2023 NFL Draft Big Board: B/R NFL Scouting Dept.'s End-of-Season Top 150

BR NFL Scouting DepartmentContributor IJanuary 6, 2023

2023 NFL Draft Big Board: B/R NFL Scouting Dept.'s End-of-Season Top 150

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    GLENDALE, ARIZONA - DECEMBER 31: Quentin Johnston #1 of the TCU Horned Frogs runs after catching a pass during the second quarter in the Vrbo Fiesta Bowl at State Farm Stadium on December 31, 2022 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Stars aligned and shone brightly on college football's biggest stages.

    Alabama's Bryce Young, Ohio State's C.J. Stroud and TCU's Quentin Johnston saved some of their best football for bowl games and firmly established themselves as elite prospects.

    But the evaluation process for the 2023 NFL draft is far from complete. The College Football Playoff National Championship Game is still to come Monday. Dozens of prospects will take the field for all-star festivities. Hundreds will participate in the NFL combine.

    However, on-field performance is always the biggest indicator of future success. As such, current grades hold significant weight.

    Bleacher Report's Scouting Department consists of five contributors who are still evaluating the class. Months of work have helped form the group's top-150 prospects and accompanying positional rankings ahead of the end of NFL regular season.


    Brandon Thorn: Brandon is the author of the Trench Warfare Newsletter, which focuses exclusively on offensive and defensive line evaluation. He also contributes as an analyst for Establish the Run and serves as the scouting coordinator for OL Masterminds.

    Derrik Klassen: Derrik is shifting from the defensive front to offensive skill positions this year while also contributing to Football Outsiders and the New York Times. He has spent years charting and evaluating NFL prospects, which can often be found through social media.

    Cory Giddings: Cory has experience working at multiple levels of football, both in coaching and player evaluation. In recent years, he has worked with the New York Giants and with collegiate teams in the Big Ten. He serves as the assistant director of player personnel at Appalachian State.

    Matt Holder: Matt joins the team this year. He played college football, worked in college recruiting and is a Scouting Academy graduate. He has covered the NFL draft since 2019 and writes about the Las Vegas Raiders for SB Nation's Silver and Black Pride.

    Brent Sobleski: Brent serves as an NFL analyst for Bleacher Report. He's covered the draft since the 2004 class for multiple outlets, including nine seasons with B/R.


    Grading Scale

    10: Generational Talent/No. 1 Overall

    9.5-9.9: Top-Five Prospect

    9.0-9.4: Top-10 Prospect

    8.5-8.9: Immediate Impact Prospect / 1st Round

    8.0-8.4: Year 1 Starter / Late 1st-2nd Round

    7.5-7.9: Potential Impact Player / 2nd Round

    7.0-7.4: High-Level Backup / Potential Starter / 3rd Round

    6.5-6.9: Potential Role Player / 4th Round

    6.0-6.4: High-level Developmental Prospect / 5th Round

    5.5-5.9: Backup/Draftable / 6th-7th Round

    5.0-5.4: Backup/UDFA with Roster Potential / UDFA

    4.0-4.9: Developmental Prospect / UDFA

    3.0-3.9: Training Camp Body / UDFA


    Grades for each player were assigned by the following scouts:

    Derrik Klassen: QBs, RBs, WRs and Receiving TEs

    Brandon Thorn: Blocking TEs, OTs, OGs and Centers

    Matt Holder: DL, EDGE and LBs

    Cory Giddings: CBs and Safeties

Top 150 Prospects

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    Ohio State QB C.J. Stroud
    Ohio State QB C.J. StroudTodd Kirkland/Getty Images

    Ties in grades were broken through roundtable discussions among the four scouts.

    [EDITOR'S NOTE: Both Florida State's Jared Verse and Clemson's Tyler Davis opted to return for another season after this article published.]

