Illinois football has two players in the ESPN top 150 NFL Draft prospects

The NFL Draft has been a big event for Illinois football fans over the past few years, as the Illini continue to send players to the next level.
2006 NFL Draft
2006 NFL Draft / Chris Trotman/GettyImages

The 2024 NFL Draft is just a couple of months away, and Illinois football has multiple players in the ESPN top 150 prospects.

Over the last few years, the Illini have jumped back on the NFL Draft train. There was a dry spell in the mid-2010s, but things have turned around as of late. At least two players have been selected in the last three NFL Drafts.

In the 2021 NFL Draft, the Illini had two players selected. In 2022, three more Illinois football players headed to the NFL via the draft. And last year, Illinois had four players picked in the top five rounds including the No. 5 overall pick, Devon Witherspoon.

Having multiple Illinois players selected in the NFL Draft looks to continue in 2024 as well. In the ESPN top 150 players available, the Illini have two players listed.

The obvious top Illini player is Jer’Zhan Newton. He was an All-American and widely regarded as one of the top two defensive linemen in the country.

Every NFL Mock Draft has Newton going in the first round, and ESPN has him as the No. 17 overall player in the upcoming 2024 NFL Draft.

There is another Illinois football player joining Newton in the top 150. The Illini had multiple late-round projected talent coming out this year, and we now find offensive tackle Isaiah Adams as a top option at a key position. ESPN has Adams as the No. 136 prospect for the 2024 NFL Draft.

Illinois football players aren’t just getting picked in the NFL Draft, but they are having success at the next level

It is awesome seeing so many Illinois football players enter the NFL via the draft. The success of the program is starting to rise, and so is the talent on the football field.

But there are plenty of players who have solid college careers but can’t make it in the NFL. That doesn’t seem to be happening with the Illini, though.

Just in the past five years, Illinois has had some great success at the NFL level. Offensive guard Nick Allegretti is currently in his fourth Super Bowl and is trying to get his third Super Bowl ring. That is already an impressive career.

Nate Hobbs has been a lockdown defensive back for the Las Vegas Raiders. Kerby Joseph was a huge piece of the Detroit Lions’ secondary en route to an NFC Championship appearance. Devon Witherspoon made the Pro Bowl as a rookie this past season. Jartavius Martin also played key snaps for the Washington Commanders.

I was impressed with the Brown brothers in their rookie seasons too. Sydney Brown was a nightmare in the Eagles' secondary until he got injured. I also believe Chase Brown could end up being the starting running back for the Cincinnati Bengals in the near future.

Illinois is going to get a least two more players selected in the 2024 NFL Draft. We aren’t just producing talented college athletes, but this program is setting the great players up for success at the next level as well.

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