The 2020 NFL Draft is less than a month away. As we look forward to it, we prepare for one of the most out of the ordinary drafts in history. This year’s draft, like all sporting related events, has been altered by the COVID-19 pandemic. Hoping to build on the success of recent draft events, the league had grand plans for this year’s installation. Planned to be held in Las Vegas, the league intended on ferrying drafted players via boat to the podium located in the Bellagio’s fountains. While that won’t be happening (so sad), the draft has become the sole focus of the American sports world.
Thankfully, this looks to be a loaded class, particularly on offense. There’s a strong chance that three quarterbacks will be taken within the top 10. The wide receiver position is also stacked, historically stacked, and could see possibly nine or ten players at the position selected in the first three rounds.
The class includes Alabama stand-outs Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs as well as Oklahoma’s Ceedee Lamb. Impressive in its own right, those names only represent the upper echelon of this year’s WR class. This draft will surely have solid WR2 receivers available likely into the fourth round, each with specified skill sets. There are also some high risk, high reward type prospects coming back from injury or other issues.
Sadly, due to the pandemic, players are unable to have pro days and workout in front of scouts. This includes also having face to face, in-person meetings. The effect this will have on draft boards remains to be seen.
With that said, here are my 10 receiver prospects available for the 2020 NFL Draft.
10. Chase Claypool- Notre Dame
Claypool led the Irish with 66 catches this past season to go along with 1,037 yards and 13 touchdowns. Chase Claypool is a taller (6’4″), Alshon Jeffery type receiver who is solid in the red zone. He had a stellar 40.5 inch vertical at the combine to go along with a 4.42 forty.
Given how stacked this class is, Claypool’s typical mock draft position is all over the place. Some experts have him going in the second round while others have him falling as far back as the fourth. The Notre Dame product’s draft position may ultimately be determined by how teams in need of a receiver round out their needs in the first round. Notre Dame receivers – especially top tier prospects – have performed well at the NFL level since Brian Kelly took over.
While I have Claypool at #10 on my list, he probably would have cracked the top 5 for me if he were available last year. That’s how stacked the 2020 NFL Draft is at the receiver position.
9. Brandon Aiyuk- Arizona State
Brandon Aiyuk is a former JUCO player who has managed to make a name for himself in just two years at Arizona State. While Aiyuk possesses above average height for a WR at 6’1″, he has done some solid work return specialist.
The Reno, Nevada native returned kicks in both of his seasons at ASU and took one to the house in 2019. All told, he averaged 31.8 yards per return. Aiyuk was also dangerous in the punt return department, averaging 16.1 yards per return. On the receiving side, Aiyuk hauled in 65 passes for 1,192 yards and 8 touchdowns this past season. Like Claypool, the former Sun Devil is all over the place on mock drafts, being selected anywhere from the second through fifth rounds.
8. Laviska Shenault- Colorado
Laviska Shenault is a true junior who has declared for the 2020 NFL draft a year ahead of schedule. At 6’1″, Shenault had an outstanding 2018 season; receiving 1st-Team All Pac-12 Honors. In just 9 games in that season, he hauled in 86 receptions for 1,011 yards as well as 6 receiving touchdowns. 2018 also included five rushing scores for the Texas native.
Towards the end of that year, however, he was hampered by injuries that persisted through 2019. Shenault played in 11 games last season but with lesser production, likely due to the lingering injury. On the year he had 56 catches with 764 yards and 6 total touchdowns.
It is unclear how much injury concerns will affect Shenault’s stock, but the upside is certainly there. Colorado has been producing several second round draft selections in recent years and Shenault could be next in line.
7. K.J Hamler- Penn State
I’ll try to hide bias as a Penn State fan, but Hamler is easily the player I most want my Eagles (again, sorry) to target in the draft. If the team could pair his amazing speed and agility with DeSean Jackson, it could take the offense to a whole new level. Just watch the separation he’s able to create in just a quick 20-yard sprint on this TD.
Hamler is another early declaree and return specialist. He’s explosive in the open field and already has Hollywood Brown 2.0 vibes about him. The 5’9″ speedster started for two years at Penn State and finished with a total of 98 catches, 1,658 yards, and 13 touchdowns. There are few players in the 2020 NFL Draft with the pure talent and athleticism Hamler posseses, which makes it hard to see him making it out of the second round. Some teams could balk at his size, however. Not every coach see’s value in the short speed demons, though they should probably get with the times.
6. Denzel Mims- Baylor
Mims will be a key player to watch in the draft. Generally, he’s jumped between a late-first and early-second round pick in most mocks. Mims was a stud in his senior year at Baylor under Matt Rhule, finishing with 66 receptions for 1,020 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Speaking of Rhule, he seems to be bringing in several of his former players already. The former Temple head man has brought in former college players P.J. Walker and Robby Anderson. If that trend continues, we could certainly see Denzel Mims in Carolina.
That said, there’s a strong chance a team trades up to snag him at the end of the first round. With the fifth year rookie option, players with the talent Mims brings to the table will be a sought after commodity.
5. Tee Higgins- Clemson
Higgins is the first WR on the list who, in my opinion, should go in the first round. There are several teams at the end of the first round, including Baltimore and Tennessee, who need help at the WR position.
While Higgins wasn’t a huge factor in Clemson’s two playoff games, he had an outstanding ACC Championship performance that led to a rise in his draft stock. Against Virginia, he caught 9 passes for 182 yards and 3 touchdowns. Higgins has a big frame at 6’4″ and is comfortable on the outside or in the slot. Higgins and the next member of this list are the tier 2 WR’s who I see going at the end of the first round.
4. Justin Jefferson- LSU
Jefferson was the top receiver for the #1 offense in college football in 2019. He led the NCAA in receptions with 111 to go along with 1,540 yards and 18 touchdowns on the season. His combine performance was average at best, but Jefferson is a natural all-around WR and could immediately start on most teams. Some mocks have had him as high as 19 to Oakland, but it will come down to how long it takes for the top 3 receivers to be selected.
3. Henry Ruggs III- Alabama
The top three could almost go in any order. For many drafts, any one of these three could be considered the top at their position. Ruggs has top speed, running a 4.27 at the combine. Leading up to the workout, many thought he could break the record. Ruggs did ultimately break the record for vertical jump with 42 inches. Needless to say, he’s a blue chip prospect headed into the 2020 NFL Draft.
His combine certainly boosted his stock, but could he be the next Tavon Austin? Austin was a similar speedster who went in the first round but was not able to live up to the hype. Ruggs had only 86 total catches in two years starting at Alabama. You have to wonder when his potential will turn into production, but the potential is certainly there, to say the least.
2. Jerry Jeudy- Alabama
The top spot is really a coin flip between Jeudy and Oklahoma’s Ceedee Lamb. Both are blue chippers who could be potential #1 WR’s for the organization they end up with. It is very likely that both Jeudy and Lamb are selected within the top 15 picks of the 2020 NFL Draft.
Jeudy was the top receiver for Alabama last season, hauling in 77 catches for 1,163 yards and 10 touchdowns.
1. Ceedee Lamb
Lamb is the best all-around receiver in this draft. He started all three years at Oklahoma alongside Heisman Trophy winners Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray. In two years starting, Lamb had 127 catches for 2,485 yards and 25 touchdowns.
Lamb’s floor is as high as it could be and the ceiling is even higher. It’s certainly high praise for a prospect, but there have been comparisons to Chad Johnson. His speed could be higher at just a 4.5 but his pure talent can overcome that. All told, there’s a good chance that Ceedee Lamb finds himself as a top 10 selection at the 2020 NFL Draft.