NFL draft 2023 rankings – Mel Kiper’s top 25 prospects Big Board, best by position, including Will Anderson Jr., Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud

NFL draft 2023 rankings – Mel Kiper’s top 25 prospects Big Board, best by position, including Will Anderson Jr., Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud post thumbnail image

After a couple of weeks of rest following the 2022 NFL draft, it’s time to look way ahead to next year’s loaded class with my early 2023 rankings. Consider this is a first attempt at stacking my Big Board — the top 25 prospects overall in the class — and ranking the top guys at every position, starting with the quarterbacks and working our way down to the kickers and punters.

You’ve probably already read Todd McShay’s debut 2023 mock draft, so you should know it’s extremely early to try to project what’s going to happen this season that could shake up next year’s draft. But this is what we do, of course, and this class already looks far superior at the quarterback position. Alabama’s Bryce Young, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, will have a few signal-callers breathing down his neck at the top of the board. This is also a really strong class along the defensive line — again — and at wide receiver.

Two caveats before I unveil my 2023 Big Board and position rankings, same as usual at this time of the year:

  • It’s early, and I’m going to be wrong about a few prospects. Just look at Spencer Rattler last May. I’m not writing detailed scouting reports yet because I still have a lot of work to do on these prospects, many of whom have started only one season. On some of these guys, I’m projecting what they could do this season, which means they have a high ceiling but still need to reach it on the field.

  • Heights and weights are based on what we have from schools; we don’t get official numbers until the combine next March.

Let’s get right into it:

Jump to: Position rankings

HT: 6-4 | WT: 243 | Class: Junior

Anderson is a dominant and unique edge rusher who might have been the No. 1 overall pick in April if he had been eligible for the draft. He doesn’t take plays off, is versatile and made several impressive plays against the run. His 79 pressures and 17.5 sacks led the FBS. Anderson’s coaches at Alabama rave about him. Of course, who actually goes No. 1 in 2023 will depend on whether the team needs a quarterback, but Anderson is a fantastic prospect.

2021 stats: 17.5 sacks, 101 tackles (57 solo)


HT: 6-0 | WT: 194 | Class: Junior

You should know the Heisman Trophy winner by now. Young has an incredibly quick release and can really sling it. He’s an anticipatory thrower who knows how to hit receivers where they need the ball to run after the catch. He doesn’t make many mistakes. The knock on Young is size; he doesn’t have a huge frame, which NFL scouts will likely play up as we get closer to the draft. Still, his arm is more than good enough for him to be a great signal-caller at the next level.

2021 stats: 306-of-547 passing (66.9%), 4,872 yards, 47 TDs, 7 INTs


HT: 6-3 | WT: 215 | Class: Third-year soph.

It was Stroud, not Young, who led the FBS in Total QBR last season (91.6 to 87.6). Stroud had an inconsistent start to the season, but he finished on a tear, throwing 36 touchdown passes and just three picks in his final nine games. Can he improve even more in Year 2? He’s only scratching the surface of his talent, and he has a big-time wideout to throw to in Jaxon Smith-Njigba.

2021 stats: 317-of-441 passing (71.9%), 4,435 yards, 44 TDs, 6 INTs


HT: 6-3 | WT: 310 | Class: Junior

Georgia had five defenders picked in Round 1 in April, and Carter was arguably more disruptive than all of them last season. He’s explosive at the snap and finishes well around the ball, even though he didn’t put up huge numbers (8.5 tackles for loss). He has a big frame and can play as a 3-technique tackle. He will be in the mix to be the No. 1 overall pick.

2021 stats: 3 sacks, 37 tackles (17 solo)


HT: 6-0 | WT: 197 | Class: Junior

Smith-Njigba led Ohio State in catches and yards, even on a team with two wide receivers drafted in Round 1 in April. He averaged 16.9 yards per reception, showing stellar burst and explosiveness. He’s a hands catcher who can run the entire route tree, and he can make defenders miss after the catch. Most of Smith-Njigba’s work came from the slot — all but eight of his catches came from when he was aligned there — but he’ll play more outside in 2022. He led the FBS in receiving yards per route run (4.0).

