Illinois football prospects participating in the 2024 NFL Draft Combine

The NFL Draft is in April, but six former Illinois football players get a chance to impress scouts at the 2024 NFL Draft Combine.
NFL Combine
NFL Combine / Justin Casterline/GettyImages

The NFL Draft has been nice to the Illinois football team in recent years, and 2024 should be no exception.

Under Bret Bielema, the Illini program has risen to a point where we are respectable. Two years ago, Illinois made it to eight wins and back to a bowl game. That 2022 campaign was sandwiched by two 5-7 seasons.

With the ability to actually win games comes the ability to consistently send players to the NFL. There have been multiple Illinois players picked in the last three NFL Drafts. Kendrick Green and Nate Hobbs were picked in 2021, Kerby Joseph, Vederian Lowe, and Doug Kramer were selected in 2022, and Devon Witherspoon, Jartavius Martin, Sydney Brown, and Chase Brown were picked in 2023.

Illinois should continue this hot streak of players getting picked in the NFL Draft in 2024 as well. There are quite a few Illini players who are eligible for the draft, and six of those players have been selected to participate in the 2024 NFL Draft Combine.

The 2024 NFL Draft Combine has 321 prospects overall and is still held in Indianapolis, Indiana. It will take place February 26 through March 4.

Illinois football prospects participating in the 2024 NFL Draft Combine

  • WR Isaiah Williams

Isaiah Williams played five seasons with the Illini and his best year was in 2023 when he had 82 receptions for 1,055 yards and five touchdowns.

I believe Williams is one of the most underrated players in the NFL Draft. He isn’t ranked in the top 250 prospects, but he is quick and can catch the ball. The fact he was a quarterback to start at Illinois gives him more playmaking ability at the next level too. I could see a team taking a flier on Williams late in the draft.

  • TE Tip Reiman

Tip Reiman saw the field for three seasons in Champaign. His breakout campaign came in 2023 when he had 19 receptions for 203 yards and three touchdowns.

Another player who I think is underrated is Reiman. Illinois hasn’t utilized tight ends pretty much in my lifetime. I was a bit surprised that Reiman declared for the NFL Draft, but much like Williams, it wouldn’t shock me to see him selected deep in the draft. If not, he is a priority free agent and will be signed quickly.

  • OL Isaiah Adams

Coming from Garden City Community College, Isaiah Adams spent two seasons with the Illini. He started all 25 games during his time in Champaign and was All-Big Ten third team as a junior.

The physical size of 6-foot-5, 320 pounds is intriguing. Adams looks the part. He is currently ranked as the No. 170 prospect in the 2024 NFL Draft as well. Adams is good at run blocking, but his pass blocking is suspect. He was burnt a lot on the end of the offensive line. At No. 170, that puts Adams somewhere in the middle of the fifth round.

  • OT Julian Pearl

Another player who has great size is Julian Pearl. He played six years at Illinois and started 39 games for the program. He was an All-Big Ten honorable mention the past two campaigns.

I think Pearl might be flying under the radar. He isn’t in the top 250 prospects for the 2024 NFL Draft, but he wasn’t bad at the end of the offensive line. His 6-foot-6, 315-pound size will get some scouts looking. Pearl plays a crucial position in the NFL, so don’t be shocked if someone takes him at the back end of the draft.

  • DL Jer’Zhan Newton

Jer’Zhan Newton is one of the best players to ever play for the Illinois football program. As a junior, he had 52 tackles, 7.5 sacks, 2.0 pass deflections, 1.0 forced fumbles, and 1.0 fumble recoveries. He also finished as a consensus All-American, only the 22nd in the history of Illinois football.

Newton is a special player. If you watched the Illini at all, you would see his talent on the field. He was double or triple-teamed constantly but still got to the ball carrier or quarterback. Newton is ranked as the No. 17 prospect in the 2024 NFL Draft. He will have a great NFL career.

  • DL Keith Randolph Jr.

Illinois had a great defensive line in 2023, and Keith Randolph Jr. was a big part of its success. He finished the 2023 campaign with 49 tackles, 1.5 sacks, and 1.0 pass deflections. For his Illinois career, he had 29 starts.

Randolph is ranked as the No. 213 player in the upcoming 2024 NFL Draft. There is a lot of power with Randolph, and he is someone who could be a nice rotational piece for a defensive line. No. 213 puts Randolph at the back end of the sixth round. Look for a team that needs depth to take the talented defensive lineman.

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