Three weeks into the college football season, we’ve gotten a chance to add three full games of evaluations for the top prospects in the 2023 NFL draft. There have been some great performances, some so-so games and a few clunkers from players who have a chance to go in Round 1 in April.
I did an early Big Board and position-by-position rankings back in May, and I updated my rankings before the season began, alongside fellow analysts Todd McShay, Jordan Reid and Matt Miller. We agree on a bunch of prospects, of course, but that will change as we get closer to the draft; it’s still so early in the process.
Let’s dig into my list of the top 25 prospects overall for the class of 2023, with the top 10 prospects at every position underneath. There’s no change at the top of the Big Board — Alabama edge rusher Will Anderson Jr. has a chance to go wire to wire as the No. 1 prospect — but there is a new No. 2 prospect, along with tweaks at the top of my quarterback rankings. Again, it’s early, but there’s a legitimate battle for QB1 in this class.
Two notes on these rankings:
There is a lot of projection involved here, particularly for my Big Board. Many of these prospects have started only a handful of games, so I’m not yet writing up detailed scouting reports. I expect many of them to be stronger, faster and better as we get closer to April’s draft, so I’ll adjust my rankings as the season moves on.
Heights and weights are based on what we have from schools; we don’t get official numbers until the 2023 combine in March.
Let’s start with Anderson, and I’ll tell you what I like about him:
Jump to: Position rankings
HT: 6-4 | WT: 243 | Class: Junior
Anderson is a dominant edge rusher who might have been the No. 1 overall pick last April if he had been eligible for the draft. He’s that good. He doesn’t take plays off, is versatile and plays the run well. He’s explosive off the line of scrimmage. Anderson has 26.5 sacks in 31 career games over the past three seasons. Nick Saban & Co. use him as a stand-up outside linebacker, as a down defensive end and even at tackle, where he can blow up guards and centers at the snap. His 79 pressures and 17.5 sacks led the FBS last season. Anderson is a fantastic prospect, one of the best edge rushers I’ve scouted in the past decade.
HT: 6-3 | WT: 215 | Class: Third-year soph.
Stroud is off to a hot start, with 11 touchdown passes and no picks through three games. And remember, it was Stroud, not Bryce Young, who led the FBS in Total QBR last season (91.6 to 87.6). Here are his numbers over the past 12 games, dating back to last season: 316-of-425 (74.4%) for 4,413 yards with 47 touchdown passes and three interceptions. Stroud is a smooth thrower with a big arm in a 6-foot-3 frame. If he keeps improving, he has a great chance to be the No. 1 overall pick.
C.J. Stroud throws for five touchdowns in Ohio State’s blowout of Toledo at home.
HT: 6-3 | WT: 310 | Class: Junior
Georgia had five defenders picked in Round 1 last April, and Carter arguably was 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. Carter has just four tackles in three games (48 snaps) so far this season. NFL teams will bet on his ceiling.
HT: 6-3 | WT: 232 | Class: Senior
I recently went through all of Levis’ throws in 16 starts at Kentucky, and I was extremely impressed. He has a rocket launcher for an arm; the Penn State transfer makes some “wow” throws. That has gotten him into trouble at times — he has four picks in three games this season — but it’s clear watching him that he believes he can fit the ball into any window. My comp is Matthew Stafford. Levis plays in a pro-style offense at Kentucky, and he’s not going to need much time to adjust to the NFL. He doesn’t have a great supporting cast of playmakers around him, but he makes it work. He can maneuver the pocket and throw on the run. He’s the real deal, and he’s going to battle to be the top signal-caller in this class, though I want to see him clean up the mistakes and limit his turnovers.
HT: 6-5 | WT: 300 | Class: Junior
Bresee, a five-star recruit in the Class of 2020, tore his left ACL last 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. Bresee has a half sack in two games this season.
HT: 6-0 | WT: 194 | Class: Junior
Don’t be alarmed that Young is my third-ranked quarterback here. It’s tight at the top, and it’ll continue to be tight until April’s draft. The reigning Heisman Trophy winner has an incredibly quick release. He’s accurate and he goes through read progressions to find his target. 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. I don’t think he’s quite 6-foot. Still, his arm is more than good enough for him to be a great signal-caller at the next level. After a 47-touchdown, seven-interception season in 2021, he has nine touchdown passes and two picks in the first three games.
HT: 6-0 | WT: 214 | Class: Junior
Robinson does everything for Texas. He runs inside, he runs outside, he catches passes, he scores a lot of touchdowns. I’m a big fan. Robinson’s 2021 season ended when he dislocated his left elbow, but he showed elite ability in those 10 games. 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 go somewhere in the top 32 picks if he stays healthy.