2021 stats: 95 receptions, 1,606 yards, 9 TDs


HT: 6-5 | WT: 300 | Class: Junior

Bresee, a five-star recruit in the Class of 2020, tore his left ACL in September and played in just four games, but I was impressed with his tape. He locates the ball really well and explodes into the backfield at the snap to disrupt throwing lanes and find ball carriers. He’s aggressive and hustles on every snap. He can be a major force inside at the next level. This is an extremely talented group of defenders at the top, but don’t count out Bresee as a potential top-three pick.

2021 stats: 13 tackles (6 solo), 1.5 sacks, 1 INT


HT: 6-4 | WT: 251 | Class: Junior

NFL teams want tight ends who can stretch the deep middle of the field — and block well enough to line up next to offensive tackles. That’s Mayer, who can be a force in the red zone. Linebackers simply can’t cover him (and safeties struggle with his size). Mayer has a wide catch radius and could produce as a pass-catcher in the NFL. He’s a complete tight end.

2021 stats: 71 receptions, 840 yards, 7 TDs

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Michael Mayer makes a diving catch in the end zone for his second touchdown of the first half.


HT: 6-2 | WT: 195 | Class: Junior

Ricks had four interceptions as a freshman at LSU in 2020 (two were pick-sixes) before a shoulder injury ended his 2021 season after just six games. He decided to transfer to Alabama, and he could be the best corner in the country this season. He’s battle-tested — he got daily practice reps against superstar Ja’Marr Chase in 2020 — and has excellent size and speed. Nick Saban is going to make sure Ricks reaches his ceiling, and the Crimson Tide were uncharacteristically up-and-down at the position in 2021.

2021 stats: 11 tackles (9 solo), 1 INT


HT: 6-0 | WT: 190 | Class: Junior

Boutte was tied for the FBS lead with nine touchdown catches in six games before a right leg injury ended his season. He can stretch the field — he excels at go routes — and outrun defensive backs. He has great hand-eye coordination. Boutte could have a huge season in 2022, and I expect him to compete to be the top wideout in this class.

2021 stats: 38 receptions, 509 yards, 9 TDs


HT: 6-0 | WT: 214 | Class: Junior

Robinson’s season ended when he dislocated his left elbow in November, but he showed elite ability in 10 games. In fact, he led the FBS in broken tackles forced per game (4.1) and averaged 112.7 rushing yards per game. He is a cut-and-go runner with outstanding vision and explosiveness. I don’t love drafting running backs in Round 1, but Robinson deserves this ranking; I grade based on ability, not my first-round philosophy. He’s going to be a first-round-caliber prospect.

2021 stats: 195 carries, 1,127 yards, 11 TDs; 26 receptions, 295 yards, 4 TDs


HT: 6-4 | WT: 294 | Class: Junior

Skoronski is a technician at left tackle; he’s already advanced. He has great feet and can bend. He shrugs off quick pass-rushers and can contain rushers who try to win with power. Skoronski was rarely caught off guard in his games that I watched — he always maintained his base. With another season like 2021, he could be Northwestern’s second top-15 offensive tackle pick in three years (Rashawn Slater in 2021).

2021 stats: 2 sacks, 11 pressures allowed in 410 pass-block snaps


HT: 6-4 | WT: 224 | Class: Third-year soph.

Van Dyke really impressed me once he took over as the Hurricanes’ starter. He is a big (and mobile) quarterback with a tremendous arm. He’s fun to watch. Check out the ball location on this touchdown throw against Duke. Van Dyke can stick the ball into tight windows with accuracy. I expect a big season from him in 2022, and he could rise even higher.

2021 stats: 202-of-324 passing (62.3%), 2,931 yards, 25 TDs, 6 INTs

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0:31

With the sun in his eyes, Charleston Rambo reels in a tough catch under pressure from Tyler Van Dyke in the third quarter.


HT: 6-4 | WT: 236 | Class: Third-year soph.

This ranking is all about potential because Richardson is an enormous talent, and I’ve heard he has had a great spring. He didn’t get many chances as a passer last season — he’s not a finished product there — but he has fantastic dual-threat ability. Just watch this 80-yard scamper to see his speed and power as a runner. If Richardson takes a step as a passer, we’re going to talk about him as a potential top-three pick in this class. That’s a big “if,” of course.

