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The 2020 WR class: A look back at the historic ’19 Defensive Line class

We’ve already heard ad nauseum about the potential upside of the 2020 wide receiver class, with some touting it as the best since 2014. So how will this impact the rest of the 2020 NFL draft?

Through statistical analysis and research, Fanspeak tried to answer that question.

Below is Fanspeak’s series on the 2020 WR class. Part 1 examines how it compares to the 2019 defensive line class.

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It’s still early in the process, but draft analysts are already saying the 2020 WR class could be historically good.

We’ve heard that before.

So, what does a “historically good” class look like?

You need look no further than last year’s defensive line class.

Even though several big names – notably Auburn’s Derrick Brown and Alabama’s Raekwon Davis – decided to return to school, the 2019 DL class proved to be one of the best in recent memory.

Overall, a record-setting 13 defensive linemen (defined as a defensive end, defensive tackle, or pass-rushing outside linebacker) were selected in the first round, with two more going in the second.

The previous record was set in 2003 and 2011, when 11 DL went in the first round.

So, from that perspective, the ’19 class already has a notch on its belt. And, with players like Nick Bosa, Ed Oliver, Dexter Lawrence and Josh Allen, the 2019 class could indeed go down as one of the all-time greats.

But where that class gets dinged is in its perceived lack of depth. Only two defensive linemen went in the second round in the 2019 draft: TCU DE Ben Banogu, who went No. 49 to Indianapolis, and University of Central Florida DT Trysten Hill, who went No. 58 overall to Dallas.

However, another seven DL wound up going in the third round, giving that draft class a whopping 24 defensive linemen drafted among the top 100 picks. Overall, DL made up 25 percent of the top 95 picks.

By comparison, the ’03 draft had just four defensive linemen drafted in each of the second and third rounds, while the ’11 draft had six DL drafted in each of the second and third rounds.

Therefore, just by numbers alone, last year’s 2019 defensive line class was, indeed, historically good.

By comparison, media estimates have as many as 20 WRs who could be drafted within the first 100 picks of the 2020 draft.

A closer look at the 2020 WR class

The 2020 wide receiver class is shaping out to be more like the ’19 DL class in that you can find a little bit of everything, from first-round blue chippers to walk-in starters in the third-round.

“This class right now absolutely has the chance to rival the 2014 class, with both its high-end talent and depth,”  said Steve Shoup, creator and co-founder of Fanspeak On the Clock draft simulator. ”The one caveat is that we still don’t know who all will declare, and once everyone does declare, maybe a few guys who haven’t signed with agents go back if the class seems too deep.”

With that in mind, between five and six WRs could go in the first round, assuming most or all underclassmen declare, according to Fanspeak estimates.

Potential first-rounders:

Potential Day 2 picks:

That’s 20 wide receivers – and it’s leaving off a lot of good names, like the Texas duo of Collin Johnson and Devin Duvernay, Baylor’s Denzel Mims, Oklahoma State’s Tylan Wallace, UCF’s Gabriel Davis, SMU’s James Proche and South Carolina’s Bryan Edwards, among others.

So, even if a number of underclassmen decide to forgo the draft and stay in school, the 2020 wide receiver class is still proving to be loaded with both talent and depth at the position.

Coming tomorrow: How the 2020 WR class compares to the ’17 class of pass rushers.



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