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NFL Draft 2020: Offensive Position Rankings

CeeDee Lamb, No. 3 WR
With every other recent sporting event cancelled, the 2020 NFL Draft stands alone as the sole entertainment for sports fans. In preparation for the Draft, I've been working hard on countless mock drafts, but also breaking down my favorite players at each position. In that spirit, I unveil my annual position rankings, evaluating my Top 5 prospects at each position, plus one sleeper set to get in the middle rounds, and one set to go in the later rounds. I'll be focusing just on offense for now, with my defensive position rankings set to come out within the week. (Note: These rankings are not based on where I think they'll be drafted, but instead how I would draft them as an NFL GM).

1. Joe Burrow, LSU: Following perhaps the greatest single-season ever by a college quarterback, it'd be a shock if Joe Burrow wasn't the No. 1 overall pick in a few weeks. He doesn't have the natural arm talent of others in this Draft Class, but his accuracy is unquestionably top-notch, and he has all the other intangibles you like to see out of a franchise QB. He is a level-headed, confident player in the pocket who has good mobility and toughness. I'm not sure he is a Hall-of-Fame talent (which would be unfair to assume out of any young QB), but he's the type of guy who can build a franchise around for a decade. Now, it will be interesting to see whether Cincinnati can surround him with enough help.
Projected Range: Early first round
2. Justin Herbert, Oregon: After four seasons as starter in Eugene, Justin Herbert is making the NFL jump a year later than most anticipated. It's hard to say whether staying an extra year with the Ducks helped or hurt him; he had a good year and Oregon won the Rose Bowl, but he didn't overly wow NFL personnel. Herbert did help himself with a great showing at the Combine and his body of work is strong enough to be a Top 10, or even Top 5, selection. He's got a good arm for the deep ball and his accuracy is solid, even if his completion percentage was never elite in college. I think that has more to do with his receivers struggling with drops his entire career than anything to do with Herbert. He also has prototypical NFL size, which is still an important element in the pros, even as we watch Russell Wilson and Kyler Murray succeed.
Projected Range: Early first round to mid-first round
3. Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama: A lot of people around the NFL think that Tua Tagovailoa is the best quarterback in this Draft, so it may come as a relative surprise I have him at No. 3. There are a few reasons why I'm a little wary of Tua. First off, the injury concerns are very valid, and they don't just center around his hip. In his two years as starter at Alabama, Tagovailoa struggled with a variety of injuries and ailments, and I'm not sure that's going to stop when he hits the NFL. Secondly, and it's not necessarily a knock against him, but he played with unbelievable talent at Alabama. Sure, Burrow did as well at LSU, but Tagovailoa had four future NFL receivers to throw to, a loaded offensive line, and a legendary head coach guiding him. I'm not sure whether he'll be able to succeed if he is thrown into a testy situation in Washington or Miami. Perhaps Tua's pure talent will outweigh those concerns, but if I'm an NFL GM, I'm not teaching this guy.
Projected Range: Early first round to mid-first round
4. Jordan Love, Utah State: One of the more polarizing prospects in this Draft is Utah State's Jordan Love. As a small-school quarterback, Love is going to naturally have detractors, but he's also coming off an inconsistent 2019 (20 TD, 17 INT). I think it is important to note that Love was breaking into a new offense in '19 under a new head coach in Gary Andersen, but the turnovers and decision-making are still issues. With that being said, I think that this guy is a tremendous athlete with significant upside if he lands in the right spot. He's not worthy of an early first-round selection, but I wouldn't mind a team taking a chance on him in the late first or early second. I think this is a guy that is going to need a "redshirt" year in much the same way Patrick Mahomes did, just to adjust. Landing at a place like Pittsburgh or Indianapolis, where he could learn under a vet for a year, would really help.
Projected Range: Mid-first round to early second round
5. Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma: It's hard not to root for a player like Jalen Hurts. He proved to be a real model teammate during his time in Alabama, and he's a hard-worker that isn't going to make any excuses. I think there is a lot that is attractive about that type of leader for NFL teams, and Hurts has proven he can help teams win. He doesn't have the arm of others near the top of the Draft, but he's obviously a very mobile quarterback that can create for himself. Some team is going to get a steal in him, although I think there's a good chance he goes a lot higher than most expect.
Projected Range: Early second round to mid-third round

Mid-Round Sleeper: James Morgan, Florida International
There's been a lot of buzz surrounding James Morgan over the last couple weeks, as he looks like he could really rise into the middle rounds. Morgan's stats with FIU weren't gaudy, but he proved he could be a reliable signal-caller that made the right decisions. NFL scouts really like his size and arm potential, although he'll likely begin his career as a backup.

