The 2020 NFL Draft has no shortage of premiere names on the defensive side of the football.
There's star-power on all three levels and this year's class is brimming with plug-and-play talent from some of the biggest programs in all of college football. But having blue-chip defensive talent isn't necessarily going to make for slam dunk decisions when NFL general managers find themselves on the clock.
Yes, there's plenty of talent at the top of the class. But there also happens to be a good bit of talent that will be lying around on the second day of this year's draft — including some key players who could realistically serve as "Plan B" to drafting a star in the top 10 or 15 picks. If you can get 90 percent of a player in the second round and you see a 25 percent drop off in quality at another position, wouldn't you be better off drafting a player of comparable value but at the position with the steeper decline in depth?
That's the dilemma that teams will face in April. And should a team forego a household name, perhaps one of these prospects is the reason why. They can do a lot of the same things but be found on Day 2 instead.
Plan A: Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons
Plan B: Southern Illinois safety Jeremy Chinn
If a team wants a hybrid defender, here’s some good news: There's one of unprecedented athleticism that should be available for the price of a top-10 selection.
What's that, you say? There are more pressing needs such as quarterback or offensive tackle? Say no more. I've got just the thing. Bid farewell and good luck to Isaiah Simmons; Clemson's unicorn athlete that has all the rarest of the rare physical skills at his disposal. If you want to draft based on positional value, go ahead and take that offensive tackle. There are four great ones and they're all likely to be gone by pick No. 15.
Or get a healthy serving of Jeremy Chinn. Chinn should be available in the second round, but I wouldn't recommend getting cute and waiting too long to secure his services. This is an elite athlete in his own right. Chinn ran a 4.45 second in the 40-yard dash and did so at 221 pounds. Chinn has ample versatility. He may not be a base linebacker like Simmons but he's a viable coverage threat with excellent length, explosiveness and most importantly production. He dominated at the FCS level with 243 tackles, 13 interceptions and 31 passes defended.
Plan A: Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown
Plan B: Ohio State defensive tackle Davon Hamilton
Derrick Brown's tape might be one of the most fun studies. He's stout and has a physically dominant presence that can provide versatility to play any number of gaps. He also serves as a lock-down two-gap defender at the point of attack. He didn't test well at the NFL Scouting Combine, but if that is enough to second guess his merits as a defender, more power to a front office.
Brown should be a top-10 lock regardless thanks to his power, refinement and versatility.
But if teams are looking to get a two-gap dynamo but have concerns about positional value, they may want to consider looking elsewhere. Especially if they’re not sold on Brown's ability to win as a pass rusher with consistency. If that's the case, I've got just the thing.
Perhaps they’d have some interest in a lightly used Davon Hamilton? The Ohio State Buckeye played in 54 games at the college level but entered 2019 with only three starts to his name. The 2019 season was much more kind to Hamilton as he rolled up six sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss in the Buckeye's fearsome front seven. Hamilton has loads of power, an athletic build and beat the tar out of interior blockers in the blue-collar Big Ten leaving a lasting impression that indicates that he's got the goods to serve as a productive NFL nose tackle.
If teams want the unsexy parts of Brown's game at a discounted rate, Hamilton can be their guy on Day 2.
Plan A: LSU EDGE K'lavon Chaisson
Plan B: Michigan EDGE Josh Uche
Hybrid rush defenders are hard to come by. More often than not, they're hybrids because they're too small to play full time on the edge. That isn't the case for LSU's K'Lavon Chaisson, a budding star who put together a fully healthy 2019 season and showed ample potential as to why he's got the ceiling to be a top-flight pass rusher and chess piece for a multiple front defense.
But in a pass rush class that hasn't seen a number of names rise to the occasion, Chaisson's stock may be through the roof. It is hard to envision him making it past the gauntlet of the Atlanta Falcons, Dallas Cowboys and Miami Dolphins in the mid-teens.
If that is the case and a team is in the market for a move piece pass rusher, Josh Uche is the one. Uche, at 6-foot-1, 245 pounds, isn't your typical outside pass rusher. But he's capable of running under a table at full speed, provides plenty of burst and bend and possesses just enough length (33.63-inch arms). Teams who miss out on Chaisson in the first-round can rest easy knowing there is a savvy, defender with comparable physical traits who should be available in the middle of the second round.
Just don't swing and miss twice.