NFL Draft News & Analysis

2023 NFL Draft: One draft prospect each NFL team should be watching

Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Bryce Young (9) reacts after throwing a pass for a touchdown against the Arkansas Razorbacks during the first half at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

For some NFL teams, the 2022 NFL Draft wasn't quite enough.

Franchises in the midst of a rebuild will be watching the upcoming college football season in hopes of getting their guys in 2023. Here is one 2023 NFL Draft prospect each NFL team should be watching this year.

JUMP TO A TEAM:

ARZ | ATL | BLT | BUF | CAR | CIN | CHI | CLE | DEN | DAL | DET | GB | HOU | IND | JAX | KC | LVR | LAC | LAR | MIA | MIN | NE | NO | NYG | NYJ | PHI | PIT | SF | SEA | TB | TEN | WSH

ARIZONA CARDINALS: EDGE ANDRE CARTER, ARMY

I don’t always advocate trying to find the next player of a specific mold, as chasing one archetype can often cause teams to overlook more talented players. That being said, the Cardinals just lost Chandler Jones and only replaced him with two third-rounders. They are set to lose J.J. Watt after next season, as well.

Carter is in a similar mold to Jones, with his long 6-foot-7, 265-pound frame presenting challenges for opposing offensive linemen — so many challenges that Carter tied Aidan Hutchinson for the highest pass-rushing grade in college football last season.

ATLANTA FALCONS: QB BRYCE YOUNG, ALABAMA

College fans in Georgia are unfortunately all too familiar with Young’s game. The Alabama quarterback put together the single most impressive performance of any passer last year against the most talented collegiate defenses in at least the last decade. Even with options on the roster, a franchise quarterback is still atop the Falcons' wishlist for the 2023 draft. 

BALTIMORE RAVENS: CB NOAH DANIELS, TCU

Daniels has CB1-type talent with a UDFA’s injury history. He’s allowed only 18 catches from 38 targets for his career and boasts one of the most impressive man coverage skill sets in the class.

However, his career has already spanned five seasons, and he’s only managed 510 snaps. The Ravens are looking for value in any way they can get it, and even with a big year in 2022, there’s little chance Daniels' stock can rise too far above the mid-rounds, where the Ravens always stockpile picks.

BUFFALO BILLS: LB JUSTIN FLOWE, OREGON

This is a player every team is going to keep an eye on. Once the No. 1-ranked linebacker recruit (ahead of teammate Noah Sewell), Flowe has managed only 60 snaps in two seasons because of injury. That kind of background means it won’t take long for Flowe to start popping up on NFL radars. With Tremaine Edmunds an impending free agent, replacing one athletic freak with another cheaper one could be an option. 

CAROLINA PANTHERS: QB TANNER MCKEE, STANFORD

Let’s face it, the Panthers' roster is too good to really compete for the No. 1 overall pick in 2023. More likely than not, they won’t have their pick of the litter to replace Sam Darnold.

That being said, there very well could be a number of franchise-type options in the upcoming class, with McKee being one of those names. In his first year of starting after taking a two-year LDS mission, McKee earned a 69.0 overall grade and flashed a big-time NFL arm.

CHICAGO BEARS: DI JALEN CARTER, GEORGIA

Matt Eberflus needs his 3-technique. So much so that they nearly used all their available cap space this offseason to sign Larry Ogunjobi. Well, the 2023 draft features a 3-technique who is even better than Ogunjobi and could very well be the best we’ve seen in our eight years of grading at PFF. It was Carter who led all FBS defensive tackles — and Georgia defenders — with a 90.0 pass-rushing grade last season. That’s unheard of for a true sophomore at the position.

CINCINNATI BENGALS: S BRIAN BRANCH, ALABAMA

Not only does the Jessie Bates III contract situation loom large over the Bengals at the moment, but Vonn Bell is also an impending free agent after 2022. Even after drafting two versatile defensive backs who can fill those spots, there’s a good chance the Bengals are looking to add to their secondary once again next offseason. Branch fills that versatile mold defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo loves — he earned a 76.1 overall grade last season and an 88.1 grade vs. the run.

CLEVELAND BROWNS: EDGE EYABI ANOMA, UT-MARTIN

Without first and third-round picks in next year’s draft due to the Deshaun Watson trade, the Browns are going to have to get creative to add talent to the roster. One way to do that would be to attack some prospects who could fall due to off-field red flags.

Anoma fits that bill, as he’s already been dismissed from two college programs (Alabama then Houston) en route to UT-Martin. Once a five-star recruit with freakish athletic traits, Anoma has played just 398 snaps in his career.

DALLAS COWBOYS: LB NOAH SEWELL, OREGON

You want a freaky off-ball linebacker tandem that doubles as your pass-rush? You got it. Sewell isn’t too far off from Micah Parsons from a size/explosiveness perspective. The 6-foot-3, 251-pounder makes up ground on running backs with an ease that’s incredible to watch.

