2020 NFL Draft: Stock Up & Down
The next generation of fantasy studs will learn their NFL homes in less than a month. With the cancellation of most pro-day workouts, player evaluations from the Combine and Senior Bowl become absolutely critical, and the players who improved their draft standing will carry that helium all the way through the draft. However, those who disappointed will see a precipitous decline in draft stock with minimal opportunity to change the narrative.
Let’s examine some risers and fallers as the draft process continues to unfold.
Denzel Mims (WR – Baylor)
Measuring in at six-foot-three and 207 pounds, Mims confirmed that he is every bit the physical freak that bullied defensive backs on tape and at the Senior Bowl. He then went out and blazed a 4.38 40-yard dash at the Combine, the third-fastest time among all wide receivers. Arguably, Mims has more helium than any other prospect in the entire draft, and his stock rises higher every day. He’s trending towards a first-round lock and could easily come off the board in the top-20, perhaps even cracking the Lamb, Jeudy, Ruggs tier.
Justin Jefferson (WR – LSU)
Typecast as a chain-moving slot type, Jefferson’s ridiculous production in his breakout junior season (111-1,540-18) went largely overlooked as a byproduct of Joe Burrow. That all changed at the Combine when he blitzed a 4.43 40-yard dash and crushed the route drills, firmly entrenching himself in the first-round conversation. Jefferson will be a scheme-altering slot weapon in the pass-happy NFL and is rocketing up draft boards.
Chase Claypool (WR – Notre Dame)
Claypool was a bit of an enigma at Notre Dame, alternating flashes of brilliance with complete disappearance. His star dazzled at the Combine, as he demolished the athletic testing while measuring in at six-foot-four and a burly 238 pounds. Claypool’s draft profile shifted dramatically, tempting NFL teams with the idea that he can become a hybrid WR/TE and a matchup nightmare for opposing defensive backs. He was arguably the Combine’s biggest winner, jumping from a mid to late-round selection to second-day lock — and even putting himself in first-round consideration.
Jonathan Taylor (RB – Wisconsin)
Taylor’s jaw-dropping Combine performance cannot be understated, especially considering that raw athleticism is probably more important at the running back position than anywhere else. In addition to his eye-popping 4.39 40-yard dash (tops among all RBs), Taylor also rocked the 3-cone drill (fourth), 20-yard shuttle (sixth), and the broad jump (ninth). His production at Wisconsin speaks for itself, and Taylor demonstrated the workout chops to back it up. He will probably be the first running back selected on draft day.
Cam Akers (RB – FSU)
An electric Combine performance serves as a reminder of the talent that made Akers the number three overall recruit in the 2017 class. Though he flashed talent at Florida State, injuries and porous offensive line play hampered his overall production. Akers was particularly impressive in the on-field drills where he flashed drooling foot speed and balance. The top running back tier of Taylor, Swift, and Dobbins may have a new member in Akers.
Van Jefferson (WR – Florida)
After tearing it up at the Senior Bowl with filthy route running, Van Jefferson looked to be a prospect on the rise. And then he suffered a Jones fracture in his right foot and missed all Combine workouts. This is a very tricky injury that will take over two months to heal, and it also carries significant re-injury risk, putting Jefferson’s availability for offseason workouts into question. This year’s crop of wide receivers is so strong that Jefferson will probably get passed over in favor of healthier options. NFL teams can be very risk-averse when it comes to drafting injured players, and it would not shock to see Jefferson fall to day three.
Tee Higgins (WR – Clemson)
A hamstring tweak cost Higgins a precious evaluation opportunity at the Combine, and despite impressing at Clemson’s pro day, he appears to be falling on draft boards. Higgins had previously been one of my favorite receivers in the second tier of receivers, competing for a spot at the end of the first round. Now he is at serious risk of falling deep into the second or the third round, where I suspect he will be a major steal for whichever team drafts him. Oddly, his stock decline is largely a byproduct of other wide receivers rising up the draft board. Higgins is a massive target and jump-ball specialist who should become a premier red-zone threat on day one.
Hunter Bryant (TE – Washington)
Bryant had the potential to solidify his standing as one of the premier tight ends in this class, but a disappointing combine really dinged his draft stock. He is a polished route runner, but his speed is a major question mark — he ran a pedestrian 4.74 40-yard dash. Size is also a concern after he measured at just six-foot-two. Slow and short is not exactly the ideal recipe for a receiving tight end — Bryant’s NFL outlook has taken a major hit this offseason.
Jarad Evans is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Jarad, follow him on Twitter @jarad_evans.