These are uncertain times for football fans and players, with the world still dealing with the effects of the global health emergency. More and more players are testing positive, and while thankfully many are asymptomatic, these increased number of cases make many concerned about the upcoming college football season.
There hasn’t been any official move to cancel the season, but with the uncertainty surrounding this situation and the increasing number of cases, many have speculated this scenario could happen. If this were to happen, many top NFL prospects would likely decide to declare for the NFL’s supplemental draft that normally occurs in July (last year’s occurred July 10th). Who would be the top prospects for the 2020 NFL supplemental draft?
Normally, these declarations occur due to an eligibility change ruled by the NCAA, oftentimes related to academic issues. One might suspect that a canceled college season would count as enough of an eligibility change for this situation to meet those requirements.
How is the draft order determined for the NFL supplemental draft?
The supplemental draft has a different order than the typical NFL Draft held in April when priority is based on wins from last season. In the supplemental draft, teams are organized into three separate tiers. The first tier consists of teams with six wins or less last season. The second tier is the remainder of the teams that didn’t make the playoffs. The final tier is for playoff teams. A random draw orders each tier. Teams that make a bid have to forfeit their corresponding pick in the next following draft.
As Tony Pauline stated in his previous article discussing the supplemental draft, “Players do still need to be three years removed from high school and must apply to be admitted into the supplemental draft pool.” Three total years out from high school is important to note, as that means many notable true juniors like Penei Sewell, Trevor Lawrence, and Justin Fields will not be eligible. Instead, redshirt juniors, seniors, and redshirt seniors will all be in the mix.
Who are the best talents that could declare for the supplemental draft if the college football season is called off?
Note: This list is pure speculation as none of these players have declared for the supplemental draft or are guaranteed to. This is a hypothetical situation and projection.
Kylin Hill, RB, Mississippi State
This one is a bit of a no-brainer and isn’t a stretch to happen even if there is a college football season. Hill recently tweeted out his decision to not play for Mississippi State University as long as the state flag featured a Confederate symbol. And as such, that points to him deciding to either transfer, sit out all year, or declare for the supplemental draft. Hill would be the first running back to be drafted in the supplemental draft since Tony Hollings in 2003.
Hill is an exceptional runner with excellent balance and power with good acceleration to make big plays happen in a hurry. His decisiveness and crashing power as a runner make his tape an enjoyable watch. Hill may not be a first-round selection in the supplemental draft, but he can be a featured bellcow for any NFL team that drafts him.
Alex Leatherwood, OT, Alabama
Leatherwood surprised many analysts by deciding to return to Alabama for his senior season, citing a desire to improve as a player and take care of unfinished business. With no season to take care of said unfinished business, however, it makes sense for a player who garnered first-round attention last season to decide to go ahead and declare.
Leatherwood is an aggressive and violent blocker with good use of hands and anchor in pass protection. Leatherwood showed some stiffness in his lower half that had me somewhat concerned, but he has the traits to be an effective starting-caliber tackle or guard at the NFL level. There hasn’t been an offensive tackle drafted in the first three rounds of the supplemental draft since Mike Wahle in 1998, but Leatherwood would likely break that trend.
Devonta Smith, WR, Alabama
There may be another star Alabama wide receiver to join the NFL this year in Devonta Smith. Smith had an excellent 2019 season, producing 1,256 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns on 68 receptions while competing with eventual first-rounders Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III. Many speculated that after his breakout 2019 Smith would join Jeudy and Ruggs and declare for the 2020 NFL Draft, but instead, he decided to remain in Tuscaloosa.
Smith is an excellent route-runner with good height at 6’1. He routinely broke open and separated with ease against top-notch SEC defensive backs. Many analysts said Smith was the best of the three Alabama wide receivers, an opinion which many NFL scouts may agree on. Smith would be one of the players I would expect to receive first-round consideration in the supplemental draft should he decide to declare.