HT: 6-6 | WT: 315 | Class: Junior
After a season at guard, Johnson has kicked outside to left tackle for the Buckeyes. He has impressed. The former five-star prospect has a great chance to be the top tackle in the 2023 class. He moves his feet well in pass sets and in the run game, and he has the quickness to keep up with speedy edge rushers. Johnson has everything NFL teams look for in a Day 1 starter at left tackle.
HT: 6-4 | WT: 294 | Class: Junior
Where Skoronski has an advantage over Johnson is experience; he already has made 24 college starts at left tackle. He is a technician who 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 2021 games I watched — he always maintained his base. He could be Northwestern’s second top-15 offensive tackle pick in three years (Rashawn Slater in 2021).
HT: 6-0 | WT: 175 | Class: Junior
We discussed Addison after Week 2, when he had seven catches for 172 yards and two scores. What stands out about him is his route-running ability. He just gets open, and he can do it in so many ways. He can make up ground with late burst to track the ball. He explodes off the line of scrimmage. Addison had 100 catches for 1,592 yards and 17 touchdowns at Pitt last season; with Caleb Williams throwing him passes in 2022, he could be the first player to win Biletnikoff Awards for different schools.
HT: 6-7 | WT: 250 | Class: Senior
As I mentioned in my way-too-early rankings in May, Army hasn’t had a first-round pick since 1946. It hasn’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. He had 15.5 sacks last season and has added 2.5 more in three games this year.
HT: 6-0 | WT: 197 | Class: Junior
Smith-Njigba has begun the season slowly — four catches for 36 yards in two games — but that won’t last. He’s too good. He led Ohio State in catches (95) and yards (1,606) last season, even on a team with two wide receivers drafted in Round 1 of the 2022 draft. He has stellar burst and explosiveness out of breaks. 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 last season — all but eight of his catches came while aligned there. He led the FBS in receiving yards per route run (4.0).
HT: 6-0 | WT: 190 | Class: Junior
I don’t quite understand how Boutte has only 10 catches for 93 yards and no touchdowns this season. This is the same guy who was tied for the FBS lead with nine touchdown catches in six games before a right leg injury ended his 2021 season. At his best, he can stretch the field — he excels at go routes — and outrun defensive backs. He has great hand-eye coordination. I hope he gets more involved in the new LSU offense, because it hasn’t been a great start. He needs to get the ball 10 times a game.
HT: 6-5 | WT: 232 | Class: Junior
Sanders, a rotational player on the Alabama defense in 2020 and 2021, transferred to Arkansas earlier this year and has been tremendous through three games. He already has 5.5 sacks and two forced fumbles, along with 32 total tackles. He’s playing all over the field for the Razorbacks, showing off his burst and range to chase down ball carriers. He’s a hit, lift and drive tackler who can fill a hole in the run game. He plays super hard and has great size for the position. Sanders’ sack production likely will level off a bit, but I’ve been very impressed with him so far.
HT: 6-4 | WT: 236 | Class: Third-year soph.
This is still a ranking that is all about potential because Richardson has a ton of talent. I’m not giving up on him. He didn’t get many chances as a passer last season — he threw just 64 passes — and he’s completing just 53.2% of his passes with zero touchdowns and four interceptions so far this season. But the arm talent and the dual-threat ability are undeniable. He hasn’t taken a step forward as a passer yet, but there’s still plenty of time. I wouldn’t be surprised if he returned to school next year and entered the 2024 draft, after he gets more starts under his belt.
HT: 6-4 | WT: 251 | Class: Junior
The Notre Dame offense has struggled this season, but Mayer has 15 catches and two scores in three games. He’s legit. 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 had 71 catches for 840 yards and seven scores in 2021. He has a wide catch radius and could produce as a pass-catcher in the NFL. He’s a complete tight end.
Jack Coan tosses a play-action pass to Michael Mayer, who dives for the end zone on a 16-yard score.
HT: 6-2 | WT: 200 | Class: Junior
This cornerback class is going to be a tight race all the way until April’s draft. I’m a fan of Porter, a lanky and physical defender who can reroute receivers with the best of them. He is aggressive, though he has just one career interception in 24 career starts. With all corners, the testing numbers at the combine will really matter, but I like what I see from Porter on tape.
HT: 6-5 | WT: 275 | Class: Junior
Murphy has a quick burst out of his stance and can close quickly off the corner. He also plays the run well and is physical at the point of attack. He had 11 sacks in his first two seasons at Clemson and has added another one so far this season. He moves inside to tackle times, so that versatility will help his stock for NFL teams. I want to see that sack production rise a little bit before moving him up.
