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Mel Kiper Jr. 2023 NFL Draft Big Board: Jalen Carter Tops Rankings, Will Levis Rises

Adam WellsDecember 8, 2022

LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY - NOVEMBER 19: Will Levis #7 of the Kentucky Wildcats against the Georgia Bulldogs at Kroger Field on November 19, 2022 in Lexington, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Fresh off announcing he will enter the 2023 NFL draft, Kentucky quarterback Will Levis finds himself as the No. 3 overall prospect in this year's class based on the rankings from ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr.

In his new big board released on Thursday, Kiper moved Levis up one spot to No. 3 overall behind Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter in first and Alabama defensive end Will Anderson Jr. in second.

Carter has overtaken Anderson as the top overall player in the class in the rankings. Kiper noted the Bulldogs star's dominance from the interior since he returned from a knee injury has pushed him up the board.

Levis will likely be the most-debated prospect in the 2023 draft. The 23-year-old meets all of the physical requirements to be an NFL starter. He's listed at 6'3" and 232 pounds by Kentucky's athletics website.

Kiper wrote Levis has a "rocket launcher for an arm and makes some 'wow' throws." He did note the Wildcats supporting cast is one of the reasons his stat line won't jump off the page.

Levis finished the 2022 season with 2,406 yards, 19 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 11 games.

Bryce Young, who is Kiper's No. 2 quarterback and fifth-ranked player overall, will face scrutiny because of his size. The Alabama standout could be the first quarterback under 6'0" and 200 pounds to be drafted since Seneca Wallace in 2003, depending on what his official measurements come in at.

Despite those physical questions, Kiper called Young "one of the best 'processors'" he's scouted in the past decade.

Ohio State's C.J. Stroud is the third quarterback in the top 10, but he fell four spots from the previous ranking to No. 7 overall. The downgrade comes after his rough outing in a 45-23 loss to Michigan.

The biggest mover in the top five is Ohio State wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba. He went from No. 16 in the previous rankings to No. 5.

"He has stellar burst and explosiveness out of breaks," Kiper wrote about Smith-Njigba. "He's a hands catcher who can run the entire route tree, and he can make defenders miss after the catch."

Another wide receiver, TCU's Quentin Johnston, also made a big move to get into Kiper's top 10. He jumped 11 spots from No. 20 in the previous ranking to ninth overall.

Given how the current draft order looks, it would be a surprise if a quarterback doesn't go No. 1 overall. The Houston Texans are in line to get the top choice and desperately need to find an answer at the position.

After the Texans, though, it could be argued the next four teams don't need to look for a quarterback. The Chicago Bears are getting excellent returns from Justin Fields right now. Geno Smith has more than earned a new contract from the Seattle Seahawks.

The Detroit Lions at No. 4 are a question because they can get out of Jared Goff's deal this offseason with only a $10 million dead cap hit. But the offense has been one of the best in the NFL this season with him under center, and they will have a fully-healthy Jameson Williams alongside Amon-Ra St. Brown in 2023.

Any questions the Philadelphia Eagles had about Jalen Hurts as a passer have been answered this season. They have no reason to use the No. 5 pick on a signal-caller.

This should lead to a lot of trade activity before and during the draft with teams looking to get in position to add one of the top quarterbacks.