2023 NFL Draft Prospects Who Are Shooting Up Boards After Week 1

Alex BallentineSeptember 5, 2022

2023 NFL Draft Prospects Who Are Shooting Up Boards After Week 1

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    Anthony Richardson is one of the most intriguing 2023 draft prospects. (AP Photo/Gary McCullough)

    We still have to wait for a week for the NFL season to kick off, but the start of college football offered a jump-start on studying up for the 2023 NFL draft.

    At this point, the big names in the 2023 draft class are already well known. Stars like C.J. Stroud and Bryce Young are already household names after huge seasons last year. However, a lot can happen, and NFL draft stock is volatile every college football season.

    Every year there are new names that emerge and wind up being top prospects.

    Some aspiring draft picks took Week 1 of the season as a prime opportunity to improve their stock and start moving up preliminary draft boards.

    Here, we'll review some of the top prospect performances and which teams might want to start paying attention to the players based on projected future needs and situations.

Edge Eyabi Anoma, Michigan

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    Nic Antaya/Getty Images

    Eyabi Anoma has a long way to go before he proves he's a legitimate NFL prospect, but he got off to as good a start as he could hope for on Saturday.

    Anoma is a former 5-star recruit whose collegiate career has been marked by several different transitions. He started out at Alabama but had stints at Houston and UT-Martin before transferring to Michigan just under three weeks before the season started.

    It didn't take him long to make his presence felt. He raced past Colorado State's right tackle and overpowered a running back on his way to a sack on his first play in the Maize and Blue.

    Anoma transferred from Alabama after getting suspended by the school and was dismissed from Houston for a violation of school rules, so the pass-rusher is going to have to answer questions regarding his character and decision-making.

    However, if he's able to stay on the field for the Wolverines, it looks like he could be their next elite pass-rusher. He has the explosive first step that teams covet and is finally showing off the talent that made him Alabama's highest-ranked recruit in 2018.

    If he continues to pile up the sacks, he's a name that everyone will know.

    Teams That Should Take Notice: Green Bay Packers, Miami Dolphins, Houston Texans

WR Zay Flowers, Boston College

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    Maddie Malhotra/Getty Images

    The 2023 wide receiver class already has plenty of star power, but Boston College's Zay Flowers made it clear he's a name worth knowing in his 2022 debut.

    The 5'10", 172-pound receiver was the entire Boston College offense in a 22-21 loss to Rutgers. He hauled in 10 passes for 117 yards and two touchdowns on a day when quarterback Phil Jurkovec only completed 23 passes and passed for 283 yards.

    Flowers is relatively under the radar, but he's caught the attention of NFL scouts after putting up 44 receptions for 746 yards and five touchdowns last season.

    "He's the best deep threat in CFB," a scout from an NFC team told Matt Miller of ESPN. "He's undersized and there were some drops last year, but with the QB returning, he'll have a ton more targets."

    That scout's quote turned out to be prophetic in Week 1. Flowers showed he's more than just a deep threat. He made a great adjustment on one touchdown reception and showed off his acceleration after the catch on another.

    Add in that he had two carries for 16 yards and the diminutive receiver is showing that he has the full tool kit to be a dangerous weapon in an NFL offense.

    Teams That Should Take Notice: New England Patriots, Baltimore Ravens, Chicago Bears

RB Kenny McIntosh, Georgia

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    Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

    If receiving upside is one of the biggest factors in a running back's draft stock, then Georgia's Kenny McIntosh could not have kicked off the season on a better note.

    The Georgia defense was stellar as usual, but the offense was unstoppable as well. They punted just one time against the Oregon Ducks and scored seven times in the 49-3 rout.

    Last year, the Georgia rushing attack was spearheaded by James Cook and Zamir White. The duo both ended up as draft picks, with Cook going in the second round to the Buffalo Bills and White getting drafted by the Las Vegas Raiders in the fourth round.

    In Week 1, McIntosh split carries with several Georgia ball-carriers, but it was his role in the passing game that should catch the eye of scouts.

    The 6'1", 210-pound back lead all receivers with 117 yards on nine catches. McIntosh didn't do much on the ground. He only had 18 yards on five carries with a touchdown.

    That's not ideal, but Cook was a second-round pick last season despite only rushing for over 100 yards twice in his college career. The Bills drafted him to be a pass-catching back, and there are other teams who will gladly pay a premium to find a back who can make plays in the passing game like McIntosh.

