September 10, 2022; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. (18) celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the second half of Saturday's game against the Arkansas State Red Wolves at Ohio Stadium.Mandatory Credit: Barbara J. Perenic/Columbus Dispatch

Top 24 prospects eligible for ’24 NFL Draft

The top of the 2024 NFL Draft features flex-worthy talent at quarterback and offensive tackle, the type of star power that changes the fortunes of an NFL team upon arrival.

Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams enters the season as the No. 1 talent in college football.

But the offensive tackle group stands out. It’s one of the deepest in recent years thanks to surefire 2023 first-round pick Olumuyiwa Fashanu opting to return to Penn State. He’s the clear-cut top option and fits the prototype of players who’ve gone No. 1 at the position historically.

Special athletes that could push for Fashanu’s perch include BYU’s Kingsley Suamataia and Alabama’s JC Latham. They will be early draft selections at their current trajectory.

As college football season kicks off this weekend, we’ve provided a snapshot of players to know before draft season arrives.

Here are the top 24 prospects eligible for the ’24 draft:

1. Caleb Williams, QB, USC: A dynamic passer with rare arm talent, creativity and feel for the position, the 2022 Heisman Trophy winner enters the season as a clear favorite for the No. 1 pick. Blue-chip quarterbacks like this don’t come around often.

2. Marvin Harrison Jr, WR, Ohio State: The son of a Hall of Famer, expectations on Harrison exceed those placed on his father. Read that sentence again. His blend of athleticism and craftsmanship should make him an easy top-5 pick.

3. Olumuyiwa Fashanu, OT, Penn State: Fashanu flirted with the idea of entering the 2023 draft, but his return could pay off handsomely. The polished pass-blocker has rare technical polish and body control for his size.

4. Brock Bowers, TE, Georgia: Bowers plays more like a receiver than a traditional tight end, which may not sit well with every NFL team. Despite modest blocking acumen, he should still find his way into a rare top-10 draft slot for a tight end.

5. Dallas Turner, OLB, Alabama: Explosive, bendy and dominant is the best way to describe Turner, who figures to follow Will Anderson’s steps as a top pass-rusher out of Tuscaloosa. A slender frame and lack of strength is the only major concern.

6. Kingsley Suamataia, OT, BYU: A high upside lineman with special tools befitting the “dancing bear” moniker, Suamataia is more of a projection than a complete prospect. That said, he is one of the best pound-for-pound athletes in next year’s class.

7. Drake Maye, QB, North Carolina: Smooth operating with the touch of a ten year veteran, Maye lacks the spark of Williams, but he’s a good distributor who can conduct an offense like a crafty pro.

8. JC Latham, OT, Alabama: Latham is bulking up to 360 pounds after playing last year at 335. His bet on being an enormous road grader could send his draft stock either soaring or tumbling this season.

9. Kool-Aid McKinstry, CB, Alabama: Another well-coached Alabama defensive back who seems to never be out of position, McKinstry has the combination of nuance and timing in coverage that makes him hard to find an advantage against.

10. Joe Alt, OT, Notre Dame: The freakishly long-armed son of former Chiefs All-Pro tackle John Alt, the younger Alt fits the part as a potential franchise tackle because of his strength and pass pro ability.

11. Leonard Taylor, DT, Miami: One of the rare 300 pounders who can kick out to defensive end, Taylor’s burst, agility and power give him a unique ceiling that is hard to match. Expect teams to be forgiving about his lack of refinement.

12. Kalen King, CB, Penn State: One of the slighter cornerbacks at the top of next year’s class, King makes up for his lack of weight by playing with a fearless temperament and the type of closing speed that pops off the tape.

13. Jared Verse, DE, Florida State: Verse passed on the 2023 draft, staying in Tallahassee to add weight and improve his game. The decision could lock him into a top-15 draft slot.

14. Michael Hall Jr, DT, Ohio State: Although used heavily in rotation last season, Hall’s hand speed and ability to quickly shed blocks should lead to both an increased role and plenty of buzz as a top interior defender this fall.

15. Emeka Egbuka, WR, Ohio State: Despite sharing the workload with the more highly acclaimed Harrison, Egbuka has been plenty productive. The slick route-runner is more polish than pop but could still be the second receiver off the board. Ohio State receivers are gaining a gold-star rating with NFL scouts.

