We all know freshmen can’t enter the NFL draft. And with good reason. With the exceptions of once-in-a-generation prospects like Adrian Peterson, football players usually need at least three seasons to get ready for the physical maturity and speed of the game seen in the pros.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t have some fun here. And with talk that Clemson phenom QB Trevor Lawrence could have been among the top players taken in last night’s NFL draft had he been eligible, let’s take a look at eight prospects in the 2020 class who could further fuel this debate once their freshman seasons conclude.
RB Zach Evans
Evans tops this list due to a mix of measurables and physical prowess. As an underclassman, he has clocked in at a laser-timed 4.51 in the 40-yard dash and a blazing 3.84 short-shuttle time. He has a blend of height and power. Already 200 pounds and 6 feet tall, Evans possesses big hands — 10.25 inches, to be exact. If we project him from the fall of his true freshman year to the spring draft of 2021, we believe he’ll time in the 4.4s and likely will have added 10-plus pounds and further developed his ball skills. His stature would give him the best chance of holding up if projected as a one-and-done.
ESPN Junior 300 rank: 1; RB rank: 1
LB Justin Flowe
The NFL is a huge step up in strength and physicality, but a linebacker with the athleticism and physical mentality of Flowe could stand up to the rigors of pro football at a young age. At nearly 6-foot-2, 225 pounds with long arms and excellent lateral agility for his size and age, Flowe has a rare combination of size, strength and power to go with strong, 9.5-inch hands to help bring down ball carriers. There is also a special-teams role Flowe could play.
ESPN Junior 300 rank: 6; OLB rank: 1