Year of the CB? 2020 NFL draft loaded with playmakers

Jan 1, 2018; New Orleans, LA, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Trevon Diggs (7) reacts during the third quarter against the Clemson Tigers in the 2018 Sugar Bowl college football playoff semifinal game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports© Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Only three DBs were picked in the first round of the 2019 NFL draft. There could be that many in the top 10 next spring.

College football has produced some bumper crops over the past few years for NFL teams in search of hard-to-find talent.

A year ago, it was a record-setting defensive line class. Back in 2017, it was the year of the quarterback with five passers - the most this century - being selected in the first round.

With only three defensive backs hearing their names called among the top 32 last spring, it is logical to conclude that the 2020 class should be better.

Evaluating college prospects for the past 20 years, however, has taught me that reality does not always follow this logic. It does this year, though, with defensive backs narrowly beating out rival wide receivers as the elite position groups likely to be available in the 2020 NFL draft.

No. 1 overall candidates like quarterbacks Justin Herbert (Oregon) and Tua Tagovailoa (Alabama) will, of course, dominate the draft conversation for much of the year, just like always. But the rest of the top 10 could boast plenty of other "playmakers" rather than the big guys along the line of scrimmage.

Among the seniors, Virginia's Bryce Hall enters the year as the easy top prospect. He almost surely would have earned a higher pick than 30th overall, where the New York Giants made Georgia's Deandre Baker the first cornerback off the board a year ago.

Hall will be challenged by a bevy of a gifted underclassmen, however, including Alabama's Trevon Diggs (pictured), Florida's C.J. Henderson and Ohio State's Jeffrey Okuda.

At this early point, safety does not appear to be as talented, though LSU junior Grant Delpit is a notable exception and a top 10 candidate, himself. His head coach, Ed Orgeron, certainly agrees.

Over the summer much has been made about this year's gifted wide receiver class and there is no doubt that this year's crop is also a massive upgrade from recent drafts.

In a case of iron sharpening iron, Diggs (the younger brother of Minnesota Vikings' star WR Stefon Diggs) works daily in Crimson Tide practices against reigning Biletnikoff Award winner Jerry Jeudy - the most electric receiving prospect to come down the pike in years.

While Jeudy's elite quickness and acceleration make him perfectly suited to today's wide-open NFL, teams looking for bigger, more traditional No. 1 receivers will also love Colorado's Laviska Shenault, Jr., as well as top-rated senior pass-catcher, Collin Johnson from Texas. Each likely would have been drafted earlier than 25th overall, where the Baltimore Ravens made Oklahoma's Marquise Brown the first receiver selected a year ago.

Rankings of all the top prospects are available here. My personal Top 32 Big Board will be released at on Monday with snapshots and video of each player.




Frank Cooney


Rob Rang

NFL Draft Scout