19. Cam Smith, CB, South Carolina
HT: 6-1 | WT: 187 | Class: Fourth-year junior
Smith missed the Gamecocks’ Week 3 loss because of a concussion, so hopefully he recovers soon and gets back on the field. His ball skills 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 career picks in 12 starts and had 11 pass breakups last season. 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.
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. He had two interceptions and eight pass breakups last season and hasn’t been tested much this season as Georgia has gotten off to another dominant start.
HT: 6-4 | WT: 224 | Class: Third-year soph.
I wrote about Van Dyke earlier this week, after a so-so outing at Texas A&M. He was missing his best wideout (Xavier Restrepo) and he and Miami never could get into a rhythm. Like Richardson, he’s young and doesn’t have to enter the 2023 draft; if he keeps improving, gathering starts and experience along the way, he could compete to be the No. 1 quarterback in 2024. Still, he’s fun to watch when he gets going, and he threw 25 touchdown passes with just six interceptions last season. He’s agile and can throw on the run, and he has the arm to make every throw. He has to get more consistent, though.
Miami gets fancy and Tyler Van Dyke throws a 35-yard TD pass to Key’Shawn Smith.
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 had 11 sacks and six forced fumbles last season. He’s still developing his technique, but he has a solid spin move and can beat offensive tackles with power. Foskey had 1.5 sacks in the win over Cal in Week 3, but he can do even more. His size, quickness and frame make him an edge rusher to watch — and we know NFL teams covet edge rushers like him.
HT: 6-4 | WT: 290 | Class: Junior
Tuipulotu dominated against Stanford in Week 2, with a sack, a forced fumble and four total tackles for loss. He was unblockable. I’ve even seen him drop into zone coverage on tape. He has rare physical ability and explosion at 290 pounds, and he has the versatility to play defensive end too. That type of hybrid defensive lineman is highly coveted by NFL teams. Tuipulotu had 5.5 sacks last season and is up to three in three games in 2022.
24. Daiyan Henley, OLB, Washington State
HT: 6-2 | WT: 235 | Class: Junior
How about the Nevada transfer’s rise? Henley has been one of the best defenders in the country this season. Check out this stat line: 30 total tackles, four sacks, two forced fumbles, one interception. He didn’t have a single sack for the Wolf Pack last season, and he has four in three games. He flies to the football, takes good angles in pursuit and has some versatile traits. Henley played receiver for a couple of years at Nevada, catching 17 passes with three touchdowns from 2017 to 2018. He even returned kicks! Henley has found his calling on defense, though. He could be a first-round off-ball linebacker in this class.
HT: 6-6 | WT: 320 | Class: Senior
Duncan already has started 30 games for the Terrapins, with 29 at left tackle, and he looks better than ever this season. He has good feet and balance and is agile in pass sets. He’s a nimble 320-pounder. Run blocking is probably his strength, but he’s getting better as a pass protector with every rep.
2023 NFL draft rankings at every position
1. C.J. Stroud, Ohio State
2. Will Levis, Kentucky
3. Bryce Young, Alabama
4. Anthony Richardson, Florida
5. Tyler Van Dyke, Miami
6. Cameron Ward, Washington State
7. Jaren Hall, BYU
8. Hendon Hooker, Tennessee
9. Tanner McKee, Stanford
10. Aidan O’Connell, Purdue
Dane Key climbs the ladder to snag the 55-yard dime from Will Levis to put the Wildcats on the board.
