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Prospect Declaration Deadline Coverage (2020 NFL Draft)

by Raju Byfield | @FantasyContext | Featured Writer
Jan 22, 2020

Keeping track of all of the juniors that have declared or have decided to return to school can be a cumbersome process. With that in mind, we have sorted the juniors who have declared, as well as those who have chosen to return for their senior season, by position. Most juniors consult with the draft advisory committee before making their decision. This committee will provide these potential prospects with a draft round projection that is intended to help aid them in their decision making. If they decide to declare, they hire an agent, which in turn ends their amateur status and college eligibility. While 103 juniors declared in 2019, only 83 were drafted. It is also important to note that redshirt sophomores are able to declare for the NFL Draft. As long as a player is three years removed from high school, they are permitted to seek special eligibility to enter the draft.

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Declared

Quarterback
Tua Tagovailoa (QB – Alabama)
Jacob Eason (QB – Washington)
Jordan Love (QB – Utah State)
Jake Fromm (QB – Georgia)
Cole McDonald (QB – Hawaii)

Tua Tagovailoa is the top declaring junior at his position and is arguably a top two junior overall. Eason and Love could both hear their names called in the early to mid-first round. Fromm could sneak into the back end of round one, but he could very well last until day two based on his disappointing junior season.

Running Back
D’Andre Swift (RB – Georgia)
J.K. Dobbins (RB – Ohio State)
Jonathan Taylor (RB – Wisconsin)
Cam Akers (RB – Florida State)
Clyde Edwards-Helaire (RB – LSU)
A.J. Dillon (RB – Boston College)
Salvon Ahmed (RB – Washington)
Eno Benjamin (RB- Arizona State)
DeeJay Dallas (RB – Miami)
Darrynton Evans (RB – Appalachian State)
Pete Guerriero (RB – Monmouth)
Tony Jones Jr. (RB – Notre Dame)
Javon Leake (RB – Maryland)
Deshawn McClease (RB – Virginia Tech)
Anthony McFarland (RB – Maryland)
J.J. Taylor (RB – Arizona)
Mike Warren II (RB – Cincinnati)
Toren Young (RB – Iowa)

The 2020 running back class is one of the most talented classes since the 2017 class, a year that produced Leonard Fournette, Dalvin Cook, Alvin Kamara, Kareem Hunt, Joe Mixon, Aaron Jones, and Christian McCaffrey. Marlon Mack, James Conner, Tarik Cohen, and Jamaal Williams are other notable names from the vaunted class. While this year’s crop took a major hit with some of the juniors that decided to return for their senior season, in three years’ time, this class may be the one we compare the next talent-rich incoming class to. The top juniors to declare were D’Andre Swift, J.K. Dobbins, Cam Akers, Jonathan Taylor, and Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Any one of these backs would have likely been the first back off the board in 2019. Day one of the NFL Draft is rarely kind to running backs, so we may see only one or two hear their names called during the first round. 

Wide Receiver
Jerry Jeudy (WR – Alabama)
CeeDee Lamb (WR – Oklahoma)
Henry Ruggs III (WR – Alabama)
Tee Higgins (WR – Clemson)
Jalen Reagor (WR – TCU)
Justin Jefferson (WR – LSU)
K.J. Hamler (WR – Penn State)
Donovan Peoples-Jones (WR – Michigan)
Laviska Shenault (WR – Colorado)
Isaiah Hodgins (WR – Oregon State)
Trishton Jackson (WR – Syracuse)
Quintez Cephus (WR – Wisconsin)
Gabriel Davis (WR – UCF)
Quartney Davis (WR – Texas A&M)
Lynn Bowden (WR – Kentucky)
Kendrick Rodgers (WR – Texas A&M)
Jeff Thomas (WR – Miami)
Quez Watkins (WR – Southern Mississippi)
Cody White (WR – Michigan State)

The 2020 wide receiver class is one of the most talented in recent memory. With as many as seven early entrant receivers currently projected to potentially go in the first round, this crop could turn out to be a historic one. These electric juniors will join one of the most talented senior classes at the position in quite some time. Jerry Jeudy and CeeDee Lamb could be in play in the top 10. Henry Ruggs, Tee Higgins, and Jalen Reagor should all also hear their names called on day one. Justin Jefferson and Laviska Shenault are the other names most commonly linked to the first round, but there are some seniors who will also be vying for the sixth and seventh receiver spots (if applicable) in the first round. In my opinion, 75 percent of the names listed above could be drafted by the end of day two. This is the year for teams shopping for wideouts to vastly improve the talent in their wide receiver rooms. 

Tight End
Albert Okwuegbunam (TE – Missouri)
Hunter Bryant (TE – Washington)
Thaddeus Moss (TE – LSU)
Cole Kmet (TE – Notre Dame)
Kyle Markway (TE – South Carolina)
Dalton Keene (TE – Virginia Tech)
Devin Asiasi (TE – UCLA)
Houston Miller (TE – Texas Tech)
Colby Parkinson (TE – Stanford)

Albert Okwuegbunam was expected to be the lone tight end in this class worthy of first-round consideration, but an uneven season that saw him dogged by effort concerns may have knocked him out of contention. Hunter Bryant and Cole Kmet are talented prospects who should both hear their names called on day two. Thaddeus Moss, the son of Hall of Famer Randy Moss, is the wild card here, as a strong combine performance coupled with his bloodline could garner him consideration at the tail end of the first round, but a disappointing performance could relegate him to day three. 

