With the 2023 NFL Draft just days away from kicking off in Kansas City, Missouri, here's my final look at the top five prospects at each position in this year's draft class.
While the 2023 quarterback crop is an upgrade on the '22 group, it still lacks the pizazz of certain classes from the recent vintage. That said, there are some quality signal-callers with the potential to evolve into long-term QB1s in the right environment. Young boasts many of the traits NFL decision-makers want in a franchise quarterback, showcasing exceptional production and performance from the pocket while at Alabama. But at 5-foot-10, 204 pounds, he lacks the size and frame old-school team builders covet. Durability concerns stemming from his physical dimensions have been the only thing keeping him from being considered the unanimous QB1 on most draft boards. Stroud is the most prototypical prospect of the bunch, as a talented passer and playmaker with the requisite physical traits and tools. Although the Ohio State standout did not lean into his athleticism for most of his collegiate career, his spectacular performance against Georgia in the College Football Playoff could encourage coaches to explore his potential as a dual-threat playmaker at the next level. Hooker is currently recovering from an ACL tear suffered in November and his advanced age (25) is a topic of conversation in the pre-draft process, but he's one of the more polished quarterbacks that you'll find when it comes to throwing with anticipation, timing and touch from the pocket. The athletic Tennessee product throws pinpoint darts to his intended targets at every range, deftly manages an offense and plays the game like a seasoned pro. Richardson is a freak athlete with Cam Newton-like tools as a dual-threat playmaker. Although his accuracy woes and limited experience (just 13 starts at Florida) make him a redshirt candidate as a rookie, Richardson could make his mark as a dynamic running threat early in his career while refining his skills as a passer. Levis is a wild card, as a talented passer and playmaker with A+ physical tools who didn't always put his best work on tape in 2022. The Kentucky product has flashed intriguing potential as a QB1 -- especially during the 2021 campaign -- but his spotty play makes him something of a boom-or-bust prospect.
This RB class is loaded with potential starters, many of whom could come off the board in the middle rounds, given the devaluation of the position in the draft hierarchy. As the undisputed RB1 of the class, Robinson is a five-star player with top-10 talent and potential. The Texas standout is an old-school runner with the vision, balance, body control and power to run through or around defenders, and he flashes the ability to score from anywhere on the field. Gibbs is a jitterbug with dangerous stop-start quickness and burst. The Georgia Tech/Alabama product is a big-play machine with diverse skills to immediately excel as a change-of-pace/third-down back in the NFL. Charbonnet is a big back with a throwback game. He's a punishing runner with the vision, balance and body control to weave through traffic as a classic RB1. Achane is a lightweight playmaker with explosive quickness, acceleration and long speed. Although he lacks the size to handle a heavy workload in the NFL, the Texas A&M product could make a profound impact as a third-down back in a spread offense. Spears is the electric backfield playmaker that every offense could use. The Tulane star displays stellar stop-start quickness, as well as ballerina-like balance and body control with the ball in his hands.
While lacking a high-end prospect with Ja'Marr Chase-like potential, this year's wide receiver pool features a collection of intriguing pass catchers with polished games. Smith-Njigba is a blue-chipper with the skills to emerge in the NFL as a big-play specialist from the slot. Although he missed most of 2022 with a nagging hamstring injury, the Ohio State product checks off all of the boxes as a pass catcher with high-end potential on Sundays. Flowers is an explosive catch-and-run specialist with the speed and quickness to overwhelm defenders in one-on-one matchups. The Boston College standout is an A+ route runner with a dynamic game that could make him a nightmare to defend in the NFL. Johnston is a big, fast and physical playmaker with a knack for producing big gains on the perimeter. The TCU product is a bit of a body catcher, but his leaping ability and length make him a dangerous weapon on the outside in a vertical passing game. Addison is a route-running specialist with impeccable timing and precision. The 2021 Biletnikoff Award winner is a tough matchup on the perimeter as a versatile playmaker who can win from the slot or out wide. Hyatt is a speed demon with a knack for scoring touchdowns and delivering big plays. Although he is a bit of a one-trick pony with a limited route tree, the 2022 Biletnikoff Award winner is a vertical-stretch weapon with outstanding speed, quickness and burst.
