With 48 total selections in the 2020 NFL Draft, the Big Ten has once again lived up to their standard as one of the most fruitful NFL factories in all of college football. The Big Ten's 2020 NFL Draft haul ranked as the second best behind the 63 selections courtesy of the SEC—and two of the conference's powerhouses (Ohio State & Michigan) each had a whopping 10 players drafted apiece.
With the season set to kickoff next month, the Big Ten is back and with it comes a slew of prospects who could potentially earn themselves millions of dollars in draft stock with a strong final season of play. There's plenty of established top talents this year in the Big Ten, but even some of the household names stand to prove plenty in the coming months.
Here are five Big Ten talents with tons of upward mobility in their draft stock based on a strong 2020 campaign.
Shaun Wade, Cornerback, Ohio State
Size: 6-foot-1, 194, RS Junior
Wade has been in, out, and back in again—he's been one of the more fluid prospects throughout the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the Big Ten's in, out, and in approach to a 2020 fall season. But make no mistake about it, Wade returning to the Buckeyes isn't just a win for Ohio State, it's also a potential game-changing decision for Wade. No matter how well Wade has played in the past, he was boxed in on the inside for the Buckeyes behind two 2020 top-20 NFL draft selections in Jeffrey Okudah and Damon Arnette. Wade will get the chance to spotlight himself as CB1 and with Ohio State's reduced schedule, Wade isn't likely to face a stiff test until a potential CFB Playoff Game—so he should ace his transition to the outside.
The question will be how high it may propel him up the board. The answer? He'll have a legit shot at being CB1 in the 2021 NFL Draft if he crushes it this season.
Daniel Faalele, Offensive Tackle, Minnesota
Size: 6-foot-8, 400, Junior
Faalele has the potential to make a Mekhi Becton-type leap in the 2021 NFL Draft process. Becton rose his stock dramatically in 2019 with his strong play on the field and Faalele has equal amounts of power at his disposal at a whopping 400 pounds. Size is one thing, but Faalele has the mobility to pair with it and become an absolute terror of a presence on the edge. But Faalele needs to become more consistent and continue to prove that his massive size is translatable.
He'll get his chance very early on—the Gophers open their Big Ten schedule with the Michigan Wolverines, who will be rolling out two prominent EDGE defenders in Kwity Paye and Aidan Hutchinson. With a big performance there and throughout the season, Faalele can declare himself as a serious contender for a top-50 selection.
Jayson Oweh, Edge Defender, Penn State
Size: 6-foot-5, 257, RS Sophomore
Oweh's hype train is only now getting ready to leave the station, but there are plenty of parallels between his game and one of the biggest risers of the 2020 NFL Draft cycle, LSU's K'Lavon Chaisson. The door is open for Oweh to take a massive step forward in production this year too, so if he starts becoming a finisher instead of a flasher on tape and can lay claim to high levels of production off the edge, an NFL team will be guaranteed to fall in love with him as a player. He's young and he's still raw, or at least he was the last time we saw him play. But thanks to the Big Ten's return to action, we'll get a chance to see any potential improvements Oweh has made to his game over the course of the offseason.
One of the freakiest athletes in college football, the only thing standing between Oweh and a high draft evaluation is continued development and commitment to the craft. We'll get a better feel for what that looks like with Penn State's eight-game season, where he'll face off against Thayer Munford of Ohio State, Alaric Jackson of Iowa, and Jalen Mayfield of Michigan.
Nick Eubanks, Tight End, Michigan
Size: 6-foot-5, 256, RS Senior
Michigan has plenty of potential on their roster and none of it is more tantalizing on offense than what they might have in Nick Eubanks. Eubanks is a terrific athlete for the position and feels ready to make a big leap in production now that he's not caught behind upperclassmen on the depth chart. After catching 10 passes in his first two seasons combined, Eubanks logged 25 receptions in 2019. There's plenty of room for growth and he should command a much higher target share in 2020 with fellow returning weapons Ronnie Bell and Nico Collins as the headliners in the passing game.
Eubanks has the look of an F tight end, someone who wins detached from the set and worked in space as a mismatch with his athleticism and size. But if he's going to boost his stock, he needs reps. He'll now get them with the season back on track.
Jalen Mayfield, Offensive Tackle, Michigan
Size: 6-foot-5, 319, RS Sophomore
Mayfield's return almost didn't happen, but he's presumably going to back in the saddle for the Wolverines when the season kicks off. Minnesota's Faalele is a potential riser from the Big Ten conference, but Mayfield has the look and profile of a first-round offensive tackle—but without the foundation of film necessary to live up to that hype. Mayfield, with a more polished campaign, can absolutely play himself into the first-round conversation. Perhaps he'd have gotten there even if he didn't play, but now there's at least eight games on Michigan's plate for regular season play and Mayfield can leave little to no doubt that he's capable of taking the next step. Mayfield has more to gain than anyone in the conference with a strong season of play.