WKU's Malachi Corley runs in for a touchdown against UTEP on Nov. 4, 2023 at the Sun Bowl.

2024 Scouting Combine: 20 names to know

For the duration of his stay at the 2024 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis next week, presumptive No. 1 overall pick Caleb Williams will be recognized by potential employers simply as QB14.

The alpha-order list of QBs might place Williams at the caboose end of his positional peers, but the hype train for the 2022 Heisman Trophy winner is about to pick up some serious steam.

He’s not the only one in the running at No. 1.

The combine’s labeled QB1 — because he’s first in the alphabetical listing of players at the position — is 2023 Heisman winner Jayden Daniels. The LSU quarterback rates as a top-10 pick, with North Carolina’s Drake Maye and Ohio State wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. counted among players jousting to be in the top 5 in April.

Here are 20 names to know before more than 300 prospects — and key personnel evaluators and coaches for all 32 NFL teams — converge on Central Indiana next week.

What: 2024 NFL Scouting Combine
When: Feb. 26-March 4
Where: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis
Who: 321 college football players were invited to participate

1. Ryan Poles, GM, Chicago Bears
It’s not Groundhog Day, but there’s a sense of deja vu for the other 31 general managers with Poles in the driver’s seat for another draft.

Chicago owns the first pick in the draft entering the combine, and the Bears are in position to make another franchise-altering decision at the top. Last March, Poles traded the No. 1 pick to the Panthers and received this 2024 first-round pick in return, thanks to Carolina’s league-worst 2-15 finish. The Bears also have the No. 9 pick, but moved their 2024 second-round pick to acquire defensive end Montez Sweat from the Washington Commanders in October.

Just when you think you know where Poles plans to play his cards, remember he came out of the 2023 draft with a right tackle in the first round (Tennessee’s Darnell Wright).

If we’re talking Poles, we’re talking …

2. Justin Fields, Bears
One day after the combine officially wraps, Fields turns 25 (March 5) and the NFL franchise tag window slides shut at 3:59:59 p.m. ET. Clarity should be closer to reality for Chicago and the rest of the league after days of meetings, clandestine trade talks and agent sessions that help set the table for the start of free agency.

Where will Fields play next season?

It’s not impossible he’ll stay put as the Bears determine whether to invest in a fifth-year option for 2025 — at around $22 million — or hit reset to select their top-ranked quarterback at a four-year cost (2024-27 seasons) of around $40 million.

Keeping Fields and trading the No. 1 pick might bring back a bigger haul than vice versa. He’ll make just over $1.6 million in salary in 2024, but Poles would be betting his job that the 2021 No. 11 overall pick is the answer.

He could also do … both?

Poles would be wise to recall past predicaments with similar ramifications. He was in Kansas City when Alex Smith was embedded as the starter and the Chiefs traded up for Patrick Mahomes. They Chiefs traded Smith to Washington the following year.

Another offensive lineman-turned-GM, Ryan Grigson, faced a shadow-casting call in 2012 when the Colts set free Peyton Manning following neck surgery and turned the keys of the franchise over to Andrew Luck.

3. Caleb Williams, QB, Southern California
Opinion in the scouting community is overwhelming regarding Williams’ arm talent, accuracy and excellence working off-script. Comparisons range from Josh Allen (Bills) to Jay Cutler, and the Bears, Commanders (picking No. 2) and Patriots (No. 3) are all likely to love elements of his game.

Williams holds up standing in the pocket against a blitz and can also escape pressure and make “wow” throws with pinpoint accuracy on the move. He’s not huge at 6-foot-1, 220 pounds, but he’s stronger than he’s credited for and a better athlete than some might realize with some Jalen Hurts-like qualities in the RPO package.

He had his best season in 2022, winning the Heisman while throwing 42 touchdown passes, five interceptions and racking up 4,537 passing yards.

Last season wasn’t as special and Williams caused alarm bells for a lack of accountability. His traits are blue-chip level and unless he bombs in-person interviews with the Bears and Commanders, there’s no chance he’s on the board at No. 3.

4. Jayden Daniels, LSU
Maybe Daniels will come out of this event with more buzz after Saturday afternoon QB workouts on the Colts’ turf because of his unique playmaking ability and testing performance.

It’s still possible Daniels could follow Williams’ lead and only participate in throwing and testing in Indy if his peers do the same. Not competing at the combine would instantly put a huge red circle on the March 25 (USC) and March 27 (LSU) campus pro day calendar.

