Josh Frey’s 2023 NFL Draft Big Board
The 2023 NFL Draft is almost here. With so many prospects getting headlines due to the combine and pro days over the past few weeks, here is a narrow view on some of the very best players in this draft with a new 2023 NFL Draft big board.
1. DL Jalen Carter, Georgia
Jalen Carter has an off-the-field situation that could cause him to fall in the draft, but at the end of the day, on the field he is the most valuable player in this draft due to his prowess as a pass rusher from the interior of the defensive line.
2. EDGE Will Anderson, Alabama
Will Anderson is everything you want in a young pass-rusher. He brings unbelievable athleticism to the field and overwhelms opposing offensive lines with his bull rush. He’s the safest pick in this class at this point in time.
3. CB Devon Witherspoon, Illinois
Especially after recording a 4.42 40-yard dash at his pro day, Devon Witherspoon is sealing up his case to be the top cornerback and one of the top overall draft prospects in this year’s class. He is a lockdown player on the boundary and should be a top-10 pick this spring.
4. QB Bryce Young, Alabama
Bryce Young is the perfect quarterback for a young team trying to rebuild a roster. He has the ability to make on-the-fly decisions and can utilize his legs to find solutions to broken plays. Young should be one of the first two players off the board this year.
5. RB Bijan Robinson, Texas
Bijan Robinson is an elite talent because of his athleticism and speed in the backfield, but what truly sets him apart is his balance as a runner. He sheds tacklers with ease and gets back up to speed in a hurry. Because he’s a running back it’s uncertain when he’ll exactly be taken, but Robinson’s skillset certainly validates an early first round selection.
6. QB C.J. Stroud, Ohio State
Bryce Young may be the most talented QB prospect overall, but C.J. Stroud is the most NFL-ready in terms of his pure-passing skills. The Ohio State product brings pinpoint accuracy to the field and complements it with a beautiful deep ball.
7. CB Christian Gonzalez, Oregon
In a deep CB class, Christian Gonzalez is one of the best. He pairs outstanding athleticism with great lengths, allowing him to keep up with even the fastest receivers in the league. He needs to fill out his frame a little bit more, but Gonzalez should be able to step into an NFL defense right away.
8. OT Peter Skoronski, Northwestern
Peter Skoronski is a smaller prospect at offensive tackle, but he is very comparable to another former Northwestern Wildcat and current Los Angeles Charger, Rashawn Slater. Skoronski makes up for a lack of length with a gritty playstyle as well as terrific strength and speed.
9. QB Anthony Richardson, Florida
Anthony Richardson is one of the more hotly-debated quarterback prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft because of his potential stemming from some superb athleticism and ridiculous arm strength compared to his current status as a very raw prospect. With more NFL experience, Richardson should grow into a solid QB.
10. CB Joey Porter Jr., Penn State
The length of Joey Porter Jr. along with some extreme physicality make the Penn State product one of the more intriguing cornerback prospects in this class. He may need to tone it down at times and become more disciplined, but Porter can be a lockdown defender in the NFL.
11. WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Ohio State
The big concern with Jaxon Smith-Njigba coming into this offseason was his speed and athleticism. Those doubts should be put to rest with his 4.48 40-yard dash at Ohio State’s pro day along with some elite times in the 3-cone and 20-yard shuttle. Smith-Njigba is the WR1 of this class.
12. EDGE Tyree Wilson, Texas Tech
Tyree Wilson has a ton of upside in terms of his talent, but it is injury concerns that knock him down the list here. He shut down his 2022 season after suffering a foot injury, and he didn’t participate in the NFL scouting combine because of it.
13. OT Paris Johnson, Ohio State
When you picture an NFL offensive tackle prospect, Paris Johnson is the prototypical player that comes to mind. He has ideal athleticism and size and should be able to step into a starting role in the NFL.
14. EDGE Lukas Van Ness, Iowa
Lukas Van Ness is a bendy athlete that really finds success when he can use his patented spin move to get around offensive linemen. He has terrific burst off the line of scrimmage and utilizes great speed to the point where opposing offenses just can’t keep up with him as a pass-rusher.
15. QB Will Levis, Kentucky
Similar to Richardson, Will Levis has shown some big flashes as a quarterback, but he still has a lot of developing to do before he can be trusted as a starter. Regardless, he is probably worth an early first-round pick for the upside.
