Although the 2022 NFL draft was only two months ago, and despite the fact that football doesn’t return for another two months, preparations for the 2023 NFL Draft have begun around the league.
Overview of the 2023 NFL Draft Class
Highest PFF Grade last season by a returning college football QB:
🥇Bryce Young (Alabama) – 92.2
🥇C.J. Stroud (Ohio St.) – 92.2
🥉Brennan Armstrong (Virginia) – 91.8
🥉Sam Hartman (Wake Forest) – 91.8 pic.twitter.com/PQdby6buK3
— Danny Neckel (@DNeckel19) June 23, 2022
Unlike 2022, the 2023 NFL draft promises to have a strong quarterback class. Despite the same things being said this time last year, I am confident that this class will pan out and there could be upwards of five first-round quarterbacks. From Heisman winner Bryce Young to Sun Belt POTY Grayson McCall, there is some serious depth in this class and so NFL teams should be licking their lips at the prospect of so many potential NFL starters in the same draft class.
Running back class
Despite being opposed to first-round running backs myself, it could be incredibly likely in the 2023 draft. Bijan Robinson headlines a strong class that could contain multiple first-round talents, with Robinson himself looking to potentially be a top ten talent in this class. The depth is also incredibly impressive, with Tank Bigsby. Do not forget about Minnesota star Mohamed Ibrahim who suffered an injury last season, but should be back and roaring for the new campaign.
Interior defensive line class
Given the strength of the 2022 class, this should come as a surprise, but the depth on offer is astounding again. Jalen Carter (the other Georgia defensive lineman) leads the pack, but he is facing stiff competition from Bryan Bresee to be crowned the best interior defensive lineman in college. And they are followed by Jaquelin Roy, the LSU player being highly touted as a first-round prospect.
Edge rusher class
It may be controversial this early in the draft process, but this EDGE class could be better than 2022’s, which featured three top ten EDGE rushers. Will Anderson Jr, a potential Heisman finalist, looks to be the best player that this class has to offer. He is followed by a potential six more first-rounders, namely Nolan Smith and Isaiah Foskey who both are favorites to light up college backfields this season.
Offensive tackle class
We have become accustomed to at least four first-round tackles in recent years, however, that seems to be in jeopardy this season. The top tackle prospect is Paris Johnson Jr from Ohio State, who has never taken a snap at tackle in his collegiate career thus far. Peter Skoronski is second but he doesn’t seem to have the top-end potential we have become used to.
Interior offensive line class
Just like the offensive tackle class, the high-end talent just is not there this year with the guards and centers. Jarrett Patterson is the highest-ranked guard but after that, it looks a bit barren and so many NFL teams should not be looking to beef up between the tackles this draft.
While the safety class is not lacking in mid-round talent, the high end of recent years (namely last season) is not the same. Brandon Joseph, Jordan Battle, and Jalen Catalon are all great, but none of them seem to be worth a top 20 pick, which was the quality of last draft’s safety class.
This class certainly has lots of talent. Alabama has two of the top stars in Will Anderson and Bryce Young. Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud and Jaxon Smith-Njigba should both be early first-round picks and should also form a fearsome duo in the Big Ten. Notre Dame also looks to have a strong draft class this year, with Michael Mayer and Isaiah Foskey being the two main faces for the Fighting Irish.
This year, there is a good plethora of names to pick from. Josh Downs, the receiver from North Carolina, is a good option, as is Henry To’oto’o, the linebacker from Alabama. However, there’s no doubt about the real winner here: Storm Duck, the cornerback from North Carolina. Personally, I cannot wait to see him on NFL Sundays.
Storm Duck: Third highest coverage grade among ACC CBs from 2019-2020 (85.1) 🥶 pic.twitter.com/VgyYDGHVnb
— PFF College (@PFF_College) January 26, 2022
Players to watch
In this section, there will only be two players to watch for next year, and they are both quarterbacks. Firstly, Spencer Rattler, after getting benched at Oklahoma for Caleb Williams, transferred to South Carolina where he will start. Under the tutelage of Shane Beamer, it will be incredibly intriguing to see if he can turn his college career around.
Sticking in-state, Clemson’s quarterback DJ Uiagalelei had a disappointing season, with transfer rumors circulating. However, Uiagalelei has next season to silence the naysayers and lead this incredibly strong Clemson team to glory. If he manages to secure a CFP place, there should be no doubt that he will be a high pick next season.
Overall, this class looks incredibly interesting, especially given my fascination with the quarterback position. This next year should be incredibly intriguing and the way the draft will go should change a lot over the next year, which is a journey I cannot wait to go on.