Southern California quarterback Caleb Williams (13) runs during the first...

Southern California quarterback Caleb Williams (13) runs during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Washington Saturday, Nov. 4, 2023, in Los Angeles. Williams is expected to be taken in the first round of the NFL Draft. Credit: AP/Marcio Jose Sanchez

This is the wide receiver and offensive tackle draft.

Yes, it is very possible the first four picks on April 25 in Detroit could be quarterbacks, but that probably says as much about roster construction in the NFL these days as it does the quality of this year's QB class.

The players most likely to succeed in this draft class are those who support the quarterbacks from the son of a Hall of Fame receiver to at least a half dozen pass protectors who could be selected in the first 20 picks.

Those position groups are so loaded don't be surprised if the first defensive player selected comes outside the top 10.

x-denotes underclassmen.

QUARTERBACKS

Overview: Four first-rounders appears to be a lock. It's just a matter of when. The intrigue comes later. Will another slip into the first round?

North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye (10) plays during the first...

North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye (10) plays during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023, in Clemson, S.C. Maye is a possible first round pick in the NFL Draft. Credit: AP/Jacob Kupferman

Caleb Williams-x, 6-foot-1, 214 pounds, USC.

Scouting report: Mahomes-esque traits with the instincts, mobility and arm talent to breakdown a defense even when it does everything right. The only questions are about playing within structure because the structure so often broke down at USC.

Fact: Won the Heisman Trophy in 2022, but couldn't lift a flawed USC team past a 7-5 regular season in 2023.

Gone by: With the first pick of the 2024 draft, the Chicago Bears select ....

LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels (5) runs for a touchdown against...

LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels (5) runs for a touchdown against Florida during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Nov. 11, 2023. Daniels is a possible first round pick in the NFL Draft. Credit: AP/Derick Hingle

Drake Maye-x, 6-4, 223, North Carolina

Scouting report: Size, arm strength and athleticism are ideal. Can make a variety of throws with accuracy, but can be erratic and reckless at times, trying too hard to be a playmaker.

Fact: One brother (Luke) played for a national championship-winning basketball team at North Carolina and another pitched for a national championship baseball team at Florida.

Gone by: He has been the presumptive No. 2 for a while. Will it end up that way?

Jayden Daniels, 6-3, 210, LSU

Scouting report: Accurate deep passer and explosive runner with a slender frame. He scrambles to run, not necessarily to create opportunities to pass.

Fact: The 2023 Heisman Trophy made a huge leap in his fifth college season.

Gone by: Top five.

J.J. McCarthy, 6-2, 219, Michigan

Scouting report: A difficult prospect to evaluate. Has all the physical tools plus scores well on intangibles such as leadership and maturity, but Michigan's run-heavy scheme did not ask much of him compared to other top quarterbacks.

Fact: The Wolverines were 27-1 with McCarthy as their starter the past two seasons.

Gone by: It will make many wonder why, but he could go in the top five.

Michael Penix Jr., 6-2, 216, Washington

Scouting report: Prolific left-handed passer with accuracy and arm strength to attack the whole field. His injury history (knees and shoulders), age (24) and questions about his ability deliver consistently when pressure forces him to move around.

Fact: The Indiana transfer was the Heisman Trophy runner-up last season, his sixth in college.

Others to watch: Bo Nix, Oregon; Spencer Rattler, South Carolina.

RUNNING BACKS

Overview: There were two running backs drafted in the first round last year after none the year before. There will likely be none again this year.

Jonathan Brooks-x, 6-0, 216, Texas

Scouting report: Nice combination of size, speed and vision. Might have been a first-rounder if not for a season-ending right knee injury in November cutting short his breakout season.

Fact: Redshirted as a freshmen and had only 32 touches in his second year playing behind Bijan Robinson and Roschon Johnson.

Others to watch: Blake Corum, Michigan; Jaylen Wright, Tennessee; Trey Benson, Florida State; Braelon Allen, Wisconsin; MarShawn Lloyd, USC.

