NFL Draft News & Analysis

2023 NFL Draft: Ranking the top 30 senior prospects

Lexington, Kentucky, USA; Kentucky Wildcats quarterback Will Levis (7) passes the ball during the third quarter against the Georgia Bulldogs at Kroger Field. Mandatory Credit: Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports

With the Senior Bowl and Shrine Bowl invites coming in hot and heavy over recent days, it is time to highlight the top senior draft prospects of the 2023 NFL Draft.

Let me start by saying that this was a difficult list to cut off. I initially aimed to rank the top 25 but felt compelled to extend it to 30 to give prospects their deserved hype. All the players on this list are still likely top-100 players on the PFF draft board, meaning there’s no shame in them not being at the top.

30. QB Hendon Hooker, Tennessee

BIG BOARD RANK: 104

The unfortunate reality is that Hooker turns 25 in January, he hails from one of the more “college-y” offenses in the country and is likely to miss a portion of his rookie season because of the ACL tear he suffered in November. Even though he was transcendent at times this season and boasts an NFL-caliber toolbox, Hooker is well behind the eight ball developmentally.

29. RB Zach Charbonnet, UCLA 

BIG BOARD RANK: 86

Charbonnet is the top true senior running back on the PFF draft board and has a very projectable all-around skill set. He racked up 1,358 yards on 194 carries with 14 scores this past season, earning the third-highest rushing grade in the country (93.6). Scouts will love that the UCLA back has fumbled only twice on 566 career carries.

28. Edge Byron Young, Tennessee 

BIG BOARD RANK: 45

Young ticks all the boxes you want from an edge rusher physically, at 6-foot-3, 245 pounds, with a lightning-quick first step. That being said, it only translated to a 63.4 overall grade this season. Combine that with the fact that he’ll be 25 on draft day, and he’s a developmental wild card.

27. DI Keondre Coburn, Texas 

BIG BOARD RANK: 56

Coburn has always possessed immense physical talent at 6-foot-2 and 340 pounds, but this season he really put it all together. He finished with an 80.2 pass-rushing grade and 28 pressures — a rarity for a man that size.

26. DI Karl Brooks, Bowling Green 

BIG BOARD RANK:94

Brooks is just your run-of-the-mill 6-foot-4, 300-pound edge rusher. He is violent into contact as a pass-rusher, and when he turns speed to power offensive tackles crumble in his path. He earned an 89.3 run-defense grade and a 91.3 pass-rushing grade this past season.

25. IOL John Michael Schmitz, Minnesota

BIG BOARD RANK: 68

Schmitz won’t wow you on tape the way Tyler Linderbaum or Cam Jurgens did last season; all he’ll do is play steady football from start to finish. He was the highest-graded center in college football this season (92.4) and possesses ideal size for the position at 6-foot-4, 320 pounds. Even at that size, Schmitz still excelled in an outside-zone-heavy scheme.

24. T Cody Mauch, NDSU

BIG BOARD RANK: 63

Hailing from North Dakota State’s run-heavy attack, Mauch comes with questions surrounding his pass protection that he’ll be able to answer in one-on-ones at the Senior Bowl. If he does, the sky is the limit for one of the most agile offensive linemen you’ll see in this class.

23. S Jordan Battle, Alabama

BIG BOARD RANK: 112

Battle is going to be starting in the league for a long time — he’s just a sound player across the board with very few holes to his game. He isn’t the high-end athletic safety who will be coveted in Round 1, but he’s been starting for four years at Alabama and never earned a below-average grade for a season.

22. WR Rashee Rice, SMU 

BIG BOARD RANK: 58

Rice is tailor-made to join the new wave of slot receivers in the NFL. At 6-foot-3, 206 pounds he can separate well in short areas with strong hands and plus YAC ability. It’s why he hauled in 96 catches for 1,344 yards and 10 scores this past season. Just don’t expect much in the way of deep speed.

21. DI Moro Ojomo, Texas 

BIG BOARD RANK: 90

Not often do you rave about a defensive tackle's play strength when they weigh only 281 pounds, but Ojomo is built differently. He broke out in a big way as a redshirt senior in 2022, earning a 90.9 run-defense grade and 85.3 pass-rushing grade.

20. EDGE Keion White, Georgia Tech 

BIG BOARD RANK: 53

White is quite the physical specimen at 6-foot-5, 286 pounds. He can really fly when he gets going (21 m.p.h. on the GPS, reportedly) and is a handful for any tackle one-on-one in the run game. The worry is that he’s on the older side as a sixth-year senior with a middling pass-rushing skill set, as he earned a 74.9 grade in that regard this past season.

19. EDGE Zach Harrison, Ohio State 

BIG BOARD RANK: 72

Harrison and Keion White are almost built from the same mold. The Ohio State edge is 6-foot-6 and 272 pounds with egregiously long arms, and he ran a verified 10.7-second 100m back in high school. His tape is very hot and cold, though, as he feasted on tackles who couldn’t match his physicality.

18. DI Mazi Smith, Michigan

BIG BOARD RANK: 71

Smith came in at No. 1 on Bruce Feldman’s freaks list in 2022, with reported workout numbers like a 6.95-second three-cone and 22 bench reps at 325 pounds — all at 337 pounds. You see flashes of that on tape, as his dominant reps are a sight to behold. Still, they aren’t as frequent as you’d like for a true senior, as indicated by his 75.5 overall grade.

17. DI Kobie Turner, Wake Forest 

BIG BOARD RANK: 60

Turner won't be everyone’s cup of tea from a measurables perspective. Flip on the tape, though, and you see one of the most consistent playmakers in college football. He is an absolute animal in the run game and has a non-stop motor. He earned a 93.2 run-defense grade this past season after transferring from Richmond.