Daniels consistently devoured top competition and delivered his Heisman-winning numbers against a stellar schedule. He had 50 combined passing and rushing touchdowns in 2023, second only to Oregon’s Bo Nix (51). If NFL evaluators come away from the pre-draft circuit viewing Daniels as a bigger, stronger version of Lamar Jackson, he’ll be gone in the top three picks.

5. Marvin Harrison Jr, WR, Ohio State
“Maserati Marv,” as FOX Sports’ Gus Johnson tabbed Harrison, should be the first non-QB drafted in April. The son of Pro Football Hall of Fame member Marvin Harrison, the Indianapolis football scene won’t be anything new for the junior Harrison. He posted consecutive 1,200-yard seasons for the Buckeyes and will be the No. 1-ranked player on some draft boards.

6. Malik Nabers, WR, LSU
Not the household name or legacy Harrison is, Nabers is only 20 years old and a nightmare matchup. One of two LSU wide receivers with first-round draft grades (Brian Thomas Jr.), the Ja’Marr Chase comps for Nabers aren’t impossible to see.

7. Brock Bowers, TE, Georgia
Another youngster with a dominant resume in the SEC, Bowers is 21, won two national titles and set the school single-season record for receiving TDs with 13. A gamer in every sense of the word, Bowers has an insane 40-inch vertical (junior testing day) and plays with a style similar to former Chargers tight end Antonio Gates.

8. Dallas Turner, OLB, Alabama
Defense finally makes an appearance and to the surprise of no one, the Crimson Tide entered the chat.

Turner is tops among pass rushers in 2024 but a peg below NFL grades for 2023 No. 3 overall pick Will Anderson (Texans).

9. Terrion Arnold, CB, Alabama
Arnold committed to Alabama on the promise he would be welcomed on the basketball team — the same is true of secondary sidekick Kool-Aid McKinstry — but found life with Nick Saban to be predictably demanding of his time and energy. Arnold’s grade and pro projection isn’t far off from where teams had Patrick Surtain II (Broncos), and he’s CB1 in this class ahead of the more ballyhooed McKinstry.

10. Quinyon Mitchell, CB, Toledo
Get to know him. Mitchell should be a lock as the first non-Power 5 prospect off the board, and it’s all about ball production. The two-time All-American was second in the nation with 19 pass breakups in 2023 and set a school record with 46 (!) in his career. Doubters who weren’t convinced at the Senior Bowl search for the four-INT game in 2022 against Northern Illinois. He took two of those picks to the house.

11. Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans
Poor would be putting it kindly when it comes to an apt label for the 2024 running back class. Teams will be kicking the tires on a strong set of veteran ballcarriers with agents in Indianapolis and trying to discern what type of tread the likes of Henry, Saquon Barkley (Giants), Josh Jacobs (Raiders), Austin Ekeler (Chargers) and Tony Pollard (Cowboys) have left in a heavily depressed market.

12. Joe Alt, OT, Notre Dame
A tight end in high school growing up in Minnesota, Alt decided to follow in the footsteps of his All-Pro dad — former Chiefs offensive lineman Jon Alt — and committed to calories by the thousands and hours of film study with pops. The result? An NFL-ready left tackle in the mold of Joe Thomas (Browns). Alt is our top-ranked offensive tackle but at least five are worthy of first-round picks in April, and the depth of this class exceeds every position group except possibly wide receiver.

13. Malachi Corley, WR, Western Kentucky
First on our list of favored sleepers, Corley gets our vote as the underrated receiver to know by the nose of a football over Illinois’ Isaiah Williams and Idaho’s Hayden Hatten. Corley shredded at the Shrine Bowl — Zay Flowers went there as a small receiver from Boston College last year, left as a first-round talent — and was Co-Offensive Player of the Week at the Senior Bowl. He’s a YAC machine with a running back build and sneaking into the top 45 picks isn’t impossible.

14. Michael Penix Jr., QB, Washington
Penix lit Texas up in the CFP semifinals and media scouts began discussing the oft-injured lefty as a possible first-round pick. Ah, the medicals. Penix was unquestionably stellar the past two seasons. How scouting reports reconcile the durability matter and season-ending shoulder injuries (AC joint), a pair of torn ACLs, make Penix one of the more challenging players to project in the draft.

15. Blake Corum, RB, Michigan
Corum comes with the production and reputation in a run-first offense to be a third- or fourth-round pick. Corum is one of 18 Wolverines invited to the combine. National champion runner-up Washington has 13.

