College Football Teams Needing to Replace the Most NFL Talent
College football programs lose players to the NFL draft every year, whether it be underclassmen or seniors.
Last year, the Georgia Bulldogs had 15 players selected, which was the most for a school in the current seven-round format. It's not surprising that the schools producing the most draft picks typically compete for the College Football Playoff and national titles.
Let's take a look at which schools will have to replace the most NFL talent next season, with an emphasis on colleges that have a handful of high-end prospects. Since players have until Jan. 16 to formally declare for the draft, some on this list haven't announced their draft intentions just yet but are expected to go pro.
I mean, are we surprised who is first on this list? A year after having 15 players drafted, the Bulldogs reloaded with no problems and won it all again. Several Georgia players will have their names called in this year's NFL draft.
The biggest name will be Bulldogs defensive lineman Jalen Carter, who led Georgia's defense this season. Carter is projected to go within the first five picks in the draft, and he's the No. 2 overall player on Bleacher Report's Big Board. The Chicago Bears, currently holding the No. 1 overall pick, look like the most likely destination. Carter finished his Georgia career with 83 total tackles, six sacks and two forced fumbles.
Bulldogs cornerback Kelee Ringo is another highly touted prospect. Ringo, projected by Pro Football Focus to go No. 20 overall to the Seattle Seahawks, finished the season with 42 total tackles and two interceptions.
Another leader on Georgia's defense this season was linebacker Nolan Smith. Although Smith suffered a season-ending torn pectoral muscle on Oct. 29, he is projected to be a late first-rounder or early second-rounder.
Safety Christopher Smith, listed as Bleacher Report's No. 16 overall player in this year's draft, is another Bulldogs defensive back who will have his name called. Tight end Darnell Washington, tackle Broderick Jones and running back Kenny McIntosh will be selected as well. Quarterback Stetson Bennett, who is just 5'11'' and 198 pounds, could be a late-round pick and land a backup role on a team.
Ohio State Buckeyes
Quarterback C.J. Stroud is expected to be one of the first two quarterbacks taken in this year's draft. In his last game of the season during OSU's Peach Bowl semifinal loss, Stroud was outstanding. He finished with 348 passing yards and four touchdowns against Georgia's dominant defense. The two-time Heisman finalist is listed as B/R's No. 8 overall prospect for 2023.
Wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba also has first-round potential. CBS Sports ranks him as the No. 3 receiver in the 2023 class. Although he played in just three games this season due to injury, the wideout had 1,606 receiving yards and nine touchdowns last season. Smith-Njigba was named the 2022 Rose Bowl MVP after he finished with a whopping 347 yards and three touchdowns in Ohio State's 48-45 win over Utah.
Buckeyes defensive end Zach Harrison is also heading to the NFL. Harrison finished 2022 with 34 total tackles, 3.5 sacks, four passes defended and an interception. Ohio State will also lose safety Ronnie Hickman, who finished fourth on the team in tackles with 53, and he led the team with seven passes defended.
Ohio State's offensive line will have to replace quite a bit of talent next season. Offensive tackle Paris Johnson Jr., projected by PFF to go No. 11 overall to the Tennessee Titans (No. 16 to the Washington Commanders by B/R), played guard earlier in his career before switching to left tackle. Ohio State will also have to replace center Luke Wypler, as well as right tackle Dawand Jones.
Alabama Crimson Tide
Water is wet, and we'll be seeing numerous Alabama players' names called in the NFL draft. Although the Tide missed out on the playoff this season, there are plenty of big-name guys Nick Saban will have to replace next season.
The biggest name is obviously QB Bryce Young, who is expected to be one of the first few names called in the draft. PFF projects Young to go No. 1 overall to the Indianapolis Colts, via a trade with the Bears. The 2021 Heisman winner threw for 8,200 yards and 79 touchdowns with just 12 interceptions over the last two seasons.
Another projected top-10 pick is linebacker Will Anderson Jr. Anderson is the No. 1 overall player on B/R's Big Board. Anderson finished fifth in Heisman voting in 2021 after he accounted for 101 total tackles and 17.5 sacks. Anderson led the SEC this season in tackles for loss with 17.
Nick Saban will have to replace a lot of other talented guys on defense aside from Anderson. Tide standout linebacker Henry To'oTo'o, who has been a leader on defense the last couple of seasons for Bama, is heading to the NFL. Bama will lose a lot of its secondary too, including cornerback Eli Ricks and safeties Brian Branch and Jordan Battle.
Offensively, Bama will need to replace starting running back Jahmyr Gibbs. Gibbs, who rushed for 926 yards and seven touchdowns with another 444 yards receiving, transferred from Georgia Tech last offseason. Tight end Cameron Latu has also entered the draft. Offensive lineman Emil Ekiyor Jr., who was a three-year starter and first team All-SEC guard this season, and starting left tackle Tyler Steen will also go pro. Steen transferred from Vanderbilt before the season.
Clemson missed out on the playoff for a second straight season in 2022. But the Tigers will still be losing a lot of talent to the draft. Most of the losses are on the defensive side of the ball, but there are a couple of offensive players leaving too.
