2020 NFL Draft: October Risers

Photo: © Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Halloween! Let's talk risers!

Last month I dropped my September risers at each position, which included now (hopefully) household names such as LSU QB Joe Burrow, Oklahoma State RB Chuba Hubbard, and Florida State DT Marvin Wilson. The reality is that some of those players are likely still our October risers, all things considered: Burrow is flying up boards, Wilson is racing to the top of his positional group, Hubbard hasn't shown any signs of slowing down.

But a new month means some new names who have improved their stock over the last four weeks of games. Here are the players I thought had the most beneficial Octobers to their eventual Draft stock.

QB: Jacob Eason, Washington

Eason's October has been far from perfect -- the loss to Stanford was a dirty game that illustrated some of his issues with risky throws. But it's that game against Oregon and fellow 2020 QB prospect Justin Herbert that stands out as the biggest boost of any QB stock this past month -- even Burrow's strong game against Florida. Oregon's got a feisty secondary that was well matched against Washington's receiving corps, yet Eason continued to find a way to extend plays, hit tight windows, and work downfield (especially with TE Hunter Bryant) to put forth a strong offensive output that should have spelled victory. While he's still more tools than anything else, Eason's potential is thrilling.

RB: J.K. Dobbins, Ohio State

Dobbins' circumstances are not dissimilar to Eason's: he's by no means bad, and has been in the NFL Draft radar for quite some time now. Dobbins ripped up some bad defenses in September, but Ohio State has not yet met a speed bump on their steamroll to the CFB playoff, and that includes Dobbins, who has taken back-to-back-to-back top run defenses in Michigan State, Northwestern, and Wisconsin and ripped them through without a hiccup. Dobbins is not a stellar athlete the way Wisconsin's Jonathan Taylor or Clemson' Travis Etienne is, but he's no-nonsense, rife with anticipation, and tougher to topple than a redwood. Cam Akers and Chuba Hubbard may have more flash, but for my money, Dobbins' consistency will be valued by NFL teams.

WR: Sage Surratt, Wake Forest


Dude wasn't included on my September risers after so many talented receivers -- Isaiah Hodgins, Justin Jefferson -- had such strong openings, but Jiminy Christmas this young man won't stop dominating his opponents, and at this point, it's impossible to ignore. Wake's two October games have included a 12/196/3 and a 7/170/0 game from Surratt, who has been pretty much the whole passing offense in recent weeks. A huge frame with tremendous physicality when he positions for the catch point and elevates, Surratt's ability to address the ball through contact makes him a desirable target for any QB, in that he always has a chance at the football. For as long as he continues to pace the ACC in yards and touchdowns, he's going to rise further in a talented class of pass-catchers.

TE: Cheyenne O'Grady, Arkansas

Cheyenne O'Grady is a big young fella, folks! The Arkansas tight end isn't the best mover we've ever seen at the position, but the class is rife with undersized and dynamic athletes -- O'Grady fills the traditional mold that has been lacking thus far in the group. For the Arkansas offense, O'Grady's done a lot of different things, but the physicality with he plays certainly has a Razorback character to it, and it allows him to win contested catch situations and pick up dirty yardage by breaking tackles against much smaller safeties and nickelbacks. For teams looking for the traditional inline TE, O'Grady's one of their best candidates.

OL: Nick Harris, Washington

Last month I gave you Trey Adams, the Husky tackle -- this month I'm giving you Harris, the Husky center. A stout and thick pivot with a ton of punch power in the trenches, Harris' low-riding frame and quick swiveling hips allow him to ride blitzers and gap penetrations beyond the middle of the pocket, giving QB Jacob Eason a ton of space to step into and throw. Quick enough to reach outside of the A-gaps as well, Harris is one of the best interior offensive linemen in the class, period -- and he may be the best senior of the lot. Glad he's getting the recognition he deserves.

iDL: Javon Kinlaw, South Carolina

Kinlaw's a bit of a default pick here, but I can't ignore him as a riser for much longer. We've always known about the potential for Kinlaw, the freakazoid athlete looking to unlock All-World potential for Will Muschamp's Gamecocks on the defensive interior -- it's been a question of how good he can get at the college level, and how quickly that lightbulb will turn on. Well, in his senior year, boy it seems like that switch has been flicked. Kinlaw is getting off the ball more consistently, separating from his opponent's with more predictable technique, and showing a leaner frame that allows for improved pursuit and lateral agility. He is the real deal in the first round, folks.

EDGE: Terrell Lewis, Alabama

Stop me if you've heard this before, but we've always known about the potential for Lewis, the freakazoid athlete looking to unlock All-World potential as an outside EDGE bender for Nick Saban's Crimson Tide. Every rep that Lewis has been healthy for has illustrated NFL promise -- even after his extensive injury history in the past two seasons, Lewis seems to have retained his elastic bend and wicked short-area quickness in 2019 reps. He's playing better ball than he ever has, with improved hand usage up the arc -- it's all a matter of proving to teams that he can put together a full season of production before he turns pro.

LB: Kenneth Murray, Oklahoma

Murray might be the riser among risers for October: high-quality performances against Kansas, Texas, and West Virginia illustrate what has been a phenomenal 2019 for Murray thus far. Always an explosive mover with a ton of stopping power, Murray's speed at his size remains thrilling, while his block deconstruction and play recognition have improved, and he's shown continued efficacy as a blitzer, which is important given his modest outlook as a cover player. With a weak underclassmen LB class, a Murray declaration and a rise into the early rounds feels eminent.

CB: Myles Bryant, Washington

Kudos go to Myles Bryant, who continues to defy odds on his path to the NFL. Into college, it was as a walk-on to the Jimmy Lake-led Washington secondary, where he secured a role as a nickelback. Now, with so many talented teammates departed for the NFL, Bryant has taken upon himself a more variegated role in the Washington secondary, filling a safety position that stresses his smaller frame in run defense. He's risen to the occasion, as a feisty fill defender who does well to work runners back into the leverage of the defense. That experience will benefit him as he works back to slot corner as an NFL player, where his transitional quickness and ball skills will be maximized.

S: Myles Dorn, UNC

I've really enjoyed what I've seen from Myles Dorn this season, man -- the quiet around him is disappointing, and I hope tagging him as a riser here will open up some buzz his way. With nice ball skills from the deep middle and great play recognition from the box, Dorn is a candidate for switch safety at the NFL level if his athleticism checks out -- the instincts are clearly there. Dorn will definitely take box reps at the NFL level given his willingness to run the alley and chop down much larger blockers, and he's a consistent tackler on the hoof. On a surprisingly fun UNC team, let's start giving Dorn some love.