16. EDGE Derick Hall, Auburn 

BIG BOARD RANK: 69

Hall is twitched up to the max off the edge. He’ll be in your quarterback's lap in a blink of an eye if your tackle oversets. Unfortunately, we never saw him take the proverbial next step — he earned pass-rushing grades of 82.2, 81.2 and 81.9 over the past three seasons.

15. EDGE Adetomiwa Adebawore, Northwestern 

BIG BOARD RANK: 49

Adebawore is a uniquely built 6-foot-2, 280-pound defensive lineman. That’s often “tweener size,” but he gets by both inside and outside on elite athleticism. His bend and leverage are tremendous for a man his size and should make him versatile at the next level.

14. EDGE Mike Morris, Michigan

BIG BOARD RANK: 52

Morris is a power edge at 6-foot-6, 292 pounds. He filled in for the loss of Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo swimmingly this season, producing 35 pressures and an 83.6 pass-rushing grade.

13. IOL Andrew Vorhees, USC

BIG BOARD RANK: 41

Vorhees is one of the most battle-tested offensive linemen in the draft class and maybe ever — he played 3,491 snaps in his six-year collegiate career. This past season, he earned an 82.5 run-blocking grade and an 80.1 pass-blocking grade.

12. S J.L. Skinner, Boise State 

BIG BOARD RANK: 67

Skinner is a 6-foot-4, 220-pound safety, not too dissimilar physically to Kyle Hamilton a season ago. He’s been around the football a ton, as well, with four picks this season and 56 defensive stops over the past two.

11. EDGE Andre Carter II, Army 

BIG BOARD RANK: 47

Carter is a unique projection to the next level for a number of reasons. Firstly, he’s 6-foot-7, 260 pounds with some serious quicks. Secondly, he plays at Army, a program that isn't supposed to produce top prospects and definitely isn’t training him to be in tip-top football shape year-round.

The converted tight end racked up 59 pressures in 2021 before opposing offenses wised up and pretty much never let him go one-on-one in obvious passing situations.

10. TE Dalton Kincaid, Utah

BIG BOARD RANK: 48

Kincaid has that “know it when you see it” ability to get open that separates (literally) the receiving tight ends at the next level. It’s also why he’s racked up 66 catches for 850 yards this season.

9. EDGE Will McDonald IV, Iowa State 

BIG BOARD RANK: 43

McDonald is an undersized edge-rusher (6-foot-3, 236 pounds) who has been seriously miscast in Iowa State’s defense over his career, as he was often asked to play 4- or 5-technique. When his elite athleticism gets a chance to work on the edge, he’s tough to stay in front of. He’s earned pass-rushing grades over 84.0 over the last two seasons.

8. TE Luke Musgrave, Oregon State 

BIG BOARD RANK: 42

Musgrave may very well be the most athletic tight end in the draft class. How swiftly he moves across the field at 6-foot-6, 250 pounds is really a sight to behold. He was on his way toward a monster season with 11 catches for 169 yards in two games before injury.

7. DI Siaki Ika, Baylor

BIG BOARD RANK: 36

Ika returned after a breakout 2021 campaign in hopes of springboarding toward the top 15 but didn’t quite have the dominant year he was hoping for. He was still a force to be reckoned with week in and week out at 6-foot-4, 358 pounds. He still brings pass-rushing prowess at that size, with 51 pressures over the past two seasons.

6. G O’Cyrus Torrence, Florida 

BIG BOARD RANK: 33

Torrence is an enormous guard — 6-foot-5, 347 pounds — with the balance and feet of an undersized guard. That’s a good combination to have. It’s why he was so successful and put up an 88.6 overall grade after transferring from Louisiana last season.

5. S Tyler Nubin, Minnesota 

BIG BOARD RANK: 51

Nubin is a superb athlete at 6-foot-2, 210 pounds. When changing directions, he’s lighter on his feet than most safeties much smaller than him. This past season, he picked off four passes and broke up four more.

4. CB Devon Witherspoon, Illinois

BIG BOARD RANK:38

One of the biggest risers in the 2023 draft class, Witherspoon had a statistical season for the ages this past fall. He allowed only 22 catches on 64 targets (34.4%) for 206 yards with three picks and 14 pass breakups. He allowed over 32 yards in one game all season, and in that game, he was targeted 15 times. On tape, you see him play with the exact type of fearless mentality you want to see in a corner.

3. EDGE Nolan Smith, Georgia 

BIG BOARD RANK: 9

Smith may be listed at only 235 pounds, but he’s the caliber of athlete that can play at that size off the edge. At that size, he’s also one hell of a run defender, which should come as no surprise if you follow the ethos of Georgia football. He earned run-defense grades of 82.4 and 90.6 over the past two seasons.

2. EDGE Tyree Wilson, Texas Tech

BIG BOARD RANK: 10

Wilson is an egregiously long 6-foot-6, 275-pound defensive end who plays with a mean streak. He racked up 50 pressures in only 10 games this season along with 24 run stops. Wilson is a scheme-diverse every-down difference-maker.

1. QB Will Levis, Kentucky

BIG BOARD RANK: 3

Quarterback positional value bumps Levis up to the top spot. He is next in the line of quarterback prospects with off-the-charts physical tools but stats that don’t come close to matching up. That may lead some to think Levis isn’t NFL-ready, but after two years under two different NFL offensive coordinators, he can handle an NFL playbook from day one as a starter.

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