While 32 players had their dream of making the NFL realized in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft, plenty of other future stars and starters did not come off of the board. These future second and third round picks will make teams regret passing on them in the first.
1. J.K. Dobbins, RB Ohio St./D’Andre Swift, RB Georgia/Jonathan Taylor, RB Wisconsin
The running back position continues declining in importance, but that shouldn’t prevent these three running backs from flying off the board in the second round. After witnessing the sharp decline of players like Todd Gurley and David Johnson, teams avoided drafting running backs early this year. However, several previously stacked running back classes also oversaturated the young running back market.
2. Tee Higgins, WR Clemson
Stop worrying about his route running and pull the trigger on Higgins. I watched his entire career at Clemson firsthand. Higgins’ jump-ball ability and size will make an impact in the NFL. He might not reach the level of someone like CeeDee Lamb, but he’s a better player than Brandon Aiyuk or Jalen Reagor. Some team will get a first round caliber receiver early in the second round when they take Higgins.
3. Xavier McKinney, S Alabama
The highest-rated safety on most boards, McKinney also came tumbling out of the first round. The safety position seems to be trending in the same direction as running backs in the league. With no Jamal Adams or Derwin James caliber player in the draft, teams passed over the safety position in the first round.
4. Grant Delpit, S LSU
Another LSU defensive back who didn’t hear his name called, Delpit’s stock took a hit in 2019. Questions arose about his tackling and ability to play against larger competition in the NFL. However, Delpit is a highly instinctive player who will become a starter in the league.
5. Kristian Fulton, CB LSU
Fulton played a large role on LSU’s National Championship squad this past season. However, after watching many of his teammates hear their names called, Fulton did not find a home on the first night of the draft. Six cornerbacks went in the first round.
6. Laviska Shenault Jr., WR Colorado
Injury concerns played a role in Shanault’s tumble into the second round, but he’s got the build and physicality of some running backs. With the ball in his hands, he’s a wrecking ball for defensive backs. Unfortunately, poor quarterback play at Colorado prevented us from seeing his full potential.
7. Josh Jones, OT Houston
The Dolphins took USC’s Austin Jackson in the middle of the first round, which essentially relegated Jones to the second round. Houston’s left tackle prospect is more polished than Jackson and could start from Day 1 for a needy team.
8. Cole Kmet, TE Notre Dame
The draft’s top tight end might wait until the bottom of the second or top of the third round before he hears his name called. Kmet brings the prototypical big tight end build with plenty of potential to develop as a run-blocker.
9. Ross Blacklock, DT TCU
While he isn’t a pass-rushing defensive tackle, Blacklock can consume space on the interior, leaving gaps for linebackers to shoot through. He pales in comparison to Derrick Brown and Javon Kinlaw but should still go within the first ten picks of the second round.
10. A.J. Epenesa, EDGE Iowa
Epenesa and PSU’s Yetur Gross-Matos fell out of the first round. Honestly, this EDGE rusher class did not impress me outside of Chase Young. Epenesa falling could be a result of teams targeting more proven players with greater star potential.
While the list included the top ten players still available, plenty of other players with first round potential remain in the 2020 NFL Draft. They include Wisconsin’s Zack Baun, Alabama’s Trevon Diggs, Baylor’s Denzel Mims, USC’s Michael Pittman Jr., and Minnesota’s Antoine Winfield Jr.