The 2020 NFL Draft is over 250 days away, but it’s never too early to begin preparing. This summer to prepare you for both the NFL Draft and college football season, the Armchair Scout column will be putting out 2020 NFL Draft preseason all-conference teams. These teams are purely from an NFL Draft aspect and will only include draft-eligible players. On top of that, they’ll be running alongside Armchair’s NFL Draft podcast, Seven Rounds in Heaven, and their “Summer Scouting Series” episodes. Those episodes are going conference by conference and looking at the top 2020 NFL Draft prospects. Find the Big 12 all-NFL Draft team here, the Pac-12 all-NFL Draft team here, and the Group of 5 all-NFL Draft team here.
The Big Ten hasn’t been represented in the College Football Playoff since 2016 when Ohio State got drummed 31-0 by Clemson. 2019 could be their redemption year with both Ohio State and Michigan as hot contenders and Penn State, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Nebraska joining them as Top 25 teams. CFB Playoff or not, the Big Ten will be well represented in the 2020 NFL Draft. The conference is loaded this year with top tier running backs, senior wide receivers, an elite offensive tackle, and the two best pass rushers in the country. These are the 2020 NFL Draft prospects to pay attention to this college football season in the Big Ten!
QB- Brian Lewerke, Michigan State, RS Sr (6-2, 215)
- The Big Ten has no clear sure-fire NFL prospect at QB, but many familiar names. The most talented of the QBs is Brian Lewerke. One big question with Lewerke is will we get the 2017 version of him or the 2018 version of him this year? In 2017 Lewerke showed the tools of a future first-round QB with his arm talent, knack for making plays when the pocket broke down, and natural passing instincts. In 2018 while dealing with injuries, Lewerke was sloppy with turnovers, consistently inaccurate, and lacked poise. He has NFL tools, but as a senior, he needs to show he can play consistent football.
Second Team: Nathan Stanley, Iowa
Third Team: Shea Patterson, Michigan
RB- Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin, Jr (5-11, 219)
- Most years a running back like Jonathan Taylor would be the preseason NFL Draft RB1, but 2020 is loaded at the position. Even if he’s not the top RB in the country, he definitely is in the conference. Taylor is a physical runner who can pound between the tackles, but has the juice to break home runs. He’s a complete back in the run game and his combo of contact balance and athleticism screams NFL workhorse. If he can improve as a pass catcher and pass blocker the NFL is going to have a hard time letting him slide out of the first-round, even if RBs aren’t valuable that early.
Wisconsin RB Jonathan Taylor has a rare combo of size, physicality, and burst. Love his rugged style of play. The favorite to lead the country in rushing, he did in 2018. pic.twitter.com/BbXQLlnVmT
— Rob Paul (@RobPaulNFL) May 20, 2019
Second Team: Anthony McFarland Jr., Maryland
Third Team: Rodney Smith, Minnesota
RB- JK Dobbins, Ohio State, Jr (5-9, 217)
- Two years ago JK Dobbins was a freshman sensation and looked like a future top pick at RB. Last season he struggled with consistency and some have soured on him. Despite this, Dobbins tape is impressive and he should still be considered a top RB in the deep 2020 class. He’s a bowling ball with impressive vision and short-area quickness. Dobbins contact balance allows him to bounce off defenders on the inside and he has the smoothness to make defenders miss in the open field. In 2019 he’ll need to learn to run lower. Far too often he runs straight up and gets away with it due to his build, but that won’t fly in the NFL.
Second Team: Mekhi Sargent, Iowa
Third Team: Garrett Groshek, Wisconsin
AP- Reggie Corbin, Illinois, Sr (5-10, 200)
- Making the AP selection in the Big Ten was a tough task. There are a handful of dynamic receivers and runners who could be considered. The most important player to the Illinois football team, Reggie Corbin, takes the spot. Corbin is a boom or bust runner with plenty of burst and athleticism. He’s not going to be a bell cow in the NFL, but he’s got the tools to be an impressive satellite back. Corbin is slippery in the open field, has elite long speed, and the quickness to hit the hole fast. What really separates him is his natural hands in the passing game. This season he’ll need to do a better job of breaking arm tackles and improve his vision.