    1. Will Anderson Jr., Edge, Alabama (9.6)

    2. Jalen Carter, DL, Georgia (9.5)

    3. Myles Murphy, Edge, Clemson (9.1)

    4. Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas (9.0)

    5. Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State (8.8)

    6. Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame (8.7)

    7. Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU (8.4)

    8. C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State (8.4)

    9. Jordan Addison, WR, USC (8.4)

    10. Bryan Bresee, DL, Clemson (8.4)

    11. Peter Skoronski, OT, Northwestern (8.4)

    12. Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State (8.2)

    13. Bryce Young, QB, Alabama (8.2)

    14. Nolan Smith, Edge, Georgia (8.2)

    15. Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State (8.1)

    16. Christopher Smith, S, Georgia (8.1)

    17. BJ Ojulari, Edge, LSU (8.0)

    18. Jahmyr Gibbs, RB, Alabama (8.0)

    19. Tyree Wilson, DL, Texas Tech (7.9)

    20. Clark Phillips III, CB, Utah (7.9)

    21. Darnell Wright, OT, Tennessee (7.8)

    22. Cam Smith, CB, South Carolina (7.7)

    23. O'Cyrus Torrence, IOL, Florida (7.7)

    24. Trenton Simpson, LB, Clemson (7.7)

    25. Jared Verse, Edge, Florida State (7.7)

    26. Andre Carter II, Edge, Army (7.7)

    27. Rashee Rice, WR, SMU (7.7)

    28. Siaki Ika, DL, Baylor (7.7)

    29. A.T. Perry, WR, Wake Forest (7.7)

    30. Kayshon Boutte, WR, LSU (7.7)

    31. Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida (7.6)

    32. Darnell Washington, TE, Georgia (7.6)

    33. Isaiah Foskey, Edge, Notre Dame (7.6)

    34. Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia (7.6)

    35. Drew Sanders, LB, Arkansas (7.6)

    36. Will McDonald IV, Edge, Iowa State (7.6)

    37. Josh Downs, WR, North Carolina (7.6)

    38. Will Levis, QB, Kentucky (7.5)

    39. Matthew Bergeron, OT, Syracuse (7.5)

    40. Felix Anudike-Uzomah, Edge, Kansas State (7.5)

    41. Jack Campbell, LB, Iowa (7.5)

    42. Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah (7.5)

    43. Brian Branch, S, Alabama (7.5)

    44. John Michael Schmitz, IOL, Minnesota (7.5)

    45. Gervon Dexter Sr., DL, Florida (7.5)

    46. Tuli Tuipulotu, DL, USC (7.5)

    47. Eli Ricks, CB, Alabama (7.5)

    48. Devon Achane, RB, Texas A&M (7.5)

    49. Sam LaPorta, TE, Iowa (7.5)

    50. Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia (7.4)

    51. Zach Harrison, Edge, Ohio State (7.4)

    52. Cody Mauch, IOL, North Dakota State (7.4)

    53. Zacch Pickens, DL, South Carolina (7.4)

    54. Jay Ward, S, LSU (7.4)

    55. Luke Musgrave, TE, Oregon State (7.4)

    56. Tyler Steen, OT, Alabama (7.4)

    57. Garrett Williams, CB, Syracuse (7.4)

    58. Noah Sewell, LB, Oregon (7.4)

    59. Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College (7.3)

    60. Jarrett Patterson, IOL, Notre Dame (7.3)

    61. Jaelyn Duncan, OT, Maryland (7.3)

    62. Dontayvion Wicks, WR, Virginia (7.3)

    63. Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon (7.3)