Late-Round Sleeper: Cole McDonald, Hawaii
McDonald has one of the strongest arms in the Draft, and he put up huge numbers over the last two seasons running an aggressive, vertical offense for the Rainbow Warriors. McDonald does still struggle with decision-making, and there will be a stark adjustment from the offense he ran in college to the ones he'll see in the NFL. Even so, I think somebody should take a flier on him in the later rounds.

Running backs
1. J.K. Dobbins, Ohio State: Most NFL people I've seen have J.K. Dobbins as the No. 3 running back in this Draft, which I find pretty surprising. He had a dominant 2019 campaign and has the size, vision and breakaway speed that any team would covet. You could make the argument he benefitted from running behind an O-Line stacked with future NFL talent, but that same argument could be made against D'Andre Swift & Jonathan Taylor. I'm not sold on Dobbins necessarily being a first-round prospect, but I think that is just a reality of the running back position in the modern NFL. He's well worth an early second-rounder, as a proven commodity who can add an interesting element to any offense.
Projected Range: Early second round to early third round
2. D'Andre Swift, Georgia: Swift is the only running back prospect projected in the first round at this point in the NFL Draft cycle, and you can see why. He's an explosive runner that has the craftiness and patience to succeed in the pros. He also comes from a school that has produced a ton of successful backs over the last few years in Todd Gurley, Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. My concern with Swift is his health; he regularly struggled with injuries the past two seasons in Athens, and will have to deal with an NFL that is even more physical and brutal. Perhaps he's able to shake that injury bug when he makes the jump, but it's a very notable issue. Any team willing to draft him will have to be equipped with a quality backup in the fold.
Projected Range: Late first round to early third round
3. Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin: Jonathan Taylor put up three incredible seasons running in Madison, and helped out his Draft stock with a good Combine. He's not the most naturally talented running back in this Draft, but it's hard to argue against a guy who ran for over 6,000 yards and won a Doak Walker Award in his career. I have Taylor behind Dobbins & Swift because of two main concerns, wear and tear, as well as a recurring fumble problem. Taylor was an absolute workhorse for the Badgers, compiling 926 rushing attempts in his tenure. That's a lot of hits that Taylor has already taken, and the clock for backs in the NFL is already short. Can he be an effective guy who five years? Probably, but I'm not sure he'll be able to sustain that amount of work for much longer than that. The fumble problem isn't a major concern considering how much he did touch the ball, but he did lose 15 over three years. Lastly, UW backs just haven't been very productive in the NFL, with the main exception being Melvin Gordon. Although, that's an unfair knock against Taylor, who is his own player and not solely a system guy.
Projected Range: Early second round to mid-third round
4. Cam Akers, Florida State: Cam Akers is the most interesting running back prospect in this Draft for me. He was a highly touted guy coming into Florida State and looked the part immediately, rushing for over 1,000 yards in 2017. However, his numbers really fell off under Willie Taggart, and he didn't seem to have the same energy or confidence over his final two years as he did in '17. Granted, Akers was running behind a very poor offensive line during the Taggart era, but it still has to be relatively concerning to see the drop-off. He's still got excellent burst and unquestionable athleticism, but there are other parts of his game he needs to round out. I wouldn't be surprised at all if he ends up being a steal based on where he's currently being projected, but it also wouldn't be shocking to see him out of the league somewhat quickly.
Projected Range: Mid-second round to late third round
5. Clyde Edwards-Helaire, LSU: Playing alongside Joe Burrow, Clyde Edwards-Helaire was certainly a sidekick instead of the main show in 2019, but he was a lot more to important to that LSU team than most realize. As a hard-nosed runner who always fell forward, Edwards-Helaire ate up yards, and was really effective late in games when teams were tired. He also proved to be a very capable receiver out of the backfield, as well as a superb blocker in passing situations. He doesn't have the ceiling of the others in this Draft, but is well-worth a mid-round selection.
Projected Range: Mid-second round to late third round

Mid-Round Sleeper: Zack Moss, Utah
As a guy that could certainly sneak into the second round, I'm not sure if Zack Moss fits the mold of a "sleeper". Even so, he's often overlooked playing at a place like Utah, despite an extremely productive college career. He was a workhorse back for the Utes who tallied 1,416 yards and 15 touchdowns in 2019, a major part of Utah's Pac-12 South Champion offense. There are concerns about his health as well, and he took an absolute beating in college. I don't see him as a three-down back in the NFL, but he should be an effective short yardage option who also has excellent hands for his position.

