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2024 NFL Draft: Prospects Charles Davis would pound the table for

Each year, every NFL general manager, scout and coach has a personal list of favorite prospects -- guys to pound the table for when the clock is ticking and a decision must be made about which player to invest precious draft capital in.

Well, I'm no different. With the 2024 NFL Draft just around the corner (April 25-27 in Detroit), here is my list of prospects I feel most passionately about. This exercise isn't all-encompassing, and it doesn't feature players who are likely to hear their names called during Round 1 -- after all, we know there are plenty of eyeballs on those high-profile types, and plenty of teams with strong interest in them. I've included likely Day 2 (Rounds 2-3) and Day 3 (Rounds 4-7) picks here. There are others I would strongly advocate for, too, but I don't want to be pounding the table non-stop.

Fifteen of the 17 players on last year's version of this list were drafted, and the two undrafted players were brought into camp and landed on a practice squad. Seven of the 17 started at least one game in 2023, with one member -- Sam LaPorta -- making the Pro Bowl. Hopefully the players mentioned below can replicate -- if not exceed -- the success of last year's pound-the-table class!

Spencer Rattler
South Carolina · QB · Senior

I’ve seen progress from Rattler on and off the field over the past two seasons. He’ll probably go late on Day 2 or early on Day 3 of the draft, but there’s a reason he was once a highly touted prospect. Remember, this was a five-star recruit widely considered the best quarterback in his class. He eventually lost his starting job to Caleb Williams at Oklahoma in 2021 and then transferred to South Carolina after the season. His setback has become a comeback, though. Rattler was the Gamecocks' co-MVP in 2022 and then set school records for completions (275) and completion percentage (68.9) in 2023. He’s shown he has the tools and toughness to succeed. I feel good about this young man -- who has some Teddy Bridgewater in his game -- and his chances of making it in the NFL. 

Ray Davis
Kentucky · RB · Senior

Davis truly knows what it means to overcome adversity. One of 15 children in his family, he was living in a homeless shelter at the age of 12. Now he’s known as the relentless running back who gained 1,000 total yards at three different schools (Temple, Vanderbilt, Kentucky), and he’s about to have his NFL draft dreams become a reality. He might not have the long speed of some of the other running backs in this draft, but he has great contact balance and reminds me of Zach Charbonnet, a second-round pick of the Seahawks last year. I’m banking on Davis’ internal drive and talent carrying him to success in the NFL.

Kimani Vidal
Troy · RB · Senior

Get to know Vidal. Athletic achievement is in his blood. Yes, he’s the great-nephew of baseball legend Hank Aaron, and he’s also a highly impressive runner who caught my eye repeatedly at the Reese’s Senior Bowl earlier this offseason. He followed that up with a standout performance at the NFL Scouting Combine (4.46-second 40-yard dash, 37 1/2-inch vertical). I think the bounce in his step will translate to the next level.

Ainias Smith
Texas A&M · WR · Senior

Smith is not the biggest, strongest or fastest receiver, but when he touches the ball, good things happen. After a leg injury limited him to four games in 2022, he returned stronger than ever in 2023, earning first-team All-SEC honors as an all-purpose player/return specialist for the Aggies. He’s the only SEC player ever to reach 2,000-plus receiving yards, 250-plus rushing yards, 250-plus kick-return yards and 250-plus punt-return yards, per NFL Research. I know he’s been dealing with a stress fracture in his left shin this spring, but we’ve seen Smith come back from injury in a big way before. I wouldn’t sleep on him doing it again.

Dallin Holker
Colorado State · TE · Senior

Holker might not be a pure tight end -- he’s more of a fit in the H-back mold -- but I think he’s going to be a great pick for a team on Day 3 of the draft. Clearly, he understands the passing game. Holker led all FBS tight ends with 64 catches and 767 receiving yards last season. He was coached very well by Jay Norvell at Colorado State, the school that produced Arizona Cardinals tight end Trey McBride, who is coming off a breakout season in Year 2. Oh, and Holker also gave us one of the best highlights of this year’s NFL Scouting Combine, when he made a one-handed catch during the gauntlet drill while holding a ball in the other hand!

Christian Jones
Texas · OT · Senior

I watched Jones closely at the Senior Bowl and he kept stringing together quality reps against top competition. He lost some of those battles, but he won more than his share. The Texas product might not be getting a lot of hype leading up to the draft, but he will fit into a lot of offensive line rooms and give you quality play, mostly likely at right tackle, although he could play inside if asked. Jones has allowed 23 pressures since 2022, the fewest among FBS tackles with a minimum of 900 pass-block snaps over that span, per Pro Football Focus. I would be pounding the table for him early on Day 3 of the draft.

