Ahead of the 2023 NFL Draft, here’s a look at the Top 50 prospects and the order in which they rank, according to draft analyst Kinnu Singh.
“The 2023 NFL Draft is now open.”
Every year at the NFL Draft, front-office personnel endeavor to fill their teams’ rosters with talented, competitive players who can change the fortunes of their respective franchises for years to come.
In aptly-named “war rooms”, general managers frantically race against the clock as they field trade calls and host last-minute debates on which direction they’ll choose. They have 10 minutes to decide which player they are going to hedge their future on. Big boards full of player names line the walls as a team’s inner circle monitors who will comprise the next generation of their franchise.
It would seem as if teams arrive in Kansas City over-prepared. Team scouts have spent months traveling the nation, surveying every twitch, block, sprint, pass or counter a prospective player does — and doesn’t — make. They have compiled thick binders crammed with notes, analyzing prospects from every nook and cranny of the country. Somehow, it still isn’t enough.
The ultimate predictor of a player’s future in the league doesn’t show up on tape, at least not fully. There are players who are considered undersized who outperform bigger, taller competitors. There are players who have suffered injuries only to bounce back stronger. There are also players with scant college tape because they waited for their opportunity, and when it came, they shone brightly enough to generate draft buzz. What separates these players is sheer will, one of the intangibles that scouts strive to assess. Work ethic, football IQ, ironing out the fundamentals: these are the hallmarks of a truly great NFL player.
Of course, that’s what makes the NFL Draft a multi-million dollar gamble. Although intangibles are the most accurate predictor of success, they usually don’t show up on tape. What matters isn’t how fast a player can run or high they can jump. What will determine a prospect’s success are their unseen qualities. The best anyone on the outside looking in can do is analyze the tape and hope the intangibles are there.
The overall score (OVR) for each 2023 NFL Draft prospect is produced by considering all of the complex factors listed above. A player’s collegiate production is considered, as is their athleticism, both displayed while at school and during athletic showcases like the NFL Combine. Those combine scores allow players to be compared against others at their position, offering tangible physical distinctions between prospects.
The OVR also includes an attempted assessment of intangibles, which can be displayed by attributes such as leadership and football IQ. A player’s ability to recognize schemes, routes and coverages, and their ability to counter the opposing side with anticipation, indicates a mental acuity that is a significant predictor of NFL success.
Additionally, key positional traits are also included in the OVR, such as accuracy for a quarterback or route-running ability for a wide receiver. General grades in each of these areas average out to a composite score, which attempts to position the top prospects in order of expected NFL excellence.
With that, here are the top 50 prospects from this year’s class.
2023 NFL Draft Big Board: Ranking the Top 50 prospects:
1. Will Anderson Jr. — 93.4 OVR
Edge | Alabama
Positional Ranking: 1
Will Anderson Jr. is the strongest NFL-ready candidate entering the 2023 draft, a summary that isn’t as subjective as it may sound. Opinions have converged on Anderson during his three years at Alabama, as the defensive end consistently earned the highest honors in college football. The former top-100 high school recruit hailing from Georgia was named to the SEC All-Freshman Team as a 2020 National Champion, starting all 13 games in an undefeated season for the Crimson Tide.
Anderson leveled up his sophomore season, earning the nickname “The Terminator” on his path to securing the Bronko Nagurski Trophy as the No. 1 defender in the nation. Additionally, Anderson earned earning All-American, SEC Defensive Player of the Year and first-team All-SEC honors, as well as finishing fifth in Heisman Trophy voting — a rare accomplishment for even the best defensive talents. In 2022, Anderson won top honors again, receiving the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, earning All-American and winning SEC Defensive Player of the Year. Anderson also won the Chuck Bednarik Award and Lombardi Award in his junior year, affirming that Anderson was considered to be the best defensive player and the best lineman in college football, per each respective award.
Anderson boasts an ideal frame for a defensive end, with 34-inch arms that easily grapple with opponents for beating blocks. But Anderson has grown beyond his build, honing his pass rush moves to shave outside and break inside. Anderson fights, and wins, to break into the pocket, but at the NFL level, he’ll need to prove he can better utilize his hands while rushing the passer. Yet for the premier award-winning defensive champion in the land, Anderson wields virtually everything at his disposal to rack up sacks again and again. The fact that Anderson’s NFL comparison is DeMarcus Ware bodes well for someone who has the hallmarks of a Hall of Fame candidate himself.
2. Bryce Young — 93.2 OVR
QB | Alabama
Positional Ranking: 1
The dynastic Alabama football program brought in Bryce Young because Mater Dei’s Gatorade Player of the Year already had the makings of an elite NFL talent. In high school, Young racked up 4,528 yards and 58 touchdowns passing. Young behind his college career lined up behind Mac Jones, contributing a bit on-field to the 2020 National Championship team with one touchdown and 156 yards. As soon as Young took on the starting role in 2021, he virtually became the No. 1 player in college football. Young broke Alabama’s school record 4,872 passing yards and 47 touchdowns, ranking second in FBS with those same numbers. Young was third in the nation in passing efficiency and passing attempts, and he tied for third in pass completions.
The 13-2 Crimson Tide was felled by the dominant Georgia Bulldogs in the National Championship that year, but Bryce Young won out in nearly every individual awards category. Young won the Heisman Trophy, the Maxwell Award, the Davey O’Brien Award and the Manning Award, as well as being named Associated Press first-team All-American and SEC Offensive Player of the Year. In the SEC Championship Game, Young won Most Valuable Player after an unparalleled performance: 421 yards and three touchdowns passing and rushing for 40 yards and another touchdown. After one season as a starter, Young was already in the NFL Draft conversation, and he only added to it in 2022.
The subsequent season was much quieter for Young, but he still managed to rank ninth in the nation in pass efficiency while tying tenth in passing touchdowns. Young threw for 3,328 yards and 32 touchdowns, after which he was named the Sugar Bowl MVP in a victory over Kansas State.
Accolades aside, Young is the most NFL-ready quarterback in the draft because he operates at a professional level. Under the tutelage of Bill O’Brien, Young is able to read the field fully — a skill that many NFL quarterbacks don’t properly develop for several years — and avoids unnecessary turnovers. His ability to assess route developments and calculate the most risk-averse decision is what makes a legendary quarterback, at Alabama and in the NFL. The intangibles and poise that his draft counterparts lack upon entering the draft are what elevate Young to becoming the projected No. 1 overall pick.
The drawbacks of Young, at least in the eyes of some NFL analysts, are his 5’10” stature and his deep ball throws. Neither of those issues hindered future Hall of Famer Drew Brees, whom NFL.com analyst Lance Zierlien considers to be his closest NFL comparison.
3. Bijan Robinson — 93.1 OVR
RB | Texas
Positional Ranking: 1
It wouldn’t be surprising to see Bijan Robinson campaign for, and win, NFL Offensive Rookie of The Year. At Texas, Robinson established himself as the best running back in the college landscape and one of the best in school history. Robinson was named the top high school football player in Arizona before Texas recruited him, where he broke the school rushing record with 703 yards as a true freshman. As a sophomore, Robinson earned first-team All-Big 12 honors after rushing for 1,127 yards and 11 touchdowns. Robinson rounded out his illustrious collegiate career in 2022 by receiving the Doak Walker Award, which is given to the nation’s top running back.
Robinson is a rare running back in that he can do it all, even in today’s NFL. He wields the force to crash through defensive lines, the agility to dodge linebackers and find opportunities in space, and the speed to jet and cut for increased yards. What’s better, Robinson adds pass-catching prowess to his already-decorated resume, making him a genuine plug-and-play running back who can enhance any NFL offense.
Robinson faces minute areas of improvement such as pass-blocking skills and timing against NFL defenses, all of which can improve through the course of this year. Of any gamble in the NFL Draft, Robinson is the most certain star, yet he’s not guaranteed as a top 10 selection. Saquon Barkley was drafted at No. 2 overall, yet one NFC personnel executive asserts that Robinson is “a much tougher runner” than Barkley was upon entering the league.
4. Peter Skoronski — 92.9 OVR
OG | Northwestern
Positional Ranking: 1
Peter Skoronski shares at least two things in common with veteran NFL center Ted Karras III: both hail from Illinois, and both offensive lineman share NFL pasts with their grandfathers. Ted was a key part of two Super Bowl-winning in New England, while Peter’s grandfather, Bob, was the offensive captain on Vince Lombardi’s five championship teams in Green Bay. If Peter is anything like his grandfather, his great uncles or his father, he’s already primed to perform in the league. His college tape seems to indicate that this is the case.
At Illinois’ Maine South High School, Skoronski earned four-star and top-five prospect grades before committing to nearby Northwestern. Left tackle Rashawn Slater opted out of the 2020 season, leaving an opening for the eager Skoronski to step into the role. As a freshman and sophomore, Skoronski earned second-team All-Big Ten Conference honors and started in every game each season. In 2022, Skoronski started in every game once again, but this time, he achieved higher collegiate honors for his level of play. Skoronski was named league’s top offensive lineman and a first-team all-conference selection in a standout junior season.
Skoronski’s potential was summed up adeptly by an unnamed NFC executive: “He’s a Pro Bowler at guard but just an average tackle if a team keeps him there.” Additional drawbacks include Skoronski’s arm length, which falls short against an edge rusher like Tyree Wilson, and predictable hand movements, which is typical of NFL rookies. Yet Skoronski’s storied gridiron legacy shows in his play, with his hand attacks, footwork, hip movement and timing all executed like a genuine professional. If permitted to play to his strengths, Skoronski has the makings of a leading guard in the league.
5. C.J. Stroud — 92.8 OVR
QB | Ohio State
Positional Ranking: 2
Since his junior year of high school, C.J. Stroud has been touted as one of the most gifted quarterbacks in the nation. Stroud was a top-50 five-star recruit at California’s Rancho Cucamonga High School before his senior year, when he achieved 3,878 yards and 47 touchdowns. That grabbed the attention of Ohio State, who brought in Stroud as the eventual successor to Justin Fields. Stroud didn’t record a pass while redshirting in 2020, but he did contribute a 48-yard rushing touchdown for the Buckeyes that season.
As a freshman, Stroud splashed onto the college football scene and came away with some of the nation’s highest honors and leading statistics. Stroud broke an Ohio State record for pass efficiency at 186.6, which was the second-highest number in FBS in 2021. Stroud’s scoring versus takeaway ratio was strong with only six interceptions to 44 touchdowns, the third-most touchdowns in the nation that year. Stroud also came in third in completion percentage, completing 317 of 441 passes for a 71.9 percentage, and he led the nation in total offensive yards per game with 561.5.
Understandably, Stroud was celebrated for his accomplishments, winning Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, Quarterback of the Year and Freshman of the Year, as well as becoming a finalist for the Heisman Trophy. Stroud followed up his freshman year with a statistically similar season, yet it wasn’t rewarded in quite the same way. Stroud broke his own record and led the FBS in pass efficiency at 177.7, completing 258 of 389 passes for 3,688 yards and a 66.3 completion percentage. Stroud also ranked second in FBS with 41 touchdowns, throwing six interceptions once again. Despite a better season by various metrics, Stroud remained a finalist for the Heisman Trophy and the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year in 2022.