Second Team: KJ Hamler, Penn State
Third Team: JD Spielman, Nebraska
WR- Tyler Johnson, Minnesota, Sr (6-2, 200)
- The Draft Twitter community has been stanning Tyler Johnson for a long time now and rightfully so, he’s legit. It’s hard to find a better senior WR prospect in the country than Johnson. Had he declared for the 2019 NFL Draft he likely wouldn’t have gotten out of Day 2. So what makes Johnson so beloved? His release and his route running. Johnson is an elite route runner with a repertoire of releases to win off the line. Receivers like him are the ones who can almost immediately make an impact in the NFL. Not only is Johnson a nuanced route runner, but he’s one of the most consistent contested catcher receivers in the country. His body control allows him to win 50/50 balls despite not being a physically dominating player. If he can clean up concentration drops then he’ll be a first-round pick.
Tyler Johnson is going to be beloved by Draft Twitter for the 2020 NFL Draft. So nuanced with his release and route running + the YAC ability. pic.twitter.com/B13D2qqGN1
— Rob Paul (@RobPaulNFL) April 28, 2019
Second Team: Nico Collins, Michigan
Third Team: Cody White, Michigan State
WR- KJ Hill, Ohio State, RS Sr (6-0, 195)
- The 2020 NFL Draft is littered with rare talent at WR, but most are juniors. Johnson is the best senior pass catcher and despite less hype, KJ Hill is right behind him. Hill was overshadowed last season by Parris Campbell and Terry McLaurin, both top 100 picks in the 2019 NFL Draft. Now Hill is the man in Columbus. Hill is a crisp route runner with some of the safest hands in the country. He’s not a dynamic athlete, but he’s smooth and can win anywhere on the field with his route running. In the NFL his ability to play both outside or in the slot will be a huge bonus. There are few WR prospects as safe as Hill at this point in the process.
Second Team: Donovan Peoples-Jones, Michigan
Third Team: Tarik Black, Michigan
TE- Brycen Hopkins, Purdue, RS Sr (6-5, 245)
- The TE1 fight for the 2020 NFL Draft is going to be an ongoing and open battle all season. Brycen Hopkins is firmly in the race and thanks to Purdue’s improvements under Jeff Brohm, he’ll get more attention this season. Hopkins is an athletic field stretcher who can create mismatches down the seam. His size and athleticism give both linebackers and safeties a hard time. Hopkins also has an impressive catch radius to go with strong body control, allowing him to consistently win 50/50 balls. Seeing a more intermediate route tree this season could help his stock. He also needs to show improvements as a blocker.
Second Team: Jake Ferguson, Wisconsin
Third Team: Binjimen Victor, Ohio State (WR)
OT- Tristan Wirfs, Iowa, Jr (6-5, 320)
- Kirk Ferentz has been producing NFL offensive linemen at Iowa for years and he’s got another star in the making. Tristan Wirfs could be a top 10 pick and the first offensive tackle off the board in the 2020 NFL Draft. Wirfs was a dominating run blocker as a true sophomore last season and has plenty of fans. He’s got vice grips for hands and when he latches on he’s driving you down the field. Wirfs is a technician in the run game who uses his power, hand placement, and leverage to win. Despite being known as a physical run mauler he’s got impressive athleticism and it shows. He was #1 on Bruce Feldman’s Freaks List. Wirfs can get sloppy with his footwork at times in pass pro, it’s rarely taken advantage of because his anchor and recovery are so strong. Coaches will love him, he’s a true finisher.
Any 2020 NFL mock draft that doesn’t include Iowa right tackle Tristan Wirfs is lying to you. Drives the defender 10 yards and puts him in the dirt. pic.twitter.com/Ac1I7wR01f
— Rob Paul (@RobPaulNFL) April 29, 2019
Second Team: Coy Cronk, Indiana
Third Team: Matt Farniok, Nebraska
OT- Alaric Jackson, Iowa, RS Jr (6-6, 320)
- Although Wirfs will be getting the bulk of the attention, Iowa’s got another impressive lineman at left tackle in Alaric Jackson. Jackson isn’t the same technician as Wirfs, but he’s got NFL size, athleticism, and physicality. Jackson, like Wirfs, finishes every snap and looks to put defender sin the dirt. He’s a solid run blocker who regularly uses his movement skills to work up to the second level. With his length and athleticism, he’s got the tools to be a good pass blocker but he’s not there yet, he’s raw. His footwork is inconsistent and he needs to get stronger in his lower body to improve his anchor. Right now Jackson looks like an NFL offensive tackle, but he’s not a finished product and this season will be huge for his stock.
