2024 NFL Draft: Favorite players outside the top 50

In a kind of snake-eating-tail bit of NFL Draft coverage, I wanted to highlight my favorite prospects that didn’t make the top 50 of my big board. Diet Coke versions of top prospects, developmental guys, ‘tweeners and everything, well, in between.


I lowered this exercise to players outside of the top 50 to help squeeze Rattler in. So, thank you for humoring me a bit here.

Rattler can simply spin the football, throwing guys open down the field and into spaces over the middle and along the sideline. He also does it while under duress and from muddy throwing platforms.

Rattler has a ton of alarm bells. He’s a below-average athlete, has just an average (at best) build, and trusts his own ability to escape and talents a bit too much, often taking sacks while trying to extend plays or pushing the ball into areas he shouldn’t be testing. And that’s before bringing up any off-field concerns (which, to Rattler’s credit, he has apparently improved upon greatly during his time at South Carolina).

But Rattler shows that he can make real throws that translate to the NFL, and he did it while throwing to a mediocre group of pass catchers (sans Xavier Legette) and behind an extremely leaky offensive line that allowed him to be pressured on over 40% of his dropbacks this past season. He consistently keeps his eyes downfield, even when under duress, and looks to extend plays to throw, as opposed to extending to run, something that I feel is more sustainable for long-term success at the next level.

I view this consensus group of Day 2 quarterbacks — Rattler, Bo Nix, Michael Penix Jr. — as high-end backups that could possibly be bridge or even mid-tier starters in the right situation. Rattler, in ideal circumstances (Rams with Sean McVay?), feels like he could stick because of the high-end stuff he can touch.

Running back

This is kind of nice, since only one running back (Trey Benson) made my top 50, so I get to use my RB2 and tout him as one of “my guys” of this class and act like I’m really stretching to fulfill the parameters here.

Estime was part of a running back rotation in college, but has the size at 222 pounds to eat more touches at the next level. He shows off wiggle, balance and quick footwork, being able to adjust to late-opening holes and make defenders miss on the second level.

Estime, who showed home run ability in college, did not have the 40-yard dash time (4.71 at the combine, 4.61 at Notre Dame’s pro day) to mirror that on-field explosiveness, which caused me to do some squinting during this process. But he did test well in other areas like the vertical and broad jumps.

Overall, Estime plays more like a finesse back in a power back’s build, but he is not one totally shy to contact. He has good vision, balance and burst to consistently generate yards, with the patience to unlock angles for his blockers. His 40 time does cause some hesitation, but the glimpses of explosive play ability, with real down-to-down efficiency in different types of run concepts, has me bullish on Estime being able to do even more in a featured role at the next level.

Wide receiver

I wrote more about McMillan in my top 10 wide receivers piece, but I will gladly highlight him more in this space. I think of him as an intermediate-and-vertical attacking slot player that can be a really nice auxiliary weapon in a good NFL passing game. McMillan has good size and solid length, with big hands to haul passes away from his body.

He can consistently stretch the field with his smooth athleticism, but he has just average play strength that allows him to get moved on his routes from time to time by more physical defenders, which can also show up when he has to play against press. Even though his play strength isn’t one of his positives, McMillan is willing to do the dirty work in the run game and as a perimeter blocker on screens, showing off the competitive edge that you always love to see.

HOUSTON, TX - JANUARY 08: Washington Huskies wide receiver Jalen McMillan (11) celebrates a touchdown reception during the CFP National Championship football game between the Washington Huskies and Michigan Wolverines at NRG Stadium on January 8, 2024 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)HOUSTON, TX - JANUARY 08: Washington Huskies wide receiver Jalen McMillan (11) celebrates a touchdown reception during the CFP National Championship football game between the Washington Huskies and Michigan Wolverines at NRG Stadium on January 8, 2024 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Jalen McMillan is the third wide receiver prospect from Washington in this draft, but he still has plenty of upside to make him worthy of a Day 2 pick. (Photo by Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

McMillan might have to be a move player that doesn’t align outside consistently, but I do think he is positive enough from the slot that anything else would be a cherry on top, especially if you’re taking him after the first couple of rounds.

I still don’t know what my final opinion of Florida State’s Johnny Wilson will be, but I do know that he’s another player that I’m more bullish on than the consensus. He is a giant (6-foot-6) at his position, which makes him stick out (in both a positive and negative sense), but moves with more bend and understanding of his position than some jumpball-only Lurch.

Tight end

This tight end class is kind of full of “my guys,” since there isn’t another clear high-end talent not named Brock Bowers, But it does have a few tight ends that have a path to be more at the next level.

