2020 NFL Draft: Seven talented prospects poised to fall due to pre-draft limitations created by coronavirus
These prospects weren't able to experience a normal pre-draft process, and it will hurt them this weekend
With the coronavirus pandemic, we're in unprecedented times in this country, and with the 2020 NFL Draft finally here, prospects find themselves in uncharted territory during this pre-draft process.
The vast majority of pro days have been canceled, and up until a few days ago, we were under the impression there would be no medical recheck for prospects dealing with injuries from their collegiate days.
Then our very own Jason La Canfora tweeted this:
To expand on La Canfora's point, what should a prospect do? Make teams happy by traveling to visit a doctor to get the recheck or follow (many) state-wide health guidelines to stay home, which could possibly make teams mad?
Tough. These prospects are the most impacted by the ripple effect coronavirus has had on this year's pre-draft cycle.
Tua Tagovailoa says he's healthy, so what does that mean for the draft? Will Brinson and the Pick Six Podcast Superfriends break down the 2020 draft, look at next year's free agent class and more; listen below and be sure to subscribe for daily NFL goodness.
1. Bryan Edwards, WR, South Carolina
If healthy, I firmly believe Edwards would be a consensus fringe first-round prospect right now. But he broke his foot during preparatory training for the NFL combine, and we know injuries to that body part are often very damaging to wide receivers.
Edwards was invited to the Senior Bowl, and likely would've been among the best wideouts in attendance, yet it was a knee injury suffered during the 2019 season that wasn't full healed by late January that kept him off the practice field in Mobile.
Without any pre-draft activity of substance for Edwards, the 6-3, 215-pounder with a polished game and four years of impressive production in the SEC hasn't been able to create any buzz. More importantly, if he chooses not to go through with the voluntary NFL medical recheck, teams won't able to vet Edwards medically to pinpoint how far in rehab his foot and knee injuries really are.
Because of the injury uncertainty, the 21-year-old Edwards will likely plummet in the draft. If he regains all of his athletic prowess when he fully recovers, the team that selects him will get a massive Day 3 steal at a vital position.
2. Terrell Lewis, EDGE, Alabama
Once a prized recruit, Lewis labored through back-to-back season-ending injuries to his elbow and knee early in his career with the Crimson Tide before piecing together a mostly healthy 2019, in which he played 10 games and registered six sacks and 11 tackles for loss.
But, in the end, Lewis has a laundry list of health concerns. After only doing the jumps at the combine then not getting an opportunity to show his athletic talents on the field during Alabama's pro day (because it never happened), those concerns will persist into the draft.
At 6-5 and 262 pounds with nearly 34-inch arms and bendy athleticism on film, Lewis looks the part of a long, towering NFL edge rusher. But due to the litany of injuries he suffered at Alabama, it won't be shocking if the talented but banged-up Lewis is available at the start of the fourth round.
3. Netane Muti, OL, Fresno State
Muti played a grand total of five games over the past two seasons, but what he showed in those outings makes him one of the top guard prospects in this class. He's that talented, that mobile, and that naturally powerful.
In 2018 it was a ruptured Achilles. This past season he suffered a Lisfranc injury in his foot. Serious ailments.
Muti played left tackle and guard in college and displayed Herculean strength as early as his redshirt freshman season in 2017. He's nimble for his 6-3, 315-pound frame and has excellent balance when's not overly aggressive in pass protection or when trying to pulverize linebackers at the second level. He did 44 reps on the bench at the combine, and all of that shows on the field. He tosses defensive linemen on a routine basis.
Because of his shortened collegiate career and the severity of his multiple injuries in consecutive seasons to close out his time at Fresno State, the ultra-strong Muti will probably be available on the third day of the draft.
4. Bryce Hall, CB, Virginia
Hall probably would've been a first or second round pick in the 2019 Draft. Instead, he returned to Virginia for his senior campaign but suffered a broken ankle in September against Miami.
It was such a bad injury, Hall was unable to participate in the Senior Bowl or the NFL combine in late February.
Hall's a long, zone-specialist with phenomenal ball production during his time with the Cavaliers -- he led the nation in pass breakups in 2018 -- yet his athleticism doesn't appear to be that of typical starting outside cornerback caliber at the NFL level. Being able to work out at some point during the pre-draft process could've been massively beneficial for the 6-1, 200-pound defensive back.
5. Ashtyn Davis, S, California
Davis played 11 games in 2019, tallied 55 tackles, two interceptions, and four pass breakups. But he was held out of the Bears' bowl game due to an undisclosed injury that required surgery.
Of course, he wasn't able to partake in Senior Bowl activities and did not run at the combine. The All-American hurdler was expected to be one of the best testers in Indianapolis. He plays the free safety position with stellar coverage range and flies downhill and hits like the linebacker.
Without a consensus top safety prospect in this class -- unless you're counting Isaiah Simmons as one -- with a strong pre-draft process, Davis could've be in the conversation to be the first player at his position off the board. But now, with his draft profile being clouded with uncertainty, he could fall far on draft weekend.
6. Lucas Niang, OT, TCU
Niang is a gifted athlete at the right tackle position and has been on the draft radar for multiple years. At 6-6 and 315 pounds with arms over 34-inches long, he has an NFL offensive tackle build today, and he moves like he's much smaller.
He had already appeared in 37 games before his senior campaign for the Horned Frogs but missed the final final games of the season due to a torn labrum that required surgery.
In what is the best offensive tackle class in a long time, and has even seen some quality prospects emerge in the second tier like Ezra Cleveland, Matt Peart, and Isaiah Wilson, Niang only weighing-in at the combine and not participating at the Senior Bowl may very well hurt him on draft weekend.
7. Darrell Taylor, EDGE, Tennessee
Taylor is a rock-solid edge rusher with moments of spectacular dip around the edge and a nice inside counter off his speed and bull rushes.
In 2018, he had eight sacks and 11 tackles for loss and followed that with 8.5 sacks and 10 tackles for loss in his senior season for the Volunteers. As a premier, four-star recruit in the class of 2015, Taylor has the inherent athletic traits scouts love. Most 6-4, 267-pound edge rushers can't dip and tightly wrap the corner. While he's not incredibly consistent with his displays of exceptional athleticism or hand use, he has those elements to his game.
But after the season, Taylor revealed he played all of his senior campaign with a stress fracture in his shine, a remarkable indication of his toughness but an injury that kept him out of the Senior Bowl and from participating in the on-field drills at the combine.
Taylor's injury isn't majorly serious, but teams will be eager to see where he is in his recovery process before feeling comfortable selecting him relatively early in the draft.
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