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Mountaineers in the Pros

WVU Football’s Top 2024 NFL Draft Prospects



WVU Football OLs Zach Frazier and Doug Nester

Only one WVU football product was drafted in 2023, and this came after the Mountaineers failed to hear any player’s name called in 2022. While West Virginia alums may still get a shot at the NFL, and one has already signed with a team, this is a stain on a once-proud and historic program that used to pump out pro talent every year.

The success of the recent past is still evident all over the NFL today, but one drafted player in two years is a hit and could be viewed as a negative to top recruits and transfers considering West Virginia if that number doesn’t increase very soon. With that said, and any catastrophic change to the leadership of WVU football still at least one year away, what’s the outlook for the Mountaineers to have a better overall experience during the 2024 NFL Draft?

Which WVU players could be eligible and have a realistic chance to be drafted?

Doug Nester

West Virginia fans should be able to take comfort in being able to follow the draft journey of at least one player next year. Offensive lineman Doug Nester is someone most around the WVU program were pleasantly surprised to learn was returning for one more season in Morgantown. Many who project draft prospects were even discussing Nester as among possible WVU players a year ago.

WVU OL Doug Nester Opens Up About Decision to Return to Mountaineers

Nester is a versatile lineman with most of his experience coming at right guard. He’s actually who both Dante Stills and Bryce Ford-Wheaton called out when asked which of their teammates still in college would be most likely to be drafted at the NFL Combine.

The durability and maturity of Nester should also go a long way in impressing NFL teams. By the numbers, which are tough to rely on for offensive lineman, Nester recorded 27 knockdowns in 2022, highlighted by six in the Backyard Brawl in Pittsburgh. He did not allow a sack in eight of 11 games played.

2023 draft player comp: Spencer Anderson, Maryland (Round 7, Pick 251) Anderson is tall, experienced and versatile, and that fits the bill for Nester, as well. Nester is even taller, at 6-foot-7, which feels too tall for center, but he could probably be used more at tackle than his 129 career snaps there so far. Leaning into that versatility will be key if Nester wants to hear his name called next April. — Alan Saunders

Zach Frazier

Much like Nester, Zach Frazier could be another safe pick option for NFL teams. He doesn’t have as much experience as Nester, but has received his fair share of national recognition on pre-season watch lists each of the past two years.

Frazier was placed on ESPN’s Way-Too Early All-American team as a center, where he’s found a role for the Mountaineers. He’s credit with only allowing one sack throughout the 2022 season, including going 11 straight games with giving one up.

WVU Football Center Zach Frazier

WVU center Zach Frazier celebrates after a play against TCU. (WVSN photo by Kelsie LeRose)

The junior is widely viewed as an intelligent offensive lineman who can play guard, tackle or center due to his intelligence and ability. Frazier, a Fairmont native, also provides West Virginia another in-state product to send to the NFL.

2023 draft player comp: Jake Andrews, Troy (Round 4, Pick 108) Andrews was an all-conference pick in the Sun Belt with good size that played all four years, then went to the Senior Bowl and had a nice showing in Mobile. That should be a pretty repeatable path for Frazier, who has nearly identical measurables. — Alan Saunders

Devin Carter

Wide receiver Devin Carter transferred to WVU for one main reason – increase his NFL value. His path to transfer even included his former head coach at NC State publicly saying Carter was declaring for the draft when in reality he just decided to enter the Transfer Portal.

If Bryce Ford-Wheaton, Carter’s childhood friend who WVU head coach Neal Brown credits with influencing the North Carolina native to pick West Virginia, failed to get drafted despite great testing numbers, it might be an uphill battle for Carter. What’s in his favor is he will be the number one receiving option for the Mountaineers in 2023. He just has to hope that means enough targets in a run-heavy offense to increase his statistical production enough to open some NFL eyes.

Asti: Devin Carter is Proving to be Invaluable to WVU Before He Even Plays a Game

2023 draft player comp: Donte Demus, Maryland (UDFA) This is a tough projection, because we really don’t know what Carter will look like in a different offense at West Virginia. So consider this the projection if he had stayed at NC State, showing prototypical size and speed but a strange lack of production to go with it. He can improve with a strong season at WVU. — Saunders

Aubrey Burks

A possible draft prospect from the defense is Aubrey Burks. Safeties coach Dontae Wright went as far as to say Burks can be as good as he wants to be. “He can be a pro player or a really good college player. If he puts it all into it, he can play on Sundays,” said Wright.

WVU Football safety Aubrey Burks

Aubrey Burks tackles a Kansas State player on Nov. 19, 2022. (WVSN photo by Kelsie LeRose)

Burks, a junior, would probably be better off benefiting from another college season in 2025, but it’s also possible he has a big year individually as the vocal leader of the secondary. He was WVU’s second leading tackler in 2022 with 66 with 46 of them as solo. Burks also posted one sack, 4.5 tackles for loss, one interception, one forced fumble and two pass breakups.

2023 draft player comp: Brandon Hill, Pitt (Round 7, Pick 248) Consider this projection a warning. Hill left Pitt a year early and ended up a seventh-round pick. With NLI money on the table, there’s no reason for players to make those kinds of mistakes. The safety position is not one that teams are dying to draft. Burks will need to get his hands on a lot more footballs in 2023 (one INT, two PBUs in 2022) if he wants to improve his stock. — Saunders

OTHER CANDIDATES: Malachi Ruffin and Davoan Hawkins 

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