Friday Mailbag 1.0: NFL Draft Prospect Superlatives

Photo: USA TODAY Sports - Ron Chenoy

This is the debut article of my "Friday Mailbag" series, and I hope to use this as a platform going forward for your social media input. For the first mailbag, the topic is 2020 prospect superlatives. I asked you all to give me a name of a draft-eligible prospect in next year's class, to which I would say "Prospect X is most likely to be ____." This article includes the results of that interaction.

Penn State EDGE Yetur Gross-Matos is most likely to be: A future first-round pick.

  • I'm a big fan of Gross-Matos. He has a great first step and wins consistently with speed-to-power. The Penn State pass rusher also has a variety of different moves and counters off the edge. If his Combine numbers match his athleticism on tape, I think he will be off the board very early next April.

Colorado WR Laviska Shenault is most likely to be: Something made out of a lab.

  • There is not a receiver quite like Laviska Shenault in this class. His combination of hulking size, runaway speed, and imposing physicality pops off on tape. At 6'2, 220, he reminds me a ton of former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant after the catch. He is explosive and hard to bring down in the open field because of his competitive toughness. At the same time, Shenault also has the versatility and route polish to play inside or out. I think he is the complete package and a legit contender in this wide receiver class.

Michigan State EDGE Kenny Willekes is most likely to be: One of my pet cats in 2020.

  • After an argument about Willekes on the Locked on NFL Draft podcast, a concrete conclusion was discovered: My colleague Benjamin Solak doesn't like good players. Don't worry Michigan State fans, I think Kenny Willekes is one of the best edge defenders in this class. He is a physical SOB whose motor never stops. NFL teams are going to love his three-down value, as he is a disciplined run defender and productive pass rusher. Just like one of my 2019 pet cats, Zach Allen, Willekes is not the most flashy player, but he is a human wrecking machine at the point of attack. Gimme.

Clemson LB/S Isaiah Simmons is most likely to be: The Zion Williamson of the 2020 NFL Draft.

  • At 6'4, 225, Isaiah Simmons is a freak of nature. He reportedly runs a 4.3 in the 40-yard dash and has an 11'10 max jump -- which would have been the best leap at the 2018 NBA Combine. The only safety in recent memory I can think of with his physical profile is Taylor Mays, but Simmons is a much better football player. Simmons has the potential to be a generational hybrid player with his natural talent in coverage and explosiveness against the run.

Ohio State CB Jeffrey Okudah is most likely to be: Marshon Lattimore's clone.

  • I am declaring Ohio State "DB-U," or at least "CB-U." The Buckeyes have cranked out first-round cornerbacks year after year. Marshon Lattimore, Denzel Ward, and Gareon Conley are three of the best young players in the NFL, let alone the cornerback position, and I think Jeffrey Okudah is next in line. It's only a small sample size, but if you look at Okudah's performance in the Rose Bowl against Washington, he was lights out. With lightning-quick feet, legit 4.3 speed, and a nose for the ball, Okudah wins in ways similarly to Lattimore, and I truly believe he has that kind of potential.

Alabama WR Henry Ruggs is most likely to be: A future Madden cheat code/glitch.

  • I'm on record saying I think Henry Ruggs has a legitimate chance to be the best receiver in this draft class. He has an unguardable combination of separation both at the catch point and as a deep threat. The biggest question with speed demons like Ruggs in the past have been drops or a lack of physicality. Neither of those are concerns on Ruggs' tape. In fact, he might have the best hands and competitive toughness in this class. Essentially, you could be looking at a bigger version of Tyreek Hill.

LSU S Grant Delpit is most likely to be: The best player on my 2020 NFL draft board.

  • If Grant Delpit was draft-eligible last year, he would have been the top player on my board for the 2019 NFL draft. His tape as a true sophomore is *that* good. I'd be shocked if Delpit isn't the highest-drafted safety since Eric Berry. He has special range over the top and is equally explosive coming downhill. If Delpit is healthy, he's going to be a superstar, plain and simple.

Notre Dame QB Ian Book is most likely to be: An XFL quarterback.

  • Notre Dame fans are going to block me for this, but I just don't see a legit path to NFL snaps for Ian Book. His game was exposed late in the season, especially against the Clemson defense. Unless Book takes a big step with pocket presence and overall consistency, I'm out.

Michigan QB Shea Patterson is most likely to be: Ian Book's opponent in the XFL.

  • Patterson thinks he's Baker Mayfield, but he's actually Vernon Adams 2.0 (insert meme of vision vs reality).