Ohio State benefitted from Stroud as much as Stroud benefitted from the Buckeyes, as Ohio’s program played to Stroud’s abilities and offered ample opportunity to showcase his strengths. To that end, Stroud has many: he operates with pinpoint accuracy, leads receivers responsibly and knows how to make throws big and small land. Yet Stroud could stand from further development in the league, namely by learning how to extend plays as the window to throw narrows. Stroud is still green, relying on primary receivers and struggling to respond when a play develops unexpectedly. He laid it all on the field against Georgia in the National Championship, showing scouts what he can offer a team after he earns them a playoff berth. By working out a few typical rookie tendencies, Stroud could become one of the most valuable additions to come out of this draft.
6. Jalen Carter — 92.8 OVR
DT | Georgia
Positional Ranking: 1
Over the past two years, Georgia has managed to subdue Alabama and win back-to-back titles as the reigning National Champions. The takeaway from these consecutive championships has been Georgia’s impenetrable defense, and the rising star on that defense has been defensive tackle Jalen Carter.
Hailing from Apopka, Florida, Carter excelled as a three-sport athlete in football, basketball and weightlifting. Carter placed second in the state heavyweight weightlifting competition with a 395-pound bench press, and as a high schooler, that power translated onto the football field. Carter’s size and strength propelled him to become one of the top recruits in the nation, and Georgia took notice of Carter’s potential with the Bulldogs.
Carter’s collegiate career began in earnest as a true freshman, when Carter recorded 14 tackles and three tackles for a loss with one blocked kick. In 2021, Carter played all the way to a National Championship title alongside two first-round picks in the 2022 NFL Draft: Jordan Davis and Devonte Wyatt. Through two starts in 15 games, Carter improved exponentially in his sophomore season, recording 37 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, three sacks and two blocked kicks, all of which earned him second-team All-SEC selection.
Carter’s star rose further in his junior season as his unit allowed the fewest rushing yards per game at 77.1, a representation of how the Bulldog’s “game wrecker” shut down opposing run games as they paved the way to another National Championship title. An integral player who saw nine starts in 13 games, Carter logged 32 tackles, seven tackles for loss and three sacks — not to mention three pass breakups and two forced fumbles. Carter missed a handful of games due to injury, but his unrivaled performance earned him first-team Associated Press All-American and all-conference honors. Though conference rivals feared Jordan Davis, “everybody circles 88 as the game wrecker,” one SEC offensive line coach told The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman.
Initially, Carter was widely projected to fly off the board among the first few picks in the NFL Draft, but his arrest on charges of reckless driving and racing has caused his stock to waver. Teams evaluate players wholly, and questions of maturity and responsibility can prompt teams to shy away from someone who may seem like a future liability.
Talent-wise, Carter is ready to join the NFL’s best and make a future Pro Bowl roster. Carter has mastered his technique, bounding off the line in synchronized step and weaving past opponents with an arsenal of evasive maneuvers. Carter uses his core strength and his hands to topple offensive lines and threaten quarterbacks. On the rare occasion that Carter has met his match, such as Florida’s O’Cyrus Torrence, his moves have been much less effective, meaning Carter will have to find new ways to maximize his ability upon entering the league.
Despite recent developments negatively affecting his draft stock, such as his recent arrest and underwhelming Pro Day, Carter has been invited to attend the NFL Draft in Kansas City. This is usually an opportunity reserved for expected first-round picks, and while Carter’s star has fallen on draft boards, he’s still considered to be a first-round selection. Veteran NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper continues to believe that Carter will be drafted No. 1 overall by the Carolina Panthers.
Maturity can influence a player’s NFL development as far as preparedness and routine, but Carter’s college performance remains enough to encourage teams to welcome him and work with him in the years to come.
7. Tyree Wilson — 92.6 OVR
EDGE | Texas Tech
Positional Ranking: 2
Growing up in Henderson, Texas, Tyree Wilson has embraced Lone Star football culture throughout his high school and college career. Wilson second-team All-Texas distinction at Wesk Rusk High School in nearby New London. From there, Wilson was recruited to play for the Aggies at Texas A&M, redshirting his freshman year. Allowing the now-6’6″ outside linebacker to develop proved fruitful in 2019, when Wilson flourished in 12 games with 12 tackles, three tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks.
A transfer to Texas Tech in 2020 saw Wilson make more of an impact as a starter, with the sophomore linebacker starting five of nine games and recording 11 tackles and 1.5 sacks. In 2021, Wilson grew as a game-changing force for the Red Raiders with 38 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks through 13 starts. Wilson not only led his team on tackles for loss and sacks, but his junior performance was enough to warrant honorable mention All-Big 12 honors. That season, Wilson also made the Associated Press All-Bowl Team after a Liberty Bowl win over Mississippi State. Again, Wilson led his team in tackles for loss and sacks in 2022, with 14 tackles for loss and seven sacks through 61 tackles. A force on the Texas football scene and beyond, Wilson garnered second-team Associated Press All-American and first-team all-conference selection, even though he was limited to ten games due to a foot injury.
Wilson is projected to be among the top ten picks in this year’s draft as a dreadful matchup against NFL offenses. As noted, Wilson stands well over six feet tall and could even grow more, putting him closer towards seven feet tall. That, combined with his 84.5″ wingspan, allows him to reach and tackle in a way few other NFL players can. Wilson’s build means he matches up well against tight ends, and he also maintains the agility to chase and bring down runners.
To some extent, Wilson relies on his reach, and he’ll need to boost his aggressiveness in his hand movements and when attacking blocks. All of Wilson’s areas of improvement are well within reach, meaning that an NFL team could trust him with early starts and expect explosive returns.
8. Devon Witherspoon — 92.5 OVR
CB | Illinois
Positional Ranking: 1
In 2022, the Cleveland Browns drafted Mississippi State cornerback Martin Emerson in the third round. Hailing from Pensacola, Florida, Emerson attended Pine Forest High School, a championship-winning football program that has produced a number of NFL stars, including another young lauded cornerback: Devon Witherspoon. Emerson and Witherspoon were teammates when the latter won the 2018 Pensacola Defensive Player of the Year award for intercepting seven passes in his senior season.
Their paths diverged from the Florida Panhandle, with Witherspoon accepting an offer up north in Illinois. As a true freshman, Witherspoon started in three of the 13 games he played in, contributing with 33 total tackles and two passes defended. Notably, Witherspoon led the special teams unit in tackles with 13, a fact that bodes well for NFL versatility.
Witherspoon saw more starts in 2020 — seven compared to three — yet he recorded the exact same number of tackles with 33. However, Witherspoon became a major contributor with momentum-changing turnovers, recording two interceptions and three fumbles recoveries that season. Witherspoon increased his starts in 2021 with ten that season, bumping his tackle count up to 52 total tackles and eight for a loss while leading the Illini defense with eight passes defended. In his senior season, Witherspoon was catapulted into the national spotlight with even more impressive play: 41 tackles, three interceptions and 17 passes defended through 12 starts. An electrifying playmaker on the top scoring defense in FBS, Witherspoon earned first-team Associated Press All-American honors and the title Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year, as well as becoming a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award. According to PFF, Witherspoon only allowed a 34.9 percent completion rating in 2022.
As exemplified by his breakups, Witherspoon plays with anticipation and a keen sense of route development, creating a true ballhawk who can lurk on routes and intercept intended passes. Witherspoon also knows how to follow the ball on completions, closing the gap on completed passes and preventing further yards after the catch — but his speed leaves something to be desired. With his current state of development, Witherspoon is more suited to a zone scheme that allows for help up top, permitting him to focus on routes within his assigned area. That being said, Witherspoon can make an immediate impact on the right NFL roster, with splashy breakups rivaling Trevon Diggs.
9. Lukas Van Ness — 92.5 OVR
EDGE | Iowa
Positional Ranking: 3
Lukas Van Ness is known as “Hercules” in the Iowa Hawkeyes locker room, and that’s what the 21-year-old redshirt sophomore delivers: a powerful punch as an edge rusher. Van Ness’ prowess was recognized in high school when he earned first-team all-state at Barrington High School in Illinois. Van Ness garnered the attention of Illinois, signing there in 2020 and redshirting his first season. In 2021, Van Ness made an immediate impact, recording 33 tackles, 8.5 for loss and a team-high seven sacks, all of which earned him Freshman All-American. The following season, Van Ness logged 38 tackles with 11 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks, earning second-team All-Big Ten honors. Notably, Van Ness also excelled on special teams, blocking two kicks that tied him for sixth in the nation.
Despite his explosive play, Van Ness didn’t start any games in 2021 or 2022, as he still has pass rush and run blocking skills that will need development at the NFL level. The 6-foot-5 defensive end is slated to grow even more, but in his current form, he uses his mass to stuff the run and barrel through offensive lines to reach the quarterback. What Van Ness has working in his favor is his size and sheer force, yet he’s also relied on his powerful bull rush technique rather than improving his hand movements and block shedding. He has limited experience as an interior rusher, but it’s something his future NFL team could expand upon after the draft.
Van Ness still has room for growth, both physically and skill-wise. That being said, he would immediately inject a dynamic element into whatever defensive line he joins at the next level, with space to develop into a starter soon enough.
10. Nolan Smith — 92.3 OVR
EDGE | Georgia
Positional Ranking: 4
Among all the skilled draftees entering the NFL this April, Nolan Smith is the one who was ranked 2019’s top overall prospect by 247Sports Composite. At the time, Smith boasted a recruiting grade of .9994 as the 48th-best prospect in 247Sports Composite history. 247Sports Director of Scouting Barton Simmons complimented his edge speed, comparing Smith to Khalil Mack and Von Miller. “That’s where I see his ceiling,” Simmons said in 2019.
At the time, Smith was coming out of the prestigious IMG Academy as the Maxwell Club’s Defensive Player of the Year award winner. Through four years at Georgia, Smith built up his legend further, which began with being named the co-winner of the Bulldogs’ Defensive Newcomer of the Year award his freshman season. That year, Smith logged 18 tackles and 2.5 sacks, and he repeated virtually identical statistics in 2020: 22 tackles and 2.5 sacks.
During his junior year, Smith transformed to have a profound impact on the National Championship defense alongside teammate Jalen Carter, seeing much more substantial contributions through 14 starts. In 2021, Smith recorded 56 tackles, nine tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, one interception and three forced fumbles. Smith is a significant contributor to why the Bulldogs became national champions, and he strove to follow up his 2021 successes with the eight games he played in 2022. Before Smith’s season ended early due to a pectoral injury, he managed 18 tackles, seven tackles for loss and three sacks.
Smith is a smaller-sized edge defender, but that has allowed him to hone his technique and face bigger players confidently. Because of his run-blocking techniques, Smith is able to maintain leverage and stop gaps, a useful skill on any NFL roster. In fact, Smith excels at run blocking over rushing the passer, and if his historic 40-yard dash record is any indication, he’s already begun to improve the speed deficiency in his game. For now, Smith has mastered the more difficult task of run-blocking techniques, as working to break out evasive pass rush moves should come easy under NFL guidance.
11. Christian Gonzalez — 91.7 OVR
CB | Oregon
Positional Ranking: 2
Christian Gonzalez may not be an NFL legacy draftee, but his roots in professional athletics have already primed him for stardom. His father, Hector, played basketball at UTEP before enjoying a semiprofessional career in Colombia. Christian’s sisters, Samantha and Melissa, are both former All-American track stars, with Melissa winning several gold medals in South America Championships and representing Colombia at the 2020 Olympics. Quickness is a familial trait, which Christian embodied as a four-star recruit out of The Colony, Texas.