Creed Humphrey, C, Oklahoma
Creed Humphrey elected to return for another season with the Sooners despite likely being a first-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. With his outstanding IQ and ability in pass protection, Humphrey is a starting-caliber center in the NFL with Pro Bowl and All-Pro upside in his future.
The center position isn’t a highly valued commodity, so he likely won’t be selected with a first-round pick in the supplemental draft, but teams like the Cardinals, Dolphins, Giants or another high priority team would be wise to spend a high pick on him to solve their center position for the next decade.
Marvin Wilson, DT, Florida State
FSU defensive tackle Marvin Wilson stands atop the eligible defensive linemen. With his outstanding size and freakish quickness and power as a pass rusher, Wilson is a terrifying quarterback hunter and has an incredibly high ceiling, which NFL teams love. As a senior, he is eligible to declare for the supplemental draft. Wilson would have likely been a top-40 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft and would warrant first-round consideration by all 32 teams in the 2020 NFL supplemental draft.
Shaun Wade, CB, Ohio State
Another Ohio State corner could join the league in 2020 if no season occurs. Wade would easily be the best defensive back to enter the supplemental draft ever up to this point. No DB has ever been drafted in the first round of the supplemental draft, but Wade would be if he were to declare for this supplemental draft.
His outstanding athleticism and instincts in coverage are tantalizing. His return to Ohio State was a bit of a surprise, but much like with Leatherwood, if there’s no business to take care of with no season, Wade should go secure that bag.
Patrick Jones II, EDGE, Pitt
Patrick Jones is one of many talented pass rushers who are eligible for this supplemental draft. Jones is fellow PFN draft analyst Matt Valdovinos’s highest-graded edge-rusher and could be a top-10 pick with his athletic upside and fluid bend around the edge when pursuing quarterbacks.
Jones could be a top-10 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, but with no games being played in this hypothetical situation, it would make sense for him to declare and be a first-round supplemental draft pick.
Trey Smith, G, Tennessee
Trey Smith is the best guard in college football and is an absolute bulldozer at the point of attack. His tape is among the best I’ve scouted, and he’s lived up to his recruitment status as a 5-star. His attitude and aggressiveness stand out on the field and he fires off the line of scrimmage with violence. He returned to the team but with no season and past medical issues, Smith might want to capitalize on a season of quality film and head off to the pros.
Chris Rumph, EDGE, Duke
Rumph might end up being the first edge rusher drafted in the 2021 NFL Draft. Rumph hadn’t garnered much media love until this offseason, but he has many analysts buzzing with his potential.
Another one of PFN’s draft analysts, Nick Farabaugh, said, “Rumph is by far one of the most talented prospects I have watched in this year’s edge rusher group. I have no idea why he is not talked about more among the best of the best…With all that taken into consideration, Rumph should be viewed as a first-round draft prospect.”
I concur with that opinion. His athleticism and explosiveness off the edge are excellent, and he’s displayed great length and power in his hands. I would like to see him start to develop his toolbox of pass-rushing moves and counters, but if there’s no season to display those, then Rumph should wisely bank on his athletic upside and be selected very high in the supplemental draft. Teams that need pass-rushing help to make one last push for the playoffs would be wise to consider spending a first-round selection on Rumph in the 2020 NFL supplemental draft.
Dylan Moses, LB, Alabama
Saving the best for last here.
Dylan Moses is an absolute monster on the football field. He has all the ability in the world to be the best linebacker prospect since Luke Kuechly with his outstanding athleticism, coverage ability, and instincts. He missed last season with a torn ACL, which has caused him to slide a little in the minds of analysts.
Moses returned for his senior season, surprising many, as he had been projected as a first-round lock even without playing a down in 2019. However, with no senior season to play in this hypothetical scenario, Moses should wisely declare for the 2020 NFL supplemental draft. For my money, he’d be the first player selected in the supplemental draft and the best defensive prospect since Ahmad Brooks to be selected.