    64. Brenton Cox Jr., Edge, Florida (7.3)

    65. Mekhi Garner, CB, LSU (7.3)

    66. Cedrick Tillman, WR, Tennessee (7.3)

    67. Sean Tucker, RB, Syracuse (7.3)

    68. Mazi Smith, DL, Michigan (7.3)

    69. Anton Harrison, OT, Oklahoma (7.3)

    70. Owen Pappoe, LB, Auburn (7.3)

    71. Jaquelin Roy, DL, LSU (7.2)

    72. Jordan Battle, S, Alabama (7.2)

    73. Zach Charbonnet, RB, UCLA (7.2)

    74. Mike Morris, DL, Michigan (7.2)

    75. Dawand Jones, OT, Ohio State (7.2)

    76. Roschon Johnson, RB, Texas (7.2)

    77. Calijah Kancey, DL, Pittsburgh (7.2)

    78. Coby Wooden, DL, Auburn (7.2)

    79. Tanner McKee, QB, Stanford (7.2)

    80. Byron Young, DL, Alabama (7.0)

    81. Tank Bigsby, RB, Auburn (7.0)

    82. Tucker Kraft, TE, South Dakota State (7.0)

    83. Sedrick Van Pran, IOL, Georgia (7.0)

    84. Jalin Hyatt, WR, Tennessee (6.9)

    85. Henry To'oTo'o, LB, Alabama (6.9)

    86. Mike Jones Jr., LB, LSU (6.9)

    87. Jarrick Bernard-Converse, CB, LSU (6.9)

    88. Kenny McIntosh, RB, Georgia (6.9)

    89. Tommy Eichenberg, LB, Ohio State (6.8)

    90. Tyler Davis, DL, Clemson (6.8)

    91. Xavier Thomas, Edge, Clemson (6.8)

    92. Chris Rodriguez Jr., RB, Kentucky (6.8)

    93. Riley Moss, CB, Iowa (6.8)

    94. Ryan Hayes, OT, Michigan (6.8)

    95. Josh Whyle, TE, Cincinnati (6.8)

    96. Nick Broeker, IOL, Ole Miss (6.8)

    97. Cooper Beebe, IOL, Kansas State (6.8)

    98. Lukas Van Ness, Edge, Iowa (6.7)

    99. Nick Herbig, LB, Wisconsin (6.7)

    100. Brandon Joseph, S, Notre Dame (6.7)

    101. Zach Evans, RB, Ole Miss (6.7)

    102. Steve Avila, IOL, TCU (6.7)

    103. Antonio Johnson, S, Texas A&M (6.6)

    104. Laiatu Latu, Edge, UCLA (6.6)

    105. Olusegun Oluwatimi, IOL, Michigan (6.6)

    106. Jacob Cowing, WR, Arizona (6.5)

    107. Mohamed Ibrahim, RB, Minnesota (6.5)

    108. Emil Ekiyor Jr., IOL, Alabama (6.5)

    109. Trey Dean III, S, Florida (6.5)

    110. Darius Rush, CB, South Carolina (6.5)

    111. Andrew Vorhees, IOL, USC (6.5)

    112. Justin Eboigbe, DL, Alabama (6.4)

    113. Ivan Pace Jr., LB, Cincinnati (6.4)

    114. Habakkuk Baldonado, Edge, Pittsburgh (6.4)

    115. Nick Hampton, Edge, Appalachian State (6.4)

    116. Zion Nelson, OT, Miami (6.4)

    117. Jaren Hall, QB, BYU (6.4)

    118. J.L. Skinner, S, Boise State (6.4)

    119. Brandon Dorlus, DL, Oregon (6.3)

    120. Keeanu Benton, DL, Washington (6.3)

    121. Ali Gaye, Edge, LSU (6.3)

    122. D.J. Johnson, Edge, Oregon (6.3)

    123. Dontay Demus Jr., WR, Maryland (6.3)

    124. Derick Hall, Edge, Auburn (6.2)

    125. Robert Beal Jr., Edge, Georgia (6.2)

    126. Camerun Peoples, RB, Appalachian State (6.2)

    127. Ji'Ayir Brown, S, Penn State (6.2)

    128. Layden Robinson, IOL, Texas A&M (6.1)

    129. Ochaun Mathis, Edge, Nebraska (6.1)

    130. DeMarvion Overshown, LB, Texas (6.0)

    131. Payton Wilson, LB, North Carolina State (6.0)

    132. Blake Corum, RB, Michigan (6.0)

    133. Trevor Reid, OT, Louisville (6.0)

    134. Keytaon Thompson, WR, Virginia (6.0)

    135. Byron Young, Edge, Tennessee (5.9)

    136. Latavious Brini, S, Arkansas (5.9)

    137. Jaxson Kirkland, IOL, Washington (5.9)

    138. Isaiah McGuire, DL, Missouri (5.9)

    139. Demani Richardson, S, Texas A&M (5.9)

    140. Deshawn Pace, LB, Cincinnati (5.9)

    141. Blake Freeland, OT, BYU (5.9)

    142. Deuce Vaughn, RB, Kansas State (5.9)

    143. Mikel Jones, LB, Syracuse (5.8)

    144. Elijah Simmons, DL, Tennessee (5.8)

    145. Ventrell Miller, LB, Florida (5.7)

    146. Mohamoud Diabate, LB, Utah (5.7)

    147. Eyabi Okie, Edge, Michigan (5.6)

    148. Dee Winters, LB, TCU (5.6)

    149. Ricky Stromberg, IOL, Arkansas (5.5)

    150. Hendon Hooker, QB, Tennessee (5.5)

Quarterbacks

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    Tennessee's Hendon Hooker
    Tennessee's Hendon HookerDonald Page/Getty Images

