Time to move on: 2024 WR preview … There is simply no way to sugarcoat it; the 2023 was a pretty big disappointment for this year’s WR class. For starters, as many as 4 different receivers had at least a top 15-20 grade at some point in the build-up to the draft, but in the end none were selected before the 20th pick, although Seattle’s selection of former Ohio State WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba with the 20th pick overall did ignite a run on the other three top-rated receivers. however, those four were the only WRs chosen in the opening round this past April ending a three-year stretch in which at least 5 receivers were taken in the first round. As surprising as that development was, the even bigger surprise re this year’s receiver corps was that other than Jonathan Mingo, who was selected by Carolina with the 39th pick, all the other top-rated receivers who had been considered to have at least some late-first potential, including Marvin Mims, Jalin Hyatt, Cedric Tillman, Josh Downs and Rashee Rice, lasted deep into the second day of the draft. Overall, 14 WRs were selected within the first three rounds of this year’s draft, although that was down slightly from an average of around 16 per the previous three drafts.
However, at least where things stand today, that trend doesn’t look like it will necessarily continue next April. Indeed, Ohio State’s Marvin Harrison is currently considered to be the top non-QB prospect in the 2024 draft field and there is more than one team out there that has him at #1 period. Harrison, who is the son of the NFL Hall-of-Fame WR of the same name, would also almost assuredly have been one of the first players selected this year had he been draft eligible. He’s listed at 6-4, 205 and this past season had 77 receptions for almost 1,300 yards and 14 TDs. In fact, Ohio State could have the top two receivers in the upcoming draft as fellow Buckeye WR Emeka Egbuka is generally thought to be the next best prospect at the position at this time with at least some top 10 potential, although he clearly isn’t in Harrison’s class. Same for several other top wideouts who figure to be off the board early next fall including Rome Odunze of Washington and 6-6 Johnny Wilson of Florida State, a pair of big-body receivers, along with super quick Xavier Worthy of Texas. At the same time, there is a rather large group of 15-20 next-tier receivers with potential, but a lot of sorting out to be done there. Among potential prospects to watch include Dorian Singer, now at USC after transferring from Arizona; Texas-San Antonio’s Zakhari Franklin, who had 93 receptions last fall including 15 for scores; 6-4 Orande Gadsen of Syracuse; Western Kentucky’s Malachi Corley, who had over 100 catches in 2022; Jalen Calhoun of Duke; and Ali Jennings, a Virginia Tech transfer from Old Dominion.
For now, here is the preliminary ranking for this year’s WR group.
Pigskin’s final draft grades … After a very quiet Memorial Day weekend around the NFL, the pace picks up a little as GBN Associate Editor Pigskin Paul Guillemette posts his final grades for the 2023 draft.
Veteran NFL safety switches to scouting … Interesting story out of Baltimore where veteran S Tony Jefferson has retired as an active player and instead is joining the Ravens as a scout. Jefferson played 9 seasons in the league including three in Baltimore between 2017 and 2019; he also played for Arizona, San Francisco and finished his playing career with the Giants last fall. Jefferson will be joining the Ravens on a Nunn-Wooten Scouting Fellowship which was established in 2015 and provides former players interested in a career in professional scouting experience as full-time members of an NFL scouting staff during a season-long internship; he will also be participating in the 10th annual Senior Bowl scout school June 4-7 in Mobile.
Cards release star WR Hopkins … in a somewhat surprising move, at least given the timing, Arizona has released veteran WR DeAngelo Hopkins who, if as expected clears waivers, will become an outright free agent. The Cardinals have actually trying to trade Hopkins, who represented a $31M salary cap hit on their books, literally since the beginning of the new football year, but found no takers given the salary implications.
Lions get PK from Jags for late future pick … Detroit has acquired veteran PK Riley Patterson from Jacksonville in exchange for a conditional 2026 7th round draft pick. The Jaguars were reportedly set to waive Patterson after signing former Denver PK Brandon McManus earlier this week. Patterson, who actually kicked for the Lions in 2021 will compete with fellow veterans Michael Badgley and John Parker Romo for the team’s PK job. As far as we can tell, this is the first trade involving a 2026 pick.
Almost like old times: 2024 Preliminary RB Preview … For the RBs, the 2023 must have felt a little bit like the good old days when the position was one of the most valued areas on draft day. Indeed, two backs – Bijan Robinson who was selected 8th overall by Atlanta and Jahmyr Gibbs. selected 12th by Detroit – were chosen within the first dozen picks for just the second time since 2010. Of course, it was no real surprise that Robinson, the former Texas Longhorn star, would go that high as he was considered to be one of the best players in the draft; however, it was a huge surprise that Gibbs went that early as he was thought to be more of a longshot late first-round possibility.