Offensive Line
Andrew Thomas (T – Georgia)
Jedrick Wills Jr. (T – Alabama)
Tristan Wirfs (T – Iowa)
Mekhi Becton (T – Louisville)
Austin Jackson (T – USC)
Tyler Biadasz (C – Wisconsin)
Saahdiq Charles (T – LSU)
Netane Muti (G – Fresno State)
Ezra Cleveland (T – Boise State)
Trystan Colon-Castillo (C – Missouri)
Llyod Cushenberry III (C – LSU)
Matt Hennessy (C – Temple)
Keith Ismael (C – San Diego State)
Solomon Kindley (G – Georgia)
Cesar Ruiz (C – Michigan)
Isaiah Wilson (T – Georgia)

The top talents across the offensive line are all juniors. There are three tackles currently projected to be potential top-10 picks in Andrew Thomas, Jedrick Wills, and Tristan Wirfs. Mekhi Becton could go in the top 12. To put this in perspective, the first offensive tackle taken last season was Jonah Williams at 11th overall. The 2020 offensive line class is much more talented on the edge. The 2019 draft class had some standout names on the inside, but zero true first-round talents at offensive tackle. 

Defensive Tackle
Jordan Elliott (DT – Missouri)
James Lynch (DL – Baylor)
Justin Madubuike (DT – Texas A&M)

Justin Madubuike is the top junior declaring at defensive tackle. This is a shorter list than any other position, as we have separated interior rushers from edge rushers. As one may imagine, the top names at the position in this draft class are from the senior pool.

Edge
Chase Young (Edge – Ohio State)
A.J. Epenesa (DE – Iowa)
Yetur Gross-Matos (Edge – Penn State)
Terrell Lewis (Edge – Alabama)
Curtis Weaver (Edge – Boise State)
K’Lavon Chaisson (Edge – LSU)
Oluwole Betiku Jr. (DE – Illinois)
Ross Blacklock (Edge – TCU)
Nick Coe (DE – Auburn)
Jonathan Garvin (Edge – Miami)
Elorm Lumor (Edge – Rutgers)

Remember how good everyone told you Nick Bosa was going to be? Chase Young is going to be even better. While he will not get the benefit of playing in front of a complete defense like Bosa has, Young will be on a similarly talented defensive line that consists of multiple blue-chip prospects. Barring a trade down, Young is going second overall to Washington. While it would be a surprise to see six junior edge rushers go in the first round, the talent in this class dictates that it could very well happen. A.J. Epenesa, Yetur Gross-Matos, K’Lavon Chaisson, Curtis Weaver, and Terrell Lewis all have first-round grades. 

Linebacker
Isaiah Simmons (LB/S – Clemson)
Kenneth Murray (LB – Oklahoma)
Willie Gay Jr. (LB – Mississippi State)
Patrick Queen (LB – LSU)
Josh Uche LB – Michigan)
Jacob Phillips (LB – LSU)
David Woodward (LB – Utah State)

Isaiah Simmons is the toast of the linebacker position this season, and he might be the only linebacker selected in the first round. He is projected to potentially be drafted in the top five. Kenneth Murray, Patrick Queen, and Josh Uche are preparing to hear their names called on day two. The strength of this class took a big blow when Dylan Moses decided to return for his senior season. 

Cornerback
Jeff Okudah (CB – Ohio State)
A.J. Terrell (CB – Clemson)
C.J. Henderson (CB – Florida)
Jaylon Johnson (CB – Utah)
Grayland Arnold (CB – Baylor)
Trajan Bandy (CB – Miami)
Cameron Dantzler (CB – Mississippi)
Javelin Guidry (CB – Utah)
Harrison Hand (CB – Temple)
Darnay Holmes (CB – UCLA)
James Pierre (CB – Florida Atlantic)
Debione Renfro (CB – Texas A&M)
Amik Robertson (CB – Louisiana Tech)
Geno Stone (CB – Iowa)
Josiah Scott (CB – Michigan State)
Stanford Samuels III (CB – Florida State)

Jeff Okudah is one of the best cornerback prospects since Jalen Ramsey, and he is a strong candidate to be drafted in the top 10. A.J. Terrell may have been a candidate to hear his name called in the late first round, but his sub-par performance in the National Championship may prevent him from being a day one selection. 

Safety
Grant Delpit (S – LSU)
Xavier McKinney (S – Alabama)
Antoine Winfield Jr. (S – Minnesota)
Kamren Curl (S – Arkansas)
Alohi Gilman (S – Notre Dame)
Noah Igbinoghene (S – Auburn)

While Isaiah Simmons could very well be deployed as a safety in some schemes, the popular belief is that he will be drafted as a linebacker, and he has been listed there as a result. There are some intriguing talents at the safety position in the 2020 class, and any list of the top safeties in this class usually starts with Grant Delpit and Xavier McKinney. Delpit has the complete game and talent to be a first-round pick, while McKinney may be squeezed out if more than 15 picks are spent on offensive players (including the offensive line).

