Whenever people talk about the NFL Draft, the focus always turns to the quarterback position. Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud highlight the signal-callers, and in reality, the whole draft but what about the non-quarterback prospects? There is a range of great talent on both sides of the ball in this year’s draft that will grab everyone’s attention, starting with two big-name pieces from dominant schools in Alabama and Georgia on the defensive side of play. As we get closer to an exciting time in the NFL world, let’s highlight the top non-quarterback prospects who achieve their ultimate dream of getting to the NFL.
2023 NFL Draft: Top Five Non-Quarterback Prospects
1. Will Anderson Jr. (EDGE; Alabama)
There’s only one school to highlight the top spot for the non-quarterback prospects and that’s none other than Alabama. Not only is Will Anderson Jr. probably the best player not under center here, but could be the best player period in the 2023 NFL Draft. He has all the tools to be a dominant rusher in the NFL and he showed it in college.
Anderson Jr. has a mix of strength, power, and quickness that will immediately make him one of the most explosive rushers in the league. His production at Alabama was off the charts, recording 34.5 sacks and 204 total tackles, with 58.5 of them being for loss. He also has over 200 pressures spanning across three seasons in college. A huge reason for this is his ability to win at the line with his dominant hands. Anderson Jr. has what it takes to transition from college to the pros with ease.
2. Jalen Carter (DL; Georgia)
There’s a good argument to be made that Jalen Carter could be the most talented player of any position in the 2023 NFL Draft, even over Anderson Jr. He is an absolute force inside, possessing elite quickness for a player his size to attack gaps and split double teams while also using his great power and strength to create havoc against the run.
With that quickness and power, Carter is able to use that first step off the line of scrimmage to strike the opposing offensive lineman with a flurry of moves. That enables him to quickly get in the backfield and dominate the ball carrier. Another thing that makes him so valuable is his versatility, allowing him to lineup up at any position along the defensive line. Carter has been a dominant force for Georgia’s back-to-back National Championships in 2021-2022 and his game can easily carry over to the NFL if his off-field issues can be resolved.
3. Bijan Robinson (RB; Texas)
In 2022, Bijan Robinson brought home the Doak Walker Award as the nation’s best running back by rushing for 1,580 yards and 18 touchdowns with Texas. He averaged 6.1 yards per carry and had more than 1,000 yards after contact, showing his ability to break tackles. Robinson shows great footwork and speed to run through holes and find gaps both on inside and outside runs. He also uses that speed to find the outside corner while also showing great vision and elusiveness out in space.
Robinson also possesses the size and durability to be an every-down back. We talked a lot about his explosive running ability but Robinson also has a great feel for the passing game, showing crisp route-running ability and excellent hands. If that didn’t make him valuable enough, he also excels in blocking/pass protection. The Texas product has shown the determination and the star power of a top-tier running back at the next level.
4. Tyree Wilson (EDGE; Texas Tech)
The one thing people point to the most with Tyree Wilson is his exceptional length, which in turn provides great ability both in the pass and run game. His 6-6, 271-pound frame makes him one of the most intimidating players out on the edge. Wilson’s athleticism for his size jumps off the page, being quick off the line and using power moves to attack in a hurry.
Not only does that help him get to the quarterback but it also helps him extend his arms and not allow the running back to get to their spots, especially on the outside. Wilson still has room to improve his overall game and clean up some areas but his effort and never give up attitude will prove worthy of a top-ten selection on April 27th.
5. Devon Witherspoon (CB; Illinois)
There are many candidates throughout the 2023 NFL Draft that deserve this spot but Devon Witherspoon‘s 2022 at Illinois earned him the high ranking. Last year, he had 14 pass breakups with three interceptions and allowed the fewest yards per attempt in the FBS (3.0). The Fighting Illini cornerback also only allowed a 25.3 passer rating against, earning him 2022 First-Team All-American. His skill goes beyond what flashes on the stat chart.
Despite his size, Witherspoon’s quickness, high football IQ, and on-ball skills are what sets him apart from the other cornerbacks in this class. He is a physical corner, sticking with receivers downfield in hard coverage and jamming them in tight, even enough to knock them off routes at times. Witherspoon also has the range to quickly read and react to close in and drive on the ball. With his football smarts and skills, I would be surprised if he wasn’t selected within the top ten of the draft.
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