2-Time All-ACC WR Josh Downs Declares for 2023 NFL Draft; Caught 22 TDs at UNC

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVDecember 9, 2022

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - DECEMBER 03: Josh Downs #11 of the North Carolina Tar Heels celebrates a catch against the Clemson Tigers in the first quarter during the ACC Championship game at Bank of America Stadium on December 03, 2022 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Eakin Howard/Getty Images)
Eakin Howard/Getty Images

North Carolina wide receiver Josh Downs confirmed to ESPN's Pete Thamel he's entering the 2023 NFL draft.

Glory to God. @JoshDowns

born, bred, dead.. 💙 <a href="https://t.co/3TEnDBryUz">pic.twitter.com/3TEnDBryUz</a>

Downs caught 202 passes for 2,483 yards and 22 touchdowns in three years with the Tar Heels. He was a first-team All-ACC honoree in 2021 and 2022.

The 5'10", 175-pound wideout is the No. 60 overall player on Bleacher Report's 2023 big board. He's also the seventh-best receiver with an overall grade of 7.4 out of 10.

Downs told Thamel he believes he's the "best wide receiver in the draft."

"I just feel like when you turn on the tape, I consistently win over and over and make plays with the ball when it comes my way," he said.

Perhaps Downs could've improved his draft stock for 2024 by returning to North Carolina for one more year, but that was no guarantee.

Although starting quarterback Drake Maye announced his intention to return, the Tar Heels are losing their offensive coordinator. Phil Longo, the architect behind their prolific offense, is leaving to join Luke Fickell's staff at Wisconsin. Having to learn a new offense is never ideal for a college star hoping to impress NFL scouts.

Downs will have plenty of competition to be one of the first few receivers off the board this spring.

Ohio State's Jaxon Smith-Njigba didn't feature much this season because of a hamstring injury, but that did little to change how he's viewed as an NFL prospect. USC's Jordan Addison was the 2021 Biletnikoff Award winner, though his production (59 receptions, 875 yards and eight touchdowns) failed to match last year's.

Downs and his fellow pass-catchers did get a bit of a boost when LSU star Kayshon Boutte confirmed he will return to the Tigers for one more season. Boutte ranked sixth at the position on B/R's big board.