NFL Draft News & Analysis

2023 NFL Draft: Midseason Top 50 Big Board

Knoxville, Tennessee, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Bryce Young (9) looks to pass the ball against the Tennessee Volunteers during the first quarter at Neyland Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

The PFF draft board was due for a refresh at the midway point of the 2022 college football season.

Quarterback-needy teams, you’re in luck: This is one heck of a quarterback class, with five signal-callers making the top 50. It’s also a strong class at edge defender, running back, defensive tackle, cornerback and tight end. 

1. QB Bryce Young, Alabama  (Junior)

Even without the two top-50 picks he had at receiver a season ago, Young is still the highest-graded quarterback in the country this season (92.2).

He’s come up big in crunch time on multiple occasions and shown the “it” factor it takes to succeed in the NFL. The scary thing is that his stats should look even better, but he’s suffered a 10.1% drop rate from his receivers this year. His size could scare teams off in a talented quarterback class, but it’s about the only knock on his game.

2. Edge Will Anderson, Alabama (Junior)

You won’t find many 243-pound edge rushers who come with no concerns about their size. And that’s just how powerful and explosive Anderson is.

After leading the country in pressures as a true sophomore, Anderson has 28 so far this season as the focal point of the Bama defense. 

3. QB Will Levis, Kentucky (RS Senior)

Levis has tools for days. Quick release, howitzer arm, legit rushing ability — Levis has it all. And unlike most quarterbacks billed for their tools at the collegiate level, Levis isn’t far off from being able to operate an NFL offense because he’s been doing it the last two years under current (Liam Coen) and former (Rich Scangarello) NFL offensive coordinators.

4. QB C.J. Stroud, Ohio State (Junior)

Stroud will get the “Ohio State quarterback” knock, given the success of his predecessors, but he operates the position differently than Dwayne Haskins and Justin Fields did. He’s a pure pocket passer who’s been tremendous at avoiding sacks over his career, with only an 11.3% pressure-to-sack conversion rate.

5. DI Jalen Carter, Georgia  (Junior)

Carter has been hampered by an injury in the early going and has been limited to only 65 snaps. However, his work as a sophomore in 2021 is enough to solidify his top-five draft stock, as he led the Bulldogs with a 90.0 pass-rushing grade.

6. DI Bryan Bresee, Clemson (Junior)

Bresee is not your run-of-the-mill defensive tackle. At 6-foot-5, 300 pounds, he’s not holding an ounce of bad weight and could pass for a defensive end from a build perspective. He’s one of the best pure penetrators in the class and earned a 77.2 pass-rushing grade this season.

7. T Peter Skoronski, Northwestern (Junior)

Skoronski is in the middle of the single most dominant pass-blocking season we’ve seen in our nine years of college grading. On 288 pass-blocking snaps, he has allowed only two pressures. That’s it.

His 93.0 pass-blocking grade is far and away tops in the country.

8. Edge Myles Murphy, Clemson (Junior)

Murphy is still a bit of a bull in a china shop, but at 6-foot-5, 275 pounds, he’s one strong bull. You see it most in the run game, where Murphy has earned a 92.1 grade for his career

9. WR Quentin Johnston, TCU  (Junior)

In nine years of college grading, I can say with certainty we have not seen a wide receiver quite like Johnston. At a rangy 6-foot-4, 215 pounds, he is a terror with the ball in his hands. His broken-tackle rate over his career is unlike anything we’ve graded, with 40 forced missed tackles on 89 career receptions.

That’s what you’d expect from a receiver with a running back-esque build like Deebo Samuel, not a pterodactyl like Johnston.

10. Edge Nolan Smith, Georgia  (Senior)

Smith is next in the line of athletic marvels the Bulldogs have produced in recent years. The 6-foot-3, 235-pounder can fly sideline to sideline. You also see him play with physicality at that size, with run-defense grades of 90.6 and 81.4 the past two seasons. He needs more ways to win as a pass-rusher, but you bet on the athlete.