From there, Gonzalez played for the Colorado Buffaloes, playing two years there as a starter in every game. Doubling his playing time from six games in 2020 to 12 games in 2021, Gonzalez saw a proportional jump in production: from 25 tackles to 53 tackles, with five pass breakups each season. His sophomore season earned him honorable mention All-Pac 12.
When Buffaloes cornerbacks coach Demetrice Martin left Colorado for Oregon, Gonzalez transferred there to continue working with his mentor. The move played out spectacularly for Gonzalez, who upgraded to first-team All-Pac 12 honors after recording 50 tackles, four interceptions, seven pass breakups and a blocked kick during the 2022 season. Gonzalez opted out of the team’s bowl game, and the move to avoid unnecessary injury risk bodes well for the promising cornerback prospect.
Entering the draft, Gonzalez displays the early makings of an All-Pro cornerback. Gonzalez excels at roughing up the release, yet he also has the rapid foot and hip movements that allow him to keep up with twitchy receivers. And if a receiver does get away from Gonzalez, he easily has the speed to catch up, exhibited by his 4.38 time in the 40-yard dash. Like every draft prospect, Gonzalez is still green when it comes to intuitively following his instincts and predicting routes, but in the right environment, he could quickly become a favorite cornerback in the league.
12. Paris Johnson Jr. — 90.9 OVR
OT | Ohio State
Positional Ranking: 1
A good left tackle is always in need in the NFL, and a great left tackle commands the attention of every competing team. At the collegiate level, Ohio State knew they had a gem in Cincinnati native Paris Johnson Jr., so they pushed to keep the top-10 overall recruit in state after he won the Anthony Munoz Offensive Lineman of the Year Award. Johnson eased into Buckeye football during his true freshman season, playing in five games as a reserve. Impressively, Johnson contributed in the National Championship game versus Alabama in 2020. In his sophomore year, Ohio State started Johnson at right guard for all 13 games, where he made second-team All-Big Ten honors. The following year, Johnson transitioned to left tackle, and despite the position switch, he continued to start in all 13 games in 2022. At left tackle, Johnson earned first-team All-Big Ten honors as well as second-team Associated Press All-American honors.
Considering that Johnson only spent one season at left tackle, it’s understandable that he still needs to hone his technique at that particular position, especially with run blocking. That being said, Johnson’s upside ensures him as a first-round value. At 6’6″ with a 85″ wingspan, the 21-year-old still has room to grow. He’s proven that he can successfully maneuver between tackle and guard, and his athleticism affords him to cover up errors in technique. Again, Johnson has only had a season at left tackle with Ohio State, but he’s been considered to be one of the nation’s top offensive lineman for years. The work comes naturally to Johnson, and it’s certain that once he’s drafted, he will excel no matter the team nor position.
13. Joey Porter Jr. — 90.4 OVR
CB | Penn State
Positional Ranking: 3
Joey Porter Jr.’s name already garners recognition in the league, but the son of the star Steelers cornerback is well on his way to making a name for himself entering the NFL. The homegrown Pennsylvanian was a first-team all-state pick and a four-year letterman in track at North Allegheny High School. The younger Porter quietly played four games in his freshman year at Penn State, but by next season, he’d earned honorable mention All-Big Ten honors with 33 tackles and one sack. In 2021, Porter started all 13 games and upgraded to third team All-Big Ten with 51 tackles and one interception. By his junior season, Porter was increasingly recognized for his play, earning second-team Associated Press All-American as well as first-team All-Big Ten. The Nittany Lions also honored Porter with the team’s Most Valuable Defensive Player Award, even though Porter missed two late-season games due to appendicitis.
Porter was gifted with the building blocks of a generational talent: his father was a Pro Bowl force in Pittsburgh, and Porter enjoys length fused with athleticism. That means Porter can cover mistakes with his hands and his reach, and his physicality allows him to shut down towering receivers and tight ends. But Porter can and will benefit from polishing his moves upon entering the league, as he still has work to do on mastering the nuances of cornerback play. Porter covers up missteps with swats and grabs, leaving him and his team vulnerable to penalty flags. While he excels in press man coverage, Porter requires development against the run, maintaining outside leverage, and honing his tackling technique.
14. Broderick Jones — 90.3 OVR
OT | Georgia
Positional Ranking: 2
As evidenced by the multiple Bulldogs projected as first-round selections, Georgia brought in some of the nation’s premier athletes for two championship teams. In Broderick Jones’ case, it was Alabama who sent him his first scholarship offer as a ninth-grader at Lithonia High School. By his senior year, Jones was a five-star recruit considered to be one of the best offensive lineman in the 2020 class. Jones played in the Under Armour All-American game as a senior, affirming his status as one of the nation’s best. When it came to committing, Georgia convinced Jones to remain in his home state and play for the Bulldogs, a decision that would enrich both parties.
Jones redshirted his first season in Athens, appearing in two games as a reserve player. The following year, Jones played behind starting left tackle Jamaree Salyer for the first 11 games, but an injury to Salyer created an opportunity for Jones to start. Jones then started in the final four games and helped Georgia clinch their championship, an effort which garnered a spot on the SEC All-Freshman Team. Once Salyer was drafted by the Los Angeles Chargers, Jones stepped up in his sophomore campaign and started all 15 games, which led to a national championship once again.
Until this point, Jones has been able to overpower blockers with his 6’5″ frame and 82.75″ wingspan, but his technique and movements are still rough for the NFL level. Jones has less than two years of experience at left tackle, and his timing in pass protection needs practice. That being said, Jones has been able to create space for runners, and his athleticism has afforded him room for error. Jones can respond quickly to missteps, which makes him all the more promising as an NFL prospect, even if he’s not quite there in some areas. The league can’t get enough good left tackles, and Jones possesses the traits that could make him a starting left tackle for years to come.
15. Brian Branch — 90.3 OVR
S | Alabama
Positional Ranking: 1
Brian Branch happens to hail from the same Georgia high school as Calvin Johnson, and like Johnson, he was named among the top five prospects at his position. Like all excellent high school football players, Branch hardly left the field, and he won the Georgia 5A Iron Man of the Year Award for playing both side of the ball phenomenally. But Branch was singled out for his ability to play defensive back when Alabama recruited him, resulting in Branch taking the field at safety as a true freshman in 2020. Branch contributed to the Crimson Tide’s national championship season through three starts in 12 games, recording 27 tackles, seven pass breakups and two interceptions. In 2021, Branch saw seven starts in 15 games and boasted a team-leading nine pass breakups through 55 tackles, with five tackles for loss. By starting all 13 games in 2022, Branch doubled his statistical production: 90 tackles with 14 tackles for loss, seven pass breakups, three sacks and two interceptions. Branch earned collegiate honors for the first time, making second-team Associated Press All-American.
Branch benefited from Nick Saban’s program, developing into a true “plug-and-play” defensive back that could quickly torment the league. Branch is “smart and competitive and way stronger than you expect,” an AFC personnel executive told NFL.com. “He could come in and become a top player quickly.” Essentially, Branch has the mind to take on any look or scheme, whether it’s single-high or split coverage. At Alabama, Branch mainly played nickel, proving his ability to handle any receiver from tight end to wideout. There are minor areas of improvement, but overall, Branch already wields the intangibles needed to predict at safety while proving he can tackle any receiver headed his way. Declaring that he has “no real weaknesses”, NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein dubs Branch as “one of the safest picks in the draft.”
16. Jaxon Smith-Njigba — 90.1 OVR
WR | Ohio State
Positional Ranking: 1
In the football epicenter that is Texas, Jaxon Smith-Njigba stood out as a five-star recruit and the Texas Class 6A State Player of the Year for a 2,000-plus season scoring 35 touchdowns. Ohio State snatched him up in 2020, and Smith-Njigba played in seven games as a reserve wide receiver and punt returner, catching ten receptions for 49 yards and a touchdown. In 2021, Smith-Njigba teamed up with Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson, both of whom went drafted in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft. As a sophomore splitting receptions with Olave and Wilson, Smith-Njigba earned third-team Associated Press All-American and third-team Big Ten Conference honors, ranking third in FBS with 1,606 yards. Remarkably, Smith-Njigba also tied for ninth in receptions that year with 95.
After Olave and Wilson opted out of the Rose Bowl in order to enter the draft, Smith-Njigba showed what he can accomplish on his own. Smith-Njigba caught 15 passes for 347 yards — an average of 23 yards per reception — and scored three touchdowns, allowing Ohio State to enjoy a 48-45 comeback win over Utah.
What should have been even more resume fodder for Jaxon Smith-Njigba in 2022 became a year of unrealized potential: Smith-Njigba hardly saw the field due to a hamstring injury. His 2021 season speaks to the high-volume receiver he can become in the league, but coming off an injured season is never ideal for a draft prospect. That, and the fact that Smith-Njigba struggles to get separation in the slot, may lower his draft stock, yet Smith-Njigba has proven he can hold his own with two successful NFL rookie wide receivers.
17. Michael Mayer — 89.8 OVR
TE | Notre Dame
Positional Ranking: 1
Initially, Michael Mayer imagined himself as a future college basketball player when he first enrolled at Covington Catholic High School in Independence, Kentucky. But Michael decided to catch passes from his quarterback brother, AJ, on the football field, and that is how Mayer earned an athletic scholarship to Notre Dame. Mayer caught 15 touchdowns and four interceptions as a senior, playing a part in his team’s charge toward winning a state title. Mayer immediately made an impact at Notre Dame, starting in 3 of 12 games and catching 42 passes for 450 yards and two touchdowns. As a freshman, Mayer had tied for the lead in receptions on his team, all of which earned him Freshman All-American and third-team All-ACC honors.
As a sophomore, Mayer nearly doubled his freshman production through 12 starts, catching 71 passes for 840 yards and seven touchdowns. At this point, Mayer was now leading the Fighting Irish in receptions and tying for the team lead in receiving touchdowns, demonstrating how integral he had become to Notre Dame’s offense. In his junior year, Mayer built on his sophomore success with 67 catches for 809 yards and nine touchdowns, resetting the touchdown record for Notre Dame tight ends. Mayer’s fame grew as he was named first-team Associated Press All-American and became a John Mackey Award finalist. Mayer is Notre Dame’s all-time leader in receptions, yards and touchdowns, solidifying that he is the most impressive tight end to ever emerge from the program. He’s expected to replicate this level of success at the NFL level as well.
One of the major benefits to drafting Mayer is that he enters the NFL with a superior run blocking ability compared to most rookie tight ends, giving Mayer a duality that few others possess. NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein even characterized Mayer as “an extension of the Notre Dame offensive line at times.” Mayer’s size and hands mean he can secure contested catches, but his YAC remain underwhelming. That, and polishing his routes, and Mayer will become one of the most coveted tight ends in the league.
18. Dalton Kincaid — 89.6 OVR
TE | Utah
Positional Ranking: 2
Like Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Drake London, Dalton Kincaid’s football career was preceded by one in AAU basketball. In Kincaid’s case, he was a big man on a championship-winning AAU team before spending a season on the football team, which earned him all-state honors in Nevada at Faith Lutheran High School. Kincaid began his college football career at San Diego, a non-scholarship football program in the Pioneer League. There, he started three out of 12 games, catching 24 passes for 374 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2018. Playing 12 games the following season, Kincaid was named third-team Associated Press FCS All-American for catching 44 passes for 835 yards and 19 touchdowns. By this point, Kincaid drew the attention of Utah, which offered him a scholarship to play in the Pac-12.