16. Payton Wilson, LB, NC State
Six years after enrolling at North Carolina State, Wilson exits Raleigh at the Butkus (top linebacker) and Bednarik (best defensive player) award winner. He starred for the Wolfpack with 400-plus tackles, 15 sacks, seven interceptions and one seriously concerning medical history. But after two injury-free seasons, Wilson said at the Senior Bowl he thinks a 4.45 40-yard dash at 6-4, 235 is possible. That would put many GMs who love Wilson’s game and intangibles in the hot seat starting as early as the second round.

17. Tory Taylor, P, Iowa
Australian import and soon-to-be 27-year-old rookie Taylor was a vital player for an Iowa program that lost its offense in the corn during his four years in Iowa City. He broke the NCAA record (standing since 1938) for punt yards in a season and averaged 46.3 yards per punt with the Hawkeyes.

18. Jerod Mayo, head coach, Patriots
The last time the Patriots turned in a draft card for a top-10 selection, head coach Bill Belichick went with a linebacker from Tennessee at No. 10 overall in 2008. Now Jerod Mayo, who was that linebacker and played for the Patriots until 2015, is New England’s head coach with Belichick no longer in the team picture.

19. Byron Murphy, DT, Texas
Billing for the top-ranked defensive tackle in this class can be debated with Illinois three-technique Jer’Zhan Newton in the conversation. Both are considered small among defensive linemen but sudden first-step quickness and violent hands place them in the late first-round range. Murphy is on the annual “freaks” list from The Athletic because of his legendary weight-room feats in Austin.

20. Taliese Fuaga, OT, Oregon State
A right tackle for the Beavers, he could be cast in the same role in the NFL. But two primarily right tackles were top-20 picks in 2023. Fuaga measured 6-6, 332 with a wingspan of 81 1/2 inches and is being compared to 2021 first-round pick Penei Sewell of the Detroit Lions. Sewell does have a cousin in the draft: BYU left tackle Kingsley Suamataia.

–Field Level Media

Aug 15, 2021; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; A general view of the exterior of Lucas Oil Stadium before the game between the Carolina Panthers and Indianapolis Colts. Mandatory Credit: Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

Indianapolis to keep NFL scouting combine in 2025

The NFL scouting combine will stay in Indianapolis in 2025, as the league and the city announced a one-year contract extension on Thursday.

The combine has been held in Indianapolis since 1987, but in recent years the NFL has shown interest in moving it around the country, as it has done with the draft.

Dallas and Los Angeles bid on hosting the combine in 2022, the last time the contract was up, but Indianapolis reached a two-year agreement through 2024.

Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the Colts, is the site for on-field drills, which draw thousands of fans with their free attendance. The city’s convention center and hotels are located in easy walking distance from the stadium.

This year’s combine runs from Feb. 27 through March 4.

“We know cities across the U.S. consistently vie to host all of the NFL’s events,” Visit Indy president and CEO Leonard Hoops said in a statement. “We appreciate the NFL’s continued confidence and partnership with Indy, and we are looking forward to continued growth in our city.”

–Field Level Media

Jan 8, 2024; Houston, TX, USA; Washington Huskies wide receiver Rome Odunze (1) and Michigan Wolverines defensive back Will Johnson (2) react after a flag was thrown during the fourth quarter in the 2024 College Football Playoff national championship game at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Washington WR Rome Odunze, projected first-rounder, enters draft

Washington wide receiver Rome Odunze entered the 2024 NFL Draft and is projected to be a first-round pick.

Odunze is rated the No. 2 receiver and No. 6 prospect in the draft by Field Level Media, which graded Odunze as a first-round pick in 2023 when he opted to return to chase a national championship.

Ohio State wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. entered the draft earlier this week, which could make the top of the 2024 group one of the best in years.

Odunze said he received “some solid feedback” from the NFL a year ago when he reached out regarding a potential decision to turn pro. In the end, he said it wasn’t enough to push him to leave Seattle.

But Odunze isn’t bashful about assessing his skill set as a fit in the NFL.

“I think it translates well. I think I have a wide variety of skills, you know. I can get the job done on any given play with those skill sets and I think I’m a student of the game and the league, I think it becomes a lot more mental than it is physical at times,” Odunze said prior to the CFP national championship. “You have to have the physical attributes and the ability which I think I have, but I have the mental fortitude to be able to go through those 17 weeks and to be able to learn and grow and become a more knowledgeable football player that I think will be key.”

