5 NFL Draft prospects who will be taken earlier than expected

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The 2020 NFL Draft is filled with big-name players on both sides of the ball. We’ve read stories about the top quarterbacks and wide receivers on a near never-ending loop. It’s a deep draft at those positions.

Though, there are a lot of lesser-known players flying under the radar. Could a certain Notre Dame pass catcher find himself as a first-round pick? What about a small-school linebacker from Wyoming?

It’s in this that we look at five prospects heading into the 2020 NFL Draft who will be taken earlier than expected.

Cole Kmet, tight end, Notre Dame

For most experts, it’s between Kmet and former Dayton star Adam Trautman as the top tight end in what is a weak class at this position. Most recently, Kmet has started to get some late first-round play.

The 6-foot-6, 252-pound pass catcher poses a tremendous amount of matchup problems in the passing game. He has the size to work smaller defensive backs and has surprisingly solid speed for someone with such a big build. It could very well lead to a team exhausting a top-40 pick on Kmet, especially with the drop off at tight end in the middle rounds.

Logan Wilson, linebacker, Wyoming

An extremely productive three-down backer for the Cowboys over the past four seasons, Wilson’s name is starting to be bandied about as a potential Day 1 pick. Despite playing against less-than-stellar competition in college, this makes a lot of sense.

Wilson (6-foot-2, 241 pounds) recorded 105 tackles, eight tackles for loss and four interceptions a season ago. He’s seen as a sideline-to-sideline linebacker with plus-level coverage skills. That’s what teams look for in a modern linebacker. It could also have him drafted much higher than most of us anticipate.

Isaiah Wilson, offensive tackle, Georgia

Left tackle Andrew Thomas has received a ton of play as a potential top-10 pick heading into the draft. Given that he did a tremendous job protecting Jake Fromm’s blindside against elite SEC competition, this makes sense.

Though, Wilson is now being talked about as a likely top-32 pick. The dude is a massive mauler at 6-foot-6 and 350 pounds. While he’s solely limited to the right side at tackle, there’s positional flexibility. He has the strength to play inside as an immediate starter out of the gate. That’s only going to help Wilson’s draft stock once Round 1 comes calling Thursday night.

Damon Arnette, cornerback, Ohio State

Heading into the 2019 college football season, most of the talk in Columbus surrounded what Arnette brings to the table. That has changed over the course of the past several months with former Ohio State teammate Jeff Okudah now being seen as the consensus No. 1 corner in the draft.

In no way should this lead us to believe Arnette is going to fall come draft day. Boasting NFL size at 6-foot and with an ability to play both on the outside and in the slot, Arnette is not a scheme-specific player. He already possesses plus-level ball skills and has excelled in press coverage. It could lead to the former Buckeyes star hearing his name called some time early in the second round.

Justin Jefferson, wide receiver, LSU

In no particular order, former Alabama teammates Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs join Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb as the top-three receivers in the class. Though, this position is absolutely stacked this year. As many as a half dozen pass catchers could go in the first round.

A near lock to be a Day 1 selection after a dominating performance for LSU last season, Jefferson is now getting some play as a potential top-12 pick. He recorded north of 1,700 receiving yards a season ago and is already an elite-level route runner with a huge catch radius. Whether it’s a team like the Raiders picking at 12 or another squad moving up, Jefferson will not make it past the initial half of the first round.