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NFL Draft 2024: Top 50 big board is heavy on offense, starting with Drake Maye and Caleb Williams at the top

NFL Draft 2024: Top 50 big board is heavy on offense, starting with Drake Maye and Caleb Williams at the top

NFL free agency is still churning, but it's time to turn our attention back to the draft. Here's my latest top 50 big board of prospects.

1. Drake Maye, QB, North Carolina

2. Caleb Williams, QB, USC

After fully studying Maye and Williams, I view both as elite-level talents and both a full tier above the other options in this year’s group of quarterback prospects. Maye is an excellent combination of age, size, athleticism and arm talent, with more feel in the pocket and creativity to his game than he has gotten credit for.

Williams has superb accuracy, clean footwork and has more overall soundness to his game than he has gotten credit for, along with the ability to extend, create and work throws from angles that other quarterbacks cannot fathom.

While both have plenty to work on — Maye with slowing down his heat checks and Williams with trying not to press, and both with cutting their sacks down— they are true prizes in a draft group with MVP-level upside.

Caleb Williams (pictured) and Drake Maye will make whoever picks them very happy this upcoming NFL Draft. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

3. Marvin Harrison Jr., WR, Ohio State

I’ll just keep repeating what I ended my last big board blurb on Harrison with: Do. Not. Overthink. Him. A special combination of size, speed, footwork, catching range and route-running polish, Harrison has the maturity to step in right away and eat targets in a passing game as the leading man. Even things like Ohio State expanding his role this season with more snaps from the slot, mostly out of necessity, allowed Harrison to showcase more to his deep game.

4. Brock Bowers, TE, Georgia

Bowers is an offensive weapon. Nowadays that term is usually wasted on small players whom coaches endlessly waste touches and time on in the hopes of adding pop to their attacks. But Bowers’ versatility and explosiveness, and his actual, tangible impact on the game from all parts of the field, can open up an entire offense.

Bowers can beat defensive backs one-on-one, an important ability for his future paths to success at the next level, and has yards-after-the-catch ability to take any play the distance. Certain fits will be better than others for him, and I prefer some landing spots over others because of that, but he can put an offense over the top and his potential synergy with other pass catchers could become weekly highlight material for football nerds.

5. Rome Odunze, WR, Washington

As I watched more (and more) players from Washington’s offense or on defenses going against the Huskies, my eyes kept coming back to Odunze. He does so many things well, plenty of speed to win down the field and the burst to create yards after the catch, with route-running polish at all three levels, excellent catching range and hand-eye coordination and strength that stands out on film. That strength and burst help him consistently beat press and break tackles with the ball in his hands. I have compared Odunze to Chris Godwin during this process, and I think Odunze has even more upside than the former second-team All-Pro.

6. Olu Fashanu, OT, Penn State

7. Joe Alt, OT, Notre Dame

8. JC Latham, OT, Alabama

Fashanu is a high-end tackle prospect who will adjust early to the NFL level because of his first-rate combination of traits, technique and intelligence. He already shows an impressive understanding of how to harness his ability, especially in the pass game, and I am higher on his blocking in the run game than some. Fashanu has the ceiling of a bona fide blindside protector who can be the tip of the spear, or face of the hammer, for a run game.

He still has some things to clean up, most notably allowing inside counter-moves too often in his pass sets. And his hands did shockingly measure in at just 8.5 inches at the scouting combine, which doesn’t hinder his game on film but must be noted, as the only other recent first-round offensive tackle prospect with hands that small was Isaiah Wynn, who was drafted 23rd overall to the Patriots in 2018.

Alt is, somehow, someway, close to Fashanu as a prospect. A smooth operator in his pass sets, Alt shows off his tight end background with excellent footwork and quickness and never seems to get out of whack. He improved on his hand usage this season, especially with bringing more initial pop with his blocks, which let him stun defensive linemen as a pass protector and also at the point of attack in the run game.

