With the first month of the college football season in the books, Tony Pauline joined John Schmeelk on the latest episode of the “Draft Season” podcast to discuss his top 10 prospects for 2024.
The No. 1 spot comes as no surprise as USC quarterback Caleb Williams, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, has picked up right where he left off last season. Here is a look at Pauline's list heading into October with his comments below:
1. QB Caleb Williams, USC
"I'm very conservative about quarterbacks, and I like to take a step back whenever the hype machine is rolling. But when I saw Williams, I saw a guy who was a dominant presence on the football field. A guy who can make mountains out of mole hills, a guy who was tough, a guy who has got a great terrific arm, very athletic and great presence on the field. He's got to improve his accuracy a bit, he's not inaccurate, but his pass placement has got to improve a little bit. When I talk to people, they say the leadership and the personality that you see on the field translates off the field, that he is a different kind of player because I talk to a lot of people with my rankings, and they said not only is Caleb Williams a great leader on the field. he does it off the field and teams are going to absolutely love him. This time I bent the rules. I went against the norm for myself, and Caleb Williams is at the top pretty significantly."
2. WR Marvin Harrison Jr., Ohio State
"Harrison is all he's cracked up to be. He meets the hype, and you know when we had Bruce Feldman on in the opening show this year, he talked about how Harrison is going to test off the charts. It's not that he's going to run a fast 40. He's been working on a short shuttle, he's been working on his three-cone (drill), which I think is something that (shows) quickness in and out of routes. But he's a big imposing target. Teams have to focus on him when you get that type of guy. Look at Garrett Wilson with the Jets. You know when they were able to get the ball to him, when you got that big receiver that can dominate the game and you got to shade your safety over you got to make sure that he's got one man on him and another guy watching him and that opens things up for the rest of the offense. That's what Marvin Harrison Jr. does."
3. TE Brock Bowers, Georgia
"He is basically a receiver in a tight end's body. He's a guy who gets down the field. He'll win out for the contested throw in a crowd. He's able to beat the safeties down and throw linebackers down the field and he's not a bad blocker, especially in motion. He's actually a very good blocker in motion; they don't use him in-\ line all that much, but when they do, he gets passable results. I mean you don't want to use Brock Bowers as an in-line blocker unless it's absolutely necessary and take him away from what he's so outstanding at, getting down the field and making the reception, which is what teams want these days in the NFL at the tight end position."
4. QB Drake Maye, North Carolina
"He is a bigger guy, probably a stronger arm and very cognizant of what's happening on the field. He can pick up yardage with his legs when he needs to, but he's not a guy that you're going to have a lot of design quarterback runs for. I like his awareness; I like his poise."
5. OL Olumuyiwa Fashanu, Penn State
6. DE Chop Robinson, Penn State
"I'm either going to look like a genius with Chop Robinson or I'm going to look like an idiot because I don't know any other people have Chop Robinson graded as high as I do. But you watch this kid, you watch him last week against Iowa, he's all over the field. He's an impact player. He's not just an edge rusher. He's not just a wide-angle rusher. He's a guy that's got an inside move. He plays with great technique, breaks down well, he's athletic, he gets out into space and you can stand him over tackle, you can have him come out of a three-point stance and the fact that he's practicing against Fashanu day-in and day-out as well as the rest of that Penn State offensive line … is just making him a much better player."
7. CB Kool-Aid McKinstry, Alabama
"He is a shutdown corner. He's one of those guys that I came into the season 'OK, let's see' because it's usually all hype after the quarterback position. You see all this hype on the cornerbacks, and he's really answered the call. I thought he's played very well. Teams don't challenge him that much, and when they have, he shut them down or he's made good plays. He's also an outstanding punt returner. Again, you talk about priority positions. Everybody wants to focus on the quarterback, but left tackle and cornerback are also priority positions come the NFL Draft, and right now, McKinstry is far and away my number one cornerback on the board."
8. QB Shedeur Sanders, Colorado
"Listen, I was not a believer. Everybody had him written off last year at Jackson State and I was like I'm just going to sit back and I'm going to watch this kid. Really from the get-go he has done nothing but impress me. It's not just the physical skills, it's the decision making, it's the ability to see the field. Yes, I know they got pummeled by Oregon, that was eventually going to happen, but you watch Sanders whether it be the way that he continually responded against TCU or whether it was that last drive against Colorado State when Colorado was down by eight. I think they were pinned inside their five-yard line. He drove 95 yards down the field and then they had to score the two-point conversion and then he won the game in overtime. There's just so many things to like about Sanders. He needs some work in certain areas of the game. He's not as big as Drake Maye, he's got a terrific arm and he's got that Caleb Williams mind, he's got it going on between the ears obviously, the bloodlines from his dad. There's just so much to like about this guy and he has been so impressive, you know, it's one of those situations where I was like, 'I'll see it when I believe it,' and in those first three games, Sanders made a believer out of me. He's got it going on between the ears, which is so important for the quarterback position."
9. OT Joe Alt, Notre Dame
"Technically sound. You know the tackle position is all as much as physical but it's also intellectual. You have to know how to use body positioning and angles to shut down the opponents, to shut down the edge rushes, how to use your hands. He does it all incredibly well. Alt is a really good left tackle; will he be a left tackle in the NFL? My view is you leave him at left tackle until he proves he can't play it, then move him to right tackle, but we've seen that sort of lineman come out of Notre Dame in the past and have success."
10. WR Emeka Egbuka, Ohio State
"Everyone's focusing on Marvin Harrison Jr. at Ohio State and that leaves opportunities open for Egbuka. He's taking advantage of those opportunities the past two years and made some important game-impacting receptions against Notre Dame. He's got nice length. I don't think he's super-fast, but he's fast enough and always comes through for that team with a variety of quarterbacks. I had him created as a late first-rounder coming into the summer, but when I look at the board right now, I think Egbuka fits there at number 10."
Step into the new draft room as the Giants make their picks for the 2023 class.