Caleb Williams, QB, Southern California, 6-1, 220, 3rd … Currently the consensus top prospect overall for the 2024 draft and #2 isn’t all that close. Originally signed at Oklahoma, but followed Lincoln Riley to Southern Cal where he won the 2022 Heisman Trophy after throwing for over 4,500 yards and 42 TDs, while running for another 10 scores. Not all that big at just 6-1, 220, but he has the kind of arm talent and athleticism that reminds scouts of the Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes. Accurate passer who completed 67% of his throws last fall; also has the arm strength to make all the throws. What sets Williams apart, though, is the ability to make plays out of nothing with both his arms and his legs. in fact, about the only knock on Williams is that he plays such an audacious game that he is going to run the risk of injury. For good measure, Williams is also a character player with all the intangibles teams look for in a team leader.
Marvin Harrison, WR, Ohio State, 6-4, 205, 3rd … The son of the NFL Hall-of-Famer of the same name emerged last fall as the top non-QB prospect for the upcoming draft when he had 77 receptions for almost 1,300 yards and 14 TDs. In fact, there is something of a buzz around the league that Harrison could be the best WR prospect to come along in the past couple of decades. He’s a rangy, physical receiver who tracks the ball well and wins more than his share of contested balls. He also has excellent hands, runs crisp routes and uses his size well to shield off DBs from the ball. If there is a question about Harrison its that he may lack prototype track speed with a projected 40 time close to 4.6 seconds, but he is still a deep threat who averaged over 16 yards per catch last year as he is quick off the snap and has that extra gear when the ball is in the air. Also a more than willing blocker for the run game.
Drake Maye, QB, North Carolina, 6-3, 220, 3rd … QB2 for 2024 barely played as a true frosh, but exploded on the national scene last fall when he threw for over 4,300 yards and 38 TDs. Maye has prototype size for a pocket passer with the frame to add another 10-15 pounds. He also has elite arm talent with the arm strength to make all the throws at the next level; can also fit the ball into those tight windows. Accurate passer completed 67% of his throws last fall, despite playing behind a somewhat leaky offensive front. Also an underrated athlete who can escape trouble in the pocket as well as make designed plays with his legs; indeed, ran for just under 700 yards and 7 scores last fall. Still somewhat of a work in progress, though, as he needs to learn to play faster. Tends to be a little hesitant going through progressions and delivering the ball; also not always the most accurate passer once he leaves the pocket. Will get points from pro scouts, though, for sticking with the Tar Heels as he could have transferred to just about any program in the country this winter including the likes of Ohio State, Alabama and Georgia.
Olu Fashanu, OT, Penn State, 6-5, 325, 4th … Likely would have been the first OT off the board at the 2023 draft had he not made the somewhat surprising decision to return to school for another season with the Nittany Lions. Full-sized LT prospect with long arms is strong at the point of attack. He’s also a decent athlete with a projected 40 time in the 5.1 seconds range; he’s also quick off the snap and has excellent lateral agility with the ability to cut off the edge. Still somewhat inexperienced, though, with fewer than 10 career starts to date. Also needs to be more consistent as he tends to set his feet too early at times and also needs to work at keeping his pad level down.
Jared Verse, ER, Florida State, 6-3, 250, 5th … Rising edge rusher surprisingly decided to return to school for the upcoming season despite the fact that he was projected to be a top 10-15 pick at the 2023 draft. Relatively lightly recruited player out of high school played his first two seasons at FCS Albany before transferring to FSU where he had 9 sacks, 8 other tackles for loss and 32 total QB hurries last fall enroute to making several All-America teams. Has an explosive first step off the snap; plays with great leverage and pad level; can dip and bend and has an effective counter move; also has decent closing speed with a projected 40 time under 4.6 seconds along with an outstanding motor. However, he isn’t necessarily all that big or long with just 33-inch arms and can struggle to disengage if he doesn’t win with his first step. Also isn’t a particularly strong run defender and will struggle to hold the point of attack, especially on plays run right at him.