The 2023 tight end class will intrigue coaches and scouts seeking basketball-like athletes with post-up skills and soft hands. Kincaid is a dynamic flex with outstanding route-running skills and sticky hands. Boasting extensive collegiate experience (two years at San Diego and three seasons with Utah), Kincaid is a plug-and-play prospect with the potential to make an immediate splash as a designated playmaker. Mayer is an old-school "Y" with strong hands and a nose for the end zone (18 touchdowns over three seasons at Notre Dame). Teams looking for a classic tight end will salivate over his potential as an impact player. At 6-foot-7 and 264 pounds, Washington is a supersized tight end with a combination of skills that makes him a hybrid offensive tackle/perimeter pass catcher. The Georgia product obliterates defenders as a blocker on the edges, while also displaying soft hands and better-than-anticipated playmaking skills for a gigantic target. Musgrave is a prototypical flex with soft hands and excellent running skills. As a natural pass catcher with the potential to create mismatches on the perimeter due to a superior size-speed-athleticism combination, the Oregon State product is one of the gems of a loaded tight end class. LaPorta is an underrated playmaker with intriguing tools as a pass-catching tight end. The Iowa standout is a crafty seam runner who can control the middle of the field as a secondary option in the passing game.
This group offers a solid collection of edge blockers with the size, length and movement skills to challenge elite pass rushers in isolated matchups. Skoronski is a polished all-around blocker with superb technique and outstanding movement skills. The Northwestern standout excels at latching on and finishing blocks in space. Johnson is an exceptional athlete with the size, strength and power to maul defenders in the run game and pass protection. He finishes blocks violently, showcasing an edginess that sets the tone for the rest of the front. Jones is a power player with the knock-back force to mash and maul defenders in the ground attack. In addition, he displays balance, body control and lateral quickness to shadow shifty pass rushers off the edge. At 6-5 and 333 pounds, Wright is a big edge blocker with heavy hands and a nasty temperament. The Tennessee product mauls opponents at the point of attack while flashing enough balance and body control to be effective as a road grader or pass protector on the quarterback's front side. Harrison is a raw player with intriguing tools and talent. The extra-long bookend flashes impressive movement skills in action, but needs some skill refinement to become a solid pro starter.
The 2023 NFL Draft is loaded with talented interior blockers possessing the capacity to play guard or center. The versatility will enable teams to peg the majority of the top prospects as swing players with the potential to fill multiple spots in the lineup. Torrence is the crown jewel of the class as a massive (6-5, 330 pounds) interior blocker with heavy hands and explosive power. The Louisiana/Florida product flashes dominant ability as a people mover in the ground game, while displaying enough quickness and skill to handle top interior rushers in pass protection. Avila is a rock-solid pass protector with the strength, power, balance and body control to anchor against elite interior rushers. The TCU product plays with quick hands and active feet to stop defenders in their tracks. Though Avila could operate with more aggression in the run game, the talented technician plays winning football at the point of attack. Schmitz is an athletic center with the movement skills to pull, climb and reach defenders at the line of scrimmage or on the second level. In addition, the Minnesota pivot plays with the edginess that most offensive coaches covet in front-line players. Wypler is a polished technician with the movement skills to excel on pulls or climb-blocks in space. The Ohio State standout is Day 1 ready, with a toolbox that could make him an immediate difference-maker as a rookie. Tippmann is an athletic pivot with outstanding instincts and awareness. The Wisconsin product is a high-IQ player with the tools and intangibles to develop into a solid starter early in his pro career.
This year's edge crop features an intriguing collection of sack artists and disruptive playmakers. Anderson is the biggest prize as a high-energy defender with A+ athleticism and pass-rush skills. He's a monster off the edge with tools that should help him blossom into a double-digit sack artist early in his NFL career. Wilson is a heavy-handed power rusher with outstanding size and length. The Texas Tech product is a disruptive force at the line of scrimmage with rock-solid skills as a run defender and pass rusher. Murphy is an explosive edge defender with outstanding snap-count anticipation and first-step quickness. The Clemson star is a natural pass rusher with the bend-and-burst ability to develop into an annual double-digit sack producer. Van Ness is a versatile front-line defender with a high-revving motor that overwhelms opponents. The Iowa standout offers position flexibility and is a rugged player at the point of attack with outstanding skills as a run stopper/pass rusher. White plays like a bull in a china shop, utilizing an assortment of power maneuvers to create chaos in the backfield. The Georgia Tech standout overwhelms blockers with his relentless approach and non-stop energy.
