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Z. Smith's Top 5 Projected Day 3 Picks For the 2024 NFL Draft

The excitement and buzz of the NFL Draft peaks during the initial selections, spotlighting the top talents from college football. However, the fascination doesn't wane in the later rounds; if anything, it intensifies for those who delight in discovering overlooked talents and sleeper prospects. These are the stages where thorough scouting and astute planning reveal players ready to exceed expectations based on their draft position. Looking forward to the 2024 NFL Draft, there are several candidates who not only appear primed to secure a spot on an NFL team but also to leave a significant mark on their squads. We will delve into the details of five such prospects, exploring their college achievements, critical statistics, and the unique attributes they could contribute to the NFL.

Jeremiah Trotter Jr.
Position: Linebacker
College: Clemson

Notable Achievements: 97 tackles, five sacks, two interceptions in his final season; All-ACC First Team

With a name synonymous with defensive prowess, Jeremiah Trotter Jr. enters the NFL Draft carrying the legacy of his father, Jeremiah Trotter Sr., a revered linebacker in the league. Trotter Jr.'s tenure at Clemson was marked by a remarkable blend of instinctive play, athleticism, and a deep understanding of the game, attributes he's leveraged to become one of college football's standout linebackers. Recording 87 tackles, five sacks, and three interceptions in his final season, he demonstrated not only his capacity for playmaking but also his versatility, excelling in both pass coverage and run defense. Trotter Jr.'s ability to anticipate the offense's movements and react precisely makes him a compelling prospect for NFL teams seeking a linebacker who can contribute from Day 1.

Junior Colson
Position: Linebacker
College: Michigan

Notable Achievements: 95 tackles, 6 TFL in his final season; Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week (multiple occasions)

Junior Colson's career at Michigan was a testament to physicality, resilience, and relentless pursuit of excellence. Standing out even in a program known for its defensive prowess, Colson racked up 95 tackles and 6 TFL, showcasing his ability to impact the game in multiple facets. His physical attributes, combined with a keen sense of spatial awareness and an aggressive style of play, make him a formidable force. Colson's experience in a competitive Big Ten environment has prepared him well for the leap to the NFL, where his blend of size, strength, and football IQ will be highly valued.

Patrick Paul
Position: Offensive Lineman
College: Houston

Notable Achievements: Started 32 games; pivotal role in Houston's top-ranked offense

Patrick Paul's size and athleticism are immediately noticeable, but it's his technical skill and versatility that set him apart. At 6'7" and 315 pounds, Paul has been an anchor for Houston's offensive line, starting 32 games and playing a crucial role in their dynamic offense. His experience across multiple positions on the line speaks to his adaptability and football intelligence, qualities that make him a valuable asset. Paul's ability to protect the quarterback and open running lanes has been demonstrated against high-level competition, suggesting he has the tools to become a dependable lineman in the NFL.

Brendon Rice
Position: Wide Receiver
College: USC by way of Colorado

Notable Achievements: 45 receptions, 791 yards, 12 touchdowns in his final season; All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention

Brendon Rice enters the draft with not just the legacy of his father, Jerry Rice, but with a collegiate career that has showcased his ability to be a difference-maker on the field. With 45 receptions for 791 yards and 12 touchdowns in his final season at Colorado, Rice has proven his capability to perform at a high level. His size, coupled with his speed and agility, makes him a challenging matchup for defenders, while his hands and route-running ability allow him to create separation and make plays in critical moments. Rice's knack for the spectacular catch and his ability to turn upfield after the catch make him a tantalizing prospect for NFL teams looking for a playmaking wide receiver.

Calen Bullock
Position: Safety
College: USC

Notable Achievements: 64 tackles, five interceptions, eight pass breakups in his final season; All-Pac-12 Second Team

Calen Bullock's career at USC has been characterized by his exceptional playmaking ability and a keen understanding of defensive schematics. Recording 64 tackles, five interceptions, and eight pass breakups in his final year, Bullock has demonstrated his capacity to be a dynamic force in the secondary. His range, speed, and agility enable him to cover large portions of the field, disrupting passing lanes and providing solid support in run defense. Bullock's football IQ, combined with his physical attributes, positions him as a safety capable of making an immediate impact in the NFL, with the potential to develop into a cornerstone of a team's secondary.

As the 2024 NFL Draft approaches, these five prospects represent the immense talent and potential waiting to be discovered on Day 3. Their collegiate careers have laid the foundation for what could be successful professional careers, embodying the hope and promise that make the NFL Draft one of the most exhilarating events in sports. Jeremiah Trotter Jr., Junior Colson, Patrick Paul, Brendon Rice, and Calen Bullock each bring a unique set of skills and accomplishments to the table, ready to prove that the draft's later rounds are fertile ground for unearthing the next generation of NFL stars. Is it April 25th yet?!!


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