Brock Bowers, TE, Georgia, 6-4, 230, 3rd … Third-year junior is already a two-time consensus All-American; and, of course, for good measure, he’s already got two national championship rings. In his first two years in the program has 119 receptions for over 1,800 yards (that’s almost 15 yards per catch) and 20 TDs. Still going to be an interesting challenge for pro scouts. Bowers isn’t all that big at 6-4, 230 and is somewhat limited as an in-line blocker; and while he runs well for a TE with a projected 40-time under 4.5 seconds, he’s not as naturally explosive as Kyle Pitts, the 4th player selected in 2021. What Bowers is, though, is a quick, fluid, instinctive athlete who has great hands with the ability to make the tough catches in traffic, runs crisp route, is quick in transition from receiver to runner and is tough to bring down in space. He’s also a very instinctive receiver who like NFL stars Travis Kelce and George Kittle just knows how to get open and makes plays with the ball in his hands.
John Alt, OT, Notre Dame; 6-7, 305, 3rd … Third-year junior started at LT for the Irish through the better part of his first two campaigns in South Bend. Alt has prototype length for an NFL LT with long arms and strong hands. He’s also a good athlete with a projected 40-time under 5.0 seconds. In fact, Alt is very light on his feet; gets off the snap quickly with a smooth slide step; also plays with good balance and body control and can plant and redirect; instinctive, aware player can come off his initial block and pick up blitzers. Uses size to advantage as an effective seal-off run blocker who gets good initial positioning; can also get off original block, get up field and make a secondary impact in space. Alt, though is not a particularly physical drive blocker and doesn’t get much push off the line of scrimmage. Also needs to work on keeping his pads down as he can be bull-rushed.
Dallas Turner, ER, Alabama, 6-3, 245, 3rd … Athletic 3rd year player takes over as the Tide’s leading pass-rusher from Will Anderson, the 3rd player selected at the 2023 draft. In fact, Turner is actually a better pure athlete than his former teammate, but hasn’t been as productive through his first two seasons. Last year, for example, he had just 5 sacks, although he was credited with 16 other QB hurries; he also had a more respectable 9 sacks as a true freshman in 2021. What Turner does have, though, is upside; indeed, he’s been comped to the Cowboys’ disruptive star Micah Parsons who lines up all the field. Turner has the same explosive quickness off the snap; the flexibility, balance and body control to dip and bend; as well as good closing speed with a projected 40 time under 4.5 seconds. He’s also got good instincts and is relentless in pursuit. Turner also has decent length and surprising strength, especially in his hands, although he isn’t all that big at just under 245 pounds and there are some questions whether he will be able to hold the point of attack if asked to line up with a hand on the ground.
Kool-Aid McKinstry, CB, Alabama, 6-0, 195, 3rd … McKinstry, who starts with the best nickname in the 2024 draft, didn’t play much as a true freshman, but emerged as one of the top cover corners in college football last fall. He’s a solidly built 195-pounder with decent length who uses his size to advantage redirecting routes. In fact, he is best in press coverage, but is comfortable in zone. He’s a really good athlete with quick feet and fluid hips; he also has excellent lateral agility and the ability to change direction on a dime. He also reads the play well and is aggressive breaking on the ball, but may lack elite ball skills. There is also some question about his long speed as he was beaten over the top on occasion last fall. For good measure, he doubles as an outstanding punt returner who averaged almost 16 yards per return last season.
Emeka Egbuka, WR, Ohio State, 6-0, 205, 3rd … Tends to get overshadowed by fellow Buckeye Marvin Harrison, the consensus top non-QB prospect for the 2024 draft, but Egbuka is a very promising receiver with legit top 10 potential in his own right. Egbuka barely played as a true freshman in 2021, but had a breakout year last fall when he hauled in 74 passes for almost 1,200 yards and 10 TDs; along the way he averaged 15.6 yards per reception as he emerged as a big-play target. He is also a dangerous runner who can break tackles after the catch. For good measure, he is also a willing blocker. Egbuka has prototype size as well as decent length including long arms. He also features close to track speed as he is projected to run under 4.4 seconds for the 40. He is also a smooth route runner with good body control who is quick into and out of his breaks. He also tracks the ball well and will compete for the ball, but doesn’t necessarily win a lot of contested balls. And while for the most part he has decent enough hands he will drop the occasional pass due to lapses in concentration.