Returning to School

There were some surprising names that chose to return for their senior season. By now most may know that four top running backs and two top receivers both decided to return to school. Chuba Hubbard, Travis Etienne, Najee Harris, and Kylin Hill all decided to finish up their degrees, while Devonta Smith and Tylan Wallace will help solidify what may be an even more impressive 2021 NFL Draft class at wide receiver. Additionally, quarterback Sam Ehlinger made a wise business decision as he can elevate himself to the first round with a strong senior season for Texas. 

At offensive line, Alex Leatherwood returning to Alabama was the biggest surprise. He looked to be a lock for the first round, but Alabama players returning became somewhat of a theme this year with Devonta Smith, Najee Harris, Dylan Moses, and Leatherwood all somewhat inexplicably deciding to return to school.

Creed Humphrey may have also seen his name called in the first had he declared. Alaric Jackson, Trey Smith, and Walker Little should all be off the board by the end of day two. The biggest name to turn down a chance to enter the NFL Draft at defensive tackles was Marvin Wilson. He could find himself in the first round mix for the 2021 NFL Draft if he has as strong of a senior season as expected. 

Aside from Moses, there are no major surprises at linebacker. The edge rushers listed all made good decisions as they need to put more work on film. Shaun Wade and Pauslon Adebo are the most impressive cornerbacks to decide to return to school. None of the safeties listed made an error in judgment by choosing to return for their senior season.

Quarterback
Sam Ehlinger (QB – Texas)

Running Back
Travis Etienne (RB – Clemson)
Najee Harris (RB – Alabama)
Kylin Hill (RB – Mississippi State)
Chuba Hubbard (RB – Oklahoma State)
A.J. Rose (RB – Kentucky)
Rakeem Boyd – (RB – Arkansas)
C.J. Verdell (RB – Oregon)

Wide Receiver
Devonta Smith (WR – Alabama)
Tylan Wallace (WR – Oklahoma State)
Reggie Roberson (WR – SMU)
Tamarion Terry (WR – Florida State)
Sage Surratt (WR – Wake Forest)
Jhamon Ausbon (WR – Texas A&M)
Nico Collins (WR – Michigan)
Damonte Coxie (WR – Memphis)
Trevon Grimes (WR – Florida)
Dazz Newsome (WR – North Carolina)
K.D. Nixon (WR – Colorado)
Whop Philyor (WR – Indiana)
Marquez Stephenson (WR – Houston)

Tight End
Matt Bushman (TE – BYU)
Pat Freiermuth (TE – Penn State)
Charlie Kolar (TE – Iowa State)

Offensive Line
Creed Humphrey (C – Oklahoma)
Alex Leatherwood (T – Alabama)
Alaric Jackson (T – Iowa)
Trey Smith (OL – Tennessee)
Walker Little (T – Stanford)
Jack Anderson (T – Texas Tech)
Liam Eichenberg (T – Notre Dame)
Will Fries (T – Penn State)
Samuel Cosmi (T – Texas)
Wyatt Davis (G – Ohio State)
Drake Jackson (C – Kentucky)
Michael Manet (OL – Penn State)
Thayer Munford (T – Ohio State)
Josh Myers (C – Ohio State)
Landon Young (T – Kentucky)

Defensive Tackle
Marvin Wilson (DT – Florida State)
Quinton Bohanna (DT – Kentucky)
Austin Faoliu (DL – Oregon)
Lorenzo Neal (DT – Purdue)
Kwity Paye (DL – Michigan)
Levi Onwuzurike (DL – Washington)
Jordon Scott (DT – Oregon)
Darius Stills (DT – West Virginia)

Edge
JaQuan Bailey (Edge – Iowa State)
Carlos Basham Jr. (Edge – Wake Forest)
Big Kat Bryant (Edge – Auburn)
Jonathon Cooper (Edge – Ohio State)
Patrick Jones II – (Edge – Pittsburgh)

Linebacker
Dylan Moses (LB – Alabama)
Baron Browning (LB – Ohio State)
Hamilcar Rashed (LB – Oregon State)
Monty Rice (LB – Georgia)
Erroll Thompson Jr. (LB – Mississippi State)

Cornerback
Shaun Wade (CB – Ohio State)
Paulson Adebo (CB – Stanford)
Caleb Fairley (CB – Virginia Tech)
Thomas Graham (CB – Oregon)
Deommodore Lenoir (CB – Oregon)
K.J. Sails (CB – USF)
Eric Stokes Jr. (CB – Georgia)
Rodarius Williams (CB – Oklahoma State)
Kary Vincent Jr. (CB – LSU)
Marco Wilson (CB – Florida)

Safety
Richard Lecounte III (S – Georgia)
Elijah Molden (DB – Washington)
Jacoby Stevens (S – LSU)

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Raju Byfield is a featured writer for FantasyPros. For more from Raju, check out his profile and follow him @FantasyContext.

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