    Teams That Should Take Notice: New England Patriots, Las Vegas Raiders, Washington Commanders

CB Joey Porter Jr., Penn State

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    AP Photo/Doug McSchooler

    Joey Porter Jr. is not just a familiar name; he's a legitimate NFL-caliber cornerback.

    Porter—whose dad notched 98 career sacks in stops with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Miami Dolphins and Arizona Cardinals—showed NFL tools in the season opener against Purdue.

    The Boilermakers were willing to throw at Porter several times, and the 6'2", 198-pound corner was up for the challenge.

    According to PFF's numbers, Porter forced six incompletions, tied for the highest in a Power Five game since 2014 when they started tracking the stat.

    Porter still has some room to grow. He barely missed an interception that became a first down for Purdue. But it's hard not to be impressed by his aggression and length. He also registered eight tackles.

    He's a great fit as a boundary corner who can deal with bigger receivers and help out in the run game. He'll be a regular in first-round mock drafts after that performance.

    Teams That Should Take Notice: Indianapolis Colts, Pittsburgh Steelers, Detroit Lions

QB Anthony Richardson, Florida

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    AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack

    No one is going to be amazed by Anthony Richardson's stat line against Utah. The 6'4", 232-pound quarterback was 17-of-24 for 168 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions.

    However, NFL scouting is all about traits, and it's hard not to love what the Gators quarterback brings to the table.

    Richardson is the only quarterback who made Bruce Feldman of The Athletic's annual Freaks List that highlights the most athletic marvels in the world of college football every year. Facing a solid Utah defense, Richardson showed off that athleticism in a 29-26 win.

    Among the incredible plays was a 360-degree pump fake to escape pressure and deliver a strike to a wide-open receiver for a two-point conversion. That was just one example of Richardson's elite athleticism allowing him to make plays.

    He had 106 yards and three scores on just 11 rushing attempts and was the X-factor that allowed Florida to pull off the upset.

    Todd McShay of ESPN took notice of the performance and called next week's matchup against Will Levis and Kentucky the best quarterback scouting matchup of the first month of college football season.

    Richardson still lacks the polish of some of the other quarterback prospects, but anyone that could potentially let him learn behind a veteran for a year before giving him the job should be interested.

    Teams That Should Take Notice: Indianapolis Colts, Minnesota Vikings, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

S Christopher Smith, Georgia

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    Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

    The NFL-caliber talent continues to show out on the Georgia defense. The 2022 draft featured five Bulldog defenders in the first round, but the 2023 draft is likely to feature a few more.

    That was evident in Georgia's 49-3 thumping of Oregon. Kirby Smart's defense looked just as ferocious as last season as the Ducks weren't able to get much going.

    Jalen Carter, Nolan Smith and Kelee Ringo were all stars on the unit last season. Safety Christopher Smith made a case that he should be considered among the best in the group as well.

    Smith did a little bit of everything in the win. He made a tackle for a loss in the run game, showed physicality with a violent collision to break up a pass and utilized his speed to break on an interception.

    According to PFF, Smith played 30 coverage snaps and didn't give up a single catch.

    Any team looking for a do-it-all safety should have their eye on Smith while they're watching another dominant Georgia defense.

    Teams That Should Take Notice: Dallas Cowboys, Las Vegas Raiders, Cincinnati Bengals

RB Sean Tucker, Syracuse

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    Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    In today's NFL, a running back prospect has to be able to do a little bit of everything to move up draft boards. It's not enough to just be a good between-the-tackles runner. Front offices are looking for the back who can make plays in the passing game, too.

    Syracuse's Sean Tucker started a compelling argument that he's that guy in his first game of 2022.

    Tucker's stat line as a runner wasn't anything special. He had 98 yards on 21 carries with a touchdown on the ground. But he flashed the open-field speed and catching ability that's going to make him a favorite among draftniks throughout the season.

    He took a screen pass 55 yards to the house and was the Orange's leading receiver in a 31-7 win over Louisville with six catches for 85 yards and a touchdown.

    Tucker showcased his running ability last season when he averaged 6.1 yards per carry and ran for nearly 1,500 yards. But it's his apparent evolution as a threat out of the backfield that should bolster his draft stock.

    Teams That Should Take Notice: Kansas City Chiefs, New Orleans Saints, Tennessee Titans


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