Second Team: Thayer Munford, Ohio State
Third Team: Brenden Jaimes, Nebraska
OG- Cole Van Lanen, Wisconsin (OT), RS Jr (6-5, 311)
- Sometimes you’ve got to cheat the positions on the list to talk about the best NFL Draft prospects. Is Cole Van Lanen a guard? No, but he’s one of the five best offensive line prospects in the Big Ten. There’s also a chance the NFL will view Van Lanen as a guard. After some spot starting for a strong offensive line full of upperclassmen last season, Van Lanen is finally going to be the left tackle for the Badgers in 2019. He’s what you’d expect a Wisconsin O-lineman to be, physical in the run game, finishing every snap, and lacking overall athleticism. It’s a projection right now, but Van Lanen’s ability to make plays in the run game on the second level should have the NFL thinking future top 100 pick.
Wisconsin left tackle Cole Van Lanen (#71) consistently blows D-linemen off the ball in the run game. Looks like he’ll be one of the best run blockers in the 2020 NFL Draft. pic.twitter.com/phe5IBwYLE
— Rob Paul (@RobPaulNFL) May 24, 2019
Second Team: Jon Runyan, Michigan
Third Team: Kevin Jarvis, Michigan State
OG- Cesar Ruiz, Michigan (C), Jr (6-3, 319)
- Again this is cheating position wise to talk about a prospect who needs to be talked about here. Cesar Ruiz is one of the best interior offensive linemen in the country. He’s flying under the radar right now because Tyler Biadasz and Creed Humphrey are first-round talents at center, but Ruiz is a plug-and-play NFL starter. Ruiz is the best player on Michigan right now and nobody is talking enough about him. He’s one of the best run blockers in the country and does a great job winning with leverage and power. Ruiz has the athleticism to play in a zone scheme too and gets off doubles to linebackers with the best of them. Footwork needs to be cleaned up to help his pass protection, but he’s a future NFL starter.
Second Team: Jonah Jackson, Ohio State
Third Team: Ben Bredeson, Michigan
C- Tyler Biadasz, Wisconsin, RS Jr (6-2, 315)
- Last season everybody was shocked when Tyler Biadasz elected to return to Wisconsin. He was the best offensive lineman on a team full of future NFL offensive lineman. Now, Biadasz has a chance to be a top 10 pick at center. There are few, if any, safer prospects in the 2020 NFL Draft. He’s an elite run blocker thanks to his impressive short-area quickness and football IQ. Biadasz can be a Pro Bowl center in a zone scheme and plays a lot like Jason Kelce. He does lack some size, but the power and physicality make up for it and like all Wisconsin linemen, he plays through the whistle. If Biadasz can add some strength, especially in the lower body, the sky is the limit.
Absolutely love Wisconsin center Tyler Biadasz (#61) and his movement skills. Down blocks the 1T then works out of the pile into the second level and puts a linebacker in the dirt. pic.twitter.com/q94QFY5IYN
— Rob Paul (@RobPaulNFL) May 9, 2019
Second Team: Steven Gonzalez, Penn State (OG)
Third Team: Michael Menet, Penn State
EDGE- AJ Epenesa, Iowa, Jr (6-4, 280)
- The biggest battle in the Big Ten this season might not be for a trip to the College Football Playoff, but rather for a chance to be the first defensive player selected in the 2020 NFL Draft. There’s going to be constant conversations all year, AJ Epenesa or Chase Young? Right now, Epenesa gets the edge. Now he might not be the same physical specimen as Young, but Epenesa is NFL-ready. He’s got the most violent hands in the country and already has a wide variety of pass rush moves. Epenesa is a sack artist, he doesn’t rely solely on athleticism or power, but he wins with his hands and can string together combo moves or counter moves. He also brings a fantastic motor and impressive strength to the field. Epenesa often wins in the run game thanks to his power at the point of attack and leverage.
Second Team: Carter Coughlin, Minnesota
Third Team: Kenny Willekes, Michigan State
IDL- Robert Landers, Ohio State, Sr (6-1, 285)
- There’s no out of this world interior defensive line talent in the Big Ten, all their studs are on the edge. Robert Landers isn’t going to get a ton of national attention early, but he’s got the tools to be a solid starter in today’s NFL. Landers played a lot of 1-Tech last season despite being a better fit at 3-Tech because Dre’Mont Jones was on the team. With Jones gone Landers should slide into 3T where his quickness and leverage will make him an instant playmaker. Landers is a good athlete with a motor but needs to make more disruptive plays this season to get some more NFL Draft hype behind his name. He’ll also need to improve his anchor to show he can hold up vs. the run despite lacking size.