Maason Smith, DT, LSU, 6-5, 310, 3rd … Arguably one of the bigger wild cards of the upcoming draft. Has elite physical tools and had all the look of a future top 5 pick as a true freshman in 2021, but missed all but the 1st quarter of the Tigers’ season opener last fall with a torn ACL. If healthy, though, combines freakish athletic ability with weight room strength and a non-stop motor. In fact, at 6-5, 310 with 34-inch arms, is built more like a prototype 3-4 DE; also runs like one with a projected 40-time in the 4.8 second range. Solid run defender with the strength to hold the point of attack and the range to chase plays down from behind, though, like a lot of taller players needs to concentrate on keeping his pads low and maintaining leverage. Skilled pass rusher with well-developed swim and counter moves who is relentless attacking the pocket. Scheme versatile defender who will be particular interest to 3-4 teams looking for a two-way 5-tech DE who they can kick inside on passing downs.
Rome Odunze, WR, Washington, 6-2, 210, 4th … Doesn’t get the same kind of national pub as the Ohio State guys, but clearly one of the top 2-3 wideouts in the 2024 draft class. Indeed, his numbers last fall – 75 receptions for 1,150 yards and 7 TDs – were almost identical to those of the Buckeyes’ Emeka Egbuka. At 6-2, 215, he’s a good-sized receiver with long arms; he’s also a former high school track star who was a state champ over 200M and a 100M finalist with a PB of under 10.7 seconds who is projected to run in the low to mid 4.4 range for the 40. He’s also quick to top gear with the ability to change speed on the fly; he’s a also a gifted route-runner who makes really crisp cuts. Also has excellent hands and body control and can make the tough catch in traffic, although he will let the ball get into his pads on occasion. He’s also a very good run-after-the-catch guy with the agility and creativity to make people miss in space. Also tough to press because of his quickness and ability to bend.
JT Tuimoloau, DE, Ohio State, 6-3, 270, 3rd … Former #1 recruit overall coming out of high school has all the tools to be an elite edge rusher, but pro scouts are still waiting for some breakout performances. Tuimoloau, for example, has just 6 career sacks to date including only 3.5 last year. However, he has prototype size and length, as well decent closing speed with a projected 40 time in the low to mid 4.6 range and has at least been solid against the run. He can anchor at the point of attack, plays with good leverage and shows good range in pursuit. He also has a quick get-off when rushing the passer, uses his hands well to disengage, and has a nice counter move, but is a little stiff in the hips and doesn’t bend all that well. He also has a tendency to pop up at times and look for the ball off the snap which limits his speed and power.
Kalen King, CB, Penn State, 5-10, 190, 3rd … Rising 3rd year junior was named to several All-America teams last fall after a breakout season in which he had 3 interceptions and 18 other pass breakups. King lacks prototype length and elite track speed with a projected 40 clocking in the 4.5 range, but he is a very quick, fluid, and aggressive cover corner, especially in press coverage. While he isn’t all that long, he is stiff effective jamming receivers at the line of scrimmage, tracks the ball well, and as a former prep WR, has really good ball skills. King, though, isn’t as instinctive in zone as he isn’t all that quick to read the play; he’s also not that physical a run defender, although he is a solid wrap-up tackler in space.
Michael Penix, QB, Washington, 6-2, 220, 6th … Veteran signal-caller spent 4 years at Indiana before transferring to the Huskies last fall where he had a breakout year throwing for just over 4,600 yards and 31 TDs. He also posted decent numbers at Indiana where he was 12-5 as a starter, but was never able to complete a full season there because of injuries including ACLs in both 2018 and 2020 and a shoulder issue in 2021. If healthy, though, Penix is a prototype pocket passer with good size, elite arm talent and enough athleticism to escape trouble. He reads the field well and gets rid of the ball quickly, although he does have a bit of an extended release. He also has the arm strength to make all the throws at the next level and is an accurate passer who consistently puts the ball on the numbers, especially when working out of a clean pocket. Penix, who ran track in high school, is also a better than advertised athlete with a projected 4-time in the 4.65 range, although he doesn’t run much at all. He is effective, though, moving away from trouble in the pocket, but keeping his eyes downfield and finding the open man. The big issue for Penix, though, is his injury history; however, if he can stay healthy this fall and put up the same kind of numbers he did in 2022 and he’ll at least be in the mid first-round conversation next spring.
