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2024 NFL Draft: 4 Outstanding College Football Prospects to Watch

There already is plenty of hype for USC QB Caleb Williams ahead of the 2024 NFL Draft. But plenty of other outstanding players will get their chance to impress NFL scouts during the upcoming college football season.

>>READ: Can Caleb Williams Become Next Patrick Mahomes?

Here are four to keep an eye on:

Four 2024 NFL Draft Prospects to Watch

Oregon QB Bo Nix

Bo Nix, QB, Oregon

If you are a Bo Nix fan, do not watch the Georgia game last year or the Stanford game — though he did have an 80-yard touchdown run. He played his best game versus UCLA, and that's the game that really gained attention.

His athletic traits were obvious. The arm talent is there to make all the throws that he's going to have to make at the next level. He created plays when plays broke down and made off-schedule-type throws with accuracy, touch and velocity.

There was a two-play sequence that summed it up versus Utah in the fourth quarter. He rolled to his right and made a great throw downfield on second-and-10 with a lead in the fourth quarter. But the next play, he made a poor decision and threw it across the field for a Utah pick. So this is where his issue is.

There's no question about his athleticism, his arm and his talent. It's the decision-making. And teams are really going to have to figure out, not so much the physical talent, but can he make better decisions.

He made progress from his stint at Auburn to his performance last year at Oregon. But some of the decisions he made this past season leave you scratching your head. If he cleans those up, he is a potential first-round talent at quarterback.

Washington QB Michael Penix Jr.

Michael Penix Jr., QB, Washington

Michael Penix Jr. is an exciting quarterback prospect. He's a lefty who has a tight but compact release. He has enough arm talent to make all the throws at the next level.

He is a good enough athlete to avoid the sack, and he can make plays with his legs. He played well in the Oregon game. He and Bo Nix went head-to-head that game, and Penix came out just a notch above Nix.

The UCLA game was not good. He was inaccurate, made poor decisions, threw the ball in the coverage and had two interceptions. But the one thing this kid did, no matter the mistakes he made, he kept fighting even when the game seemed out of hand.

The Apple Cup against Washington State was another good game. It was a great game to evaluate for taking shots down the field, where he threw for almost 500 yards. He'll catch the attention of NFL scouts next year.

In fact, he's been catching their attention since he transferred from Indiana. He could be a riser up draft boards and a potential first-round pick.

Penn State OT Olu Fashanu

Olu Fashanu, OT, Penn State

Olu Fashanu has excellent size (6-foot-6, 323 pounds). He is a prototypical left tackle athlete with excellent body control and play-strike. If he would have come out this year, he would have been the top left tackle in the 2023 NFL Draft.

When you watch him on tape, he has the power to move people in the run game. He plays on his feet in space. He needs to finish better at times and go until the whistle blows. But there's no question about this guy's dominance as a run blocker, and he is great in pass protection.

He's a smooth mover who plays with body control. He can adjust and recover to any pass rush and move either inside or out. Fashanu has excellent arm length, which is his friend. He gave up a few pressures to his inside, but that's more of a minor technical issue that can be cleaned up with coaching.

He gave some initial ground versus power, but he knows how to re-anchor his body, reset and drop his hips. And then, late in the pass rush, he can stone rushers in the rushing lanes. Fashanu runs rushers by the pocket. He played well versus Derick Hall from Auburn and Malik Harrison from Ohio State in the 2022 season.

This guy has great upside. He may have the highest ceiling out of any left tackle I've seen in a while. He could be a perennial Pro Bowler.

As he continues to mature and grow into his body, he will be a top-five pick in next year's draft.

Florida State DE Jared Verse

Jared Verse, DE, Florida State

I saw Jared Verse play live versus Miami. He's a long, linear, built, explosive athlete as an edge pass rusher. Verse plays bigger than his size (6-foot-4, 248 pounds). He knows how to play with leverage and can anchor at the point.

He's instinctive getting off blocks and finding the ball, playing with a consistent motor. He pursues all over the field to chase the ball, but he needs to clean up some of his missed tackles.

He has a really natural feel as a pass rusher off the edge, and he has a quick first step. Verse has a combination of strength and athleticism. That creates pressure on the quarterback.

Watch the LSU game. That's the only game you have to see to realize how special this pass rusher can be. He's a much smoother athlete than Jermaine Johnson was when he came out of Florida State two years ago and was a No. 1 pick for the New York Jets.

Verse was a transfer from Albany who came in and made a name for himself. He was hurt during the season last year. He had a knee injury and did not look as explosive in some of the games after that knee injury. But expect him to have a big year next year if he shows what he showed early in the season before the injury. He may be one of the top pass rushers in the 2024 draft class.

Rick Spielman is a former general manager of the Dolphins and Vikings, and winner of the NFL Executive of the Year award by Pro Football Weekly in 2017. Follow him on Twitter @spielman_rick