Welcome to the start of the 2023 NFL draft cycle. These will be my early pre-season 2023 NFL draft rankings. Anything can happen in season, of course. For example, early on last year it was looking like Spencer Rattler was going to be one of the top quarterbacks in the 2022 class. We all know how that ended up. So, of course these rankings will end up changing by the end of the season. But its a good idea to get out there who people should be watching for.
- CJ Stroud – Ohio State
- Bryce Young – Alabama
- Phil Jurkovec – Boston College
- Will Levis – Kentucky
- Devin Leary – North Carolina State
- Hendon Hooker – Tennessee
- Spencer Rattler – South Carolina
- Tanner Mordecai – SMU
- Grayson McCall – Coastal Carolina
- Tyler Van Dyke – Miami (Fla.)
Stroud is the early favorite and, unless he falls on his face in 2022, will probably keep the top spot. Young is a close second, but he just doesn’t have the physical upside that Stroud has. Jurkovec is kind of a combination of the two. Levis probably has the most physical upside, he just needs to show progression and that he can play in a pro style offense.
Leary is a solid quarterback with a lot of experience; a solid all-around quarterback who won’t wow you. Hooker has shown flashes, but has yet to put it all together consistently. He will also be a 25-year-old rookie.
Rattler’s warts kind of came out last season. Hopefully for him he can get them worked out. A very underrated passer, Mordecai started out at Oklahoma. This year will be his chance to show what he can do. McCall is similar to Leary, but with less upside. Van Dyke could rise to the top five or fall and end up going back for his senior year. The talent is there, he just has to show it.
- Bijan Robinson – Texas
- Jahmyr Gibbs – Alabama
- Zach Evans – Mississippi
- Tank Bigsby – Auburn
- Sean Tucker – Syracuse
- Zach Charbonnet – UCLA
- Kenny McIntosh – Georgia
- Deuce Vaughn – Kansas State
- Blake Corum – Michigan
- Lew Nichols III – Central Michigan
If he had been able to come out last year, Robinson probably would have been the #1 back. He can do it all. Gibbs is explosive and fast. He was on a bad Georgia Tech team last season, and they didn’t use him to his full potential. Evans has some baggage but is a good player. If he can play up to his potential at Ole Miss, watch out.
Bigsby is a good athlete with good vision, but needs work on rounding out his game. Tucker put up big rushing numbers in ’21, but still needs to work on his pass protection and as a receiver. A straight-line, fast, power runner, Charbonnet doesn’t offer much outside of that, but he can can fit well with a running back committee.
McIntosh is a lot of potential, but hasn’t played a lot. He does look to be a weapon in the passing game, though. Vaughn has great vision and agility, but average speed and zero power. He is probably a 3rd down back at the NFL level. Corum has the chance to be ‘the guy’ in ’22 after sharing the duties last season. He is not the biggest, but has skills in the passing game. A player who blew up in ’21 but didn’t seem to get any recognition for it, Nichols showed he has speed, power, vision and can contribute in the passing game. Pass protection, though, is a big weakness.
- Michael Mayer – Notre Dame
- Darnell Washington – Georgia
- Cameron Latu – Alabama
- Tucker Kraft – South Dakota State
- Arik Gilbert – Georgia
- Austin Stogner – South Carolina
- Same LaPorta – Iowa
- Josh Whyle – Cincinnati
- Jaheim Bell – South Carolina
- Jahleel Billingsley – Texas
If he had been able to come out in 2022 Mayer probably would have been the #1 tight end taken. He is similar to Rob Gronkowski. After Mayer, its kind of a mixed bag. Washington, though, has some of the highest potential of the group. He is big and fast, he just needs to stay healthy and produce. Latu is another guy who’s big on potential, but does not have much production yet. A former EDGE, last year was his first season getting real snaps at tight end. Already a good blocker, he just needs to work on the passing game.
While he plays at a school that doesn’t pass much, Kraft was still able to produce. His blocking needs some work, but otherwise he’s a really good tight end. Similar to his teammate; Gilbert, an LSU transfer, flashed in 2020 but sat out 2021 due to some personal issues. Rumors were he gained weight this offseason and is working to drop it. He can be really good if he gets his stuff taken care of.
Stogner didn’t play as well in ’21 without Rattler. He transferred from Oklahoma to play with Rattler again. Overall, he’s a little stiff. LaPorta will continue the tradition of good tight ends coming out of Iowa. He doesn’t have the upside of some other guys, but is a good all-around tight end. Whyle had a down 2021 and was actually outplayed by his teammate Taylor. He has potential to be a move tight end. Not much of a blocker.