    Scouted by Derrik Klassen

    Most Accurate: Bryce Young

    Best Arm Strength: Anthony Richardson

    Best Mobility: Richardson

    Most Pro-Ready: C.J. Stroud

    1. C.J. Stroud, Ohio State (8.4)

    2. Bryce Young, Alabama (8.2)

    3. Anthony Richardson, Florida (7.6)

    4. Will Levis, Kentucky (7.5)

    5. Tanner McKee, Stanford (7.2)

    6. Jaren Hall, BYU (6.4)

    7. Hendon Hooker, Tennessee (5.5)


    Explain the Grade: Hendon Hooker

    Hooker could be a Day 2 prospect coming off a program-changing season with the Tennessee Volunteers, though the ranking is a tad rich based on his play before a season-ending torn ACL.

    Not only will Hooker be 25 years old on draft day, but he is also neither a pro-ready prospect nor a supremely toolsy one. Hooker comes from Vols head coach Josh Heupel's offense, which is a simplified vertical attack that regularly cuts the field in half and/or plays with wide splits that will never be the base of an NFL scheme.

    The SEC Offensive Player of the Year also appears unprepared for NFL pockets, as his footwork and accuracy greatly suffer anytime his throwing area gets crowded or rushed.

    Hooker's tools are more good than great. His arm is nice, and he throws a good deep ball, but his natural throwing ability doesn't stand out. He's also a quality runner and can probably be used with some designed runs, though not nearly to the degree that Jalen Hurts, Lamar Jackson or Josh Allen can.

    Hooker is a fun idea as a flier in the late rounds, not as a premium top-100 pick.

Running Backs

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    Texas' Bijan Robinson
    Texas' Bijan RobinsonScott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    Scouted by Derrik Klassen

    Best Speed: Devon Achane

    Best Power: Roschon Johnson

    Best Vision: Jahmyr Gibbs

    Best Hands: Bijan Robinson

    Best Third-Down Back: Robinson

    1. Bijan Robinson, Texas (9.0)

    2. Jahmyr Gibbs, Alabama (8.0)

    3. Devon Achane, Texas A&M (7.5)

    4. Sean Tucker, Syracuse (7.3)

    5. Zach Charbonnet, UCLA (7.2)

    6. Roschon Johnson, Texas (7.2)

    7. Tank Bigsby, UCLA (7.0)

    8. Kenny McIntosh, Georgia (6.9)

    9. Chris Rodriguez Jr., Kentucky (6.8)

    10. Zach Evans, Ole Miss (6.7)

    11. Mohamed Ibrahim, Minnesota (6.5)

    12. Camerun Peoples, Appalachian State (6.2)

    13. Blake Corum, Michigan (6.0)

    14. Deuce Vaughn, Kansas State (5.9)


    Explain the Grade: Bijan Robinson

    Robinson is a phenomenal athlete for his position, especially with regard to flexibility and burst. The reigning Doak Walker Award winner, as the nation's best running back, can shift his weight (222 lbs) or turn a sharp corner and instantly reach top speed.

    Better yet, Robinson is a complete back.

    The unanimous All-American is a comfortable pass-catcher who has soft hands and the ability to sprinkle in vertical routes in addition to standard routes out of the backfield. Likewise, Robinson is a willing and able pass protector, showing good initiative and balance upon contact.

    He will have a positive effect on every phase of the game from the onset of his professional career and can handle a heavy workload.

