Many top college football players, such as Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, DeVonta Smith and Christian Barmore helped cement their spots as high-end NFL draft prospects in 2020.
Others opted out of the season because of the coronavirus pandemic, but several of them will still wind up near the top of Round 1. These prospects were trending as high picks before the pandemic, and their draft stock shouldn't take a significant hit because of their 2020 hiatuses.
The 2019 college season may feel like it was a lifetime ago, so we're here with a refresher on some of the best prospects we last saw that year. We'll recap some of their on-field accomplishments and just what makes them potential first-round selections.
Players are listed in alphabetical order.
Ja'Marr Chase, WR, LSU
Alabama wideout DeVonta Smith has shot up draft boards thanks to his Heisman Trophy-winning campaign. However, teams won't forget about LSU's Ja'Marr Chase, who may be the top pass-catcher in this draft.
Chase showed he can be a game-changer by racking up 1,780 yards and 20 touchdowns on 84 receptions in 2019. Yes, some of his production can be attributed to the presence of quarterback Joe Burrow. But Chase, in turn, helped Burrow rack up the passing yards and become 2020's No. 1 overall pick.
Listed at 6'1" and 200 pounds, Chase has the size and physicality of a No. 1 NFL perimeter receiver—which the 6'1", 175-pound Smith does not.
"Chase has the best traits of the group," ESPN draft analyst Todd McShaysaid on the First Draft podcast recently.
Don't be surprised if Chase goes from not playing in 2020 to being one of the first few prospects off the board in 2021.
Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech
Virginia Tech cornerback Caleb Farley could also go within the first few picks. Teams looking for a legitimate No. 1 cover corner should be all over the former Hokies star on draft weekend.
Listed at 6'2" and 207 pounds, Farley has the size to match up with No. 1 receivers on the edge. Perhaps more importantly, he has the skill set of a top cover man.
"He's got the size [6'2", 207 lbs] and speed part of the position down pat and was pretty darn good at the coverage part when we last saw him in 2019. He allowed a passer rating of only 26.8 that season," Michael Renner of Pro Football Focus wrote last month.
In 2019, Farley racked up 12 passes defended and four interceptions to go with 20 tackles and a defensive touchdown.
Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
OK, so we're bending the rules a bit. North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance did play in 2020, but only in one "showcase" game against Central Arkansas. He displayed a bit of rust in that October contest, tossing an interception to go with 149 passing yards, 143 rushing yards and four total touchdowns.
However, Lance was phenomenal in 2019. He amassed 2,786 passing yards, 1,100 rushing yards, 42 total touchdowns and no interceptions. Going 287 passing attempts without a pick is impressive for a quarterback of any type.
What makes Lance intriguing, though, is his potential as a dual-threat signal-caller. Players like Josh Allen, Lamar Jackson and Kyler Murray have taken the NFL by storm, and Lance has the traits to do the same.
The 6'3", 221-pound Lance also has ideal size, making him perhaps the best quarterback prospect you probably missed in 2020.