16. EDGE Nolan Smith, Georgia
One of the biggest draft board risers in recent weeks, Nolan Smith put together outstanding marks at the NFL scouting combine, and he was very productive during his time at Georgia. He should garner a high-end first-round pick this spring.
17. S Brian Branch, Alabama
Brian Branch is a very versatile defender, and while he may be listed as a safety, it may be more apt to describe him as a slot cornerback, especially as he begins his NFL career. Branch can also help against the run, stepping into the box as a de facto linebacker.
18. WR Jordan Addison, USC
There aren’t many receivers that can run routes as effortlessly and smoothly as Jordan Addison. While some may be concerned by his size, his athletic ability should outweigh many of these worries.
19. OT Broderick Jones, Georgia
In order to beat Broderick Jones, you have to go around him, or try to beat down a brick wall. At 6’5″ and 311 pounds, Jones is a massive offensive lineman, and combine that with sub-5.0 speed, there is very little anyone can do to beat him.
20. WR Quentin Johnston, TCU
Admittedly, some high hopes for Quentin Johnston have been tempered a bit with some combine measurements that came in a bit lower than expected. However, the TCU receiver is extremely athletic and can pick up yards after the catch in a hurry.
21. TE Dalton Kincaid, Utah
For a tight end to be a true blue-chip prospect anymore, they need to be able to impact an offense as a receiver. Dalton Kincaid is the very best in this area of any tight ends in this draft class.
22. DT Calijah Kancey, Pittsburgh
It’s tough to find a true pass-rush threat from the middle of the defensive line, but Calijah Kancey is exactly that. He is a freakish athlete with some very similar measurements and testing to Aaron Donald.
23. EDGE Myles Murphy, Clemson
Myles Murphy has been a workout warrior in recent weeks, most recently putting on a show at his pro day. With Clemson, he was one of the key parts of a top defense in all of college football during 2022.
24. TE Michael Mayer, Notre Dame
Michael Mayer is the most complete tight end at this point, but there are some doubts as to whether or not his receiving production can translate to the NFL. Regardless, his blocking prowess will be valuable at the next level.
25. DT Bryan Bresee, Clemson
Bryan Bresee is another physical freak in this draft class that plays along the defensive line. He has a litany of pass rush moves at his disposal due to his incredible athleticism. He falls below Kancey due to his reliance on athletic ability as opposed to strength, but he should be productive in the NFL.
26. LB Trenton Simpson, Clemson
You won’t find a more NFL-ready off-ball linebacker than Trenton Simpson in this draft class. He is spectacular in pass coverage, and the ability to blitz and stop the run should not be overlooked, either.
27. OT Darnell Wright, Tennessee
In order to get a sense for how Darnell Wright can translate his game to the NFL level, go back and watch how he contained Will Anderson when the Vols played against Tennessee. He’s a neutralizing force in the trenches and will be another offensive lineman taken fairly early in the draft.
28. CB Kelee Ringo, Georgia
At 6’2 and over 200 pounds, Ringo is a dominant force with his physical prowess. The redshirt sophomore is at his best when he can play press man coverage, and he uses elite speed to keep himself draped all over any receiver.
29. WR Cedric Tillman, Tennessee
Prior to Jalin Hyatt’s breakout in 2022, Cedric Tillman was considered the true WR1 of the Tennessee Volunteers offense. Had he not suffered an ankle injury that limited him to just six games this past season, I suspect he’d be getting much of the hype that has gone to Hyatt in recent weeks.
30. CB Deonte Banks, Maryland
Deonte Banks brings ideal size as a boundary cornerback, and he utilizes it superbly in press man coverage. He’s very physical off the snap and has the top-speed capability to keep up with opposing receivers.
31. TE Darnell Washington, Georgia
There are a few physical freaks in this draft class, but Darnell Washington may be the freakiest of them all. He looks like a sixth offensive lineman on the field, and his blocking ability backs that up. He also has upside as a pass-catcher, and it doesn’t hurt that he loves hurdling over people.
32. WR Zay Flowers, Boston College
Zay Flowers is an incredible athlete with a capability of running every route under the sun. He’s smaller in stature, but his shifty lateral movement skills along with some explosive speed make him a tough cover for anyone in the secondary of a defense.