Theo Johnson (my No. 51 overall player) was a low-usage guy at Penn State (sound familiar?) that showed the upside of being a true in-line tight end that can play on every down as a blocker or secondary pass catcher.

A.J. Barner from Michigan also shows that three-down upside, and while he doesn’t have the bulk or athleticism of Johnson, he does show off real blocking chops in college with good play strength, technique, length and just enough athleticism to be a consistent option underneath.

Jared Wiley is more of a receiving-first tight end than Johnson and Barner, but he’s tall and a good athlete and has some real route-running chops and hands:

Wiley is a willing blocker that can lose late because of a lack of overwhelming play strength, but he is competitive and plays with good technique that can do just enough and has a frame to add more to. Wiley’s testing numbers match how he plays on the field, and he shows off catching skills, yard creation ability and route-running polish. This all makes Wiley a real interesting prospect with upside of being a real number three or even number two option in a good NFL passing attack.

Offensive line

If a team wants to tilt the shoulder back, I mean really tilt it back and swing for the fences, then Amegadjie will certainly be a player they’ll be targeting before Friday wraps up in draft week.

Amegadjie is almost purely tools right now, but his film shows that when he does know how to harness those tools and turn himself into a weapon, the results end up being impressive:

Amegadjie has great size and extremely long arms (36 1/8 inches), with the athleticism and light feet to stay at the left tackle position, a prospect profile that you seldom see outside of the first round of the draft. Why he’s being slotted outside of the first round, and even second round, is because his technique, hand placement and awareness are all over the place at this point in time, and he has also battled some injuries (which caused him to miss most of the pre-draft cycle). He did show flashes of improvement this season before his year ended with an injury that has me optimistic about what he can at the next level, but that will take patience and a good offensive line coach to get the most out of those tantalizing tools.

Defensive line

Most of my favorite Day 2 defensive line and edge prospects got a bump into the top 50 on my last updated board, though Trice has been a faller for me this draft cycle. But I still really like his film. Trice is a power-first player that wins by relentlessly pushing the pocket and offensive tackles into the lap of quarterbacks, but has below-average athleticism, length and bend that limits his upside as a pass rusher and impactful every down player.

Having said that, there is something to Trice’s play strength, hand usage and relentlessness on every snap. He might not have the upside of a pass rushing ace, or even as a No. 2, but he can contribute to a defense as a pass rusher and run defender (those heavy hands will can blow tackles back at the snap). He’d fit on a team that likes to rotate their line and get different pocket pushers or pass rushing styles out there (think of the Bills or Saints).

I wrote more about Elliss in my top 10 edge defenders article — he’s currently slotted outside my top 100 — but (spoilers) might get a bump for the final update. Elliss has the pass rushing juice and effort to be an impactful designated pass rusher type at the next level. He is average against the run, but against the pass he has active hands, several ways to win as a pass rusher (he’s already pulling out a wicked spin move), tested like an excellent athlete (which he flashed on film) and has production to point to. He isn’t overly big, but he has long arms and big hands that help him compensate. I think Elliss’ arrow is pointing straight up.


Linebackers are hard to find at any part of the draft. The college game has different every-down asks than the NFL, and it can be hard to project exactly who will take to the professional game. Gray does a lot of things well, or at the very least, does them pretty well. He’s pretty fast, he has pretty good length, he has pretty good recognition and tackling ability and pretty good size to boot.

The thing is, with so many linebackers having damning deficiencies or lacking that one element to give them true three-down upside (or at least hinder them greatly in some areas), Gray doing everything well enough is actually a good thing. He’s well above the threshold of an NFL athlete, can actually cover and even hang with wide receivers in space, and he’s a willing tackler that will take on backs and blockers in the hole in the run game. None of Gray’s skills are dominant or even great, but doing everything at an adequate-or-better level makes him actually stand out to me in this class of linebackers.

Defensive back

At 5-foot-9 and around 180 pounds, Sainristil is obviously small, but if you get past his size and watch him, he’s a coiled spring of a football player that has a tendency to make plays on the football.

Sainristil is an aggressive player that plays with really good eyes and a high IQ, you can see that he’s a student of the game just by the way he plays it, moving into throwing lanes before receivers can make their route breaks and clouding throwing lanes or baiting quarterbacks into ill-advised pass attempts.

He’s a willing tackler, but can sometimes get himself out of whack because of his aggressiveness to the ball. Overall, Sainristil might be a slot-only type of player at the next level because of his lack of size, but I still think he can make an impact in that role because of his constant awareness for offensive tendencies, athleticism, and all-around game. Those are all traits that will make him a favorite of special team coaches, too. If you just get past that size, there is a helluva football player here.

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