Week 12 of the College Football season featured some great conference action to follow up on an exciting slate of games last Saturday. With these Week 12 games, came another round of potential declarations for the 2020 NFL Draft. The biggest name to emerge is 2019 Alabama receiving sensation DeVonta Smith. PFN’s own Tony Pauline reports that his sources believe Smith will now take his game to the next level.
Most draft experts expected big seasons and early draft entries from all-world wide receiver Jerry Jeudy and speedster Henry Ruggs. However, it now appears that Alabama de facto number three WR, DeVonta Smith is considering a jump to the NFL after this season. His entry could make this WR class even more historic. Below I will take a look at what makes Smith a bright NFL prospect while detailing some additional Week 12 NFL Draft declarations that emerged during Saturday’s exciting slate of action.
Smith joins other Alabama play-makers in the pros
Alabama has been a factory for NFL players and prospects since Nick Saban’s arrival in Tuscaloosa. In particular, the WR group seems to produce a high-level talent or first-round pick each year. Guys such as Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, and Amari Cooper are some of the most recent success stories to emerge from Alabama and into NFL stardom. Juniors Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III appear to be the next big names to become early 2020 NFL Draft picks and take the league by storm.
While both Jeudy and Ruggs III have had tremendous seasons for the Crimson Tide, DeVonta Smith has seemingly taken over as Alabama’s biggest playmaker in 2019. The hero from Alabama’s 2018 overtime championship win during his freshman season, Smith has continued to produce during his time in Tuscaloosa. He has grown into an early-round pick in his own right this season. He routinely blows past unsuspecting defenders with his top-end speed and a quick release off the line.
Tua and DeVonta Smith made this look EASY.
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) November 9, 2019
Defenders have not had an answer for the Alabama speedster, and he continues to make big plays week after week in the Alabama offense. Smith seemed like a man possessed against LSU last weekend, with seven catches for 213 yards and two touchdowns of 64 and 85 yards apiece. If Smith indeed declares and makes his name available for the 2020 NFL Draft, he could be selected in the top-20.
Other declarations making news
Some other Week 12 NFL Draft declarations mentioned by Pauline on Saturday came from a group of cover men in Michigan State cornerback Josiah Scott and Utah cornerback Jaylon Johnson. Both players appear likely to enter the 2020 NFL Draft and showcased their talents on Saturday. While Scott failed to impress and improve his draft stock in a blowout loss to the Wolverines, he remains an intriguing middle-round prospect.
Johnson’s Utes came out with the victory against UCLA, as they held the Bruins to only 219 passing yards. The secondary of the Utes forced two interceptions in a blowout 49-3 win over their bitter Pac-12 rival. The talented junior has terrific size for the position and solid ball skills as his eight passes defended would indicate. He was a first-team All Pac-12 selection coming into 2019, and he’s only improved as the season has progressed. Utah also has an excellent track record of cover men in the NFL with recent NFL starters such as Eric Weddle, Eric Rowe, Sean Smith, and Marcus Williams. He could join Scott as a pick in the fourth to fifth round area.
LSU WR Justin Jefferson also joins our Week 12 NFL Draft declarations as he is reported to be considering the jump to the NFL. Jefferson is the Tiger’s second-leading WR in terms of yardage with 1,010 in 2019. However, Jefferson does lead the team with 71 receptions. He has been a consistent and reliable target for Heisman favorite Joe Burrow this season. As a junior, Jefferson has enjoyed quite the breakout season, along with the rest of the LSU offense under Burrow. Pauline mentions that Jefferson could be among a “large number of underclassmen from LSU” that enter the draft. The big WR should hear his name called by the end of the draft’s second day.
Hamler pro talk continues
Penn State’s explosive WR K.J. Hamler continues to be mentioned in 2020 NFL Draft conversations. Pauline reports that Hamler appears to be learning towards declaring for the draft. I mentioned Hamler as a possible entry a few weeks back, and the same holds today. He failed to boost his stock in a win against the Hoosiers on Saturday, but his arrow continues to point up. Pauline also mentioned Hamler as a potential first-rounder, and it is hard to argue that with the fantastic season he has put together for the Nittany Lions in 2019.
Scott Gorman is a writer for PFN covering the NFL Draft. Find him on twitter @sgormanpfn.