Second Team: Khalil Davis, Nebraska
Third Team: Robert Windsor, Penn State
IDL- Raequan Williams, Michigan State, RS Sr (6-3, 300)
- There may not be a stud on the IDL in the Big Ten, but there’s depth and familiar names. Raequan Williams is probably the biggest name of the group and carries some of the best potential. Williams is an explosive athlete with the quickness to shoot gaps and make major plays. His issue right now is he plays too high and can get washed out in the run game. Williams needs to refine his technique as a senior to better take advantage of his athletic upside. He also needs to play with a pass rush plan, too often it seems he’s just trying to win with his initial power and then he’s got nothing. Williams has NFL tools, now he needs to put them to better use.
Second Team: Carlos Davis, Nebraska
Third Team: Lorenzo Neal, Purdue
EDGE- Chase Young, Ohio State, Jr (6-5, 265)
- If you want upside, Chase Young is just dripping with it, just look at the guy. His athleticism, size, and dominance are reminiscent of Jadeveon Clowney at South Carolina. Young is the smart bet for the first non-QB off the board in the 2020 NFL Draft. It’s clear on tape he’s got rare explosiveness for his size and can win off the line just by going speed to power. Despite the athleticism, he doesn’t rely solely on it to win as a pass rusher. Young uses his length and heavy hands to win with initial pass rush moves often but needs to develop a counter. In the run, game Young is powerful and understands how to set the edge and control gaps. He’s got the power, physicality, and motor to become an elite run defender on the edge in the NFL. Young is a freak of nature.
Chase Young with a nice and easy rip move for the strip sack. He’s already such a strong hand fighter as a pass rusher. Hard to see him not being a top 5 player in the 2020 NFL Draft. pic.twitter.com/iXV17wtN7e
— Rob Paul (@RobPaulNFL) June 6, 2019
Second Team: Yetur Gross-Matos, Penn State
Third Team: Mike Danna, Michigan
LB- Markus Bailey, Purdue, RS Jr (6-1, 235)
- The Big Ten is full of linebacker talent this season and the best one just might be a Purdue Boilermaker. The Markus Bailey hype is beginning to come alive and he could be a top 50 pick come April. Bailey isn’t an exceptional athlete, but he’s a football player and just knows how to play LB. His instincts are some of the best in the country and he’s always in the right place to make a play. Bailey is aggressive and a consistent tackler making him a top-end run defender. He also brings some pass-rush ability to the field making him one of the better off-ball blitzers in the class. The big question with him will be overall athleticism and ability to hold up in coverage.
Second Team: Blake Gallagher, Northwestern
Third Team: Derrick Barnes, Purdue
LB- Paddy Fisher, Northwestern, RS Jr (6-3, 241)
- After the 2017 season, Paddy Fisher looked like he had a good chance to be a future first-round pick. Then last season there was a drop-off in his play. He was missing tackles and struggling more in coverage. This season Fisher needs to get back to the tackling machine he was in 2017. He has impressive instincts and the motor and rage to be a sideline-to-sideline player, but he can’t be missing tackles this season. Fisher has the tools to be a day one starter at MIKE in the NFL, he just needs to play more consistent football. He’s proven he can be an enforcer in the run game when he’s making his tackles and this season seeing him improve in coverage would go a long way.
Second Team: Tuf Borland, Ohio State
Third Team: Joe Bachie, Michigan State
LB- Mohamed Barry, Nebraska, RS Sr (6-1, 230)
- There are a handful of bigger-name prospects at LB in the Big Ten than Mohamed Barry, but he’s being slept on majorly. This season with the excitement building around Nebraska’s football program, Barry will likely put his name on the map. He’s a twitchy and explosive LB who plays with his head on fire. NFL coaches will love his aggressive nature and non-stop motor. For him, his senior season needs to be about playing more technically sound football. Barry can get over-aggressive at times and miss tackles. He also needs to improve his instincts to become less of a boom or bust playmaker.
