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Bucky Brooks' top five 2024 NFL Draft prospects by position 1.0: Jayden Daniels at QB2 over Drake Maye

With Super Bowl LVIII in the rearview and the 2024 NFL Scouting Combine on the horizon, it's time to look toward the next group of talent to hit the pro ranks.

Below is my first snapshot of the top five prospects at each major position in the 2024 NFL Draft class.

Tune in for live coverage of the 2024 NFL Scouting Combine beginning Feb. 29 on NFL Network and NFL+.



Position Groups



QUARTERBACKS

Rank
1
Caleb Williams
USC · Junior
Rank
2
Jayden Daniels
LSU · Senior
Rank
3
Drake Maye
North Carolina · Sophomore (RS)
Rank
4
Michael Penix Jr.
Washington · Senior
Rank
5
J.J. McCarthy
Michigan · Junior

The QB class features several intriguing prospects with franchise-player potential. Williams is the crown jewel of the class as an athletic gunslinger with elite playmaking skills. Although his 2023 season was a letdown after the high of his 2022 Heisman run, the USC standout has All-Pro-caliber talent. Daniels' slender frame might give some teams pause, but interested squads are smitten with his dynamic playmaking potential. The LSU standout dazzles on the perimeter as a dual-threat quarterback with elite talents as a runner and passer. Maye is coming off a disappointing final campaign in Chapel Hill, but he commands plenty of attention in scouting circles due to his prototypical dimensions and exceptional arm talent. Penix will have to answer questions about his injury history at Indiana, but there are no doubts about his toughness and arm talent. While McCarthy hasn't matched Penix in production, he has the athletic tools and winning pedigree to succeed at the next level.

Keep an eye on ...

Bo Nix
Oregon · Senior


RUNNING BACKS

Rank
1
Jonathon Brooks
Texas · Sophomore (RS)
Rank
2
Trey Benson
Florida State · Senior
Rank
3
Blake Corum
Michigan · Senior
Rank
4
Bucky Irving
Oregon · Junior
Rank
5
Audric Estimé
Notre Dame · Junior

This year's class of running backs lacks star power, but astute scouts could find a hidden gem outside of the first round. Brooks is the headliner of the class as a new-school RB1 with explosive potential as a runner-receiver out of the backfield. The Texas standout displays grind-it-out ability with a hint of explosiveness. Corum is a rock-solid runner with a gritty style that suits downhill schemes. As a prolific point-scorer with a nose for the goal line, the Michigan star's toughness and physicality could set the tone for an offense that features old-school runs. Irving is a big-play weapon with outstanding stop-start quickness and burst. The Oregon standout is an explosive playmaker with the speed to take it the distance when he reaches the perimeter.

Keep an eye on ...

Braelon Allen
Wisconsin · Junior


WIDE RECEIVERS

Rank
1
Marvin Harrison Jr.
Ohio State · Junior
Rank
2
Rome Odunze
Washington · Senior
Rank
3
Malik Nabers
LSU · Junior
Rank
4
Keon Coleman
Florida State · Junior
Rank
5
Brian Thomas Jr.
LSU · Junior

The 2024 class of pass-catchers is loaded with playmakers. Harrison is a plug-and-play No. 1 receiver with solid hands and polished route-running skills. The Ohio State star is a Larry Fitzgerald clone with game-changing potential in a pass-centric offense. Odunze is a get-open specialist with a crafty game built on size, strength and physicality. The Washington star is a 50-50 ball winner with solid hands and spectacular ball skills. Coleman is an acrobatic pass-catching specialist with the length and leaping ability to develop into a dominant third-down and red-zone weapon.

Keep an eye on ...

