NFL Draft News & Analysis

2025 NFL Draft: Way-too-early top-50 big board

2WA3JJR ORLANDO, FL - JANUARY 01: Tennessee Volunteers defensive lineman James Pearce Jr. (27) celebrates after a sack during the 2024 Cheez-It Citrus Bowl between Iowa Hawkeyes and the Tennessee Volunteers on Monday, January 1, 2024 at Camping World Stadium, Orlando, Fla. (Photo by Peter Joneleit/Icon Sportswire) (Icon Sportswire via AP Images)

James Pearce Jr. leads the way: The Tennessee edge defender is the early top prospect in the 2025 NFL Draft.

Mason Graham comes in second: The Michigan interior defensive lineman has a chance to be a Jalen Carter/Quinnen Williams-level prospect.

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The 2024 NFL Draft’s body is barely cold but it’s already time to look ahead to 2025.

The 2024 draft will be known for having a record-setting amount of offensive players at the top, with 14 taken before the first defender. Early indications of 2025 signal it’ll be almost the polar opposite. Of the top 25 prospects on this list, 15 come from the defensive side of the ball.

Here’s a look at PFF’s way-too-early top-50 prospects in the 2025 NFL Draft. 

1. EDGE James Pearce Jr., Tennessee

Pearce became one of the most fearsome pass-rushers in the country this past season. The sophomore’s 21.3% pressure rate was third among all edge defenders in the country as was his 92.4 PFF pass-rush grade. Pearce ended the season as the fourth-most valuable Power Five edge defender according to PFF’s wins above average metric

He has freakish explosiveness at 6-foot-5, 242 pounds and converts speed to power at an elite level. With the 2025 NFL Draft looking like it’ll have a weaker quarterback class, there’s a real chance that Pearce could be the No. 1 overall pick next year. 

2. DI Mason Graham, Michigan

Graham was excellent in his first year at Ann Arbor, leading all FBS true freshmen interior defensive linemen with an 80.3 PFF grade. He took his game to a whole new level as a sophomore. He was the fourth-most valuable defensive tackle in the nation according to PFF’s wins above average metric and was sixth in that same group with a 15.9% pass-rush win rate. Graham was one of only two interior defensive linemen in the country to finish with top-10 grades as both a pass-rusher and run defender. The other was TexasT’Vondre Sweat.

The rising junior has a relentless motor to combine with ridiculous agility that makes him nearly unblockable. Even if an offensive lineman gets a clean shot on him, he has great power at 6-foot-3 and 318 pounds to shed the block and find the ball carrier. Graham’s a nearly complete defensive tackle who’ll continue terrorizing Big Ten offenses on his way to likely becoming a high selection in the 2025 NFL Draft. 

3. OT Will Campbell, LSU

Campbell started immediately at left tackle for LSU as a true freshman in 2022 and has been nothing but a star during his two years there. During his true freshman campaign, his 85.6 pass-blocking grade on true pass sets trailed only Peter Skoronski among Power Five tackles. This past season, Campbell was fifth among FBS offensive tackles with an 84.9 run-blocking grade. Since 2022, Campbell has been the fifth-most valuable Power Five tackle according to our wins above average metric. Three of the players above him are projected first-round picks in 2024: Joe Alt, Taliese Fuaga and JC Latham.

Campbell is the early favorite to be OT1 in the 2025 class, although the next player on this list is right behind him.

4. CB Will Johnson, Michigan

Johnson immediately lived up to the five-star billing that he had coming out of high school. As a true freshman in 2022, he posted a 91.1 PFF grade in man coverage, which led all corners in the Power Five.

He followed that up by allowing just a 29.1 passer rating into his coverage as a sophomore, which was fifth among all cornerbacks in the country. On six targets against Marvin Harrison Jr. and Rome Odunze this past season, Johnson allowed just three catches while also coming down with an interception. 