Wide Receivers

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    TCU's Quentin Johnston
    TCU's Quentin JohnstonAP Photo/Stephen Spillman

    Scouted by Derrik Klassen

    Best Hands: Rashee Rice

    Best Route-Runner: Jordan Addison

    Best Speed: Jalin Hyatt

    Best Slot Receiver: Jaxon Smith-Njigba

    Most Pro-Ready: Quentin Johnston

    1. Quentin Johnston, TCU (8.4)

    2. Jordan Addison, USC (8.4)

    3. Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Ohio State (8.1)

    4. Rashee Rice, SMU (7.7)

    5. A.T. Perry, Wake Forest (7.7)

    6. Kayshon Boutte, LSU (7.7)

    7. Josh Downs, North Carolina (7.6)

    8. Zay Flowers, Boston College (7.3)

    9. Dontayvion Wicks, Virginia (7.3)

    10. Cedric Tillman, Tennessee (7.3)

    11. Jalin Hyatt, Tennessee (6.9)

    12. Jacob Cowing, Arizona (6.5)

    13. Dontay Demus Jr., Maryland (6.3)

    14. Keytaon Thompson, Virginia (6.0)


    Explain the Grade: Quentin Johnston

    Johnston holds a slight edge as WR1 because it's hard to find playmakers at 6'4", 215 pounds.

    At his size, some of Johnston's best traits are his speed, short-area burst and vision as a ball-carrier. His nimble footwork belies a receiver of his stature. He plays with good balance, too, which gives him a complete profile as a threat to create after the catch.

    Combine all that with his ability to stretch the field as a deep threat and ball-winner, and the two-time first-team All-Big 12 performer is a true threat on any route.

Tight Ends

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    Iowa's Sam LaPorta
    Iowa's Sam LaPortaAP Photo/Charlie Neibergall

    Scouted by Derrik Klassen

    Best Receiver: Michael Mayer

    Most Versatile: Dalton Kincaid

    Best Blocker: Sam LaPorta

    Most Pro-Ready: Mayer

    1. Michael Mayer, Notre Dame (8.7)

    2. Darnell Washington, Georgia (7.6)

    3. Dalton Kincaid, Utah (7.5)

    4. Sam LaPorta, Iowa (7.5)

    5. Luke Musgrave, Oregon State (7.4)

    6. Tucker Kraft, South Dakota State (7.0)

    7. Josh Whyle, Cincinnati (6.8)


    Explain the Grade: Sam LaPorta

    LaPorta is a classic case of ceiling versus floor.

    The reigning Big Ten Conference's Tight End of the Year presents some upside but nothing special. His acceleration and long speed across the field are lacking, and he's not much of a threat with the ball in his hands.

    But his floor is as good as anyone's in this class.

    LaPorta is a strong blocker, either in line or on the move. His toughness shows up in the passing game as well. He plays with excellent balance through contact and when fighting for the ball. The first-team All-Big Ten performer also shows impressive quickness and smooth change-of-direction skills—both of which only make him tougher to cover from one to 10 yards down the field.

    In fact, LaPorta leaves Iowa with more career receiving yards than Dallas Clark, Tony Moeaki, George Kittle, Noah Fant and T.J. Hockenson.

Offensive Tackles

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    Ohio State's Dawand Jones
    Ohio State's Dawand JonesG Fiume/Getty Images

    Scouted by Brandon Thorn

    Best Run-Blocker: Paris Johnson Jr.

    Best Pass-Blocker: Peter Skoronski

    Best Zone-Blocker: Johnson

    Most Pro-Ready: Skoronski

    Most Versatile: Skoronski

    1. Peter Skoronski, Northwestern (8.4)

    2. Paris Johnson Jr., Ohio State (8.2)

    3. Darnell Wright, Tennessee (7.8)

    4. Broderick Jones, Georgia (7.6)

    5. Matthew Bergeron, Syracuse (7.5)

    6. Tyler Steen, Alabama (7.4)

    7. Jaelyn Duncan, Maryland (7.3)

    8. Anton Harrison, Oklahoma (7.3)

    9. Dawand Jones, Ohio State (7.2)

    10. Ryan Hayes, Michigan (6.8)

    11. Zion Nelson, Miami (6.4)

    12. Trevor Reid, Louisville (6.0)

    13. Blake Freeland, BYU (5.9)


    Explain the Grade: Dawand Jones

    At 6'8", 359 pounds with a massive wingspan, Jones is an enormous obstacle to work around in pass protection, as he has the ability to establish first meaningful contact on virtually any opponent.

