NFL Draft 2023: Which Players May Get Drafted Too High?

Alex KayContributor IJanuary 24, 2023

NFL Draft 2023: Which Players May Get Drafted Too High?

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    COLUMBIA, MO - NOVEMBER 05: Will Levis #7 of the Kentucky Wildcats drops back to pass during the second half against the Missouri Tigers at Faurot Field/Memorial Stadium on November 5, 2022 in Columbia, Missouri. (Photo by Jay Biggerstaff/Getty Images)
    Jay Biggerstaff/Getty Images

    With the conference championship games on the horizon and the NFL playoffs winding down, all but four organizations are now looking ahead to the offseason.

    The 2023 NFL draft is one of major pillars on which many impending roster overhauls will be built upon, but it's also an event that could set clubs back if they make mistakes.

    One of the most common missteps is reaching for a player too early. Whether prospects have injury concerns, inconsistency or other red flags surrounding them, teams will want to avoid expending lofty selections on them because of the high probability their production will not align with where they came off the board.

    With that in mind, here are five players who carry considerable risk and are likely to be reached for during April's draft in Kansas City, Missouri.

Jordan Addison, WR, USC

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    LAS VEGAS, NV - DECEMBER 02: USC Trojans wide receiver Jordan Addison (3) celebrates during the Pac-12 Championship football game between Utah Utes and USC Trojans on December 2, 2022 at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, NV. (Photo by Ric Tapia/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
    Ric Tapia/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    The 2023 wide receiver class has plenty of intriguing but imperfect prospects, and none may be more polarizing than Jordan Addison.

    The USC product could be one of the first wideouts off the board because of the lack of slam-dunk superstars at his position, but organizations thinking about drafting him on Day 1 may want to be wary of investing that much capital into him.

    The main concern is his lack of size. The 20-year-old is listed at a mere 6'0", 175 pounds, making him one of the smaller potential No. 1 receivers in the NFL. While there are several instances of smaller wideouts coming off the board early and having success in the pros, few are packing as little poundage on their frames as Addison.

    Addison didn't let his stature stop him from putting up numbers in college. He finished his lone season with the Trojans with 59 receptions for 875 yards and eight scores, a downgrade in production after he tallied 1,593 yards and 17 scores on 100 catches during an incredible final year at Pittsburgh in 2021.

    DeVonta Smith is a best-case comparison for Addison. The 6'0", 170-pound Smith dominated at Alabama and continued his success right away after being drafted 10th overall by the Eagles in 2021. But Addison hasn't proved himself to be in the same stratosphere as Smith was during his 2020 Heisman Trophy-winning campaign.

    Addison missed some time with an ankle injury this past season, and there's reason to be worried about his ability to hold up in the NFL. He hasn't proved to be a complete receiver yet either, notably having issues with tracking deep balls and lacking experience against the type of tough press coverage he'll be tested with as a pro.

    While Addison could turn into a star, there's enough reason to be wary about his transition to the next level that wideout-needy teams may want to go a different direction when they are on the clock early in the draft.

Devon Achane, RB, Texas A&M

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    COLUMBIA, SC - OCTOBER 22: Texas A&M Aggies running back Devon Achane (6) runs with the ball during a college football game against the South Carolina Gamecocks on October 22, 2022 at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, South Carolina. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
    Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    Devon Achane is considered one of the top running backs available this year. He's the No. 3 player at the position on the Bleacher Report Scouting Department's latest big board, which highlighted him as the fastest back in this class as well.

    While Achane used his blazing speed and high-end athleticism to light up Texas A&M's opponents over the last three years, rushing for 2,376 yards and 21 touchdowns in that span while adding 554 yards and five scores on 65 receptions, teams may want to be careful about drafting this diminutive burner too highly.

    The Texas native is listed at just 5'9" and 185 pounds, a concerningly small frame for a back playing in the pros.

    Achane already missed some time during his junior season with a foot injury and could be prone to more missed action while taking on the rigors an NFL back must endure.

    The 21-year-old still needs to prove he can handle that as well after rarely taking on a major workload during his three years in College Station. Achane hit the 20-carry mark in just four of his 28 collegiate contests and had 13 or fewer totes in 17 of those games.

    Special teams may be where he finds his niche. He was a significant contributor when tasked to be the Aggies' return man, tallying over 600 yards and two scores on 20 kick returns over the last two seasons. He's as dynamic as they come and is always a threat to find a seam, something that should translate successfully to the next level.

    While Achane will likely find a way to contribute wherever he ends up, a highly drafted running back—many mocks have Achane coming off the board on Day 1—should be able to contribute to the offense heavily, not just on special teams and with a limited number of offensive snaps.

Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah

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    LAS VEGAS, NV - DECEMBER 02: Utah Utes tight end Dalton Kincaid (86) reacts during the Pac-12 Championship football game between the Utah Utes and the USC Trojans on December 2, 2022 at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. (Photo by Brandon Sloter/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
    Brandon Sloter/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    There are a myriad of NFL teams hoping to upgrade their tight end position with a playmaking pass-catcher. Clubs are understandably envious of the ridiculous amount of mileage squads like the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs are getting out of George Kittle and Travis Kelce, respectively, which could result in a prospect like Dalton Kincaid coming off the board faster than he probably should.