He has all the physical traits you’d want in a corner at 6-foot-2, 202 pounds with excellent speed, footwork and ball skills for the position. If he was eligible to be selected in 2024, he’d be the first corner off the board. In fact, he would’ve been the first one taken in 2023 as well. Johnson has the makings of a special cornerback prospect who’ll likely be a top-five pick next April.

5. DI Deone Walker, Kentucky

Walker is the textbook definition of “first guy off the bus.” At 6-foot-6 and 348 pounds, he dwarfs nearly every offensive lineman he lines up against. Most defensive tackles that size normally end up serving as run-stuffers who eat double teams while adding little to nothing as a pass-rusher. While Walker can certainly do the first part (81.7 PFF run-defense grade in 2023), the latter couldn’t be further from the truth. 

The sophomore’s 51 pressures this past season led all interior defensive linemen in college football while his eight sacks were tied for the most among Power Five ones. Since 2022, he’s been the second-most valuable returning Power Five defensive tackle according to PFF’s wins above-average metric (Graham is first). While Walker has the sheer strength to overpower offensive linemen, he often wins with his outstanding agility and finesse at that size. Like Graham, expect Walker to be a high pick in the 2025 draft for just how much of a unicorn he is.

6. OT Kelvin Banks Jr., Texas

Like Campbell, Banks started for Texas at left tackle as a true freshman in 2022 and instantly excelled as a pass-protector. The former five-star recruit only allowed a pressure on 3.5% of his true pass sets that year, fifth among Power Five tackles. 

The sophomore’s 86.8 pass-blocking grade this past season stands second among returning Power Five tackles as well. Banks only surrendered a pressure on 2.3% of his pass-blocking snaps, which was also second among returning Power Five tackles. He finished 2023 as the sixth-most valuable offensive tackle in the nation according to our wins above average metric. While not always consistent, Banks showed flashes as a run-blocker this past season. His 12 big-time blocks (PFF’s highest-graded blocks) were second to only Taliese Fuaga among FBS tackles. 

While the 2024 offensive tackle class is loaded, the duo of Campbell and Banks would still be chosen over anyone not named Joe Alt.

7. WR Luther Burden III, Missouri

If you’re searching for the next Deebo Samuel, look no further. Burden has similar size to the San Francisco 49ers’ star receiver (5-foot-11, 208 pounds compared to Samuel’s 6-foot, 215-pound frame), and the two are at their best with the ball in their hands. The sophomore’s 725 yards after the catch were third among all FBS receivers this past season while his 314 receiving yards after contact were the fourth-most. 

Burden also displayed impressive hands and body control this past season, dropping just four of his 94 catchable targets while coming down with 56.5% of his contested targets. The former five-star recruit was targeted on 32.7% of his receiving snaps this past season, the highest rate among Power Five receivers. If Burden can clean up some route-running issues, he can overtake the three above him. For now, he’ll have to settle for being the early WR1 favorite for the 2025 draft.

8. CB Benjamin Morrison, Notre Dame

While Johnson’s first two seasons were special, Morrison’s weren’t too far behind. As a true freshman in 2022, he tied for the Power Five lead with six interceptions while his 29.2 passer rating allowed was third. In 2023, he was tied for eighth in that same group with 13 forced incompletions.

Morrison’s posted an 86.8 single-coverage grade since 2022, which paces all returning Power Five corners. On seven targets against Marvin Harrison Jr. over the last two years, he had more forced incompletions (three) than allowed catches (two). While there’s work to do as a tackler, Morrison has elite ball skills for the position. He and Johnson could be top-10 picks in 2025 and likely be the first corners off the board this year if eligible.

9. WR Tetairoa McMillan, Arizona

If you throw it McMillan’s way, there’s a very good chance he’ll come down with it. There are two main reasons for that. The first is that he presents a massive target to throw to at 6-foot-5, giving him a larger catch radius than anyone on this list. His 17 contested catches in 2023 were second among FBS receivers to only Rome Odunze. The second is that he also has excellent hands, finishing with the lowest drop rate among Power Five receivers with at least 100 targets this past season (2.1%). 

