Alright, folks, sit back, relax, and take some blood pressure medicine. We’re going in a time machine, traveling to 2024. My co-host at Back 2 Devy, Cory, learns how to pronounce American names, and Colin limits his phrase “he could get day 2 draft cap” to 15 running backs per class, but alas, we have arrived. I’m projecting the 2024 draft class, it’s probably more accurate than Mel Kiper. I will be breaking down most of these prospects with some cliff notes, but I will be skipping the popular names that feel redundant at this point.
- Five QBs drafted in the first round happens. It’s rare, but it happens.
- Over the last four years, we’ve seen an average of 15 WRs drafted on the first or second day.
- Running Backs average around five to seven, with ten getting drafted on the first two days, being a very strong class.
I hope you enjoy the hot takes!
First Round Potential
QB – Caleb Williams, USC
Projection: top 5
- The only negative might be a question about his personality, but doubt that holds him back any.
QB – Drake Maye, UNC
Projection: Top 5
QB – Quinn Ewers, Texas
Projection: Early 1st
- He flashed excellence before the injury suffered against Alabama. This will be his first full off-season practicing with the ones, which should solidify his chemistry with the offense and improve overall leadership development. Texas gets help in the WR core with the addition of AD Mitchell through the portal, Isaiah Neyor back from ACL, and two top incoming freshmen. Texas retaining its offensive line helps too.
WR – Marvin Harrison Jr., Ohio State
Projection: Early 1st
- Elite NFL Bloodline, Elite Reciever Play, Elite Athlete
WR – Emeka Egbuka, Ohio State
Projection: Early 1st
- Should be the number one technician coming out this year, will have to bare the argument that he played WR2 behind Harrison. Make no mistake, as an individual prospect, he is special.
TE – Brock Bowers, Georgia
- Slightly undersized at the NFL level and will be a swiss army knife for an offense. Doubt he contributes much in the blocking game early, but this shouldn’t hold him back for fantasy purposes. Will pair best with a creative play caller.
WR – Xavier Worthy, Texas
Projection: Late 1st-2nd
- If he stops dropping the ball, then he will get the first-round draft cap. If not, he becomes a second-rounder. We have two seasons now of inconsistent hands. It was his number one issue as a true freshman and continues to remain a problem. Profiles more as an elite field stretcher, but I believe he’s a decent route runner as well. He will not offer anything in the physical game with his very thin frame.
WR – Malik Nabers, LSU
Projection: Late 1st-2nd
- Pro size, decent route runner with a nice YAC skillset. Nabers is a high-level producer while lined up with Kayshon Boutte, at the time of writing this, is considered a round one or two talent. Technically outperforming Boutte, LSUs bland offense does not let Nabers showcase the fullest of his potential. Hopefully, they move to another QB next year to open up the playbook.
WR – Malik Benson, Alabama
Projection: Late 1st-2nd
- Benson is the prototypical type of receiver Saban likes to develop. This JUCO transfer speedster is what this team needs, quite frankly, what they hoped Jojo Earle would be. The real question is, who will be throwing the ball? This would be his first year in FCS playing at the highest level, he will need a high level of raw production. There’s one QB I’m confident will hold him back and another that’s a mystery right now.
Second Round Projection
RB – TreVeyon Henderson, Ohio State
Projection: Early 2nd
- Injury History is piling up, but this is a top-tier talent with early production. In this non-shallow RB class, I can’t see NFL teams reaching in the first, and I’ll make the obvious statement that he will not fall out of the top50
RB – Raheim Sanders, Arkansas
Projection: Early 2nd
- The size of an NFL bruiser with some special movement ability, not Saquon special, but a high-end talent in almost every running back category.
WR – Devontez Walker, UNC
- The Kent State transfer is this year’s alpha size with uber athleticism. This long strider had no problem out-athleting Georgia, which is the defense known for having the best athletes. Walker transfers into a barren WR core, with a Heisman-hopeful QB and a terrible defense to keep the game script positive. In this situation, it shouldn’t be hard to produce some insane raw numbers. Quick Maths.
TE – JT Sanders, Texas
- All around, the most complete TE in this draft class who will be in TE1 conversation, but Bowers just offers more as an offensive weapon with an earlier breakout.