Ladd McConkey
Georgia · Junior (RS)


TIGHT ENDS

Rank
1
Brock Bowers
Georgia · Junior
Rank
2
Ja'Tavion Sanders
Texas · Junior
Rank
3
Cade Stover
Ohio State · Senior
Rank
4
Theo Johnson
Penn State · Senior
Rank
5
AJ Barner
Michigan · Senior

As tight ends become essential for elite passing games, this year's crop features a star and a handful of intriguing prospects with Day 1 starting potential. Bowers is an athletic Y tight end with the size, strength and athleticism to create and exploit mismatches on the perimeter. The Georgia star displays immediate all-star potential. Sanders is a Flex tight end with soft hands and electric running skills. The Texas product excels as a pass-catching specialist who can win from a tight alignment, the slot or out wide as a designated playmaker in a wide-open offense. Barner is an intriguing option as a versatile tight end who can play Y or Flex in a multiple-tight end offense. As a scrappy blocker with sticky hands and crafty route-running ability, the Michigan standout could make his mark as a rotational player in Year 1.

Keep an eye on ...

Ben Sinnott
Kansas State · Senior


OFFENSIVE TACKLES

Rank
1
Joe Alt
Notre Dame · Junior
Rank
2
Olumuyiwa Fashanu
Penn State · Junior (RS)
Rank
3
Taliese Fuaga
Oregon State · Senior
Rank
4
Amarius Mims
Georgia · Junior
Rank
5
JC Latham
Alabama · Junior

The depth and talent of the 2024 offensive tackle class could lead to an early run on edge blockers once the draft begins. Alt is a polished technician with outstanding balance, body control and lateral quickness. He deftly shadowboxes defenders on the edge, exhibiting nearly flawless technique while pitching shutouts in pass protection. Fashanu is a natural blindside protector with the length, athleticism and pop to stymie elite pass rushers. Though his technique remains a work in progress, the Penn State product possesses rare tools as a franchise-caliber tackle. Fuaga is a feisty brawler with heavy hands and elite knock-back power. The Oregon State standout is a rare find as a punishing run blocker who displays ballerina-like footwork in pass protection.

Keep an eye on ...

Troy Fautanu
Washington · Senior


INTERIOR BLOCKERS

Rank
1
Graham Barton
Duke · Senior
Rank
2
Jackson Powers-Johnson
Oregon · Junior
Rank
3
Cooper Beebe
Kansas State · Senior
Rank
4
Christian Haynes
Connecticut · Senior
Rank
5
Zak Zinter
Michigan · Senior

This year's group features a collection of interior blockers with positional flexibility. Barton is an experienced utility player with 2,500-plus snaps under his belt. Despite spending most of his time on the edges, the Duke product projects as an elite interior player with the potential to register starts at center or guard early in his career. Powers-Johnson is a center with a combination of strength, power and agility that enables him to own the point of attack. Though his lack of elite length leaves him vulnerable against super-sized power players, the Oregon standout's high-revving motor and relentless approach make life miserable for opponents. Haynes specializes in mashing defenders at the line of scrimmage in the run game. As a road grader with superior length and explosive strength, the UConn alum is a plug-and-play prospect.

Keep an eye on ...

Javion Cohen
Miami · Senior




EDGE DEFENDERS

Rank
1
Dallas Turner
Alabama · Junior
Rank
2
Laiatu Latu
UCLA · Senior
Rank
3
Jared Verse
Florida State · Senior
Rank
4
Chop Robinson
Penn State · Junior
Rank
5
Bralen Trice
Washington · Senior

With pass rushers coveted at a premium, the 2024 class should produce a handful of first-round picks with Pro Bowl potential. Turner possesses the burst and overall athleticism to wreak havoc off the edges as a disruptive force. The Alabama star is a natural pass rusher with the instincts, awareness and hand-to-hand skills to utilize multiple maneuvers to get to the quarterback. Latu is a high-energy pass rusher that every defensive coordinator covets in the DPR (designated pass rusher) role. He explodes off the ball with cat-like quickness but also displays the strength and power to win with force or finesse. Robinson is an athletic freak with the first-step quickness and bend-and-burst skills to create chaos as a sack artist at the next level. The Penn State phenom's production (9.5 sacks in two seasons at Penn State) does not match his physical tools, but his upside makes him an intriguing option.

Keep an eye on ...

