Talent Everywhere in 2023 NFL Draft

Talent Everywhere in 2023 NFL Draft

The summer months are the worst time in the NFL calendar.  Not only for the players and coaches nervously awaiting what’s to come in the new season but for people like myself who have no new content to put forward.

However, there is never a wrong time to look ahead to the next Draft Day.  Heading into the 2022 college football season, there are many more exciting prospects on the offense side of the ball to scout (namely at the quarterback position).  High-profile receivers and edge rushers appear to be dominating this class as well just like the previous two.  

Of course, the top prospects in July are not guaranteed to be the high-profile prospects come April 2023.  For every Trevor Lawrence or Kayvon Thibodeaux in a class, there will always be a Joe Burrow or Travon Walker that emerges from out of nowhere.  

Continue scrolling for my top 2023 draft prospects.

Quarterbacks

  1. Bryce Young | Alabama
  2. CJ Stroud | Ohio State
  3. Will Levis | Kentucky
  4. Jaren Hall | BYU
  5. Tyler Van Dyke | Miami
  6. Anthony Richardson | Florida
  7. Tanner McKee | Stanford
  8. Devin Leary | North Carolina State
  9. Sam Hartman | Wake Forest
  10. Grayson McCall | Coastal Carolina

It was a bad 2022 draft for quarterbacks.  Only Kenny Pickett went in the first round and he was selected all the way down at 20.  While Desmond Ridder, Malik Willis, and Matt Corral may all see playing time this year, the class was severely lacking in big-time prospects.

Heading into 2023, there could be as many as SEVEN quarterbacks taken with the first 32 picks. 

Young and Stroud are the clear 1 and 2 on many people’s boards and will continue to flip flop as the season progresses, but don’t discount Levis being the first quarterback taken come April.  He has prototypical size and displayed really good arm strength in his first season as a starter.  One more strong season could give him that extra push.

The most intriguing prospect heading into the 2022 season for me is Richardson.  In limited action last season at Florida he put up decent, if not pedestrian numbers.  Now heading into his first season as the clear-cut starter, he has a chance to put all of his physical talents for all NFL scouts to see.  He could find himself in the top three, or he could find himself off the list entirely.

One of my notable omissions from the group is South Carolina’s, Spencer Rattler.  I am not denying his physical talents, but I have been very outspoken about my doubts regarding his character.  He hasn’t gotten into any trouble off the field, but I question if he truly has the leadership ability to lead a locker room.  He now has the chance at his new school to prove doubters wrong.  

Running Backs

  1. Bijan Robinson | Texas
  2. Jamhyr Gibbs | Alabama
  3. Devon Achane | Texas A&M
  4. Zach Evans | Mississippi
  5. Sean Tucker | Syracuse
  6. Tank Bigsby | Auburn
  7. Ainlas Smith | Texas A&M
  8. Eric Gray | Oklahoma
  9. Zach Charbonnet | UCLA
  10. Mohammed Ibraim | Minnesota

Robinson would have most likely been the number one running back taken in last year’s draft if he were able to enter.  Heading into his junior season, he has the chance to be a legitimate first-round pick.  

We saw Najee Harris and Travis Etienne go in the back half of round one in 2021, and Clyde Edwards-Helaire went to the Chiefs with the last pick in 2020.  Robinson could seriously push himself into the top 15 with a strong season.

Aside from Robinson, Jamhyr Gibbs has a chance to push himself into the late first/early second conversation.  Gibbs, a transfer from Georgia Tech, needs to prove himself as a solid receiving threat in Alabama’s pass-happy offense in order to do so.  We all know that he can run the football well.  Now, it’s time for him to show that he is a real three-down back.

A sleeper to keep an eye on is Ibraim.  Ibraim has enjoyed a solid college career but has been hampered by injuries.  A healthy season from Ibraim can push him much higher on this list of talented backs.

Wide Receivers

  1. Jaxson Smith-Njigba | Ohio State
  2. Kayshon Boutte | LSU
  3. Jordan Addison | USC
  4. Josh Downs | North Carolina
  5. Jermaine Burton | Alabama
  6. Quentin Johnson | TCU
  7. Zay Flowers | Boston College
  8. Jayden Reed | Michigan State
  9. Marvin Mims | Oklahoma
  10. Keytoan Thompson | Virginia

Another draft class, another strong group of wide receivers.  We’ve seen NFL front offices put a premium on the position in recent years, but it was never more the case than in this year’s draft.  Five receivers were taken in the first round, and veterans AJ Brown and Marquise Brown were traded on draft night for first-round picks.  Teams are out looking for the next young studs, and this class is filled with them.

Smith-Njigba put himself in the top spot with a record-breaking Rose Bowl this January.  In a receiving room with future first-round picks in Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson, Smith-Njigba is arguably the most complete out of the three.  He is sure to have another strong year with Stroud back in the fold at quarterback.