RB – Braelen Allen, Wisconsin
- Elite Power back with some sneaky build-up speed. Improved his pass-catching from freshmen year but needs to make another step. He will be in a new offensive system that is exciting, but this offense has more weapons, so raw production may be stepped down. He won’t make a guy miss in the open but man, if he loses ten lbs., imagine how much that would help his burst and potentially his elusiveness.
RB – Will Shipley, Clemson
- Shipley’s a slippery runner with excellent pass-catching ability who improved his ability rushing down the middle from his freshmen year, where he clearly preferred to bounce everything outside. He still does not run with power. His contact balance is decent, but a lower pad level would really be beneficial to his game.
WR – Troy Franklin, Oregon
Projection: Late 2nd-3rd
- Efficient, but we haven’t seen a pass catcher with this skillset really be successful. His tape is a lot of speed manipulation to create separation. He’s not really a route runner or a physical player that can separate at the top of routes or excel at the catch point
RB – Trey Benson, Florida State
- Benson is set up to explode this year. He finished out the year rushing over 100 yards on four of the six final games. The three-way running back committee gets thinner with the departure of Treshuan Ward to the portal, and Lawrence Toafili lost snaps down the stretch.
RB – Ja’Quinden Jackson, Utah
Projection: 2nd -4th
- Jackson is a prior 4-star QB converted to running back. He capped off the year with a string of efficient games against tough opponents. He got the size, a high level of athleticism, with superb vision. Jackson really needs to work on using his arm and attacking angles to minimize the defenders’ ability to make clean tackles. I’m saying all this, and he is still averaging over 7 YPC. Utah’s RB1, Tavion Thomas, left for the draft, and the RB2, Micah Bernard, tested out the portal but came back. I’m assuming Bernard was told he will not be the lead back. If Jackson can take these developmental steps, he can play his way into early day 2; without the polish, he’s an early third-day guy but mostly likely returning for a year.
RB – Donovan Edwards, Michigan
- Edwards has the best complete skillset at Michigan with NFL upside. He is already a great pass catcher but has shown improvement running down the middle. There were debates about his size but has shown no issue putting on weight during his time in the program. Blake Corum coming back may push back him taking over this backfield another year
Third Round Potential
RB – Blake Corum, Michigan
Projection: Late 3rd-5th
- Corum will be one of the talents that are loved more by the community than the NFL. A smaller running back is listed at 5’8″ and 210 lbs., although some, like myself, have doubts. He’s a shifty runner and demonstrates a lot of high-end traits in college I don’t think, at his size, he can get away with the power or elusiveness he currently has. Corum also runs behind the most dominant line in his conference that consistently creates multiple lanes for him, with linemen never failing in getting to the second level.
TE – Michael Trigg, Ole Miss
- Trigg is slightly undersized, a great athlete, and has an injury history. He was consistently hyped as having the ability to be a special talent, but we haven’t seen him put it together on the field
RB – Jase McClellan, Alabama
Projection: Late 3rd-5th
- I get it, insane athlete coming out of high school, plus Bama. He hasn’t put it together on the field yet. McClellan flashed against much weaker non-power 5 opponents but was going into year four and haven’t seen anything that says NFL running back. If he could put together a handful of decent games, I can see the path to the draft cap, but I’m not holding my breath at this point
QB – Michael Penix Jr., Washington
Projection: Late 3rd
- Injury History, mobile, great size, just put together his first full season but has always looked solid. Here’s the issue, he’s a lefty, and lefties don’t get drafted. The ball comes off the hand differently and spins the opposite rotation. I doubt coaches want their already established NFL WRs to adapt. I see Penix as a backup with maybe a shot at starting if he goes to a team with a poor QB room.
WR – Rome Odunze, Jalen McMillan, Washington and Jeremiah Hunter, Cal
- I lumped all these guys together because they have an NFL skillset but more in the complimentary role, not as a featured piece. I’m confident all three get Senior Bowl invites.
- Odunze has a more traditional X size but is very underwhelming once the ball is in his hands. Needs to work on overall YAC ability and his physical play, but it’s hard to teach aggression
- McMillian has the best odds of developing into more of a technician. He really didn’t step up until the end of the season in spurts.
- Hunter was the WR1 for his team in ten out of twelve games last year, often lining up against the top corners in the PAC-12 and being successful. He loses his QB to the portal, and the team looks to be shifting into a run-heavy scheme.