J.C. Latham, OT, Alabama, 6-5, 335, 3rd … One-time superstar recruit is a massive player with long arms and surprisingly light feet for a guy that size. He’s an especially physical run-blocker with a nasty streak who locks on and moves the pile. He’s also a long way around when protecting the pocket, although there are some questions whether he in fact has the agility to handle quick NFL edge rushers and may be limited to playing RT or even kicking inside.
Laiatu Lata, DE, UCLA, 6-4, 265, 5th … AP’s 2022 Comeback Player of the Year in college football could be one of the wild cards of the 2024 draft. Lata actually retired from football after suffering a serious neck injury while playing for Washington in 2020 and did not play at all for two years, but was cleared to return to the field after transferring to UCLA last fall where he did not disappoint as he had a true break out season posting with 10.5 sacks and a remarkable 60 QB hurries, despite not technically being a starter. Lata, in fact, lined up as an OLB most of the snaps in the Bruins’ scheme, although he actually has a prototype DE build including excellent length and strong hands. And while Lata lacks elite footspeed – he’s projected to run in the 4.7 range for the 40 – he is able to compensate with superior quickness and instincts, fluid lateral agility, as well as a well-developed arsenal of pass rush moves. He also uses that length and those strong hands effectively to get off blocks and is relentless in pursuit. He’s also a physical, wrap-up tackler, although he does tend to be overaggressive at times and overrun plays. Bottom line is that if healthy Lata has close to top ten potential, but obviously so much of his final status for the upcoming draft will depend on how he checks out at pre-draft medical testing.
Leonard Taylor, DT, Miami, 6-2, 305, 3rd … Taylor is a former top-rated recruit with elite physical tools, but is still looking to put it altogether although he did have 3 sacks last fall. However, pro scouts are likely looking for more as he has a unique combination of size and speed as a thickly-built 305-pounder with projected 4.8 speed. He also has quick first step and is very effective getting into gaps before the OL can get really set up. He also has good closing speed and a decent motor and offers some scheme versatility as he could conceivably play as 5-tech DE at the next level. What he doesn need to do to get there, though, is clean up some of the technical aspects of his game. He tends to play too high at times, especially when rushing the pocket, which neutralizes much of his speed and power. He also can be a little slow to locate the ball and will overrun plays on occasion.
Jeremiah Trotter, LB, Clemson, 6-0, 230, 3rd … Solid all-around ILB who, in fact, is the son of the longtime NFL Pro Bowl LB of the same name. He isn’t all that big and has decent speed, but what sets him apart are his instincts. He reads the play quickly and works his way rather effortlessly through the traffic; he’s also an aggressive, physical tackler who led the Tigers with 92 stops last fall. He’s also an effective blitzer who can find a crease and get into the backfield where he had 6.5 sacks last fall, along with 7 other tackles for loss. He is also comfortable in coverage, particularly in zone where last year broke up 7 passes including one pick in 2022. For good measure, he’s also a competitive player with an excellent motor who also is like a coach o the field in that he does a nice job lining up the defence.
Jer’Zhan Newton, DT, Illinois, 6-2, 295, 4th … Disruptive interior defender was a consensus All-American last fall as he anchored college football’s #1 scoring defence; along the way he had 5.5 sacks and 8.5 other tackles for loss. Newton isn’t all that big for an interior defender at 6-2, 295, but he’s quick, very strong and has a great motor. In fact, he’s a very good athlete for someone that big as he actually played some RB in high school where he also played basketball. It should also be no surprise that he was also an accomplished wrestler in high school as he plays with a wide base, has good balance and is thick and stout through his lower body. As such, he does a nice job holding the point of attack defending the run even when double-teamed. He’s also got strong violent hands that he uses effectively to knock opposing blockers off balance, plus he’s also got a nicely developed spin move. For good measure, he’s also a well-conditioned athlete who logged more than 600 snaps in each of the past two seasons.
