2023 NFL Draft roundtable: Will Levis and other prospects we can’t wait to see

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To borrow an expression from the NFL, this is the “acclimatization period” of the draft – a time to start learning more about the best prospects in college football, because we will talk about most of them in the course of the next nine months. If you’ve been following Dane Brugler’s 2023 super start simulation or his position-by-position pre-season rankings, you’re off to a good start.

By April, our team of draft experts – Brugler, Nick Baumgardner, Diante Lee and Nate Tice (and, on occasion, NFL Draft Editor Chris Burke) – will dive into all the details of the pool. of prospects 2023. At the moment, with a few weeks of the college football season, we are just beginning.

And we’ll start here, with this simple question:

Which NFL Draft prospect(s) are you most looking forward to following this season?

Brugger: The first name that came to mind for this question was Kentucky quarterback Will Levis. With his height, athleticism and arm talent, he checks a lot of boxes – and he put a promising game on tape last season in his first year as a starter.

Levis have lost their top receiver (Wan’Dale Robinson, drafted No. 43 by the Giants) and their caller (Liam Coen, now the Los Angeles Rams’ offensive coordinator), so one shouldn’t assume a marked improvement on the field by compared to last season. However, all the talent is there for him to become a top 10 pick and starter in the NFL if his decision-making and anticipation continue to develop as a senior. Kentucky travels to Gainesville in Week 2 for a showdown with Florida, which will be a great early test for a high-expectation quarterback.


Anthony Richardson is an electric playmaker, but he attempted just 64 passes last season. (James Gilbert/Getty Images)

Tick: It’s hard to pick just one of the “other” quarterbacks that isn’t CJ Stroud or Bryce Young, and I’m with Dane to closely monitor Levis’ progress this season. The group of Miami’s Tyler Van Dyke, Stanford’s Tanner McKee or Florida’s Anthony Richardson has me extremely excited to see what growth these prospects can etch into their names in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft.

Especially Richardson. In 2021, he’s been used primarily as a gimmick quarterback, with only a few games in which he received a long run behind center for the Gators. He’s more of an idea than a fully fleshed out player at this point. It will be interesting to watch how he develops his size (6-foot-4, 240 pounds), athleticism and big arm to become a more consistent and polished quarterback. Richardson is as raw as they come, but he has all the tools and traits teams expect from their quarterbacks.

Burk: Since we’re on the subject of quarterbacks, this is as good a place as any to give a nod to their targets – wide receivers. The 2023 WR class has a few absolute stallions at the top, in Ohio State’s Jaxson Smith-Njigba (do the Buckeyes already short on playmakers?) and LSU’s Kayshon Boutte. But I’m curious to see how a few other potential top-40 picks, Jordan Addison and Josh Downs, are handling the loss of their QBs.

Addison, the subject of a controversial transfer from Pittsburgh to USC this offseason, had 100 catches, 17 touchdowns and nearly 1,600 yards with Kenny Pickett throwing the ball to him; Downs had 101 grabs — and more than 1,300 yards — as Sam Howell’s favorite receiver. I already quite like Addison’s game, in particular, because of his level of advancement as a road runner.

Brugger: Another prospect I’ll be watching closely is Ohio State junior Paris Johnson Jr. as he moves from guard to left for one of the best offenses in the nation. Johnson is a fluid athlete for a 6-6, 315 pounds, and should thrive in his more natural blind stance, but his technique and timing are still a work in progress. I find it hard to get excited about this year’s offensive draft class, but Johnson is one of the few draft-eligible tackles with legitimate first-round potential.

Baumgardner: It’s an interesting OT class, as Dane noted. The list of potential early players isn’t huge, but another Big Ten tackle who finds a way to make it work — and will face similar questions to his Wildcats predecessor — is Northwestern’s Peter Skoronski. The great Rashawn Slater vibrates everywhere, from movement skills in space to metrics that could make him a guard for some NFL teams. Skoronski also played center in high school, so the versatility is there.

As was the case with Slater, Skoronski’s OT length isn’t ideal. But his feet, athletic recovery and excellent football sense are hard to ignore. It’s also in his blood, as his grandfather, Bob Skoronski, was a tackle for Vince Lombardi’s Packers dynasty in the 1960s. played last season at around 318, despite what Northwestern’s roster says). And he’ll be able to show scouts what he’s got, once again, against a Big Ten schedule that includes dates with Ohio State and Penn State.


Notre Dame’s Isaiah Foskey posted 10.0 sacks in 2021. (Matt Cashore/USA Today)

Notre Dame defenseman Isaiah Foskey is a close runner-up. Foskey has everything he needs to be a star: burst, length, lateral quickness and the kind of moves guys his size don’t always see (6-5, 260). Look for Marcus Freeman and company to get creative with him this year. There’s a lot to like.

Li: After the 2021 campaign, Kirby Smart can sell me just about any inside defensive lineman to wear red, black, and white. Next through the Georgia pipeline needs no advocacy beyond his own movie, and it’s DT sensational Jalen Carter. Carter was one of the guys UGA coaches and media told the football world to look forward to, and his time in the rotation last season justified the excitement.

He’s another 300-plus-pound, under-5-second, 40-yard player who intimidates guards and centers with his rough, violent hands. He also brings a certain refinement to that violence and a natural feel for rushing inside passes — something Georgia couldn’t consistently generate with its first four last season. Despite playing behind a pair of first-round talents in his position and ahead of three NFL-caliber linebackers who blitzed on nearly every snap, Carter totaled 11.5 sacks and tackles for the loss.

The track is clear for Carter to enter his own, and I expect him to put significant distance between himself and the rest of his position group in this draft class.

Burk: Another name I’m going to throw out on the defensive end is Oregon linebacker Noah Sewell. I covered his brother, Penei, in Detroit, and by all accounts, Noah has a similar work ethic and aggressive mentality — the latter is pretty evident on his tape. Being an off-ball linebacker might limit his draft cap, but he plays a full game.

Tick: Just want to see what Alabama’s Will Anderson does to bad college offensive tackles in his final season before he hears his name called (very, very soon) by an NFL team in 2023. There might be some Extremely entertaining horror films taped on Saturdays in Tuscaloosa this fall.


OK, it’s your turn. Who is the 2023 draft prospect we should talk more about? Which future star are you looking forward to seeing in September? Let us know in the comments.

(Top photo: Jordan Prather/USA Today)

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