Summer is finally here! As you’ve probably seen, Christian Page (@_ChristianPage) and I have been going back and forth on some summer scouting pieces. We hope you enjoy reading them and finding out about the next generation of stars bound for the NFL. There will be a couple more on the docket from both of us in the next week or so, but for now, I want to chat briefly.
Not about the weather or at what temperature you cook your ribs on the grill. Nope, simply football here, and it’s going to be a fun one.
Preparing for my next summer scouting piece, I’ve narrowed it down to a few players. There are three players that I’d like to talk about briefly, and I’m hoping they start gaining steam as the temperature outside begins to do the same! During the first week of summer, here are some names I’ve discovered this week in scouting.
Jabari Zuniga, EDGE, Florida (6’4″ – 257 pounds – Redshirt Senior)
Hailing from Marietta, Georgia, the former three-star recruit (via 24/7 Sports) had offers from teams such as Arkansas, N.C. State, and Florida. Despite having to split time with players like Jachai Polite and Taven Bryan, it’s time for Zuniga to have a breakout season for the Gators. He’s already been productive in three seasons, but there’s still more for him to give. In 34 career games, he has 104 tackles, 27.5 tackles for loss, and 15.5 sacks. Now that the floor belongs to him, there’s a chance we talk about him as being one of the best edge rushers coming out of the SEC.
Shoutout to that time when Jabari Zuniga (EDGE 92) of Florida put the FSU right tackle on ice skates but then missed the sack pic.twitter.com/ipdAoaqmGT— Russell Brown (@RussNFLDraft) December 29, 2018
In fact, he caught my eye back before we started the new year, but I went back to some of his tape this week and I continue to like what I see. On the play above, there was obvious explosiveness but some slight hesitation in his pass rush plan to keep the right tackle guessing. He’ll have to come under control better when rushing the passer, but he’s already shown signs of being good at stopping the run. Against Georgia, he helped create pressure and made some nice plays stopping the run with good explosiveness and bend down the line of scrimmage (LOS). Putting it all together with more consistent hand usage will be important if he wants to cement his name in the discussion as one of the top edge rushers of the 2020 NFL Draft.
Tyler Johnson, WR, Minnesota (6’2″ – 200 pounds – Senior)
There’s going to be a fun debate all season about who the top wide receiver is for the 2020 NFL Draft. Many (myself included) will say it’s CeeDee Lamb from Oklahoma or Jerry Jeudy from Alabama. That’s fair, and those two receivers are elite and have everything you’re looking for in a number one threat. There’s another name that we’ll be talking about, though, and that’s Tyler Johnson from Minnesota.
Tyler Johnson is the real deal. pic.twitter.com/19xk49JuHa— Russell Brown (@RussNFLDraft) June 25, 2019
Every time Johnson steps on the football field, there’s always a chance that he can take a pass to the end zone. He’s one of the most of explosive players when on the field, and he’s one of the most productive, too. Last season was a breakout season for him in Minnesota, and it showed with his 78 receptions for 1169 yards and 12 touchdowns. He takes passes out of mid-air with his ability to high point the football, and he clearly understands the nuance and attention to detail needed to be a successful route runner and receiver.
Devin Duvernay, WR, Texas (5’11” – 210 pounds – Senior)
Another wide receiver that caught my eye this week was Devin Duvernay from Texas. Initially, the Texas tape was on just for Zach Shackelford, but then I couldn’t stop watching Duvernay. The former four-star recruit was a track star in high school. He ran the 100-meter dash in 10.27 seconds in 2015, and his speed shows on the field. He was highly touted coming out of high school and had offers to 38 schools, including Alabama.
I don't know much about Devin Duvernay (WR 6) from Texas but he's got my attention after this diving catch! He had 41 receptions for 546 yards and four touchdowns in 2018. Could be a nice weapon for Sam Ehlinger and a solid compliment to Collin Johnson for this offense. #HookEm pic.twitter.com/D6YYShXw4X— Russell Brown (@RussNFLDraft) June 9, 2019
He clearly has the athletic ability to get vertical up the field and could be one of the top deep threats in the 2020 NFL Draft. Sam Ehlinger will have to do a better job with his ball placement, but there’s no doubt that Duvernay can be a solid complement to the Longhorns’ number one receiver, Collin Johnson. Duvernay will win vertically and across the middle of the field with crossers and slant routes. Be on the lookout for him when the Longhorns take the field this fall, and don’t blink if you see him running with the ball in his hands.
For starters, what’s going to happen with this Georgia offense? Before the Twitter world goes after me for talking about Jake Fromm struggling in the worst game of his sophomore season, let me just ask you the question again, what’s going to happen with this Georgia offense? Sure, they have Jake Fromm, D’Andre Swift, and Andrew Thomas, but they’ve lost a lot more than they’ve gained. They sent three wide receivers (Terry Godwin, Riley Ridley, Mecole Hardman) to the 2019 NFL Draft. They also lost their starting tight end, Isaac Nauta, and their starting center, Lamont Gaillard. It will be an interesting development all season in Athens.
Who will be the top quarterback of the 2020 NFL Draft? It’s always fun to talk quarterbacks. Tua and Herbert will be the consensus top quarterbacks on most people’s boards. Two other names that will get consideration are Stanford QB K.J. Costello and Georgia QB Jake Fromm. All four quarterbacks have the skillsets that teams covet in a franchise quarterback, from their pro-style of play to their arm strength to make every throw on the field. If you haven’t watched any of them, I’d start with Tua and work from there. He’s electric with his left-handed throw and ability to maneuver around the pocket.
Another fun question — and despite it only being the first week of summer, but call your shot — who is picking first in the 2020 NFL Draft? It can’t be the Cleveland Browns. They’re built to win some games this year, and it won’t be surprising to see them in the playoffs for the first time since 2002. My pick though to have the first pick of the 2020 NFL Draft is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Could Bruce Arians right the wrongs of Jameis Winston? He absolutely could (set for free agency in 2020), and with weapons such as O.J. Howard, Mike Evans, and Chris Godwin, it’s a good core to have. Hopefully Ronald Jones develops, but this defense lost solid starters in Kwon Alexander and Gerald McCoy. They’ll need a season to re-identify their defense despite drafting four defensive players within the first 100 selections of the 2019 NFL Draft. There’s a good chance we put the Bucs in discussion for one of the quarterbacks listed above.
Thanks for joining me on my column, This Week in Scouting! I’m not sure what next will bring, but be sure to follow along on Twitter @RussNFLDraft! You can also listen to the latest episodes of Cover 1 | The NFL Draft by subscribing to us on Spotify or Spreaker by using the link below!