Who’s stock is on the rise since we started spring practices? Who could be seeing a shift in draft capital for your bestball drafts heading into the summer? Let’s have look!

QUARTERBACKS

Image courtesy of the University Star

Jordan McCloud, Texas State

Total low-hanging fruit is mentioned here, but often the obvious must be said. McCloud’s offseason has been a bit of a rollercoaster ride. He finished as QB6 at James Madison under the QB guru coach Curt Cignetti, but his stock dropped after Cignetti left for Indiana, and McCloud floated around in portal purgatory. His landing spot at Texas State is beautiful for multiple reasons. He remained in the G5, it is a clear path to QB1, and it is a great CFF system that knows how to use a dual-threat QB under GJ Kinne. He was able to sneak in for a number of spring practices and spring game where he was already taking snaps with the ones. McCloud has a strong likelihood of remaining a top-10 QB in 2024.

Taylen Green, Arkansas

How did we get here? This guy almost made the Stock Down Report prior to spring because of his transfer from what looked to be a perfect spot at Boise to a struggling SEC program in Arkansas. No way Green’s stock, after an up and down 2023, could be on the rise now, right?…Right? Well, since arriving in Fayetteville, he was immediately handed the starting job. It literally happened in the first practice. The expected starter, Jacolby Criswell, has since hit the portal for Carolina (again) after Green lit it up in the spring game while getting all the reps with the ones. Green is a freaky athlete, and OC Bobby Petrino is no stranger to athletic freaks at QB- see Lamar Jackson.

RUNNING BACKS

Image courtesy of the VolReport

Dylan Sampson, Tennessee

The Vols RB answered the bell when called upon in the bowl game against Iowa by gaining 133 yards on 20 attempts against one of the nation’s top run defenses. Since then, Sampson has continued to be a staff favorite based on practice reports. The coaches have spoken of him as the clear RB1 and even rested him in the spring game, stating they “know what they have in Sampson and want to see what the young guys can do”. That gap likely widened with Cam Seldon missing a valuable opportunity to learn the position while on the shelf with yet another injury. Furthermore, the Vols’ staff hasn’t appeared super motivated to add depth at RB from the portal. That could change by the time this article lands, but so far, stock-up for Sampson.

Marquez Cooper, San Diego State

As the band Foreigner once sang- “Feels like the first time…Feels like the very first time!”. After a solid but unspectacular 2023 season separated from Sean Lewis, Cooper reunites with his old coach in sunny San Diego. Under Lewis, Cooper had a two-year run at Kent State, where he produced over 2,700 yards and 24 touchdowns on 544 touches. The Aztecs lack an established alpha in the RB room, so Cooper’s need is “Urgent” and his performance should be “Hot Blooded”. SDSU returns four OL with at least six starts from last year, so hopefully, the line play won’t be as dire as Lewis encountered at Colorado. There are certainly worse spots Cooper could have landed once he entered the portal.

WIDE RECEIVERS

Germie Bernard, Alabama

Bernard looks to have assumed the mantle as the new Kalen DeBoer WR1 after he followed the staff from UW and then amassed 122 yards on three receptions in the spring game. The transfer had an early connection with Jalen Milroe and looked dynamic downfield when other Bama receivers struggled with drops and inability to separate. DeBoer’s system has been quite profitable for CFF WRs as of late with Odunze, Polk, McMillan, and Cropper. Look for Bernard to be next in this line of succession after his strong spring.

Image courtesy of Sooner Wire

Deion Burks, Oklahoma

Every Sooner beat writer and insider raved about the Purdue transfer from the short viewing periods they were able to observe in practice. Those reports were more than validated in the OU Spring game when Burks gathered half of Jackson Arnold’s ten completions, 177 of Arnold’s 233 yards, and both of the TDs. Now, it should be noted that all three of the top returning WRs were out for the spring game- Nic Anderson, Jalil Farooq, and Andrel Anthony, and Burks mostly carved up the twos as the Sooners did not go good-on-good in the spring game. Even still, expect Burks to see a climb in ADP from his WR53 position that he was being taken at the time of the Sooner spring scrimmage as he replaces Drake Stoops as the lead Sooner slot WR.

Image courtesy of Eleven Warriors

Jeremiah Smith, Ohio State & Cam Coleman, Auburn

You won’t find true freshmen on this list often, but these two are different. Their spring performance warrants a draft choice in redraft/bestball leagues. Smith made highlight after highlight while shedding his black stripe in record time. Coleman scored the only TD of A-Day with a bomb from Peyton Thorne after running extensively with the starters. Now, how much production can we actually expect from a Chip Kelly WR2/3 or a Hugh Freeze/Peyton Thorne WR in 2024? That is certainly up for debate, but it is clear these two sensational freshmen are worth a mid to late-round investment given their upside. I just as easily could have placed Ryan Wingo here after his incredible spring, however, the Texas WR depth likely makes his path a little more challenging to contributing in year one compared to Smith and Coleman.

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