By MARQUES EVERSOLL
Everyone knows about the top players in the draft. Joe Burrow is the best quarterback prospect in a long time, arguably since Andrew Luck, and he’s going to be the No. 1 pick — deservedly so. Chase Young will be a game-wrecker as a pass rusher immediately as a rookie. The class of wide receivers is as deep as its been since 2014.
But every year, there is a handful of prospects that I like more than others. I call them “my guys.”
Last year, it turns out the Detroit Lions liked “my guy” T.J. Hockenson just as much as I did, as they picked him with the No. 8 overall pick. Deebo Samuel was one of “my guys,” and it looks like the 49ers got a steal in Samuel with pick No. 36 in the second round. My sleeper was Utah State running back Darwin Thompson, who landed with the Chiefs and looks like he may have a nice career.
Note: If you want to know “my guy” at No. 30, then the No. 1 name on my list is LSU wide receiver Justin Jefferson. Until he’s off the board, he’s my best-case scenario.
- Devin Duvernay, WR, Texas
Duvernay is an extremely productive slot receiver, and is projected to come off the board at some point in the fourth round. If it were up to me, I’d be comfortable taking Duvernay on Day 2 because I’d feel confident that I know what I’m getting: a contributor in the slot as soon as he walks into the building. While most slot receivers tend to be “quicker than fast,” Duvernay may be the opposite, according to CBS Sports NFL Draft analyst Chris Trapasso. Duvernay, a track star, clocked a blazing 4.39 in the 40-yard dash at the combine, but his 3-cone drill time of 7.1 was only average. Some team is going to be very pleased with the value they get in Duvernay.
- Jordan Love, QB, Utah State
I believe in Jordan Love — if he lands in the right situation. If a team picks Love, and throws him to the wolves right away, he may be destined to fail. If a team picks Love, and can afford to have him sit and learn for a while, he could reach his ceiling one day. He’s a good athlete, he’s got a cannon for a right arm, and although his numbers took a big step back in 2019, he certainly showed he had the “It Factor” during the 2018 season at Utah State when he threw 32 touchdown to just six picks. I’m not saying the Packers need to draft a quarterback. I do, however, think this is a perfect fit. (Love with the Packers, and the Packers with Love.)
- Darrynton Evans, RB, Appalachian State
This year’s running back class is really good at the top. Pick your flavor: DeAndre Swift, J.K. Dobbins, Jonathan Taylor or Clyde Edwards-Helaire, there’s a little something for everyone. Plenty of starting-caliber talent will come off the board on the second day of the draft, including Appalachian State’s Darrynton Evans — a projected third-round pick. Running backs can be found at any point in the draft, and I think Evans has the complete game and top-notch athleticism to become a starter sooner than later. Look for Evans to be a backup as a rookie, who will flash when he gets a chance before claiming the starting job outright.
- Ben Bartch, OT, St. John’s (MN)
Being selected in the first three rounds ain’t bad for a D3 guy. Bartch began his college career as a tight end, where he played his first two seasons at the college level. He transitioned to offensive tackle as a junior, and now two years later, he finds himself on the doorstep of the NFL. For a team who likes its linemen to be athletic enough to get out in space, Bartch is a perfect fit, although he’ll certainly have a tough transition from D3 in college to the National Football League. He could start as a right tackle as a rookie.
- Laviska Shenault, WR, Colorado
Not breaking news. Here’s the deal: Laviska Shenault is a stud on the football field. Put him with a competent coaching staff, and he’ll be Deebo Samuel 2.0 immediately as a rookie. Obviously, the red flag is that he’s not always on the field, and underwent surgery on his groin shortly after the combine. With the current climate surrounding COVID-19, Shenault’s stock will likely suffer, and it could push him down to the second round. As far as talent goes, Shenault would be a Top 5 receiver in this class. With the uncertainty around his health, teams could opt to simply take someone else and avoid Shenault’s medical issues altogether. If he falls to the second round, he could be the steal of the draft. He can do it all. He’s going to need a coaching staff to figure out how to use him. For the Packers sake, I would be comfortable taking him at No. 30 because I believe in the talent. The absolute “dream scenario” would be the Packers finding a way to land Sheanult in the second round. (Wake me up.)