    He has shown noticeable improvement in his patience and use of hands this year compared to the 2021 season, which helps him to capitalize on his size and force rushers to work around or through him.

    While Jones is trending in the right direction technique-wise, he shows obvious stiffness and sluggishness in his lower half that saps his ability to redirect and recover against shifty rushers when his initial strike doesn't land. This will be exposed more in the pros until he can refine his technique, which is certainly attainable given how young Jones still is (21 years old).

    But too many instances show up on film when he is late with his hands and allows rushers to work inside his frame. Once that happens, his balance and inability to sustain blocks are exposed, leaving him scrambling to recover and falling off blocks too easily.

    If Jones can master the details of technique at his size, he can carve out a starting role in the NFL. Right now, the first-team All-American needs time and the right situation to make that happen.

Interior Offensive Line

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    Kansas State's Cooper Beebe
    Kansas State's Cooper BeebeKen Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    Scouted by Brandon Thorn

    Best Run-Blocker: O'Cyrus Torrence

    Best Pass-Blocker: Cody Mauch

    Best Zone-Blocker: John Michael Schmitz

    Most Pro-Ready: Torrence

    Most Versatile: Mauch

    1. O'Cyrus Torrence, Florida (7.7)

    2. John Michael Schmitz, Minnesota (7.5)

    3. Cody Mauch, North Dakota State (7.4)

    4. Jarrett Patterson, Notre Dame (7.3)

    5. Sedrick Van Pran, Georgia (7.0)

    6. Nick Broeker, Ole Miss (6.8)

    7. Cooper Beebe, Kansas State (6.8)

    8. Steve Avila, TCU (6.7)

    9. Olusegun Oluwatimi, Michigan (6.6)

    10. Emil Ekiyor Jr., Alabama (6.5)

    11. Andrew Vorhees, USC (6.5)

    12. Layden Robinson, Oklahoma (6.1)

    13. Jaxson Kirkland, Washington (5.9)

    14. Ricky Stromberg, Arkansas (5.5)


    Explain the Grade: Cooper Beebe

    Beebe was a three-year starter at Kansas State with time spent at both tackle spots. His primary home is at left guard, where he projects best at the NFL level.

    The reigning Big 12 Offensive Lineman of the Year is a wide-bodied (6'4", 322 lbs), physical presence inside with a killer instinct that he uses to cave in defenders on contact, strain and hold the point of attack.

    His foot quickness and movement skills are adequate to get by, but his play strength, demeanor and versatility will add value to any offensive line room and give him a chance at earning a starting role during his first professional contract.

Defensive Linemen

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    Pittsburgh's Calijah Kancey
    Pittsburgh's Calijah KanceyAP Photo/Keith Srakocic

    Scouted by Matt Holder

    Best Nose Tackle: Siaki Ika

    Best Pass-Rusher: Jalen Carter

    Best Run-Stopper: Carter

    Most Versatile: Tyree Wilson

    1. Jalen Carter, Georgia (9.5)

    2. Bryan Bresee, Clemson (8.4)

    3. Tyree Wilson, Texas Tech (7.9)

    4. Siaki Ika, Baylor (7.7)

    5. Gervon Dexter Sr., Florida (7.5)

    6. Tuli Tuipulotu, USC (7.5)

    7. Zach Harrison, Ohio State (7.4)

    8. Zacch Pickens, South Carolina (7.4)

    9. Mazi Smith, Michigan (7.3)

    10. Jaquelin Roy, LSU (7.2)

    11. Mike Morris, Michigan (7.2)

    12. Calijah Kancey, Pittsburgh (7.2)

    13. Colby Wooden, Auburn (7.2)

    14. Byron Young, Alabama (7.0)

    15. Tyler Davis, Clemson (6.8)

    16. Justin Eboigbe, Alabama (6.4)

    17. Brandon Dorlus, Oregon (6.3)

    18. Keeanu Benton, Wisconsin (6.3)

    19. Isaiah McGuire, Missouri (5.9)

    20. Elijah Simmons, Tennessee (5.8)


    Explain the Grade: Calijah Kancey

    Upon initial viewing, Kancey's game underwhelmed and didn't look to have enough traits to overcome his physical limitations at a listed 6'0" and 280 pounds.