TE – Jaheim Bell, Florida State
Projection: 3rd – 4th
- Another undersized tight end with some gadget ability. He’s really here because he’ll do well at the combine, and as a consolation pize get a second-day draft pick.
WR – Oronde Gadsden, Syracuse
- Is he a TE or a WR? The school has him listed as WR on the website, but their official depth chart had him listed as TE. I mean, he has 300 blocking reps logged, according to PFF. He’s in between too skinny to be a TE and not athletic enough to be a high-end NFL wide receiver at 6’5″ size. Nevertheless, should have another productive year, which would warrant serious consideration for the second day.
Boom or Bust Fringe Day 2 Players
WR – Jojo Earle, TCU
- Slot receiver Earle transfers to TCU, where they typically feature the X. Once hailed as the next quick-twitch slot from Alabama had his season derailed early from injury. Still, he never came back to look like the player the community thought he would be. I’m assuming the transfer to TCU early was that he was told Benson would be playing in front of him. I am uncertain if his 2022 season production was because of not bouncing back from injury or if he is outright not the player we thought he was.
WR – Beaux Collins, Clemson
- Prototypical X size, a slight injury history, but freshmen phenom Antonio Williams already passed him as WR1 by mid-season. The real question can Beaux retain his WR2 role from Adam “Baby Julio” Randall, who came back from an ACL tear and still beat the Year 1 zero model. Beaux had an overall disappearing act this year. My fear is his teammates have already passed him and taken the spotlight. It’s possible that Clemson is the next team to have a prolific trio at WR.
WR – Kaden Prather, WVU
- Alpha size with high level athleticism transfers from WVU to UMD. He had a decent start to his sophomore showing but got JT Danieled the second half of the season. He comes back home to an offensive system with almost a 60%market share available to him. IF, this is a big IF, he gets the 2021 Dontay Demus role, then he’s a potential second-rounder. If not, it’s RIP. I believe his athletic ability is comparable to Demus, but with transfers need for high-level raw production is high, and the opportunity is clearly available.
WR – AD Mitchell, Texas
- Georgia player transferred to Texas. Lanky build but good frame. A high-level athlete with an injury history goes to a relatively complete team that needs more playmakers in the wide receiver room. Another size guy Neyor comes back from injury and looked great in the Spring but give me the Georgia transfer with better athleticism over the Wyoming transfer coming off an ACL.
WR – Colbie Young, Miami
- JUCO transfer in Miami, alpha sized player with excellent movement ability. Was posting an elite stretch of performances between weeks 6-8 before losing Van Dyke to injury, and all the wheels fell off at Miami. Hopefully, Miami gets a competent OC and keeps Van Dyke healthy
WR – Elijah Spencer, Minnesota
- Probably the best receiver in the G5 with legit route running chops, hits the transfer portal, and lands in Minnesota. He’s a multi-level threat at the G5 level with some production against P5 competition. PJ Fleck and Minnesota do occasionally put WRs into the NFL, and the question with these types of moves is always, can he play up to P5 competition?
WR – Malachi Fields, UVA
- A ‘my guy’, with great size, produced as a true freshman in a very crowded UVA WR room. Injured before the 2022 season. Comes back for one game, looks fantastic, and puts on a show for all 19 snaps. The current state of UVA as a football program is in shambles across the board. No clue who the starting QB will be with Armstrong leaving. Let me restate the small sample size of the film we got to work with, 19 snaps.
TE – Arik Gilbert, Nebraska
- Once considered the TE1 of his class, he has had a real roller coaster of a career. Skipping to his final year at Georgia, He was coming back to football and looked great in Spring, just to have another disappearing act. Granted, Georgia has an extremely crowded TE room, GIlbert heads to Nebraska, where I’m assuming he’ll be TE1 as a starter. With how volatile and random the TE draft evaluation process is, one good season is all he needs to be talked about as a day 2 candidate.
Dark Horse First-Round QBs
Kyle McCord, Ohio State
- We’ve seen him play well in limited reps this year during blowouts, and looks like he can fit in just fine. The question is if he gets beat out by second-year Devin Brown. If McCord plays the entire season as a starter, you can bet he’s a day 1 QB or day 2 at worst.
Cam Ward, Washington St.
- Ward has some next-level instincts and pocket awareness. His WR room is pretty barren of talent, and we haven’t seen much success in his long balls. He has some intangibles but is a project in other areas. He’s still incredibly young, so if we see steps taken in development, he will be a riser in the 2025 class.