Alt’s mix of size, length, athleticism, measurables and testing numbers closely resemble Jonathan Ogden, and his rapidly improving game makes him another elite offensive prospect at the top of the draft. He will need to continue to add to his strength, as he doesn’t have the ideal shock to his hand strikes on initial blocks, but his youth and frame allows for a clean projection to continue to get stronger at the next level.

Latham is built like a globe with legs (measuring in a 6-foot-6, 342 pounds at the combine) and his blocking in the run game could move a globe as well:

Latham is the strongest and most dominant run blocker in this draft, but don’t let his build and ground dominance at the right tackle position fool you; Latham has quick feet and is a strong pass protector, too. His hand strength nullifies pass rushers once he locks on and he is consistently able to recover and mirror inside moves with clean footwork and solid awareness. Latham’s strength shows up when he anchors against bull rushes as well.

Latham will easily project to provide a boon to a team’s run game, but his ability as a pass blocker is underrated. His clean feet, especially given his outstanding size that he carries well, was backed up by his drill work in Indianapolis. I consider him extremely close, grade-wise, to Fashanu and Alt.

Sidenote: This crop of offensive tackles are young. All three of these prospects turned 21 in the past few months.

9. Malik Nabers, WR, LSU

Nabers is an end zone threat no matter where he touches the ball, with true gamebreaking speed and explosive play ability, whether it’s hauling in a deep ball or taking a short crossing route to the house. Nabers will automatically raise the ceiling of whatever offense he joins in the NFL because of his package of speed, agility and body control. He has a flair for the highlight-worthy grab, especially around the sideline, but has a few too many body catch attempts when working over the middle of the field and has to continue to refine some of the sloppier aspects of his route running. Still, his top-tier athleticism and body control shows a clean path for projecting growth and polish in the area.

10. Troy Fautanu, OT/OG, Washington

I am still figuring out what spot along the line I like Fautanu the best. He can be, at the very least, a good starter or better at any of the five spots, including center. Fautanu lacks the ideal height of a starting tackle but possesses plenty of length (34.5-inch arm length) and is an excellent technician with clean footwork already to handle the better athletes who play edge defender in the NFL.

Given Fautanu’s traits and skills, he has an easily attainable floor of a high-quality starting interior lineman. His upside to be a strong starter out the outside, perhaps at right tackle, makes me bullish on his NFL career. Fautanu’s combination of foot speed, athleticism, strength and advanced technique as a run and pass blocker is an enticing package, even before considering the positional versatility.

11. Amarius Mims, OT, Georgia

Because of Georgia’s depth and injuries, Mims has started eight games and played 655 snaps in his college career. Those are college rep counts that look more like a one-and-done NBA prospect than a potential offensive line lottery pick in the NFL Draft. But Mims has prototypical size (6-8, 340 pounds) and length (36 ⅛-inch arm length) and is a surprisingly smooth athlete despite his gargantuan frame, which was reflected with his testing in Indianapolis.

Watching Mims in space as a puller or on a screen is a sight to behold. While his technique and awareness are still a work in progress (though still adequate, considering his lack of playing time), and he has primarily been only a right tackle, Mims is such a powerful player and superb athlete with a tangible on-field impact hat if teams are fine with his medicals, Mims’ sky-high ceiling at a premium position will be worth the gamble. He could very well end up as the best offensive lineman from this draft. The Athletic's Dane Brugler calls Mims “the most fascinating player in the draft,” and it’s easy to see why.

12. Graham Barton, OL, Duke

Barton played left tackle to finish his career at Duke. He will likely shift inside to guard or center at the next level, providing quality play and positional flexibility that teams desperately covet in their offensive line room. Barton wins with quickness and hand placement that gives him a chance against better athletes, with enough bend and strength to hold up against more powerful rushers, though more elite defenders will likely give him issues at the next level.

A high-floor player who can help out any offensive line somewhere, Barton could even hold up at right tackle. He's another offensive lineman in this class with a high-end combination of athleticism and technique. Given what even a decent starter along the offensive line is going for these days, Barton’s needle-moving potential along the interior, which can allow any offensive line to get its best starting five out there, has real value.

