NFL Draft News & Analysis

Michigan's J.J. McCarthy, Toledo's Quinyon Mitchell among players to keep an eye on at the 2024 scouting combine

2T234RA Toledo cornerback Quinyon Mitchell (27) during an NCAA football game on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023, in Muncie, Ind. (AP Photo/Doug McSchooler)

QB JJ McCarthy, Michigan: McCarthy will head into Indianapolis as arguably the most polarizing quarterback prospect of the 2024 draft class. Yes, he's a reigning national champion, and he was even a Heisman favorite for stretches of the 2023 campaign, but there are still questions about whether he can be a true franchise signal-caller after some underwhelming performances down the stretch of the 2023 season.

CB Quinyon Mitchell, Toledo: Mitchell has been creeping toward the CB1 discussion since his dominant Senior Bowl performance. But that performance shouldn’t have come as a surprise, as he has been the nation’s highest-graded cornerback for two years.

Dig into the numbers for yourself: PFF's Premium Stats is the most in-depth collection of NFL and NCAA player performance data. Subscribe today to get full access!

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes


Click here for more draft tools:

2024 Mock Draft Simulator | 2024 Big Board | 2024 Draft Guide
2024 Player Profiles | 2024 Mock Drafts | NCAA Premium Stats


The 2024 NFL Scouting Combine kicks off in Indianapolis later this week, and prospects from opposite ends of the college football spectrum will be under the microscope.

All 321 attendees have the potential to solidify their draft stock with strong performances at the combine, and their journeys to this point offer intriguing narratives for NFL scouts and fans alike.

After looking at five sleepers and five players with the most to gain this week, here are five high-upside players who could start to grab more attention over the next seven days.

QB JJ McCarthy, Michigan

McCarthy will head into Indianapolis as arguably the most polarizing quarterback prospect of the 2024 draft class. Yes, he's a reigning national champion, and he was even a Heisman favorite for stretches of the 2023 campaign, but there are still questions about whether he can be a true franchise signal-caller after some underwhelming performances down the stretch of the 2023 season.

Week Opponent PFF grade Rank
6 Minnesota 77.1 18/101
7 Indiana 74.8 27/122
8 Michigan State 91.8 2/114
10 Purdue 84.4 16/133
11 Penn State 74.4 39/129
12 Maryland 47.3 122/133
13 Ohio State 71.9 49/134

It’s hard to knock a national champion who is fresh off earning a 90.8 PFF grade that ranked ninth among the nation's quarterbacks. However, he dropped back just 370 times over the year, playing behind the nation’s 10th-highest-graded run-blocking unit in an offense that finished sixth in the FBS in rush attempts. The true junior has shown flashes and the ability to make any throw on the field, though, with his 20 big-time throws good for 16th in the Power Five last season.

We've seen the highs, such as the Michigan State game, in which he produced four big-time throws to earn a 91.8 PFF grade. But he's also had games where it is clear that his decision-making is still a work in progress, such as the Bowling Green game that saw him record three turnover-worthy plays and a 40.6 grade.

The Michigan star is not a finished product, but he is a growing quarterback with experience in a pro-style offense. His physical tools and athleticism will work out in his favor at the combine. He should test well, and if he does, he might just start rising up draft boards.


WR Ricky Pearsall, Florida

Pearsall is a player teams might just fall in love with. He's a wideout who just knows how to get open, especially from the slot.

The 6-foot-1, 192-pound receiver produced a 90th-percentile separation percentage a season ago, with his 2.30 yards per route run good for 21st among 96 qualifying Power Five wide receivers.

Pearsall will thrive in the WR drills as he is very fundamentally sound for his position and dropped only 3.0% of his catchable passes last season.

According to our Mock Draft Simulator, Pearsall's average draft position is 63.1. But you can expect that to improve if he performs well at the combine.

Click here to start a mock draft!

iOL Christian Haynes, UConn

Haynes has quietly been one of the best guards in college football over the last two seasons, having allowed only one sack across 786 pass-blocking snaps in that span. He just doesn’t get the attention he deserves, having played at UConn.

In 2022, Haynes recorded the highest pass-blocking grade among all FBS guards at 91.0. He followed that up with another top-10 grade, finishing the season at 80.2.

You won’t find many people questioning Haynes’ strength and athleticism, as he possesses elite traits in both physical categories. The only question for Haynes is the strength of schedule he played at UConn.

Now’s his chance to prove himself against the best competition, just as he did at the Senior Bowl, where he was one of the week's biggest risers.


EDGE Jared Verse, Florida State

Verse was pegged as a top-10 prospect in last year’s draft, but he returned to school hoping to improve upon that status. By no means did Verse have a down year, but he didn’t quite take that next step in his progression that many expected him to.

Verse still improved slightly in every major PFF statistical category, but was it enough for him to remain a top-10 prospect?

Stat 2022 2023
PFF grade 82.4 84.4
Pass-rushing grade 88.6 90.8
Pressures 36 62
Sacks 9 11
Hits 2 15
Hurries 25 36

The combine will be his opportunity to show that he still has the raw physical abilities to be a top-tier edge rusher in the NFL.


CB Quinyon Mitchell, Toledo

Mitchell has been creeping toward the CB1 discussion since his dominant Senior Bowl performance. But that performance shouldn’t have come as a surprise, as he has been the nation’s highest-graded cornerback for two years.

Click here to download the 2024 NFL Draft Guide today!

Mitchell has dominated the secondary at Toledo for two years, giving up a measly 54.8 passer rating to opposing quarterbacks throughout his career. Of the 62 times Mitchell was targeted this season, he allowed only 27 receptions for 290 yards.

Playing in the MAC has not given Mitchell the best media exposure by any means, so it will be crucial for him to light up the combine, which will only improve his chances of being the first corner selected in April.

Safety worth way more than 2 points. Help protect your family with fast, free will.
Sponsor

NFL Draft Featured Tools

Subscriptions

Unlock the 2023 Fantasy Draft Kit, with League Sync, Live Draft Assistant, PFF Grades & Data Platform that powers all 32 Pro Teams

$31 Draft Kit Fee + $8.99/mo
OR
$89.88/yr + FREE Draft Kit