NFL Draft News & Analysis

2023 NFL Draft Watch List: Offense

For an NFL draft analyst like myself, there’s no better time of the year than the week after the draft. The urgency and pressure of the past few months are gone, and a brand new draft class is on the horizon.

These are the top 2023 draft prospects at each position whom I’ll be diving into more over the summer.

Quarterback

Anthony Richardson, Florida

At 6-foot-4 and 236 pounds, Richardson can take over a game with both his arm and legs — it pops off the tape. His ability to flick it 50-plus yards on a rope has the attention of every NFL evaluator. Still, he was nowhere near consistent enough to be considered a top prospect. He finished with more turnover-worthy plays (five) than big-time throws (four) in half a season as a redshirt-freshman starter in 2021.

Bryce Young, Alabama

We’ll have months to debate whether the 6-foot, 194-pounder is big enough to hack it in the NFL. For now, let’s just appreciate that he’s the highest-graded returning Power Five quarterback in the country.

C.J. Stroud, Ohio State

Stroud has much better prototypical tools than Young and showed marked development in his first season as a starter. While he's buoyed by three first-round wideouts, his arm talent stands out in its own right.

Devin Leary, N.C. State

As a redshirt junior in 2021, Leary was one of college football’s most efficient passers. It was his third season as a starter, but he missed most of 2020 after breaking his leg. He committed only nine turnover-worthy plays on 472 dropbacks.  

Phil Jurkovec, Boston College

Jurkovec was once called the most talented quarterback Brian Kelly ever recruited, but he couldn't wrestle the starting job away from Ian Book at Notre Dame and was forced to transfer. While that talent is still there, Jurkovec has still never quite become a consistent quarterback.

Spencer Rattler, South Carolina

Rattler was thought to be the next Oklahoma quarterback to grace the NFL draft, but things went south from the jump in 2021. Through four games, he had made zero big-time throws and six turnover-worthy plays. By the time the Texas game rolled around, Rattler was off the rails enough to be benched. Now, he gets a fresh start under former offensive coordinator Shane Beamer at South Carolina. 

Tanner McKee, Stanford

McKee isn’t going to “wow” anyone statistically, but I can say on good authority that the 6-foot-6, 228-pounder is higher on the NFL's board than his pure numbers would suggest. His footwork and timing are already at an NFL level, and he posted a swift 2.48-second average time to throw last season. No one worked harder for their production among these top guys than the Stanford signal-caller.

Tyler Van Dyke, Miami (FL)

Van Dyke can really spin it and looks the part at 6-foot-4 and 224 pounds. He became a breakout candidate as a redshirt freshman last season when he showed well in place of D’Eriq King. To join the top tier of this class, he’ll still have to improve his accuracy a good amount after a 71.1% adjusted completion percentage last season.

Will Levis, Kentucky

Levis upset Nittany Lions fans last season after comfortably outplaying Sean Clifford his first year after transferring from Penn State. He’s got a lot of tools in his toolbox for a 6-foot-3, 232-pounder. He could stand to use his big arm more — he threw just 9.5 yards down the field on average last season — but he finished with a 90.6 overall grade in his first year as a starter. 


Running Back

Bijan Robinson, Texas

Get ready for another first-round running back in 2023. Robinson can truly do it all for the Longhorns. He broke 79 tackles on only 195 carries last year and added eight more broken tackles on 26 receptions. At 6-foot and 214 pounds, he has ideal size for the position, as well.

Blake Corum, Michigan

Corum may not have handled the full workload at Michigan, but he was quite clearly the most dangerous option in the Wolverines' backfield. He broke 49 tackles on 144 attempts and finished with 944 yards. He’s only 5-foot-8 and 200 pounds, but he still runs tough enough that his size shouldn’t be an issue in the NFL. 

DEUCE VAUGHN, KANSAS STATE 

The highest-graded rusher in college football as only a true sophomore last year, Vaughn is truly one of one. Where he gets drafted will be one of my favorite storylines to follow next spring because the uber-talented Wildcat back is a mere 5-foot-6 and 173 pounds. Expect Darren Sproles comps to get thrown out like candy on Halloween in his pre-draft process.

Devon Achane, Texas A&M

Achane is the fastest running back in the class, but he offers more than pure speed. He’s broken 53 tackles on 173 attempts in his career and earned rushing grades over 90.0 in each of his two seasons with the Aggies. He just needs to add more weight onto his 5-foot-9, 185-pound frame.

DeWayne McBride, UAB

I don’t know how McBride ended up with the Blazers because he’s looked like a top-tier NFL prospect since the day he stepped on campus. In two seasons with UAB, he’s racked up 1,805 yards on 251 attempts, averaging 5.24 yards after contact per carry. He lacks long speed but is explosive in tight quarters.