    However, he kicked it up a notch in 2022 and became the first defensive tackle at Pittsburgh to be named a unanimous All-American since some guy named Aaron Donald in 2013. Granted, Donald became a first-round pick and was a better prospect than Kancey, but the latter played his way into the Day 2 discussion this year.

    The reigning ACC Defensive Player of the Year is very quick and moves extremely well for a defensive tackle. A strong NFL combine showing will only help with Kancey's projection as a pass-rusher, since he can certainly get after opposing quarterbacks.

    Conversely, his run defense remains a big question mark. His slight frame tends to show up at the point of attack, and he'll likely have a hard time against bigger, more physical and refined NFL blockers.

    Kancey's struggles against the run and tweener body type make it difficult to find a natural scheme fit, but his production—27.5 tackles for loss over the last two seasons—and athletic ability are worth taking a gamble.

Edge-Rushers

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    LSU's BJ Ojulari
    LSU's BJ OjulariAndy Altenburger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    Scouted by Matt Holder

    Best Speed-Rusher: Andre Carter II

    Best Power-Rusher: Will Anderson Jr.

    Best Run-Stopper: Anderson

    Most Versatile: Myles Murphy

    1. Will Anderson Jr., Alabama (9.6)

    2. Myles Murphy, Clemson (9.1)

    3. Nolan Smith, Georgia (8.2)

    4. BJ Ojulari, LSU (8.0)

    5. Jared Verse, Florida State (7.7)

    6. Andre Carter II, Army (7.7)

    7. Isaiah Foskey, Notre Dame (7.6)

    8. Will McDonald IV, Iowa State (7.6)

    9. Felix Anudike-Uzomah, Kansas State (7.5)

    10. Brenton Cox Jr., Florida (7.3)

    11. Xavier Thomas, Clemson (6.8)

    12. Lukas Van Ness, Iowa (6.7)

    13. Laiatu Latu, UCLA (6.6)

    14. Habakkuk Baldonado, Pittsburgh (6.4)

    15. Nick Hampton, Appalachian State (6.4)

    16 Ali Gaye, LSU (6.3)

    17. D.J. Johnson, Oregon (6.3)

    18. Derick Hall, Auburn (6.2)

    19. Robert Beal Jr., Georgia (6.2)

    20. Ochaun Mathis, Nebraska (6.1)

    21. Byron Young, Tennessee (5.9)

    22. Eyabi Okie, Michigan (5.6)


    Explain the Grade: BJ Ojulari

    Maybe the best aspect of Ojulari's game is he varies his pass-rush plan based on who he lines up against. He has enough strength and power to win with a long-arm or bull rush against weaker offensive tackles while simultaneously having the speed and finesse moves to win around the edge against offensive linemen with slower feet.

    His impressive pass-rush arsenal arguably makes him the most well-rounded rusher in the class. While he may not be the most naturally gifted of the bunch, Ojulari has the most tools.

    With that said, the first-team All-SEC performer does still leave something to be desired as a run defender. At 6'3", 250 pounds, Ojulari isn't the strongest at the point of attack and will struggle to hold ground against more physical tackles in the NFL.

    The good news is he has plenty of room for growth, and he did show flashes of being able to make plays against the run. While Ojulari might not experience the smoothest transition to the NFL, there's reason to think he can get better quickly.

Linebackers

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    Arkansas' Drew Sanders
    Arkansas' Drew SandersWesley Hitt/Getty Images

    Scouted by Matt Holder

    Best Blitzer: Noah Sewell

    Best Run-Stopper: Jack Campbell

    Best in Coverage: Trenton Simpson

    Most Versatile: Simpson

    1. Trenton Simpson, Clemson (7.7)

    2. Drew Sanders, Arkansas (7.6)

    3. Jack Campbell, Iowa (7.5)

    4. Noah Sewell, Oregon (7.4)

    5. Owen Pappoe, Auburn (7.3)

    6. Henry To'oTo'o, Alabama (6.9)

    7. Mike Jones Jr., LSU (6.9)

    8. Tommy Eichenberg, Ohio State (6.8)

    9. Nick Herbig, Wisconsin (6.7)

    10. Ivan Pace Jr., Cincinnati (6.4)

    11. DeMarvion Overshown, Texas (6.0)

    12. Payton Wilson, North Carolina State (6.0)

    13. Deshawn Pace, Cincinnati (5.9)

    14. Mikel Jones, Syracuse (5.8)

    15. Ventrell Miller, Florida (5.7)

    16. Mohamoud Diabate (5.7)

    17. Dee Winters, TCU (5.6)


    Explain the Grade: Drew Sanders

    Sanders is a big riser based on his play during the 2022 campaign.

