Sugar Bowl Prospect Preview: Rome Odunze, Xavier Worthy, and AD Mitchell Headline Elite WR Matchup

The Sugar Bowl clash between Washington and Texas is loaded with NFL Draft prospects. Who joins Rome Odunze, Xavier Worthy, and Byron Murphy II on the list?

The 12-1 Texas Longhorns will play the 13-0 Washington Huskies in the 2023 Sugar Bowl. How many NFL Draft prospects will play in this game, and what are their projections at the next level?

Sugar Bowl Prospect Preview

The selection process for the 2023 CFB Playoff field was controversial, but looking at the 2024 NFL Draft talent that both Texas and Washington field, it’s hard to argue that either team wasn’t deserving of a spot on the bracket.

Between Washington and Texas, there are three potential Round 1 picks at wide receiver alone.

There are two NFL-caliber quarterbacks — one of whom could break into the first round in the 2024 cycle. And there’s an abundance of talent in the trenches, too.

There’s a lot of ground to cover for evaluators in this game, so let’s get right into it. Who are the 2024 NFL Draft prospects to watch in the Sugar Bowl?

Texas NFL Draft Prospects

Xavier Worthy, WR

Xavier Worthy is closing in on his first 1,000-yard season, but in truth, he’s been a high-level producer since stepping foot on Texas’ campus as a true freshman. And after three years, he’s in line to potentially be a first-round pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.

At 6’1″, 172 pounds, Worthy will fall below size thresholds for some evaluators. But at his size, he has a wiry kind of strength, and he brings hyper-elite speed and devastating control and flexibility as a route runner — a combination that can terrorize defenders.

Adonai “AD” Mitchell, WR

While Worthy is the alignment versatile explosive threat for the Longhorns, Adonai “AD” Mitchell was brought in from Georgia to be the X-receiver. It’s a role he filled very well, catching 51 passes for 813 yards and 10 touchdowns through the Big 12 title game.

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At around 6’4″, 195 pounds, Mitchell is a long, domineering catch-point threat who doubles as a near-elite route runner with rare size-adjusted flexibility and impressive control and efficiency on multi-layered routes. Mitchell’s ability to separate independently, at his size, could make him a top-50 pick.

Byron Murphy II, DT

Byron Murphy II earned Big 12 Defensive Lineman of the Year honors in 2023 after putting up five sacks and eight tackles for loss alongside T’Vondre Sweat. While Sweat may be the best nose tackle prospect in the 2024 NFL Draft class, Murphy is a potential Round 1 pick.

At 6’1″, 308 pounds, Murphy has incredible upside as a disruptor on the interior. He’s mainly a 3-tech but has a degree of alignment versatility. At his size, he’s unnaturally explosive and twitchy, with the natural leverage to easily get under blockers and the power and torque to demolish anchors.

T’Vondre Sweat, DT

At 6’4″, 346 pounds, T’Vondre Sweat is a walking mountain with unique play strength and block absorption ability on the interior. But he needed more than simple block absorption to win Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year in 2023.

Sweat no doubt carries on the functions of a 0-tech at a high level, but he also has additional disruptive upside and ability beyond that. Sweat flashes exceptional quickness off the snap for his size and can wrench through pass blocks with his prying physicality.

Quinn Ewers, QB

The expectation, for a long time, has been that Quinn Ewers will return to Texas in 2024. Nevertheless, he’s a player to watch, as a strong playoff showing could affect his decision.

While Ewers lacks elite creation ability, his all-encompassing angle freedom and off-platform ability stand out, and he improved his decision-making in 2023.

Jaylan Ford, LB

Jaylan Ford is one of the top linebacker prospects in the 2024 NFL Draft and was the Longhorns’ tackle leader in 2023, with 91 takedowns, 10.5 tackles for loss, a sack, two picks, two pass breakups, and a forced fumble. At 6’3″, 245 pounds, Ford is explosive, instinctive, and a two-phase force at the second level.

