Bookmark this page for all notable underclassmen making their decisions on the 2020 NFL draft. We’ll be updating information on players as it becomes available and adding our own initial scouting views as well.
The deadline for underclassmen to apply for special eligibility is Jan. 20, 2020. The NFL will release the full list of underclassmen who have been approved for entry into the 2020 draft will be sent to clubs on Jan. 24.
Michigan EDGE-LB Josh Uche
The Wolverines’ pass rusher — not surprisingly — has declared for the 2020 NFL draft. We say that less because he’s a surefire high-round pick and more that he’s a fourth-year junior who is eligible (and will be playing in) the Senior Bowl. Uche has a really interesting backstory, with his parents emigrating from Nigeria and Uche’s father originally pulling his son out of football for Josh to focus on academics in high school. But Uche developed into a good pass rusher at Michigan, and now the question is whether he can do so in the NFL at 6-foot-2 and 255 pounds. If he can show at the Senior Bowl that he can play on his feet, Uche could land in the top 100 picks.
Maryland RB Javon Leake
That’s now two Maryland running backs who have entered the 2020 NFL draft. We were a bit surprised to see the 6-foot, 210-pound Leake enter early, although he was named the Big Ten Return Specialist of the Year with a 26.6-yard average on kickoffs. Leake had 10 or fewer handoffs in every game this season save for one (23 against Indiana), but a 7.0 rushing average (and 7.7 over three seasons) is impressive, along with his eight TDs. But ball security (five fumbles on 214 career touches) and lack of receiving prowess are big concerns. Leake will have to prove to NFL evaluators he’s worth a Day 3 pick during the pre-draft process.
Terp nation thank you for everything!! ❤️🐢 pic.twitter.com/1xYBz6tNWJ— JLeake (@ny_king20) December 4, 2019
UCF WR Gabriel Davis (junior)
The 6-3, 212-pound Davis announced Wednesday morning that he would be declaring for the 2020 NFL draft. This is not a huge shock considering the season Davis had, establishing himself easily as the best wideout in the AAC. He caught 72 passes for 1,241 yards (fifth-most in FBS) and 12 TDs (tied for eighth in FBS) in 2019, making clear strides in each of his three college seasons. The testing portion of the draft process will be important for Davis, who has good long speed but might lack suddenness. But even in a very deep WR class in 2020, Davis could land in the first 100 selections.
Oregon State WR Isaiah Hodgins
Hodgins busted onto the college football scene with a big season in 2019, and now he plans to take his game to the next level. On Tuesday night, Hodgins announced he’d be declaring for the 2020 NFL draft, making a great receiver crop even deeper. Hodgins caught 86 passes (sixth-most in FBS) for 1,171 yards (ninth in FBS) and 13 touchdowns (tied for fifth). He also added 52 grabs of 10 or more yards, which was second-most in FBS this season. The son of former NFL fullback James Hodgins has really nice body control at 6-foot-4 and 209 pounds, and he was credited with a mere one dropped pass this season by Pro Football Focus. Some scouts have dinged him a bit for raw route running, but there’s no question he’s ascending and could end up pushing to be a top-100 pick.
Long talks with God...🤞🏽 pic.twitter.com/gwFB6lcYdK— Isaiah Hodgins (@IsaiahHodgins) December 4, 2019
Penn State EDGE Yetur Gross-Matos (junior)
It’s been fun to watch Gross-Matos develop this season, turning promise into production. And in the midst of a junior season in which he’s leading the Nittany Lions in sacks (8.5), tackles for loss (14) and QB hits (seven), Gross-Matos said Tuesday he’ll skip his senior season and enter the 2020 NFL draft. The good news for Penn State: Gross-Matos isn’t planning on skipping the team’s bowl game. We feel like there’s a strong chance Gross-Matos ends up in Round 1, barring some unexpected turn of events. The 6-5, 259-pound edge rusher is a long-levered, athletic specimen who has developed a better feel for the game. When Gross-Matos goes after the QB, he has a plan now, which wasn’t always the case earlier in his career. And his next life plan is the NFL, where he’ll be highly coveted.
Maryland RB Anthony McFarland Jr. (redshirt sophomore)
When we spoke to the electric (and well-dressed) McFarland back at Big Ten Media Days in July, we asked him what the deciding factor would be for his decision to enter the 2020 NFL draft or return to school. His answer? “Health.” That makes sense in light of Tuesday’s news that he is planning on coming out, considering he was hampered by an ankle most of the season. That hurt McFarland’s production after a hot start to the 2019 campaign, but his darting athleticism is an NFL-caliber trait — as a runner, receiver and returner. Where he ends up will be fascinating, though, because his durability will be questioned at 5-foot-8 and 193 pounds. We could envision a Day 2 landing spot with a strong pre-draft process.
Colorado WR Laviska Shenault Jr.