13. Quinyon Mitchell, CB, Toledo

He is the first defensive player on my big board all the way at spot No. 13, and it’s a former MAC player taking the honors. Mitchell dominated his competition at Toledo and is more than the classic height-weight-speed riser that is an annual draft cycle tradition. An outstanding athlete with notable production (he has a game with four interceptions and two pick-sixes in college), Mitchell knows when to uncoil his spring-like explosiveness and make plays on the ball, with that seek-and-destroy mentality that carries over in run support.

After playing mostly off with eyes on the quarterback in college, his loose hips and ability to stay consistently sticky in man coverage showed up during Senior Bowl practice and his athleticism shined in Indianapolis at the scouting combine. Mitchell always looked like the best player on the field at Toledo and it makes a lot more sense after he tested like an upper-tier NFL athlete. He will of course have to adjust with the level jump, but Mitchell has checked every box in the process with vigor and has true lockdown potential.

14. Dallas Turner, EDGE, Alabama

Turner is long and is outstanding when knifing inside as part of some defensive line movement, constantly disrupting offenses with his bend and surprising strength despite his leaner frame.

Turner can create pressure as a pocket pusher or with his athleticism, and he is still improving his pass rush tool set. He is a positive-play generator playing the run or pass, and will have a fit into any type of defensive scheme, with his flexibility even opening possibilities as a spy or coverage player. I see him ideally as a high-end No. 2 pass rusher (which is why I struggle to stack him higher) who does a lot of other things well for his team, like a traditional 3-4 Sam outside linebacker or what is now known as a Jack in newer three-down defenses. There are similarities between Turner and former Seattle Seahawk Bruce Irvin.

15. Cooper DeJean, CB/DB, Iowa

A top-shelf athlete who has Pro Bowl potential at outside cornerback, slot, safety or punt returner, DeJean is one of my favorite players in the draft. DeJean is competitive, a strong tackler and loves to press wide receivers when working on the outside, with clean hands to avoid penalties and the coordination and speed to stay in lockstep with wide receivers. He can rely on his ability to recover a bit too often, but when you have DeJean’s burst, I guess you can get away with it.

A playmaker no matter where he is on the field, DeJean’s ability to impact the game in a variety of ways will help any defensive back end or special teams unit. We didn’t get to see DeJean test at the combine due to injury and we might not at Iowa’s pro day, which is a shame.

16. Terrion Arnold, CB, Alabama

Arnold’s role and influence on Alabama’s defense expanded throughout the 2023 season. Whether it was from the outside or in the slot, Arnold loved to challenge wide receivers and was willing to mix up his coverage looks while doing so. His ball skills are also an asset, not just with interceptions but making plays on the ball, which he helps create with his play recognition and very good burst with some Gary Payton-like ball swipes.

Arnold is an aggressive player who can get burned once in a while, but he can play inside and out and is willing to press wide receivers (and win as well). His length, twitchiness and feisty style are going to give him plenty of fans throughout the league.

17. Brian Thomas, WR, LSU

Thomas is an excellent athlete (4.33-second 40-yard dash at the combine) with very good size (6-3, 209 pounds) and a rapidly developing game. His route running improved throughout the season, showing off his agility that is especially impressive given his frame and helps project an even more fully formed route tree down the road. Thomas’ foot quickness also shows up when he beats press coverage, opening up quick-hitters and keeping him on time in the offense. He has the burst to separate after the snap and has the long speed to take the top off the coverage.

Thomas still has work to do with his overall game, but his arrow is strongly pointing up. His potential as a true isolated wide receiver with a vertical route tree makes him another strong addition to this wide receiver class.

18. Taliese Fuaga, OT/OG, Oregon State

Using the snap like a sprinter uses the shot of a gun, Fuaga fires off the football. He is good on straight-ahead run combinations and can get to the second-level in a hurry. He struggles to adjust at times and will end up too tall and off-kilter. He is good in pass protection, with a mirroring and shielding style that can frustrate pass rushers, but will at times overset and leave himself vulnerable to inside moves, with his ability to recover being hit-or-miss.

