In a few days, the 2023 NFL regular season will come to a close, but for a handful of teams it’s been over for a few weeks. Fans of those teams can look towards the 2024 draft to find out what the future of their franchise might be, and the draft conversations are really starting to crank up.
To get a sharper view of players who definitely won’t be playing for the Carolina Panthers next season, here’s the top 10 players (liable to change) to know for the 2024 NFL draft.
1. Marvin Harrison Jr., WR, Ohio State
Marvin Harrison Jr. is one of those guys that could have sat out this entire season and still been a top-five pick. He’s as complete as wide receiver prospects come with a blend of size, speed, route-running ability, catch radius and overall catching ability that rivals any player in this class. He profiles as a player who can be a No. 1 receiver immediately in the NFL and managed to see no drop in his production going from C.J. Stroud to Kyle McCord as his starting quarterback. Don’t overthink it.
Olu Fashanu leads a top-heavy offensive tackle class that features a lot of players who profile as franchise-caliber talents. Fashanu’s rare blend of movement ability for his size and technical skills can land him as a starting left tackle from Day 1. There aren’t many players who can match his overall skill set in the NFL, let alone the NFL Draft.
3. Joe Alt, OT, Notre Dame
Alt is about the same caliber of player as Fashanu. He looks like he’s been created in a lab to play left tackle in the NFL and is an easy mover for someone who is 6-foot-8. Alt can play in any scheme, but his athleticism in space makes him a true weapon for teams that specialize in zone running. He’s a super clean prospect that’s plug-and-play.
Since his freshman year for the Bulldogs, Brock Bowers has been one of the premier pass catchers in college football. Bowers suffered through an ankle injury that required surgery this year, but if he’s fully back from that it’ll be hard to find players in this class that are mismatches for so many players on defense. He’s fast, tough and has serious chops as a ball-carrier in the open field.
There really isn’t much separating Drake Maye from Caleb Williams in terms of how an NFL team should feel about them. Maye is the new-age pocket passer that can work from the pocket and throw with accuracy down the field, but also has the athleticism to make defenders look silly and the strength to throw from compromised positions. He’s got a ways to go in terms of how UNC’s offense compares to what he’ll see on Sundays, but he checks a lot of boxes.
6. Caleb Williams, QB, USC
Caleb Williams has some room to improve as far as operating an offense goes, but his physical traits as a thrower are completely off the charts. Williams’ arm strength and accuracy give him a floor to create big plays as a rookie in the NFL, but he will need to speed up his process a bit so he doesn’t become a sack machine in the NFL. Williams’ style of play will require some patience because he loves to take big hacks, but his athleticism and power as a passer make him an extremely tantalizing prospect at the top of the draft.
7. Amarius Mims, OT, Georgia
If health were no factor, Amarius Mims would be higher on this list. This is a guy who just makes playing offensive tackle look incredibly easy when he’s on the field. However, he missed a handful of games this season with the same high ankle sprain as Bowers and it clearly hindered him at times in the SEC title game. Mims has got all-world talent, he just needs to convince teams that his health issues in 2023 were a blip on the radar.
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Speed, speed, speed. That’s the name of the game with LSU wide receiver Malik Nabers. Nabers’ presence on the field created a lot of space for himself and the Tigers’ offense that was probably the most explosive offense in the country. Nabers is not only fast, but his toughness as a ball-carrier only adds to the threat that he is. He’s a dynamic playmaker for any offense that needs a major influx of speed.
The fourth offensive tackle in the top 10 of this list. Alabama offensive tackle JC Latham is a standout right tackle that has a classic game. Right side, strong side is all Latham is about with his ability to simply move very large people out of the way and blow holes open for his running backs. He’s nimble enough in pass protection as well to keep his feet in front of pass rushers.
10. Jer’Zhan Newton, DL, Illinois
The top of this class is heavy with offensive players, but Illinois defensive tackle Jer’Zhan Newton has a chance to be a really disruptive player on the interior. Newton is in the mold of players like Grady Jarrett and Ed Oliver where he makes up for lack of elite size with supreme athleticism, technique and ability to finish plays. He’s a high-floor, disruptive three-technique prospect in a class that doesn’t have a ton of interior defensive line talent at the top.