    After predominantly being used as an edge defender, fighting through injuries and struggling to find playing time at Alabama, he transferred to Arkansas and became one of the country's best off-ball linebackers, a unanimous All-American and Butkus Award finalist. Sanders went from being a blip on the NFL draft radar to being a potential top-50 draft pick.

    At 6'5" and 233 pounds, Sanders has a great frame that scouts and general managers will love. He also moves really well, which isn't surprising considering he was the No. 1-ranked athlete in the 2020 recruiting class, per 247Sports' composite list.

    The first-team All-American could afford to spend more time in the weight room but has plenty of room for growth on his frame. With how much emphasis is placed on overall athleticism nowadays, the Razorback could end up being the first linebacker taken.

Cornerbacks

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    South Carolina's Cam Smith
    South Carolina's Cam SmithCharles Brock/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    Scouted by Cory Giddings

    Best in Man Coverage: Joey Porter Jr.

    Best in Zone Coverage: Kelee Ringo

    Best Slot Corner: Clark Phillips III

    Most Versatile: Cam Smith

    1. Joey Porter Jr., Penn State (8.8)

    2. Clark Phillips III, Utah (7.9)

    3. Cam Smith, South Carolina (7.7)

    4. Eli Ricks, Alabama (7.5)

    5. Kelee Ringo, Georgia (7.4)

    6. Garrett Williams, Syracuse (7.4)

    7. Christian Gonzalez, Oregon (7.3)

    8. Mekhi Garner, LSU (7.3)

    9. Jarrick Bernard-Converse, LSU (6.9)

    10. Riley Moss, Iowa (6.8)

    11. Darius Rush, South Carolina (6.5)


    Explain the Grade: Cam Smith

    Smith is a long-limbed cornerback with very good body control and ball skills. A man-cover defender, the 6'0", 188-pound South Carolina Gamecock can play from press and off man.

    Extra value has been found in the fact that Smith has the size and athleticism to cover outside receivers on a regular basis but also the capability of moving over the slot. The Gamecocks coaching staff used its best coverage defender in a more varied role in 2022, thus increasing his draft value.

    The early entrant is still a bit raw with his technique at times but flashes enough to be considered one of the upcoming draft class' top corners.

Safeties

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    Georgia's Christopher Smith
    Georgia's Christopher SmithKevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Scouted by Cory Giddings

    Best in Man Coverage: Antonio Johnson

    Best in Zone Coverage: Brandon Joseph

    Best Run-Stopper: Christopher Smith

    Most Versatile: Jordan Battle

    1. Christopher Smith, Georgia (8.1)

    2. Brian Branch, Alabama (7.5)

    3. Jay Ward, LSU (7.4)

    4. Jordan Battle, Alabama (7.2)

    5. Brandon Joseph, Notre Dame (6.7)

    6. Antonio Johnson, Texas A&M (6.6)

    7. Trey Dean III, Florida (6.5)

    8. J.L. Skinner, Boise State (6.4)

    9. Ji'Ayir Brown, Penn State (6.2)

    10. Latavious Brini, Arkansas (5.9)

    11. Demani Richardson, Texas A&M (5.9)


    Explain the Grade: Christopher Smith

    Smith is a holdover from the 2021 national championship-winning squad. In his second full year as a starter, the senior safety blossomed into a team leader and unanimous All-American.

    The versatile first-team All-SEC performer can play at all three levels and continued to make plays throughout the campaign. In fact, his production increased from 34 total tackles in 2021 to 58 this year. He's a physical defender against the run and has six interceptions over the last two seasons.

    Smith is one of the top defensive backs in the class and could be the first safety off the board.

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