When Nebraska LB Mohamed Barry sees it, he hits it. Big fan of his aggressiveness and explosiveness vs the run. One of the top SR LBs in the 2020 NFL Draft. pic.twitter.com/WRgusy7Ie5
— Rob Paul (@RobPaulNFL) July 18, 2019
Second Team: Malik Harrison, Ohio State
Third Team: Isaiah Davis, Maryland
CB- Jeffrey Okudah, Ohio State, Jr (6-0, 200)
- Clearly, the Big Ten is loaded with NFL talent and athletic specimen this season and the best one just might be playing cornerback for Ohio State. Jeffrey Okudah is following in the footsteps of recent first-round Ohio State CBs Marshon Lattimore and Denzel Ward. Like Lattimore and Ward, Okudah is a gifted athlete. He moves effortlessly on the football field with impressive explosiveness and range. Okudah has the size, athleticism, ball skills to be the top CB in the country. In man coverage Okudah’s clean footwork allows him to mirror WRs with ease, although it would help if he were more aggressive in press. While in zone Okudah is at his best. He’s got a knack for reading the QBs eyes and making plays thanks to great instincts. If he continues on this trajectory, he could be a top 10 pick.
Ohio State CB Jeffrey Okudah should have a massive season. Love his ability in zone. Great closing speed to break on the ball. A name to watch for the 2020 NFL Draft. pic.twitter.com/MYmGw052UQ
— Rob Paul (@RobPaulNFL) May 3, 2019
Second Team: Dicaprio Bootle, Nebraska
Third Team: Matt Hankins, Iowa
NB- Josiah Scott, Michigan State, Jr (5-10, 171)
- It seems like Michigan State always has a worthwhile CB prospect. This season that guy is Josiah Scott. He’s young and undersized, but he’s their top CB and he’s got NFL tools. Scott is a smooth mover with loose hips and light feet. When asked to play off-coverage he’s shown the ability to react quickly and make plays. The worry with him is his size and physicality. He’s not much of a tackler and struggles in press due to a lack of strength. Playing a nickel role in the NFL will help hide some of the size questions while also taking advantage of his impressive lateral agility.
Second Team: Damon Arnette, Ohio State
Third Team: Eric Lee Jr., Nebraska
S- Antoine Winfield Jr., Minnesota, RS Jr (5-10, 205)
- If this name is familiar it’s because Antoine Winfield Sr. was one of the best nickel CBs in NFL history for the Bills and Vikings. His son, Antoine Winfield Jr., will play on Sunday’s too but isn’t yet a big-time prospect. Winfield Jr. is more of a nickel than he is a safety, but the Big Ten just doesn’t have a ton of safety talent. On the field, he’s feisty and physical in press and a willing run defender. Nobody will question his tackling and toughness, but he needs to improve his fluidity and footwork. Winfield Jr. isn’t a great athlete and needs to be a better coverage technician to hide the holes in his game.
Second Team: Geno Stone, Iowa
Third Team: Jordan Fuller, Ohio State
S- Antoine Brooks Jr., Maryland, Sr (5-11, 210)
- In the right role, Antoine Brooks Jr. is going to be a productive NFL player. At Maryland, he plays a ton in an overhang role or as a dime linebacker. They keep him around the line of scrimmage almost exclusively to take advantage of what he does best. Brooks Jr. is a tackling menace and frequently makes plays against the run thanks to his aggressiveness. The worry with him is his range in coverage. He’s not often asked to match up with tight ends or running backs and rarely plays a true safety role. It will beneficial to see him play more two-deep safety this season.
Maryland uses S Antoine Brooks Jr. in a hybrid LB/overhang role a lot. He’s an aggressive run defender and the energizer bunny of this defense. A top SR S to watch in the 2020 NFL Draft. pic.twitter.com/a75DDUDUoh
— Rob Paul (@RobPaulNFL) July 7, 2019
Second Team: Khaleke Hudson, Michigan
Third Team: Josh Metellus, Michigan
CB- Lavert Hill, Michigan, Sr (5-11, 181)
- A lot of the Michigan defensive talent of the last two seasons is gone, but Lavert Hill remains. Hill isn’t the biggest or most athletic CB, yet he’s got the ability to be a top 100 pick. What he lacks in size, he makes up for in technique. Hill is a press-man CB who looks natural and clean when mirroring receivers. He’s got the hips to turn and run with speed receivers and the physicality and ball skills to fight through bigger receivers. If he can be a more consistent tackler in the run game and improve his instincts and reaction time in zone, Hill will have a lot of fans come April.
Second Team: Lamar Jackson, Nebraska
Third Team: John Reid, Penn State
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