Jahmyr Gibbs, Alabama

After two years at Georgia Tech, Gibbs is slotted to be the next back for the Crimson Tide. The 5-foot-11, 200-pounder has some of the most impressive feet in the draft class and an ability to cut on a moment’s notice. He’s broken 69 tackles on 232 career attempts.

Miyan Williams, Ohio State

Unfortunately, Williams is still second fiddle to rising sophomore TreVeyon Henderson, who’ll be a top-50 prospect when he declares. But that’s not because Williams is lacking talent. At 5-foot-8 and 225 pounds, Williams resembles a bowling ball when he’s knocking down defenses. He broke 31 tackles on 71 carries last year, and he possesses one filthy stiff arm.

Sean Tucker, Syracuse

Tucker is as rocked up as you’ll see for a college running back. There’s very little fat on the 5-foot-10, 210-pound soon-to-be junior. It’s why he ran roughshod over the ACC last season with 1,515 yards on 247 carries and 4.1 yards after contact per carry.

Zach Charbonnet, UCLA

Charbonnet was a massive surprise to return to UCLA, as he most likely would have been a Day 2 selection in a weak 2022 running back class. He fell out of favor as a sophomore at Michigan in 2020 before transferring out west. Last season, he flourished under Chip Kelly and earned a 91.9 rushing grade.

Zach Evans, Ole Miss

The 2023 running back class will rival the class of 2017 in terms of talent, and Evans is another one with Day 1 potential. He glides so easily across the football field at 5-foot-11 and 212 pounds. He was on track for a monster 2021 season, with 648 yards through six games, before he was shut down with a toe injury. 


Wide Receiver

KAYSHON BOUTTE, LSU

Give Boutte a stable quarterback situation and watch out. He managed 503 yards in six games last year before an ankle injury cost him his season. Here’s hoping he comes back the same explosive dude, as he’s already undergone multiple procedures to fix his broken ankle.

Keytaon Thompson, Virginia

There was a time when Thompson was supposed to be Mississippi State’s next big thing … at quarterback. After three years of trying to make that work for the Bulldogs, Thompson transferred to Virginia to pick up the receiver position. He’s still developing in that regard, but he has shown exceptional after-the-catch ability. He broke 22 tackles on 78 catches last season and added 22 more on 39 carries.

Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Ohio State

Smith-Njigba already has a stronger build than both of his Buckeye counterparts who were drafted in the top 11 this year. The 6-foot, 198-pound receiver also led the team in yards and receptions last year. He’ll have to prove he can do it outside, though, after taking 88.6% of his snaps from the slot in 2021.

Jordan Addison, TBD

Addison is officially in the transfer portal after winning the Biletnikoff Award as a sophomore with the Pittsburgh Panthers last year. He’s still a touch skinny at 6-foot and 175 pounds, but he's as dynamic as can be at that size. Hia drops will have to be monitored after he recorded 21 In his first two seasons.

Josh Downs, North Carolina

Downs may very well be the most twitched-up receiver in the country. The 5-foot-10, 180-pounder has to be to get drafted high, though. He averaged 7.5 yards after the catch per reception last season.

Parker Washington, Penn State

Washington was the much more solidly built foil to the undersized Jahan Dotson in the Penn State offense. At 5-foot-10 and 207 pounds, he’s got a stronger frame than some running backs on this list. That showed after the catch — he broke 16 tackles on 64 catches as a true sophomore in 2021.

Quentin Johnston, TCU

Johnston can take the top off opposing defenses but does so at a size not normally seen from a big-play threat. The 6-foot-4, 201-pound receiver has averaged 19.8 yards per catch in his two seasons for the Horned Frogs.


Tight End

Arik Gilbert, Georgia

Gilbert is a true freak of nature at 6-foot-5 and 248 pounds — so much so that he flipped from tight end to wide receiver for the Bulldogs. The biggest worry is if this talent will return, as he missed all of last season for undisclosed personal reasons.

Darnell Washington, Georgia

Washington bridges the gap between tight end and tackle for the Bulldogs' offense. At 6-foot-7 and 265 pounds, he currently is getting utilized more for his blocking than his receiving prowess.

Jaheim Bell, South Carolina

Bell still needs to add to his 6-foot-3, 230-pound frame, but he’s got the goods to excel as an undersized tight end. The Gamecock moves like a jumbo running back after the catch, with 13 broken tackles on only 30 catches as a sophomore last season.