11. Edge Tyree Wilson, Texas Tech  (RS Senior)

Wilson bet on himself by returning for a fifth year, and it looks like it’s going to pay off for him. He came back a different player and already has an FBS-high 31 pressures on the season after recording 37 a year ago. He’s a unique projection at 6-foot-6, 275 pounds with a 7-foot-plus wingspan.

12. CB Cam Smith, South Carolina (RS Junior)

After producing three picks and nine pass breakups last season, Smith is simply being avoided by quarterbacks this season. He’s allowed only six catches on 13 targets for 38 yards in five games — less than eight yards a game.

13. TE Michael Mayer, Notre Dame  (Junior)

Mayer looks like one of the safest picks in the draft. Not only is he the focal point of Notre Dame’s offense — he has 38 catches for 411 yards and five scores on the year — but he also works his backside off in the run game. At 6-foot-4, 265 pounds, he’s built for the NFL.

14. WR Jordan Addison, USC  (Junior)

Addison is the next slim all-around separator who should be plug-and-play in the NFL. At 6-foot, 175 pounds, he’s not going to be your contested-catch guy, but with how often he’s open, he doesn’t have to. For his career, Addison has hauled in 70.3% of his targets with a healthy 11.2-yard average depth of target.

15. CB Kelee Ringo, Georgia (RS Sophomore)

Ringo had a bit of a slow start to the season but has rebounded nicely, allowing only four catches on 13 targets for 86 yards over his last four games. He looks like a walked-out linebacker at 6-foot-2, 210 pounds, and he plays with that kind of physicality on the outside.

16. S Brian Branch, Alabama (Junior)

Branch is just a football player. He’s sound in every facet of the game and fills the ever-valuable slot role in Alabama’s defense. You want him around the ball with how lights-out he is as a tackler. On 125 career tackle attempts, Branch has missed only two. 

17. QB Tanner McKee, Stanford (RS Sophomore)

While McKee is technically a redshirt sophomore, he was in the same recruiting class as Trevor Lawrence before taking a two-year LDS mission after high school. Between middling receiver talent, a dated scheme and a porous offensive line, he’s had to overcome a fairly rough situation for the Cardinal the past two seasons. Still, he’s shown growth from 2021 to 2022, as he’s earned a 79.5 passing grade this season.

18. T Paris Johnson, Ohio State (RS Sophomore)

Johnson has looked more comfortable in his first year at left tackle after staring at right guard in 2021. He’s allowed only four pressures on 181 pass-blocking snaps.

19. Edge Andre Carter, Army (RS Junior)

Carter was tied with Aidan Hutchinson for the highest pass-rushing grade in the nation last season (93.4). This year, teams are chipping and double-teaming him to the point where very few are even giving him a chance to attack their quarterback. As such, he’s rushed the passer only 86 times on the season and has 10 pressures. 

20. CB Jaylon Jones, Texas A&M (Junior)

One of the biggest risers this season, Jones has shown a very mature playstyle through four games. He’s allowed only four catches on seven targets for 44 yards.  At 6-foot-2, 205 pounds, he has ideal size for the position in the NFL.

21. Edge Jared Verse, Florida State (RS Junior)

Verse is one heck of an explosive athlete off the edge. After transferring from Albany to Florida State this offseason, he’s been a revelation for the Seminoles. He’s earned an 86.2 pass-rushing grade despite playing through a knee injury.

22. RB Bijan Robinson, Texas (Junior)

This is about as high as you’ll realistically see us put a running back on the draft board. Robinson gets such a billing because he’s exactly where the NFL game is going — he is a space player who can make two-high defenses pay. His 56 broken tackles lead the nation. 

23. Edge Felix Anudike-Uzomah, Kansas State (Junior)

Anudike-Uzomah is a bendy edge rusher who will test the upfield shoulder of any tackle. He’s got tremendous balance, which shows in several ways, most frequently in how he can close easily to quarterbacks. He has 19 sacks since the start of last season.

24. WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Ohio State  (Junior)

A hamstring injury has derailed JSN’s junior campaign, but he’s still the same guy who put up 95 catches for 1,595 yards and nine scores a season ago. He’s an uber-reliable slot option with plus YAC ability. 

