NFL Draft Sleepers: 2020 Senior Bowl And Early Declarations

Photo: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

We have finally reached Senior Bowl week, and while the top upperclassmen across the country battle in Mobile, Alabama, to raise their stock in front of scouts and coaches, the early declaration deadline for underclassmen passed Friday.

We are now officially in draft season with this year's prospect pool set in stone. For many of the players who declared before last week's deadline, their draft stock is relatively unknown. As such, I spent the weekend looking at not only these underclassmen but also some of the seniors playing in Mobile that share the same under-the-radar status.

Here are six players — three from the Senior Bowl and three underclassmen — who need your viewing attention as soon as possible before their 2020 draft hype trains leave the station.

Senior Bowl

Antonio Gibson, RB/WR, Memphis

The best prospect playing in Mobile that is not being talked about right now is Memphis offensive flex player Antonio Gibson. He did everything for the Tigers. Whether it was catching passes in the slot, toting the rock in the backfield or returning kicks, Gibson's offensive versatility is unmatched in this draft class. Check out the numbers he put up this season: 39 receptions for 735 yards and eight touchdowns; 33 carries for 369 yards and four touchdowns; and 23 kick returns for 645 yards and one touchdown.

When you turn on Gibson’s tape, you see a player is constantly making defenders miss in the open field, while also displaying serious juice to make any given play a house call. He's listed as a running back on the Senior Bowl roster, but make no mistake about it, he will be playing everywhere for these coaches. His value at the next level is going to be a versatile chess piece. With his dual-threat ability as a runner and pass catcher, Gibson could be one of the biggest risers in this entire 2020 class, regardless of position.

Logan Stenberg, IOL, Kentucky

It's time to sound the alarms because I found the best guard in the 2020 draft. Kentucky's Logan Stenberg is a big, long mauler in the run game who has also been as consistent as any interior offensive lineman in the country as a pass protector. He's started every game the last three seasons for the Wildcats, and if there is one word to describe his play on tape, it's nasty. Stenberg has heavy hands and an unparalleled mean streak that typically results in several pancake blocks each game. Many SEC fans know Stenberg for his overaggressive nature and tendency to draw personal foul penalties, but if I'm being honest, I love that kind of nasty attitude and toughness. Other SEC players have called him the most hated player in the conference, and I can't blame them. Stenberg catches bodies every game as both a run blocker and pass protector looking for work.

The all-star game format is not always a realistic situation for interior offensive linemen, especially in a one-on-one setting, but if there is a player who is going to hold his own, it's Stenberg. He earned a top-50 film grade on my board, and he will quickly assert himself as the most dominant guard in Mobile.

Logan Wilson, LB, Wyoming

Remember Minnesota’s Blake Cashman in last year's draft class? Wyoming's Logan Wilson is cut from the same cloth, and I was just about higher on Cashman's projection to the NFL than any other analyst in the draft community. As such, I fell in love with Wilson's film the moment I pressed play. He is a quick, savvy linebacker who plays with incredible instincts and intelligence in the middle of the field. Wilson may not have the length to consistently deconstruct blocks at the point of attack, but he does a nice job of evading blockers by beating them to their landmarks with speed and superior mental processing.

Many linebackers playing in Mobile will immensely struggle in pass coverage drills, but don't expect Wilson to be associated with that group. He finished his senior season with four interceptions and seven pass breakups, which combined is more than any linebacker at this year's event. This 2020 linebacker class' depth is fairly shallow, but if you're looking for a mid-round player to rise up draft boards, check out Wilson.

Early Declarations

Noah Igbinoghene, CB, Auburn

A former track star and wide receiver for Auburn, Noah Igbinoghene switched his position in the spring of 2018 to cornerback. After starting the last two seasons on the boundary, he declared for the 2020 draft. If you haven't watched Igbinoghene play, the first thing you need to know about is that he is seriously fast. He has many technical issues at the line of scrimmage with his footwork, but his raw athleticism allows him to recover and make up for those errors at an incredible rate. Igbinoghene's going to need significant refinement, but for a player who is about to enter just his third year at the position, I am ecstatic about what he could become based on the traits I've seen on tape. There may not be a cornerback in this draft class who possesses his foot quickness and twitch in man coverage. Wide receivers had significant difficulty trying to separate against Igbinoghene because of how superior he was athletically, and you can tell his confidence on the boundary continues to grow with each snap he takes. In fact, his best game this year came against Alabama in the Iron Bowl.

Igbinoghene will not be the first cornerback selected, but I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of him becoming a first-round selection. He is what I like to call an "ascending player" as his development arc will increase with more coaching and snaps. When he runs 4.3 in the 40-yard dash and has the best broad jump at the combine, you will see his name pop up in several mock drafts.

Saahdiq Charles, OT, LSU

One of the strangest stories this season was what happened with LSU left tackle Saahdiq Charles. He missed the first half of the season because he reportedly violating team rules and then came back to help spark LSU's historic run, playing lights out in the team's biggest games: Alabama, Oklahoma and Clemson. When he declared last week, I immediately put a star by his name. I then sat down and studied his tape, and he was even better than the already high expectations I had going in. Charles’ athleticism and movement skills to mirror edge rushers in pass protection, while also quickly securing blocks at the second level, are simply uncanny. He also has several plays where he stonewalls pass rushers with his anchor and incredibly strong hands.

NFL front offices are undoubtedly going to dig into his off-field incident, but judging his game just on tape and traits alone, he projects as one of the top offensive tackle prospects in this 2020 class. He is still raw with his technique and timing, but his natural gifts and athleticism warrant early-round consideration if his background checks out.

Amik Robertson, DB, Louisiana Tech

If I told you there was a cornerback prospect in this class that racked up 14 interceptions and 34 pass breakups in just three years, you'd probably think that's the resume of a first-round player. It was that kind of production that led Louisiana Tech's Amik Robertson to declare for the draft as a junior. The only problem? He's 5-foot-9 on his best day. His lack of size will fail to meet many height thresholds across the NFL, and he will likely be labeled as an inside-only cornerback. While that may be accurate, I will stand on the table for Robertson on Day 2. Put him on my football team, and I will find a place for him on my defense. He's the perfect nickel defender with his elite ball skills, fearless physicality and nuanced man coverage ability.

The nickel defender spot is a starting position in today's NFL. Robertson may be the best true nickel in this draft. Regardless of where he's selected in April, I am confident he will be one of the most productive defensive backs to come out of this 2020 class.