles were just picked in their first 37 picks of the recent NFL Draft. Thomas is an absolute stud and one of the more gifted pass protectors I’ve seen in recent years. The 6-5, 320-pounder started all 15 contests as a true freshman at RT, earning Freshman All-American honors and switched to LT as a sophomore, again starting every game and this time being named All-SEC and All-American. He’s the total package in terms of skill set at the next level, showing great shuffle and the ability to mirror in pass protection, and the power and leverage to maul in the run game.
1. Grant Delpit, S, LSU
Delpit was a tour de force as a sophomore last year and put forth one of the best seasons by a defensive back we’ve seen in some time. By the end of the year, the 6-3, 203-pound ballhawk had accumulated 74 tackles, 9.5 TFLs, 5 sacks, 5 interceptions, 1 forced fumble and a fumble recovery, being unanimously named first-team All-American and SEC.
He’s the ultimate defensive chess piece, a guy who can play all over the field and someone opposing quarterbacks have to continuously keep an eye on to avoid. The last LSU safety this heralded was Jamal Adams (6th overall in 2017 NFL Draft), and in my opinion, Delpit is an even better prospect.