It’s not really a surprise that Shenault would forgo his final season to enter the 2020 draft. Even with a down season statistically in which he was playing hurt, Shenault started reminding people of his immense talent with a strong finish down the stretch. The Buffaloes played him everywhere — out wide, in the slot, in the backfield, as an occasional returner and even as a Wildcat QB. We believe that the 6-2, 220-pound playmaker will answer questions about his health and test well, which should make him a top-40 selection come April.
Missouri C Trystan Colon-Castillo (redshirt junior)
Consider us a bit surprised at Colon-Castillo’s decision to come out with a year of eligibility remaining, but he turns 22 years old in March, has started since his freshman season and he might have been compelled to declare now following the dismissal of Mizzou head coach Barry Odom. That’s now three of the first five known underclassmen in college football to declare coming from the Tigers. Based on our initial looks, Colon-Castillo is a better pass blocker than run blocker, although his performance — and that of the entire Mizzou OL — appeared to take a step backward in 2019 after a strong performance in 2018.
Thank you mizzou for everything🐯✊🏼 pic.twitter.com/P1yYScRTO4— Trystan Castillo🇵🇷 (@TCastillo55) December 3, 2019
Penn State C Michal Menet (junior)
It’s not a surprise that Menet would return for his final season in 2020 — if anything the surprise is that he might have considered it. Menet has been a solid starter for the Nittany Lions, and he’s a team captain, but a tough outing a few weeks ago at Ohio State might have firmed up any doubts he might have had about whether declaring early was a good idea. But this is another key player returning to Penn State next season, which makes you think head coach James Franklin could be back with a shiny, new contract in the days to come.
TCU WR Jalen Reagor (junior)
It was a trying season for Reagor and the Horned Frogs, who had an inconsistent passing game and finished 5-7, but the wideout announced his intention to enter the 2020 NFL draft. Reagor saw his receiving yards drop (from 1,061 in 2018 to 611 this season) as well as his TD grabs (from nine to five) with freshman QB Max Duggan taking over. But the book on Reagor is that the 5-11, 195-pound speedster remains extremely dangerous and could be a possible late first-round pick. The son of former NFL defensive tackle Montae Reagor is expected to be a huge tester at the NFL scouting combine, possible breaking the 4.3-second mark in the 40-yard dash.
Missouri TE Albert Okwuegbunam (redshirt junior)
Most draft pundits believed Okwuegbunam was planning on coming out this season after he at least flirted with the idea one year ago. It’s easy to see why the 6-5, 255-pound tight end could have fans with his easy movement skills and red-zone production. But Okwuegbunam hasn’t developed as hoped and was a major disappointment in the second half of the season as his hands and separation ability failed him more often than not. Even in a weaker tight end class, we’re not sure if Okwuegbunam has a chance to crack the draft’s first 50 picks after he was a popular first-round name in very early mock drafts.
Missouri DT Jordan Elliott (redshirt junior)
Elliott announced his intention to declare for the 2020 draft, and this one doesn’t surprise us a bit. The Texas transfer carried over a strong finish to his 2018 campaign and was Mizzou’s most impactful defender throughout the season. We highlighted the 6-4, 315-pound disruptor as a possible dark-horse first-rounder back in July, and our best guess right now is that he could fall somewhere in the Day 2 range — perhaps even early in Round 2.
Penn State TE Pat Freiermuth (sophomore)
The true sophomore technically was eligible because he was three years removed from his high-school graduation, spending a year at prep school before coming to Happy Valley. The Massachusetts native has been called “Baby Gronk” at times, but even in a breakout 2019 season, Freiermuth apparently wants to spend more time in college before testing the NFL waters. He announced on Twitter his intention to return to the Nittany Lions in 2020, which adds another talented TE name into the potential 2021 draft pool.
Arizona RB J.J. Taylor (redshirt junior)
The 5-6, 185-pound scatback was the first known underclassman to declare early for the 2020 NFL draft. He’s been set back by injury and a tough season in general for the Wildcats’ offense, but he has toughness and some receiving ability. We believe he’s a Day 3 pick at this time.
Notre Dame TE Cole Kmet (junior)
The 6-6, 258-pound junior has been a breakout performer despite suffering a broken collarbone in August. He’s the Irish’s second-leading receiver despite missing three games. But Kmet has said he will return to school and also play baseball again for Notre Dame (he’s been their closer) in the spring. Kmet could change his mind after the bowl game, as some scouts believe he could be a top-50 selection, but for now he joins what appears to be a loaded 2021 TE draft class.
Notre Dame OT Liam Eichenberg (junior)
The school has had a long, recent lineage of producing pro-caliber blockers, but Eichenberg said he wants to return for his senior season in 2020. The 6-6, 308-pound left tackle won the job in the spring and has improved his play down the stretch, despite committing a rash of penalties this season. He will dot some All-America teams next season and be in line to prove himself as a Day 1 or 2 NFL prospect in 2021.
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