However, once one gets past those two early picks, it was actually a rather somewhat quiet draft for the position. Only one other back – Zach Charbonnet taken 52nd overall by Seattle – for example, was taken in the first two rounds while a total of 7 were selected within the first three rounds and 18 were chosen overall. In fact, this was just the second time in the past dozen drafts that fewer than 20 backs were selected overall.
And while 2024 looks like it will have some very good backs, it is very possible that none will be selected within the opening round. If there is a first-round breakthrough at the position, though, it may come from Raheim Sanders of Arkansas, a 240-pound slasher with a real burst. Sanders, who averaged 6.5 yards per carry in 2022 when he ran for over 1,400 yards, is also a decent receiver, but isn’t going to necessarily make a lot of people miss in space. If Sanders gets a challenge for the top grade among backs this fall it could come from Ohio State’s TreVeyon Henderson, who had a breakout year as a true freshman in 2021, but was limited last year because of a broken foot. Meanwhile, other top RB prospects for next year include the Michigan duo of Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards, Wisconsin bulldozer Braelon Allen, Will Shipley of Clemson and Trey Benson of Florida State. Pro scouts will also be keeping a close eye on Isaiah Davis of South Dakota State, one of the top FCS prospects last fall who somewhat surprisingly opted to stay in school. And we’d be remiss in not mentioning that the back that most NFL teams would really like to get their hands on this year is Mississippi sophomore Quinshon Judkins, who ran for 1,567 yards last fall despite sharing the ball with Zach Evans, a 6th round pick by the LA Rams this past April. For now, here is our preliminary ranking for the top backs for the 2024 draft.
ESPN projects teams with top ten at 2024 picks … For those that haven’t seen it yet, ESPN has a piece up today in which they predict that Arizona will have the first two picks at the 2024 draft. Arizona would have their own pick next spring, along with that of Houston which the Cardinals acquired in that big trade with the Texans to kick off the 2023 draft. The article goes on to forecast that Tampa Bay will end up with the 3rd pick overall next April, followed by Indianapolis at #4, the LA Rams at #5, Tennessee at #6, Green Bay at #7, Washington at #8, Las Vegas at #9 and Chicago, with a pick acquired from Carolina, rounding out the top ten. And just because we could we played a little with which players those teams might select next April and it came out looking a little like: (PS: For anybody who correctly says ‘hey wait a minute the Cardinals already have a QB’ we are figuring that they will move Kyler Murray if they had a shot at Caleb Williams.)
|1||Arizona||Caleb Williams||QB||Southern California|
|2||Arizona (from Houston)||Marvin Harrison||WR||Ohio State|
|3||Tampa Bay||Drake Maye||QB||North Carolina|
|5||LA Rams||Olu Fashanu||OT||Penn State|
|7||Green Bay||Joe Alt||OT||Notre Dame|
|8||Washington||Jared Verse||DE||Florida State|
|9||Las Vegas||Kool-aid McKinstry||CB||Alabama|
|10||Chicago (from Carolina)||Bralen Trice||DE||Washington|
Pigskin grades Chargers, Texans drafts … Continuing his series of individual team draft grades. GBN Associate Editor Pigskin Paul Guillemette takes a look at the draft of the Los Angeles Chargers and Houston Texans.
Pack gets ’25 draft … The next two drafts will have a very NFC North feel to them. Detroit is on deck to hold next year’s draft, while the NFL has announced that Green Bay has been awarded the 2025 draft.
Colts-Commanders settle Luck tampering differences … Indianapolis and Washington have reportedly settled any differences the two teams had regarding the Commanders’ alleged tampering with retired Colts’ QB Andrew Luck. In particular, it does not seem that there is any evidence that anyone from the Commanders ever spoke directly with Luck or anyone in his camp. If they had, the Commanders could have been liable for a hefty fine and/or be forced to forfeit draft picks, but neither appears to be any longer in the cards.
Giants add another top young exec to front office … The New York Giants continue to add to their front office with the announcement today that they have hired former Tennessee G.M. Ryan Cowden to their front office in an as yet undefined position. Cowden had been the VP of player personnel for the Tennessee since 2018 and briefly took over as the Titans G.M. last season when Jon Robinson was fired. Ironically, Cowden also interviewed for Giants G.M. job in 2022 which ultimately went to Joe Schoen. Schoen and Cowden, though, are old friends who worked together for 7 years with Carolina in the early part of the century.
Bills shuffle scout staff … Buffalo has announced several changes within their scouting department. Malik Boyd has been promoted to senior personnel advisor from senior director of pro scouting. Boyd has been with the Bills since 2017 after he began his scouting career in 2003 with Indianapolis. In his new, expanded role Boyd will work as an executive scout with both the pro and college scouting departments. At the same time, Chris Marrow and Curtis Rukavina have been promoted to be co-directors of pro scouting. Both previously served as assistant directors. And Lake Dawson, who had been with the Bills since 2017 as the assistant director of college scouting, also becomes a senior executive with responsibilities for both college and pro scouting.
