The 2020 NFL Draft is filled with big-name players on the offensive side of the ball. Three quarterbacks will likely go within the top 10.
Four offensive linemen will be among those selected early on Thursday. Heck, multiple receivers will go within the first half of Day 1.
Though, there’s a ton of gems to be had in what promises to be a deep class at multiple positions. From a former five-star recruit to a quarterback set to transition to running back, here’s a look at five hidden gems on the offensive side of the ball heading into the draft.
Cam Akers, running back, Florida State
A former five-star recruit out of Mississippi, Akers never really lived up to those lofty expectations with the Seminoles. He shared duties in the backfield over the course of his first two seasons in Tallahassee before taking off big time as a junior. Akers recorded 1,369 total yards and 18 touchdowns on 261 touches for a team that lacked a competent passing game and offensive line.
The NFL Draft is all about recency bias. Last season’s success coupled with a bulky 5-foot-10, 217-pound frame should have Akers on the radar of teams in the mid rounds. He boasts a strong physical frame and is hard to bring down at the point of contact. It doesn’t hurt that Akers is also a capable receiver and has done well in pass protection. He will be a steal come draft time.
James Morgan, quarterback, Florida International
A small-school product from Wisconsin, the 6-foot-4 Morgan has received surprising interest from multiple NFL teams in the lead up to the draft. In fact, the Tennessee Titans are among the most bandied about as it relates to this underrated signal caller.
There’s good reason for this. We’re looking at your prototypical drop back quarterback who can make pretty much every throw on the football field. While accuracy on intermediate routes have been an issue, the flashes Morgan showed at FIU can’t be ignored. It’s why he’s receiving so much interest with the draft about a week away. At this point, I would not be surprised if he went ahead of a bigger-name quarterback in that of Jake Fromm when all is said and done. That’s how much Morgan is seemingly skyrocketing up the draft board.
Malcolm Perry, running back, Navy
It’s not too often that we see quarterbacks from military football programs make the adjustment to another position in the NFL. The 5-foot-9, 186-pound Perry could be an exception to that rule. He displayed brilliance on the ground for the Midshipmen over the past three seasons, accumulating nearly 5,000 total yards and 42 touchdowns in the process.
While there’s an open question about whether Perry fits in at the NFL level as a receiver or running back, he’s simply a play maker. Teams could use him out of the slot and in the backfield. He could be utilized in option packages, too. An athlete of this ability will not make it out of the draft without being selected. And if he lands with an innovative play caller, watch the heck out.
Saahdiq Charles, offensive tackle, LSU
Everything is there for Charles to have success at the next level. His 6-foot-4, 321-pound frame coupled with tremendous athleticism makes Charles a perfect fit in modern zone-blocking systems. He can get to the second level on a block in a blink of an eye and already boasts plus-level awareness.
So, why isn’t Charles being considered one of the top tackle prospects heading into the draft? It’s simple. He needs to add more muscle to the frame and has been throw off at the point of contact too often. Limited only to tackle early in his career, Charles will take some time to make those adjustments. Once he does, the former Tigers star could end up being a franchise book end or a tremendous gard.
Antonio Gibson, running back/wide receiver, Memphis
The 6-foot Gibson dazzled onlookers with a 4.39 40-yard dash and 35-inch vertical jump during the NFL Scouting Combine. This has the receiver on the radar of teams despite a lack of overall production in college. After all, Gibson caught just 44 passes for 834 yards in two seasons with Memphis.
With that said, there’s so much intrigue when it comes to this prospect. He can play both running back (369 yards last season) and wide receiver. Gibson can line up on the outside and in the slot, too. He also excelled as a kick returner in college. While I won’t go as far to compare him to someone of Tyreek Hill’s ilk, there’s a lot to like about this kid as a mid-round pick.