New 2024 NFL Draft prospects pop up weekly, with some flying under the radar. Each week, I’ll highlight a few prospects that need more attention. As we enter conference schedule season, we’ll see iron sharpening iron more often.
In this edition of Scouting the Nation, we look at one of the best players in the state of Washington, the most underrated tight end in the country, and the only first-round linebacker in the draft.
Top Underrated 2024 NFL Draft Prospects To Watch in CFB Week 5
Ja’Lynn Polk, WR, Washington
Speed is the game’s name, and Ja’Lynn Polk has a ton of it.
The 6’2″, 204-pound wideout has been a big play threat for Washington this season. He already has 427 yards and four touchdowns and should continue his success with how easily he separates.
MORE: 2024 NFL Draft Big Board
Polk can take the top off the defense and is excellent at the catch point. He is quick off the line and accelerates well on stutters and stop-and-go routes. Polk doesn’t drop passes and will be able to succeed in the slot and as an outside receiver.
Polk will be a Day 2 selection with how he plays, and his stock will only improve as he gets further into conference play.
Tyler Warren, TE, Penn State
After Brock Bowers, the tight end class is wide open. Tyler Warren doesn’t get the attention he deserves, as he has been a part of the best tight end group in the Big Ten for the last two seasons.
With Brenton Strange off to the NFL, Warren has been a focal point of the Penn State offense. Warren displays impressive play strength, hand placement, and physicality as a blocker. He consistently seals off defenders to create lanes for the running back.
Warren can block on the move, where his athleticism and ability to redirect his body stand out. He will enter the NFL as a ready-made run blocker, which teams will covet. With his excellent size, Warren is also a red-zone threat and has scored four touchdowns in four games this season.
He has very good hands and makes the most of his targets. As a route runner, Warren gets in and out of his breaks well to separate.
He’ll be able to have an advanced route tree for a tight end at the next level. With athleticism, blocking ability, size, and good hands, Warren has everything scouts and coaches want in a starting tight end.
If Bowers is off the board, Warren is the tight end I’d want. He’s a better prospect than Strange, who went 61st last year.
Smael Mondon Jr., LB, Georgia
You have to be really good to get drafted in the first round as a linebacker, and Smael Mondon Jr. is exactly that.
For starters, he is an elite athlete for the position. Mondon will test off the charts, and that athleticism is evident on the field. He has speed and sideline-to-sideline range and is always around the football on tape.
Mondon can track down faster players and has the play strength to stack and shed offensive linemen.
He rarely misses tackles and should be one of the best at the next level. Mondon has excellent play recognition and instincts for such a good athlete. He is always in the right spot and diagnoses plays quickly.
That, in combination with his click-and-close ability, allows Mondon to make plays near the line of scrimmage. Mondon will also be a very effective blitzer in the NFL. He shoots gaps well and is also patient to find his spots. His blitzing was fantastic against Ohio State in last year’s playoff game.
In pass coverage, Mondon is a fluid athlete with the speed to cover running backs and tight ends in man coverage. His instincts appear in zone coverage, where he looks natural and flies to the football.
Mondon is the perfect modern-day linebacker and is a better prospect than former Georgia first-round linebacker Quay Walker. Mondon is not only a first-round prospect; he is one of the best defensive players in the draft.
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