Addison was last year’s Biletnikoff Award winner as Kenny Pickett’s number one target at Pittsburgh.  Now at USC, he has the chance to be Caleb William’s top option in a suddenly revamped Trojan roster under Lincoln Riley.

Kayshoun Boutte is my number two receiver on this board, but he could easily be one based on his physical traits.  We’ve seen Ja’Marr Chase and Justin Jefferson establish themselves as the two best young receivers in the game, and Boutte has the chance to join them both in a few years.  

Tight Ends

  1. Michael Mayer | Notre Dame
  2. Arik Gilbert | Georgia
  3. Jaheim Bell | South Carolina
  4. Josh Whyle | Cincinnati
  5. Darnell Washington | Georgia
  6. Sam LaPorta | Iowa
  7. Austin Stogner | South Carolina
  8. Cameron Latu | Alabama
  9. Theo Johnson | Penn State
  10. Jahleel Billengsley | Texas

While this class is talented, the entire tight end group is almost certain to be defined by the top two players on my board.

Mayer has been dubbed by numerous analysts as “Baby Gronk” due to his size and athleticism.  After watching his first game last season against Florida State, I was extremely impressed with his ability to get open and make plays after the catch.  If he is able to come close to matching his production level from a season ago, he will be a no-brainer top-15 pick.  He honestly could have been a first-round pick last season had he been eligible.

Gilbert, who at one point was the number one overall recruit in the class of 2020, has had an interesting college career.  He was an SEC freshman All-American at LSU, then decided to transfer to Georgia.  He ended up not playing at all during their national championship run due to “personal issues” watched Brock Bowers become a freshman phenom and saw fellow 2023 draft prospect Darnell Washington also emerge as a legitimate threat.  

After flirting with the idea of moving to receiver, head coach Kirby Smart announced he would be back at tight end in 2022.  His snap count for the upcoming season is questionable at best, but Georgia had three tight ends play over 300 snaps a season ago.  Plus, Gilbert has experience out wide and in the slot.  He should continue to be a matchup nightmare in the SEC and will almost surely continue to improve his stock.

Offensive Tackles

  1. Paris Johnson Jr. | Ohio State
  2. Peter Skoronski | Northwestern
  3. Zion Nelson | Miami
  4. Anton Harrison | Oklahoma
  5. Broderick Jones | Georgia
  6. Darnell Wright | Tennessee
  7. Jordan Morgan | Arizona
  8. Jack Nelson | Wisconsin
  9. Robert Scott | Florida State
  10. Patrick Paul | Houston

This offensive tackle class is full of players with unlimited potential.  Paris Johnson Jr, who sits atop the class at the moment, was a former top recruit who has played only guard for the Buckeyes since enrolling.  Now back at left tackle, he has the talent to potentially be the number one lineman taken in April.

Skoronski is a prototypical bruiser at tackle and is strong enough in pass protection against Big Ten pass rushers that he should be viewed as a relatively safe pick heading into this draft cycle.

Nelson has the versatility to play both tackle and guard at the next level.  I had him ranked as a top-five interior lineman heading into last year’s draft, but another year at tackle with Miami could change that narrative.  Regardless, his talent will make him an intriguing prospect heading into this college football season.  

Interior Offensive Linemen

  1. Emil Ekiyor Jr. | Alabama
  2. Cooper Bebe | Kansas State
  3. Sedrick Van Pan | Georgia
  4. Ricky Stromberg | Arkansas
  5. Layden Robinson | Texas A&M
  6. Andrew Vorhees | USC
  7. Christian Mahogany | Boston College
  8. John Michael Schmitz | Minnesota
  9. Caleb Chandler | Louisville
  10. Jarrett Patterson | Notre Dame

The forever unsung heroes on their respective teams, and interior linemen also typically fail to get legitimate pre-draft buzz during the season.  Their press and attention typically come as the draft gets closer and teams start to identify their needs.  This is also a position where smaller school prospects typically emerge as the season wears on (think Cole Strange).

Ekiyor Jr. is another talented member of Alabama’s front five that will certainly be in the first-round conversation by the time the season ends.  Alabama has a habit of churning out solid and productive lineman, and Ekiyor Jr. will look to continue that trend.

Aside from Ekiyor Jr, Bebe and Van Pan are firm two and three on my board.  Both are massive men with quick feet and they both don’t seem to have many shortcomings.  They’ll be safe picks come April.

