We’re on to 2023.
It is time to begin to shut the books on the 2022 NFL draft and start to look forward to subsequent yr’s group. And oh boy, is it one. Now we have high-end defensive stars, together with a standout edge rusher from Alabama. Now we have elite playmakers on offense. And if the shortage of nice 2022 quarterback prospects received you down, the 2023 group appears incredible, beginning with two potential QB1s proper on the high.
In fact, the 2023 draft remains to be 12 months away and there’s a lot to be taught concerning the class. And over the following few months, you may be taught increasingly more concerning the high names accessible and their strengths. However for now, let’s take a fast introductory have a look at what might be an impressive group of prospects.
NFL draft analysts Matt Miller and Jordan Reid are right here to reply 11 massive questions concerning the high gamers, who might go No. 1 general and who’s flying below the radar within the early going. Get your notebooks prepared — it is time to begin evaluating the 2023 class. And for extra on what to anticipate from the 2023 class, try Todd McShay’s way-too-early mock draft of Spherical 1 on Thursday.
Make your decide proper now: Who would be the No. 1 decide within the 2023 NFL draft?
Reid: The quarterbacks would be the well-liked alternative, however I am going one other route: Alabama edge rusher Will Anderson Jr. He’s the best edge rusher Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban has ever had, as indicated by his nation-leading 34.5 tackles for loss and 17.5 sacks, and I anticipate him to have simply nearly as good of a season in 2022. At 6-foot-4 and 243 kilos, Anderson is a flexible participant who’s agency towards the run and an aggressive and artful wrecking ball of aggression as a pass-rusher.
Miller: It is very exhausting to choose towards Anderson, and he’d be my early name right here, too. However this is one other title to control: Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud. The second-year starter did battle early within the 2021 season however composed himself and tossed 44 landing passes to only six interceptions. He is a strong-armed quarterback who can play from the pocket. There may be nonetheless rather a lot to find out about Stroud since he has began simply 12 video games, however proper now, he is the quarterback I like most for 2023.
What are the largest strengths of quarterbacks Bryce Young (Alabama) and Stroud?
Miller: Younger (6-foot, 194 kilos) is a rhythm passer who’s extremely correct to all ranges of the sector. He is dynamic sufficient along with his legs to create passing home windows and might decide up yards as a scrambler. He is a degree guard on the quarterback place. And Stroud (6-3, 215) has a stronger arm and is ready to bounce off would-be-tacklers. Stroud’s subject imaginative and prescient, arm energy and second-effort playmaking capacity are his largest strengths.
Who’re the opposite quarterbacks we must always know within the Class of 2023?
Reid: Boston Faculty’s Phil Jurkovec had loads of buzz final preseason, however surgical procedure for a damaged proper wrist pressured him to overlook eight video games, and he returned for his senior season. Two others to control who’ve been repeatedly introduced up when discussing subsequent yr’s high QBs: Kentucky’s Will Levis and Miami’s Tyler Van Dyke.
Would Anderson have been the No. 1 decide if he was eligible for the 2022 draft?
Miller: Completely! Anderson is that proficient, and as we noticed, NFL groups have been valuing the pass-rushers this yr over offensive tackles and quarterbacks. Anderson has the manufacturing that Travon Walker did not have (17.5 sacks in 2021). He’s rather a lot like Kayvon Thibodeaux by way of his first-step quickness, however he performs with rather more energy regardless of being listed 10 kilos lighter (245). Anderson is a poised, polished pass-rusher with really particular burst, energy and pass-rush strikes.
Outdoors of Anderson, who’re the highest defenders to know?
Reid: The early outlook for the 2023 line of defense prospects appears promising. Georgia defensive sort out Jalen Carter already has a number of followers inside the league. One space scout advised me, “[Carter] was the perfect participant on the [Georgia] protection final yr, and it wasn’t shut.” After a standout sophomore season, much more consideration can be on Carter now that he is draft eligible and one of many few stars returning on that Bulldogs protection.
One other participant I feel might shortly cement himself within the dialogue on the high of the positional rankings with a robust season is Alabama cornerback Eli Ricks. He performed at LSU throughout his first two seasons however made the in-conference switch to the Crimson Tide. At 6-2, 190, Ricks is a protracted press nook who shows loads of hip fluidity, method and confidence.
Is there a transparent high extensive receiver in subsequent yr’s draft?
