Whole Nine Sports

2020 Draft Prospects I Love

2020 NFL Draft
Jake Graff
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While I’m still early on in my tape study for the 2020 Draft, I’ve found a few guys already that will have me pounding the table on Draft Day and fist pumping when I see them on Sundays. Here are some of my first Draft crushes this year, and how they grade out for me right now:

Cam Akers – RB – Florida State

Cam Akers

Let me tell you, this kid was dealt a terrible hand in his college career. One of the most talented players to come out of his class, Akers had the privilege of playing on a dreadful FSU offense all three years and dealing with five turnstiles in front of him on every single play. In his junior year especially, he made the most of it; and that’s why I believe in him so much as a prospect. Akers is incredibly smooth and coordinated out of the backfield. With defenders getting penetration nearly every carry, Akers had an excellent feel for working in traffic. His outstanding vision combines with his ultra-smooth footwork to make him one of the most fluid runners in this class. He’s a fantastic cutter and explosive in tight areas, always creating yards for himself. Not to mention, his effectiveness against man coverage because of his smooth feet makes him a true three-down back. My only major gripe with him is his ball security, and that he isn’t a major open field burner. But, Akers’ ability to create yards in such a poor situation gives me full confidence he will be successful at the next level. (Round 2 grade)

Devin Duvernay – WR – Texas

Devin Duvernay

Duvernay had nothing short of a breakout senior season, proving to be the best receiver on Texas, and catching my eye very early on. I loved watching him progress throughout the year into a player I think is set up with a high floor as a prospect. We all heard the phrase “receiver in a running back’s body” or something like that when dealing with Deebo Samuel; this year that guy is Devin Duvernay. At 5’11, 212 pounds he certainly looks like it, and magnifies arguably his greatest strength: RAC ability. In today’s NFL, if you can have a guy built like he is that’s also a state champion sprinter with some of the softest hands in the class line up in the slot and be as productive as he is, you’ll be laughing. Anytime Duvernay touches the football on short underneath routes, screens, or sweeps, he’s a threat to make a big play and he always falls forward creating yardage. He catches everything thrown near him and is physical through the catch point. I also love Duvernay’s natural feel for leverage out of the slot, and he effectively finds soft spots in zone coverages. We haven’t really seen him work against tight man coverage, but the Senior Bowl will be big. Duvernay offers everything you want in a slot receiver with an even higher ceiling. (Late 2/Early 3 Grade)

Josh Jones – OT – Houston

Josh Jones

Josh Jones hive STAND UP! Jones has been a riser it seems as of late, but is still a bit polarizing as a prospect. I’m trusting my eyes in seeing that Josh Jones is a darn good football player who really doesn’t do anything poorly on tape. Sure, the level of competition in the AAC may not always be up to scratch, but you look for the top players to be nearly flawless in that setting on film, and Jones was to me. He’s crisp out of his stance and flashes his excellent athleticism when mirroring defenders around the edge, and also works very well in space to land on his target cleanly. While not overpowering, he has just a really solid anchor and is flexible to create running lanes. Jones has long arms and tends to be aggressive with his hands, attacking with them early in the play. This can be a good thing but also causes him to lunge, and his strikes can land a bit off target as well at times. His punch does have some serious pop though, and this can be worked on. For an athletic tackle, Jones is impressively polished and deserves to continue to rise through this process, potentially into first round conversation. I believe he can be an effective player from day 1. (Early-Mid 2 Grade)

Zack Baun – EDGE – Wisconsin

Zack Baun
(Photo by Dan Sanger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Zack Baun’s sack total increased by TEN to 12.5 in his senior year, which is absurd. I’ll get into what I think makes him even more special in a second. Obviously Baun’s main job is as a pass rusher, and he’s incredibly refined in that area. With a terrific first step and elite explosiveness, Baun is tremendously annoying to deal with on the edge. But when you combine that with his nifty footwork to set up his rushes and his ability to rush inside as well, he gives teams headaches constantly. At 235 pounds, though, he’s not complete in this area. He has all the moves in the book and can pull them out at any time, but lacks the serious bend and upper body strength to finish them and gets shoved easily. If he can add some mass, watch out. What makes Baun as interesting as he is to me is his versatility and space game. You’ll see him drop into zones or even line up over the slot several times on film, and mirrors running backs in man coverage scarily well. His smooth, efficient footwork makes him great in space as a defender against outside runs and screens. He can drop back and flip his hips and also has elite explosiveness to chase down runs from the back side. I love his constant motor as well. Baun is going to be an interesting projection at the next level, with his potential as a pass rusher as well as his athleticism in space (you’ll hear some Anthony Barr comparisons at some point in the process, no doubt). You won’t find versatile defensive weapons like this every day. (Late 2/Early 3 grade)