The 2023 DT pool offers some high-end prospects with blue-chip potential. NFL teams are fully examining Carter's character after he pleaded no contest to reckless driving and racing charges related to a fatal car crash in January. A lackluster pro day only furthered concerns. Strictly assessing the film, Carter is an extra-large freak athlete with a disruptive presence. The All-American flashes a rare combination of explosive first-step quickness and heavy hands as a destructive run stopper/pocket pusher. Kancey is a squatty-bodied interior pass rusher with exceptional first-step quickness and athleticism. He is not an Aaron Donald clone, but his disruptive skills as an explosive, undersized DT out of Pitt predictably draw comparisons to the three-time Defensive Player of the Year. Bresee is a versatile interior defender with the capacity to play nose tackle or 3-technique in a 3-4 or 4-3 scheme. The former No. 1 overall recruit is an active player at the line of scrimmage with quick hands and dynamic finishing skills. Smith is an elite athlete with intriguing tools as an interior defender. He flashes disruptive potential but needs some skill refinement to become a more consistent player at the next level. Adebawore surged up the charts after a spectacular performance at the NFL Scouting Combine led evaluators to take a comprehensive look at his tape. The Northwestern standout is a worker bee with a knack for making plays with extra effort. Although his game has not caught up to his athleticism, Adebawore's tools and talent make him an intriguing prospect as an interior pass rusher.
Seeking tackling machines with outstanding instincts and high football IQs? You've come to the right place! Sanders is a throwback linebacker with the size, strength and awareness to control the middle. With the Alabama/Arkansas product also displaying disruptive pass-rush skills, defensive coordinators will salivate over his potential as an impactful second-level defender. Smith is a standup edge defender with the versatility to play multiple spots on the second level. The Georgia star could fill a void as a DPR (designated pass rusher) or play in the box as a run-and-chase defender. With unique traits and rare athleticism, the combine star is surging up the charts. Simpson is an athletic playmaker with outstanding instincts and awareness. The Clemson star is a rangy defender with the speed and quickness to run with tight ends down the seam or attack the quarterback off the edges. Campbell is an old-school thumper with the instincts, range and diagnostic skills to own the tackle-to-tackle box. He has a strong nose for the ball, with a knack for taking it away as a run stopper/pass defender. To'oTo'o is an instinctive playmaker who finds the ball in traffic. The Alabama product is a tackling machine with the requisite sideline-to-sideline range to make plays inside and outside of the box.
This corner crop features a series of instinctive cover men with ball skills and playmaking ability. Witherspoon is a natural CB1 with the movement skills, instincts and awareness to hold his own in coverage. The Illinois product also displays a willingness to mix it up in run defense as a rock-solid tackler who enjoys the physical part of the game. He's a tone-setter. Gonzalez is an aggressive ballhawk with a gambler's mentality. He has a knack for making plays on the ball, and his superb awareness could make him an impact player early in his pro career. Porter Jr. possesses the size, bloodlines (his father is indeed former All-Pro edge defender Joey Porter) and overall awareness to develop into a blue-chip cover corner in the NFL. The Penn State standout is ideally suited to play in a man-to-man scheme that enables him to challenge wideouts at the line of scrimmage with his length and feisty temperament. Smith is an instinctive cover corner with outstanding eyes, instincts and ball skills. The South Carolina product is ideally suited to play in a zone scheme, enabling him to showcase his strengths as a playmaker. Forbes raised some eyebrows when he weighed in at the combine at a rail-thin 166 pounds, but he also blazed a 4.35-second 40-yard dash. Not to mention, his extraordinary playmaking ability is undeniable: Over three years at Mississippi State, Forbes intercepted 14 passes, setting an NCAA record with six career pick-sixes.
The evolution of the safety position at the NFL level makes this 2023 crop an enticing collection of talent. Teams looking for center fielders and nickel-corner types will love the group. Branch is a hybrid defender ideally suited to line up in the slot. The Alabama standout has a great feel for playing in traffic, and his solid tackling skills will serve him well as the extra defensive back on the field. Johnson is a polished slot defender with outstanding awareness and instincts. The Texas A&M product is an aggressive hitter with a strong nose for the ball and rock-solid tackling skills. Battle is an old-school box safety with an enforcer's mentality and A+ tackling skills. As a big hitter with outstanding range, vision and instincts, the Alabama product is a perfect down safety in a single-high scheme. Sydney Brown is a well-rounded athlete with speed, quickness and explosion, making him a potential difference-maker as a safety/special teams contributor. As an HWS (height-weight-speed) prospect with A+ traits, the Illinois star should be a solid addition to any team's DB room. Ji'Ayir Brown is a takeaway bandit with superb instincts, awareness and ball skills. He has a nose for the football, and his ability to create splash plays makes him a valuable asset despite his athletic deficiencies.