31. Andrew Mukuba, S, Clemson
It was not the best start to the season for Clemson, but the struggles were primarily on the offensive side of the ball. The defense seems to be stacked with NFL talent once against and Mukuba is no exception. He is a good open-field tackler with the ability to play single-high safety or out of the slot. His speed is more than adequate for the NFL. Injuries could be a factor here as well as Mukuba missed Week 2’s matchup with Charleston Southern. Not a huge issue, but something to monitor if he struggles to get back onto the field.
32. Quinn Ewers, QB, Texas
Ewers unquestionably silenced a lot of doubters and made himself a lot of money with his performance against Alabama. The question now is: can he do it again? Ewers looked sharp against the Tide in 2022 before exiting with an injury. He struggled with consistency for the rest of the season. Perhaps he was playing hurt, but completing just 58.1 percent of his passes was nowhere near good enough. The talent is clear. It comes down to whether or not he can put it together on a consistent basis to lead this Texas team back to national prominence.
33. Raheim Sanders, RB, South Carolina
I’m still waiting for a running back to emerge as the top guy in this class. As of now, I have Sanders as my top back, but that may change quickly if Sanders struggles to get back onto the field after suffering a knee injury in the season opener. In 2022, he racked up over 1,400 yards rushing and caught 28 passes out of the backfield. He is a load to bring down in the open field. Listed at 6’2″, 242 pounds, he reminds me a bit of Najee Harris, but perhaps not as elusive in the open field. We have a long way to go before settling on who RB1 will be in this class.
34. Mekhi Wingo, DL, LSU
On a night where the Tigers really struggled, Wingo shone brightly against the Seminoles. He was in the backfield consistently, collapsing the pocket and disrupting run plays. The former Missouri transfer’s impact goes beyond the simple counting stats, although six tackles for loss and three sacks in 2022 is nothing to sneeze at. His motor and stamina give him a high floor. It would be nice to see him on the stat sheet more, but he is a prime example of why you don’t just scout box scores.
35. Cooper Beebe, G, Kansas State
Beebe could have easily been an NFL draft pick a year ago. He is technically sound and brings tons of starting experience. Instead, he opted to return to the reigning Big 12 champions for what will presumably be one last ride. He did not allow a sack in 2021 or 2022, which landed him on All-Conference and All-American lists. He arrived at Kansas State as a defensive tackle before switching to play on the offensive line. In his first three years, he played every position on the offensive line other than center. His versatility and experience will be coveted by many at the next level.
36. Bralen Trice, EDGE, Washington
Coming off a breakout 2022 season, expectations are high for Trice. He posted nine sacks and 12 tackles for loss this past season, which put him firmly on the NFL draft radar. The now fourth-year junior opted to return to school for a chance to push himself even higher. Probably a wise move, because despite his impressive speed and sure tackling, Trice has room to improve. His game lacks fluidity at this stage and struggles with his pad level. More reps as a pass rusher should only push him further up big boards.
37. Kris Jenkins, DL, Michigan
The list of prospects who not only have a father who played in the NFL but also shares a name in this draft class is extensive. Jenkins is similar to his old man in that he plays the defensive line. That’s about where the similarities end though. Michigan lists the younger Jenkins at 305 pounds, a good 60 pounds lighter than his father was in his playing days. The Michigan senior excels against the run. It might not be sexy, but just ask the Minnesota Vikings how important it is to defend the ground game effectively. If he can show some signs of untapped potential as a pass rusher, he will fly up draft boards.
38. Bo Nix, QB, Oregon
It still amazes me that we can be talking about Bo Nix as a legitimate top-50 prospect. This time last year, it was hard to imagine him even being drafted. There will still be plenty of folks who point to his time at Auburn as a sign that he cannot cut it in the NFL. However, he is now playing in his third offensive system in as many years and looks very comfortable doing so. His stellar completion percentage, rushing ability, and experience make him deserving of being ranked this high. Don’t rule out the possibility of him working his way into the top 25 discussions either with another impressive season.
39. Kingsley Suamataia, OT, BYU
Impressive size? Check. Promising pass-blocking profile? Check. Good NFL bloodlines? Check. Suamataia brings a lot to the table. According to PFF, the 6’6″ redshirt sophomore did not allow a sack in his 2022 season. He arrived at BYU after spending one season at Oregon, where he played with his cousins, Penei and Noah Sewell. He seems to be blossoming into a star with the Cougars, now starting at left tackle with Blake Freeland in the NFL. He will get a chance to prove himself against some good competition coming up with Arkansas on the docket before BYU begins Big 12 conference play.
40. Junior Colson, LB, Michigan
Michigan is loaded with NFL talent this year. Colson is certainly not the biggest name on the list, but he has a chance to be an impactful player at the next level. With good coverage skills and impressive upper body strength, he should be capable of handling the responsibilities that come with being a modern-day NFL linebacker. There are areas for improvement, namely his foot speed and change of direction. If he can improve his quickness, he will be making a push for first-round consideration.