Kincaid was quiet after transferring in 2020, catching only one pass for 14 yards through five games. By 2021, Kincaid was building back to his previous numbers, catching 36 passes for 510 yards and eight touchdowns. That was enough to earn him an honorable mention All-Pac-12 selection, and by next year, he’d make first-team All-Pac-12. In his senior season, Kincaid became Utah’s primary receiver, catching 70 passes for 890 yards and eight touchdowns. Kincaid’s 2022 production earned him third-team All-American honors from the Associated Press.
Kincaid is already being pegged as a potential replacement for Robert Tonyan in Green Bay, but wherever he lands, he’ll primarily be utilized as a pass-catching weapon. To that end, Kincaid boasts desirable traits within his role: the size to create mismatches, the athleticism to elusively weave on routes, sticky hands that give him the edge on contested catches. In college, Kincaid went relatively unmatched, which will change upon facing NFL defenses at the professional level.
Kincaid appears to be able to catch with the best of them, but he’s been unable to block with the best of them as well. He’s unable to offer sufficient run blocking skills, which limits the ways in which an offense could utilize him. Still, NFL offenses have been able to win Super Bowls with tight ends who lack run blocking skills, so adding Kincaid as an intended pass-catcher isn’t a significant drawback.
19. Myles Murphy — 89.6 OVR
EDGE | Clemson
Positional Ranking: 5
A native of Marietta, Georgia, Myles Murphy predicated his NFL future on attending Hillgrove High School in nearby Powder Springs. Hillgrove is where NFL stars like Bradley Chubb, Evan Engram and Kenyan Drake all got their start, and for Murphy, it marked the beginning of a promising football career. That, and the fact that Murphy’s father, Willard, played for Chattanooga back in the day. Murphy impressed as a senior with 53 tackles and 10.5 sacks, which drew an invite to the 2020 All-American Bowl. Murphy emerged from Hillgrove as a five-star recruit, electing to stay close to home by attending Clemson University.
Once the edge rusher set foot in Death Valley, he put forth numbers that would garner Freshman All-American honors: six starts in 12 games with 41 tackles, four sacks and a team-high 12 tackles for loss. Murphy followed up his fruitful freshman season with a stellar sophomore campaign, recording 38 tackles, two pass breakups and two forced fumbles through 13 games. Murphy led the team again in tackles for loss with 14 and led the team in sacks with seven. All of this earned him second-team All-ACC notice, and by 2022, he’d finally earn first-team All-ACC honors. Through 11 starts his junior year, Myles logged 40 tackles, 11 tackles for loss and two pass breakups, tying for the team lead with 6.5 sacks.
Murphy has offered consistency during his time at Clemson, but once in the NFL, additional explosiveness is what will push him over the edge when rushing the quarterback. His long-arm bull-rush technique is what he leans on, so once he enters the league, he’ll need to develop an effective counter to maneuver pass offensive lineman. The appeal of Murphy is that his size and his versatility allow him to be adapted to various schemes, and he has proven to be a solid, skilled rusher while at Clemson. There is room for improvement, but that’s just to elevate the ceiling for an already-productive pass rusher.
20. Jahmyr Gibbs — 89.5 OVR
RB | Alabama
Positional Ranking: 2
Jahmyr Gibbs spent years making a name for himself in Georgia football only to transfer to Alabama in his final season, but the move paid dividends in All-SEC and All-American honors. As a senior at Dalton High School, Gibbs made first-team all-state and was named the Georgia 6-A Offensive Player of the Year. The multifaceted running back put his pass-catching abilities on display early on, starting in six of his seven games in 2020. That season, Gibbs rushed for 460 yards and four touchdowns on 89 attempts, as well as catching 24 passes for 303 yards and three touchdowns. Returning eight punts for 205 yards, Gibbs was a 2020 honorable mention All-ACC kick returner.
As a sophomore, Gibbs rushed 143 times for 746 yards and four touchdowns, as well as catching 36 passes for 470 yards and two touchdowns, earning him ACC honors once more. This time, Gibbs was a third-team All-ACC running back and a second-team All-ACC kick returner.
Gibbs transferred to Alabama in 2022 and won out on the depth chart at running back, rushing for 926 yards and seven touchdowns on 151 attempts. In the SEC, Gibbs earned conference honors once more by making second-team All-SEC as well as earning national recognition for his multifaceted assets. Gibbs garnered third-team Associated Press All-American honors as an all-purpose player, gaining 444 yards and three touchdowns on 44 receptions while returning 13 kicks for 258 yards.
Gibbs offers offensive coaches room for creativity, as his multi-purpose versatility allows for opportune mismatches. Gibbs is quick, light on his feet, and evasive, meaning he can secure the ball by either rushing or receiving and build upon it with YAC. Additionally, his special teams abilities are valuable on any roster, which the addition of New England Patriots cornerback Marcus Jones openly proved last season. Gibbs presents as a safety valve who can advance the offense no matter what, with one NFC executive describing Gibbs as being able to “bridge the gap” for Alabama.
Despite the overwhelming positives, Gibbs needs to work on rushing inside as well as blocking, but then again, those may never become his primary duties. NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein imagines Gibbs as an effective RB2 complimenting the game of a primary back as an explosive pass-catching asset rather than one handling the brunt of the carries.
21. Bryan Bresee — 89.4 OVR
DT | Clemson
Positional Ranking: 2
Winning two National Championships in the past seven years, Clemson has been able to entice even more of the top football players in the nation recently. No case exemplifies that more than that of Bryan Bresee, the country’s No. 1 recruit in the 2020 class. At Maryland’s Damascus High School, Bresee was named a two-time first-team USA Today All-American. In his first season at Clemson, Bresee saw ten starts through 12 games, recording 23 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, four sacks and two pass breakups. In 2021, Bresee was hit hard with an ACL tear, yet he still managed to make third-team All-ACC boasting 12 tackles, three tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks and one interception. After shoulder surgery in January, Bresee moved up to second-team All-ACC in 2022 after logging 15 tackles, 5.5 for loss, 3.5 sacks and two pass breakups through seven starts in ten total appearances.
Bresee has the makings of a solid run defender who can wreak havoc on the pocket, but transitioning to the NFL will mean that the 21-year-old defensive tackle will have to clean up his game in certain areas. Bresee is both broad and athletic, giving him the flexibility and strength to beat double teams. As of now, Bresee has the skillful hand movements to pressure blockers, but he has yet to develop the rush and block-shedding moves that will let him break through to the backfield.
Bresee has battled injuries that have limited his college tape and his growth onfield, but he still presents upside on build and intuition at the position.
22. Darnell Wright — 89.4 OVR
OT | Tennessee
Positional Ranking: 3
Darnell Wright came out of Huntington High School in Huntington, West Virginia as a top-10 overall recruit who made the 2019 All-American Bowl roster. Despite offers from Alabama, North Carolina and nearby West Virginia, Wright opted for Tennessee. There, Wright started in seven out of 11 games as a true freshman, with five starts played at right tackle and two at right guard. Wright’s progress in his first year earned him SEC All-Freshman Team honors in 2019. For his sophomore campaign, the Volunteers kept Wright at right tackle, where he started in nine of ten games in 2020. Wright switched over to left tackle in 2021, where he started all 13 games. Wright was slotted back to right tackle in 2022, earning first-team All-SEC notice through 13 starts.
Standing at 6-foot-5 and 330 pounds, Wright was able to overpower opponents at the collegiate level, a tactic that has allowed flaws in his technique to persist. Although Wright saw marked improvement in 2022, his tape at Tennessee showcases aggressive, unfinished blocking moves that see defenders quickly shoved. Considering that Wright moved around position-wise throughout college, he’s projected to succeed at right tackle, especially if he benefits from protection help early on. The polished footwork seen in 2022 proves that Wright is very capable of improving his game and combining his ability to develop with his given size and force, he is expected to be an unstoppable blocker in the NFL.
23. Zay Flowers — 89.3 OVR
WR | Boston College
Positional Ranking: 2
Zay Flowers emerged from Fort Lauderdale’s NSU University School as a three-star recruit, catching 48 passes for 631 yards and ten touchdowns as a high school junior. Boston College recruited Flowers and put him on the field as a true freshman, where he started two of 13 games and caught 22 passes for 341 yards and three touchdowns. Yet Flowers had even more to offer the Eagles, recording 27 rushes for 195 yards and a rushing touchdown. Although Flowers was already uplifting the offense, he boosted their numbers even more once paired with Notre Dame quarterback transfer Phil Jurkovec. In his sophomore year, Flowers notched 56 receptions and led the team in yards and receiving touchdowns with 892 yards and nine touchdowns. Additionally, Flowers rushed 11 times for 41 yards and a rushing touchdown, all of which earned him first-team All-ACC honors.
During his junior year, Jurkovec was sidelined with an injury, which influenced Flowers’ production that season. Still, Flowers gained third-team all-conference notice, catching 44 passes for 746 passes and five touchdowns through 12 starts. Once again, Flowers contributed to the running game, rushing on seven attempts for 69 yards. Flowers culminated his college career with a prolific senior season, catching a career-high 78 receptions for 1,077 yards and 12 touchdowns, a scoring record that tied for fifth in FBS. The 2022 season also saw Flowers rush for 40 yards on 12 attempts, as well as return seven punts for 43 yards.
Flowers has proven he shines as a slot receiver, with the agility and acceleration that can break the ankles of the league’s best defensive backs. Having spent 2020 working out with NFL stars such as Geno Smith and Antonio Brown, Flowers has developed as a skilled, sleek route-runner who can step lightly and dart to evade defenders. “Slippery” is a word used to aptly describe Flowers, but one problem he faces is that balls tend to slip out of his grasp. Drops could certainly be a very public problem if Flowers can’t tighten his grip, and as expected, there are usually questions about someone with a smaller build being able to win contested catches. Yet so far, Flowers has leaned into what he does best: speeding forth for the ball and staying true to weaving routes. If Flowers can perfect his route-running and hold onto his catches, he’ll be a force to be reckoned with in the league.
24. Calijah Kancey — 88.8 OVR
DT | Pittsburgh
Positional Ranking: 3
Calijah Kancey headed to Pittsburgh as a first-team All-Florida selection from Miami’s Northwestern High School, but in his only appearance as a redshirt freshman, he recorded no statistics. That all changed in 2020 when Kancey appeared in all 11 games for the Panthers, starting in the last four of them. Through those games, Kancey logged 27 tackles with seven tackles for loss, two pass breakups and 1.5 sacks.
As a sophomore, Kancey recorded 35 tackles with a team-high 13 tackles for loss and seven sacks. His 2021 numbers earned him third-team Associated Press All-American and first-team All-ACC accolades. In his junior year, Kancey saw improved honors after making 31 tackles and 7.5 sacks, leading the Panthers’ defense with 14.5 tackles for loss in 11 starts. Kancey was named first-team AP All-American and ACC Defensive Player of the Year as a finalist for both the Nagurski and Outland trophies.
The primary drawback that could feature in Kancey’s game at the next level is his size. He’s been neutralized in the past by athletic blockers, and his tendency to duck into blocks throws off his tacking on run plays. But Kancey has shown his determination to work within his limits, and he’s been one of college’s most explosive tackles as a result. Kancey often wins battles at first step, making him an unstoppable pass rusher who will require double teams.
