2020 NFL Draft sleepers: Day 2 standouts, Day 3 hidden gems


Serious contributors can be found in every round of the NFL draft. With the help of data, we can improve the accuracy in finding them.

In our third and final installment of this Next Gen Stats exploration of the 2020 NFL Draft class, we roll past the can’t-miss guys and high-risk prospects, and move on to the sleepers. This time, we combine Daniel Jeremiah’s Top 150 big board and the results of the Next Gen Stats NFL Draft Model to identify starter-caliber talent to target on Friday and Saturday of this week’s event.

Below are the Day 2 standouts and Day 3 hidden gems with the best chance of becoming starters at the NFL level.

NOTE: We do not currently have a model to predict pro success for offensive linemen.




Jonathan Taylor, RB

School: Wisconsin | Year: Junior
DJ’s Big Board Ranking: No. 35
Production Score: 98
Athleticism Score: 96

When it comes to quantifying athleticism and production, Taylor has a similar profile to recent first-round running backs. Taylor’s overall draft score of 98 ranks behind only Saquon Barkley (99) among running backs since 2016. ( Ezekiel Elliott and Christian McCaffrey also boasted a 98.) The back-to-back Doak Walker Award winner (college football’s most outstanding running back) produced in all three seasons at Wisconsin (98 production score) and has the size/athleticism profile (226 pounds, 96 athleticism score) scouts look for at the position. Though, as NFL clubs become more averse to using premium capital on running backs, we will continue to see fewer RBs taken in the first round. Ten years ago, Jonathan Taylor likely would’ve been a top-10 pick. In 2020, he might end up as a second-rounder with a high floor.



Reggie Robinson II, CB

School: Tulsa | Year: Senior (RS)
DJ’s Big Board Ranking: 84
Production Score: 79
Athleticism Score: 93

This Tulsa product has the physical traits you look for in a cornerback, when it comes to size, speed and length. Robinson (6-foot-1, 205 pounds) ran a 4.44 40-yard dash, leaped 11-feet in the broad jump and put up 22 reps in the bench press. His performance at the combine earned him an athleticism score of 93 according to the NGS model (fourth among the 2020 cornerbacks), and his production at Tulsa as a four-year starter was good enough for a 79 production score. His 89 overall draft score was the highest of any cornerback from this year’s class. Robinson offers strong value on Day 2, especially if he makes it to the later part of the third round.



Cam Akers, RB

School: Florida State | Year: Junior
DJ’s Big Board Ranking: 55
Production Score: 86
Athleticism Score: 85

Akers meets all of the key position thresholds when it comes to size, speed and production. At 5-foot-10, 217 pounds, Akers ran a 4.47 40 (with a 1.52 10-yard split) and vaulted 10-feet-2 inches in the broad jump, good for an athleticism score of 85. The former five-star recruit was productive in all three seasons at Florida State (86 production score), breaking Dalvin Cook’s FSU freshman rushing record with 1,025 yards in 2017 and notching 18 total touchdowns this past fall. Akers’ overall score in the NGS draft model (86) trails only Cook (87) among Florida State running backs to enter the draft since 2003. A projected Day 2 pick, Akers has the tools to contribute early in his pro career.



Justin Madubuike, DL

School: Texas A&M | Year: Junior (RS)
DJ’s Big Board Ranking: 45
Production Score: 76
Athleticism Score: 96

As teams look to get more athletic along the defensive front, Madubuike will be an enticing pick in the second round. Checking in at 6-3, 293 pounds with 33 1/2-inch arms, Madubuike recorded a 4.83 40-yard dash, 7.37 three-cone drill (fastest by a DT over the last two drafts) and 31 bench reps, contributing to an athleticism score of 96. Madubuike, who aligned all over the Aggies’ defensive line, offers position versatility at the next level, and has the athleticism to pull it off. A highly coveted recruit out of high school, Madubuike never surpassed more than 5.5 sacks in two seasons as a starter, but did have a greater impact against the run.



Denzel Mims, WR

School: Baylor | Year: Senior
DJ’s Big Board Ranking: No. 46
Production Score: 70
Athleticism Score: 99

In one of the deepest wide receiver classes in recent memory, Denzel Mims is a name to watch early in the second round — if he’s not taken in the first. Ranked as Jeremiah’s 46th overall player, Mims offers a unique blend of size, speed, quickness and length, earning a maximum 99 athleticism score from the NGS model. At 6-3, 207 pounds with 33 7/8-inch arms, Mims blazed a 4.38 40, while posting premium figures in the vertical leap (38 1/2 inches) and the broad jump (10 feet, 11 inches). Even more impressive: His 6.66 three-cone, which was the best mark at this year’s combine. Mims scored eight-plus touchdowns in each of his three seasons as a starter (70 production score). The depth of this wideout crop will push enticing prospects further down the board than their talent would typically suggest. In the second round, Mims would be a great value pick to a WR-needy team.