WIDE RECEIVERS

Overview: As many as four wideouts could go in the top 12. After that the position is so deep it could cause good prospects to slide into the second and even third rounds as teams decide they can wait and still get their guy.

Marvin Harrison Jr.-x, 6-3, 209, Ohio State

Scouting report: Precise route-runner with superb body control. Strong and explosive, though not elusive after the catch and the blocking could use more consistent effort.

Fact: The son of a Hall of Fame receiver won the Biletnikoff Award in 2023.

Gone by: Odds-on favorite to be first non-quarterback drafted.

Malik Nabers-x, 6-2, 199, LSU

Scouting report: Smooth deep threat with breakaway acceleration who will be challenged to play with more power at the next level.

Fact: LSU's career leader in catches (189) and yards receiving (3,003).

Gone by: Could challenge Harrison for WR1.

Rome Odunze, 6-2, 212, Washington

Scouting report: Exceptional ball skills and reliable hands. Not quite as explosive as Harrison and Nabers but probably more consistent.

Fact: Four-year college career culminated with an All-American season in 2023.

Gone by: Top 10.

Brian Thomas-x, 6-2, 209, LSU

Scouting report: Top-end speed is elite and with a bigger frame than his teammate Nabers, but could use more polish as a route-runner.

Fact: Had nearly double the receiving yards (1,177) and more than double the number of touchdown catches (17) last season than he did in first two years in college.

Gone by: Top 15.

Adonai Mitchell-x, 6-2, 205, Texas

Scouting report: Tough and fast receiver who makes lots of difficult catches but not necessarily a lot of contested catches.

Fact: The Georgia transfer caught touchdown passes in the College Football Playoff every year of his career.

Gone by: Mitchell is part of the next large group of receivers who could go anywhere from picks 20-45.

Ladd McConkey, 5-11, 186, Georgia

Scouting report: Quick change of direction with breakaway speed. Slot receiver size, but he did play outside frequently in college.

Fact: Was a three-star recruit out of high school with offers from Army and Kent State before Georgia jumped in late.

Gone by: He's a fit player more than most so he could last until late second round.

Xavier Worthy-x, 5-11, 165, Texas

Scouting report: Blazing fast, but very small.

Fact: Ran the 40 in 4.21 seconds to set an NFL combine record.

Gone by: The size-speed combo makes Worthy a wild card. Could slip out of the second round.

Keon Coleman-x, 6-3, 213, Florida State

Scouting report: Big, rangy red zone option and contested-catch machine, who lacks separation speed and quickness.

Fact: Michigan State transfer was also on the basketball team with the Spartans.

Gone by: Similar outlook to Worthy but with the opposite skill set.

Others to watch: Malachi Corley, Western Kentucky; Roman Wilson, Michigan; Troy Franklin, Oregon; Ricky Pearsall, Florida; Xavier Legette, South Carolina.

TIGHT ENDS

Overview: One first-rounder and some interesting athletes.

Brock Bowers-x, 6-3, 243, Georgia

Scouting report: Elite athlete, with excellent hands and the speed and toughness to turn routine plays into huge gains after the catch. In today's NFL, he's a bit undersized, which could limit how he's used as a blocker.

Fact: The first two-time winner of the John Mackey Award, which goes to the nation's best tight end.

Gone by: If Bowers slips out of the top 10 he'll be a steal.

Others to watch: Ja’Tavion Sanders, Texas; Theo Johnson, Penn State; Ben Sinnott, Kansas State.

OFFENSIVE TACKLES

Overview: The deepest this position has been in years. Set the over/under on tackles selected in the first round at six. As with receiver, depth could lead to a few potential late first-rounders to slip into the second.

Joe Alt-x, 6-8, 321, Notre Dame

Scouting report: Technically sound, huge and strong. Not an exceptional athlete, but the worst-case scenario for Alt seems to be solid NFL starter.

Fact: Three-year starter at left tackle.

