• Alabama's Bryce Young headlines the team at quarterback. He had earned a 91.7 PFF grade on 152 dropbacks before leaving the Crimson Tide's Week 5 game against Arkansas.
• Texas RB Bijan Robinson will be going in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft. He is not only the FBS leader in missed tackles forced, but he also ranks fifth in receiving yards among running backs.
Estimated Reading Time: 7 minutes
This week's scouting notebook turns to the 2023 NFL Draft and the midseason college football All-Prospect Team.
This team doesn't necessarily feature the top prospect at each position. Instead, it includes the prospects who have performed the best this season, which means you won’t see the likes of Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter or Ohio State receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba, who’ve been banged up this year.
The stats aren’t getting gassed up by Jameson Williams housing 50-plus-yarders this year, but make no mistake, Young was still playing at an elite level before his shoulder injury. He had earned a 91.7 grade on 152 dropbacks before leaving the Crimson Tide's Week 5 game against Arkansas. He had recorded all of three turnover-worthy plays all year before going down.
Size concerns be damned — NFL teams should not pass on him next April.
This one was hotly contested: Blake Corum has the highest rushing grade among starters, Chase Brown has the most rushing yards and Miyan Williams has been the most efficient.
Ultimately, Robinson’s all-around game earned the nod. He is not only the FBS leader in missed tackles forced (40), but he also ranks fifth in receiving yards among running backs, with 203 on only 12 receptions.
He’s going in the first round.
WR: Jordan Addison, USC
WR: Rashee Rice, SMU
Compared to past classes, it has been a down year for this year's receivers — and that's an understatement. Drake London had already amassed 832 yards and 64 receptions through six weeks last year. This year, only five draft-eligible Power Five receivers have over 500 yards, and none are considered potential first-rounders at the moment.
Rice has been the best non-Power Five receiver this season, totaling 46 catches for 685 yards and four scores in only five games. As a result, he’s put himself firmly in the Day 2 mix.
Addison hasn’t put up the gaudy numbers that won him the Biletnikoff Award last year, but he’s been uber-efficient when called upon, hauling in 32-of-40 targets for 479 yards and six scores. He’s making a strong play for WR1 next spring.
Slot WR: Jacob Cowing, Arizona
Honorable Mention: Nathaniel Dell (Houston)
Cowing transferred from UTEP to Arizona and hasn’t missed a beat from a production standpoint. His 643 yards rank second among Power Five receivers this season, while his seven scores rank third.
While he’s not exclusively a slot — 32.7% of his snaps still come out wide — the 5-foot-11, 175-pounder will likely end up there in the NFL, which could push him toward early Day 3.
Very few tight ends in the history of college football have served as the clear-cut focal point of their offense, and Mayer is one of them. The 6-foot-4, 265-pounder has 47 targets on the season — 22 more than anyone else for Notre Dame — and he has turned those into 33 catches for 351 yards and five scores.
Mayer hasn’t dropped a pass and has gone 8-of-11 in contested situations. He’ll be in the first-round mix, even without ideal speed.
Honorable Mention: Blake Freeland (BYU)
Skoronski will come with size and length concerns but not performance ones. He’s allowed only two pressures on 288 pass-blocking snaps this season, and if he continues at this pace, it will be the single most impressive pass-blocking season we will have seen from a tackle in our nine years of college grading.
He should be the first offensive lineman off the board.
Honorable Mention: Andrew Vorhees (USC)
After playing left tackle last season, Beebe kicked inside to the spot he’s likely to play in the NFL. Unsurprisingly, he’s been outstanding in pass protection, with only three pressures allowed on 165 pass-blocking snaps.
He looks quite clearly like a Day 2 guard prospect at the moment.
Honorable Mention: Luke Wypler (Ohio State)
There may not be a more NFL-ready offensive lineman in the class.
It obviously helps that he’s a sixth-year with 2,037 career snaps under his belt. He’s earned a 91.8 overall grade this season, the highest of any offensive lineman in the FBS.
Honorable Mention: Emil Ekiyor Jr. (Alabama)
Torrence took a step up in competition from Louisiana last year to Florida this year, so he decided to take a step up in his performance, as well. He’s earned an 89.6 overall grade this season after an 88.2 overall grade in 2021. The balance he plays with at 347 pounds is a sight to behold and may very well make him a first-rounder.
Honorable Mention: Alex Palczewski (Illinois)
Jones is a mammoth 6-foot-8, 350-pound tackle whose draft prospects will be debated next spring. He’s nearly an impenetrable wall on the right side for the Buckeyes, though, as he’s given up only two hurries on 181 pass-blocking snaps this season with no sacks or hits allowed.
Two undersized yet active defensive tackles. Kancey is hands down the quickest defensive tackle in the country, while Turner may very well be the most violent.
Kancey's 91.5 pass-rush grade leads the position, as he’s already racked up 25 pressures on the season. Turner isn’t too far behind with a 90.1 pass-rushing grade, and he’s earned the highest overall grade of any defensive tackle this season (91.9).
Both will get knocked for their size: Kancey is listed at 6-foot, 280 pounds, and Turner is 6-foot-3, 290 pounds. Still, both should be in the second-round mix.
EDGE: Will Anderson Jr., Alabama
EDGE: Tyree Wilson, Texas Tech
Anderson’s dominance has become old news, as his eight sacks lead the nation. He’ll be a top-five pick.
Wilson is much more of a riser and could end up a top-10 pick when it’s all said and done. The 6-foot-6, 275-pounder's 31 quarterback pressures leads the country.
Pace is your quintessential “everything but coverage” linebacker prospect — the kind that would have thrived in the '80s and '90s. He has the highest pass-rushing grade of any off-ball linebacker this season (93.1), and he’s tied with Tyree Wilson for the FBS lead in pressures with 31. That’s absurd for an off-ball linebacker. He’s also tied with Ventrell Miller for the fifth-highest run-defense grade in college football (90.2).
Miller has enjoyed a massive bounce-back season after tearing his biceps 46 snaps into 2021. He’s allowed only 76 yards in coverage all season.
Phillips is the highest-graded corner in the FBS this season (90.7) and leads the FBS with five interceptions already. At 5-foot-10, 183 pounds, his size will work against him, but I doubt he will fall out of the second round because of it.
Those same size concerns do not apply to Porter, however. The senior corner has locked down his side of the field so well that opposing quarterbacks have stopped testing him. In his last three games, he’s allowed only one catch on six targets and broken up three passes. Better yet, he has given up only 89 yards on the season.
Slot CB: Brian Branch, Alabama
If you want a versatile coverage defender in this class, Branch is your guy. On 18 targets in coverage, he has allowed 12 catches for only 68 yards with three pass breakups. Of those 12 catches, just three went for a first down. Oh, and he’s the best tackler in the country, with only one miss on 31 attempts. He may not be the “toolsiest,” but he could sneak into Round 1.
Honorable Mention: Quindell Johnson (Memphis)
This is far from a banner safety class, and the best ones at the collegiate level are manning the slot. That said, Christopher Smith and Rashad Torrence II have upped their stock with their performances this season.
Smith has been outstanding in coverage, allowing only four catches on nine targets for 27 yards. He’s added two picks and a pass breakup, as well.
Torrence has thrived being around the football more. He has 52 tackles on the season and has given up just 40 yards in coverage.