The 2019 NFL offseason is about to be in the books, which means us draft analysts are now scouting the next crop of eligible prospects in the 2020 class.
This leads me to another Q&A format article, which gives you all a platform to have your voice heard. Most of the questions this week were focused on next spring's potential wide receiver and cornerback classes, so this article will primarily be focused on just that: 2020 wide receivers and cornerbacks.
While it is nearly impossible to say a class is the "best ever" a year out from the actual draft, I do understand where Jared's head is at here. The potential for this wide receiver class has 2014 written all over it. That was the class that featured Odell Beckham Jr., Mike Evans, Davante Adams, Sammy Watkins, Brandin Cooks, Allen Robinson, Jarvis Landry, and others. While there may not be as many potential stars in among the 2020 draft-eligible prospects, I think the names you mentioned here all have a legitimate shot of being productive starters at the next level.
Just like the potential wide receiver class next spring, I think this is the most impressive group of draft-eligible cornerback prospects I've seen in a long time. I mean, there are so many different flavors and types of cornerbacks in this class. There are the long, playmaking cornerbacks like Bryce Hall, Trevon Diggs, Cam Dantzler, and AJ Terrell, who can step right in with press man tools. At the same time, there are also the quick-footed, mirror and match specialists like Jeffrey Okudah, Paulson Adebo, Kristian Fulton, and Jeff Gladney. Regardless of who goes where, I strongly believe each team will be able to find "their guy" at the cornerback position in 2020.
I love philosophy questions like this. I do think we are starting to see undersized, but more polished cornerbacks become more valuable in the eyes of NFL evaluators, especially with the emphasis of wide receiver separation against man coverage. Look no further than Denzel Ward, who went fourth overall to the Cleveland Browns just a year ago. However, I don't believe the big, physical wide receiver, or long, press cornerback molds are going away anytime soon. There will always be a place for those two prototypes in the league. Dalton, you know as well as I do that the NFL is a matchup-driven league. Trends on positional prototypes within the league will go back and forth, but the one thing that remains constant within the minds of evaluators is to find advantageous matchups. Whether that means rostering long, physical cornerbacks to bury the smaller, quicker receivers of their rival opponent, or vice versa, there will always be this ebb and flow in the NFL. Keep this in mind when talking about a positional prototype or mold going extinct, and this goes for every sport: It only takes one to change the philosophy all over again.
Since we're talking about wide receivers and cornerbacks, let's stick with that theme for my under-the-radar prospects. At wide receiver, I love Washington senior Aaron Fuller. Speaking of undersized wide receivers who can consistently win and separate against man coverage, Fuller is one of the most impressive and dynamic route runners in this class. He does from both the slot and the outside, and he possesses elite ball skills at the catch point. I'm not sure what his long speed is, but I do know his quickness and ability to win against man coverage will soon find him in the hearts of many NFL evaluators. At cornerback, I'm choosing Wake Forest senior Essang Bassey. Also undersized at 5'10, 190, Bassey is a mirror and match specialist in both off and man coverage. This will make him a valuable asset for any defense, as he can play inside or out. His production is also through the roof. He has racked up 34 pass deflections over the last two seasons, and he will look to add on to it this fall. While both players may not be elite prospects, I am confident both will have a chance to be productive players at the next level because of their defined, polished skill sets.