Bell is an undersized, speedy h-back type that we see occasionally. He will need to get with the right team that knows how to use him. Oh how the mighty have fallen. Billingsley was looked at by some as the top tight end in the 2022 class. He is undersized, but fast and athletic. He had a falling out with the Alabama coaches last season. If he gets everything sorted out, he could move up big time.
- Kayshon Boutte – LSU
- Jaxon Smith-Njigba – Ohio State
- AT Perry – Wake Forest
- Quentin Johnston – TCU
- Josh Downs – North Carolina
- Dontayvion Wicks – Virginia
- Dontay Demus – Maryland
- Jordan Addison – USC
- Rakim Jarrett – Maryland
- Rashee Rice – SMU
Off the bat this list was hard to limit to just 10. There are six or seven other guys I could have put in here. Boutte early on looks to be the #1 guy, he just needs to stay healthy. If Smith-Njigba can show he can play on the outside, that will go big with boosting his stock. If he struggles, he might be seen as a slot only player. AT Perry is one of the best receivers that no one is talking about. He is big, long arms, gets deep, gets YAC, a good blocker. He can do pretty much anything.
Johnston is similar, but less consistent and needs more route development. Downs looks to be the best receiver UNC has produced in awhile. He is a little undersized and will need to add bulk/strength. He’ll also need to show he can do it without Howell. Wicks has good size and decent athleticism. He was a big downfield threat in ’21. He needs to show he can do more. Demus is a freak athlete who is 6’3 215 pounds with 34″ arms. He could have a big year — if he can stay healthy.
Addison won the Biletnikoff with a big year in 2021, but he has some flaws in his game that need to be ironed out. He is also a bit undersized. The teammate of Demus, Jarrett may not have his size but grades out as a pretty good player with good speed. Last, but not least, Rice is ready for a breakout in 2022. He was stuck in the slot in ’21 and performed well, but he should be even better lining up outside.
- Jaelyn Duncan – Maryland
- Blake Freeland – BYU
- Paris Johnson – Ohio State
- Matthew Bergeron – Syracuse
- Carter Warren – Pittsburgh
- Cody Mauch – North Dakota State
- Javon Foster – Missouri
- Dawand Jones – Ohio State
- Patrick Paul – Houston
- Anton Harrison – Oklahoma
Duncan being #1 is more based on potential right now. If he hits his ceiling, he could be the best of the group. Freeland is already a very good pass blocker, its his run blocking that is a little behind. Johnson is another projection. He is moving from guard to tackle in 2022, and I’m not quite sure if he is a left tackle. Bergeron is a solid all-around type blocker who can play left or right tackle. Warren has potential to be pretty good, and has shown growth each season. He just needs to keep doing it. In a similar situation, Mauch also has shown growth each season.
Known more for his run blocking right now, Foster has the upside to be a very good pass blocker. What else can you say about Jones? The guy is a man mountain. With that being said, at his size he is probably a right tackle only prospect and could stand to lose 20-30 pounds. Patrick is the more talented of the Paul brothers. He has almost as much upside as any other left tackle in the class. Harrison is another guy with loads of potential, just has yet to reach it. Already a good run blocker though.
Interior Offensive Line:
- Ricky Stromberg – Arkansas
- Jarrett Patterson – Notre Dame
- Peter Skoronski – Northwestern
- John Michael Schmitz – Minnesota
- Broderick Jones – Georgia
- O’Cyrus Torrence – Florida
- Joe Tippmann – Wisconsin
- Nick Broeker – Mississippi
- Cooper Beebe – Kansas State
- Jordan McFadden – Clemson
Stromberg and Patterson are close, but Stromberg has the better athleticism/upside. Both are really good all-around centers that can even play some guard, if need be. Skoronski plays tackle for Northwestern, but his arms are really short and I feel NFL teams will view him as a guard.
If it wern’t for Stromberg and Patterson, Michael Schmitz would be getting a lot more hype. He is very good himself. Jones is the classic Georgia left tackle that is destined for guard in the NFL. He can be a really good guard at the next level. Torrence is a mauler and has the size to back it up. If he lost 10-20 pounds, he would likely be able to move better.
Tippmann is not your typical center. He is 6’6, 317 pounds. Some teams may even view him as a guard. Broeker is another college tackle that will move to guard in the NFL. He will need work on his run blocking. Beebe is the same, but was a first-year starter in 2021, and probably has a higher upside. Of course, McFadden is the same as Beebe and Broeker, although for a 6’2 guy he has decent arm length. All the tackle converts in this class really speaks to how weak the guard class is in this upcoming NFL draft.