football Edit

Midwest Spotlight: Comparing top 2024 standouts to NFL players

Comparisons are an inevitable part of college football recruiting. This week, Rivals is going region by region to compare some of today's top high school prospects to current NFL players. Up today is the Midwest region.

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Williams Nwaneri - Jason Pierre-Paul  

Listed at 6-foot-6 and 265 pounds, Nwaneri has the physical gifts and skill set to play just about anywhere across the defensive line. He is incredibly fluid, explodes off the ball and has both the length and strength to be a dominant defender against the run and pass.

When looking at Pierre-Paul coming out of high school, and especially junior college, the comparison is uncanny. Both listed at 6-foot-6, both 265 pounds, both able to rush the passer from various spots and both possessing sky-high upside.

What’s even more impressive is the productivity and overall body mechanics match up. Of all the high-flying NFL comparisons on this list, it is Nwaneri who I see having the best chance at living up to the lofty expectation.


Darrion Dupree - Kareem Hunt  

Incredible balance, slippery running style, legs that never stop turning and a skill set that enables him to make an equal impact in the running game, pass game and return game are all elements that make Dupree a special player. The all-purpose back who is a Wisconsin commit is a Swiss Army Knife of a player with the ability to be a difference maker in all facets of the game.

Hunt was the first player who came to mind when comparing skill sets and I was absolutely sold on the comp when I went back and watched Hunt’s high school film. The two have an eerily similar playing style at the same age and both required an entire defense swarming to bring them down at the high school level.

While I am not in any way saying Dupree is a lock to become the same player Hunt has become in the NFL, I do think Dupree is further ahead of the current Miami Dolphin star at the same stage of their career.



Jeremiah McClellan - Jarvis Landry   

McClellan, an uncommitted four-star receiver, is as complete of a receiver as you fill find in the 2024 class. While the St. Louis Christian Brothers receiver may not have one single and obvious elite trait he also doesn’t have a weakness in his game, which makes him a high-floor and high-ceiling recruit.

McClellan has a thicker build, runs precise routes, has incredible ball skills and is like a running back with the ball in his hands after the catch. One overlooked trait that you have to love about McClellan is that he is not afraid to get his nose dirty as a blocker in the run game as well.

While most of my comps are based off what the NFL player was like at the same age, this one is more based off the player Landry became in the NFL. Their games are extremely similar, and while Landry was a five-star recruit at this stage of his career, I see McClellan having similar upside.


Carter Nelson - Travis Kelce   

From taking snaps at quarterback to being raw athletes with big frames and unlimited upside, there are a number of similarities between the current Nebraska commit and the future NFL Hall of Famer.

The most glaring difference between the two is their ranking and recruitment coming out of high school. Kelce was a pure projection coming out Cleveland Heights, which led to a 5.2 two-star rating. Nelson is also a projection in many ways, but with dominant film, verified track results and a higher level of exposure than Kelce had at the same age he has risen to become one of the most highly rated and sought-after players in the country.

Time will tell whether Nelson can come close to living up to one of the greatest to ever play the position. The early comp is very promising, however.



CJ Carr - Joe Burrow  

Carr and Burrow have more in common than first meets the eye. They have similar physical profiles, both throw a great deep ball, are accurate passers and see the field with the best of them.

The comparisons don’t stop with the way they play the game, either. Both come from coaching families, are extremely competitive, play with a chip on their shoulder and have a level of unflappable swagger that teammates love.

Carr, the future Notre Dame signal caller, enters college with more hype surrounding his name as a borderline five-star recruit. Burrow, on the other hand, showed flashes of greatness in high school but finished as a 5.6 three-star prior to signing with Ohio State, transferring to LSU, winning the Heisman and becoming the No. 1 overall pick. That is a lot to live up to – and Burrow will likely go down as one of the best to ever play the game – but you have to love what you see from Carr at this early stage of his career.