NFL Draft, top prospects
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The 2020 NFL Draft is fast approaching and teams are already getting excited to start selecting some of the top prospects in a loaded draft class. Following the NFL Scouting Combine, there’s been plenty of movement across draft boards and it will have a huge impact on how the NFL Draft plays out.

Every offseason we see the need for quarterbacks push top talent at other positions down the draft board. It will happen once again in the 2020 NFL Draft with at least four quarterbacks likely to land within the top-20 picks. A particularly deep and talented group of offensive tackles could also push their way up draft boards, leading to even more shakeup in the first round.

The most recent NFL Mock Draft showcases how plenty of players with first-round talent won’t hear their names announced by Roger Goodell on April 23. As a result, some of the best players in college football will be left surprised when they head into the second day of the NFL Draft without an NFL team.

Let’s take a look at the top draft prospects in the 2020 draft class who could fall on draft day.

Jonathan Taylor, running back, Wisconsin Badgers

Taylor put on an incredible showing at the NFL Combine and he is one of the best running backs in college football history. Yet, for as dominant as Taylor was in three seasons at Wisconsin, recent draft history tells us that running backs aren’t being valued like they used to be.

There are legitimate concerns with Taylor, too. He racked up 968 touches in three seasons with the Badgers, a strong indicator that he’ll have a short shelf life in the NFL. Teams will also be concerned with his penchant for fumbles, something that often leads to running backs being benched at the highest level. Taylor is a top running back prospect, but it wouldn’t be the least bit surprising if he isn’t a top-40 draft pick.

A.J. Epenesa, edge rusher, Iowa Hawkeyes

Many viewed Epenesa as a lock for a top-10 selection just a few months ago. Iowa’s top pass rusher dominated late in the year and had the NFL buzzing heading into the combine. Unfortunately for Epenesa, things didn’t go well in Indianapolis.

NFL teams weren’t expecting the 6-foot-6 edge rusher to be a freak athlete, but he didn’t even look like a marginal athlete. Epenesa posted a 5.04 40-time, a mark that several defensive tackles beat, with many of his peers on the edge blowing past his athletic numbers. He’s got plenty of size and strength, but that often isn’t enough to win in the NFL. He will need a great performance at his Pro Day to avoid being at risk of slipping out of the first round.

Laviska Shenault Jr, wide receiver, Colorado Buffaloes

Coming off an incredible sophomore season in 2018, Colorado’s top playmaker was seemingly poised for greatness in 2019 with a chance to further boost his draft stock. Unfortunately for Shenault, the past year hasn’t gone according to plan. He underwhelmed this past season with the Buffaloes, largely due to the team’s own struggles, struggled to stay healthy and then things got worse at the NFL Combine.

Shenault ran a worrisome 4.58 40-time, immediately causing concerns about his explosiveness. When teams learned that the star receiver suffered a core muscle injury and needed surgery, it reiterated his durability concerns. We know Shenault is a big-play threat, but he didn’t show it as often in 2019 and the medical concerns are legitimate. Given the depth at receiver in this draft class, it would be easy for teams to let him slide into the second round.

Kenneth Murray, inside linebacker, Oklahoma Sooners

While most of the players on this list fall due to medical concerns or a poor combine performance, Murray might just be a victim of other positions being prioritized. There’s no denying Murray’s speed, as he demonstrated his elite athleticism at the combine before suffering a mild hamstring injury.

It all comes down to quarterbacks, offensive linemen and playmakers on offense being prioritized. NFL teams recognize that Murray can be a great linebacker, but he also needs to further develop his understanding of the game so he can react quicker. The upside is through the roof with Murray, but all it takes is a few teams passing on him for a drop to happen. We still believe he will be his is a top prospect, but he might need to play with a chip on his shoulder when he enters the NFL.

Tee Higgins, wide receiver, Clemson Tigers

Football fans will certainly recognize Higgins as Trevor Lawrence’s go-to target in Clemson’s offense. The 6-foot-4 receiver is an exciting talent that posted great numbers in college, but he did himself no favors at the NFL Combine.

It’s not that Higgins performed poorly – he didn’t take part in the event itself. He mysteriously pulled out before running the 40-yard dash and didn’t participate in any drills. NFL teams already questioned Higgins’ athleticism and not taking advantage of a chance to prove the skeptics wrong further hurt his draft stock. Once considered one of the top prospects at his position, Higgins is now falling down the boards.