With 63 total selections in the 2020 NFL Draft, the SEC once again continued to maintain a stranglehold on its title as the best conference in the country. Reigning supreme, this past draft cycle became the 14th consecutive season where the conference totaled the most draft picks overall.
With the season set to kickoff on Saturday, all eyes will once again be on the conference that always has the attention of the country. With blue blood programs like Alabama, LSU, Georgia, and Florida taking the field for their debut, there are lots of draft-eligible prospects who will benefit from a conference that never wavered despite the strenuous circumstances of college football this season.
Dylan Moses, Linebacker, Alabama
Size: 6-foot-3, 240, Senior
Moses missed all of the 2019 season with a torn ACL, which he suffered during the practices leading up to his team's Week 1 matchup against Duke. Prior to that point, Moses finished with 86 tackles (10 for loss) with 3.5 sacks, one forced fumble, and one pass defended as a sophomore in 2018. The senior linebacker will be tasked with being the engine of an always standout Nick Saban defense.
An interesting switch for Moses this year will be that he’s transitioning to MIKE (middle) linebacker, away from his usual spot as a WILL (weak side) player. It's a big switch for him and his draft stock as it is rare to see any other type of off-ball second level player eventually become an early first-round selection. Now that he’s at the center of it all, it makes for an interesting final season leading up to his career on the next level.
What scouts want to see from Moses is how fast he looks post-injury, as he was known for his range.
“This kid doesn’t have a ceiling. He’s that special. Violent and tough enough to run through a brick wall, but he just has to stay healthy. If so, he’s without a doubt a top-10 guy.”
That direct quote from an area scout about Moses shows you the excitement that surrounds him this upcoming season. The ability to smoothly operate and run across formations and disrupt chemistry in the backfield has been a forte of his playing style that he’s relied upon heavily. Development in pass coverage is another angle that evaluators want to see improvements in as well. Because of his naturally aggressive nature as a physical hitter, he often took false steps forward when influenced by play-action mesh fakes. Improvements in seeing actions in the backfield more cleanly and being fully aware of route concepts in coverage could go a long way to helping his overall stock moving forward.
Tyson Campbell, Cornerback, Georgia
Size: 6-foot-2, 185, Junior
It’s common to see five-star athletes head to Athens, but it is a rare feat for cornerbacks of that caliber to sign with the Bulldogs. Campbell was the first five-star corner to ink with the program since Branden Smith (2009) and Paul Oliver (2003). Upon stepping foot on campus, there was plenty of hype surrounding the 6-foot-2 cornerback. Struggling to find his way all while battling injuries, the junior has found himself in an interesting predicament. When designing a player at the position, he has all of the traits that scouts dream of: size, speed, athleticism, and awareness. But they all haven’t been blended and put together.
Talking to an area scout that works for an NFC team this week, he said: “Campbell. He has all of the traits that you covet, but he just can’t put it all together. I think he’s in a similar situation as Okudah was going into his third year.”
While he may not be quite as fluid or had the finish to his second season like the most recent third overall pick did, there’s no doubt that he has the ability to eventually become an early-round draft pick. But where the two have some parallels is the lack of ball production. Yet to record an interception in his career, Campbell hasn’t been quite the turnover-forcer that many imagined when he signed with the Bulldogs. Still unsure if he will receive a bulk of the reps as the team’s starter at outside corner, there will be plenty of eyes on No. 3 to see if he can take some of the tools that are already on the shelf and put them to good use this season.
Alex Leatherwood, Offensive Tackle, Alabama
Size: 6-foot-6, 312, Senior
Going into a senior season having experience at both guard and tackle spots will be beneficial for Leatherwood as he spent time inside prior to transitioning to the perimeter as a junior. As it stands heading into the 2020 season, opinions remain mixed about which position(s) will be his better long-term situation, but for now, he will remain at left tackle for the Crimson Tide. The positives about Leatherwood are his frame, natural power, and smarts at the position. On the flip side, the main source of concern is lower-body stiffness that results in him frequently becoming a waist-bender and lunge-blocker. Already having experience inside and the lack of lower-body twitch and flexibility have some believing that his best outlook would be to transition inside where it would be possible to mask some of those deficiencies.
Kyle Trask, Quarterback, Florida
Size: 6-foot-5, 240, Redshirt Senior
Believe it or not, this is the first time in Kyle Trask's career that he will go into the season as the expected starter. The backup quarterback to D’Eriq King in high school and then Feleipe Franks upon his arrival to Florida, it’s impressive that the Gators' signal-caller has been able to remain patient and wait for his opportunity this long. After Franks suffered a dislocated ankle during the third game of the season against Kentucky, Trask came in and played well—collecting 2,293 passing yards, a 66.5% completion percentage, 21 touchdowns, and only six interceptions while also leading the team to a 9-2 record. Trask has the full attention of NFL scouts.
The game last season against LSU is one that many point to as an emphasis of how he could be intriguing moving forward. Now as the team’s unquestioned starter, he won’t have the element of surprise out of the bullpen. Teams around the country now have a full season of tape on him and understand the positives and negatives of his skill set. The biggest area of concern, and what has been the overwhelming opinion that scouts want to see, is cleaning up his throwing base. Too many times he throws off balance and it prevents him from putting the proper RPMs on passes.
Jabril Cox, Linebacker, LSU
Size: 6-foot-4, 231, Senior
As a two-time FCS All-American while at North Dakota State, Jabril Cox was the leader of the Bison defense. Playing primarily WILL linebacker, he manned the weak side where he showed lots of fluidity as an athlete, but it was his ability in the passing game while in coverage and value as a blitzer that made him so effective. After winning another FCS title with the program, Cox elected to transfer. Entering his name into the transfer portal on March 2, there were lots of evaluators interested to see where he landed. With LSU winning his services, the senior linebacker goes to a program that’s known to produce early-round linebackers.
The biggest factor that scouts want to see with Cox is how well he adjusts to the speed of the game. Moving from the FCS level to the SEC is a big jump from what he’s accustomed to. Another is his physicality at the point of attack. While he has all of the requirements necessary of a modern day linebacker, his take-on strength and ability to bring ball carriers down to the ground cleanly is a big question mark. With a massive opportunity to improve his draft stock, if Cox replicates the same type of success he had winning three championships with the Bison, he could position himself to become an early Day 2 selection.