Only Malik Nabers and Odunze finished with more receiving yards than McMillan this year in the Power Five (1,396), and those two were the only FBS receivers who had more receiving first downs/touchdowns than the Arizona sophomore (63). Both Nabers and Odunze are projected top-10 picks in the 2024 NFL Draft, a feat McMillan should accomplish in 2025 if he maintains this pace. 

10. CB/WR Travis Hunter, Colorado

There’s versatile and then there’s Hunter. Not only did he serve as Colorado’s top corner in 2023, but he was also second on the team with 721 receiving yards. Hunter played 1,044 snaps in nine games, which was the most in college football. 

Even though he practically never came off the field and was routinely matched up with the opposition’s best receiver, Hunter still impressed with three interceptions which put him second among Pac-12 corners. 

He has the best ball skills of any corner in the country and is a freak athlete, which shouldn’t be surprising considering how effective of a receiver he is. While focusing on one position full-time may allow him to excel even more, the Buffaloes will happily settle with their marathon man being a well-above-average player at two incredibly valuable positions. 

11. QB Carson Beck, Georgia

The first non-2024 quarterback listed in this exercise is Beck. He finished as the fourth-most valuable quarterback in the nation according to PFF’s wins above average metric. The three above him were all Heisman finalists who are now heading to the NFL (Bo Nix, Michael Penix Jr. and Jayden Daniels). 

Beck’s 91.5 overall PFF grade and 90.8 passing grade were also fourth among FBS signal-callers. The rising redshirt senior is a supremely accurate quarterback with precise timing. While he hasn’t quite reached the levels that the three above him have, Beck is still the early favorite to be QB1 in 2025.

12. EDGE Nic Scourton, Texas A&M

Like Pearce, Scourton had a breakout true sophomore campaign. His 21.3% pass-rush win rate in 2023 was ninth among all edge defenders in the country while his 25 run-defense stops were tied for third among Power Five ones.

Unlike Pearce, Scourton will play for a new school in 2024 after transferring to Texas A&M from Purdue in January. The Aggies are getting a powerful edge defender at 6-foot-4, 260 pounds who flashes a nasty spin move often.

13. QB Shedeur Sanders, Colorado

While Colorado may have received more hype than it deserved last year, Sanders did not. The junior’s 89.2 PFF passing grade was seventh among FBS quarterbacks this past season. Sanders kept the ball out of harm’s way at an elite rate as his 1.6% turnover-worthy play rate in 2023 was fourth among all quarterbacks in the nation.

He’s an advanced processor who’s lethal when operating within a clean pocket. Sanders’ 92.9 PFF grade when kept clean trailed only Caleb Williams and Jayden Daniels this past season. If Colorado’s offensive line can improve, the rising senior has a real chance at dethroning Beck for the top quarterback prospect in the 2025 NFL Draft.

14. S Malaki Starks, Georgia

Like Downs, Starks lived up to the hype he had coming out of high school. As a true freshman in 2022, the former top-10 recruit led all Georgia defenders with 847 snaps during its national championship run. His eight combined interceptions and forced incompletions that year were tied for fifth among SEC safeties.

Starks built off his freshman year by earning an 84.8 run-defense grade as a sophomore, which placed him seventh in the Power Five for his position. He was also tied for sixth in that same group with seven forced incompletions in 2023. 

The rising junior is an elite athlete who’s a standout run defender and tackler for the position while also consistently making plays in coverage. He’s the favorite to be the top safety off the board in 2025 and will likely end up being a first-round selection.

15. CB Tacario Davis, Arizona

The first thing you notice about Davis is his freakish size at 6-foot-4. That length allows him to significantly bother receivers at the catch point. The sophomore posted a 27.8% forced incompletion rate in 2023, fifth among Power Five corners. In single coverage, Davis forced more incompletions (14) than he allowed catches (11). 

