A Way-Too-Early Look at JMU Football’s 2024 NFL Draft Prospects

Image courtesy of JMU Athletics Communications

By Bennett Conlin

No JMU football players were drafted in the 2023 NFL Draft, but given the Dukes’ move to the FBS level, expect that trend to change in future seasons.

It’s quite possible a JMU player gets drafted in 2024, becoming the first Duke to be selected since Ben DiNucci in 2020. Isaac Ukwu, who recently entered the transfer portal, was one of JMU’s most likely 2024 selections. With Ukwu likely leaving for a Power Five program, it wouldn’t be a shock if two JMU transfers (Ukwu and Antwane Wells Jr.) both get picked in 2024.

As for players currently on JMU’s roster with the potential to get drafted in 2024, Nick Kidwell headlines our list.

Most likely draft picks

Nick Kidwell, OL – With Ukwu gone, Kidwell seems like the clear-cut top NFL Draft prospect on JMU’s roster. He’s a redshirt senior with 31 games of starting experience, and he’s 6’5″ and 315 lbs. Kidwell was a Second Team All-Sun Belt performer in 2022. There’s a lot to like with Kidwell, who plays tackle for JMU but could slide into a guard spot at the NFL level.

If he stays healthy, I think Kidwell gets picked in the 2024 NFL Draft.

Jamree Kromah, DL – Size (6’4″ and 272 lbs) and Power Five pedigree (began his career at Rutgers) give Kromah a chance to attract NFL attention. Ukwu entering the transfer portal doesn’t hurt either, giving Kromah a clear path to significant playing time at defensive end. He’s big enough to play inside, which he did at times last season, but he’s athletic enough to be a force at defensive end.

I like Kromah’s game and felt he came on strong at the end of 2022. Look for a strong 2023 campaign from the projected starter at defensive end, which could boost him onto NFL Draft boards.

Reggie Brown, WR – JMU’s projected wide receiver No. 1 has enough size (6’1″ and 195 lbs) to attract NFL attention if he produces in 2023. Brown possesses a nice blend of speed and size, and his NFL Draft stock will depend almost entirely on 2023 production and testing.

Can Brown generate enough early season buzz in 2023 to attract interest from scouts? Can he perform well against UVA? If he does that, can he follow it up by running a 40-yard dash under 4.6 seconds? I think Brown has the talent to jump onto NFL radars, but he’ll need a big 2023 season followed up by good speed testing results to hear his name called in 2024.

Others to monitor

Abi Nwabuoku-Okonji, DL – If the Minnesota transfer breaks out in 2023 — he was a solid but not spectacular contributor for JMU from 2020-22 — he could be selected in the 2024 NFL Draft. I’m not banking on that, but at 6’3″ and 270 lbs with playing experience, it’s easy to imagine Nwabuoku-Okonji having the best season of his JMU career in 2023 with Ukwu moving to a new program. Don’t count him or Kromah out as potential late-round defensive end selections.

Phoenix Sproles, WR – He’s an athletic wide receiver with a chance for an important role in 2023. If the North Dakota State transfer gets opportunities in the passing game and shows his speed and ball skills, he could generate NFL interest. A lack of size and preseason hype could hurt his NFL Draft stock.

Jalen Green, DL – Green can stay for a redshirt senior season (COVID-19 eligibility), but I’m banking on a breakout year from the defensive end with Ukwu leaving. He’s supremely fast and disruptive, and he’s worth keeping an eye on given his athleticism. If he flashes as a pass rusher in 2023, he could go from an unheralded prospect to one of the best EDGE players in the Sun Belt. He’s slightly undersized, though, which could hurt his draft stock.

James Carpenter, DL – Carpenter is a monster on the inside of JMU’s defensive line. Yes, he’s a bit undersized for the position, but the redshirt junior was one of the most disruptive players in the Sun Belt in 2022. If he looks the part again in 2023, at the very least, he’ll start to generate interest from NFL scouts. The guy is a good football player!

Jordan McCloud, QB – He can stay for two years if he wants, but a strong season (think, SBC Player of the Year type of good) from the quarterback could launch him into NFL Draft conversations during the fall. He’s a dual-threat quarterback with impressive athleticism and solid performances under his belt at USF and Arizona.

If he makes the leap in consistency/decision making that many JMU passers have under Curt Cignetti, he might consider leaving one year early to enter the NFL. First, of course, McCloud needs to win the starting job over stud redshirt freshman Alonza Barnett.

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