WIth each passing year, the NFL Draft sees more and more early declarations from college underclassmen. In 2019, a record 103 prospects gave up their final year of college in order to pursue an opportunity in the NFL, with an additional 32 leaving college playing eligibility behind. Among those 135 prospects, over 40 went undrafted.
That figure of around 30% of underclassmen who declared eventually going undrafted has held steady over recent years, but the number of underclassmen who declared has ballooned over the past 3 or 4 years. Each offseason, a bunch of unexpected underclassmen declare for the NFL Draft, which works out for some but not for others.
Today, I’m going to look at two wide receivers who could be candidates for the unexpected declaration, but both of whom are prospects that I feel as though would be drafted in 2020 with a positive outlook on their potential pro career.
Reggie Roberson Jr., SMU
Roberson originally committed to play for coach Dana Holgorsen at West Virginia, and spent his freshman season there while compiling 6 receptions. He transferred to SMU ahead of 2018, where he was immediately eligible, and quickly became an impact player for the Mustangs.
Roberson broke out over the final seven games of his sophomore season, and that streak has continued so far into 2019. Over his past 9 games, he has produced 59 receptions, 963 yards and 7 receiving touchdowns.
Roberson is a traditional deep threat with inside-outside versatility, who can track and adjust to passes in space. He’s successful in the intermediate as well because of his body control and bouncy athleticism that expands his catch radius.
With the ability to uncover in all levels of the field, Roberson has all of the traits of an NFL receiver, with starter upside despite being a lesser-known player at this stage. When SMU travels to TCU in two weeks, Roberson will be taking reps against potential first-round cornerback Jeff Gladney. That game will be an opportunity for Roberson to put him name firmly in the mix for the NFL Draft, with that potential declaration looming for 2020.
Sage Surratt, Wake Forest
I came across Sage Surratt when scouting former Wake Forest wide receiver Greg Dortch ahead of the 2019 NFL Draft, as I kept asking myself who was this redshirt freshman that kept making plays on film. In his college debut, Surratt had 11 receptions for 150 receiving yards.
Now a redshirt sophomore and eligible for the 2020 NFL Draft, Surratt’s game has continued to blossom this season. He was instrumental in Wake Forest’s comeback victory over Utah State, posting nearly 160 yards and a touchdown. His current streak of games with a receiving touchdown currently sits at 4 in a row.
At 6’3 and 215 pounds, Surratt has a developing physical profile but moves with the fluidity of a slot receiver. He’s physical at the catchpoint, using his broad frame to create late space away from defensive backs. He easily fights through contact as a route runner, but that traits really comes out with the football in his hands.
Surratt can be a devastating ball carrier, being exceedingly difficult for defensive backs to get on the ground. With his size and strength combination, he projects as a prototypical boundary receiver in the NFL.
As Wake Forest gets into the meat of their ACC schedule, Surratt will have plenty of opportunities to match up against future NFL defensive backs, including Clemson’s AJ Terrell. If he’s able to continue his current level of production, expect him to become more well-known in the NFL Draft community.