Chop Robinson, DE, Penn State, 6-3, 255, 3rd … Will vie with Alabama’s Kool-Aid McKinstry for best nickname in the 2024 draft class, while on the field is yet another 3rd year edge defensive lineman long on potential, but still a little short on production. Originally signed with Maryland where he had a couple of sacks in his true freshman year in 2021 and then had 5.5 after transferring across the conference to Penn State. He has decent size and length and is a very good athlete with 4.6 type speed. He’s also very quick with an extra gear when closing on the ball. He’s also very flexible and can dip and bend when turning the corner, plus he has a well-developed spin move. What pro scouts will be looking for from Robinson this fall is greater consistency, both from a technical standpoint and in terms of work ethic. His hand usage when rushing the passer, for example, needs to be polished, while his motor tends to run and cold. PS: his real first name is Demeioun, so indeed, let’s stick with the far more appropriate Chop!
Kingsley Suamataia, OT, BYU, 6-6, 315, 3rd … A former 5-star recruit who was one of the highest rated recruits ever from Utah originally signed with Oregon, but never got on the field with the Ducks and transferred back home to BYU where he locked down the Cougars’ RT spot last fall. In fact, he did not give up a sack in 2022 and will shift to the left side this coming season. He certainly looks the part of a future NFL LT with prototype length including long arms. He is also light on his feet with the quickness to cut off the edge and the agility to plant and redirect, although he needs to get stronger and develop and a more forceful initial punch. And like a lot of other taller OT prospects, he needs to focus on keeping his pads low. He’s also not the most physical drive blocker, but is effective enough sealing off opposing defenders and can get to the second level. Bottom line is that he has the physical tools to be a shut-down LT at the next level, but still needs to clean up some of the technical aspects of his game as well get a little stronger.
Michael Hall, DT, 6-2, 290, Ohio State … High energy interior defender with the potential to be very disruptive. Potential is the operative word, though, as pro scouts are still waiting for a breakthrough from Hall. He barely played as a true freshman in 2021 and then was limited last year by a lingering shoulder injury, although he did post 4.5 sacks on the year. While he’s somewhat undersized at just 290 pounds, Hall is thickly built with good core strength in both his legs and upper body. He’s also a good athlete with a projected 40 time just under 5-flat, although he plays quicker than that; also has good lateral agility and range. He gets off the snap quickly, reads the play well, plays with good pad leverage and has a great motor. He also uses is hands well to disengage, although he doesn’t have particularly long arms. However, he will struggle at times to anchor at times when double-teamed as his natural instinct appears to be to spin away from blockers. He is also scheme versatile as he can line up in multiple spots along the line including as a 5-tech DE in a 3-4 alignment.
Bralen Trice, DE, Washington, 6-4, 270, 5th … Late bloomer barely played in his first three years with the Huskies, but then had a breakout year last fall when he posted 9 sacks. Trice has prototype size at 6-4, 270 with long arms and strong hands. However, he’s not necessarily a great athlete with a projected 40 time in the low to mid 4.7 range. He’s also somewhat stiff and doesn’t have much bend or dip. What Trice is, though, a strong and powerful, high-effort guy who fires off the snap, keeps his pads low, uses those long arms and strong hands to disengage, and is simply relentless battling his way to the pocket, although pro scouts would still like to see some more polish in his counter and spin moves. Trice is also a solid run defender who can anchor at the point of attack as well as set the edge. He also has good range in range in pursuit, although he can play a little out of control at times and overrun plays.
Calen Bullock, FS, Southern California, 6-2, 190, 3rd … Rangy ballhawking FS had 7 picks in his first two years with the Trojans including 5 last fall. He’s actually built a little more like a CB with excellent length; in fact, he did get some snaps at both corner and nickle in his freshman season. He’s also a good athlete with fluid hips and leaping ability, although he’s probably also a little quicker than fast as he has a projected 40 time in the mid-4.5 range. He sees the field well, does a nice job anticipating routes and breaks quickly on the ball. He’s also got really good ball skills. At the same time, though, he can be overaggressive at times and will bite on pump fakes; he’s also not necessarily all that physical and will struggle matching up with bigger WRs and TEs. He’s also not much of a force defending the run as he just doesn’t consistently wrap up all that well.
