11.Emeka Egbuka, WR, Ohio State
His production numbers this year will come nowhere close to the year before. Don’t let that fool you. Egbuka is still an uber-talented player. He is just dealing with a much worse quarterback under center, at least so far, in Kyle McCord. I am a big fan of Egbuka’s route running and ability after the catch. Both those traits should translate very well to success in the NFL. He has legitimate WR1 upside.
12.Keon Coleman, WR, Florida State
I don’t think any player has done more to boost their draft stock so far this season than Coleman. He has dominated for Florida State after transferring from Michigan State. His ability to high point the football is next level and he has strong hands. Those traits make him a great red zone threat, but he can produce between the 20s as well. I don’t think anyone is unseating Marvin Harrison Jr. as the top receiver in this class, but Coleman is making a great case to be the next one selected.
13. Barrett Carter, LB/DB, Clemson
I’m still not quite sure what to make of Carter. He flies around the field making plays, but I’m not positive that he should play linebacker at the next level. His quickness and ability in coverage could make him a fit as a box safety. Clemson lists him at 230 pounds, but he looks like he might be a bit lighter. The Tigers routinely have him play out of the slot as well. I love the versatility and passion he brings to the table.
14. Jer’Zhan Newton, DL, Illinois
Illinois is quickly becoming a hub for defensive talent. After having three different defensive backs drafted last year, Newton looks like he will be another first-round pick for the program. At 6’2″, 295 pounds, he has some versatility to play as a 3-tech or a 5-tech. He already has two sacks in two games this season and has a huge opportunity to prove himself against Olu Fashanu as the Illini host Penn State.
15. Malik Nabers, WR, LSU
I will be honest, I really did not want to like Nabers. I think I was soured by his performance against Florida State in the season opener last year. Nabers fumbled twice in that game and was held to just 42 yards receiving. I have clearly come around on him. He has a good blend of size and quickness. His routes are crisp and his hands are reliable. His release and run blocking still need a bit of work, but he projects as a player who can have an instant impact at the next level.
16. Tyler Nubin, S, Minnesota
Talk about opening the year with a statement. Hat tip to the NFL Stock Exchange podcast for putting Nubin on my radar before the year began. He is much more well-known now after coming up with two huge interceptions to open the season at Nebraska. With a solid build, good production, and a ton of experience, Nubin should be in the mix to be the first safety off the board.
17. Dallas Turner, EDGE, Alabama
At this point, we are still waiting for the production to match up with the traits for Turner. He has a great build, incredible get-off speed, and impressive bend, but has yet to produce at an elite level. He has stepped into the role of Alabama’s primary pass rusher with Will Anderson now in the NFL but has yet to really deliver. Through two games this season, he is responsible for combining a tackle for loss and no sacks. There is still time, but scouts will want to see Turner deliver on the hype soon.
18. Michael Penix Jr., QB, Washington
The injury history and the age will certainly knock Penix down draft boards for many teams. However, it is important not to overlook his talent and production. He took a massive step forward in his first season with Washington after transferring from Indiana. Starting all 13 games for the first time in his career, his completion percentage was a solid 65.3 percent. So far this year, Penix is completing north of 70 percent of his passes. His evaluation will really be solidified in conference play this year and likely at the Senior Bowl, but he is one of the best deep-ball throwers in this class.
19. Jeremiah Trotter Jr., LB, Clemson
When you put on the tape for Trotter, it is easy to see where he has benefitted from having a father who played in the NFL. He has really good instincts and tackles well. Those abilities make up for the fact that he might be a tad bit slow when it comes to flipping his hips and breaking on the ball. It might point to him being better as a weak or strong side backer as opposed to a middle linebacker at the next level. He certainly has enough talent to contend. A huge opportunity facing Florida State looms at the end of this month.
20. Cooper DeJean, CB, Iowa
Versatility is the name of the game when it comes to DeJean. He has mostly played at corner in his time with the Hawkeyes, but his skills might just translate best to playing safety at the next level. He is arguably the best ball hawk in this class, registering five interceptions in 2022 and returning three of them for touchdowns. Any team looking for a defensive playmaker will have DeJean high on their big board.