Projected Draft Value of 2020 NFL Draft Declarations

Jan 27, 2020
Projected Draft Value of 2020 NFL Draft Declarations

Signing your name on paper is a necessity for important events in life. Marriage, buying a house, and declaring for the NFL Draft. While this action doesn’t carry the same risk as our forefathers took with a potential war with England, it still has some potential consequences, which can have lifetime ramifications.

The chart below reveals a growing trend of underclassmen declaring for the NFL Draft. The record of 98 set in 2014 was broke in 2018 with 106 underclassmen. This 2020 class will set the new record with 111 underclassmen declaring. However, a large portion of these players won’t be selected. In 2014, 46% of underclassmen weren’t drafted, which may have influenced the 2015 group to stay in school. Subsequent classes of underclassmen weren’t deterred and decided to declare anyway, which may lead to a large number of players from the 2020 class being disappointed.

NFL Draft Underclassmen, 2013–2020
Season # of Declared Underclassmen % of Undrafted Underclassmen
2013 73 23%
2014 98 46%
2015 74 32%
2016 96 31%
2017 95 30%
2018 106 35%
2019 103 29%
2020 111 ???

The following will introduce you to this year's underclassmen that have declared for the draft along with their respective projected draft capital.

Quarterbacks

2020 Declared Underclassmen Quarterbacks
Player School Projected Draft Value
Jacob Eason Washington Day 1
Jake Fromm Georgia Day 2
Jordan Love Utah State Day 2
Cole McDonald Hawaii Day 3
Tua Tagovailoa Alabama Day 1

After much anticipation, Tua Tagovailoa declared for the NFL Draft. The only somewhat surprising players to return to college are Jamie Newman and D’Eriq King, both of whom transferred colleges instead of declaring. Newman will be playing for Georgia in 2020 and King at the University of Miami.

Tagovailoa is going to be the most highly decorated quarterback of this group and for good reason. Tua dominated college football for the better part of two years and played well in high-pressure situations. His biggest concern will be medical and make his combine evaluation extremely important.

One sleeper from this group is Cole McDonald, who is a surprise declaration. He’s a gunslinger who put up huge numbers at Hawaii, but also turned the football over. McDonald is also a very good athlete, who could rise up boards after a good combine performance.

Running Backs

2020 Declared Underclassmen Running Backs
Player School Projected Draft Value
Salvon Ahmed Washington Day 3
Cam Akers Florida State Day 2
Eno Benjamin Arizona State Day 3
Deejay Dallas Miami Day 3
AJ Dillon Boston College Day 3
JK Dobbins Ohio State Day 2
Clyde Edwards-Helaire LSU Day 2
Darrynton Evans Virginia Tech UDFA
Pete Guerriero Monmouth Day 3
Tony Jones Jr Notre Dame UDFA
Javon Leake Maryland UDFA
Deshawn McClease Virginia Tech UDFA
Anthony McFarland Jr Maryland Day 2
D’Andre Swift Georgia Day 1
JJ Taylor Arizona UDFA
Jonathan Taylor Wisconsin Day 1
Michael Warren III Cincinnati Day 3
Ty’Son Williams BYU UDFA
Toren Young Iowa UDFA

Multiple players shocked many by returning to college. Travis Etienne, arguably the best RB in this class, decided to return to Clemson. Others returning to college include Chuba Hubbard, who led all of FBS in rushing yards, Najee Harris at Alabama and Kylin Hill at Mississippi State.

While the players staying in school depleted this position group, it still possesses plenty of depth to make an impact in the NFL. The most notable back is D’Andre Swift, who projects as a complete back. He excels at making defenders miss and is a great weapon out of the backfield.

If you’re looking for the next Raheem Mostert, look no further than Pete Guerriero of Monmouth College. He led the entire FCS in rushing yards and was a track star in 2017—Guerriero won the outdoor MAAC championship in both the 100-meter and 200-meter dash. The speed translates onto the field with many long runs and great breakaway ability.