He moves very well for a corner his size which makes it very difficult for receivers to beat him. Davis entered the transfer portal back in January but is still listed on Arizona’s roster and was recently participating in team workouts, making it likely that he’ll be returning to Tucson for his junior campaign.

16. TE Colston Loveland, Michigan

Loveland went from a promising freshman to one of the nation’s best tight ends as a sophomore. He finished as the fourth-most valuable FBS tight end this past season according to PFF’s wins above average metric and was fifth among them in receiving yards (649). 

Loveland’s elite athleticism at 6-foot-5, 245 pounds makes him nearly unguardable. His 88.7% open-target rate in 2023 placed him in the 97th percentile for all tight ends in the country. Expect him to be a projected first-round pick in the 2025 draft.

17. LB Harold Perkins, LSU

Perkins entered Baton Rouge as a top-10 recruit and proved why in his true freshman season. In 2022, he paced all Power Five linebackers with a 91.0 PFF pass-rushing grade and placed second among all FBS linebackers with 18 quarterback knockdowns (sack/hits).

The Tigers asked him to play more in an off-ball role as a sophomore and he responded with an 81.1 PFF coverage grade that was a top-15 mark among Power Five linebackers. While LSU would be wise to pin his ears back and allow him to rush the passer more as a junior, Perkins has proven that he’s versatile enough to do whatever’s asked of him at a high level.

18. EDGE Abdul Carter, Penn State

A few years ago, Penn State’s defense featured a superstar in Micah Parsons. While he excelled as an off-ball linebacker in the Nittany Lions’ defense, it stands to reason that Penn State misplayed him in that role since he became one of the best edge defenders in the NFL with the Dallas Cowboys.

The Nittany Lions clearly weren’t going to make that same mistake twice with the next player to wear the legendary No. 11 for their defense. After spending his first two years at linebacker, Carter is moving to edge for this upcoming season. His 24.1% pass-rush win rate in 2023 led all FBS linebackers with at least 100 pass-rushing snaps and would’ve placed him third among edge defenders. Like Parsons, Carter has freakish movement ability at 250 pounds which should translate immediately along the edge. While this is a projection since he’s moving positions, this ranking could be laughably low by season’s end.

19. WR Emeka Egbuka, Ohio State

Once upon a time, Egbuka was seen as a first-round prospect in the 2024 class. He entered 2023 as my No. 2 wide receiver in college football, trailing only his teammate in Marvin Harrison Jr. While Harrison continued to shine and is now off to the NFL, Egbuka is returning for his senior season after missing three games due to an ankle injury as a junior. The year before, he finished as the second-most-valuable receiver in the Power Five according to PFF’s wins above-average metric, trailing only Harrison. He was fifth in that same group in receiving yards (1,151) and tied for seventh in receiving touchdowns (10) in 2022. 

Egbuka is a smooth route-runner who routinely finds the soft spots in zone coverage. His 86.1% open-target rate puts him in the 96th percentile of wide receivers over the last couple of seasons while the junior’s 97.7 PFF receiving grade since 2022 against zone/underneath/top coverage places him in the 90th percentile. If he bounces back in his senior campaign, Egbuka can reestablish himself as a first-round caliber receiver.

20. EDGE Jack Sawyer, Ohio State

Sawyer was arguably the most well-rounded edge defender in the nation this past year. He was the only edge in the FBS who earned 85-plus PFF grades both as a pass-rusher and as a run defender. Among returning Power Five edge defenders, only Pearce was more valuable in 2023 according to our wins above average metric.

Sawyer’s game is centered around his power profile at 6-foot-4, 265 pounds. If the former top-five recruit can add more pass-rushing moves to his arsenal in his senior season, Sawyer can climb even further up this list.