Miller: Ohio State’s Jaxon Smith-Njigba will carry the WRU torch for the Buckeyes subsequent yr, and he may really be a greater prospect than Garrett Wilson or Chris Olave. JSN went off final yr to the tune of 95 catches, greater than 1,600 yards and 9 scores. And he did that whereas sharing targets with two 2022 first-rounders on the place.
His chemistry with Stroud late within the season was electrical, as the 2 related 60 instances for 958 yards and 6 touchdowns within the last 5 video games. Smith-Njigba completed off his 2021 season with a record-setting efficiency within the Rose Bowl against Utah, during which he went for 15 catches and 347 yards. He ought to decide up in 2022 proper the place he left off.
No operating backs went within the first spherical this yr. May we see one on Day 1 in 2023?
Reid: Primarily based on the early outlook, operating again is among the strongest models general subsequent yr. The “by no means take a operating again within the first spherical” philosophy can be put to the check subsequent yr. Bijan Robinson (Texas) is already seen as one of many high prospects on the place after speeding for 1,127 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2021. Two others to control are Alabama’s Jahmyr Gibbs and Ole Miss’ Zach Evans.
What’s the energy of the 2023 class?
Reid: The quarterback, operating again, extensive receiver and line of defense teams all look promising, and it looks as if the offensive class can be a lot stronger than the 2022 crop, however rather a lot can change in a matter of months. It positive appears like we’re headed towards one other robust WR class. Smith-Njigba will in all probability be WR1, however Kayshon Boutte (LSU) and Jordan Addison (Pittsburgh, at present within the switch portal) might make it an attention-grabbing race on the high.
Miller: To me the quarterback group is powerful however unproven, whereas the line of defense class is completely stacked. Anderson is the highest prospect for a lot of good causes, however he’ll be joined by potential first-rounders equivalent to Carter and Nolan Smith at Georgia, Bryan Bresee and Myles Murphy at Clemson, and BJ Ojulari at LSU. Whereas there may be a number of potential at quarterback, there are a number of already confirmed playmakers on the line of defense.
Who’s one different possible first-rounder we must always know?
Reid: Northwestern offensive sort out Peter Skoronski is a reputation to know. He took over for Rashawn Slater (a first-rounder in 2021) with none sort of drop-off final season. At 6-4, 294, he might want to proceed so as to add weight, however he has clear tape in move safety and exhibits loads of angle as a run-blocker. With a repeat efficiency of final season, it would not be shocking to see Skoronski find yourself a top-15 decide.
Miller: Alabama extensive receiver Jermaine Burton is doubtlessly the Tide’s subsequent nice receiver. A switch from Georgia, Burton caught 26 passes for 5 touchdowns final yr in an offense that is constructed fully across the operating recreation. Now at Alabama, Burton has the potential to turn out to be Younger’s go-to choice.
Are there any potential high picks from Group of 5 colleges?
Reid: Military defensive finish Andre Carter II continually jumps off the tape. At 6-7, 250, he primarily performed as a stand-up defensive finish final season and he performs with a motor that does not flip off. Carter had 15.5 sacks in 2021 and he has an opportunity to turn out to be the highest-drafted participant from a service academy since Mike Wahle (1998, supplemental draft).
Miller: Fresno State quarterback Jake Haener is one to observe. He’s just a little undersized (6-1, 195) however lit up the Mountain West final yr to the tune of 33 touchdowns to only eight interceptions and over 4,000 yards. He is not an elite operating menace, however his accuracy and subject imaginative and prescient are spectacular.
Who’s one under-the-radar prospect everybody ought to know?
Reid: There at all times appears to be a QB within the draft who makes main strides of their growth to considerably elevate their inventory. Regulate Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker to be that man in 2023. After transferring from Virginia Tech, Hooker had an enormous yr in coach Josh Heupel’s explosive offense, posting profession highs in passing yards (2,945), TD passes (31) and completion share (68.2%). At 6-4, 218, he’s comfy inside and outdoors of the pocket and he can hit on passes to all three ranges of the sector.
Miller: The quarterbacks will as soon as once more dominate the dialog within the 2023 class, and I’ve to say Kentucky’s Levis right here. He is a 6-3, 232-pound junior who has the arm and bodily traits to get NFL scouts excited. He has to chop down on his turnovers (13 interceptions final yr), however as he positive factors expertise, that is very attainable. Levis is not the red-hot title that Younger or Stroud is true now, however he is a possible first-round expertise.