College football players’ NFL Draft stock change on a week-to-week basis nowadays.
It’s part of what makes the draft process so tantalizing to college football and NFL fans alike. We all have different notions on certain players by the end of the year, but at the end of the day, who is putting their best foot forward consistently this season and proving they belong in draft discussions across America? These are a handful of names that made a gigantic leap from 2018 to 2019.
JOE BURROW – QB (LSU)
Broadway Joe has had one of the largest leaps up draft boards in recent memory, especially in regards to the quarterback position. Following last season, Burrow was looked at as most likely a Day 3 pick with marginal upside. His arm wasn’t seen as spectacular and his mobility was nice but nothing game-changing. The transfer from Ohio State didn’t get much draft buzz whatsoever, but that has changed dramatically.
In the 2019 season, Burrow tallied 5,671 passing yards and 60 touchdowns while completing just over 76% of his pass attempts. To top it all off, he only threw 6 interceptions in the span of 15 games. One of the largest development’s in Burrow’s game has been his pocket awareness and ability to throw downfield on the run consistently. Prior to this season, Burrow seemed to drop his eyes early in on plays where he was quickly pressured.
Joe Burrow’s first play in the national championship game pic.twitter.com/NSx70dOZ70
— Ted Nguyen (@FB_FilmAnalysis) February 1, 2020
This year, he’s maneuvered the pocket much more efficiently to let the play develop while also using his legs as a threat if no one comes open enough to make a smart throw. Burrow’s mental processing is evident on film through how fast he picks up the blitz as well as reading cornerbacks pre-play to gauge press coverage. He’s the definition of a “take what the defense is giving him” quarterback as in his reads from what the defense tells him to his advantage on every single down. Overall, The LSU quarterback has grown from a prospect most teams would look at as a career backup to the possible cornerstone of a franchise, *cough cough* Cincinnati.
JEDRICK WILLS – Tackle (Alabama)
One half of a dynamic tackle duo at Alabama, Wills showed throughout the 2019 season that, even as a junior, he plays the position with great leverage and balance. At the start of the college football season, Wills was not on the radar for the upcoming draft in comparison to names like Tristan Wirfs, Prince Tega Wanogho, and Andrew Thomas.
On film, Wills uses his sheer physicality very well, allowing him to bully guys up front especially in the running game. Some improvements in hand placement could make his pure power even more lethal as well as help him re-engage with pass rushers who may get the first step on him. The junior’s tremendous lower half control and heavy hands could make a team drool over his potential.
Just Jedrick Wills throwing a LB around like it’s nothing… pic.twitter.com/GHS0RHXbMV
— Taylor Moser (@TaylorMoser_BBS) November 20, 2019
Comparison-wise, look at Colts tackle Anthony Castonzo. Both these players have athletic traits that help me them overcome some possible upper-body strength technicalities. Both excel in the running game, but have the ability to shut down speed edge rushers on passing downs because of their punch-block ability and aggressive lower half.
JAVON KINLAW – Defensive Line (South Carolina)
You could really say Javon laid down the law in the SEC this season… get it? No? Welp. Either way, the 6’6 senior defensive linemen was a wrecking ball inside for the Gamecocks of South Carolina. One of the most consistent producers this season in the trenches, Kinlaw has slowly but surely risen up 2020 draft boards and mock drafts.
A commonplace among mocks for Kinlaw now is in the mid-to-late first round to teams like the Buccaneers, Colts, and Cowboys; although, some have mentioned Kinlaw going as early as in the top ten. A true grinder, not all of Kinlaw’s production shows up in the stat sheet.
Javon Kinlaw’s a wrecking ball up front.
So much fun to watch. pic.twitter.com/1slJkT3T0L
— Kyle Yates (@KyleYNFL) January 28, 2020
Kinlaw fills up running lanes about as effectively as you can ask a defensive lineman to do as well as uses his mountain-of-a-man size for pass breakups. Totaling 4.5 sacks in 2018, some may have seen Kinlaw as another bulky interior defensive lineman that couldn’t effectively get to the passer, but his 2019 film disproved that even further. Kinlaw created 6 sacks, 6 tackles for loss, and 35 total tackles alongside more flashes in the passing game that go deeper than the box score.
Sharing some aspects with Pittsburgh Steelers rusher Stephon Tuitt, Kinlaw is truly a guy with great athleticism for his size whose upside can change the dynamic of an entire defensive line. Him and Auburn’s Derrick Brown seem to be the front cover interior defensive linemen of this draft class.
Overall, prospects rise and fall on draft boards throughout draft season. Keep these three names in mind throughout the process that remains fluid every offseason.
Featured Image: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports.