2023 NFL Draft Mid-Season Position Rankings: Defensive Backs

The final group ranking is here. Here is the fourth set of defensive position rankings for the 2023 NFL draft: the defensive backs. Before the season started the corner class looked pretty solid and has gotten better, whereas the safety class had questions entering the season and those have not been answered yet.

As always, I will be listing players at their expected NFL positions. Be sure to check out my previous part detailing the linebackers, and if you want to check out the draft database that I help update almost daily, you can find it at risendraft.

2023 NFL Draft Defensive Backs: The Top 5

Photo Credit: Matthew Visinsky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

1. Kelee Ringo, Georgia: Ringo is the freak athlete of the group at 6’2″ 210 and runs a sub 4.4. He also has great ability to mirror receivers. He was solid in 2021, but he hasn’t played as well in 2022. His potential is through the roof. He has shown flashes this season. Ringo hasn’t allowed any touchdowns this season, but has had some struggles otherwise. He is big, strong, physical, and fast. He probably gets drafted first on his upside.

2. Clark Phillips III, Utah: Phillips isn’t the biggest at 5’10” 185, but he has good speed (4.45) and great feet. He does such a good job of mirroring his opponent. His tackling can be hit-or-miss, so he needs to improve that. Also, his play against the run has just been ok. He has picked off five passes. He did struggle in a couple of games this season, but outside of those he was very solid. Phillips also has 177 snaps and counting in the slot this season, so he can be used all over. The most pro ready corner of the group.

3. Joey Porter Jr., Penn State: Porter Jr. is the son of former Steelers and Dolphins pass rusher Joey Porter. He has almost ideal size at 6’2″ and almost 200 pounds. His cover skills are phenomenal. He has a passer rating against of 59.1. He does lack elite speed, clocking in at the 4.5 range. Porter also lacks great ball skills. Yes, he does have nine passes defended in 2022, but has just one career interception. His run defense could also be better. He is a player with a good football IQ. The current Penn State cornerback has a high floor with still some room for growth.

4. Antonio Johnson, Texas A&M: The first safety on the list. This speaks to the weakness of the class at the top. Johnson has the size and athleticism to be great. He just has yet to do it — but he has shown flashes. He has ideal size at 6’2″, 195 with sub 4.5 speed, and quickness and smooth hips to match. Johnson has a lot of slot experience, so you know he has good cover skills. He just has yet to put it all together. His film is a little inconsistent. He also has just one career interception and one career pass break up. Which is very odd.

5. Christian Gonzalez, Oregon: Gonzalez is similar to Johnson in size and speed, the difference is he is a corner. He has some slot experience. He is a freak athletically with a 40+” vertical as well as his speed. He has picked up his ball production this season with three interceptions. Gonzalez was a little inconsistent in 2021, but seems to have improved that in 2022. His play against the run could be better.

2023 NFL Draft Defensive Backs: Best of the Rest

6. Brian Branch, Alabama: Branch has been a CB/S for Alabama since he stepped on camps. Mostly playing out of the slot, but projecting him to the NFL he looks to be more of a free safety. His size is ok at 6’, 193 and runs a sub 4.5 40-yard dash. From his slot position he has been an amazing run defender, and a crazy good tackler. He has missed only one tackle in his career. Branch has even shown he can be used as a blitzer with four career sacks. One negative though is he has just two career interceptions, and they were both as a freshman. It leaves you wondering a bit about his ball skills. Branch can be a weapon at the next level — if he is used right.

7. JL Skinner, Boise State: Skinner is a huge safety at 6’3″, 220, but has the athleticism of a man three inches shorter and 30 pounds lighter. He has legit 4.45 40-yard dash speed with 33” arms. He plays mostly box safety, but has played some free. An explosive, powerful hitter. He reminds a bit of Kam Chancellor, although not as big. But, he is a bit better of a cover guy. Skinner hasn’t been used as a blitzer much, which is surprising. He has a very good football IQ.

8. Emmanuel Forbes, Mississippi State: Forbes, a 6’, 180-pound corner, came in a started as a freshman. He jumped on the scene with five interceptions and five pass breakups. Forbes followed that up with an even better sophomore season, although his numbers were down a little. He had three interceptions and five break ups. So far this season, he has five interceptions. Forbes definitely has a nose for the ball, and he is definitely one of those gambler types who can be hot and cold. He is just a good cover guy. He also has good run fits. His tackling though can be hit-or-miss. Adding some bulk may help with that.

9. Kyu Blu Kelly, Stanford: The son of former NFL corner Brian Kelly. He is definitely bigger than his father at 6’1″, 190. A four-year starter, Kelly has a lot of experience on his side. So far, it looks like 2021 was his best season. Still, he’s playing well in 2022. His play against the run the last couple seasons has not been good enough. He has shown to be an effective blitzer. Couple that with his experience in the slot, and he could be a guy that can play inside and out that teams have to account for.

10. Garrett Williams, Syracuse: The 6′, 190-pound Williams has dealt with some injury issues that hurt his play on the field — especially in 2021. He has played pretty well in 2022. Outside his game against Purdue, he has held up in coverage very well. A solid, but not great, athlete. He plays a clean game, having not been penalized since 2020. If his medicals check out, he is a sure day 2 pick and has the potential to be a solid starter.

Honorable Mentions:

Cam Smith-South Carolina, Eli Ricks-Alabama, Jordan Battle-Alabama, Gervarrius Owens-Houston, Kendarin Ray-Tulsa, Devon Witherspoon-Illinois, Darrell Luter Jr.-South Alabama, Divaad Wilson-UCF, Micah Abraham-Marshall, Steven Gilmore-Marshall

2023 NFL Draft Mid-Season Position Rankings: Linebackers

We are almost there. Here is the third set of defensive position rankings for the 2023 NFL draft: the linebackers. Before the season started this looked to be a weak group. Nothing has really happened this season to change that outlook.

As always, I will be listing players at their expected NFL positions. Be sure to check out my previous part detailing the edge rushers, and if you want to check out the draft database that I help update almost daily, you can find it at risendraft.

Photo Credit: David Stluka via AP
2023 NFL Draft Linebackers: The Top 5
  1. Trenton Simpson, Clemson: Simpson is a freak athlete at 6’3 240 with legit sub 4.5 speed. He played almost like a slot defender in 2021 and really flashed as a blitzer with 31 pressures and seven sacks. He slid over to WLB for 2022 and has shown improvement in his run fits. He is already a solid cover guy, as well. In a stronger class, he probably goes somewhere in the middle of the 1st, but he will probably go top 10ish in 2023.
  2. Noah Sewell, Oregon: Sewell, the brother of Penei, is a throwback type of linebacker that we have not seen in awhile. He is 6’2 250 and explosive. He is really good in a straight line. It’s when he has to move side-to-side where he has some issues. That shows up in some of his issues in coverage. He is also a very good blitzer. 48 pressures and five sacks in the last two years.
  3. Henry To’o To’o, Alabama: Athletic transfer from Tennessee. His play and hype didn’t match up until this season. He was pretty average his first three seasons. He is a bit undersized at 230, and doesn’t play with a lot of power — although he does try and play physical. His tackling can be inconsistent. His play in coverage has improved a lot in 2022.
  4. Nick Herbig, Wisconsin: Herbig has been a pass rusher for Wisconsin, but due to his size (6’2 228) he is going to have to move to off-ball. We could see him being used like Zach Baun. He can be used as a rusher on obvious passing downs like 3rd and long. He has been a good run defender despite his size. Herbig has shown a big improvement in coverage in 2022 preparing him for his move.
  5. Jestin Jacobs, Iowa: Jacobs is probably the Iowa linebacker with the most upside/potential. He is more athletic than Benson or Campbell. He has the size Benson lacks and the athleticism that Campbell lacks. He is still a bit raw. He has also only played two games this season due to injury. Jacobs is already a good tackler and run defender. His play in coverage is still a work in progress, but has shown flashes.
2023 NFL Draft Linebackers: Best of the Rest

6. DeMarvion Overshown, Texas: Another freak athlete that hadn’t lived up to the hype/potential. 6’3 230 pounds with 32″ arms and 4.7 speed. Explosive and able to get sideline to sideline. He is finally starting to realize some of his potential in 2022. His instincts are starting to show. Overshown has improved his run fits and his tackling. He has shown flashes in coverage as well.

7. Darius Muasau, UCLA: The 6’1 230 Hawaii transfer had a big season in 2021 with 108 tackles, seven sacks, five forced fumbles, one INT, and four PBUs. He put those numbers up playing in the Mountain West, so there were competition questions. He transferred to UCLA and was going to see a bump in talent of his opponents. There has not been much of a drop off in production. Thru nine games he has 64 tackles, a sack, a forced fumble, two INTs, and two PBUs. He is a little undersized and will need to be protected by his defensive line, but he has the athleticism and instincts to be a major impact player in the NFL.

8. Jack Campbell, Iowa: Campbell has been a well-known name in draft circles since 2020. He had a bit of a break out season then and was expected to come out in the 2022 draft. He didn’t play as well in 2021 though, and that might have gone into his decision. The thing with Campbell is his flaws aren’t something that will go away. His athleticism is middling and he lacks explosion when he tries to click-and-close. Campbell’s long speed is average. His instincts are solid and he is really good in coverage. The current Hawkeye is also a solid run defender.

9. SirVocea Dennis, Pittsburgh: At 6’0 230, he is a touch on the smaller side. He flashed his potential in 2020 and 2021, but wasn’t able to be consistent with his run defense and his instincts in coverage. The current Panther has taken off in 2022. He has become an elite run defender and has finally started to play more consistent in coverage. Dennis can also be an effective blitzer with 49 pressures and 13 sacks in the last two seasons.

10. Jimmy Phillips Jr., SMU: Phillips is a bit of a sleeper when it comes to the national media. Mainly because he plays for SMU and SMU’s defense isn’t that good. At 6’1, 236 with 32 3/4″ arms and running in the 4.7 range, he has NFL size and athleticism. He has been a solid player since he stepped on campus. Known for his run defense and tackling, he is also sneaky good in coverage. The one area he hasn’t shown much is as a blitzer.

2023 NFL Draft Mid-Season Position Rankings: Edge Rushers

Army defensive end Andre Carter is one of the top edge rushers in the 2023 NFL Draft class
Credit: Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Here we are; the second group on defense in our look at position rankings for the 2023 NFL draft: the edge rushers. This group looks to be strong again, just like the last couple of classes. We should see three to four guys go in the 1st round. It was hard to pick just 10 guys.

As always, I will be listing players at their expected NFL positions. Be sure to check out my previous part detailing the defensive line, and if you want to check out the draft database that I help update almost daily, you can find it at risendraft.

2023 NFL Draft Edge Rushers: The Top 5
  1. Will Anderson, Alabama: What more needs to be said about Anderson? He is probably the consensus #1 or #2 player in the draft. Despite being just 6’4 245, he has amazing athleticism and explosion in his body. He had a staggering 81 pressures and 15 sacks last season. Physically well developed, but could add 10 pounds to help his play against the run.
  2. Myles Murphy, Clemson: Murphy is almost the opposite of Anderson. He goes 6’5 275, and his game is based on strength and power. His pass rush moves are underdeveloped, so they need some work. He is already a good run defender. Still a good athlete, though.
  3. Isaiah Foskey, Notre Dame: Foskey is bendy with long arms and tons of potential. Also shows some explosion in his body. It just needs development. Already a good run defender. It took him a couple years to show anything since he was a high school tight end.
  4. Tyree Wilson, Texas Tech: Wilson is a huge edge rusher at 6’6 275. He had a bit of a break out in 2021. He is a good, but not elite, athlete. He looks like more of a pure 4-3 DE. He has improved as a pass rusher each season. Wilson has 40 pressures and 7 sacks this season already. He is still developing.
  5. Andre Carter, Army: Andre Carter might be a bigger freak athlete than Will Anderson. Just due to his sheer size, length, and athleticism. He is just so raw at this point. He is 6’6 260 with 33 3/4″ arms. Army even drops him in coverage and he moves like a man that is four inches shorter and 30 pounds lighter. His production was crazy last season for someone like him. He had 59 pressures and 15 sacks. Run defense and tackling are also a work in progress.
2023 NFL Draft Edge Rushers: Best of the Rest

6. Zach Harrison, Ohio State: Harrison has been a solid all-around player since 2020. He has the size and athleticism to play in a 4-3 or 3-4. At 6’5 266 and a 40-yard dash time in the 4.6 range, he can do different things. He is a little stiff, but is explosive. He has had trouble converting pressures to sacks. Harrison has just seven sacks the last two seasons, but 47 pressures. If he can improve that, he can move up more.

7. Felix Anudike-Uzomah, Kansas State: Had a bit of a breakout season in 2021. Anudike-Uzomah had 43 pressures and 13 sacks last season. He has also been a solid run defender since his freshman season. The question was could he be more consistent in 2022? Nine of his sacks in 2021 were in two games. In 2022, his numbers have been more spread out, although his overall numbers are down a little. He has the size and athleticism to play in either a 4-3 or 3-4.

8. Jared Verse, Florida State: Verse is a very good pass rusher who transferred from Albany that not a lot of people knew of. He started off the season fast with three sacks in the first two games, but got injured and slowed down in the middle of the season. He’s displayed high level speed, explosion, and bend — when he’s been healthy — as well as a developed repertoire of moves. His weaknesses seem to be an inconsistent play against the run, and he needs to tackle better.

9. Nick Hampton, Appalachian State: An undersized pass rusher, Hampton has been a player since 2019. He finally put on some weight in 2022 and is up to 235, so he is still a bit undersized and needs another 10-15 pounds. He does have 34″ arms, which helps a lot to mitigate his lack of bulk. Hampton had a big year in 2021 with 52 pressures and 12 sacks. While his numbers are down a little like everyone else, he is still productive. He has been good all around, although his play against the run can be a little up and down.

10. BJ Ojulari, LSU: Brother of Azeez, he could go earlier than his brother went. He has been a good run defender since he stepped on campus, despite his size (6’3 250). Ojulari has really come on as a pass rusher in 2022. 31 pressures and seven sacks on the year for the speedy pass rusher. He could improve as a tackler and add some bulk.

2023 NFL Draft Mid-Season Position Rankings: Interior Offensive Linemen

We are finally here; the sixth group in our look at position rankings for the 2023 NFL draft: the interior offensive linemen. This group before the season started looked to be strong at center and weak at guard. However, there are a number of tackles who project to guard in the NFL, so this class looks to have a lot of potential.

As always, I will be listing players at their expected NFL positions. Be sure to check out my previous part detailing the offensive tackles, and if you want to check out the draft database that I help update almost daily, you can find it at risendraft.

Arkansas center Ricky Stromberg, one of the top interior linemen in the 2023 NFL Draft class
Photo Credit: Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

2023 NFL Draft: Interior Offensive linemen

  1. Peter Skoronski, Northwestern: Skoronski has been a really good college left tackle. His technique and his athleticism stand out, but his short arms are a worry. They are reported to be in the 32″ range. Very rarely does a guy make it as a good tackle in the NFL with short arms like that. His potential is higher at guard than at tackle. With how much of a passing league it is now, he could be a Pro Bowl guard.
  2. Ricky Stromberg, Arkansas: Stromberg is everything you look for in a center. He is big, strong, mobile, and smart. He can even play some guard. He was a starter there in 2019. For a center, his arm length is about average at 32 1/2″. His hand placement and technique are so good. No sacks and just seven hurries given up this season.
  3. John Michael Schmitz, Minnesota: Schmitz has been a three-year starter at Minnesota and has been there for six seasons, so he is on the older side. He will be a 24-year-old rookie. The current Gopher also has not allowed a single sack in his career. Allowing just a total of 14 hurries in five plus seasons. Not the biggest or strongest or most athletic, but he is a very good all-around blocker. Dependable.
  4. O’Cyrus Torrence, Florida: Torrence transferred from University of Louisiana- Lafayette. He is a mountain of a man at 6’5, 345 pounds. He has gotten better every year, and the jump from Sun Belt to SEC hasn’t seemed to phase him at all. Reportedly, he has been close to 400 pounds early in his career; so his weight will need monitoring. He could probably stand to drop another 10-15 pounds. Still, even at his size he has been really good in both the pass and the run.
  5. Cooper Beebe, Kansas State: A big, athletic dude at 6’4, 322 pounds. Beebe has taken snaps at everywhere on the o-line except center. Mostly at left tackle and left guard. He will definitely be a guard at the next level. That versatility helps him big time because he can fill in in case of emergency. Also, add the fact that he is a very good offensive lineman. He allowed three sacks in 2020 and zero the rest of his career. He could easily come in a start as a rookie.

2023 NFL Draft Interior Offensive Linemen: Best of the Rest

6. Sedrick Van Pran, Georgia: Just his second year as a starter and a true junior, Van Pran flashed big time upside in 2021, but in 2022 he has seen some struggles. There was about three games in a row where he had some struggles. This ranking is based largely on his potential. He has shown some inconsistencies, both in 2021 and 2022. His run blocking also has not shown enough development or consistency yet. He could return for 2023 and be the top center of that class.

7. Nick Broeker, Mississippi: Broeker started out playing left tackle his first three season at Ole Miss. He had been projected as a guard in the NFL for what seems forever. They finally moved him inside this season. He looks less exposed and better fit at guard. There was still an adjustment early in the season to the move. He has flashed his athleticism on pulls and blocking on the second level. He still has some work to do as a run blocker, but he has the size (6’5, 320 pounds) and upside to be a really good one.

8. Jaylon Thomas, SMU: Thomas is a guy who hasn’t gotten much, if any, national media hype. But he deserves it. He has the size at 6’3, 317 pounds and athleticism (5.2 range) to be a very good guard at the NFL level. He has allowed nine sacks in his career, but five were as a true freshman and just one in the last two seasons combined. Thomas has finally found the consistency he needed this current season. Also, the current Mustang is probably one of the most versatile linemen in the draft. He has started at every position on the line. Mostly left tackle and right tackle.

9. Steve Avila, TCU: Avila is one of the biggest centers out there at 6’4 and almost 340 pounds, and very strong. He became a starter in 2020 and hasn’t looked back. An ultimate team player, he switched to guard this season. To his credit he has had his best overall season. The question has become is center really his future position? Or should he be a guard?

10. Jordan McFadden, Clemson: This seems to be a Clemson thing: to put guys who are obviously guards at left tackle. He has consistently played well since 2019. We haven’t seen massive growth from him, but that is probably from him playing out of position. For being just 6’2 he has long arms (33″) and could be an injury fill in at tackle in the NFL. He should be a solid all-around player in the NFL.

Honorable Mentions:

Jarrett Patterson-Notre Dame, Sincere Haynesworth-Tulane, Matthew Lee-UCF, Jaxson Kirkland-Washington, Andrew Vorhees-USC, Donovan Jennings-USF, Kyle Hergel-Texas State, Antonio Mafi-UCLA, McClendon Curtis-Chattanooga.

2023 NFL Draft Mid-Season Position Rankings: Offensive Tackles

Let’s get right into the fifth group in our look at position rankings for the 2023 NFL draft: the offensive tackles . This group before the season started looked to be a bit of a drop off from the previous classes; but a few guys have stepped up and a few have seemingly come out of nowhere. This class looks to be another solid group. Picking a top 10 was difficult.

As always, I will be listing players at their expected NFL positions. Be sure to check out my previous part detailing the tight ends, and if you want to check out the draft database that I help update almost daily, you can find it at risendraft.

Credit: Scott Taetsch/Getty Images
2023 NFL Draft Offensive Tackles: The Top 5
  1. Paris Johnson, Ohio State: Johnson started at right guard in 2021 and played really well. He is a big man who plays with a lot of power. The question heading into 2022 was could he make the transition to left tackle? He has answered that question and then some. He looks to be #1 tackle in the class.
  2. Olumuyiwa Fashanu, Penn State: Speaking of guys who came out of nowhere: Fashanu played just just a few snaps here and there in 2021 before starting their bowl game and balling out. But he was still a question mark coming into 2022. He has really shown his true potential. He is a huge man at 6’6 320 pounds with nimble feet and great core strength. He is just a redshirt sophomore, so his technique is still a work in progress, but he has Pro Bowl potential.
  3. Jaelyn Duncan, Maryland: Duncan is another big, dancing bear. Same size as Fashanu. The difference is he is essentially a 4th year starter and, while he has shown growth, it hasn’t been enough. The massive potential is still there. He just needs more consistency. His technique is also not where it should be. He probably needs a redshirt year in the NFL.
  4. Matthew Bergeron, Syracuse: Bergeron is another big dude at 6’5 324 pounds. He doesn’t have the athletic upside of the three ahead of him. But his floor is much higher — and he is still a good athlete in his own right. He has played both left and right tackle. He could see himself starting out at RT in the NFL as a rookie before moving to the other side. He has the experience and technique to start as a rookie.
  5. Anton Harrison, Oklahoma: Harrison is in a similar boat to Fashanu, and Duncan. He is a big dude at 6’6 309 pounds, but has the feet of a smaller player. He is his second year as a starter. He is pretty consistent from game-to-game. He seems to have one bad game a season. While consistent, he has yet to reach his potential.
2023 NFL Draft Offensive Tackles: Best of the Rest

6. Dawand Jones, Ohio State: Jones is a true mountain at 6’8 359 pounds with 36″ arms. He actually dropped 10 pounds from last season. Pass rushers have a very hard time getting around him because he is so big. Of course, what goes with that is he is not the quickest. For his size, he has decent quickness. He can also get out leveraged at times, too, due to his height. He has been really good in the passing game. The one thing that might give some teams pause would be he is a “one position only” player, only a right tackle.

7. Tylan Grable, UCF: Grable was a big sleeper coming into the season. I don’t think most in the scouting community knew much about him. He transferred up from Jacksonville State, and he has proven the stage is not too big for him. He has ideal size for a left tackle. Listed at 6’7 (probably closer to 6’6) and 290 pounds. He has the requisite feet, size, and arm length to be a starting left tackle in the NFL. He needs to add some bulk, but has the frame to do it.

8. Patrick Paul, Houston: Another sleeper entering the season. Paul has been starting at left tackle since 2020, but he only played two games that season due to injury. Paul has shown continual growth. He also has a brother Chris, who was just drafted by Washington. He has the size at 6’7 315 pounds, and the athleticism to stay at left tackle. The current Cougar may never be elite, but he will be very, very good.

9. Blake Freeland, BYU: Freeland fits the mold of the traditional BYU offensive lineman at 6’8, 307 pounds. The main difference is he isn’t 24 years old. He still has some upside, even though he has been a starter. Freeland has gotten better every year. He has been a four-year starter. I’m just not sure if he plays physical enough to be anything more than just a solid starter.

10. Cody Mauch, North Dakota State: Mauch has been a good blocker the last three seasons. He plays with the physicality that teams like. He also has good overall athleticism. The thing that might be an issue with certain teams is his arm length at only 32 3/8″. Some teams may see him as a guard. It will be important to see him at an All-Star game, since he plays in the FCS, to see him against better competition.