The 2023 season hasn’t kicked off, but taking an early look at the 2024 rookie draft class shows just how deep the class is. There are a lot of people that believe we were let down by the 2023 rookie player pool, and based on last season’s hype, those people’s disappointment is warranted. The 2023 draft class was heralded for multiple years and when we finally got there, it was a bit disappointing. There were still the top end names (Bijan, Young, Gibbs, Smith-Njigba, etc.), and there was a lot of depth provided by guys that maybe we thought would be part of that upper tier (Bigsby, Downs, Mayer, etc.). But it didn’t quite live up to expectations. Meanwhile, the 2024 class has been quietly coming together, and the potential names in this class feel like they are right up there with the hyped-up version of the 2023 class. We haven’t been talking about this class for years and years, but maybe this is the class we should’ve been paying more attention to.
1.01 - Caleb Williams - QB - USC - Jr
At the moment, the former Heisman winner is the top candidate to be the top pick in the NFL Draft and dynasty rookie drafts. He has mobility, the ability to work off script, and is a naturally gifted passer. Many have likened him to the closest thing they’ve seen to Patrick Mahomes since Patrick Mahomes. That’s obviously lofty expectations to put onto any college player, but Williams also has the ability to live up to those expectations in the high-powered USC offense.
1.02 - Drake Maye - QB - UNC - Jr
Drake Maye is the prototypical-sized quarterback that has the ability to process the field and threaten any part of the field. But not only that, he’s shown to be able to run the ball as well, totaling 698 rushing yards (including sack yards) and 7 rushing touchdowns. He unquestionably lit it up in his first year as the full time starter, and we still need to see if he can follow that up with another impressive season. If he can, he can solidify himself as the second pick in Superflex dynasty rookie drafts, and maybe even push Caleb Williams for the top spot. Both Maye and Williams are losing their top targets: Josh Downs and Jordan Addison respectively. Both teams brought in high-profile transfers: Devontez Walker and Dorian Singer respectively. It’s going to be up to both of these quarterbacks to prove they deserve the high projection they currently have.
1.03 - Marvin Harrison - WR - Ohio State - Jr
Marvin Harrison currently has the same hype that Ja’Marr Chase garnered just a few years ago. He is an imposing wide receiver at 6’4” and 205 lbs, has big play speed, and is a good route runner already. He’s incredibly advanced at an early stage in his career and was the focal point of the Ohio State offense last season. That was apparent as there is a legitimate argument that they beat Georgia in the College Football Playoffs if Harrison doesn’t get injured. Something drastic would have to occur this season for Harrison not to be the top skill position player to be taken off the board in the NFL Draft and dynasty rookie drafts.
1.04 - TreVeyon Henderson - RB - OSU - Jr
There was a debate just a year ago on who the real RB1 was in college football between TreVeyon Henderson and Bijan Robinson. Bijan came into the NFL and was instantly a top 3 dynasty running back, if not the top dynasty running back on most people’s rankings. That’s the potential that TreVeyon Henderson has, and if it weren’t for an injury riddled season, he might have just as much hype as Marvin Harrison right now. Henderson still has to prove he can stay healthy. And he still has to show at least some development from his incredible true freshman season in 2020 where he accumulated over 1500 all-purpose yards and 19 total touchdowns.
1.05 - Raheim Sanders - RB - Arkansas - Jr
Raheim “Rocket” Sanders lived up to his name this season as he had a 60+ yard run in three games and a 30+ yard run in 6 games in 2022. Additionally, he ran for over 100 yards in 7 games, over 150 in 5 of those games, and over 200 yards once. He’s listed on the Arkansas website as 6’2” and 237 lbs. He’s an absolute unit with high-end speed and the production profile to match. He even is usable in the receiving game, producing 28 catches, 271 yards, and 2 touchdowns through the air. He has all the makings of potentially the RB1 in this class.
1.06 - Quinn Ewers - QB - Texas - Jr
Ewers was a perfectly rated quarterback coming out of high school and has had a very interesting collegiate career thus far. He started his career at Ohio State after reclassifying for the 2020 recruiting class then sat out the entire year before transferring to Texas. His first year at Texas was up and down as he struggled with injuries and looked like a first-year collegiate starter. He needs to put it together this year for at least a good season with the Texas Longhorns. His pedigree will carry him a long way, but to solidify the top end of the 1st round landing spot in the NFL Draft next year, he has to show more than just flashes.