Fuaga has potential to move inside because of his work in the run game, but I like him best at right tackle because of his solid potential as a pass protector and chemistry he could create in the run game with a good guard next to him.

19. Jayden Daniels, QB, LSU

Daniels got better throughout his college years, culminating in a Heisman season in his final year at LSU. He will do damage from the pocket with plus-marks in accuracy, and has no issues with working within the confines of the offense. He showed a polished understanding of the drop-back passing game that correlates with his multi-year starter background.

When things break down, Daniels is an excellent straight-line athlete (although not overwhelmingly shifty) and an explosive runner. But as I wrote about more in my extended breakdown of Daniels, he can look to run too often for my liking, choosing to find a scrambling lane rather than working to extend a play to get off a throw.

Daniels’ toughness should never be questioned and he has some Johnny Knoxville to his game. You appreciate his competitiveness, but it is something you will have to smother out almost entirely at the next level, especially given his slight frame. Daniels' athleticism creates a sliding scale with his size. It allows him to create more than a typical passer, and he can operate quickly from the pocket and win with accuracy, but his ability to work over the middle and intermediate parts of the field from the pocket, given his just adequate arm strength and inconsistent anticipation, will remain a question mark until proven otherwise at the next level.

20. Byron Murphy, DT, Texas

Murphy is a classic gap-shooting defensive tackle who can disrupt a play before it even starts. His ability to create explosive defensive plays with his quickness and violent hands (he loves a good ol’ club-rip move) will provide a spark for any defense that might be filled with more plugger-types. His lack of ideal size and length will knock him with some teams and fits, but Murphy can stop drives with his play and is better at holding up against the run than he gets credit for. His strong testing at the combine also helped his case.

21. Jared Verse, EDGE, Florida State

Verse is all about power, power, power. He loves to fire off the ball and lock onto offensive tackles and push them into quarterbacks’ laps, or drive them into the path of a running back trying to get outside. He doesn’t have many auxiliary moves, lacking finesse and bend to supplement his hammerhead approach, which means certain teams are going to like him for their defensive make-up more than others, especially given his not-exactly-ideal overlap of size and style.

I like Verse a lot as a high-end secondary pass rusher and overall useful player who can help solidify any run defense. His pass rushing upside has a ceiling because of his lack of overwhelming bend.

22. Laiatu Latu, EDGE, UCLA

Latu is a technician as a pass rusher. Switching between fighting styles like Neo being uploaded kung fu, Latu adapts his attack as the game goes along, constantly working and picking at weaknesses or lapses in protection.

Latu’s play against the run game is a bit more boom-or-bust and he lacks ideal length and athleticism, leading to questions about what upside there is left to tap into. His medicals are also going to be pored over by teams, with each going to have different opinions of risk. Still, Latu’s effort and pass move set give him high value for teams looking to create pressure on the quarterback. Think of him as a Diet Coke version of Trey Hendrickson.

If you want a pass rusher and a pass rusher primarily, look no further than UCLA’s Laiatu Latu. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

23. Kingsley Suamataia, OT, BYU

I am likely going to end up higher on Suamataia than a lot of other people. His best football is ahead of him, and with the right landing spot where he can be brought along, there is a potential starting offensive tackle with the ability to play on either side of the football. Suamataia was a former five-star recruit and he has an intriguing bundle of tools to work with, with good size (6-5, 326 pounds, 10 ⅝-inch hands) and length (34 ¼-inch arms).

Suamataia’s play is inconsistent, his footwork can get out of whack and he can be all over the place with his hands, but he is a good athlete (and tested like one, running a 5.04-second 40 in Indianapolis) who can move like a much smaller player with plenty of pop to his hands when he strikes defender. He'll take time and patience, but he is another young offensive tackle prospect in this class (he turned 21 in January) and has a lot of the desirable traits that are hard to find at tackle.

