The 2023 NFL Draft is a little more than a month away and prospect rankings are beginning to crystallize. Here is where I stand on the class at this time:
|1. Will Anderson Jr., EDGE, Alabama|
|2. Jalen Carter, DL, Georgia|
|3. Bryce Young, QB, Alabama|
|4. Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas|
|5. C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State|
|6. Peter Skoronski, OT, Northwestern|
|7. Will Levis, QB, Kentucky|
|8. Jahmyr Gibbs, RB, Alabama|
|9. Cam Smith, CB, South Carolina|
|10. Myles Murphy, EDGE, Clemson|
Anderson has the highest floor in the class and does not carry off-field concerns. Carter is a fantastic athlete at a difficult position to fill. Young is the top quarterback prospect in my eyes. Each of these signal-callers are flawed, but the Alabama prospect is best at playing the position. He lacks ideal size, but is a Grade A leader and is capable of making throws off platform. From a positional value standpoint, Robinson is unlikely to be taken inside of the top five. However, his skill set warrants that level of consideration. Stroud has improved his stock as much as anyone during the new year. From his College Football Playoff showing against Georgia to his stellar on-field performance at the NFL Combine, Stroud has answered a lot of the questions in his game.
Skoronski lacks ideal arm length for an offensive tackle, but he can play that position in the NFL. His ceiling may reach the highest as an interior player, though. Levis has great size and plus mobility. He is capable of making more high-level throws than any other in this class right now. The vision for Gibbs is a bit more scheme-specific. If a team selects him with the idea of turning him into a 20-carries-a-game feature back without utilizing him in the pass game, it is not going to work out. A team that deploys him in the right manner would be getting an All-Pro-level skill set. Smith is probably the biggest surprise among this group. He was being mocked in the first round before the season and I thought he looked much improved in 2022. A year ago, Sauce Gardner was my top-rated prospect overall. Murphy rounds out the top 10. His 2022 performance was not as good as 2021, but the size and athletic profile suggest he has a high ceiling.
|11. Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois|
|12. Brian Branch, S, Alabama|
|13. Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon|
|14. Paris Johnson Jr., OL, Ohio State|
|15. Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech|
|16. Bryan Bresee, DL, Clemson|
|17. Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State|
|18. Trenton Simpson, LB, Clemson|
|19. Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU|
|20. Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida|
Witherspoon is just fun to watch. He is not as explosive as Gonzalez, but he is a well-coached defensive back who plays the game with a fiery passion. Branch is not likely to be taken this highly because of his athletic testing but he is as instinctual as they come. Johnson is not a flawless prospect but his floor is higher than Broderick Jones, who is the other offensive tackle prospect often mentioned in this range. Wilson is a prospect that fans will see much higher in mock drafts. He has the length and athletic skill set to be a really effective NFL player but he is still a bit unrefined at this stage of his career.
Bresee has the size and athletic profile of a prospect that warrants top-10 consideration. His performance this season did not live up to the hype, but it is easy to understand why he did not reach his potential when hearing his story. My concerns with Porter are similar to that of Jaycee Horn when he entered the draft; both are incredibly handsy downfield. After talking it out with Ryan Wilson and Rick Spielman on the "With the First Pick" podcast, I moved Porter up the board a bit. Simpson is an athletic linebacker who can fulfill multiple roles. Johnston has fantastic size and speed, but I like his ability to elude defenders post-catch. He is too inconsistent for my liking right now, but a prospect capable of playing at an All-Pro level. Richardson has as much upside as any prospect in the class. His workout at the NFL Combine was uncommon, but there is a lot of work to do with his ability to read defenses and work through his progressions. Fortunately, he is a young prospect with time to improve and have a long career.