2021 stats: 38-of-64 passing (59.4%), 529 yards, 6 TDs, 5 INTs; 51 carries, 401 yards, 3 TDs


HT: 6-7 | WT: 250 | Class: Senior

The last time Army had a first-round pick? All the way back in 1946. The Black Knights haven’t had a non-seventh-round pick since 1969. Carter is the real deal, though, a pass-rusher with incredible length who can play in any defensive scheme. He made big plays last season, with four forced fumbles and a pick. He impacts the game in a variety of ways, and I love his 2021 tape because he’s so consistent on every snap.

2021 stats: 15.5 sacks, 44 tackles (34 solo), 4 forced fumbles, 1 INT


HT: 6-6 | WT: 315 | Class: Junior

Johnson was a stellar guard for the Buckeyes last season, but he’s going to move outside to left tackle in 2022. I think he could move all the way into the top 10. He has projectable traits and an ideal skill set for the position. He’ll also be helped by several really good edge rushers having left the Big Ten for April’s draft. I’m projecting Johnson to be one of the country’s top tackles this season.

2021 stats: 1 sack, 4 pressures allowed in 440 pass-block snaps


HT: 6-4 | WT: 350 | Class: Junior

Ika might not be Jordan Davis from a traits perspective, but he’s not that far off. He has rare quickness and explosiveness for a 350-pound player. He’s like a piece of granite on the interior of the defensive line; he can’t be moved. With four sacks last season, Ika showed some pass-rush ability, mostly bulldozing interior offensive linemen. He won’t be a perfect fit for every defense, but he’ll make every unit better.

2021 stats: 4 sacks, 24 tackles (17 solo)


HT: 6-5 | WT: 275 | Class: Junior

Murphy has 11 sacks and four forced fumbles in two seasons for the Tigers, showing off his ability to get after quarterbacks off the edge. He has a quick burst out of his stance and can close quickly off the corner. Murphy also plays the run pretty well; he’s a solid all-around player. Clemson also moved him inside at times, so that versatility will help his stock. He could rise if he finishes at the quarterback more in 2022.

2021 stats: 7 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 37 tackles (21 solo)


HT: 6-0 | WT: 175 | Class: Junior

Addison had a breakout 2021, winning the Biletnikoff Award at Pitt as Kenny Pickett‘s go-to target. Now, he’s headed to play for Lincoln Riley at USC with talented quarterback Caleb Williams. Addison led the FBS in receiving touchdowns, excelling after the catch and lining up all over the field. He never had fewer than five catches in a game last season. He’s a polished route runner. I was most impressed with Addison’s ability to make up ground with late burst to catch the ball.

2021 stats: 100 receptions, 1,593 yards, 17 TDs


HT: 6-5 | WT: 260 | Class: Senior

Foskey leveled up down the stretch in 2021, and he’s an intriguing outside linebacker/defensive end combo in this class. He’s still developing his technique, but he has a solid spin move and can beat offensive tackles with power. Will Foskey show more polish this season? I think he could take another leap.

2021 stats: 11 sacks, 6 forced fumbles, 52 tackles (38 solo)


20. Cam Smith, CB, South Carolina

HT: 6-1 | WT: 187 | Class: Fourth-year junior

Smith’s ball skills really stand out on tape. He flips his hips in coverage, tracks the ball in the air and has the instincts to find it and make a play. He has five picks over the past two seasons. Smith also has excellent arm length, which helps his ability to create deflections. He has a good feel in coverage and makes things look easy.

2021 stats: 3 INTs, 11 pass breakups, 41 tackles (31 solo)


HT: 6-2 | WT: 205 | Class: Third-year sophomore

You might know Ringo from his national title-clinching pick-six against Alabama in January, and he is just scratching the surface of how good he can be. If you were designing the perfect NFL cornerback, he’d have Ringo’s speed, size and arm length. He has every tool to be a top-10 pick, but he needs to be more consistent this season and not just show a few flashes of brilliance.

2021 stats: 2 INTs, 8 pass breakups, 34 tackles (26 solo)

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1:12

Bryce Young gets picked off by Kelee Ringo, who takes it to the house to seal Georgia’s win in the College Football Playoff National Championship game.


