Seven prominent college football players line up in a long waiting line

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For many of college football's most accomplished players, the NFL Draft provides a special moment as they transition to the professional ranks. However, others face a harsh fate – and lie in wait – over the course of the three-day event.

This Thursday, the first round will be drafted by several notable names, including USC's Caleb Williams, Ohio State's Marvin Harrison Jr., and Michigan's JJ McCarthy. However, there are plenty of other all-conference selections — and even All-Americans — who will be left behind to become late draft picks or undrafted free agents.

With the 2024 NFL Draft getting underway this week, keep an eye on these seven standouts who may have a long wait before they get selected.

Jordan Travis, QB, Florida State

Travis, a sixth-year senior in 2023, made the most of his extra time by posting an 11-0 mark with the Seminoles before being sidelined with a broken leg in November. This injury undoubtedly complicated his professional outlook, but it was likely that he was already facing an uphill battle to remain in the NFL long term.

At 6-1 and 200 pounds with passable arm strength at best, Travis doesn't have many draft-caliber attributes to develop. But he also lacks the composure and anticipation skills one might look for in a trustworthy backup. All of this leaves the 24-year-old rookie in a tough position for the draft. Travis has shown enough to hear his name called at some point, but it still looks like it's a long way off before the final few rounds.

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Sam Hartman, QB, Notre Dame

The highlight of Hartman's pre-draft process was seeing his hair flowing in the air during the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine. Not a great sign when this is the biggest buzz a quarterback creates. Despite ending a six-year career as one of the most prolific passers in college football history, Hartman doesn't appear to be guaranteed more than a final-round pick.

When Hartman is in rhythm, he shows a great ability to put the ball in prime position for his receivers. But that talent will be tempered at the next level by pedestrian arm strength, which won't leave him much room for error. With a track record of spotty decision-making and erratic, turnover-prone play, it is difficult to trust Hartmann as a No. 2 option. However, if he finds a level of consistency, he can hold his own thanks to his quick movements, savvy and toughness.

Cody Schrader, RB, Missouri

That it made it onto the professional radar at all should be considered a triumph. After transferring from Truman State, Schrader broke out in 2023 with a 1,627-yard, 14-touchdown campaign that earned him first-team All-American honors.

However, he's a tough sell to NFL teams at 5-9, 214 pounds and lacks the long speed or agility to consistently break up big plays. Schrader's assertive approach should help him commit to the roster early in his career as a physical runner who can be an important special teams asset. But he will once again play the long shot role as a potential late Day 3 pick.

Founder Sweet, DT, Texas

The 6-4, 366-pound senior from Central Texas has become college football's newest big presence, winning the Outland Trophy and being named a unanimous All-American last fall. Race is truly a force and requires offensive calculation in his ability to move blockers back and maintain his position. He's a far cry from the current prototype at defensive tackle, but the appeal of adding a unique defensive presence up front should be readily apparent.

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However, there are major drawbacks to Sweat's external structure as well. The state of his conditioning will be an ongoing concern, and his effectiveness may hinge on keeping coaches in shape. His limited raw explosiveness also suggests that his impact against the pass will peak when pressuring the pocket, especially given his underdeveloped arsenal of moves. Additionally, an arrest earlier in April on suspicion of drunk driving could raise a red flag for some teams. Ultimately, getting to the first three rounds could be tough for Sweat.

Tommy Eichenberg, LB, Ohio State

A two-time first-team All-Big Ten selection, Eichenberg set the tone for the Buckeyes' defense as a two-year starter and team captain, making 200 tackles in that span. He is at his best when diagnosing runs and meeting the ball carrier in the hole, as he is a reliable tackler when in position to make a play.

But coverage is another matter for the 6-2, 233-pound player, who looks in poor shape when asked to drop back. Eichenberg might gain a better sense of the nuances of working in the area with some additional work, but that will likely never be one of his strengths. These overall liquidity issues likely indicate a moderate downside point.

Jeremiah Trotter Jr., LB, Clemson

It didn't take long before the son of four-time Pro Bowl linebacker and former Philadelphia Eagles star Jeremiah Trotter emerged from his father's shadow. The 6-0, 228-pounder made his mark at Clemson as a consistent playmaker downhill, accumulating nearly 180 tackles with 28 1/2 tackles for loss and 12 sacks during his two years as the starter.

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However, taking his game to the NFL could be difficult. Finishing against the run may be more difficult at the next level, as his range is not as wide and he can be easily shaken up in space. Although his instincts can help him become a solid contributor in zone coverage, he can unravel in man-to-man duels. The middle rounds seem like a reasonable starting point for his professional career.

Calen King, CB, Penn State

At this point last year, King was earning early buzz as a top-50 prospect thanks to his hyper-competitive style and impressive ball production (21 passes defended in 2022). Then, things started to unravel, as the 5-11, 190-pound cornerback endured several shaky outings, including one in an exhibition matchup with Ohio State wide receiver and projected top-five pick Marvin Harrison Jr.

The disappointing season has heightened concerns about King's lack of recovery speed to replicate his playmaking prowess at the next level. His struggles in the Senior Bowl and a 4.61-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine increased his stock. Dropping him into a loaded zone scheme or moving to safety could help mask some of his shortcomings, but he still has to become a calmer player when operating downhill – especially as a forward. Midday 3 seems like a reasonable range.

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