|21. Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State|
|22. Broderick Jones, OL, Georgia|
|23. Jordan Addison, WR, USC|
|24. Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame|
|25. Nolan Smith, EDGE, Georgia|
|26. Lukas Van Ness, EDGE, Iowa|
|27. Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah|
|28. O'Cyrus Torrence, OL, Florida|
|29. Josh Downs, WR, North Carolina|
|30. Matthew Bergeron, OL, Syracuse|
Smith-Njigba is a polished route runner with great quickness in confined spaces. Jones is the most impressive looking offensive tackle prospect. Many have said Addison had a worse season in 2022, but I disagree. His drop rate was much lower with the Trojans and he showed an ability to make plays post-catch. Mayer is my top-rated tight end despite lacking athletic explosiveness. He does everything well and has the highest floor at the position. Smith is a bit more scheme-specific but a player who can make big-time plays in the right environment. Van Ness was an edge rusher built through power with the Hawkeyes. At the NFL Combine, he tested like a player with significant athletic upside to match that power. Kincaid is a really smooth athlete in the way that he runs routes and catches passes. Torrence is a powerful blocker. Downs is an undersized receiver who does a really nice job of creating opportunities for himself through precision route running. He also does a fantastic job of eluding defenders post-catch. Bergeron is being projected to the interior, but similar to Skoronski, I think he can play tackle in a pinch.
|31. Marvin Mims, WR, Oklahoma|
|32. Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia|
|33. Drew Sanders, LB, Arkansas|
|34. Felix Anudike-Uzomah, EDGE, Kansas State|
|35. Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College|
|36. Antonio Johnson, S, Texas A&M|
|37. Blake Freeland, OL, BYU|
|38. BJ Ojulari, EDGE, LSU|
|39. Emmanuel Forbes, CB, Mississippi State|
|40. Cody Mauch, OL, North Dakota State|
Mims' placement on this list pre-dates his excellent performance at the NFL Combine. He will be stereotyped as a slot receiver because of his size, but that Oklahoma offense has used those players on the boundary a lot, too. Ringo has the athletic profile of an impact player in the NFL, but he has a high cut frame and can be leveraged at the stem, which is not ideal for a cornerback. Sanders did not perform to the level expected at the NFL Combine, but film shows a versatile prospect. Anudike-Uzomah is a high motor edge rusher. Flowers has the quickness and route-running abilities to create opportunities for himself. Johnson has fallen down the board a bit since the preseason. He looked a bit more stiff this season, but still has a diverse skill set. Freeland is a tall offensive tackle who tested really well at the NFL Combine. Ojulari is the younger brother of Giants edge rusher Azeez Ojulari, who was picked No. 50 overall. Forbes is a thin-framed cornerback with 14 interceptions, including six returned for touchdowns, in his career. Mauch has played left tackle for the Bison, but began his transition to the interior offensive line at the Reese's Senior Bowl.
|41. Keeanu Benton, DL, Wisconsin|
|42. Siaki Ika, DL, Baylor|
|43. Tuli Tuipulotu, DL, USC|
|44. Tyler Scott, WR, Cincinnati|
|45. Anton Harrison, OT, Oklahoma|
|46. Darnell Washington, TE, Georgia|
|47. Keion White, DL, Georgia Tech|
|48. Steve Avila, IOL, TCU|
|49. Mazi Smith, DL, Michigan|
|50. Luke Musgrave, TE, Oregon State|
Benton and Ika are a couple of run stuffers to begin the final group. Tuipulotu weighed much lighter than his spring measurement so it is unclear what his role will be at the next level, but he moves well for a bigger player. Scott is a good route runner with the ability to create yardage after the catch. Harrison is a younger prospect who is further along in his development than he is often given credit. Washington is a massive pass-catching outlet who, at the very least, will serve as an extra in-line blocker as he develops pass-catching qualities. White tests like a top-tier athlete, but film shows that he is still developing his pass rush plan and an arsenal of moves, which is to be expected of a former tight end. Avila is a smart, power interior blocker. Smith is a bigger interior defender with athletic upside. Musgrave would likely be taken higher had it not been for an injury that cost him most of the season. He was lightly used in the pass game last season, but has shown an ability to impact the game in that manner.
The 2023 NFL Draft will take place from April 27-29 in Kansas City, Missouri.