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Mel Kiper Jr. Calls Will Anderson Best Player in 2023 NFL Draft; QBs 'the Storyline'

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVMay 5, 2022

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - JANUARY 10: Alabama Crimson Tide LB Will Anderson Jr. (31) lines up for a play during the Alabama Crimson Tide versus the Georgia Bulldogs in the College Football Playoff National Championship, on January 10, 2022, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN. (Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

A year away from the 2023 NFL draft, ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. believes Alabama edge-rusher Will Anderson Jr. is the top player on the board.

"Pass-rusher supreme from Alabama," Kiper said of Anderson on NFL Live. "He's going to be the guy."

Anderson was a first-team All-American and won the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, awarded to the best defensive player in college football, as a sophomore last season after totaling 17.5 sacks and 31 tackles for a loss during a dominant season for the Crimson Tide.

The defensive star finished fifth in voting for the Heisman Trophy and could be a contender again if he puts up similar numbers next year. NFL teams are likely only disappointed wasn't eligible for the 2022 draft, although he will likely hear his name called early in 2023.

Of course, even if Anderson is the top overall player, most of the attention over the next 12 months will be on the quarterbacks.

"The storyline is going to be quarterbacks," Kiper added, predicting that five or six could be taken in the first round.

C.J. Stroud, Bryce Young, Tyler Van Dyke, Anthony Richardson and Will Levis were listed as quarterbacks who could be drafted early in 2023.

ESPN's Todd McShay projected five quarterbacks to be taken in the top 10 in his 2023 mock draft, starting with Stroud at No. 1 overall and Young at No. 2.

Stroud was outstanding as a redshirt freshman at Ohio State, totaling 44 touchdowns with just six interceptions while completing 71.9 percent of his passes. Another strong season would put him on the fast track toward becoming the first overall pick next offseason.

Young, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, could also have a strong case if he continues to improve in his second season as a starter for Alabama.

Levis and Richardson represent high-upside options heading into 2022 as dual-threat quarterbacks with the physical tools to be stars at the next level.

Bleacher Report's Brent Sobleski predicted Levis to be the third quarterback off the board in 2023 behind Stroud and Young.