Wide Receivers

2020 Declared Underclassmen Wide Receivers
Player School Projected Draft Value
Lynn Bowden Jr Kentucky Day 2
Quintez Cephus Wisconsin Day 3
Gabriel Davis Central Florida Day 3
Quartney Davis Texas A&M UDFA
KJ Hamler Penn State Day 2
Tee Higgins Clemson Day 2
Isaiah Hodgins Oregon State UDFA
Trishton Jackson Syracuse Day 3
Justin Jefferson LSU Day 2
Jerry Jeudy Alabama Day 1
Ceedee Lamb Oklahoma Day 1
Donovan Peoples-Jones Michigan Day 2
Jalen Reagor TCU Day 1
Kendrick Rogers Jr Texas A&M UDFA
Henry Ruggs III Alabama Day 1
Laviska Shenault Colorado Day 2
Jeff Thomas Miami Day 3
Quez Watkins Southern Miss Day 3
Cody White Michigan State Day 3

This group saw multiple players return to college instead of declaring for the draft, as well. Tylan Wallace, Devonta Smith, Tamorrion Terry, Sage Surratt and Nico Collins are a few of the notable players to stay.

Ceedee Lamb and Jerry Jeudy both headline this talented group of pass-catchers. They should be drafted within the top half of Round 1 and be potential stars at the NFL level. I currently give Lamb the slight edge, but both are very well-rounded and athletic.

Gabriel Davis is an under-the-radar player to become familiar with this draft season. He possesses good size, route running, and can win in jump-ball situations. Most won’t confuse him for Tyreek Hill but he wins with physicality both before and after the reception.

Tight Ends

2020 Declared Underclassmen Tight Ends
Player School Projected Draft Value
Devin Asiasi UCLA Day 3
Hunter Bryant Washington Day 3
Dalton Keene Virginia Tech Day 3
Cole Kmet Notre Dame Day 2
Kyle Markway South Carolina Day 3
Thaddeus Moss LSU Day 2
Albert Okwuegbunam Missouri Day 2
Colby Parkinson Stanford Day 3

Pat Freiermuth was in contention to be the top TE in this class but decided to return to Penn State.

It’s difficult to find better bloodlines for a pass catcher than Randy Moss. His son is Thaddeus Moss and he played well down the stretch for LSU, flashing good hands, sideline awareness, and athleticism on his way to a National Championship.

Hunter Bryant has been a player I have liked for quite some time because of his pass-catching skills. Bryant fits the move TE role like Trey Burton, Aaron Hernandez, and many others have in the past. If Bryant can find the right offense, he could be a good pick later in the draft.

Offensive Linemen

2020 Declared Underclassmen Offensive Linemen
Player Pos. School Projected Draft Value
Mekhi Becton OT Louisville Day 1
Tyler Biadasz C Wisconsin Day 1
Saahdiq Charles OT LSU Day 2
Ezra Cleveland OT Boise State Day 2
Trystan Colon-Castillo C Missouri Day 3
Lloyd Cushenberry III C LSU Day 2
Matt Hennessy C Temple Day 3
Keith Ismael C San Diego State Day 3
Austin Jackson OT USC Day 1
Solomon Kindley OG Georgia Day 1
Netane Muti OG Fresno State Day 3
Cesar Ruiz C Michigan Day 2
Andrew Thomas OT Georgia Day 1
Jedrick Wills OT Alabama Day 1
Isaiah Wilson OT Georgia Day 2
Tristan Wirfs OT Iowa Day 1

Creed Humphrey of Oklahoma, Walker Little of Stanford, Trey Smith of Tennessee, Wyatt Davis of Ohio State and Alex Leatherwood of Alabama all decided college wasn’t so bad to return for another season.

Andrew Thomas has the feet and build to be a starting left tackle in the NFL. He’s been one of the highest-graded tackle prospects in the last handful of years, according to PFF. Jedrick Willis improved his stock quite a bit during the 2019 season. His athleticism jumps off the tape. While he’s likely a right tackle at the NFL level, he should be one of the top names called off this list during the draft.

Injuries have taken away from Netane Muti’s career at Fresno State but his production on the field has been amazing, allowing just three total pressures over the last two seasons. He could be a steal for a team later in the draft.

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