Cooper Beebe, OG, Kansas State, 6-3, 335, 5th … Rugged veteran with 35 career starts is the consensus top interior offensive lineman in the 2024 draft class. He’s also a versatile guy in that he played RT in 2020, LT in 2021 and LG in 2022, but will likely stay inside at the next level as he doesn’t necessarily have the kind of length and athleticism teams are looking for at OT. Beebe is at his best blocking for the run as he is a true mauler with exceptional upper strength who just locks on and keeps his pads low and his feet moving. He can also come off his initial block and get upfield, although he’s less accomplished when asked to pull as he has somewhat limited lateral agility. He’s also a solid pass protector as he didn’t allow a sack in either of the past couple of seasons in which he played over 800 snaps in both; he sets quickly, maintains a solid base and will battle to the whistle, but may not move his feet well enough to consistently cut off the edge. Outstanding player who had a 4.0 GPA as an undergrad and is now in grad school.
Kris Jenkins, DT, Michigan, 6-3, 300, 4th … The son of the 4-time NFL All-Pro DT of the same name is a very active defensive lineman who racked up 54 tackles last fall which is a lot for the position. He’s not huge, but he is stout with excellent strength; he’s also quick off the snap, does a good job finding the ball, has decent lateral agility, and keeps his pads low. As such, he does a nice job both anchoring at the point of attack as well as pursuing down the line, although he has somewhat limited range. He is also not a particularly dynamic pass rusher who only had a couple of sacks last year as he doesn’t have either the pure foot speed and quickness to run around people or the length to consistently shed blockers on the way to the pocket.
Raheim Sanders, RB, Arkansas, 6-1, 235, 3rd … Powerful north-south runner is a weight-room warrior who can run over people, but with the speed to also run by them. Indeed, Sanders is projected to run under 4.5 seconds in the 40. He’s also a quick, decisive runner who gets to the hole in a hurry and has a burst when he gets there. He’s also tough to bring down in space once he gets up a head of steam, but doesn’t have much in the way of wiggle and isn’t going to make many people miss in space. Last fall, for example, Sanders ran for over 1,400 yards and 10 TDs while averaging a lusty 6.5 yards per carry to lead the always tough SEC West. Sanders is also a reasonably productive receiver who averaged almost 10 yards per catch on 28 total receptions in 2022. However, most of those receptions were screen type plays on which he does get the ball tucked away and turned upfield very quickly, but he doesn’t necessarily run great routes and doesn’t catch many passes past the line of scrimmage.
Barrett Carter, LB, Clemson, 6-1, 225, 3rd … Active 3rd year inside LB tends to play in the shadow of fellow Clemson LB Jeremiah Trotter, but may actually end up being the better pro prospect. Carter isn’t all that big at just 225 pounds, but he just flies around the field making plays against the run and the pass. In fact, in the latter case, he is effective both in coverage and rushing the passer. Last year, for example, he picked off two passes and broke up 8 others, while also posting 5.5 sacks. He’s very athletic with 4.5 type speed, along with good quickness, fluid hip sand lateral agility; as a result, he can run with most RBs and TEs in coverage and plays the ball more like a DB. He’s also very quick to the QB when he gets a seam rushing the passer. He also has excellent range and instincts defending the run as he has the light feet to find his way through the traffic and does a nice job jumping into gaps, although he’s going to struggle if asked to stack and shed at the point of attack.
Ja’Tavion Sanders, TE, Texas, 6-4, 245, 3rd … Former big-time recruit who was All-state as both a TE and LB in high school, barely played in 2021, but had a breakout year last fall when he caught 54 passes and was a Mackey Award semi-finalist. He has decent size and is a good athlete with projected 4.55 speed who is also quick and agile. However, despite his athleticism, he’s actually more of an underneath receiver than a deep threat. He runs nice routes, has really soft hands, can catch the ball in traffic and is a very good runner after the catch with the ability to make people miss. On the other hand, he doesn’t track the ball all that well and seems to lack that extra gear when looking to get downfield. And while he has good size, he’s not a particularly dynamic blocker.