He earned an 88.6 pass-rushing grade a season ago, with 34 pressures on 98 blitzes. That would be two scary off-ball backers for the Cowboys.

DENVER BRONCOS: LB PAYTON WILSON, N.C. STATE

The Broncos are currently the only team that doesn’t have either a first- or second-round pick in 2023. That means there’s no use putting a potential blue-chip talent on here.

With Payton Wilson’s extensive injury history, his draft stock can only go so high, which means he’ll firmly be in the Broncos' range. With linebacker arguably the weakest position group for the team on paper, Wilson could come in and start right away. He’s a big, physical presence at 6-foot-4, 235 pounds and allowed only 21 catches from 32 targets for 160 yards in his last full season.

DETROIT LIONS: WR QUENTIN JOHNSTON, TCU

They’ll obviously be eyeing the quarterback market, but this is now too good a roster to have one fall in their lap. They may look elsewhere to address quarterback and focus on providing whoever that is with weapons.

While the receiving corps got an overhaul this offseason, D.J. Chark is only on a one-year deal. Johnston could provide a similarly rangey target in the offseason. The 6-foot-4, 201-pounder is a man possessed with the ball in his hands — he’s broken 26 tackles on 55 catches in his career.

GREEN BAY PACKERS: TE JAHEIM BELL, SOUTH CAROLINA

The Packers have tried throwing a couple of third-rounders at the tight end position to get some production from the spot, but so far nothing has stuck. Bell can change that with his ability after the catch.

The Packers offense already does a good job of scheming touches for the position, and Bell could maximize those. Last season he averaged 11.8 yards after the catch per reception and broke 13 tackles on 30 catches.

HOUSTON TEXANS: WR JAXON SMITH-NJIGBA, OHIO STATE

The Texans haven't had a truly dominant receiving option since DeAndre Hopkins, but with the roster in the shape that it's in, they could easily find themselves close enough to the top of the draft to take a new franchise-type wideout.

JSN hauled in 95 of his 112 targets last year (84.8%) for 1,595 yards and nine scores last year, good for a 91.9 PFF receiving grade that ranked first among qualifying receivers. The Buckeyes have developed quite the habit of producing NFL talent at the wide receiver position, and Smith-Njigba appears next in line.

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS: WR JORDAN ADDISON, PITTSBURGH

With two big-bodied playmakers on the outside, the Colts are still missing that natural separator. Even if Parris Campbell does somehow turn into that guy this fall, he’s in a contract year and is no guarantee to stay. Addison may not be imposing physically, but the dude can run routes in his sleep. It’s why he was your Biletnikoff Award winner last fall as just a sophomore.

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS: WR KAYSHON BOUTTE, LSU

The Jaguars are still missing that Alpha No. 1 receiver Trevor Lawrence can rely on to get open when he sees man coverage across the board. Boutte is precisely that. The 6-foot, 205-pound receiver has instant acceleration off the line of scrimmage and after the catch. He’s the kind of weapon that strikes fear in defensive coordinators. 

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS: TE ARIK GILBERT, GEORGIA

Travis Kelce isn’t a spring chicken — he turns 33 this fall, and his cap numbers start escalating rapidly thereafter. Even if he does have more years in him, getting a talent like Gilbert in the fold to learn from Kelce is a long-term win. Gilbert was the highest-rated TE recruit ever, as he moves just like a wide receiver despite being 250 pounds. He’s had his fair share of off-field issues, though, that included missing all of last season for personal reasons.

LAS VEGAS RAIDERS: IOL COOPER BEEBE, KANSAS STATE

The offensive line overhaul isn’t done yet. They have a nice young core, but could still use another guard across from Dylan Parham. Beebe can be that as he adds a little nastiness to their run game. He has experience at both guard and tackle positions and earned an 85.4 overall grade as a redshirt sophomore last season.

LOS ANGELES CHARGERS: S ANTONIO JOHNSON, TEXAS A&M

Assuming the Chargers don’t go a third straight offensive lineman, there’s really not a lot of holes to poke on the Chargers roster. The middle of their defense could take a hit after this fall, though, as both their starting safeties and slot corner are impending free agents. The 6-foot-3, 200-pound Texas A&M defensive back is capable of filling any and all of those roles. He earned an 88.7 coverage grade in the slot last season.

LOS ANGELES RAMS: CB CLARK PHILLIPS III, UTAH

Without a first-round pick yet again, the Rams won’t have the pick to try and find a competent CB2 across from Jalen Ramsey. That may mean they take advantage of the size cutoffs that others have at the corner position to get a much more talented player. At only 5-foot-10, 185 pounds, Phillips will be off some teams' boards entirely because of his size. On the field, though, he still earned a 76.4 coverage grade as a true sophomore last season.

