Answering big questions about the 2025 draft class

With the 2024 NFL draft now in the rearview mirror, our focus has already started to turn to the 2025 prospects. Next year’s class looks to have another intriguing quarterback group, and the defensive side of the ball is sure to rebound after being outshined by the offense last weekend.

Who are the top prospects to know? How does the 2025 class compare to the 2024 group? We asked NFL draft analysts Matt Miller and Field Yates, along with college football reporter Adam Rittenberg, to answer seven big questions about the upcoming draft class.

The 2025 draft in Green Bay, Wisconsin, is one year away, so there’s still a lot to learn about the class. But for now, let’s do a quick introduction to what could be a standout group of prospects. And for more on what to expect from the 2025 class, check out Jordan Reid’s way-too-early mock draft of Round 1 (ESPN+).

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Who are the top quarterbacks in the 2025 class?

Matt Miller, NFL draft analyst: The start of the 2025 class’ evaluation is a three-headed monster. Carson Beck (Georgia) is the hot name among NFL scouts, but he’ll be challenged by Quinn Ewers (Texas) and Shedeur Sanders (Colorado) if those two can take the next step in their games in the 2024 season. Beck’s command of the Georgia offense is impressive, and he also shows the soft touch and driving arm strength that NFL teams love. He threw for 3,941 yards and 24 touchdowns to just six interceptions last season. His lack of mobility might be questioned, but his pocket movement is superb.

Another player to keep an eye on is Riley Leonard, now at Notre Dame after transferring from Duke. Scouts love his raw ability, but he needs a huge jump in production and consistency. However, we’ve seen that happen before as a quarterback gains experience in college.

Field Yates, NFL draft analyst: The three who have my attention based off 2023 film study are Sanders, Beck and Ewers — in that order for me. I actually think Sanders feels like the early leader to be the first pick in the draft, as his elite pocket passing is beyond impressive. In his first season at Colorado, Sanders completed 298 passes for 3,230 yards and 27 touchdowns. How he can carve up a defense when given time and space is legit.

Adam Rittenberg, national college football reporter: The 2025 QB class doesn’t project like its predecessor, but Beck, Sanders, Ewers and Miami’s Cameron Ward all have first-round potential, especially after the run on quarterbacks we saw in Detroit. Beck and Ewers will enter the season as top Heisman Trophy candidates. Sanders is seeking better protection and more balance on offense but showed downfield precision and plenty of toughness in 2023.

Ward briefly entered the 2024 NFL draft before withdrawing and transferring from Washington State to Miami, where he will lead a talented offense that includes running back Damien Martinez, another interesting prospect. Ward is coming off a strong 2023 season, where he threw for 3,735 yards and 25 touchdowns.

Which prospects could end up being the top non-QB in the class?

Miller: Let’s look at next season’s offensive tackle class because it’s a good one. Texas left tackle Kelvin Banks Jr. (6-foot-4, 324 pounds) will battle LSU’s blindside protector Will Campbell (6-6, 325 pounds) for the top tackle spot, and both are fantastic movers with the length and strength to be elite NFL players. The class is also talented on defense, but the two offensive tackles would headline my early board.

Yates: Colorado WR/DB Travis Hunter and Tennessee edge rusher James Pearce Jr. are the two names that come to mind immediately, as each pops so much on film. Hunter brings rare fluidity and talent to two separate positions, showing effortless speed and instincts. As a receiver, he had 57 catches for 721 yards with five touchdowns last season; on the defensive of the ball, he snagged three interceptions and had seven pass breakups.



Travis Hunter comes away with his second INT of the game

Colorado’s Travis Hunter comes up huge with another interception off of UCLA’s Ethan Garbers.

Pearce looks the part of the next elite pass-rusher to enter the NFL as he had a breakout season in 2023 with 10 sacks during his true sophomore season. His first-step explosion is so good.

Rittenberg: Expect Michigan to have more high-level draft picks in 2025 than in 2024, when it came off a national title. Defensive back Will Johnson and defensive lineman Mason Graham both should hear their names called early in Green Bay. Johnson, the No. 23 recruit in the 2021 ESPN 300, has great length at 6-2 and playmaking skills with four interceptions last season. Graham wasn’t a decorated high school player — he initially committed to Boise State before Michigan — but became a punishing force in the interior of the nation’s best line last fall. He should continue to rise on draft boards.

Who are some early draft sleeper picks who could rise this season?