24. Adonai Mitchell, WR, Texas

One of my biggest risers, Mitchell’s quick-twitch athleticism as a bigger receiver shows up on his film over and over again. He has good size and ball skills, and his aptitude at adjusting for passes away from his body and in the red zone is so dangerous when paired with his ability to pick up speed and also jump out of the gym (11-4 broad jump and a 4.34-second 40 at the combine).

Mitchell is such an impressive athlete that it can seem like he is simply gliding when running his routes, but his actual speed becomes more apparent when you see the ground he is eating up and the heat he puts on defenders down the field. Mitchell is a good route runner because of his impressive body control, but his discipline and effort still have room for improvement.

Mitchell has true X wide receiver upside and can win down the field and in isolated situations. He has plenty of work to do, but it’s hard to find players that move like this with this kind of Johnny Bench-like catching range.

25. Jackson Powers-Johnson, OC/OG, Oregon

Built like a strongman from an early-1900s circus, Powers-Johnson is always doing something on the field:

The 2023 season was Powers-Johnson’s first full-time experience at center (he also has starting experience at guard and even defensive tackle), and while there are still moments of his rawness at the pivot spot, he's an explosive and powerful player that plays with an infectious style. He can move in space as a puller and on screens (like in the play above) while also having size (over 330 pounds), and plays like he has the awareness meters cranked up. There are multiple times a game where Powers-Johnson will sift through traffic and work to find a more dangerous defender when his original assignment takes themselves out of the play, or tries to take on two blitzing pass rushers at once.

Powers-Johnson still has to develop and add polish to his game — he can still get a bit too high out of his stance and he uses his hands like a barroom brawler and not a disciplined boxer — but he can be a keystone player for an offensive line for years to come with a few more games under his weightlifter’s belt.

26. Chop Robinson, EDGE, Penn State

I struggle with Robinson. There are plays where he looks simply unblockable, firing off of the football and obliterating the offensive tackle’s hands with a swipe or erasing the angle and ability to recover. Robinson is twitchy and explosive, he bursts at the snap of the ball and can quickly drive blockers back, with some auxiliary pass moves to help balance out his pass rush arsenal.

There isn’t a lot of production and consistent finishing with those instant-wins on the outside. At times, Robinson will keep looping around the quarterback and take himself out of the play, or get swallowed up by a bigger tackle whenever he tries to win through a blocker.

Robinson put on a show at the combine, and that athleticism shows up on film, but those flashes of elite rushing ability will have to become more consistent to be worth a higher selection. His ability to hold up in the run game is also a question mark, which has led to me comparing him to Yannick Ngakoue, a player with similar size and style.

27. Jordan Morgan, OT/OG, Arizona

Morgan is another good athlete at the tackle position and wins more with speed and skill than bruising force. He will need to keep developing his strength, as power-first players will give him issues, and he has trouble getting consistent movement at the snap of the ball. He could be a good fit as a guard in a zone-heavy run scheme because of his movement and length, while also covering up any strength deficiencies. I am still figuring out what Morgan’s ideal weight and position are t the next level. His potential versatility should be viewed as a positive.

28. Jer’Zhan Newton, DT, Illinois

Another quick-trigger defensive tackle, Newton wins with violent hands and get-off at the snap of the ball. He isn’t a bendy athlete and lacks the bulk to hold the point consistently against double-teams, but he can jolt linemen in singled-up situations and also provide instant-win explosive plays when he times up the snap.

29. Keon Coleman, WR, Florida State

Coleman’s basketball background oozes off the screen.

Coleman is a ball-winner, through and through. He's an outside wide receiver who may lack a few limbs on his route tree but makes up for it with his ability to finish alley-oops and adjust for throws all around his body.

Coleman is going to be a weapon in the red zone right away, his athleticism best exemplified with his jumping ability and burst. His long speed is more “fine” than overwhelming, something that was reflected with his 4.61 40 time at the combine, but Coleman can create a few yards after the catch because of his balance and body control. (He was a top performer in the gauntlet drill at the combine.) Coleman could excel as a secondary player early in his career as he continues to add refinement to the more subtle aspects of the position. His wow plays will be worth it as he adds more down-to-down consistency.

