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NFL Draft Notebook: Ja’Lynn Polk among risers, latest buzz on trading into top 10, defensive player comps

Daniels to Raiders highlights best draft QB fits
Matthew Berry, Connor Rogers and Jay Croucher examine the quarterbacks in the 2024 NFL Draft and discuss the best fits for Jayden Daniels, J.J. McCarthy, Michael Penix Jr. and more.

The final countdown is on as night one of the 2024 NFL Draft is less than a week away. A majority of the workouts and private visits are in the rearview as teams look to officially stack their boards.

In this week’s draft notebook I will go through the latest “risers” — who are really just players more than likely being drafted earlier than the general public expects. Plus, I’ll pass along some of the recent draft buzz I’m hearing regarding where teams could trade into the top 10. We’ll close this week out with some of my favorite player comparisons on the defensive side of the ball.

RELATED: Connor Rogers’ “If I were the GM” mock draft

Latest Draft Risers

Ja’Lynn Polk, WR, Washington

The No. 2 wide receiver from Washington’s prolific passing attack (behind likely top 10 pick Rome Odunze) is the type of player coaches love. Polk’s high energy in everything he does (including blocking), fearless in working dangerous areas of the field and a nonstop worker. This wide receiver class is loaded, but Polk is expected to go in the top 35-40 picks.

Mike Sainristil, CB, Michigan

Despite being undersized at 5-foot-9, 182 pounds, the former wide receiver has the ball skills that can change the game at any moment. It’s essentially a non-factor that Sainristil will be a slot corner at the next level with how often teams deploy at least three cornerbacks. It’s hard seeing him get out of the top 50.

KT Leveston, OL, Kansas State

A college left tackle, Leveston is a mauler who has the traits and mass to kick inside to guard. His ability to unlock power from his hips and finish his blocks is something that has caught the eye of evaluators and coaches on tape. I wouldn’t be surprised if he comes off the board very early on Day 3.

Tanor Bortolini, IOL, Wisconsin

Bortolini has started at right tackle, both guard spots and center. He’ll find a home somewhere along the interior at the next level, preferably in a scheme that can maximize his athleticism. Bortolini has dominated the process with a 9.79 relative athletic score, essentially dominating every part of the testing. Once thought as a late Day 3 pick, he’ll likely come off the board somewhere in the third or fourth round.

RELATED: Connor Rogers’ NFL Draft Big Board

Latest Draft Buzz

  • I’ve heard the entry points into a top 10 pick via trade are most likely the Cardinals at No. 4, the Chargers at No. 5, Titans at No. 7, Falcons at No. 8 and the Jets at No. 10. Prices are expected to be exorbitant, meaning teams will really need to be sure someone like Michigan QB J.J. McCarthy will develop into a franchise guy. The Falcons and Jets seem the most open to moving out, but at the same time those picks obviously don’t carry the same value.
  • The Patriots at No. 3 have long been rumored to be the furthest a team could trade up, but that talk has gone quiet recently. With a new staff in place and Mac Jones out the door, it would make sense that the franchise looks to take their quarterback of the future. Plus, with Jacoby Brissett on the roster, the Patriots have the luxury of having their new rookie quarterback sit, if need be.
  • Speaking of the Patriots, they are part of a group that kicks off Day 2 in what could be a historic run on wide receivers. The Panthers at No. 33, Patriots at No. 34, Chargers at No. 37 and Titans at No. 38 could all target the position before the draft even gets to the 40th selection.
  • The run on running backs won’t get started until Round 3. Sure, Texas’ Jonathon Brooks or Florida State’s Trey Benson could sneak into Round 2, but the league will attack this class looking for bargains.

RELATED: Connor Rogers’ NFL draft RB rankings

Defensive Player Comparisons

Quinyon Mitchell, CB, Toledo

Mitchell is a really fun corner to watch on tape with his size, physicality and awareness. He’s not as big as former Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith, but their athleticism and play strength are very similar. Plus, both have 90th+ percentile hand size that disrupts receivers in their routes and at the catch point.

Edgerrin Cooper, LB, Texas A&M

Cooper is a unique off-ball linebacker who can run around and make explosive plays. He’s the same exact size as former Cardinals linebacker Daryl Washington, who once had nine sacks and 15 tackles for loss in one season. You can’t teach that type of play speed.

Dallas Turner, EDGE, Alabama

Turner ran a 4.46 forty and posted a 40 ½” vertical at 247 pounds. He’s simply a ridiculous athlete. What’s even more impressive is that he had 22.5 sacks over the last three seasons in the SEC, without much variety in his pass rush plan. Ravens’ EDGE Odafe Oweh was 10 pounds heavier at the combine, but they have near identical length and are both very explosive testers.

Jared Verse, EDGE, Florida State

Verse plays with heavy hands that jolt offensive tackles. He measured in at the combine at 6-3, 254 pounds with 33 ½” arms while running a 4.58 forty with a 1.6 10-yard split. His play style reminds me of Kayvon Thibodeaux, who measured in at the combine at 6-4, 254 pounds with 33 ⅛” arms while running a 4.58 forty with a 1.59 10-yard split.