The Southeastern Conference and College Football season looms close, and we are one week from the big inter-conference matchup between the Florida Gators and Miami Hurricanes. We have gone through a few exercises to introduce readers to the top talent in the SEC in terms of the 2020 NFL Draft.
This piece will examine the conference’s best talents at each position in what translates to an All-SEC talent preview for the 2020 NFL Draft. As usual, this SEC promises to showcase the biggest group of talent. Each position group will be predicted and broken down specifically to show how things could play out in the 2019 season.
QB – Tua Tagovailoa | Alabama
o Honorable Mention: Jake Fromm | Georgia
· RB – D’Andre Swift | Georgia
o HM: Ke’Shawn Vaughn | Vanderbilt
· WR – Jerry Jeudy | Alabama
· WR – Bryan Edwards | South Carolina
· WR – Henry Ruggs III | Alabama
o HM: Jaylen Waddle | Alabama (2021)
o HM: Kendrick Rogers | Texas A&M
· TE – Albert Okwuegbunam | Missouri
o HM: Daniel Parker | Missouri (2021)
· OL – Andrew Thomas | Georgia
· OL – Alex Leatherwood | Alabama
· OL – Trey Smith | Tennessee
· OL – Ben Cleveland | Georgia
· OL – Prince Tega Wanogho | Auburn
o HM: Isaiah Wilson | Georgia
o HM: Darryl Williams | Mississippi State
This class of quarterbacks may be the most prominent group of draft-eligible positions in the entire lot. Both Fromm and Tagovailoa figure to be early first-round selections and could be facing each other in the College Football Playoff. Fromm has been a solid starter for the Bulldogs since his freshman season and will be one of the first signal-callers off the NFL Draft board. He needs to improve his passing numbers under pressure to move into the elite prospects, but Fromm is still a very polished player.
Tagovailoa already has one national title under his belt, and could soon add a number one overall NFL Draft selection to his name. He fought through injury and expectations to lead an explosive Alabama offense to their second national title game appearance in the last two years. He is a no-brainer pick for the starter here and could even win a Heisman Trophy in 2019.
The running back position appears to be a significant strength of the 2020 NFL Draft, and Georgia’s D’Andre Swift is one of, if not the very best. Swift burst out of the shadow of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel and onto the college football scene in a big way last season. He showed all of the tools necessary to be an every-down back at the next level. Georgia’s featured back showcased his great hands with six catches against Alabama. He also has that coveted home-run type ability and showed off his great speed with an 83-yard scamper against Kentucky.
Vaughn is a former transfer who has also shown the skills to become an every-down back. He is not the same type of elite talent as Swift but could be sneak into the first round with another standout all-around campaign with the Commodores. I mentioned Vaughn among my top-25 players overall heading into the season, and I have high expectations for the senior back.
The SEC has some serious power returning at the running back position. pic.twitter.com/3GgCfdm7fK
— PFF College (@PFF_College) August 12, 2019
The headliner of this group is Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy, who will likely be the top receiver drafted and a sure-fire top-10 NFL Draft pick. Alabama has produced some great talent at the wide receiver position in recent years, including Amari Cooper, Calvin Ridley, and Julio Jones. I believe Jeudy is an elite talent and the Tide’s best receiver since Jones.
Edwards and Rogers are big possession-type receivers. Edwards is a big receiver with strong hands that will likely find himself drafted on the second day. Rogers has limited experience with the starting lineup but carries significant upside with his long frame and wide catch radius. Waddle and Ruggs are absolute burners on the field. They will put up big numbers as complements to Jeudy in the ‘Bama offense this year. Opponents could be in for a track meet when they visit Tuscaloosa in 2019.
The tight end class in the 2020 NFL Draft is not extremely deep, but there are some notable names and talent at the top. The Missouri duo of Okwuegbunam and Parker should give SEC defenses great fits during the 2019 season. The track record for Missouri tight ends in the NFL is not glowing. However, the talent is evident with these two. Okwuegbunam will be the first player drafted at the position in the 2020 NFL Draft, while Parker could follow suit in 2021. The former flirted with the NFL last season but ultimately decided to return for his senior season. He is an absolute mismatch and matchup nightmare in the end zone, as evidenced in the video below.
— Mizzou Football (@MizzouFootball) January 10, 2019
Georgia’s Thomas is the standout at the offensive tackle position in the SEC this season. He is a two-year starter who mirrors and eliminates some of the SEC’s top edge rushers. Thomas moved from the right side to the left as a sophomore and will protect Fromm’s blindside again in 2019. He only improved on the blindside and remains in the mix for the top overall pick.
Smith and Leatherwood are massive road graders that profile to the right side in the NFL, while Cleveland is one of the better interior prospects available. Prince is another big and athletic blindside protector for the Tigers who could see his stock soar with another healthy season. Georgia’s Wilson showcases an embarrassment of riches for the Bulldogs on the offensive line this season. He replaced Thomas on the right side last season and was a standout. When it comes to the pivotal position, Williams could be the first player selected in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Next to come
Hopefully, this guide has given readers plenty of insight into the great offensive players to watch for this season in the SEC. Next week we will dive into the defensive side of the ball, where the edge rushers and defensive lineman reign supreme. Before you get into my All-Conference picks for the defense next week, take a look at PFN’s own Tony Pauline and his piece here on the Auburn Tigers’ top prospects for the 2020 NFL Draft. Hint: there is one great defensive lineman that will surely be mentioned again a week from now.
Scott Gorman is an AFC North and NFL Draft writer for Pro Football Network. Follow him on Twitter @sgormanPFN.