Popular Names That I’m Out on as Potential Day 2 Candidates
WR – J. Michael Sturdivant, UCLA
- Size/Speed, just an overall great athlete that was a year 1 zero that transferred from Cal to UCLA. He played WR2 to Jeremiah Hunter all year, but he does have a great foundation of athleticism and goes to a system where he’ll be the unquestioned WR1. UCLA is not known as a WR development program, and the question is, he can handle tougher coverage?
WR – Mario Williams, USC
- A small stretch slot that hasn’t stepped up and is going into his third year. This is another example of a high school profile many fell in love with, but on-field production hasn’t come. He failed to step up against the G5 competition in the bowl game with Jordan Addison out. Mario has been set up perfectly to produce two years in a row, and now he’s set up for a third. He is going to be a great complimentary WR at the college level.
WR – Dorian Singer, USC
- An unathletic, skinny contested-catch specialist that benefited from Jayden De Laura’s excellent ball placement with zero velocity. Dorian has elite-level ball tracking and excellent hands, however, lacks the ability to separate through route running ability or just outright physical strength. Transfer to USC for a bigger stage but will be locked in competition with the current X coming off a massive bowl game performance Brendan Rice
RB – Kendall Milton, UGA
- Minor injury history plus an unexplained lack of production. If I asked you how many times was Kendall Milton allowed over ten rush attempts in his collegiate career of 27 games, would you answer one? Georgia’s running back room has been somewhat open the last three years, with Zamir White suffering ACL tears and two RBs departing for the 2022 draft. It was finally Milton season, and that experience has not been enjoyable, given that they run behind a top offensive line and stay in a negative game script for 90% of the season. He offers nothing special as a runner on an NFL prospect scale and offers less as a pass catcher.
RB – Marshawn Lloyd, USC
- I’m all for giving players time to come back from an ACL tear, but if you’re not full speed by year two, then you have a new full speed. Lloyd missed his true freshman season with an ACL tear in 2020, looked terrible in 2021, and was nothing like his High School profile. The 2022 season saw a nice three-game run, two of those against G5 competition and the other against a bad Kentucky team. That’s really it after three years. He transfers to USC, where Lincoln Riley doesn’t lean on the run game and is often known for collecting RBs through the portal. Lloyd is a shell of his former High School profile and will compete against an established Austin Jones and Raleek Brown for the lead role in a pass-heavy offense.
6th-year QBs and WR – Jacob Cowing, Arizona
- I’m saving myself time by lumping all the QBs that will be overhyped during the 2023 season. If the NFL Draft advisory board had given them good grades, they would’ve declared for the 2022 NFL draft. No need to hold on or give guys a fourth or fifth shot – not every great collegiate career can translate.
WR – Jermaine Burton, Alabama
- Pro size – was a great athlete that transferred from Georgia to Alabama. Spring reports always had him glowing, but minor injuries always derailed his season. Quite a few of us thought he should slide into Alabama nicely and be an instant success. We were wrong, It was the opposite. He couldn’t run routes, and his receiver play wasn’t great, either. He will get lost in the Alabama depth charts but will always have the Alabama helmet and a great NFL combine performance.
WR – Ja’Corey Brooks, Alabama
- Burton was so bad they dragged Brooks out of the dog house and had him run the most limited route tree. So many nine routes. Brooks has slow feet and struggles to turn; although I love his build, his lack of athletic traits will hold him back from developing into a meaningful NFL talent
RB – Carson Steele, UCLA
- Ball State transfer Carson Steele replaces Zach Charbonnet, but he is not the athlete that Charb is. He should be a great collegiate running back, but the lack of athleticism should keep him out of second-day discussions.
This class lacks an established group of high-end WR prospects, it’s filled with potential across the board, but the lack of sophomore breakouts is concerning. I want to reiterate we don’t see more than five QBs drafted on the first day, day 1-2 WRs average 15, and this will not be a running back class with ten candidates between days 1-2. Most of these ‘Best case scenarios’ laid out for some of these players never happen. I got way too deep into this, so I want to end on this note; we should understand 90% of the player’s trajectories by Week 4 of the season. So a few of these takes are going to look really silly early or really smart, and that’s the nature of projecting players.
- QB Class: Above Average
- WR Class: Below Average
- RB Class: Average
- TE Class: Average