Even with college football’s bowl season beginning tomorrow, some players have the 2020 NFL Draft on their minds. The draft doesn’t start until April 23rd, but dozens of juniors have declared for the draft already.
The league requires early entrants to submit a written application where the player renounces their remaining college football eligibility by January 20th. These juniors can participate in the Scouting Combine come February 24th, but not in showcases like the Reese’s Senior Bowl on January 25th.
A recent trend has some juniors also forgoing their team’s bowl game to begin preparation for the NFL Draft and avoid potential injury.
Here’s a look at some of the top junior talent that’s already declared for the draft.
Potential First Round Juniors Declared for NFL Draft
Andrew Thomas, OT – Georgia
One of the top offensive tackles in the draft, Andrew Thomas announced his decision to leave Georgia via his Twitter account. Thomas is considered a top-10 talent and could be selected by Washington, Detroit or perhaps the New York Jets. Thomas will not be participating in Georgia’s Sugar Bowl matchup with Baylor.
Bulldog Nation, thank you for the memories ❤️🙏🏾 pic.twitter.com/nYXgMzxfaW— Andrew Thomas (@allforgod_55) December 17, 2019
Yetur Gross-Matos, EDGE – Penn State
One of the top edge rushers in the draft, Yetur Gross-Matos announced via Twitter his declaration for the draft. Gross-Matos is considered by some to be a top-10 talent and perhaps the second-best edge rusher in this year’s draft behind fellow junior Chase Young. Gross-Matos will play in the Cotton Bowl for Penn State versus Memphis. He looks to add to his 18 career sacks.
WE ARE!!! pic.twitter.com/UaCBX39nhm— Yetur Gross-Matos (@__lobo99) December 3, 2019
Laviska Shenault, WR – Colorado
On December 3rd, Laviska Shenault declared for the NFL Draft. Shenault finished the 2019 season with 56 receptions for 764 yards and four touchdowns, and 21 carries for 161 yards and two touchdowns. Many consider him a potential first-rounder and one of the top-10 receiver prospects.
C.J. Henderson, CB – Florida
C.J. Henderson announced his decision to leave Florida via Twitter on December 6th. He elected to forego his senior season and the Gators’ Orange Bowl matchup versus Virginia. Evaluators think Henderson could be a first-rounder and perhaps the third-best cornerback in this year’s crop.
Jalen Reagor, WR – TCU
Reagor will need a solid showing at the combine and his Pro Day to secure possible first-round positioning. He led TCU this season with 43 receptions, 611 yards and five touchdowns. He demonstrated his return skills as well, with a 20.8-yards punt-return-average and two touchdowns.
Potential Second Round Juniors Declared for NFL Draft
Jordan Love, QB – Utah State
Jordan Love is one of the more polarizing prospects this draft season. For some, he’s a sure-fire first rounder, while for others, a developmental third-day selection. He announced via Twitter on December 10th he’s forgoing his senior season. But he will play for the Aggies in the Frisco Bowl on Friday.
Hunter Bryant, TE – Washington
One of the top tight end prospects for 2020, Hunter Bryant announced via Twitter in a touching video that he’s declaring for the draft. Bryant led the Huskies with 52 receptions this season, and he piled up 825 yards and three touchdowns. He’s a board-line first-round talent who’s likely to fall no further than the second round.
The Marathon Continues… pic.twitter.com/OOnGFkYB4N— hunter bryant (@blackbeast88) December 6, 2019
Albert Okwuegbunam, TE – Missouri
Another big-time tight end prospect, Albert Okwuegbunam announced via Twitter his declaration on December 2nd. Okwuegbunam hauled in 98 passes for 1,187 yards and 23 touchdowns. At best, he could be the first tight end taken in April, but he’s a second-day pick at worst.
Cam Dantzler, CB – Mississippi State
One of the best cornerbacks in the SEC, Cam Dantzler declared for the draft via Twitter on December 6th. He finished his career at Mississippi State with five interceptions and 107 tackles. He decided to forego his senior season and the Music City Bowl game versus Louisville. Dantzler is considered by some to be fifth-best cornerback in the class and should be a second-day selection.
Potential Third Round Juniors Declared for NFL Draft
Jaylon Johnson, CB – Utah
On December 13th, Jaylon Johnson announced his declaration via Twitter. The rangy corner intercepted six passes and returned two for touchdowns in his three years at Utah. But there’s no word yet whether or not he’ll play in the Alamo Bowl for the Utes. He could be a third-rounder in April’s draft.
Cam Akers, RB – Florida State
It’s no surprise Cam Akers declared for the draft, considering the upheaval at FSU this season. With a new coaching staff coming in, Akers elected to forgo his senior season and the Seminoles bowl game. Akers finishes his FSU career with 2,874 rushing yards and 27 touchdowns. He joins a deep running back class, and his upside is as a third-rounder.
Mekhi Becton, OT – Louisville
Considered a top-10 tackle prospect, Mekhi Becton announced via Twitter his entry into the draft. Becton also decided not to play in the team’s Music City Bowl matchup. He’ll rely on the combine and his Pro Day to build his stock beyond that of a third-rounder.
Justin Madubuike, DT – Texas A&M
Justin Madubuike declared via Twitter on December 12th. He’s also forgoing the Texas Bowl game versus Oklahoma State. Madubuike registered 11.5 tackles-for-loss this season, and 45 tackles, 3.5 sacks, a forced fumble, an interception and a blocked kick. Some see him as a third-round pick.
Juniors Expected or Rumored to Declare
There are a number of top prospects who have yet to announce their intentions for the NFL Draft. The list includes many potential first rounders. Players like Chase Young, Jerry Jeudy, Jeffery Okudah, Tua Tagovailoa, Isaiah Simmons and CeeDee Lamb could all be top-10 selections.