One 2023 NFL Draft prospect to watch at every position at the NFL scouting combine

Knoxville, Tennessee, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Bryce Young (9) warms up before the game against the Tennessee Volunteers at Neyland Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

This isn’t a prediction of top performers or those with the most to gain at the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine; instead, this is to highlight unique physical profiles to keep an eye on. None of the players listed below is the complete physical package, but all have something special to offer that we’ll get to see next week in Indianapolis. 

Quarterback: Bryce Young, Alabama

HM: Stetson Bennett (Georgia), Anthony Richardson (Florida)

While we obviously expect Richardson to blow every other quarterback out of the water from a testing perspective, Young’s weigh-in will be the true must-see-TV event of the NFL combine. I mean, just look at him next to the 6-foot Drew Brees:

Not to mention that he may also come in under 200 pounds. The NFL hasn’t had a quarterback listed under 200 pounds take snaps since Seneca Wallace in 2013. Young may be an outlier from a size perspective, but he’s also an outlier from an on-field performance perspective.

Running Back: Sean Tucker, Syracuse

HM: Devon Achane (Texas A&M), Tyjae Spears (Tulane), Keaton Mitchell (ECU)

This running back class has some burners. Unsurprisingly, most of them weigh around 200 pounds or under — except Tucker. The junior is a rocked-up 5-foot-10 and 210 pounds, and he may very well break 4.4 seconds in the 40-yard dash. And if you believe the recruiting stories, Tucker may even break 4.3. That’s what he reportedly blazed at the Bowie State University football camp back in high school. Expect some eye-popping explosive numbers from the two-time 1,000-yard back.

Wide Receiver: Quentin Johnston, TCU

HM: Jalin Hyatt (Tennessee), Tyler Scott (Cincinnati), Tank Dell (Houston)

No receiver in the class does freakier things on tape than Johnston. The 6-foot-4, 215-pound TCU wideout is in the running for one of the most impressive athletes at the position I’ve scouted since PFF started grading college in 2014. His ability to stop and start at that size is rare. 

While he’s far from a polished receiver, Johnston offers a ton to work with.

Tight End: Michael Mayer, Notre Dame

HM: Darnell Washington (Georgia), Luke Musgrave (Oregon State)

While most are on here for their freakish tools, Mayer is here for his question marks. Specifically, his speed. Almost every impactful receiving tight end currently in the NFL ran a sub-4.7-second 40-yard dash before the draft. Mayer looks like he’ll be toeing that threshold next week. But then again, if he comes in at 265 pounds, which he was listed at for Notre Dame, speed will never be his game. While he produced a ton at Notre Dame, more of it came in contested situations than any of the other tight end in the class (17 catches for 218 yards)

Offensive Tackle: Dawand Jones, Ohio State

HM: Jaelyn Duncan (Maryland), Peter Skoronski (Northwestern)

While Jones’ combine numbers will be a tad anti-climactic after he already measured in at the Senior Bowl, it’s still going to be worth tuning in for. I’m in awe of his size:

Height 6-foot-8
Weight 375
Arm Length 36 5/8 inches
Hand 11 3/8 inches
Wingspan 89 1/2 inches

The fun part now is seeing how he moves as one of the largest human beings ever to grace a football field. Based on his tape, I wouldn’t expect an Orlando Brown Jr.-esque flop at the combine in athletic testing, either. The big fella can move.

Interior Offensive Line: Cody Mauch, North Dakota State 

HM: McClendon Curtis (Chattanooga), Steve Avila (TCU)

Mauch is a former tight end who gained enough weight to play offensive line but didn’t shed the movement skills, which is why he registered more big-time blocks (highest-graded blocks in PFF’s system) last year than anyone else in the FCS or FBS (19). That should show up in pretty much every timed drill in Indianapolis. 

Defensive Tackle: Calijah Kancey, Pittsburgh

HM: Bryan Bresee (Clemson), Mazi Smith (Michigan), Gervon Dexter Sr. (Florida)

The Power Five's highest-graded pass-rushing defensive tackle last season is likely going to be the most athletic as well. You better be when you’re Kancey’s size (listed 6 feet and 280 pounds) and still want to play defensive tackle in the NFL. He pulled more disappearing acts when guards tried to get their hands on him than any other defensive tackle in the country.

I’m not sure there’s a drill at the combine that Kancey shouldn't demolish.

Edge Defender: Tyree Wilson, Texas Tech

HM: Myles Murphy (Clemson), Keion White (Georgia Tech), Will McDonald IV (Iowa State)

Edge is arguably the most tools-based position on an NFL field, which means the combine inherently carries more weight for edge prospects. And this class has plenty of prospects who’ll put on shows in Indianapolis. That’s the case with Wilson, who will be put on a show before the stopwatches are even busted out. That’s because he’s going to have one of the biggest frames you’ll ever see for a defensive lineman at 6-foot-6, 275 pounds with an over 7-foot wingspan. On tape, he looks like an adult that was dropped into a Pop Warner game.

That will no doubt show up in his athletic testing as well.

Linebacker: Ivan Pace Jr., Cincinnati

HM: Trenton Simpson (Clemson), Nick Herbig (Wisconsin) 

Pace is one unique linebacker prospect. He’s tiny by NFL standards at 5-foot-10, 231 pounds, but he can run with the best of them. Pace has that joystick-esque body control that makes him capable of running in any direction without seemingly losing any speed. That was painfully obvious at the Senior Bowl, where he clocked the fastest GPS speed of any linebacker in attendance over the past four years (20.58 MPH). While that should pretty obviously translate to a nice 40-yard dash, I'm most excited to see his change of direction drills (three-cone/short shuttle).

Cornerback: Kelee Ringo, Georgia

HM: Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson (TCU), Deonte Banks (Maryland)

How many 215-pound cornerbacks do you know with electronic 40-times in the low-4.3s? I’m guessing not a lot because Patrick Peterson is the only corner over 210 pounds since the turn of the century to break 4.4 seconds in the 40. Even Peterson, though, didn’t run a low 4.3 (4.38) back in 2011. Ringo truly has a chance to be in a class of his own from a size-speed perspective. As a recruit, Ringo ran a 4.35-second 40-yard dash at the Rivals Five-Star challenge as the fastest man in attendance. While we know he’s fast, Ringo needs to impress in the change of direction drills as well to work his way back into the first-round conversation.

Safety: Sydney Brown, Illinois

HM: J.L. Skinner (Boise State), Ji’Ayir Brown (Penn State)

Brown is a ball of muscle who is going to test like one next week at the combine. He is unique for a number of reasons. From his ridiculous build (5-foot-10, 213 pounds with a 6-foot-3 wingspan and 10 ¼-inch hands) to his jaw–dropping GPS numbers (22.4 MPH in-game), Brown is an incredible specimen. 

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