2024 NFL Draft: Breakout List Continues
(9) GRAYSON McCALL, QB, 6-foot-2, 215 lbs., SR., Coastal Carolina
Realizing that I didn’t have a skill position player, McCall was an easy choice to add to this list. A three-time Player of the Year in the Sun Belt Conference, he was somewhat limited by a foot injury in 2022. With every opponent heavily game-planning against him, the veteran signal-caller still led the Chanticleers to a 9-4 record. He completed 69.7 percent of his passes with 24 touchdowns against only two interceptions while running for six additional scores on the ground.
While some analysts have defensive tackle as the strongest position group for the 2024 NFL Draft, I am in the quarterback corner as there are at least eight signal-callers with first-round potential. But as to McCall, his rushing ability is well known while his passing ability is much better than he is given credit for. The 2023 season provides another opportunity for the Senior to see if he can prove that he belongs with that top group. Coastal’s opening game at UCLA on Sept. 2, 2023 provides a great opportunity.
(10) RYAN WATTS, CB, 6-foot-2, 206 lbs., SR., Texas
This Ohio State transfer helped the Longhorn defense immensely in 2022 by being able to play a shut-down cornerback position. This not only helped defend the passing game but also helped the running defense by allowing at least one safety to contribute in run support in the box, rather than having to help over the top in pass defense.
What really stands out about Watts is his consistency in all phases of the game including press coverage, recovery ability, length, recognition in the run game, and his tackling ability. All of this was accomplished while playing with a nagging hamstring injury. Any improvement on his 2022 play will improve his 2024 NFL Draft stock significantly.
(11) AL WALCOTT, SS, 6-foot-2, 215 lbs., SRr, Arkansas
Walcott was a low-rated high school player that took a while to get going. After redshirting at the JuCo level in 2018, and spending another year there in 2019, the safety prospect seized a special-teams-only role at Baylor in 2020. He parlayed this hard work into two very productive years at Baylor, achieving all-conference recognition in 2022. With prototypical strong safety size, he can also play in the box or the slot. This is an ascending player who transferred to Arkansas for his final season, hoping to boost his 2024 NFL Draft in the process.
(12) DWIGHT McGLOTHERN, CB, 6-foot-2, 190 lbs., SR., Arkansas
A highly-rated cornerback out of high school, McGlothern started out at LSU where he achieved some success. Alas, he transferred to the Razorbacks in 2022 and had a breakout campaign with four interceptions and ten pass breakups. The gifted defender also performed well in the tackle department with 43 solo tackles. He garnered some recognition in the SEC but still isn’t well known nationally. Now, built up to 190 pounds, he has ideal size for the boundary and looks for a further breakout in 2023.
(13) PATRICK PAYTON, DE, 6-foot-4 ½, 248 lbs., SOr, Florida State
Payton playing on the opposite side from 2024 NFL Draft star, Jared Verse, provides the Seminoles with a formidable pass-rushing duo. The 6-foot-4 pass rusher is another one of those players who didn’t start a game in 2022, yet still came up with five sacks and three pass breakups during the season. That effort garnered ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year honors, but reports say that he took his game to a new level during the Spring of 2023. This is part of the reason for Seminole fans having ambitions for the team which go beyond the ACC this year.