Odunze recorded 92 receptions for 1,640 yards and 13 touchdowns for the Huskies in his final season. Washington (14-1) finished runner-up in the College Football Playoff, losing to Michigan in the national title game in Houston last week.

In four seasons with Washington, Odunze had 214 receptions for 3,272 yards and 24 touchdowns.

–Field Level Media

Dec 29, 2023; Arlington, TX, USA;  Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. (18) looks on during the second half against the Missouri Tigers at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Buckeyes WR Marvin Harrison Jr. declares for NFL Draft

Ohio State wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. made it official Thursday and declared for the 2024 NFL Draft.

The Heisman Trophy finalist and son of Hall of Famer Marvin Harrison announced his decision on social media.

“To Buckeye Nation, the love I received from you all in the Shoe and on the road will be moments I cherish forever, and I hope I left lasting memories for you on the field,” he wrote. “I appreciate the support these past three years. Buckey for life.”

As a junior in 2023, the 6-foot-4, 205-pound Harrison caught 67 passes for 1,211 yards and 14 touchdowns in 12 games. He won the Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s best receiver, finished fourth in the Heisman voting and was named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year.

The two-time consensus All-American finishes his career in Columbus with 155 receptions for 2,613 yards (16.9-yard average) and 31 touchdowns in 38 games.

–Field Level Media

Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Terrion Arnold (3) officially entered the 2024 NFL Draft. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Alabama’s Terrion Arnold joins CB sidekick in 2024 draft

Alabama’s Terrion Arnold is joining fellow Crimson Tide cornerback Kool-Aid McKinstry in the 2024 NFL Draft.

Arnold is projected to be a top-20 pick and McKinstry also has a first-round grade, giving the Alabama teammates a chance to celebrate the start of their pro careers side-by-side on draft night in April.

Arnold, a first-team All-American in 2023 who led the SEC in interceptions with five, is ranked No. 15 overall among all 2024 draft prospects by Field Level Media, six spots ahead of McKinstry.

“I extend my heartfelt appreciation to my family and friends,” Arnold said in a statement Monday. “I carry the love, sacrifices and encouragement, marking not the end but the beginning of a new chapter. With sincere gratitude and anticipation for what lies ahead, I officially declare for the 2024 NFL Draft.”

Arnold redshirted in 2021, then started 21 games in his final two seasons. He had 108 total tackles, six interceptions, one sack, one forced fumble and one recovered fumble in 25 total games for the Crimson Tide.

–Field Level Media

Oct 21, 2023; Iowa City, Iowa, USA; Iowa Hawkeyes defensive back Cooper DeJean (3) looks on during the game against the Minnesota Golden Gophers at Kinnick Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Iowa DB Cooper DeJean headed to NFL draft

All-American defensive back Cooper DeJean is entering the 2024 NFL Draft, he announced Thursday, after three years playing for Iowa and its stellar defense.

“These past 3 years have been filled with memories that will last a lifetime,” DeJean wrote in part on X, formerly Twitter. “Putting on the black and gold and playing in Kinnick Stadium has been a dream of mine since I was a little kid and it has been everything I expected and more.

“… Thank you Hawkeye Nation for your continued support. It has been so much fun to play in front of the best fans in the country each and every week.”

DeJean, a potential first-round pick, played in 10 games for Iowa in 2023 before a practice injury in November, reportedly a broken leg, cut short his season. After having five interceptions in 2022 and returning three for touchdowns, DeJean added two picks, five pass breakups and 41 tackles in 2023.

DeJean also returned a punt 70 yards for a touchdown in Iowa’s 26-16 win over Michigan State in October.

–Field Level Media

Georgia tight end Brock Bowers (19) celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the second half of a NCAA college football game against Ole Miss in Athens, Ga., on Saturday, Nov. 11, 2023. Georgia won 52-17.

Georgia TE Brock Bowers declares for NFL draft

Tight end Brock Bowers is entering the 2024 NFL Draft after starring at Georgia for three years.

“Words cannot describe how thankful I am for what these last 3 years has brought. It has been an unbelievable honor and privilege to play for this university,” Bowers wrote in a social media post. “It has given me memories that will last a lifetime.”

Bowers had a breakout season as a true freshman in 2021, when he caught 13 touchdowns over 15 games and helped Georgia to the first of two consecutive national titles.

Bowers injured an ankle Oct. 14 of the 2023 season in a game against Vanderbilt and underwent TightRope surgery. He missed just two games before returning Nov. 11 against Ole Miss. He also missed the regular-season finale against Georgia Tech after tweaking the ankle and sat out the Bulldogs’ Orange Bowl win over Florida State.