21. RB Ollie Gordon II, Oklahoma State

The reigning Doak Walker Award winner led the nation this past season with 1,732 rushing yards while placing second in rushing touchdowns (21) and yards after contact (1,056). The sophomore did all of that while only receiving 19 total carries over the first three games, averaging nearly 150 yards over the final 11 contests. Oklahoma State also finished just 103rd in PFF team run-blocking grade (55.3), making his dominance even more impressive. Gordon was also relied on heavily in the Cowboys’ passing game, as his 330 receiving yards were the third-most by a Power Five running back in 2023. 

While his long speed is only slightly above average and he’s an upright runner at 6-foot-1, Gordon’s elite vision and footwork allow him to gash defenses for big gains.


22. S Kevin Winston Jr., Penn State

Winston has no issues as a tackler. The sophomore posted just a 2% missed-tackle rate last year, which was second among all safeties in the country. His 90.6 PFF run-defense grade was third among FBS safeties as well.

Winston was far more than just a safety who excelled at stopping the run. In fact, he was the only safety in the nation who posted 85-plus PFF grades both as a run defender and in coverage last year. His well-rounded game will likely evoke some comparisons to another great Penn State safety in Jaquan Brisker.

23. EDGE JT Tuimoloau, Ohio State

Tuimoloau and his teammate, Sawyer, share many things in common besides both playing for the same school. They each were top-five overall recruits in the 2021 high school class and both made the surprising decision to return to Columbus despite being projected as Day 2 picks in the 2024 NFL Draft.

Sawyer places much higher on this list because he was more dependable this season. Tuimoloau’s 74.5 grade this year was only tied for 58th among Power Five edge defenders. The year before though, he was among the 20 best Power Five edges with an 83.0 pass-rushing grade. At 270 pounds, Tuimoloau has the sheer strength to overpower tackles but also excellent agility for someone his size. He has the capability to single-handedly win games (2022 against Penn State), but he just needs to flash that dominance more consistently.

24. RB Quinshon Judkins, Ohio State

Judkins has been the most productive back over the last couple of seasons. Since 2022, he leads all Power Five running backs in rushing yards (2,726), yards after contact (1,800) and forced missed tackles (154). Those also happened to be his first two years of college football.

He has fantastic contact balance and explosiveness, which makes it nearly impossible to arm-tackle him. After two dominant years at Ole Miss, Judkins is taking his talents to Columbus to form one-half of the best backfield in America with his teammate further down this list.

25. CB Jabbar Muhammad, Oregon

Muhammad is currently the only player on this list who’ll have a new home in 2024 after transferring to Oregon from Washington. The junior led all cornerbacks this past season with 19 forced incompletions, 17 of them coming in single coverage. 

While not the biggest at 5-foot-10, 183 pounds, he has excellent burst for the position and brings a feisty, ultra-competitive approach to his game.

26. EDGE Ashton Gillotte, Louisville

27. CB Denzel Burke, Ohio State

28. EDGE Princely Umanmielen, Ole Miss

29. RB Omarion Hampton, North Carolina

30. OT Jonah Savaiinaea, Arizona

31. WR Evan Stewart, Oregon

32. QB Quinn Ewers, Texas

33. TE Mitchell Evans, Notre Dame

34. WR Tre Harris, Ole Miss

35. S Xavier Nwankpa, Iowa

36. DI Kenneth Grant, Michigan

37. DI Howard Cross III, Notre Dame

38. EDGE Landon Jackson, Arkansas

39. QB Jalen Milroe, Alabama

40. RB Ashton Jeanty, Boise State

41. S Xavier Watts, Notre Dame

42. DI Tyleik Williams, Ohio State

43. OT Emery Jones, LSU

44. WR Isaiah Bond, Texas

45. CB Sebastian Castro, Iowa

46. OT Ajani Cornelius, Oregon

47. EDGE Kaimon Rucker, North Carolina

48. WR Tez Johnson, Oregon

49. LB Barrett Carter, Clemson

50. IOL Tyler Booker, Alabama

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