HT: 6-3 | WT: 232 | Class: Senior

Levis, who transferred to Kentucky from Penn State, made some “wow” throws last season. He has a powerful arm, though he needs to be more precise. He threw too many picks, trying to force a few too many into tight windows. Levis also can beat defenses with his legs; he had four rushing scores in the win over Louisville. Consistency is an issue, but Levis’ traits are intriguing.

2021 stats: 233-of-353 passing (66%), 2,826 yards, 24 TDs, 13 INTs; 107 carries, 376 yards, 9 TDs


HT: 6-3 | WT: 251 | Class: Third-year sophomore

Sewell flies around the field and has sideline-to-sideline range. He tracks quarterbacks well when that’s his assignment, and he can make tackles in space. The Ducks also move him around the defense, so Sewell’s versatility sticks out on tape. He has some coverage skills too. Sewell, of course, is the brother of 2021 Lions top-10 pick Penei Sewell.

2021 stats: 4 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 1 INT, 114 tackles (53 solo)


HT: 6-3 | WT: 200 | Class: Junior

Johnson is the Daxton Hill of this draft. He has been a Swiss Army knife for the Aggies, playing as a center fielder, in the slot and as a box safety, which is where he might end up in the NFL. He has the length and frame to make plays at the line of scrimmage. That ability to play anywhere and fill different roles will make him appealing at the next level.

2021 stats: 1 INT, 5 pass breakups, 1 sack, 79 tackles (53 solo)


HT: 6-3 | WT: 230 | Class: Junior

Simpson is the third Clemson front-seven prospect in this top 25. He had some impressive 2021 tape, showing explosion at the snap and range when he needs to track a ball carrier. He had 12.5 total tackles for loss. He could be an off-ball linebacker or play as a traditional 3-4 outside linebacker. Simpson has some power as a pass-rusher too.

2021 stats: 6 sacks, 65 tackles (41 solo)

Early rankings at every position for the 2023 NFL draft

Quarterbacks

1. Bryce Young, Alabama
2. C.J. Stroud, Ohio State
3. Tyler Van Dyke, Miami (Fla.)
4. Anthony Richardson, Florida
5. Will Levis, Kentucky
6. Jaren Hall, BYU
7. Tanner McKee, Stanford
8. Devin Leary, NC State
9. Phil Jurkovec, Boston College
10. Hendon Hooker, Tennessee


Running backs

1. Bijan Robinson, Texas
2. Jahmyr Gibbs, Alabama
3. Devon Achane, Texas A&M
4. Zach Evans, Ole Miss
5. Tank Bigsby, Auburn
6. Deuce Vaughn, Kansas State
7. Zach Charbonnet, UCLA
8. Sean Tucker, Syracuse
9. DeWayne McBride, UAB
10. Travis Dye, USC


Fullbacks/H-backs

1. Arik Gilbert, Georgia
2. Jaheim Bell, South Carolina
3. Jahleel Billingsley, Texas
4. Austin Stogner, South Carolina
5. Joshua Simon, Western Kentucky
6. Marshon Ford, Louisville
7. Brant Kuithe, Utah
8. Monte Pottebaum, Iowa
9. Hunter Luepke, North Dakota State
10. Jared Rus, Iowa State


Wide receivers

1. Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Ohio State
2. Kayshon Boutte, LSU
3. Jordan Addison, USC
4. Josh Downs, North Carolina
5. Tyler Harrell, Alabama
6. Quentin Johnston, TCU
7. Rakim Jarrett, Maryland
8. Zay Flowers, Boston College
9. Jermaine Burton, Alabama
10. Marvin Mims, Oklahoma

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0:47

C.J. Stroud throws a perfect ball to Jaxon Smith-Njigba for the touchdown late in the fourth, giving the Buckeyes their first lead of the game.


Tight ends

1. Michael Mayer, Notre Dame
2. Sam LaPorta, Iowa
3. Dalton Kincaid, Utah
4. Benjamin Yurosek, Stanford
5. Will Mallory, Miami (Fla.)
6. Cameron Latu, Alabama
7. Luke Musgrave, Oregon State
8. Erick All, Michigan
9. Darnell Washington, Georgia
10. Isaac Rex, BYU


Offensive tackles

1. Peter Skoronski, Northwestern
2. Paris Johnson Jr., Ohio State
3. Blake Freeland, BYU
4. Broderick Jones, Georgia
5. Jaelyn Duncan, Maryland
6. Zion Nelson, Miami (Fla.)
7. Anton Harrison, Oklahoma
8. Ryan Hayes, Michigan
9. Jaxson Kirkland, Washington
10. Connor Galvin, Baylor


