The 2023 NFL Draft is nearly three months away but some prospects have already seen their stock rise. Here is a look at seven players gaining steam over the past month:
Clemson tight end Davis Allen
It is possible to identify talent at tight end without the production to match. Oregon State's Luke Musgrave was personally ranked as one of the top 10 draft prospects in the Pac-12 in August despite recording just 36 receptions in three years of playing time. He has now found his way into first-round projections. Allen has carried what equates to roughly a top 100 grade for a few years but kept going back to play for head coach Dabo Swinney. He nearly matched his production from his first three years with the Tigers (49 receptions for 508 yards and seven touchdowns) in 2022 (39 receptions for 443 yards and five touchdowns.
Allen is not a flashy player, but he is consistent. He has soft hands and takes pride in his blocking.
Maryland cornerback Deonte Banks
Banks is a long man coverage cornerback with the speed necessary to carry routes vertically. He is a smooth player capable of carrying routes across the field. However, he has limited ball production during his career with the Terrapins stemming from his tendency to not get his eyes back to the ball. While missed tackles are an issue for many cornerbacks in this class, the same is not true of Banks, who had one missed tackle all of 2022, according to TruMedia. As teams look for man coverage cornerbacks, Banks' positioning among the top group makes sense considering his size and athletic ability.
Bowling Green defensive lineman Karl Brooks
Brooks arrived in Bowling Green as a 6-foot-4, 235 pound defensive lineman. Over the course of his career, he gained 70 pounds. Despite his changed frame, the Falcons played him on the edge quite a bit. The Michigan native recorded 26.5 sacks over the course of his career, including 10 this past season. For a player of his size, he does a good job of breaking his feet down in space and changing directions. Brooks shows good first step quickness and a motor that resulted in a sack during Saturday's Reese's Senior Bowl.
Georgia Tech edge rusher Keion White
White is an intriguing prospect because he runs well at 6-foot-4, nearly 290 pounds. A one-time tight end at Old Dominion, White has long arms and some pop in his hands, but was getting washed out of his run gaps in early season film study. The senior is explosive off the snap and has the pass rushing potential necessary to go in the early rounds if his run defense improved as other media reports suggest. He had just 11.5 sacks during his Georgia Tech career with 7.5 coming this season.
South Carolina cornerback Darius Rush
Rush was one of the standout performers at the Reese's Senior Bowl. He has a long frame and solid production over the past two years. When watching him last one season, one cause for concern was his tackling. According to TruMedia, he missed the tackle on 21.2% of opportunities in 2021; that figure dropped to 14.6% in 2022. Rush has good speed to carry routes up the boundary and is competitive at the catch point.
Oklahoma offensive tackle Wanya Morris, Wisconsin defensive tackle Keeanu Benton and Stanford wide receiver Michael Wilson were others that improved their stocks in Mobile.
USC defensive lineman Tuli Tuipulotu
USC's usage of its defensive front has been confusing. Drake Jackson was a productive edge rusher that was dropped into coverage far too often. Tuipulotu has great speed and quickness relative to his 6-foot-4, 290 pound frame. However, he was commonly lined up on the edge and asked to rush the passer. His responsibilities in the NFL will be different and that should benefit him long-term, but it may require a longer adjustment period compared to a prospect that fulfilled a traditional 3-tech role throughout his collegiate career.
Iowa edge rusher Lukas Van Ness
The talent of some players is evident the moment one hits the play button. There are others that are more of a slow burn; meaning that it is easier to like them the more they are watched. Van Ness seems to fall into that category of a slow burner. I am not personally as high on him as others but it is impossible to ignore the buzz that he has generated early in the pre-draft process. Van Ness has the distinction of never starting for the Hawkeyes. Over the past two seasons, he has recorded 13.5 sacks.