25. Deonte Banks — 88.6 OVR
CB | Maryland
Positional Ranking: 4
Deonte Banks garnered regional recognition early on, earning All-County status as a senior at Baltimore’s Edgewood High School. From there, he went to play for nearby Maryland and immediately bolstered the secondary as a true freshman. Through eight starts in 11 games, Banks managed 28 tackles, one interception and two pass breakups during the 2019 season. As a sophomore, Banks started in three of five games in 2020 and recorded 11 tackles and one pass breakup. Banks only played two games in 2021 as a result of a shoulder injury, making six tackles that season. But as a redshirt junior, the Banks that stunned Maryland during recruitment returned as the cornerback made 28 tackles, eight pass breakups and one interception through nine starts in 12 games.
Already a “favorite cornerback” among NFL scouts, Banks wields traits that could make him one of the leading corners in the league. The outside corner offers size and athleticism, overpowering opponents from press to route. Banks has smooth form with his hips and feet, allowing him to keep in step with receivers and smother them on routes. However, Banks lacks confidence with his back to the ball, and if he misses a step, he has a tendency to panic when playing catch-up. That can be an easy fix once drafted, whereas the clear communications in zone and the versatile coverages on his resume are harder to find. As is, Banks offers the fundamentals that are found in every CB1 in the NFL, and Banks is well on his way to joining them.
26. Emmanuel Forbes — 88.5 OVR
CB | Mississippi State
Positional Ranking: 5
At Grenada High School in Grenada, Mississippi, Emmanuel Forbes was a three-sport athlete who excelled at basketball, baseball and football. Ultimately, football won out and Forbes headed east to play for Mississippi State as a four-star recruit. Forbes seized his opportunity early on, making the All-SEC Freshman Team after a turnover-heavy season. Forbes tied for third in FBS with five interceptions that year, and he led FBS in pick-sixes with three of them. He also managed 44 tackles through nine starts in 11 appearances. Forbes earned conference honors again the following year, posting 60 tackles, five tackles for loss and five pass breakups. That, and a team-leading three interceptions, garnered second-team All-SEC notice in 2021.
Forbes proved his dynamism again in 2022 when he tied for third in FBS with six interceptions and returned three of them for touchdowns. Forbes set an FBS record for interceptions returned for touchdowns by recording six during his time at Mississippi State. Through 12 starts in 2022, Forbes logged 46 tackles, 10 pass breakups, 16 passes defended and a blocked kick. A momentous junior season earned Forbes second-team Associated Press All-American and first-team All-SEC in 2022.
Forbes spent his years at Mississippi crafting his game, and it shows in the sharp technique he displays onfield. Forbes can take advantage of a panicked quarterback, and he has a talent for predicting routes and taking the ball away. Forbes can play in zone or man coverage, which widens the pool for NFL teams able to draft him, yet his thin frame has also presented challenges when keeping with receiver cuts and bulldozing running backs. Forbes has the mindset needed to start as a rookie, but a few challenges in execution could occur early on.
27. Drew Sanders — 87.5 OVR
LB | Arkansas
Positional Ranking: 1
Emerging as the No. 1 overall recruit in Texas is quite the feat, which is why five-star recruit Drew Sanders drew attention from SEC powerhouse Alabama. Sanders joined right as the Crimson Tide rode the wave towards a national championship, playing a dual role as a linebacker and as a special teams player who made nine stops through 12 games. Sanders’ sophomore year was afflicted by a midseason injury, but he still managed to make 24 tackles, 2.5 for loss, one sack and two pass breakups through three starts in 12 games. After two years in Tuscaloosa, Sanders decided to transfer to Arkansas for the 2022 season. There, Sanders’ production exploded as his potential was realized, posting 103 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks, three forced fumbles, five pass breakups and one interception through 12 starts. All of that earned him first-team Associated Press All-American, first-team All-SEC honors and status as a Dick Butkus Award finalist.
Sanders wields distinctive versatility: he could either line up as an interior linebacker or an edge rusher, a quality that not many linebackers possess in the NFL. That build, skill and athleticism make Sanders an intriguing prospect as a professional. Although many top prospects still have a way to go development-wise, Sanders is already there in terms of blitzing technique, quarterback pursuit and swimming between gaps. Sanders’ game is rougher in terms of tackling consistency and coverage adjustments, but he still enters the draft boasting unparalleled Pro Bowl potential.
28. Will Levis — 86.5 OVR
QB | Kentucky
Positional Ranking: 3
Projected as a first-round selection, Will Levis enters the NFL Draft with lauded physical ability and dubious quarterback mechanics. Levis broke school records as a senior at Xavier High School in Middletown, Connecticut, passing for 2,793 yards 27 touchdowns. From there, Levis was recruited to lead the Penn State Nittany Lions at quarterback. Redshirting his first year, Levis started in one game of seven played during his freshman season in 2019, completing 28 of 47 passes for 223 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Additionally, Levis offered mobility with his feet, rushing 51 times for 213 yards and three touchdowns.
In 2020, Levis started only once during his sophomore season, completing 33 of 55 passes for 421 yards and one passing touchdown, racking up 260 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns. After the 2020 season concluded, Levis entered the transfer portal, eventually landing with the Kentucky Wildcats. Levis was named a team captain in 2021, mirroring his high school numbers after starting in all 13 games. Levis made every two of three passes, which culminated in 2,827 passing yards and 24 touchdowns.
Levis also managed to lead his offense in rushing scores with nine rushing touchdowns on 107 attempts, recording 376 total rushing yards that season. In his final season, Levis started 11 games, missing one game due to shoulder and turf toe injuries. Once again, Levis completed about every two of three passes, completing 185 passes on 283 attempts for 2,406 yards, 19 touchdowns and ten interceptions. Levis also rushed for two touchdowns that year, and the Wildcats barely eked out a winning record with 7-6.
Kentucky’s record is reflective of the troubling instability in Levis’ game: he can make big plays as a passer and rusher, but his lacking consistency and accuracy undermines his power to dominate games with consistent scoring drives. At 6’4″ and 229 pounds, Levis looks and plays the part of a pro-style quarterback. He offers the ability to pass, throw outside of the pocket with punch, and extend plays with his legs, a versatility that is highly desired in today’s NFL. Levis has the arm and the legs to propel an NFL offense, but the issue is that his execution isn’t rooted in solid fundamentals.
His post-snap timing is off, he relies on off-platform throws rather than working within the pocket, he struggles to react on second and third reads, and his ball placement and accuracy fluctuate. The fact that his career touchdown-interception ratio falls below the 2:1 mark could be a predictor of a Jameis Winston style of production — for Levis, big plays come with big, costly risks.
All that being said, Levis hasn’t been able to benefit from an NFL program yet, meaning it is possible for him to smooth his mechanics and hone his quarterbacking fundamentals. If Levis can be sure-footed with his timing and confident with his reads and him aim, he could transform a franchise like Josh Allen did. But as it stands, Levis is drawing unfavorable Jay Cutler comparisons, and the reality is that the red flags in his game will take a great deal of work to undo.
29. Luke Musgrave — 86.3 OVR
TE | Oregon
Positional Ranking: 3
Luke Musgrave benefits from the collegiate and professional experience imbued into older Musgrave generations, both in father Doug Musgrave and uncle Bill Musgrave. Doug and Bill both served as quarterbacks at Oregon, and Bill went on to enjoy a lengthy career in the NFL as player and coach. A native of Bend, Oregon, Luke played at Bend High School before starting at Oregon, diverging from the familial quarterback path to play tight end. Musgrave’s career began quietly as a true freshman, starting once in 12 games and catching two passes for 18 yards. He saw an expanded role in 2020 with 12 catches for 142 yards through seven games.
Musgrave flourished in 2021, recording 22 receptions for 304 yards and one touchdown through 13 games. That season, Musgrave flaunted his special teams utility by blocking a punt and returning it for 27 yards versus Utah. His senior season was set to be his best year yet, as Musgrave caught 11 passes for 169 yards and a touchdown in just two games. Unfortunately, a knee injury kept him out for the rest of the season, but Musgrave has enough tape to show NFL teams what he can accomplish onfield.
Musgrave’s technique leaves defensive backs lurching, with swift feet and fluid hips that allow for route breaks and rapid separation. Musgrave has the height at 6-foot-6, and if he can fill out his frame, he can bolster his strength even more against defenders at the point of attack. But Musgrave is NFL-ready with the ability to start, especially in completing a two-tight end set.
30. Jordan Addison — 86.3 OVR
WR | USC
Positional Ranking: 3
Undersized wideouts often face underestimation in the NFL, but Jordan Addison is a rare exception demanding early first-round consideration. The three Biletnikoff Award winners before and after Addison — Ja’Marr Chase, DeVonta Smith and Jalin Hyatt — all hit the six-foot mark exactly. Addison comes in at 5-foot-11, a meager two-inch difference that drastically shifts how an athlete is perceived. Addison’s performance at Pittsburgh was so impressive that it warranted the nation’s premier award for college wide receivers.
At Maryland’s Tuscarora High School, Addison caught the attention of Pittsburgh, where he led the offense in receiving during his freshman season in 2020. That year, Addison caught 60 passes for 666 yards and four touchdowns as well as contributing as a rusher and return specialist, all of which earned him honorable mention All-ACC. In 2021, Addison won the Biletnikoff Award, following in the footsteps of former Pitt wide receiver Antonio Brown, another wideout measuring under six feet.
Additionally, Addison garnered first-team Associated Press All-American and first-team All-ACC honors after leading in several receiving categories. Through 14 games, Addison ranked sixth in receptions (100), fourth in receiving yards (1,593), and tied for the lead in touchdowns (17). Addison’s versatility also came into play that year as he was named a third-team all-conference pick for all-purpose play, a nod to his contributions in rushing and returning.
As if Addison couldn’t peak higher, he transferred to play for Lincoln Riley in his senior year and prompted his draft stock to skyrocket. Even though he missed three games, Addison made first-team All-Pac-12 Conference as the Trojans’ lead wide receiver, catching 59 for 875 yards and eight touchdowns.
Like Brown and his closest NFL comparison, Tyler Lockett, Addison shines as a route-runner yet draws concerns due to his size. Addison can dart, cut and accelerate with ease, breaking ankles in the secondary, yet he struggles to win battles when defensive backs are adjacent. Size is a factor, as Addison can lose matchups to overpowering corners, but Addison’s elusiveness combined with his return skills make him a must-add in starting rotations.
31. Darnell Washington — 85.8 OVR
TE | Georgia
Positional Ranking: 4
Another star athlete on the Bulldogs roster, Darnell Washington came to Athens by way of Desert Pines High School in Las Vegas. Washington arrived at Georgia as one of the top 25 recruits in the nation, starting seven of 10 games as a true freshman in 2020. Washington only caught seven passes that season, but his total yardage tallied up to 166, or 23.7 yards per reception. The following season, Washington missed the first four games due to injury, but he returned to start six of 11 games in Georgia’s national championship season. Washington caught ten passes for 154 yards or 15.4 yards per reception.
Washington’s junior year showcased his true potential, with the tight end catching 28 passes for 454 yards and two touchdowns through 15 games. Washington’s efforts toward a second consecutive championship earned him second-team All-SEC honors.
It makes sense that Washington would emerge as a top high school recruit and a standout on national championship teams, but entering the NFL, he’ll be expected to sharpen his technique in critical areas. Washington’s blocking moves could use polishing, specifically his hands and footwork, but the benefits he offers overall as a blocker and pass-catcher are immense.
