Pete Prisco’s 2020 NFL Draft Better-Than Team: 20 guys I like more than the scouts do

Auburn cornerback Noah Igbinoghene was a track star. That means he can run, which NFL teams will love.

But, usually, players making the track conversion to football aren’t as tough as you would like. That isn’t the case with Igbinoghene.

He is plenty tough.

For a player who can run a 4.4 40, he is much more than a willing tackler. He will throw his body around, which NFL teams will love. That surprised me when I watched his tape, expecting to see a cover player who played a lot of press-man for the Tigers, but one lacking a willingness to tackle.

As it turns it out, Igbinoghene is a well-rounded corner who is a heck of athlete. Yes, he’s raw and does need some seasoning since he just started playing corner in 2018, but the tools are there.

That’s why he is this year’s captain of my annual Better-Than team, a group of 20 players I like more than most scouts.

This team has been a passion of mine for over a decade now, and I can claim many big-time hits on it. It’s usually a group made up of potential late first-round picks on down to late-round picks. 

Being the captain is a good thing for Igbinoghene. Among those captains from the past are Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Lavonte David, Atlanta Falcons defensive tackle Grady Jarrett and San Francisco 49ers safety Jimmie Ward. There have been a few misses among the captains, including quarterback Christian Ponder and safety Sean Davis, but it’s usually a good spot to be for a player heading into the draft.

Just making the team is a good thing – at least I think it is. In addition to the names above, some other players on my teams from recent years are 49ers tight end George Kittle, Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott, Jaguars pass rusher Yannick Ngakoue, Falcons linebacker Deion Jones, Bills receiver Stefon Diggs and Colts running back Marlon Mack. 

So take a look and then print and save it. In about three years, we will get an idea if I hit big on some of these players – or if they go the way of Ponder and others. 

Ashtyn Davis, S, Cal

The NFL has put a big premium on safeties who can run. Davis is that guy. He can cover a lot of ground on the back end with speed that enabled him to compete on the Cal track team. He is a bit raw, and he tends to go for the big hit too much, but he has the tools to become a Pro Bowl safety. He did have some injury issues that are concerning – he had a core muscle injury that required surgery – but he is expected to be ready to go for the season. 

James Proche, WR, SMU 

He is a little older at the age of 23, but he’s caught a lot of passes in his career. He won’t win with his speed, but he is a crafty route runner who can be a good slot receiver. With the passing game being what it is now, a productive college receiver can step in and help right away. 

Cam Akers, RB, Florida State 

He’s a tough, physical runner who played behind some bad offensive lines with the Seminoles. He is a compact runner who can also make people miss. His best football is in front of him, and he could end up being the best back in this class.

Joshua Kelly, RB, UCLA

At 5-10, 220 pounds, he is a power back who was productive the past two years for UCLA after transferring from UC-Davis. He isn’t going to wow people with his athletic ability, but he is a chain mover. He is a player who really impressed on tape, and might go higher than expected. 

Kenny Willekes, DT, Michigan State 

At 6-4, 255 pounds, Willekes is a prototype 4-3 end. He isn’t explosive as a pass rusher, but he knows what it takes to win at the point. He plays with a relentless style that helps him compensate for not being a pure speed rusher. Could be a mid-round steal like Oakland’s Maxx Crosby last year. 

Terrell Lewis, DE, Alabama 

When you watch Lewis on tape, there is a lot to like. The problem is that there isn’t a lot of tape. He was bothered by injuries at Alabama, including a torn ACL in 2018, but he came back and played well last year for the Tide. He is long and lean, and needs to add some bulk, but he has that first step that coaches love. 

Devin Duvernay, WR, Texas 

He is a slot receiver who can fly. There is great value in that. At 5-10, he might not be able to move outside consistently, but he can run, especially when it comes to play speed. He is a solidly built player in the Tyreek Hill mold, but one who isn’t quite as fast. But he has the speed to win on the next level. 

