Before long we'll be upon the 2024 NFL Draft. And it seems like the Arizona Cardinals will be on the clock to start it.
The Cardinals have their own pick in the draft and also acquired the Houston Texans' 2024 first-round pick in a draft day trade. The Cardinals and Texans are projected to be perhaps the two worst teams in the NFL this season. A lot can happen over a season, but it's reasonable to think that the Cardinals will have the first overall pick. They might get the second pick too.
Who will the Cardinals and other teams in the top 10 be looking at? Here's a look at a preliminary list of the top-10 prospects for the 2024 NFL Draft:
1. USC QB Caleb Williams
We see plenty of quarterbacks get hyped up as a Trevor Lawrence/Andrew Luck-level prospect before their final college season, then get picked apart a bit. The same could happen to Williams, but the 2022 Heisman Trophy winner looks like a special prospect. He is already getting Patrick Mahomes comparisons. We'll see what happens over the next season, but Williams is the favorite to be the first pick in next year's draft.
2. Ohio State WR Marvin Harrison Jr.
Harrison is looking like one of the best receiver prospects in recent history. He has it all, including some famous bloodlines. Harrison had 1,263 yards and 14 touchdowns last season with an endless highlight reel. He could end up being the best prospect in the draft, though it's a good bet that a quarterback or two will be drafted ahead of him.
3. North Carolina QB Drake Maye
Maye was a revelation last season as a redshirt freshman. He was the ACC player of the year and emerged as an exciting NFL prospect. The same warnings apply to Maye: Quarterbacks seem to get picked apart more than any other players their final season before the draft. It's also possible that Maye continues to rise and presents a challenge to Williams as the QB1 in the class.
4. Notre Dame OT Joe Alt
If the last name rings a bell, it's because Joe's father John Alt was a first-round draft pick of the Kansas City Chiefs in 1984 and made two Pro Bowls at tackle. Joe Alt has great size and durability. He had the highest overall grade for any college football tackle by Pro Football Focus last season, the highest run-blocking grade and did not allow a sack in 406 pass blocking snaps.
5. Penn State OT Olu Fashanu
It was a big surprise when Fashanu passed on entering the NFL Draft to return for another season at Penn State. He would have been one of the first offensive linemen off the board in this year's draft. Next year, Fashanu will be a prize for teams looking for a foundational left tackle. He'll compete with Alt to be the OL1.
6. Georgia TE Brock Bowers
You won't see many tight ends drafted in the top 10, but Bowers is exceptional. He was a big part of Georgia's back-to-back national championship teams. Bowers has 1,824 receiving yards and 20 receiving touchdowns through his first two seasons, and also has four rushing touchdowns. That includes a 75-yard touchdown run on a jet sweep. This is a unique talent at the position, and he'll be drafted high.
7. Florida State DE Jared Verse
Verse started his college career at Albany, was dominant there, transferred to Florida State and had 17 tackles for loss including nine sacks last season. His pass rushing ability will get a lot of attention over the next year.
8. Alabama OLB Dallas Turner
Turner is probably the next Crimson Tide defender to be a high pick in the draft. He saw time on the Alabama defense as a freshman and had 8.5 sacks. He didn't put up huge numbers as a sophomore (four sacks) but he'll have a chance to shine this season.
9. Ohio State DE J.T. Tuimoloau
Tuimoloau showed his potential against Penn State last season. He had two sacks, two interceptions (one of which he returned for a touchdown), a forced fumble and fumble recovery. He was ranked by Rivals as No. 7 overall in the 2021 recruiting class, the highest-rated defensive prospect to sign with Ohio State since 2000. He should continue to grow.
10. Alabama CB Kool-Aid McKinstry
Given first name: Ga'Quincy. McKinstry was a starter by the end of his freshman season at Alabama, which is no small feat. He was all-SEC first team by coaches and media and got a few All-America nods as well. In addition to being an excellent cornerback, McKinstry averaged 15.8 yards on punt returns last season.