In 10 games this season, Bowers still managed 56 receptions for 714 yards and six touchdowns, plus one rushing touchdown. The 6-foot-4, 240-pound prospect has 175 career receptions for 2,538 yards and 26 touchdowns along with 193 rushing yards and five scores.

Georgia also has seen right tackle Amarius Mims, cornerback Kamari Lassiter and safety Javon Bullard declare for the draft in recent days.

–Field Level Media

Nov 11, 2023; Berkeley, California, USA; Washington State Cougars quarterback Cameron Ward (1) passes against the California Golden Bears during the first quarter at California Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Washington St. QB Cameron Ward declares for draft

Former Washington State quarterback Cameron Ward announced Monday that he is turning pro.

“What’s up. It’s Cam Ward and I’ll be declaring for the 2024 NFL Draft,” he posted Monday on social media.

Ward announced on Dec. 1 that he would enter the transfer portal while weighing his options with the draft.

Miami and Florida State were among the programs reportedly hoping to land Ward through the portal.

As a junior this season, Ward completed 66.6 percent of his passes for 3,736 yards with 25 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He also rushed for eight scores in 12 games for the Cougars (5-7).

Ward earned All-Pac-12 Conference honorable mention honors in his first season at Washington State in 2022. He passed for 3,232 yards with 23 TDs and nine picks.

The Texas native previously played at Incarnate Word, where he passed for 4,648 yards in 2021 while completing 384 of 590 passes (65.1 percent) with 47 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He was selected to the FCS All-America second team.

–Field Level Media

Dec 31, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA;  Chicago Bears wide receiver DJ Moore (2) runs with the ball after a catch in the second half against the Atlanta Falcons at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

Bears clinch No. 1 pick in 2024 NFL Draft via Panthers

A season ago, the Chicago Bears received the No. 1 overall draft pick and traded it to the Carolina Panthers. The swap included Carolina’s first-round pick in 2024 heading to Chicago.

On Sunday, the Bears secured the first overall pick once again as the Panthers clinched the worst record in the league with their latest loss.

The Panthers lost 26-0 to the Jacksonville Jaguars for their eighth loss in nine games and fell to 2-14.

With the Arizona Cardinals upsetting the Philadelphia Eagles 35-31 to improve to 4-12, Carolina is two games clear of every other team in the standings with one week left in the regular season.

Chicago (7-9) has won four of its last five games after routing the Atlanta Falcons 37-17 on Sunday. Wide receiver DJ Moore, acquired from the Panthers when the Bears traded out of the No. 1 slot, racked up nine catches for 159 yards and a touchdown against Atlanta. Moore has 92 receptions and has set career highs of 1,300 yards and eight receiving scores.

The Bears will have to decide whether to move on from second-year quarterback Justin Fields and select a different signal-caller with the top overall pick — like Southern California’s Caleb Williams or North Carolina’s Drake Maye — or stick with Fields and draft another position.

Chicago has held the first overall pick twice, not counting the 2023 selection it traded away. The Bears drafted halfbacks Tom Harmon in 1941 and Bob Fenimore in 1947.

Arizona is tied with the Washington Commanders and New England Patriots at 4-12. Based on tiebreakers, Washington would pick second if the season ended Sunday, followed by New England third and Arizona fourth.

–Field Level Media

Penn State left tackle Olu Fashanu (74) gets set before a play against West Virginia at Beaver Stadium September 2, 2023, in State College.

Penn State LT Olu Fashanu declares for NFL draft

Penn State’s Olu Fashanu, considered one of the top offensive tackles in the upcoming class, announced Friday he is entering the 2024 NFL Draft.

Fashanu was seen as a first-round pick in mock drafts for 2023, but he decided to return for another season with the Nittany Lions.

“A year ago I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to declare for the NFL draft,” Fashanu wrote in a social media post. “I am forever grateful that I made the decision to come back and compete with my brothers on last time while also graduating. With that being said, I am proud to announce that I will be declaring fore the 2024 NFL Draft. I look forward to spending time with my teammates and coaches in Atlanta for the Peach Bowl.”

While he plans to travel to Atlanta, it was unclear whether Fashanu will play in the Peach Bowl for No. 10 Penn State (10-2) against No. 11 Ole Miss (10-2) on Dec. 30.

Fashanu, listed at 6-foot-6 and 317 pounds, was a two-year starter at Penn State and was named a first-team All-American in 2023.

–Field Level Media