The 2024 NFL Draft declaration period has come and gone. With the deadline passing, we have the benefit of knowing who is in the draft pool and also which players are returning. Most notable names, such as Caleb Williams, Drake Maye, and Marvin Harrison Jr., have entered the draft, but there were some surprises. The names of those returned will now wait for the 2025 NFL Draft to hear their name called.
The 2025 NFL Draft was already looking like another fun class. After years of defense dominating the top of the draft, the offense is getting its turn again. Enough notable players decided to declare and return to school to give both classes some heft.
Next year’s draft would already have names such as Drew Allar, Quinshon Judkins, and Tetairoa McMillan, but now they have some company. Here are the best players who passed up the NFL draft for another year to boost their stock.
Shedeur Sanders, Colorado
Shedeur Sanders has been so impressive today🎯— PFF College (@PFF_College) September 2, 2023
He is more than the son of Deion Sanders at this point. Sanders has proven to be a future NFL quarterback with the physical traits, as well as the mental ones, required. He is heading into a big year at Colorado with a lot of help along the offensive line and receiver position coming in. Don’t be surprised if he finds himself being a top-five pick, maybe even number one overall in the 2025 NFL Draft.
Quinn Ewers, Texas
With Arch Manning on the roster, many were surprised when Ewers announced he was returning to school. Texas made a run into the College Football Playoff with a high-powered offense that may now be even better in 2025. They lost Xavier Worthy and Adonai Mitchell and replaced them with Isaiah Bond and Matthew Golden. Those two being around to help Ewers and the Longhorns are looking at a big 2025.
Jalen Milroe, Alabama
Alabama has a tough schedule in 2024, but the return of Heisman Trophy Finalist Milroe will help. They lost Nick Saban and his run-first offensive style and replaced it with Kalen DeBoer and his air raid style. Milroe will put up massive numbers and should find himself back in New York City for the Heisman Trophy ceremony.
TreVeyon Henderson, Ohio State
Among the major surprise returns was a plethora of Ohio State Buckeyes led by Henderson. Quinshon Judkins will now join the Ohio State star back as they boast the best running back tandem in the country. Look for Henderson to have split back work again, but that should allow him to enter the NFL healthy with a lot of tread left on his tires.
Donovan Edwards, Michigan
Edwards showed everyone in the National Championship game exactly what he is capable of. Breaking off those two big runs brought a lot of people back into his wheelhouse. He should be the lead catalyst of the Wolverine offense in 2023. With all that in mind, look for his dual-threat ability to quickly boost his value.
Devin Neal, Kansas
A popular player among draft and devy Twitter, Neal has been a name to watch since he was a freshman. He returns to Kansas as the Jawhawks build momentum in the program. They could make a run into the expanded College Football Playoff, and with that comes a major platform on which to perform. He won’t ever be a star in this class, but he could be a day three dark horse when the 2025 NFL Draft comes.
Emeka Egbuka, Ohio State
After starting the year as a top-five receiver, Egbuka struggled in 2023. The biggest issue he faced was a significant injury that he later revealed needed a tightrope repair on his ankle. He could find his stride and was seemingly rushing back for the Buckeyes season. Resting up, getting healthy, and getting ready for 2024 should have him set up for major success this year and beyond.
Antwane “Juice” Wells, Ole Miss
ANTWANE WELLS JR. HAS THE JUICE— The Transfer Portal CFB (@TPortalCFB) November 20, 2022
YOU GOT MOSSED KID 😳😳 pic.twitter.com/lxiFNINUVt
After transferring from James Madison to South Carolina, expectations were high for Wells. He produced well at South Carolina during his two years there, accumulating 965 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. Wells now heads to Ole Miss to work with Tre Harris and Zakhari Franklin in the Rebels receiving corp instead of opting into the draft. He is talented enough to be the number one receiver in that group with numbers to match.
Julian Fleming, Penn State
Julian Fleming wasn’t expected to declare for the draft, but he was still eligible after three years at Ohio State. The former number-one receiver in 2020 entered the portal and is returning to his home state to play for the rival Nittany Lions. His working in a Penn State offense, expected to take a step in the right direction in 2024, should benefit him big time. Look for him and a lot of this offense to be featured in the 2025 NFL Draft.
Luke Lachey, Iowa
The tight-end factory in Iowa has another one on its hands, and he is returning for one more year. Lachey fits the bill for the type of player you expect to play at Iowa. He blocks very well and also demonstrates the receiving ability to be promising as a pro. He should be a focal point of the Hawkeye offense in 2024.
Jalin Conyers, Texas Tech
The well-traveled Conyers is now going to Texas Tech for one last year to shape his draft value. He earned 846 receiving yards and seven touchdowns in three seasons at Arizona State, now he heads for his last spot. Conyers has the size and speed to be a potential receiving threat at the next level but may take time to develop. He can be a fun stash in devy leagues with a long-term play attached.
Mitchell Evans, Notre Dame
The 2024 Tight End class is rather disappointing. Outside of Brock Bowers, there is a lot to be desired by fantasy players looking for help at the position. Evans would have been likely to declare for the class had he not torn his ACL in November. He will be back for the 2024 season and has a chance to be one of the top tight ends in the 2025 NFL Draft.
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