Analyzing high-impact 2020 NCAA transfers for the 2021 NFL Draft

The transfer portal has churned out several talented NFL players in recent years. PFN Draft Analyst AJ Schulte looks at the next high impact NCAA transfers for the 2021 NFL Draft.

The transfer portal in college football has opened doors for so many players to grow their NFL Draft stock. The last three number one picks in the draft were all transfers. Prominent prospects like Alvin Kamara, Jalen Hurts, Jordan Elliott, Jalen Hurd, and even Russell Wilson all transferred to better situations that put them on NFL radars. With the prominence of the transfer portal at its highest, several prospects have gambled on their own ability and taken their talents elsewhere. Who are the biggest impact 2020 NCAA transfers looking to prove their value in the 2021 NFL Draft?

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QB K.J. Costello: Stanford to Mississippi State

Out of all of the 2020 NCAA transfers at the quarterback position, Costello is the one that I’m most comfortable with betting on for NFL success based on his tape and traits. Costello fits what NFL teams will want from a physical standpoint, standing at 6-foot-5. He has all the physical traits as well, with a fantastic arm and good athleticism to avoid rushers. Costello has also demonstrated great poise, touch, and anticipation. He has to improve in attacking the leverage of the defense and shore up some mechanical issues.

Luckily, Costello lands in a place with Mike Leach and plenty of talent around him. Leach’s last two big-time quarterbacks, Gardner Minshew and Anthony Gordon, did a great job at understanding and attacking defenses, which has become synonymous with Leach quarterbacks and is almost a requirement as his starting QB. With the QB3 spot behind Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields up in the air, Costello could be a huge impact transfer for the 2021 NFL Draft.

QB Jamie Newman: Wake Forest to Georgia

Newman has gotten a lot of hype and has Athens buzzing about his potential. Newman has a lot of talent at his disposal. He’s demonstrated a solid arm as well as good athleticism to scramble and extend plays if need be. It’s a skill set that Georgia hasn’t had at quarterback in a very long time and would probably be similar to what the offense under Justin Fields would have looked like.

The biggest boost for Newman isn’t the upgrade at talent around him, but at offensive coordinator. Georgia grew out of the outdated offense and ventured out to hire Todd Monken, a renowned offensive coach who has coached several talented passing offenses.

In his career since 1998, Monken’s offenses have averaged 3,436.8 passing yards per season. Only three quarterbacks at Georgia have ever eclipsed 3,400 passing yards in a single season (Eric Zeier, Matthew Stafford, and Aaron Murray), and none since 2012. This will be a major boost for Newman, as UGA is trying to copy the LSU model.

QB D’Eriq King: Houston to Miami (FL)

King’s abilities are not to be understated. He orchestrated an explosive offense at Houston but decided that the offense under Dana Holgerson wasn’t the best fit for him. King transferred to Miami (FL), who has been looking for an answer at the quarterback position seemingly since Ken Dorsey.

The Miami offense last year lacked that spark at QB, and they finished 52nd in passing offense last season. In King’s last full season, he quarterbacked a Houston offense that finished seventh in total offense and third in total points responsible for behind only Kyler Murray and Dwayne Haskins.

King will also be paired with Rhett Lashlee, who runs an up-tempo (80.9 plays per game last year, third in the country) Air-Raid offense similar to the one King ran at Houston with Kendal Briles. Lashlee was the offensive coordinator for the last two seasons at SMU, where he quickly turned around the offense and aided in the rebounding of QB Shane Buechele. With an offense that plays to his strengths and a lot of talent around him, King could be a high impact 2020 NCAA transfer that helps turns the fortunes of Miami.

QB Anthony Brown: Boston College to Oregon

This move fell under the radar by many analysts, but Brown could be a big breakout star at Oregon. Brown checks off a lot of boxes with a great arm and impressive mobility. He never seemed to put those gifts together at Boston College, and then tore his ACL last October in a game against Louisville. One can argue about the offensive scheme at Boston College, but that won’t be a problem at Oregon.

Oregon hired Joe Moorhead to replace Marcus Arroyo at offensive coordinator and likely upgraded. Moorhead’s offenses have been potent with the right quarterback, as the RPO-oriented scheme he runs led to several top 25 finishes while he was at Penn State. They are extremely quarterback-friendly, given the success his past quarterbacks have had. With a bevy of talent around Brown, he could be an underrated impact transfer ahead of the 2021 NFL Draft.

RB Trey Sermon: Oklahoma to Ohio State

Sermon’s career has now come full-circle. His first breakout game as a Sooner came against Ohio State in Columbus in 2017. Now he’ll end his career as a Buckeye, the same place where it virtually began. Sermon has amassed 2,076 rushing yards with 25 total touchdowns in his career.

Sermon’s a tough bulldozer to bring down, demonstrating excellent drive, patience, and strength as a runner. Last year, his usage dropped for an unknown reason, and then he sustained a season-ending injury in November. Sermon enters a backfield that lost JK Dobbins to the NFL Draft and faces uncertainty over the lead back spot. Expect Sermon to fill that void in a big way in 2021.

WR Damon Hazelton: Virginia Tech to Missouri

The grad transfer from Blacksburg looks to be the number one receiver for a Missouri program that is lacking one in Eliah Drinkwitz’s first season. The 6-foot-4 tower was a go-to playmaker for the Hokies but decided he needed a fresh start for his NFL hopes. New Missouri WR/QB coach Bush Hamdan coached John Ross III and Dante Pettis at Washington and also spent a season with the Atlanta Falcons in 2017. With a new start and a proven wide receiver coach, Hazelton could take that next step and become an early selection in the 2021 NFL Draft.

OT Coy Cronk: Indiana to Iowa

Cronk transfers to a program well-renowned for its offensive line pedigree. Cronk played left tackle at Indiana but might slide over to the right tackle spot to replace Tristan Wirfs at Iowa. Cronk started 40 straight games before his injury last season, bringing plenty of experience with him to the Hawkeyes. He was on the Outland Trophy watch list for best lineman before his injury. With Iowa’s pedigree at churning out offensive linemen, along with Cronk’s talent, don’t forget about this 2020 NCAA transfer in the 2021 Draft class.

Honorable Mention Offense

G Josh Sills: West Virginia to Oklahoma State
WR Theo Howard: UCLA to Oklahoma
RB Khalil Herbert: Kansas to Virginia Tech
RB Brittain Brown: Duke to UCLA
QB Peyton Ramsey: Indiana to Northwestern
WR Dee Anderson: LSU to Oklahoma State
TE Briley Moore: Northern Iowa to Kansas State
G Terrance Davis: Maryland to Wake Forest

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