30. Tyler Guyton, OT, Oklahoma

Guyton is especially raw and has barely more than a dozen starts to his name, but his size and movement ability are hard to teach. He is going to need a developmental plan and patience, especially with adding strength to his lower body and with his pass protection technique, but he is a fun piece of clay for an offensive line coach to work with. He’s currently best on the move as opposed to at the point of attack, but there aren’t a lot of big men who can move in space like Guyton.

31. Nate Wiggins, CB, Clemson

Long and twitchy, Wiggins already has the starter kit for an NFL outstanding cornerback. Wiggins uses his twitchiness to close space on wide receivers, with an understanding of how to use his hands when looking to make a play on the ball. Wiggins constantly hinders vertical routes with his ability to stay in-step with wide receivers.

Wiggins is merely fine against the run and lacks size to be a difference-maker in the area, which is concerning at the next level as teams will attack any deficiencies that show up. But he has the ability to work well in man or zone without help, with the length to match up with the longer NFL receivers. It will be a sliding scale with how teams want to gauge his coverage ability and lack of size.

32. Kool-Aid McKinstry, CB, Alabama

McKinstry is a crafty cornerback, one who wins with control and understanding of the position rather than overwhelming athleticism or length. McKinstry does a nice job of staying within himself and keeping himself near receivers, with the ability to make plays on the ball.

The other side of this is that McKinstry has to be in perfect position because if he makes a misstep, he lacks the ability to consistently recover because of his just-average long speed and burst. He is not a bad athlete, just one who lacks the suddenness that you would prefer. McKinstry’s awareness, technique and willingness as a tackler make him an interesting candidate in a more zone-heavy defense that would let him play more as a “cloud” cornerback in the flat.

33. J.J. McCarthy, QB, Michigan

I have warmed to McCarthy’s game the more I’ve watched him (which is needed given his low usage in Michigan’s offense this past season), but I will unlikely be able to raise him much higher than this. Having said that, he’s aggressive, willing to work the middle of the field, flashes good feel in the pocket and is a plus-athlete that throws well on the move. He shows off vision as a runner as a scrambler and designed runner, too.

McCarthy can have inconsistencies anticipating outside, especially to his left, and with layered throws over the middle, which will lead to some sprayed throws when he feels late and then overstrides. He is also alarmingly skinny, which causes me hesitation about his ability to pull away from a stronger NFL defender’s grasp in the pocket and potential to hold up to sustained hits at the next level. And while he is athletic, he’s again more of a good athlete than an excellent one.

Quarterbacks are always complex to evaluate and McCarthy, with his lack of substantial throws to evaluate, is even more complex. Coaches from Shanahan offenses will like McCarthy more than others because of his ability to throw on the move and drive the ball in the intermediate areas. But there is a ton of projection needed with such a young and low-usage player.

34. Christian Haynes, G, Connecticut

Christian Haynes rocks. He’s a good athlete who fires off the football and can get up on defensive linemen and linebackers in an instant.

Haynes’ ability to anchor is inconsistent in pass sets, he has quick footwork and length with the ability to recover and bend, but he can also get steadily pushed back against bigger defensive tackles. He fights and won’t outright lose, but he will cede ground at times.

Haynes has similarities to Shaq Mason, but in a slightly larger frame. His movement in the run game, intelligence as a player and ability to hold up against better athletes as a pass protector make him a classy guard prospect and he’s been a big riser for me.

35. Ja’Lynn Polk, WR, Washington

Like his teammate Odunze, Polk checks a lot of boxes at the WR position. Inside-outside versatility? Check. Good hands? Check. Smooth athleticism with glimpses of a deeper bag of tricks as a route runner? Check. Willingness as a blocker? Check.

Polk has above-average-to-good size, speed, foot quickness and contact balance, along with everything listed above. He might not have true No. 1 option upside, but he can carve out a role in a lot of different types of offenses as a top No. 2 option at the NFL level and become a reliable target-eater no matter what’s asked of him. He’s the ultimate useful type of wide receiver.

