2020 NFL Draft Prospects - Finding Hidden Gems

I know a thing or three about football, and I'm tired of what I see not matching up to what I'm being told by experts. Later on I find out that what I see pans out, and what I read on draft boards by scouts and experts is garbage. Having said that, I'm going to post a couple thoughts in no particular order, but based on what my eyes tell me. Not worrying about where boards say to draft these players, but where I think they make sense, and for what reasons. Now I give you five players the Jets (or any team) should really look at drafting and where.

1. Bryan Edwards # 89 WR South Carolina - 6'3 215 lbs.

I've seen Edwards listed between the 10th to 15th best receiver in the 2020 class, and roughly a late 3rd to early 4th rounder. When I watch his film, and I've watched film of every game of the last 3 years I think he's a steal in the 2nd round. He's a starter by the end of his first season next year, and he's a 100 catch a year guy for Sam Darnold. He plays in the slot, flanker, and split wide and excels anywhere you put him on the field. He's been used in motion a ton, or as a power receiver for hard to get first downs. Unlike names I hear a lot like Jerry Jeudy, Ceedee Lamb, this guy does not have a dominant o-line, super QB, or otherwise superior teammates helping to elevate his play, but he consistently plays well against top NCAA talent. Of a possible 10 games this year, he's had 6 catches and 80 or more receiving yards in 8. He's also done this no matter who the Gamecocks have played. To name a few he's had good receiving efforts against Alabama, Georgia, Florida, and topped the century mark receiving 3 times. He puts up big numbers against top 30 defenses regularly. Unlike other receivers, he's done this for 3 years with no real fanfare.

I could go on about this guy, or throw up highlight videos, but the point is he is seriously undervalued and probably the 2nd or 3rd best receiver in next years draft in my opinion. While the big names are putting up numbers against garbage defenses, Edwards is crushing the big name players. I think the best comparison for him would be a young Broncos Brandon Marshall. They compare favorably in body type/size, physical play style, and being powerful possession receivers that can win one on one matchups regularly. This would be a potential steal for the Jets even as high as the second round, as he can be a #1 receiver on this team for a decade allowing the receivers around him to do what they do best. Get chunk yards (Robby Anderson), get yards after catch in the slot (Crowder), and work the middle of the field (Chris Herndon). Brian Edwards is to the Jets what Michael Thomas is the Saints.

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2. Jeff Gladney Cornerback #12 TCU. 6' 185 lbs.

At the time of this writing, Gladney is the 10th best corner in college football statistically (INT's, pass breakups, tackles). What statistics don't show is that Gladney is probably one of the best, if not the best cover corner in the 2020 draft. The past 2 seasons he has amassed 25 passes broken up and 3 interceptions. His size/stature reminds me of Darryl Roberts but he plays a lot more physical game than Roberts while also playing much tighter defense, with better quick twitch reaction.

  • TCU plays a style of attacking/blitzing D which mixes in zone and man coverage to mask the blitzes. I think this background would really mesh nicely with what Greg Williams and the Jets like to do.
  • Comfortable in press or 5 yards off the ball and be fine all game as his short area quickness, change of direction, and make up speed would easily make him the best corner on the Jets roster on day one.
  • Gets his head turned around well and makes plays on the ball in the form of pass break ups pretty well.

He is currently listed as a late 2nd-early 3rd round pick depending on who declares for the draft. Because he is a redshirt senior, his draft stock will either stick , or drop depending on whatever early entrants come into the draft. He needs a little more strength to battle the bigger receivers, but can be a plug and play starter for the low low price of a late 2 or early 3rd rounder next year..

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3. Joshua Uche #6 Linebacker Michigan - 6'2 250lbs.

Josh Uche is currently ranked somewhere between the 9th to 15th best outside linebacker from the most notable sites. When I look at his film though, he stands out in the all the areas that matter the most. Between now and the combine you can bet his name will creep up draft boards , and he'll be a name you hear about.

  • More talented and athletic than Chase Winovich whom he played opposite as Michigan's bookend pass rushers. Winovich was a 3rd round prospect and is currently producing in New England.
  • Uche has a motor that you won't see in any of the other pass rushing prospects, including potential #1 pick Chase Young. I've watched a half dozen videos of him pass rushing one side of the field, and chasing down ball carriers on the opposite end.
  • He has better than average, bordering on elite hands. It's almost Aaron Donald-esque at times to watch him swat down offensive tackles hands, while he's bending the edge.
  • Has elite get off. His first two steps from the snap put him in the backfield, and he's rarely stonewalled by a tackle. When he does get engaged, he keeps fighting to disengage the tackle and it's football heaven to watch.
  • The past 2 seasons (and this season ain't over) he's amassed 15 sacks, and 18 tackles for loss. For roughly 20 games of production his arrow is pointing up.

Assuming the Jets were to draft a top tier offensive lineman in round 1, Uche would more than make up for the pass rushing threat on day 2. Comparisons to young Von Miller have been made of him, and film supports this conclusion.

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4. Matt Hennessy #58 Center Temple - 6'4 300lbs.

I feel I have a better understanding of safeties, corners, and receivers, so take this with a grain of salt. When I watch offensive lineman I generally only look at a few things. Speed to get out of the snap, quick feet or not, hand placement while blocking, bending at waist or knees while blocking, and lastly functional strength.

Hennessy checks all of those boxes for me, with the exception of functional strength. He has the fastest reaction time, and his feet are deliberate but quick. He doesn't have any wasted motion in snapping the ball, getting to his protection, and turning his defender. His top is never hanging out over his base because he's bending to far.

He gets to the second level and I saw a few pancake blocks which I don't see very regularly. What was good to see is that he does this with technique more than strength which I think will translate well. I don't know his draft position, or ranking, but I would think he's somewhere in the 5th to 6th round variety. For the Jets I think Jonathan Harrison can continue to start, but Hennessy could be a good player to back up and push him with a year or so and some strength and conditioning.

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5. Myles Dorn #1 Free Safety North Carolina

Marcus Maye has not shown the ability to stay healthy long term. Also, despite being drafted the same year as Jamal Adams, he was 24 as a rookie so he will be roughly 28 the season of his second contract. The Jets will need to consider if they want to sign Maye to a long term deal.

  • Dorn is a mid - late round prospect at this point.
  • 3 years of starting experience and has missed 3 games (consecutive) in that span of 30 games. Much better rate than Maye in terms of being on the field.
  • 7 pass break ups and 4 INT's over the past 2 seasons to go along with 71 (2018) and 55 (2019) tackles. This is elite production tackling from the deep safety position.
  • He bites on play fakes, but is credited with being a very alert player in terms of reading plays and knowing where to be as far as positioning and tackling angles.

From a durability, playmaking, and tackling perspective Dorn could be a good 4th, or 5th round prospect to back up and/or provide a replacement option for Marcus Maye after the 2020 season. He is rangy, but doesn't have deep speed to catch up. I'd put him on par with Marcus Maye in terms of speed with a larger build, and more durability.

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Getting my jump on the 2020 draft and potential prospects. These five prospects are all currently ranked roughly 7th to 15th best at their positions and the Jets should have a real shot at selecting them without breaking the bank. Assuming New York spends it's early pick on a pass protecting blue chip left tackle (Andrew Thomas/Tristan Wirfs), players like these mentioned above will give them a real chance at addressing both best player available and position of need without sacrificing one for the other. The real strength in this draft is shaping up to be picks 50-100 or so where I think there are still starting players deep in the 3rd round. Thanks for reading, and what are your thoughts?

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