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34 players granted ‘special eligibility’ for NFL Draft — including in particular that the Steelers should keep their eye on

The Steelers could have their eyes on one player in particular...

NCAA Football: Rose Bowl-Penn State at Utah Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

This past Monday, we concluded the 2023 college football season with the Michigan Wolverines hoisting the National Championship trophy after a win over the Washington Huskies.

Many have now turned their attention to the 2024 NFL Draft, including the underclassmen who plan to enter the draft and forego their remaining eligibility. In what was a significant shift, this past November the NFL announced that draft-eligible underclassmen are now able to participate in college football all-star games.

A memo from the NFL stated: “Upon the NFL publicly announcing that a player has been granted special eligibility, the East-West Shrine Bowl, HBCU Legacy Bowl, and Senior Bowl may invite such players to participate in their respective game activities.”

That means the Shrine Bowl, HBCU Legacy Bowl and Senior Bowl are the only three games those who have been granted special eligibility are permitted to participate in.

The NFL issued a soft deadline of January 5 for underclassmen to apply and be approved for special eligibility. The NFL created this deadline to help with pre-draft planning and invitations for these coveted games. To be approved, the players had to meet the NFL’s three-season eligibility rule and renounce their eligibility with written notification to the NFL office by the January 5 deadline.

To provide clarity, college players who exhaust their college football eligibility or graduate, are automatically eligible for the NFL Draft and do not have to request permission for special eligibility.

The opportunity to compete in these games will provide an incredible chance for these draft hopefuls to showcase their talents and gain more exposure leading up to potentially the biggest weekend of their professional lives.

In the context of the Pittsburgh Steelers, there are certainly some names to keep an eye on. While they won’t officially be linked to any of these players until we move closer to the draft, we can certainly connect the dots on some of these names. In particular, Penn State CB Kalen King is someone who sticks out.

King played opposite of current Steelers rising star on the outside Joey Porter Jr. for the Nittany Lions. While scouting Porter Jr., I’d presume King also caught the Steelers attention. In three years, King produced 80 tackles, 22 passes defended, three interceptions and one forced fumble. Just yesterday it was announced that King would be participating in the Reese’s Senior Bowl — arguably the biggest draft showcase around.

Make sure to tune in to find out the level of participation from the Steelers brass. I could see the potential of a Penn State duo in the secondary for years to come in the Steel City.

Here’s a look at the full list of players granted special eligibility for the 2024 NFL Draft below:

Players granted special eligibility for 2024 NFL Draft

  • Ajou Ajou, WR, Garden City C.C.
  • Braelon Allen, RB, Wisconson
  • Joe Alt, OT, Notre Dame
  • Kiran Amegadjie, OT, Yale
  • Cole Bishop, DB, Utah
  • Austin Booker, DE, Kansas
  • Javon Bullard, DB, Georgia
  • Keon Coleman, WR, Florida State
  • Jonah Elliss, DE, Utah
  • Audric Estimé, RB, Notre Dame
  • Blake Fisher, OT, Notre Dame
  • Troy Franklin, WR, Oregon
  • Bucky Irving, RB, Oregon
  • Kalen King, CB, Penn State
  • Kamari Lassiter, DB, Georgia
  • Cam Little, PK, Arkansas
  • Drake Maye, QB, North Carolina
  • Amarius Mims, OT, Georgia
  • Malik Nabers, WR, LSU
  • Jackson Powers-Johnson, C, Oregon
  • Ennis Rakestraw, DB, Missouri
  • Chop Robinson, DE, Penn State
  • Jaden Shirden, RB, Monmouth (N.J.)
  • Carson Steele, RB, UCLA
  • Kingsley Suamataia, OT, BYU
  • Leonard Taylor, DT, Miami (FL)
  • Brian Thomas, WR, LSU
  • Sione Vaki, DB, Utah
  • Trevin Wallace, LB, Kentucky
  • Nate Wiggins, DB, Clemson
  • James Williams, DB, Miami (FL)
  • Mekhi Wingo, DT, LSU
  • Xavier Worthy, WR, Texas
  • Jalyen Wright, RB, Tennessee

Completed degree requirements early, will declare

  • Will Shipley, RB, Clemson