Usually, when people think of the SEC, they think of the blue-bloods: LSU, Alabama, and Georgia. There’s a fairly consistent top tier in the SEC, where three college football dynasties vie for control of the conference from year to year. Behind them, other teams cycle through contention on an annual basis, and in 2020, the top Texas A&M 2021 Draft prospects could be poised to elevate the Aggies into the playoff conversation.
Texas A&M is a team filled to the brim with upside, capitalizing on recruiting opportunities each year, but ever since the days of Johnny Manziel, they’ve been fighting to stay among the top teams in their conference. Since 2013, the Aggies have only ended the season in the top 25 once. Jimbo Fisher led the team to a strong 9-4 finish in 2018, but one year later, they finished 4-4 in the SEC and failed to breach the end-of-season rankings.
This year, however, Fisher and the Aggies have a chance to mount a resurgence. On pure talent alone, they’re one of the more underrated SEC teams, and with Alabama, LSU, and Georgia all losing key players to the NFL, the time could be now for Texas A&M to take back its title as a championship contender. Of course, it’s up to the players to make it happen, and there’s still plenty of work to do. Here’s a look at the top Texas A&M 2021 Draft prospects, as well as some other prospects in the wings who could do what’s necessary to ascend.
Top Texas A&M 2021 NFL Draft prospects
Kellen Mond, QB, 6-foot-2, 217 pounds
The player that has the most impact on the fate of the Texas A&M Aggies in 2020, pound for pound, is quarterback Kellen Mond. Mond has been the Aggies’ starter for almost three seasons now, and still, scouts are torn on where to grade him. As Pro Football Network lead draft analyst Tony Pauline noted in his SEC scouting preview earlier this year, evaluations of Mond range from a second-round grade to a Day 3 grade.
Watching Mond play, it’s not hard to see why he’s so polarizing. He comes with tantalizing upside; he’s a very athletic signal-caller, and he generates velocity on his throws with effortless ease. Prospects with the raw physical traits are becoming more popular at the NFL level, as teams are starting to value quarterbacks who can be multifaceted in their approach, either by producing off-script and in changing environments, or throwing from different arm angles to place the ball situationally.
Mond still has to find consistency, but he’s frequently flashed the ability to produce off-script, and his arm strength is near the top of his conference. As the linked clip will show, he can couple his arm strength with superb ball placement at times, and these glimpses of his true potential make it hard to come to a conclusive judgment. Mond has to get better at the operational parts of the position, but if he can smoothen his fundamentals and quicken his processing, he can be a game-changer.
Jhamon Ausbon, WR, 6-foot-2, 218 pounds
The other half of the explosive QB-WR connection, Jhamon Ausbon caught 66 passes for 872 yards and five touchdowns from Mond last season. He’s continually improved from year to year, and as a senior in 2020, he could be poised to continue the tradition of NFL wide receiver development at Texas A&M, following in the footsteps of players like Christian Kirk and Quartney Davis.
Ausbon is a different type of receiver than Kirk, of course; he’s not a burner, and that will limit his upside in a sense. His late breakout age reflects this. But Ausbon wins in a way that’s been very reliable for wide receivers over the years: With his feet, and his hands.
Ausbon gets open without having dominant athletic traits, and he does this by maintaining quick feet in and out of his route stems. He’s a twitchy route runner who knows how to manipulate leverage, and he has the superb body control and hand security at the catch point to make the most of the targets that come his way. In a deep, exciting receiver class, Ausbon might never rise to the top, but he’s part of the class’ elite depth, and if Mond takes a leap in 2020, Ausbon could leap with him.
Myles Jones, CB, 6-foot-4, 185 pounds
If you follow my writing here, you’ll know that I’m a fan of tall cornerbacks. The matchup between the wide receiver and the cornerback is the ultimate athletic showdown, and although superior athleticism isn’t necessarily needed to win, it helps a great deal.
A lot of times, however, cornerbacks are slightly smaller than the receivers they cover, and this can create size mismatches that matter in close quarters. If a cornerback can pack a punch athletically, while also exceeding his assigned receiver from a size perspective, he can be a nightmare. Israel Mukuamu, Zyon McCollum, and Trey Dean are just a few of the 2020 cornerbacks who have this advantage, and Myles Jones fits the criteria as well.
Jones is 6-foot-4. Yes, you read that right. He offers supreme length on the boundary, and while he’s still a bit too light for his size, his length, along with his functional athleticism, gives him almost limitless potential as a defensive back at the NFL level. His length has afforded him three interceptions and 23 pass deflections over three years, and he isn’t done yet.
Jones isn’t a top-tier athlete, of course. He has the speed to keep up with receivers running downfield, but as we’ve seen before, a cornerback’s speed isn’t the only thing that matters; their flow matters, too. They have to be able to change directions quickly and explode out of those direction changes, and Jones doesn’t have that. But what he does have is the length to flourish in certain schemes, and if he can keep refining his footwork and transitions, he could be a transcendent defender for the Aggies in 2020.
Other Texas A&M players to watch
While the top Texas A&M 2020 draft prospects stand out from the rest, due to either production or eligibility, they aren’t the only Aggies to keep an eye on in the 2020 season. Here are some other Aggies who could take the next step, and assist in bringing Texas A&M back to prominence:
Isaiah Spiller, RB, 6-foot-1, 2020
He’s not related to C.J. Spiller, but Isaiah Spiller is an exciting player, just as C.J. was. In his freshman season with the Aggies, he rushed for 946 yards and 10 touchdowns on 174 carries. He also caught 29 passes and logged over 200 yards receiving. He doesn’t have top-end speed, but he has impressive contact balance, vision, and versatility, and with more growth in 2020, he could become a conference standout.
Dan Moore, OT, 6-foot-5, 320
Moore isn’t one of the most well-known SEC tackles but heading into his senior season, he already has 26 starts under his belt. He’s not the most mobile lineman, but he plays with urgency, and he moves people with ease. He might move inside to guard at the next level, as Pauline noted in his piece linked earlier, but for now, he should be able to anchor the offensive line effectively.
Kenyon Green, OG, 6-foot-4, 325
Green, a former five-star recruit out of Texas, started all thirteen games for the Aggies in 2019. He’s a stout lineman who offers good anchor in the trenches, and he has a good amount of explosiveness in his first step and recovery. He’s not draft eligible yet, but once he is, he should get a good amount of buzz.
Anthony Hines III, LB, 6-foot-3, 226
Texas A&M has an abundance of large defenders, not just in the secondary, but also in the linebacking core. Anthony Hines III is the headliner there, as he logged 73 total tackles and 10.5 tackles for loss in 2019, establishing himself as one of the SEC’s most productive run stoppers. He’ll have to improve in coverage to become a three-down linebacker at the next level, but he has the toolset to make an impact.
It won’t be easy for Texas A&M to get back to the top of its conference, but if there was ever a year to do it, it’s 2020. Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa are gone, and the reshuffling could be of benefit to the Aggies, who retained some of their most important pieces. For now, they’re one of the underrated SEC teams. Time will tell if they can prove they’re back.