16. Donovan Jackson, OG, Ohio State: The small market for first round guards could slide Jackson down the board, but he fits the prototype of a top interior lineman. His blend of length, control, and physicality is pro ready.

17. J.T. Tuimoloau, DE, Ohio State: Former 5-star recruit Tuimoloau hasn’t hit the heights expected so far, but he has the size, athleticism, and potential to be a first-rounder if he can produce as a junior.

18. Jack Nelson, OT, Wisconsin: Nelson may be dinged by his technique, but his frame and movement skills allow him to get in the way and stay in the way at a high level in both the pass and run game.

19. Barrett Carter, LB, Clemson: While he will have to fight off the infamous “tweener” label, there is plenty to like about Carter. He brings outstanding speed with the versatility to play everything from middle linebacker to nickel corner.

20. Maason Smith, DT, LSU: A possible top-10 pick coming out of his freshman year, Smith’s torn ACL in the 2022 season opener and his one-game suspension to start 2023 raise more questions than answers. If he returns to his freshman form he should rise up the board.

21. Nate Wiggins, CB, Clemson: Twitchy and fluid corners with the body type of Wiggins are hard to find, which figures to play into his push towards landing as the next early round corner from the Tigers.

22. Bo Nix, QB, Oregon: The narrative has flipped on Nix since his early struggles at Auburn. The uber athletic passer may lack touch, but he has starter tools that can be harnessed in the right environment.

23. Malik Nabers, WR, LSU: Nabers is a steady producer with good hands and enough juice to make plays after the catch, although he lacks the type of potential that is likely needed to push into the top ten picks.

24. Cooper DeJean, S, Iowa: DeJean started at safety but moved to cornerback in the middle of 2022 and put together a productive campaign outside. It would be no surprise if teams wind up mixed on his projection.

–By Mark Jarvis, Field Level Media

Jun 14, 2023; Charlotte, NC, USA;  Carolina Panthers head coach Frank Reich watches quarterback Bryce Young (9) during the Carolina Panthers minicamp. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Top picks Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud still unsigned as camp approaches

Top NFL draft picks Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud could be on the sideline when training camps open due to ongoing contract negotiations.

Young, the No. 1 pick by the Carolina Panthers, and Stroud, selected second by the Houston Texans, are both in line to start as rookies after promising offseasons.

Stroud worked with receivers and tight ends away from the team facility and was also actively involved in the full team workouts. Whether he will sign while waiting to see the specifics of Young’s deal is unclear.

“It was good, definitely just building chemistry trying to get timing down and trying to be as best we can so we can get to training camp and dominate,” Stroud said. “That was the goal for that one to keep building and have a good offseason.”

Draft picks know the value and framework of their contracts when they are selected due to an NFL draft pool that assigns a value to each pick slot.

The granular clauses, such as offset language that dictates what a team owes if it moves on from a player, and the payment schedule of the initial signing bonus, can often become sticking points.

Most teams spread a signing bonus over three or four payments. The Panthers and Texans can thank the Jacksonville Jaguars for any demand of immediate bonus payments.

The Jaguars made No. 1 pick Trevor Lawrence’s $24.1 million bonus due in full 15 business days after signing in 2021 and paid the more than $24 million signing bonus to Travon Walker in the same timeframe.

No. 3 pick Will Anderson signed with the Texans on June 23. He signed a four-year, $35.2 million deal with a fifth-year team option.

NFL draft slot values peg the contract for the No. 1 pick at four years, $37.95 million, which includes a $24.6 million signing bonus. Stroud stands to sign a deal worth $36.3 million with $23.3 million due at signing.

Colts No. 4 overall pick Anthony Richardson also remains unsigned and has a max contract value of $33.994 million over four years.

–Field Level Media

Dec 31, 2022; Glendale, Arizona, USA; TCU Horned Frogs quarterback Max Duggan (15) against the Michigan Wolverines during the 2022 Fiesta Bowl at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Chargers pick up TCU QB Max Duggan in seventh round of draft

The Los Angeles Chargers selected TCU quarterback and Heisman Trophy runner-up Max Duggan with the No. 239 overall pick in the seventh round of the 2023 NFL Draft on Saturday.

In Los Angeles, Duggan could compete for the back-up job behind starter Justin Herbert. Easton Stick was the only other quarterback on the Chargers’ roster entering the draft.