Xavier Worthy, WR, Texas, 6-0, 170, 3rd … Speedy receiver looked like a future #1 pick after an electric freshman year in 2021 during which he scored 12 TDs and averaged almost 16 yards per catch; however, he saw his production drop significantly last fall when averaged less than 13 yards per reception, although he still had 60 total catches including 9 for scores. Worthy, though, certainly has elite speed as he’s a former track star who consistently ran the 100M in under 10.6 seconds in high school, a time which translates to around a 4.3 clocking. He’s also even quicker with an explosive first step and just glides in and out of his breaks running routes. And he’s at his best with the ball in his hands after the catch and doubles as a very good punt returner. Worthy also has good hands and despite his rather slender stature will catch the ball in traffic. That small stature – he’s barely a bulked up 170 pounds – though has pro scouts worried about his ultimate durability, although he will catch the ball in traffic and has yet to miss any game time with the Longhorns.
Denzel Burke, CB, Ohio State, 6-0, 190, 3rd … Pro scouts are wondering which Denzel Burke will show up on the field this fall; the one who had a breakout year as a true freshman in 2021 when he looked all the part of a future first rounder or the one who had an inconsistent year last fall when he had no picks and a measly 5 pass breakups. No question that Burke has prototype size and length for the position; he’s also got decent footspeed and better quickness. And when he’s on his game he’s also a very fluid athlete who can turn and run and tracks the ball well. He also has the body control to high point the ball, but has yet to show elite balls skills with just one career pick. However, Burke struggled at times last fall as he appeared overly hesitant at times and just didn’t play as fast or confidently.
Tyler Davis, DT, Clemson, 6-2, 300, 5th … Stout, high-energy interior defender was a consensus all-conference player in both the past couple of seasons, as well as a 2nd team All-American last fall when he rang up 5.5 sacks. He’s not that big or long, but is quick and is very effective jumping into gaps and powering into the backfield as he keeps his pads low and is able to maintain leverage through the play. He is also a solid run defender who anchors well, finds the ball quickly, and has good lateral agility. However, he has had some durability issues as he missed large parts of both the 2020 and 2021 seasons, including the latter year when he was sidelined much of the year with a torn biceps. He also doesn’t have much more than average closing speed for a DT with a projected 40-time around 5-seconds flat; he also likely needs to refine his pass-rush technique as his hand placement and usage is somewhat unpolished.
Jack Sawyer, DE, Ohio State, 6-4, 265, 3rd … Former big-time recruit with untapped potential still looking for that breakout year after posting only 4.5 sacks in his first season of extended play. Sawyer is a good athlete who actually also played QB in high school; he runs well with a projected 40 time in the 4.6 range and has a quick first step, good balance and body control, and lateral agility. He’s also got good functional core strength, as well as a nice motor. However, he’s got inconsistent instincts and is somehow slow to locate the ball; he also lacks ideal length which limits his ability to get off blocks.
Quinn Ewers, QB, Texas, 6-2, 210, 3rd … The consensus top high school recruit in the country from the Dallas area originally signed with Ohio State, but never played with the Buckeyes and transferred to Texas last season. He’s not the biggest QB out there at just 6-2, 210, but does have the frame to at least add some bulk. At the same time, he has elite tools including the arm strength to make all the throws and fit the ball into tight spaces, but he is still a work in progress with a lot of rough edges to smooth out. In particular, Ewers can be slow to read the field and has a tendency to hold onto the ball too long; he also needs to improve his accuracy and touch. Last year, for example, he only completed 58% of his pass attempts. However, he does throw on the run reasonably well and has the athleticism to avoid trouble in the pocket, but he seldom just takes off; he also almost never runs by design.
Zion Tupuola-Fetui, DE, 6-3, 255, Washington, 6th … Veteran defender combines with Bralen Trice to give the Huskies one of the better outside pass rushing duos in the country. In fact, Tupuola-Fetui looked far more likely to be an early pick when he posted 7 sacks in just 4 games in 2020, but ended up missing much of the following campaign with a ruptured Achilles and has yet to regain that earlier form. Tupuola-Fetui is actually built more like an OLB as he’s not all that thick at just a tad over 250 pounds; he’s also somewhat limited as an athlete as he lacks elite footspeed with a projected 40 clocking of close to 4.8 seconds, but has much better quickness along with excellent lateral agility, violent hands and a high-effort intensity. However, he needs to do a better job getting off blocks as he tends to get stalled once engaged by bigger OL; he could also put on a little weight so he can do a better job holding the point of attack in run defence.