Chris Braswell
Alabama · Junior (RS)


DEFENSIVE TACKLES

Rank
1
Jer'Zhan Newton
Illinois · Senior
Rank
2
Byron Murphy II
Texas · Junior
Rank
3
T'Vondre Sweat
Texas · Senior
Rank
4
Kris Jenkins
Michigan · Junior (RS)
Rank
5
Darius Robinson
Missouri · Senior

The 2024 class is loaded with rugged interior defenders. Newton is the headliner as a heavy-handed run stuffer with outstanding technical skills. Although the Illinois product is more of a pocket pusher as a pass rusher, he disrupts the point of attack with energy and effort. Sweat is a massive run defender with exceptional power and strength. He controls the point as a space eater while dominating double-teams at the line of scrimmage. Jenkins' bloodlines (he's the son of two-time All-Pro DT Kris Jenkins) show up as a freak athlete with disruptive potential in his play. Though his production (4 career sacks, 8 tackles for loss) fails to match his athletic profile, the Michigan defender is an intriguing option as a height-weight-speed prospect with big-time potential. At 286 pounds, Robinson can play inside or outside, but I'm including him with the DTs here.

Keep an eye on ...

Brandon Dorlus
Oregon · Senior


LINEBACKERS

Rank
1
Edgerrin Cooper
Texas A&M · Senior
Rank
2
Jeremiah Trotter Jr.
Clemson · Junior
Rank
3
Payton Wilson
N.C. State · Senior
Rank
4
Cedric Gray
North Carolina · Senior
Rank
5
Junior Colson
Michigan · Junior

The devaluation of off-ball linebackers will make it hard for a class member to crack the first round, but the group features several prospects with Day 1 starting potential. Cooper is a sideline-to-sideline menace with impressive cover skills and emerging pass-rush ability. As a versatile defender with a loaded toolbox, the Texas A&M star could quickly outplay his draft-day status. Trotter is a competitor with a non-stop motor and exceptional football instincts. As a see-ball, get-ball defender with a knack for timely playmaking, the Clemson standout has the potential to create chaos between the tackles attacking the line of scrimmage. Wilson is a destructive force with a relentless approach. He patrols the middle of the field like a junkyard dog, exhibiting outstanding instincts and awareness as a tackling machine.

Keep an eye on ...

Marist Liufau
Notre Dame · Senior


CORNERBACKS

Rank
1
Terrion Arnold
Alabama · Sophomore (RS)
Rank
2
Nate Wiggins
Clemson · Junior
Rank
3
Cooper DeJean
Iowa · Junior
Rank
4
Quinyon Mitchell
Toledo · Senior
Rank
5
Kool-Aid McKinstry
Alabama · Junior

This year's class lacks marquee names, but coaches and scouts love the overall talent and depth of the group. Arnold is a high-IQ defender with an expanded toolbox, making him a scheme-friendly fit for any squad. As a plug-and-play prospect with some positional flexibility, the Alabama standout is the utility player every defensive backfield could use. DeJean is another utility player with the athleticism, instincts and ball skills to produce splash plays on the perimeter. As a well-trained defender with polished technique, the Iowa product should step in immediately as a starter capable of playing multiple spots in the secondary. Mitchell is a dynamic prospect with impressive tools as a shutdown corner. After the Toledo standout created some buzz at the Senior Bowl with his impressive performance, teams are salivating over his potential as a CB1.

Keep an eye on ...

Ennis Rakestraw Jr.
Missouri · Junior (RS)


SAFETIES

Rank
1
Tyler Nubin
Minnesota · Senior
Rank
2
Kamren Kinchens
Miami · Junior
Rank
3
Javon Bullard
Georgia · Junior
Rank
4
Calen Bullock
USC · Junior
Rank
5
Tykee Smith
Georgia · Senior


The safety class is loaded with big athletes for the position. Nubin is a sensational playmaker with the ball skills and tackling ability to control the middle of the field from numbers to numbers. As an interception machine (13 career INTs) with a knack for baiting quarterbacks into mistakes, the Minnesota product could thrive as the ornament atop the Christmas tree in a single-high safety defense. As a natural center fielder with sticky hands and limitless range, Kinchens is a big-play eraser in the back end. The Miami standout eliminates the deep ball and forces passers to think twice before attacking down the field. Bullock is a traffic cop with solid instincts and awareness. He is a natural ballhawk who collected nine interceptions in three seasons with the Trojans.

Keep an eye on ...

Beau Brade
Maryland · Senior

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