At 6-foot-7, Washington offers an unparalleled mismatch against linebackers, and he will become a unique obstacle for opposing defenses to gameplan against. Considering that his areas of improvement are typical of NFL rookies, his height is not something that can be conditioned or taught. For what Washington already offers as an unstoppable force, he should be a top priority for NFL offenses.
32. Jalin Hyatt — 85.6 OVR
WR | Tennessee
Positional Ranking: 4
Despite Jalin Hyatt’s record-setting success in high school, it’s taken some time for Hyatt to see that opportunity at the collegiate level. Hyatt left Dutch Fork High School in Irmo, South Carolina a state champion with 3,624 receiving yards and 57 receiving touchdowns, both of which set records for his school. Hyatt was considered a four-star prospect, yet in-state programs like Clemson and South Carolina passed on him due to concerns about his slight frame. At the time, South Carolina coach Will Muschamp told Hyatt, “Man, you’re fast, but you need to eat more peanut butter.” According to Hyatt’s father Jamie, Jalin used those words for motivation.
Tennessee looked past Hyatt’s frame, which he’d eventually fill out to 6-foot-0 and 176 pounds by his junior year. Hyatt became an asset to the Vols as a true freshman, catching 20 passes for 276 yards and two touchdowns in 10 appearances. Hyatt’s sophomore year saw surprisingly similar production, with the receiver recording 21 receptions for 226 yards and two touchdowns through 13 games. But in his junior year, Hyatt was able to realize his full potential with a career-best season ranking him among Tennessee’s greatest wideouts.
In 2022, Hyatt led the team with 67 receptions for 1,267 yards, a yardage number that ranked him No. 5 nationally. Hyatt also scored 15 touchdowns, tying him for second in FBS for scores. As a result, Hyatt earned national acclaim, exemplified by his first-team Associated Press All-American honors and his receipt of the 2022 Biletnikoff Award. Hyatt finished his Vols carer with 108 receptions for 1,769 yards and 19 touchdowns, the bulk of which came in his explosive junior season. As a result, Hyatt is now tied for the fourth-most receiving touchdowns in Tennessee history.
Back in high school, Hyatt ran one of the fast 40-yard dash times that Muschamp had ever seen, and Hyatt’s 4.4 40-yard dash time at the NFL Combine didn’t disappoint. The son of a former college basketball player and a collegiate sprinter, Hyatt offers the kind of speed that will require opponents to reconfigure defensive coverages. Hyatt excels in flying through routes and bursting forth for deep balls, creating substantial separation.
All that comes naturally, but Hyatt could work on mid-route breaks — and early on, offensive coordinators can pick plays better suited to his current skills. Hyatt is an instant starter who can electrify any offense, with the potential to emulate DeSean Jackson’s seasons of speedy production. As of now, Hyatt’s frame is still a factor causing him to lose out on contested catches, so if he can win out in those battles, he’ll be even more unstoppable.
33. Quentin Johnston — 85.5 OVR
WR | TCU
Positional Ranking: 5
Coming out of Temple, Texas, Quentin Johnston was recruited within his home state and initially pledged to play for Texas. However, the four-star recruit soon flipped his commitment, instead choosing to play for TCU in Fort Worth. As soon as Johnston joined TCU’s roster, he was able to take a sizable role in the offense, catching 22 passes for 487 yards and two touchdowns through nine games. Additionally, Johnston was able to contribute with significant scores as a runner, rushing for 3 yards on 3 attempts while scoring another two touchdowns.
Johnston’s impressive freshman campaign produced honorable mention All-Big 12 accolades, and next season, he garnered even more praise in the conference. Johnston led the Horned Frogs in receiving yards (634) and touchdowns (6) on 33 receptions, which earned first-team All-Big 12 honors for his sophomore season. In 2022, TCU made an unprecedented charge toward the national championship game, and Johnston played a major role in their ascent. Once again, he was TCU’s top receiver, marking 60 receptions for 1,069 yards and six touchdowns. Even though TCU’s season met a miserable end before Georgia, Johnston put together a resume that grabbed the attention of NFL scouts.
At 6-foot-3, Johnston has the height and size that make him a deep threat downfield, although his difficulty with contested catches is troubling. One NFC scout lauded Johnston for his “freak athleticism” but noted that his “hands were a concern”, per NFL.com. Johnston was the leading wideout on a championship-bound team, yet he only caught six of quarterback Max Duggan’s 32 touchdown passes in 2022. Johnston has the speed and catch radius to make valuable chunk plays, and at the next level, he could clean up catching inconsistencies, especially with a more skilled quarterback. As is, Johnston could join an NFL roster as a talented second option with room for growth.
34. BJ Ojulari — 85.4 OVR
EDGE | LSU
Positional Ranking: 6
If “Ojulari” sounds familiar, it’s because it should be to NFL fans: BJ’s older brother, Azeez, was a second-round draft pick selected by the New York Giants in 2021. Azeez made a name for himself as a pass rusher at Georgia, and while BJ followed in his edge rusher footsteps, he diverted his path to a rival SEC school. A leading national recruit out of Marietta, Georgia, BJ signed with LSU, enrolling a semester early in order to play as a true freshman.
Ojulari quickly made an impact that season, posting 16 tackles, five tackles for loss and four sacks in 2020. The following year, Ojulari started in 12 games and appeared in all 13, contributing even more as a sophomore. He recorded 55 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks, which was the highest sack total among the Tigers. In his final season, Ojulari finally made All-SEC notice, enjoying first-team honors for 58 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks.
Like Azeez, BJ is destined for NFL stardom, but BJ will need to hone his maneuvers a bit before he can full break through as an edge rusher. BJ is able to get off with burst, charge forward, challenge blockers with swift hand moves, follow up and break through blocks, and pursue the passer once through. Where Ojulari could improve is strengthening his game against the run and playing through each snap consistently. These issues can be remedied through a rookie season, and beyond that, Ojulari has the potential to rack up more NFL sacks under the family name.
35. Kelee Ringo — 85.4 OVR
CB | Georgia
Positional Ranking: 6
NFL cornerbacks have been known to benefit from a background in track and field, and Kelee Ringo is no exception. Ringo was not only recognized as a top-10 prospect nationwide who made first-team USA Today All-American, but he also dominated on the track with state titles in the 100-meter and 200-meter dash. Still, the five-star recruit out of Arizona’s Saguaro High School redshirted during his freshman season at Georgia, developing into a standout freshman corner. Ringo contributed to the 2021 National Championship team with 34 tackles, eight pass breakups, two interceptions and even one sack, earning him SEC All-Freshman Team honors. It was Ringo who sealed Alabama’s fate in the championship game, nabbing a pick-six that effectively won the game for the Bulldogs.
It’s no coincidence that Ringo followed up 2021 with another award-winning season and another national championship. After starting in all 15 games, Ringo logged 42 tackles and two interceptions, leading Georgia’s defense in pass breakups with seven.
Ringo matched well on a physical Georgia defense, and largely, that’s the type of play he brings to the field. Standing at 6-foot-2, Ringo offers an unexpected frame and movement for an outside cornerback, which would allow him to match up against some of the bigger receivers in the league. Ringo effectively presses receivers and can manage play in front of him, but he will need to improve at predicting routes and keeping up once receivers break out. Ringo can get outplayed by a suave receiver technique, and his attempts to make up for it have been costly: he was called for nine penalties in 2022. However, Ringo’s struggles aren’t unique nor are they insurmountable, and his upside outweighs weaker areas in his game.
36. O’Cyrus Torrence — 85.2 OVR
OG | Florida
Positional Ranking: 2
At St. Helena Central High School in Greensburg, Louisiana, three-star recruit O’Cyrus Torrence received all-district and all-state honors while fielding collegiate offers from all over the South. Georgia, Louisiana Tech, and Louisiana-Monroe all knocked on his door, but Torrence elected to play for the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns in Lafayette. The left guard immediately helped out onfield, starting in 13 of 14 games as a true freshman in 2019. Torrence moved to right guard the subsequent season, yet he managed to earn second-team All-Sun Belt Conference honors after starting all 11 games in 2020. In 2021, Torrence started 12 games and moved up to first-team All-Sun Belt Conference honors despite missing two games due to injury.
Torrence then entered the transfer portal, following former Louisiana head coach Billy Napier to Florida. There, Torrence saw a bigger stage and grander accolades, earning first-team Associated Press All-American honors as well as first-team All-SEC after 11 starts at right guard. One statistic that encapsulates Torrence’s ability is that he proudly ended his four-year collegiate career without ever giving up a sack. Notably, Torrence excelled against Jalen Carter, who is widely considered to be the most talented draft prospect in 2023.
Torrence is naturally gifted at guard, wielding his 6-foot-5, 330-pound frame to leverage against defenders with sheer strength. Torrence can weaponize his inertia to block defenders, evidenced by his sack prevention in college. Another plus is that Torrence didn’t render a single penalty in 2022, a major plus for an NFL position that can drag down offenses with flags.
But Torrence’s size also makes it challenging for him to maneuver at times, and when facing athletic rushers at the NFL level, his inability to bend means he could get beat by countermoves. Like other rookies, Torrence needs the opportunity to develop into his frame further and learn how to leverage against rushers, but as it stands, he’s a towering, versatile guard who’s adept at protecting the passer.
37. Trenton Simpson — 84.7 OVR
LB | Clemson
Positional Ranking: 2
Before the NFL Combine, an NFC scout warned that Trenton Simpson should run the 40-yard dash because “he’ll run one of the fastest times we’ve seen from a linebacker.” Simpson didn’t disappoint, posting a blazing 4.43 time that drew notice around the league. Speed translates to pursuit, and Simpson has been able to chase down ball carriers with unparalleled ability.
Simpson graduated from Mallard Creek High School in Charlotte, North Carolina as one of the nation’s top-20 overall recruits. From there, Simpson became a Clemson Tiger and an immediate contributor as a true freshman. Simpson started three of 12 games in 2020, posting 28 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss and four sacks. Simpson saw increased production with increased opportunity as a sophomore, starting in 12 of 13 games in 2021. That season, Simpson recorded 64 tackles, 12 tackles for loss and six sacks. Although he missed the 2022 Orange Bowl due to injury, Simpson earned third-team All-ACC honors as a junior. Through 12 starts, he notched 72 tackles, four tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, three pass breakups and two forced fumbles.
Simpson now has experience playing both inside and outside linebacker, but his 2022 performance at inside linebacker highlighted underdeveloped aspects of his game. Simpson’s play recognition was adequate, and he frequently got caught in traffic near the line due to lacking patience. So far, Simpson is best when playing outside and using his speed to fly at ball carriers, but he’ll need to polish his game to excel at the NFL level. Simpson shines when blitzing the pocket and squeezing routes in coverage, but he’ll need to take better angles in pursuit and hold back on arm tackles in order to start.
38. Mazi Smith — 84.6 OVR
DT | Michigan
Positional Ranking: 4
Mazi Smith is another four-star, top-50 recruit who chose to stay in-state and play for a prominent college program. Smith built an impressive resume at East Kentwood High School before committing to Michigan, recording zero statistics in two games as a redshirt freshman in 2019. The following year, Smith appeared in five games and made three tackles with one tackle for loss. By 2021, Smith would start in all 14 games, logging 37 tackles, 2.5 for loss and four pass breakups. Smith earned honorable mention All-Big Ten Conference accolades, and by 2022, he’d be a first-team All-Big Ten Conference selection. In his junior year, Smith recorded 48 tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss through 14 starts.