36. Ladd McConkey, WR, Georgia

All he does is move the chains. McConkey’s production at Georgia might not jump off the page, but he is a route-running dynamo who is explosive with the ball in his hands. He had a strong week of Senior Bowl practices.

McConkey’s size will limit some of his upside on the outside, but his burst, balance and footwork let him win out there more often than you would think. McConkey thrives against man coverage and he can pick apart his defender with his ability to bend and vary up his tempo in his route running. He is another player with limitations to be a true No. 1, but McConkey has all the makings of a third-down target monster that can create explosive plays at the underneath and intermediate levels. He has some style similarities to Emmanuel Sanders, but with a smaller catching range.

37. Zach Frazier, C, West Virginia

Centers are back! Frazier is everything you want from the leader of your offensive line room. Competitive and tough with a high football IQ, Frazier is all about football and maximizes his traits on every snap. Frazier constantly gets himself in the right position and wins with quickness and hand placement, which allows him to create leverage with his blocks. Longer defenders will give him issues at the next level, but Frazier’s high-energy, polished and tenacious style will make for an exhausting day for whoever goes across him on Sundays.

38. Troy Franklin, WR, Oregon

Long and twitchy, Franklin eats up ground quickly bounding down the field. Although he looks more like a classic outside-only "X" wide receiver, Franklin actually has the quickness to win underneath and from the slot as well. He is explosive and has more to his game than first meets the eye. He’s a good route runner with long speed and will snatch throws from all angles, which can help him in contested catch situations and in the red zone. He is skinny, but has more real “football player” to him than you’d think and plays with toughness and is a willing blocker. I struggle with Franklin a bit, especially considering his weight (176 pounds), but he grows on you the more you watch him.

39. Patrick Paul, OT, Houston

Paul is big with incredibly long arms and the feet of someone 200 pounds lighter. He is more of a bundle of tools than a finished project. Paul can wallop defenders when he has everything working in the right direction, but he is going to need consistent coaching and a plan at the next level to focus his ability and reach his high ceiling, and it will be more flashes until his hand placement and footwork come together and start working in unison. Those willing to invest can come out on the other end with a quality starting left tackle, and who doesn’t want one of those?

40. Ennis Rakestraw Jr., CB, Missouri

Rakestraw’s play is infectious. He takes on every blocker like it's an insult and relishes getting man or press coverage assignments, whether it’s inside or outside.

Rakestraw is undersized, weighing in at 183 pounds at the combine, and will still need to harness the energy he brings to the game like Cyclops needing his visor, as his aggressive and handsy style, with lack of overwhelming athleticism, will draw penalties at the next level. But his ability to hold his own against different types of wide receivers, with potential to play snaps in the slot, gives him a path as a starting cornerback. Carlton Davis is bigger, but he is a good style comparison at the position for Rakestraw.

41. Trey Benson, RB, Florida State

Benson is the only running back in my top 50 (although there would be about a half-dozen who would make this list if it went to 100). He has had injuries in his career, but has been able to stay on the field over the past two seasons in a split backfield and show off his explosive play ability and balance:

Benson has good size and ran a 4.39 40 at the combine, something that is reflected with the home runs he hit in college. Ideally he’d be with another back to eat some touches, but Benson has good vision, footwork and big-play ability, and shows off good hands in his limited exposure as a pass catcher. If a team is OK with his medical history, he can be an instant impact-type player.

42. Junior Colson, LB, Michigan

43. Edgerrin Cooper, LB, Texas A&M

It’s not a great linebacker crop this year, and deciding between Colson and Cooper is a bit of what flavor you prefer. Colson is a smart player who is more of an OK than great athlete. He can hold up in coverage because of his play recognition ability. He has three-down potential and is a good tackler despite his lack of overwhelming size. Just think of Colson as solid, but with a potentially low ceiling (although there is value in a real starting linebacker these days).