1. Bijan Robinson, Texas
2. Zach Evans, Ole Miss
3. Jahmyr Gibbs, Alabama
4. Sean Tucker, Syracuse
5. Devon Achane, Texas A&M
6. DeWayne McBride, UAB
7. Travis Dye, USC
8. Eric Gray, Oklahoma
9. Chase Brown, Illinois
10. Zach Charbonnet, UCLA
1. Arik Gilbert, Georgia
2. Hunter Luepke, North Dakota State
3. Jaheim Bell, South Carolina
4. Brant Kuithe, Utah
5. Brayden Willis, Oklahoma
6. Josh Whyle, Cincinnati
7. Monte Pottebaum, Iowa
8. Jahleel Billingsley, Texas
9. Ryan Jones, East Carolina
10. Ryan Miller, Furman
1. Jordan Addison, USC
2. Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Ohio State
3. Kayshon Boutte, LSU
4. Quentin Johnston, TCU
5. Josh Downs, North Carolina
6. Cedric Tillman, Tennessee
7. Rashee Rice, SMU
8. Rakim Jarrett, Maryland
9. Marvin Mims, Oklahoma
10. Zay Flowers, Boston College
1. Michael Mayer, Notre Dame
2. Luke Musgrave, Oregon State
3. Dalton Kincaid, Utah
4. Sam LaPorta, Iowa
5. Cameron Latu, Alabama
6. Tucker Kraft, South Dakota State
7. Zack Kuntz, Old Dominion
8. Darnell Washington, Georgia
9. Will Mallory, Miami
10. Payne Durham, Purdue
1. Paris Johnson Jr., Ohio State
2. Peter Skoronski, Northwestern
3. Jaelyn Duncan, Maryland
4. Broderick Jones, Georgia
5. Matthew Bergeron, Syracuse
6. Blake Freeland, BYU
7. Zion Nelson, Miami
8. Anton Harrison, Oklahoma
9. Ryan Hayes, Michigan
10. Dawand Jones, Ohio State
1. O’Cyrus Torrence, Florida
2. Jarrett Patterson, Notre Dame
3. Layden Robinson, Texas A&M
4. Clark Barrington, BYU
5. Nick Broeker, Ole Miss
6. Javion Cohen, Alabama
7. Cooper Beebe, Kansas State
8. Andrew Vorhees, USC
9. Braeden Daniels, Utah
10. Emil Ekiyor Jr., Alabama
1. John Michael Schmitz, Minnesota
2. Sedrick Van Pran, Georgia
3. Olusegun Oluwatimi, Michigan
4. Steve Avila, TCU
5. Joe Tippmann, Wisconsin
6. Luke Wypler, Ohio State
7. Ricky Stromberg, Arkansas
8. Alex Forsyth, Oregon
9. Trevor Downing, Iowa State
10. Eli Cox, Kentucky
1. Myles Murphy, Clemson
2. Jared Verse, Florida State
3. Tyree Wilson, Texas Tech
4. Derick Hall, Auburn
5. Felix Anudike-Uzomah, Kansas State
6. Zach Harrison, Ohio State
7. Habakkuk Baldonado, Pitt
8. Tyler Lacy, Oklahoma State
9. K.J. Henry, Clemson
10. Ali Gaye, LSU
1. Jalen Carter, Georgia
2. Bryan Bresee, Clemson
3. Tuli Tuipulotu, USC
4. Siaki Ika, Baylor
5. Keondre Coburn, Texas
6. Gervon Dexter, Florida
7. Colby Wooden, Auburn
8. Keeanu Benton, Wisconsin
9. Jaquelin Roy, LSU
10. Zacch Pickens, South Carolina
1. Drew Sanders, Arkansas
2. Jack Campbell, Iowa
3. Noah Sewell, Oregon
4. Trenton Simpson, Clemson
5. Owen Pappoe, Auburn
6. Henry To’oTo’o, Alabama
7. Jeremy Banks, Tennessee
8. Tommy Eichenberg, Ohio State
9. Payton Wilson, NC State
10. DeMarvion Overshown, Texas
Henry To’oTo’o joins Out of Pocket with Alyssa Lang and Andraya Carter to discuss his focus on leadership and the Tide’s “be where your feet are” mentality.
1. Will Anderson Jr., Alabama
2. Andre Carter II, Army
3. Isaiah Foskey, Notre Dame
4. Daiyan Henley, Washington State
5. Nolan Smith, Georgia
6. Will McDonald IV, Iowa State
7. BJ Ojulari, LSU
8. Nick Hampton, Appalachian State
9. Isaiah Land, Florida A&M
10. Jacoby Windmon, Michigan State
1. Joey Porter Jr., Penn State
2. Cam Smith, South Carolina
3. Kelee Ringo, Georgia
4. Riley Moss, Iowa
5. Clark Phillips III, Utah
6. Kyu Blu Kelly, Stanford
7. Christian Gonzalez, Oregon
8. Tyrique Stevenson, Miami
9. Darrell Luter Jr., South Alabama
10. Jakorian Bennett, Maryland
1. Antonio Johnson, Texas A&M
2. Ji’Ayir Brown, Penn State
3. Brian Branch, Alabama
4. Jordan Battle, Alabama
5. JL Skinner, Boise State
6. Brandon Joseph, Notre Dame
7. Christopher Smith, Georgia
8. Demani Richardson, Texas A&M
9. Jammie Robinson, Florida State
10. Jalen Catalon, Arkansas
Kickers and punters
1. Bryce Baringer, Michigan State (P)
2. Chad Ryland, Maryland (K)
3. Jake Moody, Michigan (K)
4. Harrison Mevis, Missouri (K)
5. Kyle Ostendorp, Arizona (P)
6. Tory Taylor, Iowa (P)
7. Lou Hedley, Miami (Fla) (P)
8. Matt Hayball, Vanderbilt (P)
9. Michael Turk, Oklahoma (P)
10. Jack Podlesny, Georgia (K)