Duggan threw for 3,698 yards, 32 touchdowns and eight interceptions and added 423 rushing yards and nine rushing TDs in 2022 while guiding the Horned Frogs to their first College Football Playoff appearance. TCU beat Michigan to reach the national title game before losing 65-7 to Georgia.

In 47 games over four seasons at TCU, Duggan racked up 9,618 passing yards, 73 touchdowns and 28 picks and added 28 rushing touchdowns.

He was the 14th quarterback selected in the draft. Twelve quarterbacks went in the first five rounds, a record for the common draft era.

–Field Level Media

Oct 2, 2022; London, United Kingdom; New Orleans Saints tight end Adam Trautman (82) carries the ball in the second half against the Minnesota Vikings during an NFL International Series game at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. The Vikings defeated the Saints 28-25. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Saints trade TE Adam Trautman to Broncos in draft-day deal

The New Orleans Saints dealt tight end Adam Trautman and the No. 257 overall pick in the NFL draft to the Denver Broncos for the No. 195 overall pick on Saturday.

The Saints used that sixth-round selection from Denver on Wake Forest wide receiver A.T. Perry.

The deal reunites Trautman, 26, with former Saints and current Broncos head coach Sean Payton.

New Orleans drafted Trautman in the third round of the 2020 draft. In three seasons, he tallied 60 catches for 641 yards and four touchdowns over 43 games (28 starts).

Perry caught 28 touchdown passes for Wake Forest in four seasons, including 15 in 2021 and 11 last season. He was a 1,000-yard receiver in back-to-back campaigns and was an All-ACC first-team selection both seasons.

–Field Level Media

Mar 4, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Stanford quarterback Tanner McKee (QB09)  participates in drills at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Eagles draft QB Tanner McKee to back up Jalen Hurts

Not long after signing Jalen Hurts to a $255 million extension, the Philadelphia Eagles added some insurance to their quarterback room in the sixth round of the NFL draft by taking Stanford QB Tanner McKee on Saturday.

The Eagles used the No. 188 overall pick on McKee, a 6-foot-6 pocket passer who joins a team that also signed quarterback Marcus Mariota in free agency.

McKee threw for 5,336 yards, 28 touchdowns and 15 interceptions in 23 games at Stanford from 2020-22.

He was the 13th quarterback taken in the 2023 draft after a record-setting 12 signal-callers were chosen through the first five rounds.

The NFC champions locked up Hurts with a five-year extension earlier this month. Former backup quarterback Gardner Minshew left in free agency to sign with the Indianapolis Colts.

–Field Level Media

Nov 19, 2022; Lexington, Kentucky, USA; Georgia Bulldogs defensive back Kelee Ringo (5) intercepts a pass during the second quarter against the Kentucky Wildcats at Kroger Field. Mandatory Credit: Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports

Eagles continue tapping Georgia pipeline on final day of NFL draft

The Philadelphia Eagles added former Georgia Bulldogs on both sides of the ball as the final day of the 2023 NFL Draft commenced Saturday in Kansas City, Mo.

Before the start of the fourth round, the Eagles traded up into the third pick of the day, No. 105 overall, by dealing a 2024 third-rounder to the Houston Texans. The Eagles used that selection on cornerback Kelee Ringo, the fifth Georgia defender they’ve drafted in two years.

The NFC champions later agreed to a trade to acquire Detroit Lions running back D’Andre Swift, who projects as their new first-string running back after the departure of Miles Sanders in free agency. Swift is a Philadelphia native and also played collegiately at Georgia.

“He’s got big-play ability as a runner and receiver,” Eagles general manager Howie Roseman said in an interview on the ESPN broadcast. “We saw it first-hand when we were in Detroit first game of the season. … We liked our running backs. We didn’t go into the draft feeling like this was a position we had to have. But we felt like this player was somebody who could really add to our culture and add to our team.

“And I’m sure I’m out of the Florida alumni association as we speak.”

On Thursday, the Eagles drafted Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter No. 9 overall and Bulldogs pass-rusher Nolan Smith at No. 30. Philadelphia also spent first- and third-round picks in the 2022 draft on Georgia defensive tackle Jordan Davis and linebacker Nakobe Dean.

Ringo had four interceptions in 30 career games over two seasons at Georgia, which fielded a record-setting defense in 2021 and dominated on that side of the ball again in 2022 en route to two straight national titles. The Bulldogs led FBS with 77.1 rushing yards allowed per game and ranked fifth in scoring defense at 14.3 ppg.

