2020 NFL Draft Stock Watch: Jalen Hurts, Anthony McFarland impress

NCAA Football, NFL Draft

The 2020 NFL Draft quarterback race continues to heat up with Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts off to a hot start in 2019.

After the 2019 NFL Draft finished, and analysts started to look toward the 2020 NFL Draft, the focus was on the quarterback class. Everyone talked about Tua Tagovailoa, Justin Herbert, and Jake Fromm as the top group back in the summer.

Since then, more names have emerged. We’ve talked about Jordan Love a lot here at FanSided, and Jacob Eason has had a lot of attention too. Last week on stock watch we talked about the emergence of Joe Burrow.

This week, we will focus on a couple more quarterbacks, a couple of skill position, and an edge rusher who has disappointed thus far.

Stock Up: Jalen Hurts, QB, Oklahoma

Here we go. The Jalen Hurts transfer was the top story of the college football offseason, and everyone was wondering how he would do under Lincoln Riley, and by week 4, he’s in the lead in the Heisman conversation. As far as his ability at the next level, the issue with Hurts at Alabama was his tendency to drop his eyes to the rush and take off after the first read wasn’t there. No one really saw an effective passer in Hurts while he was with the Crimson Tide, other than making reads in the quick passing game and finding busted coverages.

This year is different. Riley has given Hurts a great scheme for him to succeed, both as a passer and a runner. He looks a lot more confident in the pocket than he did at Alabama, and he looks better processing after the snap. Is he firmly in the top quarterback conversation yet? No. However, he is much more improved right now, and when you add in his effectiveness and vision as a runner, make sure to keep him on your watch list.

Stock Down: Cole McDonald, QB, Hawai’i

Of the smaller school quarterbacks, Cole McDonald was up there in summer hype with Love and Mason Fine. The arm talent to every level of the field impressed many analysts, and he could make some plays outside of the pocket.

A lot of analysts nowadays like when young quarterbacks take some chances to make plays, and when you’re developing, bad things are going to happen sometimes, and other times you’ll make a great play. However, there is a difference between taking some chances and making wild decisions that result in easy turnovers. McDonald has thrown eight interceptions in three games so far this season, four of which were in his first game against Arizona, where he was benched late in the game. He needs to be smarter with the football going forward.

Stock Up: Anthony McFarland, RB, Maryland

The running back class continues to grow in potential. Of course, it’s likely that some underclassmen will go back to school. Anthony McFarland could be one that returns, but his stock for the 2020 NFL Draft is going up. The first thing that comes to mind when talking about McFarland is his home run ability in the open space. He will erase angles from safeties on the back end and has about the same juice as Travis Etienne. McFarland also is great at making defenders miss in open space as well as in tight between the tackles. He can plant, stop on a dime, and get right back up to speed to get a big gain. While he might not become an every-down back at the next level, there will be space on rosters for the skill he has.

Stock Down: Julian Okwara, EDGE, Notre Dame

The edge class wasn’t as talked about for 2020 as the quarterback, running back and wide receiver positions, but there will still players with plenty of expectation at the top. One of those players coming into the season was Notre Dame’s Julian Okwara. He had a great first step and enough bend to win on the edge as a speed rusher. With eight sacks in 2018, big things were expected for him this season and so far it hasn’t been good. Okwara has one sack in two games thus far and hasn’t put a ton of pressure on the quarterback against Louisville and New Mexico. Those are teams he should dominate. He has dropped below a lot of edge rushers so far this season. If he has a good game against Georgia on Saturday night, he can get back in the right direction.

Stock Up: Tyler Johnson, WR, Minnesota

Talk about a dominant performance. Tyler Johnson finally got his breakout game in 2019, tallying 10 catches for 140 yards and three touchdowns. What was great to see is that each touchdown showed a different part of Johnson’s game. His first touchdown was a slant route that he took 73 yards to the house, showing more speed than I believed he had. Next up was a touchdown in the red zone where he separated easily with a great release a couple of yards off the line. His final touchdown came in the final seconds of the game, where he fought for the ball in a contested fade. An all-around game like that, showing how he can win in different ways, will really impress scouts and teams.

Next: Big Board: Top 50 NFL Draft prospects

Products You May Like

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *