While the Senior Bowl, Shrine Bowl, NFLPA Bowl, and the rest of the all-star games inside the postseason circuit now open up their rosters to potential juniors and redshirt sophomores who may be available, the question begs to be asked: Who are the top underclassmen that we could see in this year’s all-star circuit?
Top Underclassmen To See in This Year’s All-Star Circuit
Before we list out the players we could potentially see, it’s important to note that this is not a list of guaranteed NFL Draft prospects. These underclassmen will still have to declare for the NFL Draft, murking the process around when we’ll see them on the potential all-star game rosters.
For our intents and purposes, we will include any and all potential NFL Draft prospects who are underclassmen that we’d like to see in an all-star game.
Caleb Williams, QB, USC
This is the easiest pick and certainly the most unlikely player we’d see in an all-star game. USC QB Caleb Williams is a walking Superman of a quarterback and has arguably the best creativity among any quarterback in a generation.
An all-star game would give him a chance to work with an NFL playbook, organize a practice, and get a feel for how the NFL is run, but the negatives of Williams performing outweigh any of the positives he’d receive.
Drake Maye, QB, North Carolina
Another longshot, Drake Maye is largely seen as the only contender to Williams’ throne as the top overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. Even a chance to work with NFL coaches and a playbook wouldn’t outweigh any harm he could do to himself in what would essentially be an unnecessary set of practices for a surefire starter at the NFL level.
Shedeur Sanders, QB, Colorado
Now we’re getting to the interesting quarterback questions. Outside of the upperclassmen and the top two underclassmen (Williams, Maye), Shedeuer Sanders could have the most to gain during an all-star game. Sanders has taken a few steps back with Colorado, especially since Pat Shurmur took over playcalling duties.
A chance for him to put his best foot forward in front of NFL decision-makers and prove he’s officially ready to leave the shadow of his father, Coach Prime Deion Sanders, would be huge for his draft stock. It’s looking like he’ll return to Colorado in 2024, but if he does opt for the 2024 NFL Draft, he could very much be in the all-star game market.
J.J. McCarthy, QB, Michigan
However, unlike some of the top-tier underclassman quarterbacks with high recruiting pedigrees, McCarthy’s draft stock — like his Heisman Trophy candidacy — may be marred by Michigan’s sign-stealing scandal. Showing up to an all-star game would be McCarthy’s first and longest period in which he can clear the air and answer the important question NFL decision-makers are set to ask.
Other Underclassmen QBs To See
TreVeyon Henderson, RB, Ohio State
Very much a potential RB1 in the 2024 NFL Draft, TreVeyon Henderson has suffered a handful of injuries in his time at Ohio State. Showcasing his health, highlighting his versatility, and flashing what makes him an elite running back could do wonders toward potentially pushing his draft stock up to the first round.
Running backs continue to see their value drop, but Henderson has potential three-down ability. All-star games are a terrific cycle for running backs to show off their pass-blocking skills as well as their ability on routes as a pass catcher.
Bucky Irving, RB, Oregon
As shifty and elusive as Bucky Irving has been for Oregon this season, it’s unlikely the majority of the world has stayed up to watch the Pac-12. That doesn’t apply to NFL decision-makers, but Irving could earn himself some fans with his rare blend of athleticism, vision, and speed.
Braelon Allen, RB, Wisconsin
We’ve seen the Wisconsin offense move away from their hard-nosed, run-first attack under offensive coordinator Phil Longo in 2023 … only to see it return once the passing attack struggles, and Braelon Allen was ready for that stage.
However, unlike some of his Wisconsin predecessors, Allen hasn’t quite shown his ability in the receiving arena. An all-star game would give him a great chance to do so.
Other Underclassmen RBs To See
Marvin Harrison Jr., WR, Ohio State
Arguably the best player in the entire 2024 NFL Draft pool is beyond unlikely to show up to an all-star circuit. We’re certainly going to see Marvin Harrison Jr. first pop up in the NFL Draft prep arena at the NFL Scouting Combine, but we can’t help but wonder what it would look like if he did show up in Mobile, Ala., or Dallas this February.
Harrison is not only the best skill player in the draft, but he’s arguably the biggest name of this year’s draft, given the stature of his father, NFL Hall of Famer Marvin Harrison. If the younger Harrison showed up to the Senior or Shrine Bowl, you could only imagine the media frenzy that would follow.
Keon Coleman, WR, Florida State
Who wouldn’t want to see 6’4″, 215-pound Keon Coleman showing off his elite athleticism and two-sport skills during 1-on-1 routes during an all-star game? Defensive backs, that’s who.
Coleman could very likely be on these radars already, as graduated student-athletes were already permitted onto all-star game rosters, but now that it’s clear, he should be the top target at receiver. He’s an elite athlete and could do himself some help with his draft stock to answer questions regarding a lingering injury issue that’s kept him out of a handful of games at Florida State this season.
Malik Nabers, WR, LSU
A truly special athlete, Malik Nabers is another longshot. He’s done everything you could ask of a top-tier receiver at LSU this season and looked every bit the part of a potential WR1 in the NFL.
What would he gain at an all-star game? Nabers could push for a top-10 place in the 2024 NFL Draft and push Coleman and the rest of those receivers vying to be the second wide receiver off the board. It’s as competitive as a race right now, and the all-star circuit could bolster any one of their chances.
Other Underclassmen WRs To See
Dallas Turner, EDGE, Alabama
As it stands right now, Dallas Turner is in the running as the best defensive prospect in the entire 2024 NFL Draft. While it is unlikely that he even sniffs an all-star game, Turner could do himself some favors in the postseason circuit.
Turner could showcase a plethora of pass-rush moves in 1-on-1 reps. He could flash the elite-level potential he has as either a stand-up rusher or with his hand in the dirt. And Turner could put forth an elite display of athleticism with his stunting ability, all within three days of practices at either top all-star game.
Kool-Aid McKinstry, CB, Alabama
Who wouldn’t want to see Kool-Aid McKinstry take on Harrison in 1-on-1 reps? McKinstry is highly unlikely to head to an all-star game, but crazier things have happened.
Want to prove you are truly the top lockdown cornerback in the 2024 NFL Draft? Then go prove it in 1-on-1s against Harrison, Coleman, Emeka Egbuka, and any number of talented receivers McKinstry didn’t see during his time at Alabama.
Chop Robinson, EDGE, Penn State
Similarly to Turner, Chop Robinson is almost a sure-fire top draft pick for a team needing a potential franchise changer at defensive end. Robinson may not have the same versatility as some of the other top edge defenders over the past few years, but he does make up for that with his length, speed, and athleticism combo.
Moving up draft boards is the biggest draw for a player like Robinson, though he’ll have the benefit of every NFL decision-maker attending the Penn State Pro Day as we await the unreal numbers that are sure to come from his workout.
Cooper DeJean, CB, Iowa
Few players come with the profile of Cooper DeJean, and the Iowa cornerback may not get the credit he deserves this season. Somehow, Iowa is in the running for the Big Ten, again, and it’s with another anemic offense.
Give DeJean the credit he deserves because that defense is single-handedly winning the Hawkeyes some games. For DeJean, he isn’t even targeted because Big Ten quarterbacks know not to do so. Showing his lockdown skills and elite special teams ability at an all-star game could further vault him into the top cornerback discussion.
Kalen King, CB, Penn State
Similarly to Robinson, Kalen King will have the benefit of the NFL world descending upon Happy Valley for the Penn State Pro Day. However, King could make the wise move to go show his lockdown shills and bring his physical brand of football to an all-star game to impress those in attendance.
King is a talented run defender and has flashed potential as a lockdown cornerback. It could be said that King has the most to gain at an all-star game of anyone else on this entire list.
Other Underclassmen Defenders To See
- Princely Umanmielen, EDGE, Florida
- Jeremiah Trotter Jr., LB, Clemson
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