Photo courtesy of Pro Football Network.
Now that the 2023 NCAA football season is winding down, 2024 NFL Draft news is heating up. Draft 412 will take a look each week at key players and their decisions to stay in school or announce their eligibility for the upcoming draft.
Here is the top Draft news from this past week:
Entering the Draft
Illinois- DL- Jer’Zhan Newton
Newton wasted no time entering the NFL Draft after having another productive season at Illinois and putting himself into first round discussions. The junior has played all over the defensive line for Illinois and he can rush in a 3-point stance or on the edge. He finished this season with 52 tackles and a career high 7.5 sacks. Newton, at worst is a 2nd day draft pick and has a definite shot at being selected in the back end of the first round.
To see more of Draft 412’s profile on Jer’Zhan Newton…
Pitt- CB- Marquis Williams
Pitt’s 5’9” cornerback decided not to use his extra year of eligibility and is entering the NFL Draft. Pound for pound, he is one of the toughest guys on the field for the Panthers. He had an adequate season in 2023, but really did nothing to help his late round draft status. There are still the combine and all-star games, and with great performances, may move up on draft boards.
Williams projects as a nickel back in the NFL, and does not have the length to match up on the outside against bigger and faster receivers. He will be a player who won’t back down from a challenge and could be a key contributor in some teams' nickel and dime packages.
To see more of Draft 412’s profile on Marquis Williams…
Coming Back to School
Ole Miss- QB- Jaxson Dart
Ole Miss quarterback Jaxson Dart announced he will be coming back to the Rebels in 2024. Dart had a nice season in 2023 for Ole Miss, throwing for a career high 2,985 yards and 20 touchdowns, while only throwing 5 interceptions. Dart was going to most likely be a 7th round or UDFA signing, so coming back to school makes a lot of sense.
He is a confident, rhythm passer with an athletic side to him. He throws better on the run and he lacks prototypical size, which hinders him in the pocket. He will give himself a better chance to be on some teams radar in 2025 than he did in 2024.
South Carolina- WR- Antwane Wells Jr.
Wells had a huge 2021 season, hauling in 83 passes for 1,250 yards and 15 touchdowns. Last season, he was not able to match the production, and this season, he missed a good bit of the season with a lower body injury he suffered in camp. Wells has a lot of potential and if not for his injury this season, he was looking at being a mid-round talent. Coming back to school should only help Wells and he could possibly jump into a 2nd day pick. He is a competitive player who will win on 50/50 balls. He is elite at finding soft spots in the defense but needs to work on route running and effectiveness in the short, quick passing game.
Miami- QB-Tyler Van Dyke
Coming into 2023, there was talk of Tyler Van Dyke possibly being drafted as high as a 2nd day pick. Since his big season in 2021, Van Dyke has struggled the past two seasons with the Hurricanes. This season, he threw a career high 12 interceptions and has been ineffective in showing any consistency.
He is 6’4” and has a strong arm, but his decision making has gotten worse each season. Entering the transfer portal and finding a match could definitely help his stock. But will it end like Bo Nix or Phil Jurkovec?
To see more on Draft 412’s profile on Tyler Van Dyke…