Gone by: Top 10.

Olu Fashanu, 6-6, 312, Penn State

Scouting report: Checks all the boxes for size, athleticism and character. Was not as consistently dominant as tools suggest he should have been, but he's also a relatively young (turns 22 in December) and inexperienced player (started playing in high school) for someone who spent four years in college.

Fact: Blocked for Caleb Williams at Gonzaga College High School in Washington.

Gone by: Top 15, but of the top tackles seems most likely to slip.

Taliese Fuaga, 6-5, 324, Oregon State

Scouting report: Powerful run blocker who plays with excellent balance. There is some concern his average athleticism and wingspan could push him to guard.

Fact: A second-team All-American in 2023.

Gone by: Top 15.

JC Latham-x, 6-5, 342, Alabama

Scouting report: Massive and dominant run blocking right tackle who at times struggled to recognize blitzes and recover.

Fact: Played in every game during his three-year college career, including 27 straight starts in his final two.

Gone by: Top 20.

Troy Fautanu, 6-4, 317, Washington

Scouting report: Maybe the most athletic of the tackles and plays with an edge. Less than ideal length could push him off left tackle.

Fact: Third-team All-American last season and leader of a unit that won the Joe Moore Award as college football's top offensive line.

Gone by: Top 20.

Amarius Mims-x, 6-7, 340, Georgia

Scouting report: If an NFL offensive tackle could be designed in a lab, that player would have Mims' combination of size and athleticism. He just hasn't played a lot of ball compared to the other tackles.

Fact: Started only eight games in college as his junior season was interrupted by an ankle sprain.

Gone by: Top 25, but Mims is the type of projectable prospect who could be a draft night surprise and land in the top 10.

Tyler Guyton-x, 6-7, 322, Oklahoma

Scouting report: Similar to Mims in terms of limited experience (15 college starts), but ideal size-athleticism combo. Technically raw.

Fact: Didn't focus full time on football until his senior year of high school.

Gone by: Early second round.

Graham Barton, 6-5, 313, Duke

Scouting report: Controls opponents with strong, quick hands, but seems most likely among the top tackle prospects to move inside.

Fact: Played center as a freshman before three straight years starting at left tackle.

Gone by: Top 40.

Others to watch: Jordan Morgan, Arizona; Kingsley Suamataia, BYU; Patrick Paul, Houston; Roger Rosengarten, Washington.

INTERIOR LINEMEN

Overview: Guards and centers need to be exceptional to go in the first round, and usually it's late when they do. Figure one or two of these guys is selected Day 1.

Jackson Powers-Johnson-x, C, 6-3, 323, Oregon.

Scouting report: Good athlete with excellent size who plays well in space, but nagging injuries limited him to one year as a starter.

Fact: All-American last season and winner of Rimington Award as nation's best center.

Gone by: Middle of the second.

Zach Frazier, C, 6-2, 313, West Virginia

Scouting report: Relentless and tough, which makes up for some size and athleticism concerns.

Fact: Started 46 games in a four-year college career.

Gone by: Late second.

Cooper Beebe, G, 6-3, 322, Kansas State

Scouting report: Plays with balance and power and saw game time at every position on the line but center. Arm length (31 1/2 inches) could be a real issue at the next level.

Fact: Played five years and permitted just one sack over his final 41 games.

Gone by: Late second.

Others to watch: Christian Haynes, UConn; Sedrick Van Pran-Granger, Georgia.

KICKERS/PUNTERS

Overview: In recent years, about four to six specialists get drafted. Probably more on the low end this season.

Some to watch: Tory Taylor, P, Iowa; Will Reichard, K, Alabama; Joshua Karty, K, Stanford; Ryan Rehkow, P, BYU; Cameron Little, K, Texas Tech.

___

Follow Ralph D. Russo at https://twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP and listen at http://www.appodcasts.com

More football news

SUBSCRIBE

Unlimited Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months

ACT NOWSALE ENDS SOON | CANCEL ANYTIME