Just 31 prospects will have the honor of hearing NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announce their names on Day 1 of the 2023 NFL Draft in Kansas City, Missouri. As a result, plenty of highly talented players will still be on the board come Friday evening, when Round 2 gets underway. The second day of the annual draft generally features underrated playmakers and produces instant-impact rookies. With this in mind, we ask the question:
Which prospect might not be selected in the first round, but SHOULD be?
PICK: Jalin Hyatt, WR, Tennessee
Hyatt is a burner who might not find a spot in the first round because of sheer numbers. There are four other receivers in this class with more buzz around them -- TCU's Quentin Johnston, USC's Jordan Addison, Ohio State's Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Boston College's Zay Flowers -- and each could be drafted on Day 1. Hyatt is a big play waiting to happen, but he's also not as well-rounded as those others yet.
PICK: Jahmyr Gibbs, RB, Alabama
Gibbs might be the obvious answer, given that we've only had four running backs drafted in the first round in the past four years: Josh Jacobs (2019), Clyde Edwards-Helaire (2020), Najee Harris and Travis Etienne (2021). But Gibbs' ability to shift gears and catch the ball well make him an ideal specialist. Give him 15 touches per game and watch him thrive; that's a reasonable, Tony Pollard-ish workload. Gibbs is 21 years old with only 530 college touches under his belt. Even with a small frame (5-foot-9, 199 pounds), that's a very appealing template with which to work.
PICK: Marvin Mims, WR, Oklahoma
Mims' smallish frame (5-11, 183 pounds) and the lack of buzz surrounding this year's receiver group may push him down draft boards. He'll likely end up being one of the top four or five receivers in this draft class, though, because he is tougher than expected given his size, has sub-4.4 speed and makes plays at all levels of the field. He reminds me of Tyler Lockett and Emmanuel Sanders, two former third-round picks who exceeded expectations.
PICK: Steve Avila, IOL, TCU
Avila actually played every position at TCU except left tackle, and, in 15 starts at left guard for the national championship runner-up, he did not give up a sack in 2022, earning him consensus All-American honors. He's projected to be an immediate NFL starter; given how many teams are desperate for offensive-line help, Avila shouldn't have to wait around long on Day 2.
PICK: Cedric Tillman, WR, Tennessee
If Cedric Tillman hadn't sustained a high ankle sprain in the third game of the year, we would be talking about him as WR1 in this draft. He has excellent size (6-3, 213 pounds), is a physical pass catcher and went off against both Georgia and Alabama in 2021 when he was healthy. He played through injury this year to be part of the Vols' run, but I feel like people are sleeping on him because of his lack of production (relative to a healthy 2021).
Gibbs gets lost in the Bijan Robinson hype, and while the Texas back is great, Gibbs is better, in my opinion. He is so explosive with the ball in his hands and will contribute on all three downs as a pass-catching threat. The Alvin Kamara comparison is spot on, as Gibbs will step right in as a versatile asset and Day 1 starter for the team that drafts him. Brown, my favorite defensive player in this draft, also deserves to hear his name called on Day 1. He's instinctive, possessing exceptional ball skills and the physicality to make plays near the line of scrimmage.