1.07 - Emeka Egbuka - WR - Ohio State - Jr
This seems like the potential end of a tier this early out from next year’s rookie drafts. Egbuka produced last year in lockstep with Marvin Harrison all season long. Their stats are nearly identical, but Egbuka was just slightly behind him in all categories. Egbuka also provided versatility to the Ohio State offense with the ability to line up outside, inside, and even take handoffs (11 attempts, 87 yards, and 2 touchdowns). Egbuka doesn’t quite have the imposing size and physicality Harrison has, but he isn’t small by any means, standing at 6’1” and 205 lbs. Egbuka could easily be a few slots higher in this list depending on performance this season.
Marvin Harrison Jr.
1.08 - Will Shipley - RB - Clemson - Jr
Shipley is a dynamic player both on the ground and through the air, but some holes have been exposed in his game this past season. He got a workhorse-level volume this season and provided impressive totals with 210 rushing attempts, 1182 rushing yards, 15 touchdowns, 38 receptions, and 242 receiving yards. He provided explosive plays to the offense and was one of the only explosive players on this offense. But on a down-to-down basis, he has to be more consistent if he wants more than a 1b/receiving back role at the next level. Listed at 5’11” and 205 lbs, he’s probably a bit smaller and is just short of the ideal workhorse size.
1.09 - Braelon Allen - RB - Wisconsin - Jr
Allen is the opposite of Will Shipley with the opposite problems. He’s listed at 6’2” and 238 lbs, and has been a 1,000-yard rusher in both of the years he’s been at Wisconsin. He’s young for his collegiate class, as he’ll be only 19 throughout his junior season. But he has to improve as a pass catcher if he wants to be treated as a potential RB1 in this class. In the past two seasons, he’s combined for 21 catches and 143 yards receiving. With new head coach Luke Fickell, we should see Allen involved in the passing game if he’s truly capable, and he won’t be facing nearly as many stacked boxes as he was his first two seasons. The hiring of Luke Fickell has the potential to show us what Allen is actually capable of and catapult him up draft boards.
1.10 - Brock Bowers - TE - Georgia - Jr
Bowers has been talked about as the best tight end in football basically since he was a freshman. He’s gone for 882 yards and 942 in his freshman and sophomore seasons respectively, leading the team in most receiving categories both seasons. He’s obviously an excellent receiving threat at the position already, the only concern in his profile is his size. He’s slightly undersized at 6’4” and 230 lbs and plays more as a big slot. That’ll most likely be his role at the next level anyways and projects to be an exciting fantasy prospect.
1.11 - Malik Nabers - WR - LSU - Jr
Nabers is a good-sized wide receiver, listed on the team website at 6’0” and 199 lbs. He came along slowly, but was involved as a true freshman in 2020. Then in 2021, he broke out with multiple 100-yard receiving games and became Jayden Daniel’s go-to guy. Daniels isn’t necessarily known as a passer, so Nabers has to dominate targets to stand out to the NFL Draft Media from the get-go. But he’s already established himself and another year for both players in this offense should be a benefit to both sides. LSU should be a very good team in 2023, another reason Nabers will be on the map early if he can continue where he left off last year.
1.12 - Xavier Worthy - WR - Texas - Jr
Worthy had a very exciting freshman year, almost eclipsing 1,000 yards with 981 and 12 touchdowns. As a true freshman, he stepped in and stepped up, becoming the primary target from the get-go. But last season, he took a slight step back but still put up a respectable 760 yards and 9 touchdowns, leading the team in both categories. Was it just a sophomore slump? There were also rumblings that he was dealing with a broken hand for half of the season. That would lend an explanation to his drop issues in 2022. If he can bounce back, he has a good chance to be a highly-drafted wide receiver. But his size might be a limiting factor to both his play at the next level and his draft capital (6’1” and 164 lbs).
Kyle McCord – QB – Ohio State – Jr
It seems like every starting quarterback at Ohio State goes on to play in the NFL in some sort of capacity. McCord looks to be the next starter at this point in the offseason, but reports are also saying that Devin Brown could be a threat to take over throughout the season. But if McCord holds onto the job, he has no lack of weapons around him (all listed above) and will undoubtedly put up numbers.
Devin Leary – QB – Kentucky – Sr
Devin Leary was a player I considered on this list last year, but he didn’t quite make the cut. Maybe things would have gone differently if he didn’t suffer a shoulder injury last year, but it didn’t get off to a good start. Now at Kentucky, he lands in a much more favorable spot than the slow-tempo offensive scheme that North Carolina State was running, plus he will have legitimate receiving weapons in Barion Brown and Dane Key. Add on top, Liam Coen is returning to Kentucky, the offensive coordinator that put Will Levis on the map in 2021. The hope is that the offensive line can hold up for Leary to run that offense to its potential and that he can show a bit more tools to warrant a top selection in the NFL Draft.