More Day 2 names to know: Jordan Brooks, LB, Texas Tech; Jeremy Chinn, S, Southern Illinois; Chase Claypool, WR, Notre Dame; Kyle Dugger, S, Lenoir-Rhyne; Willie Gay Jr., LB, Mississippi State; John Reid, CB, Penn State; Logan Wilson, LB, Wyoming.




Albert Okwuegbunam, TE

School: Missouri | Year: Junior (RS)
DJ’s Big Board Ranking: 147
Production Score: 94
Athleticism Score: 99

Listed as the No. 147 overall prospect on DJ’s final big board, "Albert O" actually boasts a 99 overall draft score relative to historical tight ends, based on his combination of size, speed and production. The 6-5, 258-pounder (89 size score) ran a 4.49 40, fastest among 2020 tight ends and fifth-fastest at the position since 2003. Okwuegbunam was also the only tight end in the FBS with six-plus receiving touchdowns in each of the last three seasons. He joins Evan Engram, Coby Fleener and Noah Fant as the only tight ends to finish with a 99 overall draft score among combine participants since 2003. If Albert O makes it to Day 3, he could be one of the bigger steals of the 2020 draft class.



Kenny Willekes, Edge

School: Michigan State | Year: Senior (RS)
DJ’s Big Board Ranking: Unranked
Production Score: 88
Athleticism Score: 81

A three-year starter (and former walk-on) at Michigan State, Willekes accumulated 26 sacks (third-most in MSU history) and 51 tackles for loss (most in school history). Willekes finished with 70-plus tackles and seven-plus sacks in all three seasons as a starter (88 production score). The 6-3, 264-pounder ran an average 40 at the combine (4.87), while excelling in the 10-yard split (1.69), broad jump (9 feet, 11 inches) and bench press (32 reps). Willekes will have to overcome arm-length deficiency (31 1/4 inches) and durability concerns (broken fibula in 2018), but has the tools and past production to warrant a flier in the later rounds.



K’Von Wallace, S

School: Clemson | Year: Senior
DJ’s Big Board Ranking: 124
Production Score: 78
Athleticism Score: 96

In this year’s safety class, Wallace is tied for second in the NGS production score (78) and ranks third in the NGS athleticism score (96), giving him an 84 overall draft score — tied for first among all safeties with Grant Delpit. His high athleticism score goes beyond the above-average 40 (4.53 at 206 pounds) — Wallace showed off explosive athletic traits (11-1 in the broad jump, 38 inches in the vertical leap) and quickness (4.15 short shuttle, 6.76 three-cone) in the most important combine drills for safeties. Over his four-year career at Clemson, Wallace played in 59 games (tied for most in school history) and started 36. The former high school track star offers high-upside athleticism as an early Day 3 pick.



Khalil Davis, DT

School: Nebraska | Year: Senior (RS)
DJ’s Big Board Ranking: Unranked
Production Score: 66
Athleticism Score: 99

With his rare athletic profile, Davis is the kind of late-round pick you take a chance on. He ran a 4.75 40 at 308 pounds and logged 32 bench reps, giving him a 99 athleticism score relative to historical defensive tackles. Concerns over his production at Nebraska are valid — he started in just 11 games over four seasons, though he did make an impact off the bench as a junior in 2018. His team-high eight sacks last season offers a glimpse of Davis’ upside, but his lack of consistent statistical output gives him a production score of 66. Khalil’s twin brother, Carlos, is also in this year’s class, and also shined at February’s combine (97 athleticism score, second-best among DTs).



Jabari Zuniga, Edge

School: Florida | Year: Senior (RS)
DJ’s Big Board Ranking: 127
Production Score: 69
Athleticism Score: 93

Zuniga was a combine standout in the D-line class, running a 4.64 40 (second-fastest among edge rushers) and 1.61 10-yard split (fastest) at 264 pounds. His 93 athleticism score ranks first among edge rushers who participated at February’s combine. After leading the Gators in sacks as a redshirt freshman (five in 2016), Zuniga missed time as a sophomore and over half of his senior season with a nagging ankle injury. Whether Zuniga has reached his full potential is unclear — the former high school basketball star did not play football until his junior year.

More Day 3 names to know: Tyler Johnson, WR, Minnesota; James Lynch, Edge, Baylor; Donovan Peoples-Jones, WR, Michigan; L’Jarius Sneed, CB, Louisiana Tech; Kindle Vildor, CB, Georgia Southern.

Follow Mike Band on Twitter @MBandNFL.

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