Troy Dye, LB, Oregon

He is 6-3, 230 pounds and he can really run. That shows up on his tape. He isn’t as strong as he needs to be, but he might be the poor man’s version of Clemson’s Isaiah Simmons, a player who can run and cover but doesn’t have a ton of bulk to handle the constant pounding of an NFL run game. Dye did have some injury issues – playing with a broken thumb last year and missing combine workouts because of a knee injury – but he’s a prototype weakside linebacker. 

Van Jefferson, WR, Florida 

The son of New York Jets receiver coach Shawn Jefferson, a longtime NFL player, Van Jefferson plays like the son of a coach. He is a top route runner, capable of getting open even if he doesn’t have burning speed. Wasn’t able to work out at the combine because of a foot injury forced him to miss it. But his tape is impressive, even against top corners. 

Jason Strowbridge DE, North Carolina

I always like to look for later-in-the-draft defensive linemen and Strowbridge is one of those guys. He went to North Carolina as a big recruit from South Florida, but didn’t quite play up to the hype. Even so, the talent is there. He will be tweener lineman on the next level, capable of playing end and sliding inside in pass-rush situations. If he adds some lower-body bulk, he could play inside full time since he has the frame for it. 

Damon Arnette, CB, Ohio State 

He is the “other” corner at Ohio State with Jeff Okudah the best of this corner class. But Arnette is a good cover player as well who would excel in a man-cover system. At 6-foot, 195 pounds, he isn’t a big corner but he will battle the bigger receivers. He can sometimes get a little grabby. Started three years for the Buckeyes.

Saahdiq Charles, T, LSU 

When watching the LSU offense, this is a player who kept popping off the tape to me. He is a smaller left tackle, but he has gained some weight and is said to be up to 310 pounds. He is athletic and tough and plays to the whistle. He does have character concerns after being suspended for six games last year. But he’s going to be a good NFL player if he can stay clear of trouble. Looks like he could also slide inside to guard.

Antonio Gibson, RB, Memphis

What is he, a running back or receiver? He can play both and I think he’s a running back on the next level. His versatility is perfect for the NFL game. He will be a dual-threat back who has big-time speed. What’s not to like? 

Logan Wilson, LB, Wyoming 

Wilson is one of those guys who just shows up on tape. He isn’t overly fast, but this former receiver developed into a tackling machine at Wyoming. He does a really nice job in pass coverage, getting four picks last year, including one off a tip for a touchdown against Jordan Love. He will be a standout special-teams player early in his career, and then become a quality starting linebacker. 

Albert Okwuegbunam, TE, Missouri 

When you watched Missouri play last season, Okwuegbunam stood out as a physical specimen. Yet the production wasn’t there. He is long and looks the part and he can run with a 40 under 4.5. If he gets with the right team, he will be a big-time tight end on the next level. The talent is there. Like many good ones, he has a basketball background. 

McTelvin Agim, DT, Arkansas 

He was a name scouts started talking up in recent weeks to me, a player who stood out on a terrible defense. After watching him on tape, I was impressed. He’s a big, physical player who can also push the pocket. He was doubled a lot at Arkansas, but he handled it with his strength a lot of the time. He will be a third- or fourth-round pick who will become a good starter in the league.

Colby Parkinson,TE, Stanford

I like tight ends with a basketball background and Parkinson also has it. He is a tall tight end at 6-7 and 252 pounds. He is a good athlete who can run and will be able to separate on the next level. Won’t be a power blocker, but gives the effort. 

Isaiah Wilson, T, Georgia 

He is the “other” tackle from Georgia, with left tackle Andrew Thomas getting all the attention. But don’t sleep on this kid. He is a massive man at 6-6, 349 pounds, who can road-grade in the run game. He’s also improved greatly in pass protection. He has the look of a prototypical right tackle in the NFL.

Matt Hennessy, C, Temple 

It looks like Cesar Ruiz, the center from Michigan, will be the first center off the board. But don’t sleep on Hennessy. He is a taller center at 6-4 and weighs 305 pounds, but he does need to get a little stronger. Even so, he is a guy who should be off the board in the second round and will become a long-time NFL starter. 

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