Interior Defensive Lineman

  1. Jalen Carter | Georgia
  2. Bryan Bresee | Clemson
  3. Jaquelin Roy | LSU
  4. Gervon Dexter | Florida
  5. Isaiah Foskey | Notre Dame
  6. Siaka Ika | Baylor
  7. Thomas Gore | Georgia State
  8. Jaxon Player | Baylor
  9. Calijah Kancey | Pittsburgh
  10. Jonah Tavai | San Diego State

Jalen Carter and Bryan Bresee are much like Mayer and Gilbert in the tight-end conversation.  Both are supremely talented, both at the top of their class heading into September.  Carter has been the most productive of the two, having dominated the interior of the defensive line along with Jordan Davis for the national champion Bulldogs.  His size and athleticism are probably the second-best for his position.

Bresee, a former number one recruit, is perhaps the most talented defensive player in college football.  After dominating high school, he made an instant impact for the Tigers as a freshman.  His sophomore season was cut short due to injuries, but Bresee and the entire Clemson team will look to rebound in 2022.

Edge Rushers

  1. Will Anderson Jr. | Alabama
  2. Myles Murphy | Clemson
  3. Derrick Hall | Auburn
  4. BJ Ojulari | LSU
  5. Nolan Smith | Georgia
  6. Andre Carter | Army
  7. Felix Anudike-Uzomah | Kansas State
  8. Adisa Isaac | Penn State
  9. Isaiah Foskey | Notre Dame
  10. Habakkuk Baldonado | Pittsburgh

Anderson is my number one, clear-cut best player heading into the 2022 season.  He arguably should have won the Heisman a season ago after putting up over 17 sacks for another dominant Alabama defense.  His flexibility and speed off the edge are unmatched by anybody else in this class.  He will certainly be a top 5 pick in April.

After Anderson, there is plenty of talent still left.  Murphy is bigger than Anderson but still possesses solid speed off the edge or in a 5-tech.  Ojulari is a speed demon and should be primed for bigger numbers in 2022.  Lastly, Andre Carter has the chance to be the first military school player drafted in the first round in quite some time.  If he can match his 2021 production, he will do just that.

Off-Ball Linebackers

  1. Noah Sewell | Oregon
  2. Trenton Simpson | Clemson
  3. Henry To’o To’o | Alabama
  4. Zion Tupuola-Fetui | Washington
  5. Jestin Jacobs | Iowa
  6. Justin Flowe | Oregon
  7. Demarvion Overshown | Texas
  8. Owen Pappoe | Auburn
  9. Jack Campbell | Iowa
  10. Tatum Bethune | Florida State

Sewell, the brother of Lions tackle Penei Sewell, is what you are looking for in a three-down linebacker.  He has the speed to cover sideline to sideline and match feet with running backs and tight ends down the field.  In the trenches, he can really thump ball carriers with an emphasis that no others can.  New coach Mario Cristobal will be happy to have him at his disposal for the season.

To’o To’o would have been perhaps a Day 2 pick in the 2022 draft had he declared.  The former Tennessee transfer decided to stick around for one more season in Tuscaloosa and has the chance to push his stock much higher.  

Cornerbacks

  1. Eli Ricks | Alabama
  2. Keelee Ringo | Georgia
  3. Clark Phillips III | Utah
  4. Joey Porter Jr. | Penn State
  5. Tony Grimes | North Carolina
  6. Cam Smith | South Carolina
  7. Kris Abrams-Draine | Missouri
  8. Cam Hart | Notre Dame
  9. Garrett Williams | Syracuse
  10. Nehmiah Pritchett | Auburn

Ricks and Ringo are the clear one and two prospects at the corner position heading into the season.  Ricks is an LSU transfer after Oregeron was fired and will still be the top cover man at his new school.

Ringo had the game-clinching interception a season ago in the National Championship and will look to capitalize on that momentum heading into a full season of starting along the boundary.

One name to keep an eye on is Joey Porter Jr.  His dad, Joey, you may remember, was a trash-talking linebacker for the 2000s Steelers.  Joey Jr. is clearly not as big of an athlete, but he possesses impressive cover skills and has a chance to improve his stock greatly if he can do well against other Big Ten competition.  

Safeties

  1. Antonio Johnson | Texas A&M
  2. Brandon Smith | Notre Dame
  3. Jordan Battle | Alabama
  4. Justin Skinner | Boise State
  5. Brian Branch | Alabama
  6. Jalen Catalon | Arkansas
  7. RJ Moten | Michigan
  8. Tykee Smith | Georgia
  9. Quindell Johnson | Memphis
  10. Demani Richardson | Texas A&M

The safety position is another spot where players begin to emerge later in the draft process quite frequently.  For every Kyle Hamilton, you get in a class, you get players like Jeremy Chinn or Kyle Duggar.  Former D2 stars and low-level FBS and FCS players can improve their stock greatly later in the year.

At this point, Texas A&M is home to two quality safeties in Johnson and Richardson, and Notre Dame has another good safety returning in Brandon Smith after Hamilton went in the first round this year.

This is the position where I see the most flexibility along the board, and I’m sure new players will emerge after week one.