Swift, 24, is entering the final year of his rookie contract after three seasons with the Lions. In 40 career games (16 starts), Swift rushed for 1,680 yards (4.6 per attempt) and 18 touchdowns. But the Lions used a first-round pick Thursday on Alabama running back Jahmyr Gibbs, signaling their interest in moving on from Swift.

The Eagles dealt a seventh-round pick (No. 219) and a 2025 fourth-rounder to land Swift and Detroit’s seventh-rounder (No. 249), according to multiple reports.

Three quarterbacks went in the fourth round, bringing the total to eight quarterbacks over the first four rounds of the seven-round draft.

The New Orleans Saints traded up with the Jacksonville Jaguars to No. 127 overall and selected quarterback Jake Haener from Fresno State. Haener was the Senior Bowl MVP and is the first Fresno State quarterback to be drafted since Derek Carr — whom the Saints signed as a free agent in March to be their new starter.

With the very next pick, the Los Angeles Rams drafted Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett, who started for the Bulldogs in each of the past two seasons and helped them win back-to-back titles. Bennett threw for 4,128 yards, 27 touchdowns and seven interceptions in 2022, added 10 rushing touchdowns and finished fourth in Heisman Trophy voting.

With the last pick in the fourth round, the Las Vegas Raiders chose Purdue quarterback Aidan O’Connell. The Raiders signed Jimmy Garoppolo as their presumptive starting quarterback this offseason after parting ways with Carr.

The New England Patriots used an early fourth-rounder on Troy center Jake Andrews, then traded up with their division rival New York Jets to No. 112 overall to pick Maryland kicker Chad Ryland. He was the second kicker picked in this draft after the San Francisco 49ers used a late third-rounder on Michigan’s Jake Moody.

–Field Level Media

Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett (13) throws a pass during the second half of the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl NCAA College Football Playoff semifinal game between Ohio State and Georgia on Saturday, Dec 31, 2022, in Atlanta. Georgia won 42-41.

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Rams draft ex-Georgia QB Stetson Bennett in fourth round

The Los Angeles Rams selected two-time national champion quarterback Stetson Bennett at No. 128 overall in the fourth round of the NFL draft on Saturday.

Bennett led the Georgia offense in each of the past two seasons, when the Bulldogs went a combined 29-1 and won the 2021 and 2022 College Football Playoff national titles.

Bennett threw for a Georgia record 4,127 yards, 27 touchdowns and seven interceptions in 2022, added 10 rushing touchdowns and finished fourth in Heisman Trophy voting. In four seasons at Georgia, he racked up 8,428 passing yards and 66 touchdowns with 21 interceptions.

Three weeks after the national title game in January, Bennett was arrested in Dallas on charges of public intoxication after residents complained he was banging on front doors in a neighborhood at 6 a.m.

He enters the NFL with some other question marks, too. He is not the ideal height of an NFL quarterback, measuring 5-foot-11 at the scouting combine, and at 25, he will be an older NFL rookie.

Entering the draft, the Rams had only 35-year-old Matthew Stafford on the QB depth chart. Stafford is a fellow former Georgia quarterback.

Stafford is coming off a season-ending injury, a spinal cord contusion that caused him to miss the final seven games, as Los Angeles missed the playoffs one year after winning the Super Bowl.

Bennett was the seventh quarterback selected in the 2023 draft, going one pick after the New Orleans traded up to No. 127 to tab ex-Fresno State quarterback Jake Haener.

The Las Vegas Raiders closed the fourth round by selecting Aidan O’Connell, the starting quarterback at Purdue the past two seasons.

Two more quarterbacks were taken within the first five picks in the fifth round. The Arizona Cardinals grabbed Clayton Tune, who played at Houston, and the Cleveland Browns selected Dorian Thompson-Robinson, who threw for 10,710 yards in five seasons at UCLA.

–Field Level Media

Mar 4, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Fresno State quarterback Jake Haener (QB05) participates in drills at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Saints add QB Jake Haener in fourth round of NFL draft

The New Orleans Saints traded up in the fourth round of the NFL draft Saturday to select Fresno State quarterback Jake Haener.

Haener was the Senior Bowl MVP and is the first Fresno State quarterback to be drafted since Derek Carr — whom the Saints signed as a free agent in March to be their new starter.

The Saints picked Haener at No. 127 overall, which they acquired from the Jacksonville Jaguars for the No. 227 pick and a fourth-rounder in 2024.