MIAMI DOLPHINS: RB DEVON ACHANE, TEXAS A&M

The fastest offense in the NFL could get even faster if they add Achane. The sheer amount of explosiveness they’d have at their disposal if they drafted Achane would be dizzying. He’s got high-end track speed and can play through contact, too, with a career average of 4.3 yards after contact per attempt.

MINNESOTA VIKINGS: EDGE MYLES MURPHY, CLEMSON

You won’t find many defensive ends as physically imposing as Murphy at as young of an age. The 6-foot-5, 275-pounder earned a 92.5 run-defense grade as a true freshman. Pairing him across from Danielle Hunter would give the Vikings two every-down ends for the foreseeable future.

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: TE MICHAEL MAYER, NOTRE DAME

Bill Belichick will take one look at what Mayer does in the run game and be willing to risk it all to add another tight end to the fold. 

He can easily coexist with Hunter Henry as Mayer himself can get open one-on-one. He finished his sophomore season in 2021 with 71 catches for 840 yards and seven scores.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS: RB ZACH EVANS, OLE MISS

It’s a shame we haven’t gotten to see Evans featured much on a big stage yet, but that figures to change in 2022 after he transferred to Ole Miss. He’s got such a loose running style that can eat contact without breaking stride. On 146 career carries, he’s averaged 7.3 yards per attempt with 4.8 of that after contact. 

NEW YORK GIANTS: QB WILL LEVIS, KENTUCKY

From a pure tools perspective, Levis is probably the closest thing in the upcoming draft class to Josh Allen. And we all saw what Giants head coach Brian Daboll did with that in Buffalo. In his first season as a starter after transferring from Penn State, Levis earned a 90.6 overall grade.

NEW YORK JETS: DI SIAKI IKA, BAYLOR

Robert Saleh will continue to invest in his defensive lines no matter where he’s plying his trade. Ika brings something to the table that the Jets don’t quite have currently after Folorunso Fatukasi walked in free agency, and that’s an immovable block in the middle of the defense. He’s more than just that, however, as the 6-foot-4, 350-pounder earned an 85.7 pass-rushing grade last season, as well. 

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES: RB BIJAN ROBINSON, TEXAS

No team created more expected yards for their running backs last year than the Eagles. With Miles Sanders an impending free agent after this season, the Eagles may decide to take advantage of a loaded 2023 running back class. Robinson could add a level of dynamism that takes their running game to another level after breaking 79 tackles in only 10 games last season.

PITTSBURGH STEELERS: OT BRODERICK JONES, GEORGIA

The former five-star tackle recruit has only seen 463 snaps as a spot backup to date for his career. Still, he’s already done some jaw-dropping things that other 315-pound men can only dream of. He earned a 78.8 overall grade last season and will be the Bulldogs' starting left tackle this fall. 

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS: OL ANDREW VORHEES, USC

With no first-round pick to speak of, the 49ers will have to upgrade the interior of their offensive line in other ways. The good news is that’s one position where Day 1 starters are commonplace outside the first round. Vorhees should hit the ground NFL-ready as a sixth-year player and fifth-year starter. He had a breakout 2021, where he earned a 90.0 overall grade.

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS: QB C.J. STROUD, OHIO STATE

The Seahawks will firmly be in the mix for the top quarterbacks in the 2023 class, and that means they’ll have their eyes on Stroud all fall. He earned a 92.2 overall grade in his first season as a starter with 44 touchdowns compared to only six interceptions. He’s much more of a traditional pocket passer that Seahawks brass seemingly lamented Russell Wilson for not being.

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS: CB GARRETT WILLIAMS, SYRACUSE

With Carlton Davis already paid, there’s no guarantee that Jason Licht will be able to fit both Jamel Dean and Sean Murphy-Bunting under the cap when they hit free agency next spring. Garrett Williams has that man coverage skill set that Todd Bowles' defense will covet highly.

TENNESSEE TITANS: EDGE NOLAN SMITH, GEORGIA

The Titans have to be figuring out ways to get out of Bud Dupree’s contract after he earned a 55.3 overall grade last season. Smith has the kind of juice to be a weapon on the stunts and slants the Titans defense runs so much of. He can do that while also setting a hard edge, as indicated by his 90.6 run-defense grade last season.

WASHINGTON COMMANDERS: S JALEN CATALON, ARKANSAS

The Commanders have the makings of a defense that can not only win you games but also strike fear in the heart of opposing offenses. Adding a tone-setter to the back end that can match the physicality of their front seven would go a long way toward that.

Catalon can be that guy with the way he flies around the football field. A shoulder injury caused him to return to Arkansas, but the 5-foot-10, 200-pound safety had only allowed 7 catches from 14 targets for 59 yards in the six games he played last season.

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