Late-Round Sleeper: Anthony McFarland Jr., Maryland
McFarland is another back with some injury concerns, as he missed a big chunk of 2019 dealing with nagging ankle problems. However, if you look back at his 2018 campaign, you really start to paint a picture on why this guy could be a real steal. He has blazing speed in the open field, can cut on a dime, and runs incredibly hard. He averaged nearly eight yards per carry in the unforgiving Big Ten and was just scratching the surface of what he could be. McFarland still has to work his way back to 100 percent, but I'm a big fan, particularly if he lasts past the fifth round.

1. Jerry Jeudy, Alabama: There's been a lot of fanfare around Jerry Jeudy his entire career, and it certainly hasn't been unwarranted. Jeudy has the blend of speed, athleticism and hands that any elite wide out needs to have, even if he could add some bulk to his frame. Despite playing in an offense that included four future NFL wide outs, Jeudy really shone, and won the Biletnikoff Award in 2018. There remains a chance he could last outside the Top 10 with the way the Draft is shaping up, giving somebody quite a steal.
Projected Range: Early first round to mid-first round
2. Henry Ruggs III, Alabama: Although he was sometimes overshadowed by Jeudy, DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle, I'm a big fan of Henry Ruggs III. His world-class athleticism is showcased in this mind-boggling high school basketball tape, and he also brings crisp route running to the table. I'm a firm believer that if Ruggs would've played elsewhere, where he could really show himself off as the No. 1 guy, he would be viewed as a Top 10 prospect in this Draft.
Projected Range: Mid-first round to late first round
3. CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma: Despite the two former Crimson Tide receivers, there remains a good chance it could be CeeDee Lamb who is the first receiver off the board. Lamb's gigantic catch radius and explosiveness helped him evolve into one of the top wide outs in the country with Oklahoma. I'm a little bit concerned about his fit in an NFL offense, but still could see him as a deep threat in a number of systems. He's well worth a mid-first round selection, even if I have him behind Jeudy & Ruggs.
Projected Range: Early first round to mid-first round
4. Laviska Shenault, Colorado: Colorado doesn't produce a ton of NFL draftees, but Laviska Shenault is a noticeable exception. He was so impressive in 2018 that he was considered a serious Heisman candidate until injury struck, and he carried that success into last fall. Injuries were a constant factor during his time in Boulder, but I think he has the physique to survive in the NFL. He has the versatility to be a home run threat in an offense or operate between the chains, and his size is one of the most impressive things about him.
Projected Range: Mid-first round to early second round
5. Justin Jefferson, LSU: Jefferson is a great story, once an overlooked two-star recruit who developed into a bonafide first-rounder during his time with LSU. Even in an offense that featured the Biletnikoff Award winner (Ja'Marr Chase), Jefferson was often the best wide out on the field for the Tigers, and usually their most consistent pass-catcher. He's a good route runner, possesses exceptional speed, and is also a pretty good blocker in the run. Even in a receiver class that could be the best in a long time, Jefferson is a Top 5 prospect.
Projected Range: Mid-first round to early second round

Mid-Round Sleeper: Lynn Bowden, Kentucky
There may be a more versatile offensive weapon in this Draft than Lynn Bowden. After catching 67 balls for 745 yards, he spent most of 2019 as a quarterback, following the injury of UK's starter Terry Wilson. He certainly wasn't much of a passer for the Wildcats and won't be expected to play any QB in the NFL, but his ability to impact the game was on full display. He eclipsed 200 rushing yards three times on the year, which were all victories for Kentucky. As a receiver, Bowden isn't at the level of the first-round possibilities, but he offers good size and fits the mold of another former UK QB-WR dynamo, Randall Cobb.