Ja’Tavion Sanders, TE

Behind Brock Bowers, Ja’Tavion Sanders is the favorite to be TE2 in the 2024 NFL Draft. Sanders caught 39 passes for 602 yards and two scores in 2023, putting his high-level tools on display in the process. At 6’4″, 249 pounds, Sanders is a yard-churning force in the RAC phase, but he also has the explosiveness and body control to work the seam.

Other Texas NFL Draft Prospects To Watch

  • Jordan Whittington, WR
  • Christian Jones, OT
  • Kelvin Banks Jr., OT (2025)
  • Alfred Collins, DT
  • Ethan Burke, EDGE
  • Barryn Sorrell, EDGE
  • David Gbenda, LB
  • Ryan Watts, CB
  • Terrance Brooks, CB (2025)
  • Jahdae Barron, DB
  • Jerrin Thompson, DB

Washington NFL Draft Prospects

Rome Odunze, WR

The Texas-Washington matchup is stocked to the brim with early-round NFL Draft prospects, but the best prospect in the mix is Rome Odunze. Odunze carries a top-15 grade on PFN’s board and could very well be a Round 1 lock after an 81-catch, 1,428-yard, 13-touchdown 2023 campaign.

At 6’3″, 215 pounds, Odunze brings rare size-adjusted flexibility and movement freedom, both as a route runner and a yard creator after the catch. And at the very foundation of his game, he has the speed and explosiveness to threaten defenses vertically and the gravity-defying body control to convert at the catch point.

Michael Penix Jr., QB

Michael Penix Jr. went from an afterthought at Indiana to a Heisman contender and a near-unstoppable gunslinger at Washington. In two years with the Huskies, Penix threw for 8,859 yards, 64 touchdowns, and 17 interceptions, tearing up defenses week in and week out.

MORE: Top QBs in the 2024 NFL Draft

Medicals will be big for Penix, but if he’s cleared during NFL Combine evaluations, he has a legitimate case to be a Round 1 pick. Even as a sixth-year senior, there are still mechanical lapses for him to iron out, but he’s a fearless pocket operator with an elastic cannon for an arm.

Bralen Trice, EDGE

Bralen Trice’s 2023 campaign wasn’t quite as productive as his 2022 season on the surface, but Trice still generated pressure at a high clip with his explosiveness, power, and hot motor. Bend isn’t a big part of Trice’s game, but as a heavy-handed power rusher with searing burst and agility, he has merit in the early-round range.

Ja’Lynn Polk, WR

Odunze was Washington’s WR1, but Ja’Lynn Polk put together a stellar season as the complementary threat, putting up 60 catches for 1,000 yards and eight touchdowns. At 6’2″, 203 pounds, Polk specializes as a late-separation generator and contested catch savant with his explosiveness and hand strength, and he has RAC ability as well.

Troy Fautanu, OL

The Washington offensive line won the Joe Moore Award in 2023, and Troy Fautanu was a big reason why.

The 6’4″, 317-pound tackle was a rock-solid pass protector each week with his lateral mobility, active hands, and recovery athleticism, and he also proved himself as a blocker in space. As a tackle or guard, Fautanu deserves consideration within the top 50.

Jalen McMillan, WR

Injuries prevented Jalen McMillan from staying on the field in 2023, and even when he was on the field, he rarely looked 100 percent or fully confident.

But we’ve seen what McMillan can do at his best. At 6’1″, 185 pounds, he’s a vertical threat who also has some of the sharpest route-running ability in the 2024 NFL Draft.

Roger Rosengarten, OT

Across from Fautanu, Roger Rosengarten put together a phenomenal season at the right tackle spot. He’s not quite as technically sound as Fautanu, and he has room to get stronger at 6’6″, 300 pounds.

Nevertheless, Rosengarten is both nimble and physical at his size, with the length to drive punch power and the recovery flexibility to make eye-catching adjustments.

Other Washington NFL Draft Prospects to Watch

  • Dillon Johnson, RB
  • Jack Westover, TE
  • Parker Brailsford, C (2025)
  • Zion Tupuola-Fetui, EDGE
  • Edefuan Ulofoshio, LB
  • Jabbar Muhammad, CB
  • Mishael Powell, CB
  • Kamren Fabiculanan, DB
  • Dominique Hampton, S

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