Black Friday is known for people getting the best deals possible, and with each NFL team set to open their presents next April for the 2020 draft, I have listed the prospects at each position who could be the bargain buys.
Some teams may not be willing to pay the big price for some of the top prospects at certain positions, here is a blueprint for the front offices that are looking to find the best value on draft day.
Washington State senior quarterback Anthony Gordon had the tough task of trying to follow in the footsteps of Gardner Minshew, but he rose to the challenge. I would even argue he is a better overall draft prospect. Gordon has a better arm and is more accurate at all levels of the field — not to mention his production this year has been disgustingly good. He has thrown for 4,920 yards and 45 touchdowns, including three games with over 520 passing yards. I get the air-raid offense helps inflate those numbers, but there is no denying his NFL traits. If a team misses out on the top QBs in this class, they could get a bargain with Gordon late on Day 2 or early Day 3.
When you think of Clyde Edwards-Helaire, think Doug Martin. Like Martin, Edwards-Helaire does not have any elite traits to his game, but he is just solid across the board. As a runner, he is built low to the ground and runs with a blend of patience, power and short-area agility. In the passing game, he is a reliable pass protector and one of the best receivers in this running back class. He will not be a top-60 selection, but we could look back on this draft and see Edwards-Helaire as one of the best value picks because of his all-around skill set.
Other than Jerry Jeudy, there is not a better route technician in this class than wide receiver Tyler Johnson. Whether in the slot or on the outside, the Minnesota senior’s ability to keep himself clean off the LOS is incredibly advanced. He is a mix of DaeSean Hamilton and Tyler Boyd with his versatility and easy knack for separation. Despite being one of the most productive WRs in college football the last three years, he is being pegged as a Day-3 selection. I do not know how you can watch his tape and say he is not worthy of a top-100 pick. The NFL team that lands him will get a future starter and potential difference-maker.
Most of the talk surrounding the tight end class is about players like Brycen Hopkins, Jared Pinkney, and Hunter Bryant, but I implore you to not forget about Florida Atlantic senior Harrison Bryant. He is on his way to the Senior Bowl for good reason. If you remove the logo and just think of Harrison Bryant as a prospect, he is on the shortlist as one of the most naturally gifted tight ends in this draft. There is not much he hasn’t shown on tape, whether as a blocker or pass catcher. If he sneaks out of the top 75, he will be a steal.
Left tackle Prince Tega Wanogho gets a significant portion of the attention from the draft community on this Auburn offense, but right tackle Jack Driscoll is just as good. He is a better run blocker and is more ready for NFL snaps in pass protection. While he is not as athletic or physically imposing as Wanogho, Driscoll will be the better pro. You can likely get him at a cheaper price in the draft to boot.
Nick Harris has been one of my favorite prospects in this class since the summer, and he is only affirmed that status with excellent play this season. He is a brick house in pass protection and just as productive as any center in the country as a reach blocker. Many will consider him a zone-only center, but this Washington senior is a scheme-proof player who has instant starter written all over. Players like Tyler Biadasz and Creed Humphrey will likely get drafted earlier, but do not be surprised if Harris ends up being the best of the bunch.
He does not get billed as one of the top interior pass rushers, but that is exactly how I would label NC State’s Larrell Murchison. The senior defensive tackle has seven sacks on the year, and while his production has slowed down in recent weeks, his NFL traits are evident with each rep he takes. I expect him to dominate the one-on-one drills in Mobile at the Senior Bowl with his first-step quickness and natural athleticism. A strong performance would skyrocket his stock in the pre-draft cycle. NC State has quietly been a factory for defensive line talent, and Murchison is likely to be next in line.
The NFL devalues undersized pass rushers, but Josh Uche has a chance to be a double-digit sack artist at the next level. He will likely get drafted outside the top 60, but he wins in more ways than most pass rushers in this class. As an EDGE, his explosiveness and bend around the arc make him one of the most feared speed rushers. Additionally, he has a myriad of inside counters to make his rush plan unpredictable. I am a big fan of Uche and think he will prove to have a better career than a lot of the players drafted before him.
Akeem Davis-Gaither is one of the best-kept secrets in college football. He is undersized but could be one of the consolation prizes for a team that misses out on a player like Isaiah Simmons or Hamsah Nasirildeen. He has the same sort of chess-piece versatility to his game as both an off-ball run defender and coverage asset in space. Davis-Gaither fits the mold of today’s move linebacker, and he will get early playing time because of his special teams value. Expect his name to come off the board in the top-100 picks.
TCU senior Jeff Gladney should be in every top-five cornerback discussion in the draft class. He has the length, physicality, long speed, twitch and ball skills you want in a boundary defender at the next level, so why is he not considered on the same level as players like Trevon Diggs or Kristian Fulton? I think he is just as good on tape and will test better too. Gladney is billed as a Day-2 pick, but he has as much, if not more, talent than the cornerbacks who are currently mocked in the first round.
If Richard LeCounte declares, he instantly becomes one of my favorite free safety prospects in this draft. Why? Because his skill set is almost identical to Jessie Bates III, who came out of Wake Forest in the 2018 draft. The Georgia junior safety is productive both in man coverage and deep zone with his combination of quick-twitch and sideline-to-sideline range. Additionally, he has NFL-ready ball skills to be a feared playmaker for whoever drafts him. If a team misses out on Grant Delpit or Xavier McKinney, look for LeCounte to be a real bargain in the top 100.