If I had written this list in any of the previous three years, it would have been very wide receiver heavy. Six wideouts were chosen in round one in 2022, five in 2021 and six in 2020 as the likes of Garrett Wilson, Ja'Marr Chase, Jaylen Waddle, Justin Jefferson and CeeDee Lamb entered the NFL. While as many as six pass-catchers could be selected in round one this year, there are just two wide receivers who make my top five here. And that's because there is a generational running back at number one and two tight ends who headline a very good class for that position. So, this is a more eclectic group of skill-position players.
1. Bijan Robinson – Running Back – Texas – 6-0/222 pounds
Let's get the pro comparisons out of the way early so you realise we're talking about a special talent in Bijan Robinson. Even though running backs often get disrespected in the NFL Draft process, Robinson is a sure-fire top 10 pick and this complete package of a back has been compared to New York's Saquon Barkley and Josh Jacobs, the NFL rushing champion from the Las Vegas Raiders. Not too shabby. Robinson scored 41 touchdowns in three college seasons and was the Doak Walker winner in 2022 (the award for college football's best running back) after rushing for 1,580 yards and 18 touchdowns. Bijan is a Persian name that means 'hero' and that's just what this runner who can bull over defenders or sprint away from them is going to become in the NFL.
2. Jaxon Smith-Njigba – Wide Receiver – Ohio State – 6-0/198 pounds
NFL Network Draft experts Daniel Jeremiah and Bucky Brooks both have Jaxon Smith-Njigba as the first wide receiver to come off the board, even though he played in just three games in 2022 due to a hamstring injury. JSN was at his best in 2021 as he caught 95 passes for 1,606 yards and nine touchdowns while playing alongside first-round picks Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave. Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud hailed Smith-Njigba as "the best route runner I've ever played with in my life." Njigba played a key role as a slot receiver at Ohio State and was tough to cover inside. He will fill a similar role in the NFL and could be an 80- or 90-catch player as a rookie, drawing comparisons to Christian Kirk and Jarvis Landry.
3. Dalton Kincaid – Tight End – Utah – 6-4/246 pounds
While other first-round prospects would have received a four- or five-star rating coming out of high school, Dalton Kincaid scored a zero! His background was as a basketball player but having turned his attention to football, the exceptional athlete is now going to be a first-rounder; completing his own incredible sporting journey. Kincaid has a nose for making the big play – he notched at least eight receiving touchdowns in three college football seasons and scored 35 times in 55 games. He is an ideal modern-day tight end, one who can be moved into the slot and used like a big wide receiver in the same way Kansas City unleashes Travis Kelce on opponents. And once Kincaid gets that ball in his hands, look out!
4. Jordan Addison – Wide Receiver – USC – 6-0/173 pounds
While he can play inside and out, Jordan Addison could end up like so many of the receivers in this class –likely doing his best work from the slot. Addison spent two years as Kenny Pickett's leading target at the University of Pittsburgh and won the Biletnikoff Award as college football's best wide receiver in 2021. In 2022, he transferred to USC and reportedly earned a cool $1.2 million in image rights deals. He may have to take a pay cut upon entering the NFL! Detailed, smart and consistent, Addison should hit the ground running in the NFL and be productive as a rookie.
5. Michael Mayer – Tight End – Notre Dame – 6-4/265 pounds
A productive starter during his last two seasons at Notre Dame, Michael Mayer is more of a traditional tight end who can catch and block – a younger version of Jason Witten, if you will. While basketball was his first love, Mayer quickly took to football and has become a multi-dimensional player. He has strong hands and can use his frame to box out defenders. Mayer catches well in traffic and can be a useful blocker in the running game. He won't wow scouts with incredible displays of athleticism, but he can just play football and he will be an immediate and talented starter in the NFL.