KJ Jefferson, QB, Arkansas, 6-3, 245, 5th … Veteran dual-threat QB enters the season as the top-rated passer in the SEC with the combination of size, arm talent and athleticism to be this year’s version of Anthony Richardson, the former Florida QB who ultimately was the 4th player selected at the 2023 draft. Like Richardson, Jefferson is built more like a FB, but still runs more like a smaller RB who can escape trouble in the pocket as well as run by design; indeed, he has over 1,500 career rushing yards and 19 TDs on the ground. However, Jefferson lacks the pure arm strength of the former Gators’ star, although he has been much more productive though the air to date. Last year, for example, Jefferson completed 68% of his passes for 2,700 and 24 scores despite missing a couple of games with injury, while he only had 5 picks. He’s an accurate passer with surprising touch on deeper throws while he routinely puts the underneath stuff right on his receiver’s hands. He also sees the field well and can find the open receiver, although he is still somewhat unpolished as a pocket passer. His footwork in the pocket is somewhat rudimentary such that too many of his throws are all arm; there are also some questions about his ability to make pre-snap reads and go through progressions.
Johnny Wilson, WR, Florida State, 6-7, 235, 4th … A very unique receiver in that he’s built more along the lines of a TE or power forward, Wilson originally signed with Arizona Stare where he barely caused a ripple in two years, but emerged last fall as one of the top big-play receiving threats in all college football after transferring to FSU last fall. In fact, Wilson averaged almost 21 yards per catch last season and his 22 receptions over 20 yards ranked 3rd in the country. At 6-7, Wilson is a huge target with long arms and a mega catch radius. He also runs very well for a guy that size with a projected 40 time under 4.5 seconds. He’s also a long strider who is a good leaper with strong hands who wins a lot of contested balls. He’s also a surprisingly effective runner after the catch. However, while he has good speed, he is a little stiff and isn’t that quick and will struggle to get separation especially against tight press coverage. In fact, he actually only had 43 total receptions last fall and pro scouts would like to see him more productive on underneath routes, particularly against zones which he needs to read better.
Blake Fisher, OT, Notre Dame, 6-6, 310, 3rd … Solid, dependable, hard-working RT combines with All-america LT Joe Alt to give the Irish arguably the best set of bookend tackles in the country. Has prototype size and length with long arms; he’s also got strong hands and can deliver a jarring punch. He’s also a decent athlete for someone that size; he’s fairly light on his feet and has good short-area quickness. He also has good balance and the ability to plant and change direction. He’s also a smart, savvy player who is majoring in sports medicine and is quick to pick up stunts and blitzes. However, he’s not necessarily an elite and lacks the pure foot speed to consistently cut off the edge. He also needs to tidy up some things technically as he tends to play too tall at times, especially in pass protection,and like a lot of taller OTs needs to concentrate on keeping his pad level down. He’s also just a 3rd year player who might be wise to consider returning to school for the 2024 season where he’d likely shift over to LT to replace Alt an have a chance to prove t pro scouts that h could handle that spot on a consistent basis.
Javon Bullard, FS, Georgia, 5-11, 190, 3rd … Originally a relatively lightly-recruited local product, but emerged last fall as one of the leaders of the national champion Bulldogs’ stifling defence as he named the defensive player of the game in both of Georgia’s semi-final and national title game wins. He’s not all that big for a safety, but he’s very aggressive and instinctive and can makes plays both in coverage and in the backfield. He’s also got excellent speed and quickness for the position with a projected 40-clocking in the 4.5 range. He also has good lateral agility and range along with the fluid hips that allow him to turn and run with most receivers. However, he can be a physical mismatch with some bigger receivers, especially TEs. As well, because of his aggressiveness he will overrun some plays as well as bite on pump fakes.