As Draft Countdown moves into the summer months and taking a break to prep for an August relaunch, here is a teaser to hold you over. The 2023 NFL Draft looks to be loaded with skill position talent and some high octane players on defense. Though many will do a top ten, this is a top eleven! An early Top 11 ranking of prospects is sure to have one or two fall off next season, but this should give you an idea of players to watch in preparation.
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1. Will Anderson Jr. EDGE, Alabama
Anderson may be the best pass rusher I’ve ever scouted. Despite only being 235 pounds, he gets constant pressure on nearly every play he goes after the quarterback. This has resulted in two years of insane statistics and excellent film. A hyped up version of Von Miller, Anderson will likely be a coveted top 3 selection in the 2023 Draft.
2. CJ Stroud, QB, Ohio State
Stroud has the size, arm, and ball placement to hit receivers all over the field. Once he recovered from a shoulder injury, Stroud was incredible and flashed #1 overall type of ability. He can run too, though it was rare to see him take off last season. Though Ohio State QBs make people uncomfortable, Stroud is on another level and helped the WRs he has hit new heights.
3. Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
Young may be small, but he navigates the pocket so well to find the open receiver. Though he didn’t run very much this past season, Young has the wheels to be a major rushing threat as well. His ball placement is top notch and often led to big plays after the catch for now Detroit Lion Jameson Williams. If Young takes the Crimson Tide to another National Championship berth, an NFL team will draft him very early and build an offense around his skillset.
4. Jalen Carter, DL, Georgia
Carter was the reason Top 20 pick Jordan Davis was taken off the field on third downs last season, so that shows the absolute athletic upside Carter brings to the table. His penetration and pass rush ability with an explosive first step are crazy good making him the top DL in the draft and a potential Top 5 pick.
5. Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State
Smith-Njigba outperformed first round picks Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave last season as a big slot WR who was moved around the formation. A long, physical receiver, JSN can dominate #1 CBs at the college level. Look for him to contend for the #1 WR in the class and be dominant with CJ Stroud once again.
6. Peter Skoronski, OT, Northwestern
Skoronski stepped in as a true freshman and held his own against dominant pass rushers time and time again. Though Northwestern isn’t exactly the hub of top NFL talent, Skoronski was a top high school talent who immediately took to the college game. He has long arms and athletic feet to match speed rushers.
7. Bryan Bresee, DL, Clemson
Bresee was a part of a 5* Front 7 class for the Tigers that has paid off. Starting as a true freshman, he held the run defense together and 2-gapped often. Great violent hands and an explosive first step makes him tough to block every play. His consistency makes him the top DL in this class.
8. Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
A RB in the Top 10? Robinson is just that good. Though he won’t blaze a 4.3 40 time anytime soon, Robinson can run through defenders while having the agility to move around them too. He has shown pass blocking and pass catching ability to be the best RB prospect since Saquon Barkley. With improving vision every year, Robinson could rise into the top 10 of the draft even.
9. Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame
Though Mayer isn’t on the Kyle Pitts level, he has been a weapon for the Fighting Irish since his freshman season. Mayer’s soft hands and hard nose blocking makes him a perfect 2-way TE with the athleticism to be a dominant pass catching weapon.
10. Kayshon Boutte, WR, LSU
Boutte had a great freshman season when Ja’Marr Chase didn’t play and Terrace Marshall stopped midseason. Last year, Boutte dealt with injuries and a poor team environment that led to a lack of production. Even so, he is explosiv off the line and a great route runner who can take catches to the house. Look for a reinvigoration this season under Coach Kelly in a new offense.
11. Myles Murphy, EDGE, Clemson
Murphy hasn’t quite lived up to his 5* billing, but there are flashes of the pure strength and athletic ability that makes him a potential top ten player in the class. If he can show up in big ACC games this season, Murphy could contend to be the #2 pass rusher off the bo