    Kincaid just wrapped up a senior season in which served as a focal point of the Utah offense. He finished with a team-high 70 receptions, 890 receiving yards and eight touchdowns, matching his scoring mark from last year while nearly doubling his catch number.

    While Kincaid possesses amazing hands, good route-running abilities and decent athleticism, his upside is limited because of his age. After playing five years of college ball—two with the San Diego Toreros and three with the Utes—Kincaid will turn 24 years old early in his rookie season.

    Kincaid has adequate size but isn't too physically imposing at 6'4", 240 pounds. He's far from a top-notch blocker, and while his skills in that department are serviceable, he lacks experience and likely won't be capable of taking on tough assignments in the NFL.

    Teams will want to be especially cautious about drafting Kincaid if they aren't willing to tailor their offense around his skill set. Attempting to deploy him as a traditional tight end could backfire badly.

    The Las Vegas native is more of an oversized slot receiver in the mold of Mike Gesicki. The Miami Dolphins' pass-catching tight end had a career year in 2021 before straining to adapt to a new system that didn't maximize his abilities. Kincaid could find himself struggling in the same vein if he doesn't land in the right situation.

Will Levis, QB, Kentucky

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    LEXINGTON, KY - NOVEMBER 19:Kentucky Wildcats Quarterback Will Levis (7) passes the ball during the college football game between the Georgia Bulldogs and the Kentucky Wildcats on November 19, 2022, at Common Wealth Stadium in Lexington, KY. (Photo by Jeffrey Vest/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
    Jeffrey Vest/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    There is no shortage of organizations eager to find a franchise quarterback in the 2023 draft. That desperation will likely lead to one rolling the dice on Kentucky's Will Levis, a tempting but ultimately flawed signal-caller.

    Levis has been inconsistent during his two-year stint as the Wildcats' starter. He flashed a cannon arm and creativity as much as he made head-scratching mistakes and turned the ball over.

    The Penn State transfer assumed Kentucky's QB1 role in 2021. Over the last two seasons, he completed 65.7 percent of his passes for 5,876 yards and 43 touchdowns in 24 games. He also threw 23 interceptions and lost four fumbles in that span.

    While a lingering turf toe hindered his abilities for much of the 2022 campaign, there isn't much reason to be excited about his upside. He'll be turning 24 years old in June, making him one of the older incoming rookies and significantly lowering his ceiling.

    Although Levis stands a sturdy 6'3", 232 pounds, is mobile and has a lot of the physical traits NFL teams look for in quarterbacks, he lacks a lot of the talent and decision-making skills that good signal-callers tend to possess.

    Levis has a concerning lack of signature showings against quality competition. He only breeched the 250-yard passing mark once in 16 games against SEC opponents. His lone contest eclipsing that modest figure came against a terrible Tennessee defense in 2021.

    Some draftniks such as Mel Kiper Jr. are still high on Levis despite his lack of notable performances and penchant for ill-advised throws. The ESPN analyst pointed out that the prospect he has ranked No. 3 overall had some of his worst performances when Kentucky was well out of the running, but it is worth noting that half of Levis' 2022 interceptions occurred when the Wildcats held a lead or were tied.

    Levis simply hasn't shown enough to warrant his sky-high draft stock and seems far more likely to bust out than become the type of star an early first-round selection should warrant.

Nolan Smith, Edge, Georgia

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    JACKSONVILLE, FL - OCTOBER 29: Georgia Bulldogs linebacker Nolan Smith (4) during the college football game between the Florida Gators and Georgia Bulldogs on October 29, 2022, at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by John Adams/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
    John Adams/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    Georgia defenders have been a popular commodity at the top of the NFL draft in recent years, and that will likely continue in 2023. Superb athletes also tend to climb up big boards because of their sky-high potential.

    These two trends could lead to Nolan Smith being selected a tad too early come April. While he is a phenomenal athlete and has been a contributor during each of the Bulldogs' recent national championship runs, the edge-rusher still has a long way to go before he's ready to terrorize NFL quarterbacks on a regular basis.

    Smith is arguably the top athlete at his position in this class, but his skills are still raw. His explosiveness will surely have NFL teams interested, but there are reasons to be leery about his ability to turn into a complete player.

    The 22-year-old participated in 38 games during his four-year stint in Athens. During that time he recorded 110 tackles—including 20 tackles for loss—and 12.5 sacks.

    While Smith put a few impressive highlights on tape over the last few seasons, there were long stretches—even entire games—in which he disappeared. His stats don't jump off the page the way many fellow highly rated outside linebacker prospects tend to, and the torn pectoral that cut his senior season short could also set back his development. The pass-rusher is also slightly undersized at 6'3", 235 pounds.

    Smith needs to find a way to convert his elite athleticism and speed into pressures, something he struggled with at Georgia. He has the physical tools as well as the drive and leadership capabilities to become a Pro Bowler, but there is still a long way for this prospect to go before he's ready to put it all together and make that leap.