Pigskin grades Raiders draft … Continuing his series of individual team draft grades. GBN Associate Editor Pigskin Paul Guillemette takes a look at the draft of the Las Vegas Raiders, another team looking to close the gap on the Super Bowl champion Chiefs.
Combine 40-starter to retire … Pittsburgh scout Mark Gorscak, who has become something of an institution as the starter for the combine 40-yard dashes, is retiring from the Steelers after a 28-year career. Gorscak has been the starter for the combine 40s for the last 20 years and was always a patient, calming presence for the participants. We wish him the best in his retirement.
Pigskin grades Bengals draft … Continuing his series of individual team draft grades. GBN Associate Editor Pigskin Paul Guillemette takes a look at the draft the Cincinnati Bengals who were looking to close the gap on the Super Bowl champion Chiefs.
Armed and dangerous: an early preview/ranking of the 2024 QB class … It is probably a little early to be calling 2024 ‘the year of the QB’ when it comes to next year’s draft, but it is certainly setting up to be a very interesting class. Of course, it starts with Southern Cal’s Caleb Williams, this year’s Heisman trophy inner, who looked all the part of the second coming of Patrick Mahomes and is the early consensus favorite to be the #1 pick at next April’s draft. There also isn’t much doubt that Williams would have been the runaway choice to be the first player selected this year if he had been draft eligible. A pretty good case could also be made the North Carolina’s Drake Maye would also have been the first player selected had he be been eligible for the 2023 draft.
At the same time, there is something of a drop-off to the next tier of QBs, although there are several other intriguing young passers around the country who could get some later first-round interest including Quinn Ewers of Texas, Jayden Daniels of LSU, Michigan’s JJ McCarthy and KJ Jefferson of Arkansas. However, what makes the 2024 QB class so interesting is the inordinate number of veteran QBs who had been expected to enter this year’s draft who opted to stay in school for another year (although several also transferred). That list includes Michael Penix Of Washington, Spencer Rattler of South Carolina, Tyler Van Dyke of Miami, Devin Leary now at Kentucky, Oregon’s Bo Nix, Shedeur Sanders now at Colorado, DJ Uigalalei now at Oregon State, Cameron Ward of Washington State, Sam Hartman now at Notre Dame, Cameron Rising of Utah, and Phil Jurkovec now at Pittsburgh. And several of those guys could very well also get some late first, or at least strong second day consideration, next April depending on how their seasons go this fall particularly, Penix, Rattler, Van Dyke, Leary and Sanders. we actually could have gone for awhile. For now, here is our preliminary ranking of the 2024 QB class, although clearly there is a lot of sorting out still to be done before next April.
Pigskin grades Panthers draft … Continuing his series of individual team draft grades. GBN Associate Editor Pigskin Paul Guillemette takes a look at the draft the Carolina Panthers who of course had the first pick overall at this year’s draft.
Pigskin grades Saints, Bears drafts … Continuing his series of individual team draft grades. GBN Associate Editor Pigskin Paul Guillemette takes a look at the drafts of a pair potentially rising teams in the the New Orleans Saints and the Chicago Bears.
Seahawks claim 8th round title … After posting one of the league’s better drafts this year which included both the top-rated CB (Devon Witherspoon of Illinois) and WR (Jaxon Smith-Njigba of Ohio State), Seattle followed it up with arguably the NFL’s best undrafted free agent classes. Indeed, based on our thoroughly unscientific scoring system of which teams signed players off the undrafted players left on the GBN Big Board after the draft, the Seahawks edged out Dallas and Minnesota for the ‘title!’ of course, it didn’t hurt the Seahawks chances that they also led the league signing 25 undrafted free agents; the Seahawks also didn’t sign anyone from our remaining top 20 prospects, but were able to sign 9 players off the overall list, including former Arkansas WR Matt Landers, Louisiana RB Chris Smith and South Dakota State TE Noah Grindorff each of whom were in the top 50. In fact, the 9 players signed by the Seahawks was the most in the league, followed by Dallas with 7, Tennessee with 6 and Minnesota and Philadelphia with 5 each. And for the record, every team signed at least one player off the list. And here is the full scoreboard including every team’s unofficial point total, as well as the number signed.
Pats sign Cards’ UDFA QB Cunningham … On further review, New England did sign three undrafted free agents late yesterday including former Louisville QB Malik Cunningham. It is not clear whether New England intends to sign any additional undrafted free agents, but for now it means that every team in the league has confirmed signing at least some undrafted free agents.
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