NFL Draft News & Analysis

Buyer beware on these 2024 NFL Draft prospects

2TANM08 December 01 2023 Las Vegas, NV U.S.A. Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr. (9)looks for the deep pass during the NCAA Pac 12 football conference championship game between Oregon Ducks and the Washington Huskies. Washington beat Oregon 34-31 at Allegiant Stadium. Thurman James / CSM (Credit Image: © Thurman James/Cal Sport Media) (Cal Sport Media via AP Images)

• QBs Caleb Williams and Michael Penix Jr. have their concerns: While both signal-callers are among the best in the class, Penix's overall accuracy and Williams' play in rhythm are question marks.

• Mike Sainristil's production is enticing, but concerns exist: Of the 14 cornerback prospects in the top 100 on the PFF big board, Sainristil ranked 12th in forced incompletion rate and 12th in first-down-plus-touchdown rate allowed in 2023.

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Estimated Reading Time: 6 minutes

PFF lead draft analyst Trevor Sikkema has been scouring the tape of hundreds of prospects since last year’s NFL draft, pumping out mock drafts and updating his big board as the scouting process continues.

We’ll look at some of the top players on PFF's big board and give a note of caution as to why they might struggle early on in the NFL or even never pan out.

QB Caleb Williams, USC

Big Board Rank: 1

Williams was phenomenal when throwing in the rhythm and timing of the play in 2023, earning a 93.2 grade with 15 big-time throws and just one turnover-worthy play. He was even more impressive as a freshman at Oklahoma, posting a 95.2 grade and 11 big-time throws to zero turnover-worthy plays on 117 fewer dropbacks.

Throwing out of rhythm is the “beware” part of Williams' game. He took himself out of the rhythm of the play the second most often of all draft-eligible quarterbacks (behind only Drake Maye). Essentially, when he had an open receiver to throw to, Williams passed him up and tried to extend the play for virtually no reason. He wasn’t pressured, and the coverage didn’t (or shouldn’t have) confused him.

Of the 11 draft-eligible quarterbacks on PFF's big board, Williams had the second-lowest percentage of in-rhythm throws in 2023. His grade when out of rhythm? 44.4, third worst. While doing so, he generated the most big-time throws (nine) but also the most turnover-worthy plays (14).

Taking what the defense gives you is sometimes the best option, and Williams got into a bad habit of trying to play hero ball when his team needed him to just execute the play.

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EDGE Dallas Turner, Alabama

Big Board Rank: 15

Turner’s grading profile from his freshman to junior seasons is the type of trajectory you look for when developing talented players. He improved his overall grade from 66.7 in 2021 to 82.3 in 2023 and his pass-rushing grades from 66.2 to 89.3 over the same span. He more than doubled his pass-rush win rate and increased his pressure rate from 13.5% in 2022 to 20.2% in 2023.

The red flag is Turner's lack of development in the run game. He earned a 71.9 run-defense grade as a freshman, making 11 stops and recording an average tackle depth of 0.85 yards. In 2023, his run-defense grade was 69.8 with an average tackle depth of 5.47 yards. His positively graded play rate decreased, as did his run-stop percentage. He’ll need to gain strength to set the edge in the NFL.

T Tyler Guyton, Oklahoma

Big Board Rank: 31

Offensive line grading is one of the most stable and predictable data points for future NFL success, and Guyton doesn't check all of the boxes.

His grading profile from 2022 to 2023 is remarkably consistent, albeit at the low end of the spectrum. His 66.2 overall grade in 2022 is almost identical to his 66.3 grade in 2023. His pass-blocking grade was 72.9 in both years, which is respectable but not a great mark. His run blocking is the biggest concern, as he graded out at 62.1 in 2022 and 60.5 in 2023.

On inside-zone runs, Guyton earned a 58.1 grade, with a greater than 2-to-1 negative-to-positive-grade ratio. On all other runs, he recorded a near 1-to-1 ratio. With inside zone being the most prevalent run scheme in the NFL, teams will need to be mindful when considering the big man from Oklahoma.

WR Keon Coleman, Florida State

Big Board Rank: 39

Coleman broke out in a big way in 2023, starting with Florida State's season-opener against LSU in which he logged nine catches for 122 yards and three touchdowns. He hauled in three contested catches, two for touchdowns and one for a big gain. He dropped just two passes all season long and fumbled only once.

So, what’s the problem?

Well, Coleman couldn’t replicate that success across the rest of the season. From that point forward, he hauled in 41 catches for 536 yards and eight touchdowns. He caught just seven of 26 contested targets and posted a mediocre 1.54 yards per route run figure. His 70.6 PFF grade is fine, but it wasn’t the leap we were expecting after his transfer from Michigan State and his performance against LSU.

EDGE Adisa Isaac, Penn State

Big Board Rank: 42

PFF grades correlate well to NFL success at edge defender, and while Isaac didn't grade poorly (81.8 overall in 2023), there are concerns about how his grade breaks down and his career as a whole.

His 82.4 run-defense grade propped up his overall mark. He missed just two tackles and recorded an average tackle depth of 0.61 yards in that facet. It was a big improvement from 2022, when he came in at 60.3 with missed eight tackles, almost double the negatively graded plays as in 2023 and an average tackle depth of 2.53 yards.

His pass-rushing profile is not bad, but he is the lowest-graded pass rusher with the lowest pass-rush win rate in the top 100 of PFF’s big board. Those two metrics are concerns for his prospects in the NFL.

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QB Michael Penix Jr., Washington

Big Board Rank: 47

After Penix's standout semifinal playoff game, some analysts were talking about him being drafted in the top half of the first round. He delivered the most impressive outing of his career in the biggest game of his career to date. However, he was then exposed against Michigan’s defense in the national championship game.

Accuracy was a red flag in Penix’s game this year. Of the top 11 quarterbacks on PFF’s big board, Penix is tied for the worst uncatchable inaccurate pass rate (22.9%). While this isn't a nail in the coffin for his NFL prospects, the best quarterback prospects in recent years have generally been below 20% in that metric.

CB Mike Sainristil, Michigan

Big Board Rank: 53

Sainristil graded out very well in coverage in 2023 (85.0) after hauling in six interceptions to lead all draft-eligible cornerbacks. He led a Wolverines defense that suffocated opposing offenses en route to a national championship.

But of the 14 cornerback prospects in the top 100 on the PFF big board, Sainristil ranks 12th in forced incompletion rate and 12th in first-down-plus-touchdown rate allowed. While the interception numbers get all the attention, down-to-down consistency is a red flag for Sainristil.

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