Mason McCormick
South Dakota State · OG · Senior

I love the way McCormick goes about his business on the field. He’s a very cerebral player and has plenty of experience, with 57 career starts -- all at left guard -- during his college career. That most definitely counts for something in my book. In addition, McCormick impressed at the NFL Scouting Combine. He’s a road grader who reminds me of Browns Pro Bowler Wyatt Teller, featuring some twitch and a whole lot of nastiness in his game.

Sedrick Van Pran-Granger
Georgia · C · Junior (RS)

It seems like people are sleeping on Van Pran-Granger. I know he’s undersized, weighing in at 298 pounds with 31 3/8-inch arms at the combine, but I think he could start from Day 1 on the right team. Let’s not forget that he started every game for Georgia over the past three seasons, winning two national titles along the way. Former Pro Bowl center Ryan Kalil is my comp for Van Pran-Granger. He’s smart and experienced.

Sundiata Anderson
Grambling State · Edge · Senior

A two-time first-team All-Southwestern Athletic Conference selection, Anderson has posted 11-plus tackles for loss in each of the last three seasons. That’s the type of production that should excite NFL teams. As I watched him, he reminded me of the Raiders’ Malcolm Koonce, a third-round pick in 2021 who had eight sacks for Las Vegas last season. I don’t know if Anderson will be drafted as early, but he has a similar playing style and possesses the juice to go get quarterbacks.  

Adisa Isaac
Penn State · Edge · Senior

It’s easy for me to root for Isaac. A loving and dedicated brother to three non-verbal siblings, he provided a pillar of support for his family from a young age. On the field, he keeps getting better. He has plenty of toughness and is strong at the point of attack. Also, he outproduced his more highly touted Penn State teammate, Chop Robinson, when it came to sacks and tackles for loss last season. I believe he will reward the NFL team that gives him an opportunity.

Khristian Boyd
Northern Iowa · DT · Senior

Boyd did not receive an invitation to the NFL Scouting Combine, but as people around the league will tell you, this young man can play. He’s no sleeper. Boyd earned first-team All-Missouri Valley Conference honors in 2023, starting every game and picking up 6.5 tackles for loss. He showed he more than belonged at the East-West Shrine Game earlier this offseason. Later on Day 2 of the draft, that sound you’ll start to hear will be me pounding the table for the former Northern Iowa Panther.

DeWayne Carter
Duke · DT · Senior

Carter is the first player in Duke history to be a team captain for three straight seasons, which speaks volumes, given the leaders that have come through that program over the years. He was also a finalist for the William V. Campbell Trophy, aka the academic Heisman, last season. He wasn’t a captain because of his personality and smarts alone, though. The Ohio native produces on the field, too. He is a playmaker on the interior, collecting 25 tackles for loss, 12 sacks, 11 pass breakups and seven forced fumbles over the past four seasons. His intangibles are off the charts, and he reminds me of Steelers 2023 second-round pick Keeanu Benton when I watch his tape. 

Tyrice Knight
Texas-El Paso · LB · Senior

Sure, numbers can lie sometimes, but they can also tell us a lot about a player. In Knight’s case, they’re illustrative of a guy who is always attached to the ball-carrier. He led the FBS last season with 84 solo tackles and tied for sixth in the FBS with 140 total tackles. He also led his team with 15.5 tackles for loss in 2023. He more than held his own at the Senior Bowl, too. We’ve seen off-ball linebackers devalued in the NFL, but I believe, if he's given another year or two to hone his instincts, Knight will prove the team that drafts him right. 

Myles Harden
South Dakota · CB · Senior

If your team is looking for a young man who can make plays on the ball in coverage and be an excellent tackler on the perimeter, I have the perfect candidate for you. Harden led his squad with three interceptions and four forced fumbles in 2022, and he tied for the team lead with six pass breakups in 2023. He’s not going to wow anyone with speed, but he’s adequate in that department. Players like him find ways to get on the field and make good things happen.

Cole Bishop
Utah · S · Junior

As I said on a recent episode of Path to the Draft, I wouldn’t just pound the table for Bishop, I’d go Bills Mafia and jump through the table for him. I am all-in on the junior from Utah. I know he can play the high-safety position, but he’s going to make the majority of his big plays near the line of scrimmage. He’s tough with a nose for the football, posting 21.5 tackles for loss over the past three seasons. Also, he ran faster than people expected in Indianapolis, clocking a 4.45-second 40-yard dash. To me, he should be in the conversation for top safety in the draft. He reminds me of new Ram Kamren Curl, who doesn’t get enough credit for his level of play in the league.

Malik Mustapha
Wake Forest · S · Senior

We go from a Bishop to a Deacon to round out my list. A Demon Deacon, to be exact. I see a high-energy player when I turn on Mustapha’s tape. He’s always around the ball, recording 80 tackles for Wake Forest in 2023. He’s not the biggest guy, but he plays with plenty of aggression and force. He reminds me of former Lions safety Louis Delmas, who had a nice run as a six-year NFL starter.

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