Late-Round Sleeper: Isaiah Hodgins, Oregon State
Playing at Oregon State, Isaiah Hodgins certainly didn't get much attention on a national scale, but this guy has a lot of tools that NFL teams covet. He has a great frame at 6'4" to possibly become a red zone threat but he also has pretty good burst, running a 4.61 40 at the Combine. He was also extremely productive with the Beavers, proving he could make plays even in a division that has some really quality secondaries. He is a major steal possibility if he lasts until the third day.

Tight Ends
1. Thaddeus Moss, LSU: While this may be a historical receiver class, it is one of the weaker tight end classes in recent memory. That allows a guy like Thaddeus Moss, who likely will be taken anywhere from the second to fourth round, to be my No. 1 prospect at the position. The former LSU Tiger has real mismatch potential as a speedy tight end who has excellent hands for the position. He also has quite the bloodline, being the son of NFL legend Randy Moss. The concerns are around his health and blocking ability. He was very rarely used as a blocker this past season for the Tigers, which won't be the case at the next level.
Projected Range: Mid-second round to early fourth round
2. Cole Kmet, Notre Dame: Notre Dame is a school that produces a lot of talent at the tight end position, with the most recent examples being Kyle Rudolph and Tyler Eifert. They have another likely solid pro in the form of Cole Kmet. Kmet doesn't necessarily wow you with speed or athleticism, and he wasn't quite as impactful in the passing game as Moss. His real strength is as a physical blocker that can really open things up for any type of rushing attack, and I still think he could be an effective playmaker when called upon. There's a good chance that Kmet cemented himself as the first TE off the board later this April with a good Combine, but I don't think he'll be a first-rounder.
Projected Range: Early second round to early third round
3. Hunter Bryant, Washington: Injuries were an issue throughout Hunter Bryant's entire career in Seattle but once he was finally healthy in 2019, he produced. Bryant was an All-American and John Mackey Award finalist after putting up numbers of 52 receptions and 825 yards. He really looked like the type of athletic, modern tight end that NFL teams are looking for. However, Bryant really hurt himself at the Combine by running a 4.74 40, which is pretty slow for a player who solely projects as a receiving tight end. That poor showing, along with the injury questions, could drop him into Day 3 of this Draft. Yet, I still think he'd be worth a flier somewhere in the second or third round, assuming he lands in the right scheme.
Projected Range: Late second round to early fourth round
4. Adam Trautman, Dayton: After a very solid career at Dayton, Adam Trautman really started building some buzz with a good showing at this year's Senior Bowl. That buzz tempered down with a mediocre Combine showing, meaning he likely is a second or third-rounder. Still, Trautman offers a lot as a reliable pass-catcher, quality blocker and from everything we've heard, a really good locker room guy. He's still a little bit more of a mystery than others at his position because he played at an FCS school, but that shouldn't scare away NFL teams.
Projected Range: Mid-second round to early fourth round
5. Albert Okwuegbunam, Missouri: Okwuegbunam first broke into the NFL conversation his freshman year at Missouri, when he caught 11 touchdown passes from future NFL signal-caller Drew Lock. His production dipped the next two seasons, but he still proved to be a pretty athletic, pass-catching tight end, catching six TD passes in '19. Okwuegbunam helped himself out at the Combine, when he posted a very impressive 4.49 40-yard-dash, and there is some thought it could help him rise into consideration as the first TE off the board. However, some NFL teams have raised concerns about his maturity and overall fit in an NFL offense. To be worthy of a second-round selection he'll have to continue to improve as a blocker, which is okay for a receiving tight end.
Projected Range: Late second round to mid-fourth round

Mid-Round Sleeper: Stephen Sullivan, LSU
Stephen Sullivan came to LSU as a highly touted receiver, but transitioned into a WR/TE hybrid over his career there. He projects as a pass-catching tight end in the NFL, but will have to round out his game to be worthy of a mid-round selection. Sullivan was overshadowed by some of the other receiving talent LSU had on their roster these last few years and while Chase, Jefferson and Moss were having career years, his production actually dropped in 2019. Sullivan did help himself out with strong performances in the workouts, and he offers quite a bit of athleticism and upside for the tight end position. He could end up being a quality value pick for any number of NFL teams, as a low-risk option that could move the chains.