Jahleel Billingsley, Texas

Billingsley fell out of favor in Alabama’s offenses last season and was infamously the inspiration of a Nick Saban preseason rant. Now at Texas, he needs to be more consistent and willing to do the little things of the position because he possesses NFL-caliber receiving ability.

Michael Mayer, Notre Dame

Mayer is the most complete tight end on this list already — he won’t win too many underwear Olympics before the draft, but he’s as reliable as they come on the football field. He hauled in 71 passes for 840 yards and seven scores as a sophomore last season.

Sam LaPorta, Iowa

LaPorta likely could have been a late Day 2 pick in the 2022 NFL Draft if he declared after a big junior campaign with 53 receptions for 670 yards. He returned to up his stock even more, as the athletic 6-foot-4, 249-pounder has an all-around projectable NFL game.


Offensive Tackle

Anton Harrison, Oklahoma

Harrison moves like a jumbo tight end and is built like one, too. As a sophomore last season, he earned an 85.6 pass-blocking grade. The Sooner has the movement skills to come off the board early.

Broderick Jones, Georgia

The former top offensive tackle recruit in the 2020 class, Jones has only seen 463 snaps in two seasons. When he is playing, the Bulldog has shown high-end physical ability. Expect a massive junior season as the starting left tackle for the Bulldogs this season.

Cooper Beebe, Kansas State

This 6-foot-3, 320-pounder will likely project more as a guard, and he can be a darn good one. He’s a country-strong offensive lineman who has already played four different positions for the Wildcats. This past season, he earned run- and pass-blocking grades over 80.0 at left tackle. 

Paris Johnson, Ohio State

Johnson is next in line at left tackle for the Buckeyes. The 6-foot-6, 315-pounder was miscast at right guard as a redshirt freshman in 2021, but he still earned a 79.1 overall grade. With his ability to play in space, he’s a tackle at the next level.

Peter Skoronski, Northwestern

The early front-runner for OT1, Skoronski is the most technically advanced tackle in the 2023 class. He’s been starting at left tackle for the Wildcats since he was a true freshman in 2020 and earned overall grades in the 80.0s each season.

Zion Nelson, Miami (FL)

Nelson has been trending up ever since he was thrown to the wolves as a true freshman starter in 2019. That year, he allowed 38 pressures. Since then, his pass-blocking grade has improved by leaps and bounds each season. With one more year to solidify his play strength as NFL-ready, he could end up as a first-rounder.


Interior Offensive Line

Andrew Vorhees, USC

Vorhees was a top-100 player on the PFF draft board this year before he announced his return to the Trojans. He’s on the older side, as he heads into his sixth season at USC, but he is fresh off a 90.0 overall grade. At 6-foot-6 and 320 pounds, he can play either tackle or guard.

Layden Robinson, Texas A&M

Robinson teamed up with 15th overall pick Kenyon Green to form college football’s best guard tandem last season. He’s a similarly brutish 6-foot-4, 320-pounder who earned an 85.0 run-blocking grade as a redshirt sophomore last season.

Jarrett Patterson, Notre Dame

Patterson was a surprise to return to Notre Dame after three years of starting, but there’s a good chance he raises his stock significantly under legendary offensive line coach Harry Hiestand. Patterson earned an 82.7 run-blocking grade and an 85.4 pass-blocking grade last fall.

Javion Cohen, Alabama

Cohen is one thickly built guard who moved the line of scrimmage with ease next to Evan Neal last season as a redshirt freshman. He had a rough go of it down the stretch, though, after sustaining a wrist injury. He allowed 19 pressures in his final four games.

John Michael Schmitz, Minnesota

Schmitz would have been a top-three center in the 2022 class if he declared after his standout redshirt senior campaign. Instead, he’s returning for his sixth year of college football. I’m not sure he’s going to push his draft stock too much higher after his 88.5 overall grade last year with the Golden Gophers.

Luke Wypler, Ohio State

Wypler impressed during his first season as a starter last season with a 79.6 overall grade. The redshirt freshman yielded only eight pressures on 516 pass-blocking snaps for the Buckeyes. At 6-foot-3 and 300 pounds, he likely profiles as a center in the NFL.

Matthew Jones, Ohio State

After redshirting as a freshman and then getting part-time action the next two seasons, Jones broke out as a redshirt junior last season. His 89.4 run-blocking mark was the fifth-best of any Power Five guard in the country last season.

Olusegun Oluwatimi, Michigan

The Wolverines are ecstatic about the potential of Oluwatimi this fall. As a redshirt senior last year at Virginia, he earned a 90.2 run-blocking grade. That’s the top figure of any returning center in the country.

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