New 2024 NFL Draft prospects pop up weekly, while some fly under the radar. Each week, I’ll highlight a few players that need more attention. We’ll see iron sharpening iron more often as we continue through the conference schedule.
In this edition of Scouting the Nation, we look at one of the best wideouts in the country, an underrated defensive tackle in the SEC, and a versatile Pitt offensive lineman.
Top Underrated 2024 NFL Draft Prospects To Watch in CFB Week 12
Ladd McConkey, WR, Georgia
A huge part of Georgia’s recent success has been Ladd McConkey. Since returning from injury, he has been Carson Beck’s go-to target, and for good reason. McConkey is an elite separator who can take the top off the defense. He should be one of the fastest receivers at the NFL Combine, and that speed is evident on film.
With his movement skills and ability to change direction, McConkey can run a diverse route tree at the next level. He excels at changing his tempos and attacking leverages, which will translate to the next level. McConkey’s tape against Florida was phenomenal, and he followed it up with great performances against Missouri and Ole Miss.
Route running, elite speed, and the ability to separate consistently make McConkey one of the best receivers in the draft.
He is putting together first-round caliber tape and production this season. McConkey has the talent to be a WR1 at the next level and a Pro Bowler.
TJ Sanders, DT, South Carolina
With excellent size at 6’5” and 298 pounds, TJ Sanders looks the part. His frame and overall build are exactly what the NFL wants at defensive tackle.
On film, Sanders shows off a quick first step and explosiveness. He can convert speed to power and flashes violent hands. In the run game, Sanders does a good job of taking on double teams and keeping his gap integrity.
He can also use his quick hands to avoid blockers and make a play near the line of scrimmage. Sanders kept his pad level low for a player of his size, maximizing his explosiveness.
His best tape this season was against Georgia and Florida, and in both games, Sanders looked like a future NFL starter.
Matt Goncalves, OT, Pitt
Due to a season-ending injury, we only saw Matt Goncalves play for the first three weeks of the season, but his film was very promising. After playing both tackle spots in 2022, he played exclusively at left tackle this season.
Goncalves has the versatility to play both at the next level and can even kick inside to guard. He possesses natural pop in his hands to disrupt pass rushers and has the clamp strength to sustain blocks. Goncavles’ foot quickness allows him to mirror speed rushers and stay in front of them. His technique was very good on his 2022 film but looked even better this year.
Goncalves’ core strength and lower half make it easy for him to absorb power. He keeps his hands tight in the run game and can displace defenders. Goncalves will check all the boxes regarding his measurables; he has four years of starting experience.
Goncalves would have been a first-team All-ACC tackle if it weren’t for injury. Still, he is viewed as one of the top senior offensive linemen in the draft and will be a steal on Day 2.
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