Miller: Kentucky defensive tackle Deone Walker is one of my favorite early watches in preparation for the 2024 college football season. Watching his 2023 tape, I get a Derrick Brown vibe from the 6-6, 348-pounder. Walker posted 7.5 sacks last season, so he’s not just a nose tackle but someone who truly impacts the game on three downs. He has a chance to shoot up boards if he builds on his breakout 2023 season.

I also have to shout out Texas’ new addition from the transfer portal, defensive end Trey Moore. He posted 14 sacks last season at UTSA. The 6-3, 235-pounder has elite first-step speed and could be a problem for SEC offenses.

Yates: Alabama receiver Germie Bernard is ready for liftoff after transferring from Washington, where he was the fourth wide receiver in the best receiver room in the country. He was a star at Alabama’s spring game — he had three catches for 122 receiving yards — and should be heavily featured.

Meanwhile, Georgia will once again have a star tight end to work with, as Ben Yurosek will debut this fall for the Bulldogs after three seasons at Stanford. Yurosek had 42 catches in 2021 and averaged over 15 yards per catch. A shoulder injury cut his 2023 season short, but he showed his stardom in Stanford’s season opener against Hawaii with nine catches for 138 yards.

Rittenberg: A trio of pass-rushers — Texas A&M’s Nic Scourton, Louisville’s Ashton Gillotte and LSU’s Harold Perkins Jr. — should join the glut of defensive prospects. Scourton led the Big Ten with 10 sacks last fall and should pair well with Cashius Howell and others to pressure quarterbacks. The 6-3, 270-pound Gillotte has 22 sacks in his first three seasons at Louisville and can play on both the edge and the interior line. Perkins has 13 sacks and 26 tackles for loss in his first two seasons and should thrive under new coordinator Blake Baker.

What is the early strength of the class?

Miller: Defense! As great as the 2024 draft class was on offense, with a record 23 first-round selections coming from that side of the ball, the 2025 class will be headlined by defense. Cornerbacks Will Johnson, Travis Hunter and Benjamin Morrison (Notre Dame) all look like future top-10 picks. The defensive line is equally loaded with Pearce, Graham, Perkins and Mykel Williams (Georgia) all showing the potential to be superstars at the next level.

How does the 2025 class compare to the 2024 group?

Yates: The part that I think is most interesting when comparing the classes is the overall depth expected in 2025 as compared to 2024. There were so many players who wound up returning to school this past draft, which is tied to both NIL opportunities and the fact that all NCAA athletes who were in school at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic were granted an extra year of eligibility. True freshmen who entered school in 2020 or those who entered in 2021 and played right away are headed for their final year this season, which should lead to a much deeper class.

What is a sneaky college team to watch for 2025 prospects?


Rittenberg: Arizona produced three draft picks following a breakthrough 10-win season, and its 2025 output could be even more significant, especially toward the top of the draft. Wide receiver Tetairoa McMillan had 1,402 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns on 90 catches last season and will once again link up with quarterback Noah Fifita in the fall. Cornerback Tacario Davis tied for the Pac-12 lead with 14 pass breakups in 2023 and boasts great size at 6-4.

Offensive lineman Jonah Savaiinaea has started his first two seasons and should help lead a group replacing first-round draft pick Jordan Morgan. The 6-5, 330-pound Savaiinaea can play both guard and tackle and likely will play right tackle in 2024.

Which prospect’s tape are you excited to watch when you start setting your preseason board?


Miller: Luther Burden III, WR, Missouri. The electric wide receiver might start the year as my No. 1 overall prospect after an 86-catch 2023 season with 1,212 yards and nine scores. Burden has elite speed and open-field moves and proved himself as a complete receiver last season. I want to study his route running and get into his positional nuances more, but my first look at him came with a grade that would make him a potential top-five pick.



Luther Burden III makes great catch on 42-yard Missouri TD

Brady Cook throws a 42-yard touchdown pass to Luther Burden.


Yates: Deion Burks, WR, Oklahoma. He was a huge get for the Sooners in the transfer portal after three years at Purdue, and I’ll be studying his tape with the Boilermakers this summer. My initial tape study on him last season (he was draft-eligible this past year) showed roadrunner speed and acceleration. While Burks is listed at just 5-11 and 195 pounds, he falls into the category of prospects for whom you simply must find ways to manufacture touches. He caught 47 passes for 629 yards with seven touchdowns in 2023.

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