33. RB Jahmyr Gibbs, Alabama
Bijan Robinson gets a lot of the hype in this draft class because of how dominant he could be at the NFL level, but Jahmyr Gibbs is just as talented in a number of areas, particularly as a pass-catcher. Don’t be surprised if he is another RB taken in the first round.
34. WR Jalin Hyatt, Tennessee
Jalin Hyatt is a burner and can be an excellent deep threat for an NFL offense. On top of that, he has consistent hands, and he is an ideal receiver size for the NFL game.
35. EDGE Will McDonald IV, Iowa State
Will McDonald doesn’t get enough credit for being one of the most productive pass-rushers in college football history. He is tied with Curtis Weaver for the sixth-most career sacks in the NCAA since 2005, and much of this production comes as a result of him simply being one of the most athletic players on the field.
36. LB Drew Sanders, Arkansas
After spending most of his early collegiate career as an EDGE with Alabama, Drew Sanders transferred to Arkansas for the 2022 season and thrived as an off-ball linebacker. He is a terrific blitzer and is quickly growing in pass coverage.
37. CB Emmanuel Forbes, Mississippi State
Emmanuel Forbes has some of the best ball skills of any defensive back in this year’s class, making him an intriguing option potentially as early as the first round, especially after Tariq Woolen’s success in 2022.
38. DL Mazi Smith, Michigan
Mazi Smith can be a bulldozer across a defensive line for an NFL team due to his elite size and strength. Keep an eye out for him as a borderline first-round pick for one of the playoff teams at the end of the round.
39. DL Keion White, Georgia Tech
Keion White is a very versatile defender as a pass-rusher. He can attack offenses as more of interior rusher in a 3-4 defense, or he can be on the edge in a 4-3. His blend of power and athleticism keep blockers guessing at all times.
40. CB Cam Smith, South Carolina
Cam Smith is one of the bigger wild cards in this draft. He needs to get better technically as a corner, but his athletic ability and size allow for some leeway with a few mistakes here and there.
41. IOL O’Cyrus Torrence, Florida
O’Cyrus Torrence is the top guard prospect in this draft class, pushing defensive fronts backwards with his nearly 350-pound frame.
42. OT Anton Harrison, Oklahoma
Since he began starting as a freshman for Oklahoma, Anton Harrison has been one of the more consistent offensive tackles in college football. He has extremely quick feet despite being a massive player.
43. EDGE Adetomiwa Adebawore, Northwestern
Adetomiwa Adebawore broke records at the NFL combine this spring, recording the fastest 40-yard dash by a player of 280+ pounds, running a blazing 4.49 with a 1.61 10-yard split. This explosive athleticism will cause headaches for offensive tackles in the NFL.
44. WR Tank Dell, Houston
Tank Dell punches well above his weight class as a receiver. He likely translates best to a slot role due to his smaller size as well as breakaway speed, but don’t be surprised if we see him line up on the boundary every now and again as well.
45. IOL John Michael Schmitz, Minnesota
John Michael Schmitz has become the consensus top center prospect in this draft, and he even has a chance of being selected in the first round. This is due to some ridiculous strength which allows him to wreak havoc on opposing defensive linemen.
46. EDGE Isaiah Foskey, Notre Dame
Isaiah Foskey has not gotten the same first-round hype that he had earlier in the offseason, but he remains a very talented edge rusher due to some elite explosiveness off the snap. If he is available in Day 2, he could be a steal for for any team that selects him.
47. EDGE Felix Anudike-Uzomah, Kansas State
Felix Anudike-Uzomah is another freakish athlete as a pass rusher, and regardless of the matchup he faced during 2022, he consistently put pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
48. LB Jack Campbell, Iowa
Jack Campbell plays off-ball linebacker, but he has the size that makes him look like an EDGE when he’s on the field. He is extremely physical and likely will play a traditional 4-3 outside linebacker position, mainly serving as a key run-stopping force.
49. EDGE BJ Ojulari, LSU
The younger brother of current New York Giant, Azeez, BJ Ojulari has been a consistent player for the LSU defense since his freshman season. He has been productive throughout his career, but he is a bit undersized at the position.
50. S Antonio Johnson, Texas A&M
Like Branch, Antonio Johnson should be able to step in and play some slot corner for an NFL defense in addition to his capabilities as a safety. He is a bit less athletic than Branch due to his massive size, but he should be an early Day 2 pick.
Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho with a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.