25. T Broderick Jones, Georgia  (RS Sophomore)

Jones has passed his early tests in his first full season at the Bulldogs starting left tackle but still has a few to come in the SEC. He’s allowed no sacks, no hits and only four hurries on 233 pass-blocking snaps. He’s the former top tackle recruit in the 2020 class and finally getting his chance to show what he can do. 

26. S Antonio Johnson, Texas A&M (Junior)

Johnson is a unique safety at 6-foot-3, 195 pounds. He’s a long, rangy tackler who operates out of the slot for the Aggies. He may not be the best pure coverage safety, but he knows how to find ball carriers in space and already has 14 defensive stops.

27. Edge Isaiah Foskey, Notre Dame (Senior)

Foskey hasn’t made the same leap this season as he did in 2021, as his run-defense and pass-rushing grades have taken a small step back. He’s still the type of player who’s built more for the NFL game than the college game, given his ability to set the edge and push the pocket consistently.

28. LB Trenton Simpson, Clemson (Junior)

Simpson is everything you are looking for in a modern coverage linebacker. After playing the slot last season, he’s kicked into the box this year, where he’s not looked out of place. He’s allowed only 16 catches and 123 yards across 26 targets in coverage.

29. Edge B.J. Ojulari, LSU  (Junior)

Ojulari may never be your do-it-all run defender at 6-foot-3 and 250 pounds, but he’s got a full toolbox to attack opposing quarterbacks. And that’s all he’s done since arriving at LSU. In three years, he’s racked up 104 pressures, including 26 in only five games this season.

30. T Anton Harrison, Oklahoma  (Junior)

Harrison’s mirroring ability at 6-foot-5, 315 pounds is what earns him this spot on the list. You see the natural athleticism in every pass set he takes, even if his technique isn’t quite dialed in yet. He earned an 85.6 pass-blocking grade last season and is at 79.8 in 2022.

31. WR Josh Downs, North Carolina (Junior)

Downs brings to the table what every offense is looking for nowadays: electricity. I don’t care who he is going up against, corners are not going to be able to mirror him before and after the catch. It’s why he’s hauled in a ridiculous 86% of his targets (37-of-43) for 425 yards and five scores in only five games. His 5-foot-10, 175-pound stature will obviously limit his stock, but he’s athletic enough to overcome it. 

32. CB Christian Gonzalez, Oregon (Junior)

At 6-foot-2 and 201 pounds, Gonzalez has the kind of size everyone is looking for in a boundary corner. He’s already had a career year in terms of ball production, with his first career pick and four pass breakups.

33. G O’Cyrus Torrence, Florida (Senior)

Torrence transferred from Louisiana to Florida this offseason and stepped up his play in a big way. He earned an 88.2 overall grade for the Ragin’ Cajuns last season, but obviously the level of competition was a concern. This season that’s been erased facing an SEC slate, as he’s bumped his grade to 89.6 overall.

34. CB Joey Porter Jr., Penn State (RS Junior)

Porter is a long, physical outside corner who’s in the middle of a career year. Through six games, he’s broken up eight passes and allowed only 11 catches and 100 yards across 24 targets. 

35. T Olu Fashanu, Penn State (RS Sophomore)

Another Penn State breakout star, Fashanu played all of 85 career snaps prior to 2022. This season, he’s been one of the nation’s best pass protectors, having allowed no sacks, no hits and only six hurries on 214 pass-blocking snaps. He’s not a particularly high-end athlete, but he’s a smooth mover with easy anchor ability.

36. CB Clark Phillips, Utah (Junior)

Phillips currently owns the eighth-highest coverage grade in all of college football (86.1). He always seems to be around the football and already has five picks on 41 targets this season. At only 5-foot-10, 183 pounds, his size will be his biggest concern coming out.

37. DI Siaki Ika, Baylor (RS Junior)

Ika is a hulking 6-foot-4, 358-pound nose tackle. He’s one of the rare athletes at that size who can still affect the passer. Ika has racked up 42 pressures since the start of the 2021 season.

