2020 Draft Prospects I Love
Everybody falls in love with prospects every year. Sometimes, it works out: I was a huge fan of AJ Brown last year, for example. Sometimes, you look a little silly; for example, I was also a huge fan of Jordan Ta’amu last year. Draft crushes aren’t always about success rate, though, it’s about conviction. That’s why I’m here with six guys I’ve been pounding the table for.
CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
I’ve been a fan of Lamb since my tape reviews of Kyler Murray last draft season, and he entered the year as my WR1. Since then, it’s been between him and Jerry Jeudy at the top, with an admitted bias towards Lamb since I cover the Big 12. Now, more and more people are jumping on the bandwagon with me, and I’m absolutely here for it. Lamb has often been compared to DeAndre Hopkins, but as many of us here at Whole Nine will tell you, Lamb is even better than Nuk after the catch. Exhibit A:
Lamb is, in my view, a future All-Pro receiver no matter what system you put him in. Was he playing against Big 12 defenses for most of the season? Well, yeah. Will he make NFL defenders look just as silly for 8-10 years? I’d bet on it.
Eno Benjamin, RB, Arizona State
Last draft season, I was just watching tape for fun with my two roommates, so we pulled up N’Keal Harry’s tape. While we were impressed with Harry, who would go 32nd overall, we came away with one question: who’s #3, and when can he be drafted?
#3 is, of course, Benjamin, who in 2018 made a mockery of most of the PAC12. 2019 was a bit more up and down for the junior, but he still made plays like this:
Notice the vision to see a big hole open up away from the designed play, and then the burst to hit said hole and outrun the defense for the score. While his long speed isn’t elite, he’s also got a good amount of power for a player his size, making him a very well-rounded back that I think could lead a committee down the line. In a stacked RB class, a team could very well get a steal late in Day 2 or early in Day 3 with Benjamin.
Terrell Burgess, S, Utah
Do me a favor for a second. Scroll back up and watch the Eno Benjamin play again. See the guy that ends up catching Benjamin at the goal line?
Yeah, that’s Terrell Burgess.
Is he included in this list because we went to high school together and I interviewed him in October? Maybe, but he also makes the list because of plays like the above. Burgess initially makes the correct read as far as play direction, but the cutback from Benjamin leaves him way out of position. Despite that, he turns on the jets and comes oh-so-close to making the tackle at the 1. 2019 was full of plays like that for Burgess, who was a full-time starter for the first time this season. He’s blown up as a prospect thanks to the increased playing time, too: he got a Senior Bowl invite, went in the 3rd round of Matt Miller’s latest mock draft, and has been compared to Saints rookie Chauncey Gardner-Johnson by Jonah Tuls of the Draft Network. Burgess was the best receiver on our high school team, even though UCLA WR Kyle Phillips was also on the team, so ball skills as a single-high safety aren’t an issue either. I’ll happily vouch for him any day.
Colton McKivitz, OT, West Virginia
McKivitz had the misfortune of playing for a slumping West Virginia team this season, but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s an excellent prospect at left tackle. When I watched the Mountaineers as part of our Big 12 coverage, I often saw McKivitz completely stonewall his assignment while the rest of the line got blown up. His win rate is due to stuff like this:
Paul Alexander, who’s been working with McKivitz for at least a year from what I could gather, says it best in this tweet. McKivitz’s hand usage is exceptional, allowing him to get to second-level blocks on zone blocking plays instead of getting caught up with the defensive lineman. If you’re a big fan of Kansas OT Hakeem Adeniji as a zone-blocking sleeper tackle, I’d suggest you diversify your draft crush portfolio and invest a bit in McKivitz as well.
Kyle Dugger, S, Lenoir-Rhyne
Probably the one small-school prospect every scout and draft analyst has heard of at this point, Dugger looks like a man amongst boys at Lenoir-Rhyne. Dugger has scary versatility at 6’2” and 220 lbs. He’s played every position in the secondary and Jim Nagy has said that he wouldn’t be surprised if teams ask Dugger to work out at linebacker during Senior Bowl week, which sounds crazy when paired with an AFC scout’s report to NFL.com that Dugger could be a “Josh Cribbs-like returner” in the NFL. It’s easy to see what he means:
Wherever he ends up playing, expect the 24-year-old to no longer be overlooked the way he has for the majority of the past 6 seasons in Hickory, North Carolina. Dugger will likely be gone by the end of Day 2, which will likely make him the highest drafted Division II safety since Danieal Manning in 2006.
Dante Olson, LB, Montana
Watch Olson commit attempted murder on Davis Alexander, the Portland State QB whose name will likely be lost to history:
At this point, if you don’t see what excites me about Olson, I’m not sure if we can be friends. Olson packs that sort of punch behind nearly every tackle, and at 6’2” and 240 lbs., it’s not like it’s only because he’s playing in the FCS. Montana runs a base 4-2-5, meaning Olson’s role varies from play to play: sometimes he’s a WILL linebacker, sometimes he’s the MIKE, etc. I’m not exactly sure where he fits best at the next level, but it’s likely as a WILL because he does tend to over-pursue when in zone coverage. This is a bit of a deeper cut, because I’m mostly hoping Olson gets drafted at all, but it’s likely he’ll be a practice squad player or sub-package LB while he becomes a bit more refined in coverage.