It looks like the Tigers could produce a pair of top-10 picks come April in defensive end Myles Murphy and defensive tackle Bryan Bresee. Murphy accounted for 116 total tackles with 18.5 sacks over his three years as a starter for Clemson. Bresee, who rehabbed from a torn ACL he suffered last season, had a career-high pass-rushing grade of 82.0, per PFF. PFF and B/R have Murphy going No. 5 overall to Seattle. PFF has Bresse going No. 6 to the Detroit Lions, and B/R has him going No. 7 to the Las Vegas Raiders.
Defensive end K.J. Henry is entering the draft coming off his best season at Clemson, finishing with 51 total tackles, including nine for loss, and 3.5 sacks. Trenton Simpson, who finished fourth on the team in total tackles with 72 this season, is CBS Sports' No. 1-ranked linebacker for 2023. B/R mocks Simpson at No. 27 overall to the Minnesota Vikings.
On offense, Clemson will lose receiver Joseph Ngata, who was second on the team in receiving with 526 yards and two touchdowns, as well as tight end Davis Allen, who was third in receiving yards (443). Offensive lineman Jordan McFadden is also headed to the league.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Notre Dame wasn't a playoff contender in 2022, but the 9-4 finish wasn't too shabby under first-year head coach Marcus Freeman.
ND tight end Michael Mayer has the potential to be picked in the first 20 picks of the 2023 draft. Over three seasons, Mayer accounted for 2,099 receiving yards with 18 touchdowns. B/R projects Mayer to go No. 14 overall to the New England Patriots. The tight end is ranked No. 6 overall on Bleacher Report's Big Board.
Jarrett Patterson, B/R's fourth-highest-graded interior offensive lineman, could be a Day 2 pick.
Unfortunately for the defensive-minded Freeman, the Fighting Irish will have to replace a ton of guys on defense. One of the biggest names is defensive end Isaiah Foskey, projected by B/R to go No. 30 overall to the Kansas City Chiefs. The defensive end leaves South Bend as the school's all-time leader in sacks.
Safety Brandon Joseph, ranked by CBS Sports as 2023's No. 8 safety, finished with 30 total tackles on the season. Cornerback TaRiq Bracy and defensive linemen Jayson Ademilola, Justin Ademilola and Chris Smith are headed to the league, as well.
Penn State Nittany Lions
Penn State wasn't in the mix for the playoff thanks to its two losses to Michigan and Ohio State. But winning the Rose Bowl to finish 11-2 isn't a bad consolation prize.
Head coach James Franklin will need to replace some talented guys who are headed to the NFL draft. One of the most talented cornerback prospects in this year's draft is Joey Porter Jr. B/R's mock draft has the PSU corner, who had 113 total tackles and 86 solo tackles during his four-year career, going No. 6 overall to the Detroit Lions.
The Nittany Lions will also lose their leading tackler on defense from this season, safety Ji'Ayir Brown. Brown accounted for 74 total tackles, 4.5 sacks and four interceptions on the year.
Leading receiver Parker Washington has moved on to the NFL. The best season of his career came in 2021, during which he had 64 receptions for 820 yards and four touchdowns. Tight end Brenton Strange, who tied for the team lead in touchdown receptions (five) in 2022, is also going to the league.
LSU produces talented NFL draft prospects every year. 2023 is no exception. In his first season in Baton Rouge, Brian Kelly led the Tigers to an SEC West title with a Citrus Bowl win over Purdue.
One of the biggest names from LSU headed to the NFL is defensive end BJ Ojulari. Over his three-year career with the Tigers, Ojulari accounted for 128 total tackles, 16.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. B/R's mock draft has him going at No. 19 overall to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He will be joined in the draft class by fellow defensive end Ali Gaye, who accounted for 36 total tackles on the season.
Elsewhere on defense, the Tigers will have to replace safety Jay Ward, cornerback Mekhi Garner and defensive lineman Jaquelin Roy. In the 2022 season, Ward had 60 total tackles, Garner had eight pass breakups and Roy had 49 total tackles.
Wide receiver Kayshon Boutte, who finished with 1,782 yards and 16 touchdowns during his LSU career, is B/R's No. 6 receiver in this year's draft class. Starting offensive lineman Anthony Bradford has declared for the draft, as well.
The Florida Gators were far from being a national contender this year in Billy Napier's first season in Gainesville. Florida finished 6-7 with a loss to Oregon State in the Las Vegas Bowl. Still, the Gators will be losing a ton of talent to the NFL this year, so Billy Napier may have to go through another rebuilding year in his second season at Florida.
The biggest name to enter the 2023 draft for Florida is quarterback Anthony Richardson. In his first season as the Gators' full-time starter, he finished with 2,549 passing yards and 17 touchdowns with nine interceptions. He rushed for another 654 yards and nine touchdowns. B/R's Big Board ranks Richardson as the No. 31 overall prospect for 2023.
Florida's second-leading wide receiver, Justin Shorter, is headed to the league. He had 577 receiving yards with two touchdowns on the season. The Gators will also have to replace some talented offensive linemen in O'Cyrus Torrence and Richard Gouraige. Torrence is ranked as CBS Sports' No. 1 overall interior offensive lineman prospect for 2023.
On defense, Florida will have to replace a handful of key guys. The Gators will lose both their leading tacklers in safeties Rashad Torrence II and Trey Dean III, who combined for 165 total tackles. Standout linebackers Amari Burney and Brenton Cox Jr. are headed to the league. So is defensive lineman Gervon Dexter, who had 55 tackles this season.