Smith boasts a unique blend of size and athleticism that has the potential to propel him to a Pro Bowl, but as of now, he’s unlikely to be drafted as a consistent starter. Instead, Smith is likely to go in Round 2 as teams consider how to polish his game. Smith knows how to handle a base block, but move blockers, gap security and double teams have given him trouble in the past. Smith has flaunted foot quickness, strength and flexibility in fighting blockers, but slow responses and struggles against certain schemes mean he’ll be a long-term investment rather than immediate starter.
39. Hendon Hooker — 84.6 OVR
QB | Tennessee
Positional Ranking: 4
Coming out of James B. Dudley High School in Greensboro, North Carolina, Hendon Hooker created a resume that had schools like Virginia Tech, Tennessee and Clemson clamoring to sign him. Hooker had two state titles, over 6,000 passing yards and 55 touchdowns to his name by the time he enrolled at Virginia Tech. Hooker began his Hokies career as a redshirt freshman, playing in only six games and completing four passes for 57 yards and a rushing touchdown.
The next year, Virginia Tech threw its weight behind Hooker, starting him in eight games in 2019. Hooker helped his team win the first six of those starts while setting a team record: 124 consecutive completions without an interception. In 2019, Hooker completed 99 of 162 passes for 1,555 yards and 13 touchdowns while throwing two interceptions. Hooker also rushed 123 times for 356 yards and five touchdowns in 2019. Hooker went on to start seven of eight games played in 2020, completing 98 of 150 attempts for 1,339 yards and nine touchdowns as well as five interceptions. Hooker also rushed 120 times for 620 yards and nine touchdowns in his third season at Virginia Tech. By the season’s end, Hooker decided to transfer to Tennessee, which wound up garnering Heisman Trophy attention.
After transferring for the 2021 season, Hooker started in 11 of 13 games, completing 206 of 303 passes for 2,945 yards and 31 touchdowns. Hooker also rushed for 616 yards on 166 attempts, scoring five rushing touchdowns. Hooker ranked third in FBS for pass efficiency (181.4) and fourth in yards per attempt (9.72). Hooker also bested his completions without an interception record with 140 passes without a pick, throwing only three interceptions that season.
By 2022, Hooker had built up to an award-sweeping season. He started 11 games and completed 229 of 329 passes for 3,135 yards and 27 touchdowns, throwing only two interceptions. Additionally, Hooker rushed for 430 yards and five touchdowns on 104 carries. What could have been a Heisman-winning season for Hooker was cut short when he suffered an ACL tear, yet the electrifying quarterback still managed to win SEC Offensive Player of the Year and earn third-team Associated Press All-American honors. Even with the ACL tear, Hooker managed to lead the nation’s No. 1 offense in points scored and yards per game, ranking second in pass efficiency (175.5) and seventh in completion percentage. Hooker also managed to set school records in 2022, throwing 261 passes without an interception as well as throwing a touchdown pass in 20 consecutive games.
All that being said, there are concerning critiques about Hooker’s game that have analysts questioning whether or not he can flourish at the professional level. Beyond Hooker’s 25 years of age and his relatively recent ACL tear, there’s the fact that Tennessee’s environment played to his strengths. Hooker still needs to develop the ability to fully read the field before him, as many early-career quarterbacks do, and he needs to work on his deep ball and inside throws. Although underdeveloped in certain areas, Hooker has shown that he can make plays with his legs and work efficiently within his comfort zone. With more development, Hooker has the potential to become a proficient starter benefitting from a spread offense.
40. Steve Avila — 84.5 OVR
OG | TCU
Positional Ranking: 3
A four-star recruit ranked the No. 9 offensive guard in Texas, Arlington’s Steve Avila left South Grand Prairie High School in 2018 to play for nearby TCU over Kansas State and Utah. After redshirting his first season, Avila appeared in 11 games in 2019. From there, Avila would go on to play all over the offensive line, contributing as a center, right tackle and right guard through nine starts. Avila earned honorable mention All-Big 12 notice in 2020, and by 2021, he’d become a second-team All-Big 12 selection while starting 11 games at center. But by next year, Avila would be switching positions once again, starting all 15 games at left guard as the Horned Frogs charged toward the National Championship game. Avila garnered second-team Associated Press All-American and first-team all-Big 12 honors in his final season at TCU, all while preventing a sack in 515 pass-blocking snaps in 2022.
What jumps out from Avila’s resume is his experience and versatility, all of which was endorsed by a 2022 season that brought TCU to the title game. Avila has had a full season starting at both center and at left guard, with starting experience at right tackle and right guard as well. The flexibility to play all of those positions demonstrates strong fundamentals in creating blocks for the run game and protecting the passer against rushers. Avila’s frame makes him able to withstand blocks, yet he’s nimble enough to maneuver outside of the box. His leadership qualities are a plus, with Avila having served as team captain for the Horned Frogs. Avila could polish his hand moves, but he’s expected to start immediately for a team in need of a guard or center.
41. Josh Downs — 84.3 OVR
WR | North Carolina
Positional Ranking: 6
Entering college, Josh Downs was an award-winning athlete in Georgia, ranking among the top in both football and track statewide. At North Gwinnett High School, Downs was first-team all-state in football as well as top five in the triple and long jumps at a state meet his sophomore year. Downs ranked among the nation’s top 100 recruits as the No. 17 wide receiver nationwide and the No. 13 player in Georgia in the 247Sports Composite, and he took an offer to play for uncle Dré Bly, a Super Bowl champion cornerback, at the University of North Carolina. However, that isn’t the only NFL connection in Downs’ family: his father, Gary Downs, was an NFL running back from 1994 to 2000 who now coaches at East Tennessee State University. Both Bly and Downs are former Tar Heels themselves, meaning Downs is following in a collegiate legacy while adding to the family’s NFL legacy as a wide receiver.
Downs began with a quiet freshman season in 2020, catching seven receptions for 119 yards and three touchdowns. In 2021, Downs approximately multiplied his receptions by 14 and his yardage by 11, catching 101 passes for 1,335 yards and eight touchdowns. Returning 16 punts for 156 yards, Downs ranked fifth overall in FBS for his receptions, all of which earned him first-team All-ACC honors. Downs saw a statistically similar season in 2022, catching a team-leading 94 receptions for 1,029 yards and 11 touchdowns, a touchdown record that tied for seventh in the nation. Downs earned national recognition for his receiving role with second-team Associated Press All-American honors and first-team All-ACC honors, and he garnered ACC recognition as a punt returner with second-team All-ACC honors as an all-purpose player.
Standing at 5-foot-9, Downs has slid into a comfortable role as a slot receiver, and confidence in his game has him winning contests time and time again. Downs has mastered his footwork and forces separation with ease and consistency, knowing fully well how to pull away from defenders as well as catching in contact. In a word, Downs is sharp, and if he can continue to evade defenders like this at the NFL level, he will supercharge his offense with endless offensive possibilities. However, Downs could also meet his match in a dominant cornerback at the next level, and sometimes his confidence works against him in a lacking commitment to his routes.
In light of size concerns, Downs is considered to be a top-five wide receiver and a “worthy first-round candidate”, per Pro Football Network.
42. Anthony Richardson — 83.8. OVR
QB | Florida
Positional Ranking: 5
Anthony Richardson may be the most talked-about prospect in the 2023 NFL Draft, yet he’s not the first quarterback projected to fly off the board. The reason that the Richardson selection is hotly debated is what the 20-year-old quarterback at Florida lacks in game tape he compensated for at the NFL Combine — to some analysts, at least.
The Gainesville native was one of the nation’s top quarterback recruits until he endured a season-ending injury his senior year at Eastside High School. Richardson started off his collegiate career as a reserve in 2020, playing in four games and completing one of two passes for a touchdown — the other was an interception. But Richardson is a dual-threat quarterback, and he rushed for 61 yards on seven attempts that season.
In 2021, Richardson saw more opportunities through eight games, yet he only saw one start that season. With increased opportunity, Richardson still averaged close to a 50 percent completion rating, completing 38 of 64 passes with a 59.4 percent completion rating. Richardson passed for 529 yards, recording six passing touchdowns as well as five interceptions. In the rushing game, Richardson averaged 7.9 yards per carry on 51 rushes for 401 yards and three touchdowns.
All this time in 2021, Richardson was splitting time with fellow quarterback Emory Jones, but Jones transferred to Arizona State before the 2022 season. That allowed Richardson to take over the starting role in his third year, allowing his production to flourish even more. Through 12 games, Richardson threw for 2,549 yards, 17 touchdowns and nine interceptions, while additionally rushing for 654 yards and nine touchdowns. Despite the increased yards and scores, Richardson still saw a troubling completion rating hovering near half: 176 completions on 327 attempts, or 53.8 percent.
Richardson’s college resume tells the story of what he could become in the league: a mobile, athletic quarterback with potential, as long as he can overcome serious deficiencies in the fundamentals of his quarterback play. Richardson lacks proper timing and footwork, which results in inaccurate attempts on short and simple throws. NFL.com analyst Lance Zierlein predicts NFL teams will have to determine whether or not Richardson can become “a functionally accurate passer“, an alarming description for someone who is being touted as a potential first-round prospect.
While Richardson stunned onlookers with the top Athleticism score among quarterbacks at the NFL Combine, it’s not enough for someone who hasn’t mastered the essentials of the position. Richardson’s hype is inflated by what he can do, not what he has done in his time at Florida.
43. DJ Turner II — 83.7 OVR
CB | Michigan
Positional Ranking: 7
Coming out of North Gwinnett High School in Suwanee, Georgia, DJ Turner II was a four-star recruit his junior year. As a senior, he attended Florida’s prestigious IMG Academy, which has produced numerous high-caliber professional athletes. Turner then committed to Michigan in 2019, redshirting his first season in Ann Arbor and appearing in four games. In 2020, Turner appeared in four games at cornerback and on special teams, and he wouldn’t see significant playing time until 2021.
As a sophomore, Turner started in eight of 14 games, recording 33 tackles, seven pass breakups and a team-high two interceptions in 2021. The transformation allowed him to share Most Improved Player (Defense) honors and Defensive Skill Player of the Year honors that season. Turner’s play also earned him honorable mention All-Big Ten notice, and by his final year at Michigan, he’d earn second-team All-Big Ten honors. Starting 14 games as a junior, Turner led the Wolverines with ten pass breakups in addition to landing 36 tackles and one interception.
An NFC scout predicted that Turner would be a “monster tester” at the NFL Combine, a prediction which turned true once Turner ran a 4.26 40-yard dash this spring. Overall, Turner ranked No. 2 among all cornerbacks who tested at the combine, demonstrating the athleticism he brought to the field during his time at Michigan. Additionally, Turner has the ability to line up inside or outside in a variety of schemes. Turner fluidly matches speedy receivers, but he’s also able to challenge them at press and to contest catches. While Turner is able to match up with technique, he also faces challenges when coming up against bigger, taller receivers. For that reason, he’s best suited to start as a nickel cornerback in the NFL, which could limit his versatility within a defense.