Haener threw for 2,896 yards, 20 touchdowns and just three interceptions in seven games in 2022. That followed a 4,096-yard campaign in 2021.

The Saints also have Jameis Winston, Jake Luton and Taysom Hill on their roster. Though Hill is listed as a tight end, the ex-quarterback attempted 19 passes and threw for two touchdowns for New Orleans in 2022.

Haener was the sixth quarterback selected in the 2023 draft and the first on Day 3. One selection later, the Los Angeles Rams picked Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett.

–Field Level Media

Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker (5) runs into the end zone for a touchdown during a game between Tennessee and Missouri in Neyland Stadium, Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022.

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Lions take QB Hendon Hooker in third round of NFL draft

Hendon Hooker could be the future franchise quarterback in the Motor City after the Detroit Lions used an early-third-round selection to take the Tennessee product in the 2023 NFL Draft on Friday night in Kansas City, Mo.

Hooker was the fifth quarterback to be drafted, following Alabama’s Bryce Young (No. 1 overall to Carolina), Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud (No. 2 to Houston), Florida’s Anthony Richardson (No. 4 to Indianapolis) and Kentucky’s Will Levis (No. 33 to Tennessee).

The Lions reached the playoffs last season with Jared Goff as their starting quarterback. Goff, 28, is signed through 2024. Nate Sudfeld was the only other quarterback on the roster entering Friday.

Hooker was trending toward being a Heisman Trophy finalist during a second straight stellar season for the Volunteers and wound up fifth in Heisman voting after throwing for 3,135 yards, 27 touchdowns and only two interceptions over 11 games.

However, his 2022 season ended abruptly when he tore the ACL in his left knee in a game against South Carolina on Nov. 19.

In an article published Tuesday, Hooker told The Athletic that he expects to be “100 percent cleared” to play by Sept. 1. He also shared videos on social media this week showing him working out, saying it was his first day of dropping back to throw roughly five months after the injury occurred.

After spending six years in college, four at Virginia Tech and two at Tennessee, Hooker is already 25 years old — for comparison, just one year younger than former NFL MVP Lamar Jackson.

–Field Level Media

Apr 27, 2023; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kentucky quarterback Will Levis walks the NFL Draft Red Carpet before the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft at Union Station. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Toe cause of Will Levis’ draft woe?

A troublesome toe that might require surgery might have been a part of the woeful Thursday night in Kansas City for Kentucky quarterback Will Levis.

ESPN reported Thursday that two teams considered the left toe injury “problematic,” possibly requiring surgery.

Levis went undrafted in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft, an unexpected development when juxtaposed against reports he could be in play with the No. 1 and No. 2 picks. Levis’ disappointment from the green room was prominent on the live TV coverage of the first round of the draft.

Before his pro day, Levis implied he was expecting to be drafted early and thus accepted an invitation to be at the draft in-person with his parents, girlfriend and others.

“If I know I’ll be a pretty high pick I’ll definitely go,” he said. “I’m looking forward to going, but I don’t want to go if I could be like a second-round pick. Don’t want to have the camera just on you all day.”

He received a social media message of support from 2022 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Sauce Gardner among many others.

“Will Levis… God makes no mistakes. You will be great,” Gardner wrote late Thursday.

But there’s more to the story based on conversations with scouts since the NFL Scouting Combine. Levis’ self-proclaimed rocket arm isn’t overblown, but issues with turnovers (23 INTs in his past 24 games) and age (24), along with “bouts with self-belief” are all limiting factors for various teams.

Levis started two seasons at Kentucky, which gave him experience in a pro offense orchestrated by Liam Coen in 2021 before he left to become offensive coordinator under Sean McVay with the Los Angeles Rams in 2022.

Coen was alongside Levis in Kansas City as the green room emptied gradually on Thursday. Levis was one of 17 players invited by the league to the NFL Draft, four of whom were not selected in the first round.

NFL Network reported Friday morning that teams are calling other clubs looking to move into position to select Levis in the second round.

Success stories beyond the first round include one player scouts have compared Levis to — former Cardinals and Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer (1997) — along with prominent players such as Brett Favre (1991), Drew Brees (2001), Andy Dalton (2011), Randall Cunningham (1985), Boomer Esiason (1984) and current Saints quarterback Derek Carr (2014).

–Field Level Media