Guards

1. Layden Robinson, Texas A&M
2. Christian Mahogany, Boston College
3. Andrew Vorhees, USC
4. Braeden Daniels, Utah
5. O’Cyrus Torrence, Florida
6. Clark Barrington, BYU
7. Javion Cohen, Alabama
8. Cooper Beebe, Kansas State
9. T.J. Bass, Oregon
10. Emil Ekiyor Jr., Alabama


Centers

1. John Michael Schmitz, Minnesota
2. Jarrett Patterson, Notre Dame
3. Sedrick Van Pran, Georgia
4. Olusegun Oluwatimi, Michigan
5. Alex Forsyth, Oregon
6. Joe Tippmann, Wisconsin
7. Ricky Stromberg, Arkansas
8. Brett Neilon, USC
9. Kingsley Eguakun, Florida
10. Trevor Downing, Iowa State


Defensive ends

1. Will Anderson Jr., Alabama
2. Myles Murphy, Clemson
3. Felix Anudike-Uzomah, Kansas State
4. Zach Harrison, Ohio State
5. Habakkuk Baldonado, Pitt
6. Tyree Wilson, Texas Tech
7. Byron Young, Alabama
8. Tyler Lacy, Oklahoma State
9. Colby Wooden, Auburn
10. Ali Gaye, LSU

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0:19

Cincinnati tries for the Hail Mary to end the half, but Alabama’s Will Anderson breaks through and gets the sack.


Defensive tackles

1. Jalen Carter, Georgia
2. Bryan Bresee, Clemson
3. Siaki Ika, Baylor
4. Gervon Dexter, Florida
5. Jaquelin Roy, LSU
6. Zacch Pickens, South Carolina
7. Calijah Kancey, Pitt
8. Keeanu Benton, Wisconsin
9. Tuli Tuipulotu, USC
10. Tyler Davis, Clemson


Inside linebackers

1. Noah Sewell, Oregon
2. Jack Campbell, Iowa
3. Henry To’oTo’o, Alabama
4. Owen Pappoe, Auburn
5. Edefuan Ulofoshio, Washington
6. Mohamoud Diabate, Utah
7. DeMarvion Overshown, Texas
8. Ventrell Miller, Florida
9. Payton Wilson, NC State
10. Justin Flowe, Oregon


Outside linebackers

1. Andre Carter II, Army
2. Isaiah Foskey, Notre Dame
3. Trenton Simpson, Clemson
4. BJ Ojulari, LSU
5. Nolan Smith, Georgia
6. Will McDonald IV, Iowa State
7. Derick Hall, Auburn
8. Zion Tupuola-Fetui, Washington
9. Robert Beal Jr., Georgia
10. Brenton Cox Jr., Florida


Cornerbacks

1. Eli Ricks, Alabama
2. Cam Smith, South Carolina
3. Kelee Ringo, Georgia
4. Clark Phillips III, Utah
5. Kyu Blu Kelly, Stanford
6. Joey Porter Jr., Penn State
7. Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson, TCU
8. Kris Abrams-Draine, Missouri
9. Garrett Williams, Syracuse
10. Tony Grimes, North Carolina


Safeties

1. Antonio Johnson, Texas A&M
2. Brandon Joseph, Notre Dame
3. Jordan Battle, Alabama
4. Jalen Catalon, Arkansas
5. Brian Branch, Alabama
6. JL Skinner, Boise State
7. DeMarcco Hellams, Alabama
8. Rashad Torrence II, Florida
9. Akeem Dent, Florida State
10. Tykee Smith, Georgia


Kickers and punters

1. Bryce Baringer, Michigan State (P)
2. Harrison Mevis, Missouri (K)
3. Jake Moody, Michigan (K)
4. Tory Taylor, Iowa (P)
5. Lou Hedley, Miami (Fla.) (P)
6. Rhys Byrns, Louisiana-Lafayette (P)
7. Michael Turk, Oklahoma (P)
8. Kyle Ostendorp, Arizona (P)
9. Jack Podlesny, Georgia (K)
10. Daniel Gutierrez, UNLV (K)



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