Cooper, on the other hand, is more of an athlete playing the position. He has length (34-inch arms) and speed, but lacks ideal size (only 230 pounds) and his play recognition can be up and down. Cooper can get caught playing high or a step slow against the run, but his speed allows him to recover. It gets only harder at the next level, but Cooper has a strong athletic profile and a frame to grow into. Did I mention off-ball linebackers are hard to find these days?

44. Malik Mustapha, S, Wake Forest

Mustapha is my top safety at another thin position in this year’s class of prospects. He brings it in the run game, and there are several plays a game where Mustapha closed in on ball carriers from depth and wiped them out instantly:

Mustapha is this year’s best tackling defensive back prospect. Those tackles aren’t just big shots and head hunting highlights. He constantly shows off his good burst when closing on the ball and is a strong and sound tackler with consistent technique in the open field.

In coverage, he is best when working in two-high shells, but he showed the ability to transition cleanly when in man coverage situations. Mustapha lacks ideal height, but has plenty of size to his frame and he constantly puts ball carriers down with his strength. Think of him as a value brand version of Budda Baker.

45. Kamari Lassiter, CB, Georgia

Lassiter isn’t a great athlete and lacks ideal size, but he is a competitive and smart player who sees the game well and is constantly in the right position. He won’t be right for every landing spot, but he can be a positive starter in the right role that allows him to use his smarts and doesn’t ask him to hold up in man coverage all the time.

46. Theo Johnson, TE, Penn State

This is a big projection, but evaluating nearly every tight end prospect ever requires a huge helping of projection. Johnson always showed more to his game than the box score numbers indicated; he has outstanding size and was one of the best testers at the combine a few weeks ago.

Johnson has upside as an in-line TE, with real plays of him doing it in college, but he can stretch the field as a pass catcher with how smooth of an athlete he is in such a large frame. He has a profile that is seldom seen outside of the 2023 draft class.

47. Jalen McMillan, WR, Washington

The third Husky wide receiver to make my top 50, McMillan has good size and is a smooth athlete who mostly operated out of the slot in college. McMillan has some of the same qualities as Christian Kirk; he can stretch the field and win consistently from inside. He plays with just average strength as a route runner, but that does not hold him back in the run game, where he is willing to scrap and contribute. McMillan won’t make a ton of defenders miss, but has some YAC ability as a defender-splitter who can plant his foot and get upfield. He could be a strong secondary option at the next level with his combination of size, route running and hands.

48. Tyler Nubin, S, Minnesota

The only other safety to make my top 50, Nubin is a solid athlete who can play in the box or from depth. He will be best in a quarters-based system with another like-bodied safety. He is more solid than good in coverage, and more athletic tight ends can give him issues if they push vertically. He is also a strong contributor in the run game and a willing tackler, but his athleticism limits his ability to recover if he missteps. I view him as a solid-level safety who will be constantly in the right spot at the next level.

49. Xavier Worthy, WR, Texas

I am a little lower on Worthy’s game than others, but 4.21 is 4.21. Worthy isn’t just a blazer and has more route running to him than you would think, but he is going to be best used vertically — likely more from the slot to hide his lack of size — at the next level. Worthy’s lack of size shows up when working over the middle, as he has a tendency to be a body catcher and shrink his smaller frame even more, leading to drops and double-catches.

50. Michael Hall, DT, Ohio State

Hall is another gap-shooting defensive tackle prospect, one I'm bullish on at the next level because of his explosiveness and youth. He didn’t have the best box score numbers, but Hall is constantly winning and disrupting offenses. He has a quick first step that often puts guards in a bad position, and has plenty of length and balance to maintain his leverage.

11 more NFL Draft prospects to watch

Roman Wilson, WR, Michigan

Spencer Rattler, QB, South Carolina

Ja’Tavion Sanders, TE, Texas

Audric Estime, RB, Notre Dame

Bralen Trice, EDGE, Washington

Malachi Corley, WR, Western Kentucky

T’Vondre Sweat, DT, Texas

Cooper Beebe, OG/OC, Kansas State

Bo Nix, QB, Oregon

Brandon Dorlus, DL, Oregon

Darius Robinson, DL, Missouri

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