NFL Draft Notebook: Caleb Williams leads USC’s draft prospects

SALT LAKE CITY UT- OCTOBER 15: Caleb Williams #13 of the USC Trojans throws a pass during the second half of their game against the Utah Utes October 15, 2022 Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City Utah. (Photo by Chris Gardner/ Getty Images)
SALT LAKE CITY UT- OCTOBER 15: Caleb Williams #13 of the USC Trojans throws a pass during the second half of their game against the Utah Utes October 15, 2022 Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City Utah. (Photo by Chris Gardner/ Getty Images) /
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NFL prospect Dallas Turner
Alabama linebacker Dallas Turner. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /

2024 NFL Draft outside linebacker class preview

Top Player: Dallas Turner, Alabama
Despite seeing his production drop this past year Alabama’s Dallas Turner is the top outside linebacker in the 2024 NFL Draft.

Turner’s top trait is his quickness off the ball which allows him to harass the quarterback on a consistent basis. In addition to his speed, he shows impressive athletic ability which should allow him to hold his own when asked to drop in coverage. These traits and hopefully a more productive season this year should allow Turner to be a top-ten pick next April.

Guy I Would Stand on the Table for: Danny Stutsman, Oklahoma
One of my favorite players in the 2024 NFL Draft is Oklahoma linebacker, Danny Stutsman. The reason I am so high on him is how aggressive he is which helped him lead the Big 12 in tackles last year with 124 stops. He also is one of the best linebackers in this class when it comes to getting off blocks, and shows the ability to diagnose plays quickly. Yet another positive with him is that he is a leader who has really impressed coaches with his character.

Overrated: Laiatu Latu, UCLA
A player who is overrated going into the 2023 season is UCLA’s Laiatu Latu who some people view as a high first-round pick. While his production last year is very impressive having recorded 10.5 sacks last year, he lacks the traits to be a natural fit as an outside linebacker or defensive end in most schemes. As an outside linebacker, he lacks the ability to hold up in coverage due to his tight hips. In terms of making the move to defensive end, he lacks the pure power to hold up against the run in this role. The severe neck injury he suffered while playing at Washington which forced him to medically retire for a while, will also concern NFL teams.

Sleeper: Ty’Ron Hopper, Missouri
While Missouri Ty’Ron Hopper might be an undersized linebacker (6-2 224), he more than makes up for it with speed and athletic ability. This combination allows him to excel in coverage and also make plays sideline to sideline. Another positive with him is how aggressive he plays against the run, which is one of the main reasons he was able to pick up 14 tackles for loss last season. If Hopper can work on getting off blocks better, there is no reason he can’t be a starting outside linebacker in the NFL.

Biggest Risk: Payton Wilson, North Carolina State
A player who has a long injury history is North Carolina State linebacker, Payton Wilson. This history includes having two serious knee injuries during his high school and battling shoulder injuries throughout his time with the Wolfpack. His most serious injury in college happened in 2021 against Mississippi State when he injured his shoulder blade, which cost him the rest of the season. On the positive side, Wilson has been productive on the field recording 83 tackles last year and in 2020 he led the ACC in tackles per game.

Breakout Player: Chris Braswell, Alabama
Look for this to be a breakout season for Alabama’s Chris Braswell, as it will be his first year in the starting lineup. Last season, in limited duty he was able to account for 21 tackles and three sacks. He also displayed the pass-rushing potential to be a high draft pick if he can produce at a high level this season.

Overall Rankings

Please note in parentheses is the draft grade I give them

1. Dallas Turner, Alabama (first round)
2. Barrett Carter, Clemson (first round)
3. Danny Stutsman, Oklahoma (second round)
4. Ty’Ron Hopper, Missouri (third round)
5. Laiatu Latu, UCLA (third round)
6. Omar Speights, LSU (fifth round)
7. Layton Jordan, Temple (fifth round)
8. Curtis Jacobs, Penn State (fifth round)
9. Chris Braswell, Alabama (fifth round)
10. Collin Oliver, Oklahoma State (fifth round)
11. Steele Chambers, Ohio State (sixth round)
12. Karene Reid, Utah (sixth round)
13. Jestin Jacobs, Oregon (sixth round)
14. John Pius, William & Mary (sixth round)
15. Payton Wilson, North Carolina State (seventh round)
16. Josaiah Stewart, Michigan (seventh round)
17. JaQues Evans, Western Kentucky (seventh round)
18. Eric Gentry, USC (seventh round)
19. Jett Johnson, Mississippi State (seventh round)