Late-Round Sleeper: Jacob Breeland, Oregon
Jacob Breeland was on his way to earning John Mackey Award honors in 2019 before missing the final nine games of the season due to a leg injury. In the five games he did play in, Breeland showed that he was a crucial element of the Ducks offense, reeling in 26 balls for 405 yards and 6 touchdowns. He doesn't project very highly in the Draft due to a number of reasons. First off, there remains some injury questions stemming from the season-ending injury. Secondly, playing in a Marcus Arroyo offense, he was helped greatly by creative screens and other play designs that won't be used much in the NFL. Lastly, Breeland simply isn't a very great athlete at the position, and doesn't have a clear projection at the next level. With all that being said, I still think a player as productive as him could be worth a value pick in the later rounds.

Offensive Line
1. Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville: Mekhi Becton gets the nod as my top O-Linemen in this Draft, barely beating out Tristian Wirfs and Jedrick Wills. What I like most about Becton is the athleticism and upside he brings at the tackle position. He was never overly dominant this past season at Louisville, but continued to get better as the season wore on. That type of growth should continue into the NFL, and at the very least, his athleticism should carry him on. Despite weighing in at over 360 pounds and measuring in at 6'7", Becton has exceptional footwork and lateral quickness. I think he's well-worth a Top 10 selection in this Draft.
Projected Range: Early first round to mid-first round
2. Tristian Wirfs, OT, Iowa: Prior to the Combine, Tristian Wirfs was viewed as a likely first-rounder but after a terrific week in Indianapolis, he has risen into Top 5 consideration. Wirfs isn't some one-hit wonder, as he put together a stellar career while at Iowa, and has established himself as an excellent run blocker for his position. Much like Becton, there is room for growth in areas of his game, but the baseline talent is there. I don't think it is crazy at all for him to be considered the best O-Linemen in this cycle, as I have just behind Becton on my board.
Projected Range: Early first round to mid-first round
3. Jedrick Wills, OT, Alabama: Even in an offense that featured a host of future NFL players, Jedrick Wills often shone through on the offensive line. He consistently faced some of the best pass rushers in the physical SEC and was an extremely consistent blocker in both the pass and the run. I'm not sure if he quite has the upside of either Becton or Wirfs, but I think he offers a little bit more versatility with the potential to move inside, and seems to have a higher floor. He's a fringe Top 10 prospect right now, but could be considered a steal if he lasts any longer than that.
Projected Range: Early first round to late first round
4. Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia: Prior to 2019, Andrew Thomas entered the year as the top projected offensive linemen in the 2020 Draft. He didn't perform poorly, but had his ups-and-downs playing against top-notch competition. He still struggles with some of the quicker edge defenders but his build and footwork should be able to translate well to the next level. If you watched him play against Notre Dame this year, you saw him handle a very imposing ND pass rush. Thomas may slip a little due to team needs, but still should land somewhere in the middle of the first round.
Projected Range: Mid-first round to late first round
5. Cesar Ruiz, C, Michigan: It isn't super common to see interior linemen skip their final year of eligibility, but Cesar Ruiz had enough of an NFL future to do so. He was a three-year starter at Michigan, playing in an offense that looked a lot like an NFL unit during his time there. He consistently anchored the group as a well-rounded, veteran presence that can get to the second level of a defense and open up running lanes. He won't make quite the impact an offensive tackle might in this class, but he's the type of level-headed blocker that you can build a line around for a decade. He's worthy of a late first-round selection, but it wouldn't be shocking to see him last into Day 2.
Projected Range: Mid-first round to early second round

Mid-Round Sleeper: Darryl Williams, OG/C, Mississippi State
Darryl Williams originally played at guard during his Mississippi State career before moving inside to center with the graduation of Elgton Jenkins. He's a more natural fit at center given his constraints length-wise, but could still move back to guard depending on team need. As a guard, Williams established himself as a tone-setter who has among the best in the SEC, clearing holes for Bulldogs star tailback Kylin Hill. He still has a little bit to learn at the center position, but played well enough to earn mid-round consideration.

Late Round Sleeper: Ben Bartch, OG, Saint John's (Minn.)
Despite playing at Division III program, Bartch has earned a lot of buzz as a possible prospect who could rise up boards late. He's a fascinating character, as a former tight end who bulked up and moved inside to guard, where he really impressed with the Johnnies. The buzz continued to build with a fantastic performance at the Senior Bowl, where he showed he could compete against some of the best in this Draft. There's hope he could get even better once he gets more comfortable playing the guard spot, and there's value there.

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