All four teams in the College Football Playoff have some very, very interesting 2024 NFL Draft prospects to watch starting on January 1st. The first game is the Rose Bowl between Michigan and Alabama, the second is between Washington and Texas. We're going to look at several intriguing players from each team and then give a top five of the players I'm most looking forward to watching before they suit up to hear their names called on draft day.
Top NFL prospects to watch in the College Football Playoff: Michigan
Michigan has a handful of good players, which led to them finishing #1 in the overall college football rankings. An honorable mention goes to Zak Zinter who suffered a pretty bad leg injury during the Wolverines win over Ohio State. Zinter is likely to still be drafted early in April's draft but unfortunately, we won't be able to watch him in the College Football Playoff.
The Wolverines are quarterbacked by JJ McCarthy who over the course of the season made some solid plays and had decent stats: 213/287 equals a 74.2 percent completion percentage for 2,630 yards, 19 touchdowns and four interceptions. McCarthy completed 54.5 percent of his deep balls and his receivers dropped 17 passes over the course of the season. All that said, I still believe McCarthy to be a product of the receiving talent on the Wolverines football team more than an elite talent himself.
Michigan's pass catching group is led by wide receiver Roman Wilson, who is one of the top prospects to watch for the Wolverines. Wilson is likely to be selected late on day two of April's NFL Draft. Roman Wilson posted 41 receptions for 662 yards and 11 touchdowns. Wilson had only one drop during the entire season and was 3-for-6 (50 percent) on contested catches.
Michigan also has talent in its backfield with running back Blake Corum who touched the endzone almost twice a game! Corum had 24 rushing touchdowns on 218 carries. On those carries Corum racked up 1,028 yards, 539 of which came after contact (52.4 percent of his total) and forced 23 missed tackles. What may cause Corum to drop a little bit in the draft is the lack of pass game work. Corum had just 14 receptions for 82 yards through the air. The low totals doesn't mean that he is incapable of being a dual threat but that there is a lack of tape to show that he could be that for an NFL team or if Corum is better suited for first and second down work.
Michigan has some great players on the defensive side of the ball as well, first and foremost is Mike Sainristil. Sainristil is a lockdown corner for the Wolverines who registered 30 tackles, two sacks, two forced fumbles and five interceptions this season. Sainristil also scored two touchdowns defensively, one on a fumble recovery and one pick-six. On top of that, he posted six passes defensed and only two missed tackles. Opposing quarterbacks were just 22-of-41 when targeting him (53.7 completion percentage). Primarily lined up in the slot, Sainristil allowed just 344 yards and three touchdowns all season.
Another player in the secondary to keep an eye on is safety Rod Moore. Moore allowed 12 receptions on 21 targets (57.1 percent completion rate) for just 95 yards. Moore also grabbed two interceptions and had two passes defensed.
Junior Colson is a Wolverines linebacker who piled up 54 tackles and 28 run stops while missing only three tackles all season (96.6 percent tackle percentage). Colson is not the best in coverage allowing 19 receptions on 24 targets but if your favorite NFL team needs a run stopper, Colson is certainly an option.
On the edge, the Michigan Wolverines have edge rusher Jaylen Harrell. Harrell racked up 6.5 sacks, 28 tackles and two forced fumbles. Harrell was around the quarterback often with 27 pressures and 14 quarterback hurries. Harrell, like Colson isn't great in coverage but could excel as a pure pass rusher on an NFL team that runs a 3-4 front.
On the defensive line, 6'3", 305 pound Kris Jenkins already has an NFL body for the position. Jenkins tallied 33 tackles, 24 run stops and an interception.
Shout out to Zak Zinter who is a highly regarded offensive line prospect who can't play in this game due to a leg injury suffered late in the season in the Wolverine's win over Ohio State.