Tyler Van Dyke – QB Miami – Sr
Van Dyke is another player like Leary that had a lot of hype last year and faltered a bit. The Cristobal tenure didn’t start off great as Van Dyke took a significant step back with a lot of people pointing the blame at the offensive scheme and lack of receiving weapons. There hasn’t been much of a shake-up in the receiving core other than hoping for steps forward from existing players or new recruits. But they have a new offensive coordinator in Shannon Dawson that can hopefully relight the fire in this offense and lead Van Dyke to NFL Draft capital.
DJ Uiagalelei/Spencer Rattler – QB – Oregon State/South Carolina – Sr/RS-Sr
Both DJ U and Rattler were top quarterback recruits in their respective classes. That led to both getting starts early in their career which built up hype around each quarterback. Following the hype both faltered (potentially due to different reasons), and after faltering both have transferred to new schools. South Carolina proved to be a good landing spot for Rattler, but he struggled to maintain consistency. Uiagalelei just transferred to Oregon State and it’s yet to be seen if he can succeed there. The pedigree is there and the talent was once put on display. But can they reclaim that status and garner NFL Draft traction?
Ja’Tavion Sanders – TE – Texas – Jr
Sanders is an athletic TE that came into college as the number 1 athlete recruit in his recruiting class. He only played in one game as a freshman, but as a sophomore made his presence known. He contributed 54 receptions, 613 receiving yards, and 5 TDs in his first year as the starter. He’s got the upside to be the second TE taken in this class and add a bit of depth to the TE class.
Jase McClellan – RB – Alabama – Sr
It wouldn’t be right not to have an Alabama running back somewhere on this list. McClellan was a high 4-star recruit coming out of high school but has battled injuries most of his time with the Crimson Tide. He turned in his first full year last year as part of a committee with Gibbs and Roydell Williams and proved he can contribute both as a rusher and a receiver. Gibbs is gone, and it could be McClellan’s turn to lead this backfield.
Rome Odunze – WR – Washington – Sr
Odunze is another big-bodied wide receiver who came onto the scene in a big way last season. He’s listed at 6’3” and 211 lbs on the team site and produced 1,145 receiving yards and 7 touchdowns on 75 receptions as a true junior. If he can build on that season, he could be a locked-in early Day 2 selection.
Ja’Corey Brooks – WR – Alabama – Jr
Like Alabama running backs, it feels blasphemous to not have an Alabama wide receiver somewhere on this list. Ja’Corey Brooks has the size at 6’2” and 195 lbs and the pedigree as a 5-star recruit and the 2nd ranked wide receiver recruit per 247Sports. He was thrust into action late in the 2021 season and delivered with some rookie mistakes and last year he took a step forward, nearly leading the team in most receiving stats. One more step forward this year and he could be in legitimate draft conversations for Day 1 or Day 2.
As always, this is an extremely early outlook on the 2024 rookie draft class. And every year some players come out of nowhere and make a name for themselves. Players like JJ McCarthy, QB out of Michigan, Joe Milton, QB out of Tennessee, Donovan Edwards, RB out of Michigan, Devontez Walker, WR out of UNC, and Jarquez Hunter, RB out of Auburn, are all players on my watch list that easily could have been honorable mentions. The 2024 class has the potential to have a lot of high-end players that we were missing this year as well as a lot of depth like we had this past draft class.
Notably, we are missing tight end depth outside of Brock Bowers, but there is a chance quarterbacks make up for that with probable locks in Williams and Maye and upside players like McCord, Ewers, Van Dyke, and/or Leary. Running back should inject another shot of life into the current dynasty landscape. This year’s class seemed to do enough to hold us over in a landscape that was saturated with elite talents that were aging out quickly. 2024 should solidify the landscape and put it into a very healthy space with a lot of depth of young talents. Finally, wide receiver seems very top-heavy at this point with Harrison and Egbuka, but with potential players to add depth.
Add 2024 1sts while you can before these picks get the same hype as the 2023 class… Fantasy managers might have the luxury of people being hurt by the slight disappointment in the top-end talent of the 2023 class and be more willing to move their 2024 picks. But as rookie fever picks up, that potential opportunity will dry up extremely quickly. Don’t be afraid to add 2024 2nds either as there will still be value to be had in that range.