NFL Draft News & Analysis

2024 NFL Draft: 10 prospects PFF likes more than most

2RWHJ5D Michigan defensive back Mike Sainristil (0) plays against UNLV in the second half of an NCAA college football game in Ann Arbor, Mich., Saturday, Sept. 9, 2023. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

• Mike Sainristil is simply a good football player: He is a smaller-sized, explosive and fiercely competitive former wide receiver who can play both safety and slot cornerback with good instincts, great ball skills and a requisite fearlessness.

• The no-star recruit Jalyx Hunt is worth betting on: He wins primarily off athleticism right now, but he has the build and the athleticism to bet on as a pass rusher.

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Every draft cycle, there are players who certain draft evaluators are higher on than others. With just a few days until the 2024 NFL Draft kicks off, we'll highlight 10 of the players PFF is higher on than the consensus big board.

Rankings versus consensus were gathered by using Arif Hasan’s Consensus Board, which you can find at his Substack: Wide Left.

CB Mike Sainristil, Michigan

  • PFF Rank: 34
  • Consensus Rank: 63

The short version of why I am higher on Mike Sainristil than most is that the NFL draft is for selecting good football players, and Sainristil is a very good football player.

I understand why many are lower on him. Admittedly, I typically don’t rank nickel defenders this high. But I made an exception for Brian Branch last draft cycle as my No. 18 player in the class, and I am applying that same logic to Sainristil. He is a smaller-sized, explosive and fiercely competitive former wide receiver who can play both safety and slot cornerback with good instincts, great ball skills and a fearlessness required to be up for unique challenges.

Click here to see Mike Sainristil's 2024 NFL Draft profile.

RB Blake Corum, Michigan

  • PFF Rank: 52
  • Consensus Rank: 84

I still believe in Blake Corum. If he didn’t get hurt at the end of the 2022 season, I believe he would have been an easy top-50 pick in last year’s draft. But that injury (meniscus tear) was a significant one, and it took him a bit in 2023 to really get his explosiveness and confidence back. In 2022, he recorded a 96.2 PFF rushing grade with very strong missed tackles forced and yards after contact averages. I believe he possesses the best vision of any back in this class, and if the knee is healthy, I’d still take him in Round 2.

EDGE Jonah Elliss, Utah

  • PFF Rank: 55
  • Consensus Rank: 77

Elliss is higher on our board due to his technically refined pass-rushing skill set. For example, teams that really like Laiatu Latu in the first round but miss out on him will be targeting Elliss somewhere on Day 2. He understands how to win as a pass rusher in ways beyond athleticism. He has a variety of pass-rush movies and counters that make him tough to block, even at just 248 pounds. He earned a 90.6 pass-rush grade and posted a 17.7% pass-rush win percentage this past season.

T Brandon Coleman, TCU

  • PFF Rank: 70
  • Consensus Rank: 128

With the context that Coleman has played football for only seven years, it is easy to like what displays. He spent most of his childhood in Germany, as his father was in the military and stationed there. They moved back to the U.S. when Coleman was 15, and he picked up football in his junior year of high school. He spent one year in JUCO before transferring to TCU in 2020, and he split time between left tackle and left guard this past year. While Coleman struggled, he is an elite athlete with 70th-percentile length for the position. His technique needs to continue to improve, but this is an ideal draft-and-develop offensive tackle in the third round with starting upside.

EDGE Xavier Thomas, Clemson

  • PFF Rank: 82
  • Consensus Rank: 180

Thomas was a five-star recruit in the 2018 recruiting class. Weight fluctuation, injury and bad timing now have him as a sixth-year edge rusher in the 2024 draft class. But that five-star label still shows up when he gets off the ball and into the backfield, and that’s what I’m betting on. He has smaller arms and shorter strides, which both go into his weaknesses, but the explosiveness and the violence with which his hands move to get off blocks is impressive. Even as just a pass-rush specialist, he is so hard to block with a motor that doesn’t stop until the whistle is blown.

EDGE Jalyx Hunt, Houston Christian

  • PFF Rank: 86
  • Consensus Rank: 176

Hunt was a no-star recruit and started his college career as a safety at Cornell. That is hard to believe, because after switching to edge rusher at Houston Christian in 2022, he showed impactful play, including an 18.9% pass-rush win percentage in 2023. His wingspan and arm length are both above the 80th percentile for edge rushers, which makes it even more hilarious to think of him as a safety, and his quickness and body control give offensive linemen fits when they are trying to stay in front of him. He wins primarily off athleticism right now, and he must improve the consistency of his pad level to make the most of his shorter size. However, Hunt has the build and the athleticism to bet on as a pass rusher.

EDGE Javon Solomon, Troy

  • PFF Rank: 91
  • Consensus Rank: 152

Like Jalyx Hunt, Solomon hasn’t been playing edge rusher long. The former off-ball outside linebacker moved to defensive end in 2023, and the results were better than anyone could have expected, as Solomon led the nation in sacks (16) as an All-American. Solomon is also small in height and weight but has decent arm length and good explosiveness. As a former high school wrestler, he shows good core strength when taking on blocks. He is another unique player to draft and develop in the late third or early fourth round.

TE Erick All, Iowa

  • PFF Rank: 92
  • Consensus Rank: 183

If not for his injury history, All would likely be the easy consensus TE3 in this class — and may have even pushed for the TE2 title. Unfortunately, we have not seen the former four-star tight end play much football lately, as he underwent back surgery in 2022 after just three games and then tore his ACL seven games in 2023 at Iowa. But even from the few games we saw him with the Hawkeyes, he displayed the whole package of a starting NFL tight end. He shows a willingness and good technique as a blocker, functional athleticism on a variety of routes and massive hands to haul in contested catches.

RB Isaiah Davis, South Dakota State

  • PFF Rank: 116
  • Consensus Rank: 188

Davis was super productive for the Jackrabbits over the past two years, surpassing 3,000 rushing yards. At 6-foot and 218 pounds, he lowers his shoulder and gets tough yards. What stands out most to me is his finesse game for a big man. He is light on his feet and is always looking for more space, as opposed to where the next crack of the pads is coming from. He’s not a game-changing athlete, and not quite the violent runner of a bigger player like Zach Charbonnet, but he is an interesting combination of size and smoothness that could make him an intriguing committee back.

Click here to see Isaiah Davis' 2024 NFL Draft profile.

G Trevor Keegan, Michigan

  • PFF Rank: 126
  • Consensus Rank: 187

Trevor Keegan was the best of the Michigan interior offensive linemen, and that includes when Zak Zinter was healthy. His 6-foot-5 height does make it more difficult to get good leverage, but he moves well for his size and is a coordinated athlete who can line defenders up between the shoulder pads when zone blocking and when blocking in space at the second level. He is more of a finesse lineman than a powerful one, but he could be a good backup for an NFL offense that likes to get its linemen on the move.

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