44. Joe Tippmann — 83.5 OVR
C | Wisconsin
Positional Ranking: 1
Joe Tippmann was a four-star recruit who was named an Indiana Mr. Football offensive lineman as a senior at Bishop Dwenger High School in Fort Wayne. Tippmann redshirted in 2019 and played in two games in 2020, with 2021 being the year that his collegiate career took off. As a redshirt sophomore, Tippmann started 11 of 12 games to earn honorable mention All-Big Ten Conference notice, all while paving the way for the No. 2 rushing offense in the Big Ten. Tippmann garnered honorable mention All-Big Ten Conference again in 2022 after starting all 12 games in the regular season.
Aside from his size and strength, Tippmann is lauded for a football IQ that allows him to communicate efficiently and keep an offense running smoothly. A center like that would be beneficial for any developing quarterback, as Tippmann is skilled at making necessary calls and adjustments. Although Tippmann’s 6’6″ frame is taller than usual for a center, he’s able to remain fluid and keep a flexible lower half to make pulls, cut-offs and blocks that protect both A-gaps. However, Tippmann could work on his body balance and hands so that he isn’t thrown off when engaging with defenders. That being said, Tippmann wields the necessary tools to excel as a starting NFL center.
45. Felix Anudike-Uzomah — 83. 4 OVR
EDGE | Kansas State
Positional Ranking: 7
Felix Anudike-Uzomah matriculated from Lee’s Summit High School in Kansas City, Missouri after earning first-team all-state honors in his senior season. From there, Anudike-Uzomah committed to play at Kansas State, where he five games as a reserve and recorded three tackles and one sack in 2020. The next season was an award-winning one for Anudike-Uzomah, who was the Big 12 Conference Co-Defensive Lineman of the Year who made first-team All-Big 12. Anudike-Uzomah recorded 51 tackles and 14.5 tackles for loss, tying for No. 10 in FBS with 11 sacks and No. 1 in forced fumbles with six. Additionally, Anudike-Uzomah would have tied for an NCAA record for a game-high six sacks against TCU, but two of those sacks were considered rush plays rather than passing plays.
Anudike-Uzomah continued to shine as a junior in 2022, posting 46 tackles with team-highs in sacks (8.5) and tackles for loss (11). His performance earned him third-team Associated Press All-American and Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year accolades, and he also became a finalist for the Ted Hendricks Award and the Lott IMPACT Trophy.
Anudike-Uzomah possesses the potential to star as one of the league’s leading pass rushers, but what his games packs in explosiveness it lacks in refinement. Anudike-Uzomah is already 6-foot-3, and with the expectation that he will fill out more, has a long reach and the strength to power through to the passer. Anudike-Uzomah demonstrated that he’s able to add to his arsenal of moves by adding several new maneuvers in 2022, and in the NFL, he will benefit from surprising blockers with unexpected moves. But Anudike-Uzomah needs to hammer some of the fundamentals, such as playing with a wider base, controlling his footwork and loosening his lower body. With a little more experience, Anudike-Uzomah could become a force for whichever team drafts him.
46. Cody Mauch — 83.2 OVR
OG | North Dakota State
Positional Ranking: 4
Cody Mauch hails from the town of Hankinson, North Dakota, which reportedly has less than 1,000 current residents. Mauch proved he was one of the best football players in town by setting the school records for career touchdowns and sacks while playing nine-man football at Hankinson High School.
Mauch initially enrolled at North Dakota State University with the intention of playing tight end, redshirting as a walk-on in 2017. Mauch then gained 40 pounds by spring 2018 in order to play as an offensive lineman, playing in six games as a reserve that fall. By 2019, Mauch played in all 16 games as NDSU advanced to their third consecutive FCS title. Mauch contributed to the team’s victory over Montana State by catching a two-point conversion in the NCAA semifinal. In 2020, the Bisons only played one game, in which Mauch played as a reserve. By the spring of 2021, Mauch had finally made the starting lineup, starting two games at right tackle and seven games at left tackle, which earned him second-team All-Missouri Valley Football Conference distinction.
Later that fall, Mauch would go on to start in all 15 games at left tackle as his team marched toward another FCS championship win. Mauch was named as a second-team Associated Press All-American selection and moved up to first-team All-Missouri Valley Football Conference. In 2022, Mauch was able to return for a fifth season due to COVID-19’s impact on his 2020 season. This allowed him to gain more experience at the position as Mauch started all 15 games at left tackle once again. Mauch was named first-team All-American in 2022 by AP and by MVFC coaches, building up his draft stock with even more accolades.
Transforming from tight end to offensive tackle, the 24-year-old Mauch now stands at 6-foot-5 and 302 pounds, a frame that allows him to win battles as a drive blocker in the run game. Mauch’s tough style of play has propelled him as he’s learned the nuances of the position, yet he still struggles with clumsy footwork at times. Mauch’s arms are also short in comparison to his size, meaning that a future at guard may be more realistic than one at tackle. That being said, Mauch wields the traits to compete for a starting role on virtually any NFL offense.
47. Will McDonald IV — 83.1 OVR
Edge | Iowa State
Position Ranking: 8
Hailing from the same Wisconsin county as the Watt brothers, Will McDonald made a name for himself at Waukesha North High School by becoming a first-team all-state selection in 2017. Although McDonald didn’t start playing football until he was a junior, he’d already become a three-star recruit who was a top 5 player in Wisconsin. McDonald turned down offers from Baylor and Minnesota to play for Iowa State, where he played in four games in 2018. McDonald recorded three tackles, one sack and a forced fumble that season, but he was still able to claim redshirt status for his first year at Iowa State.
The following season, McDonald played in all 13 games and posted 15 tackles and six sacks. McDonald’s sack total was second-best on the team and seventh-best in the Big 12, all while tying for the school sack record for a freshman. Throughout the 2019 season, McDonald transitioned from linebacker to defensive end. Despite the impressive sack count in 2019, McDonald didn’t start any games in 2020, instead appearing in 12 games. That was enough opportunity for McDonald to record 33 tackles, a team-leading 13.5 tackles for loss, and 10.5 sacks, which tied the FBS lead. His explosive performance earned him first-team All-Big 12 Conference honors for that season.
In 2021, McDonald seemed to go for several of Iowa State’s school records. He trounced his own sack record to record a school-best 11.5 sacks, which tied for No. 7 in FBS. He also tied the school record for forced fumbles with five, which ranked No. 4 in FBS. Finally, McDonald saw 11 starts in 13 games, and his turnover production resulted in third-team Associated Press All-American honors and the Big 12 Co-Defensive Lineman of the Year Award. It wasn’t until 2022 that the redshirt senior would finally start in all 12 games and log 36 tackles, a team-high five sacks, 7.5 tackles for loss and four pass breakups. In his final season at Iowa State, McDonald earned him first-team All-Big 12 accolades.
Projected as one of the “buzziest prospects” to enter the 2023 NFL Draft, McDonald’s name is frequently paired with the word “explosive.” McDonald knows how to burst forth for the advantage at the top of the rush, maintaining leverage with long arms, quick feet and rapid spin moves. McDonald’s lean nature allows him to escape tackles, but it could also be an issue at the NFL level facing more substantial attacks. McDonald is designed for a 3-4 scheme, but he would currently struggle to hold his own against a power runner. McDonald has room for growth, and if his years at Iowa State indicate anything, it won’t take him long to move up the ranks.
48. Keion White — 82.7 OVR
EDGE | Georgia Tech
Positional Ranking: 9
When Keion White first arrived at Old Dominion University, he was slated to play college football as a tight end. The three-star recruit from Garner, North Carolina started eight games as a redshirt freshman and averaged 11.3 yards per catch. After 11 receptions for 124 yards that season, White transitioned to become a defensive end for the Monarchs. White’s move to the defensive side of the ball went smoothly as he tied the school record for tackles for loss with 19. White also made 3.5 sacks in the 62 total tackles he made through 12 starts that season. White earned second-team All-Conference USA honors for his 2019 performance, but he was unable to take the field in 2020 after Old Dominion declined to play due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
White elected to transfer to Georgia Tech in 2021, although he missed the majority of the season due to injury. He was able to make four tackles through four games that year, but by 2022, White was back to his usual numbers. White started in 12 games his senior year, recording 54 tackles, 14 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks. White earned third-team All-ACC notice for his efforts in 2022.
Considering his transition from tight end and his missed 2020 season, White is still developing as a pass rusher in key areas such as block identification and block shedding. That being said, White moved to the edge because he boasts a 6-foot-5 frame and an 80-inch wingspan in addition to the athletic traits needed for a prolific pass rusher. White is fast, bendy and powerful, and with more experience, he could shine in a 3-4 or a 4-3 scheme. Described as “really athletic with a high floor“, White has the makings of a fearsome pass rusher in the future.
49. Tyler Scott — 82.2 OVR
WR | Cincinnati
Positional Ranking: 7
Like Keion White, Tyler Scott is an impressive athlete with limited college experience at his position, which shapes his positional ranking. Scott graduated from Norton High School in Norton, Ohio, choosing to state in-state and play for Cincinnati. Scott featured in ten games as a reserve in his true freshman season, catching three passes for 20 yards and rushing for 20 yards on one attempt. Scott’s production drastically jumped as a sophomore when he significantly helped to lead his team to the College Football Playoff. Scott caught 30 passes for 520 yards and five receiving touchdowns while returning five kickoffs for 102 yards in 14 games.
As notable of a jump as that was, Scott saw a more dramatic change in his junior year. Now, Scott was leading the team with 54 catches, 899 receiving yards and nine touchdowns, which led to being named second-team All-American Athletic Conference.
Scott’s prior background sheds light onto what he can offer an NFL team, and that is speed. Scott was a Junior Olympic sprinter whose life goal was to become “an outdoor state champion” in track and field, according to Scott’s former track and field coach Frank Laury. Laury insisted that if Scott could get his time down, Olympic circles would have taken notice.
As a football wide receiver, that speed has translated well, affording him acceleration, separation and sharp cuts on routes. Scott also manages significant yards after catch, and ten of his 14 touchdowns as a Bearcat went for 30-plus yards. Still, Scott still has a long way to develop in fundamental areas such as route running and footwork. Additionally, Scott’s considered undersized at 5-foot-10, which becomes a problem for contested catches. Considering Scott’s background and quick development, he could easily find work as a slot receiver and punt returner, although teams should take note of his hand size and strength so he works to secure catches.
50. Anton Harrison — 81.8 OVR
OT | Oklahoma
Positional Ranking: 4
A native of Washington D.C., Anton Harrison left Archbishop Carroll High School as a four-star recruit ranking among the top 200 prospects nationwide. Harrison left the East Coast to play for Oklahoma in 2020, playing in nine games as a reserve in his true freshman season. Harrison surged up the depth chart as a sophomore, starting in 12 of 13 games at left tackle in 2021. During his junior year, Harrison started one game at right tackle and the other 11 games at left tackle, a performance which earned him first-team All-Big 12 Conference notice.
On paper, the 6-foot-4 Harrison seems to have the traits needed to excel as an NFL tackle. He does have the size and length, but his athleticism is relatively average. The great aspect of Harrison’s game is that he’s been able to recognize his strengths and weaknesses early on, focusing his energy on highlighting his strengths and downplaying his weaknesses. Harrison is patient, remains active on the play when uncovered, and utilizes the length of his arms and hands to throw off rushers. Playing at the NFL level and facing NFL speed could present problems, but Harrison can rely on his knowledge and positioning to maintain the upper hand. While there are physical limitations to what Harrison can do, he’s proven that he can brilliantly overcome these challenges by honing his technique and anticipating rushers.