With the NFL Draft quickly approaching, airing on ESPN and NFL Network on April 27-29, here are my top five prospects for the 2023 NFL Draft.
- Jalen Carter DT: Junior from Georgia. Prospect Grade: 7.1 (Pro-Bowl Potential)
Player Comparison: Quinnen Williams (NY Jets). Projected Top Ten pick.
Teams to draft: Arizona Cardinals, Detroit Lions, Atlanta Falcons, Chicago Bears
Jalen Carter is my top prospect for the 2023 NFL Draft. Even though he did not dominate in the stat box, totaling three sacks and two forced fumbles in ten games in 2022, he was a force on the field. Carter seemed to lift offensive linemen and throw them to the ground. Not only was the two time NCAA National Champion dominant in the run game, but he also generated 24 QB hurries and five QB hits. He has a deep bag of pass-rush moves including his swim, chop and bull rush. My only issue with his on-the-field issue with Carter is his stamina. He had a low snap count at Georgia (partially due to Georgia’s rotational scheme), and he looked gassed sometimes late in games. Now the real issues with Carter come off the field. Carter was arrested on March 1, and charged with street racing and driving 104 mph, the same street race that led to the death of his teammate Devin Willock and Georgia team staff member Chandler LeCroy. He also massively disappointed at the Georgia Pro Day, where he came in nine pounds (6’3 – 323 lbs) over his tested weight at the NFL Combine (6’3 – 314 lbs) and left early due to cramping. If Carter can stay on the field, there is no doubt that he could become a top five player at DT, but he needs to stay out of trouble.
- Will Anderson Jr. EDGE (DE): Junior from Alabama Prospect Grade: 7.0
(Pro-Bowl Potential). Player Comparison: Khalil Mack (LA Chargers). Projected Top Five pick.
Teams to Draft: Arizona Cardinals, Seattle Seahawks, Detroit Lions
Will Anderson Jr. is another one of my favorite prospects in this year’s draft. He had an outstanding career at Alabama. The two-time All-American and SEC Defensive Player of the Year had 34.5 sacks, 58.5 tackles for loss, 207 total pressures and 114 solo tackles in his career at Alabama. He outmatched offensive tackles with his elite athleticism, a quick first step at the line, phenomenal bull rush and pad level. He also has NFL size at 6’ 3 ½” – 253. However, Anderson will need to develop more effective pass-rush moves at the next level. He far too often relied on his athleticism and his bull rush. On film, he also didn’t finish plays as much as he should have when running backs shouldn’t have escaped his tackling range. Overall, I think Anderson is a very good EDGE prospect, especially at the NFL level. We should expect him to make a difference immediately.
- Bijan Robinson RB: Junior from Texas Prospect Grade: 7.0 (Pro-Bowl potential)
Player Comparison: Josh Jacobs (LV Raiders). Projected to be drafted late first to early second round.
Teams to Draft: Las Angeles Chargers, Buffalo Bills, Philadelphia Eagles
Bijan Robinson is easily the best running back prospect since Saquon Barkley at Penn State. Robinson had 3,410 rushing yards and 33 TDs and rushed for 6.3 yards per carry over his three-year career at Texas. He had 1,580 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns rushing in 12 games in 2022. He also had 314 receiving yards on 19 catches and 3 touchdowns receiving out of the backfield to go along with his rushing dominance. The Texas Longhorn product is a true three-down back who can do it all; he can run, catch and is a tank at 5’11 and 215 pounds. His low center of gravity and contact balance complements extremely well with his agility, creating a pinball of a RB that is extremely hard to bring down. That’s why he led college football with 104 missed tackles in 2022. I don’t have much to complain about with Robinson, other than the fact that he doesn’t have the same speed and acceleration as Saquon Barkley. He projects much like Josh Jacobs of the Las Vegas Raiders. Even though I have him as my number three, players expect him to fall in the draft (even possibly to the second round) due to running backs losing value every year. I think he’ll make an immediate impact, and be a pro-bowler one day.
- Christian Gonzalez: Junior from Oregon CB Prospect Grade: 6.7 (Quality Year 1 starter)
Player Comp: Aqib Talib. Projected Top ten pick.
Teams to draft: Detroit Lions, Las Vegas Raiders, Atlanta Falcons.
Chrisitan Gonzalez may become the next lockdown corner in the NFL. Chrisitan Gonzalez had four interceptions and seven pass deflections in 12 games in 2022 at Oregon. On film, he has fluid hips, and a special ability to recover even when he gets fooled on a route. Gonzalez is also a sticky CB, and WRs had a difficult time generating separation for a long due to Gonzalez’s close-out speed. He is also a great blend of speed and size. He measured in at 6’1 197 lbs at the NFL combine and ran a 4.38 40-yard dash. He also received a 9.95 relative athletic score, which compares all NFL combine testing results from 2003, putting him in the 99th percentile. The only knock I have on Christian Gonzalez is that sometimes he will get exposed by bigger receivers, like when he faced Drake London in 2021. Other than that, I think Christian Gonzalez profiles as a lock-down CB at the next level.
- Tyree Wilson EDGE (DE): Senior from Texas Tech. Prospect Grade: 6.6: Year One Starter. Player Comparison: Carlos Dunlap (KC Chiefs). Projected Top Ten pick.
Teams to draft: Arizona Cardinals, Seattle Seahawks, Detroit Lions, Atlanta Falcons
Tyree Wilson may be the best run-defender in the class. Wilson is 6’ 6 – 271 pounds, and has an insane wingspan of 86” inches. In 12 games, he had seven sacks and 17 tackles for loss in 2022. His length attributes to a lot of his strengths. Not only does he have a crazy tackling range in the run game, there is no escaping him. Wilson is a strong edge setter, and holes never open up on his side. He also has a strong bull rush that compliments his length, and linemen are unable to get their arms into his frame because; he is just that big. However, Wilson will never be a premier pass rusher, he does not have an elite bend and doesn’t get off the line very fast, simply because he has so much to move around. He also doesn’t have a deep array of pass-rush moves, it’s pretty much just his bull rush. Overall, Wilson projects as an elite run defender with pass-rushing upside. I think he will go within the top five picks.
*Prospect Grades. 8.0: The Perfect Prospect. 7.5-7.3: Perennial All-Pro. 7.1-7.0: Pro-Bowl Potential. 6.9-6.8: Quality Year 1 Starter. 6.7-6.6: Good Year 1 Starter.