Studs & Duds: Risers And Fallers Of October Big Board Update

Photo: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

Tomorrow will serve as a big day here at The Draft Network. Each of our NFL Draft analysts will be unveiling their updated Top 10 Positional Rankings and 2020 NFL Draft Big Boards -- marking the end of the first month of the 2019 college football season. For me personally, I'm stoked. There's been a lot of great football played by 2020 NFL Draft prospects: seniors, redshirt sophomores, CFB Playoff contenders, small school gems...you name it.

And today's edition of Studs & Duds is dedicated to recognizing those who are rising and falling the most on tomorrow's Big Board update -- which will feature my current top 150 prospects.

STUD - WR Tee Higgins, Clemson

Higgins was a guy this summer who I liked -- but I didn't love. I felt he was a home run hitter and high point player, but that he had some lapses in body control when looking to adjust to the football. Guess what? He's been better there this year, you don't need to look any further than Higgins' adjustment against North Carolina on a long touchdown pass from QB Trevor Lawrence for evidence of that.

Higgins was a mid-Day 2 rated player for me on my initial top-100 rankings. Now? He's an early-2nd round rated player in a strong group of wide receivers for 2020. Higgins continues to show great body control in addition to his vertical ability and his contested catch skills? He'll be a top-50 pick for sure when the chips are down in April.

DUD - CB C.J. Henderson, Florida

There's plenty to like with Henderson. He's long. He's sticky in coverage. But boy, did Florida's opening game versus Miami leave a bad taste in my mouth. The lack of physicality and functional strength was eye-opening. That isn't even to say I didn't know that it was a problem beforehand -- but it was alarmingly present against the Hurricanes.

The good news? Henderson has the chance to re-align the narrative. The Gators play Auburn, LSU and Georgia in the coming weeks, all top-10 teams in the country. Show out there and his stock will be back on the up. Henderson sits 75th overall in my October 1st Big Board update.

STUD - DE Kenny Willekes, Michigan State

Willekes had his fair share of fans before the season. But for me? I was more worried about seeing him play more stout through contact at the line of scrimmage. Much of Willekes' production last year came on hustle plays and on opportunities to where he was unblocked by design and showed his quickness to slice down into the mesh point. And Willekes came into this season with a completely remade physique -- looking the part of a top prospect both with the "eyeball test" and also from snap to whistle.

Willekes has risen to my 46th rated prospect in the 2020 NFL Draft as of tomorrow's Big Board update.

DUD - OT Ezra Cleveland, Boise State

I liked the upside and athleticism that Cleveland illustrated when I had the chance to watch him this summer. The good news? That won't go anywhere -- the ceiling is still notable here. The bad news? Every bit of the technique and fundamental concerns I acknowledged when I wrote up Cleveland in early August still exist. I've seen Boise play against Florida State and Marshall thus far this season -- Cleveland is still inconsistent and in need of refinement. Without some growth in that area this offseason, it's time to adjust his placement on the board.

Cleveland checks in at 134th on the October Board update after making my initial top-100 in late August.

STUD - QB Jacob Eason, Washington

Yes! Physical tools coming to a head with quicker, more consistent decision making! Eason didn't blow the doors off of USC this past weekend -- but his total body of work to this point in the season should have anyone looking for a riser in the 2020 quarterback class behind Tua and Herbert juiced. Eason has all the arm talent in the world and now he's starting to make more consistent reads, working through the field and yet continuing to show he's not just a statue in the pocket, either.

Eason has risen to my 3rd rated quarterback and sits just outside of my top-32 prospects (34th overall) on the October Board update.

DUD - QB Jordan Love, Utah State

No! Physical tools failing to come to a head without quicker, more consistent decision making! Love is a gifted player -- his arm has all of the ability in the world and he'll make you fall in love when you watch him flush the pocket and extend plays with his legs. The acceptance of spread quarterbacks will help ease a transition to the NFL for Love -- he'll be at his best when the field is spaced to allow for more apparent reads. But Love locks onto the primary too often and that's a problem that persisted to this point in the season.

The good news? Love faces his biggest test shortly when Utah State travels to Death Valley to face off against LSU. If Love can speed up the clock against the Tigers, his draft stock may have more life once more. Love now sits 57th on my 2020 NFL Draft Big Board on my October update.

STUD - WR Henry Ruggs III, Alabama

I've never felt so stupid to rank a player at 32nd overall -- which TECHNICALLY qualifies as a 1st-round player. And yet here I am facepalming over the decision to doubt Henry Ruggs and his all-world speed. This dude is a gazelle. The talented receivers (like Ruggs) get help from having Tua Tagovailoa completely dominate on Saturdays. But the presence of Tua and his receivers shouldn't detract from either party. Ruggs' run after catch ability is proving to be a game-changing skill. And if you're worried about him getting off press coverage, you shouldn't be. He's quick as a hiccup and you really don't have an excuse to move him around to further amplify his speed and work him into space.

Ruggs has jumped to 15th overall on the October Board update.

Written By:

Kyle Crabbs

Director of Content

Director of Content & Senior NFL Draft Analyst for The Draft Network. Co-host of the Draft Dudes podcast. Former NDT Scouting Overlord.

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