38. CB Garrett Williams, Syracuse  (Junior)

Williams has been starting ever since he was a true freshman for the Orange and has played nothing but quality football over that span. He’s racked up 14 career pass breakups and four picks in two and a half seasons.

39. CB Kris Abrams-Draine, Missouri (RS Sophomore)

Abrams-Draine is a former wide receiver turned cornerback. After playing primarily in the slot in 2021, Abrams-Draine has been solely an outside corner this season and is still excelling. Through five games, he’s allowed only nine catches from 25 targets for 104 yards with three pass breakups.

40. C Luke Wypler, Ohio State (RS Sophomore)

Despite his young age, Wypler is already one of the most consistent centers in the country. On 354 pass-blocking snaps this season, he’s allowed a total of one QB hurry.

41. LB Drew Sanders, Arkansas (Junior)

Sanders is a former Alabama on-ball linebacker. The 6-foot-5, 232-pounder has maintained that pass-rushing prowess in an off-ball role after transferring to Arkansas and flourished playing in space. He’s racked up 25 pressures on 87 pass-rushing snaps this season and forced four fumbles. He just needs to clean up his tackling, as he’s missed 18 of 77 attempts so far this season.

42. IOL Andrew Vorhees, USC (6th-Year Senior)

Vorhees is as steady as they come along the offensive line. He earned a 90.1 overall grade last season between left tackle and left guard for the Trojans and has earned an 80.4 overall grade through seven weeks this season.

43. TE Dalton Kincaid, Utah (RS Senior)

Kincaid blends receiver-esque route-running ability with tight end size at 6-foot-4 and 240 pounds. He’s still on the smaller end for the position, but with his willingness in the run game, he can get by at the next level. He’s already surpassed his receiving yards total from 2021, with 39 catches for 558 yards and six scores this season.

44. Edge Will McDonald, Iowa State (RS Senior)

McDonald is an explosive, undersized edge rusher who’s been miscast in Iowa State’s defense. He’s played 138 of his 309 snaps over or inside tackles this season at 6-foot-3, 236 pounds. When you see him work on the edge, you see the natural pass-rushing ability that has helped him rack up 60 pressures since the start of last year.

45. DI Calijah Kancey, Pittsburgh (RS Junior)

At 6-foot, 280 pounds, Kancey may not tick the physical boxes from the defensive tackle position, but I still want this guy rushing the passer. He already has so many ways to win, and it’s why he leads the Power Five with a 91.6 pass-rushing grade. Even though he’s undersized, he’s still a high-end athlete for the position who can likely overcome those concerns.

46. WR Kayshon Boutte, LSU (Junior)

Needless to say, things have not quite gone how Boutte had hoped this season. We saw the flashes again this past week of why he could be so special, with six catches for 115 yards against Florida. Before that, though, he had only 17 catches for 130 yards. 

47. Edge Byron Young, Tennessee (Senior)

Young has taken a circuitous route to becoming a top prospect. He wasn’t even playing college football until he saw a flyer for Georgia Military College’s open tryouts while working at Dollar General. Four years later, he leads the Vols with 28 pressures on the season. He’s a twitched-up 6-foot-3, 245-pounder who’s been improving on a weekly basis.

48. TE Luke Musgrave, Oregon State (RS Junior)

It’s unfortunate that we’ve only gotten to see two full games of Musgrave this season because he looked like he was on his way to something special. The 6-foot-6, 250-pounder had 11 catches for 169 yards through that span and looked like a special athlete for the position. 

49. QB Hendon Hooker, Tennessee  (6th-Year Senior)

Hooker has skyrocketed up draft boards with his performance this season. Once known more for his rushing ability, Hooker has made leaps and bounds as a passer since transferring from Tennessee. He’s seen his grade improve every year as a passer all the way up to 90.0 this season. His playmaking ability and downfield accuracy will draw attention, even if he is on the older side.

50. Edge Adetomiwa Adebawore, Northwestern (Senior)

Adebawore is a unique specimen who has bridged the gap between edge-rusher and 3-technique in Northwestern’s defense at 6-foot-2, 280 pounds. He’s racked up 15 pressures and 13 run stops in six games this season. 

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