Just one more day. That’s how much football fans must wait for this season’s NFL Draft to kick off. The time for mock drafts is over. Room for speculation is officially not welcome anymore as we prepare to see each team’s draft plans finally unfold. All that’s left now is for the top college football prospects to get their best suits ready, fans to clear their schedules, and get ready for the 2023 NFL Draft.
A lot has been spoken of regarding the draft this offseason. Players who were afterthoughts all of a sudden started picking up smoke left and right, while others destined for a prime-time draft moment drifted away.
For now, with the draft right around the corner, let’s break down my top three hot takes for this year’s event.
5 QBs Going in First Round? Sure. Levis the Last One Picked? Definitely!
After seeing only one quarterback getting picked within the first 75 picks of last year’s draft, showing how lackluster and powerless last season’s passer class felt like. This year, all signs point toward another proverbial banner year for college quarterbacks.
Five names stand out amongst a varied group of quarterbacks trying to make it into the pro ranks, showing that, unlike last year, teams looking for a new option in their passing department will have a little more wiggle room from where to select.
Alabama’s Bryce Young, Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud, Florida’s Anthony Richardson, Kentucky’s Will Levis, and Tennessee’s Hendon Hooker all look poised to be selected in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft. But where do they land in the pecking order?
There’s no doubt in any way, shape or matter that with the first pick of the draft, the Carolina Panthers will take Young. The former Heisman Trophy winner comes from arguably the best college football program in the nation. He has all the tools necessary to not only be a Day 1 starter for Carolina but become the star the team desperately needs.
With the Houston Texans picking second, a lot of buzz was created around the top NFL rumors pages regarding what they should do with their pick. But, let’s be serious for a second. Houston needs a QB more than anything and not just any QB – Texans need the best talent available to fit into their scheme, and that man is Stroud. Not Levis, as some would have you believe. It’s Stroud. It will always be Stroud.
Next in line, for me, there’s no shadow of a doubt that the QB pecking order goes Richardson, Hooker, and, lastly, Levis. If I were the general manager of a team looking for a ground-shaking prospect for my QB room, Richardson is the way to go. Some teams will be more than happy to bring him in and let him grow into life in the pros because, believe me, if groomed properly, the upside is immense.
For Tennessee’s Hooker, hear me out for a second. Let’s say the Texans don’t take Stroud with the second pick and decide to go defense. They have another pick at 12, and with Stroud and Richardson likely off the board, who will definitely be there for the taking? Hooker.
Lastly, Levis. I’m sorry, but I’m not buying into any sort of hype surrounding the Kentucky passer. He’s the kind of player and person that doesn’t inspire any real excitement. Add to that his problems with turnovers, his missed passes, and all-around shakiness, and he’s showing the initial signs of someone who could end up being a bust.
Besides Bijan Robinson, No Other RB Is First-Round Worthy
Give me the name of another running back worthy of being taken in the first round besides Texas’ Bijan Robinson. It’s OK, I have time. Just remember, the draft is a hop, skip and jump away.
Anyone? Exactly, that’s what I thought.
Robinson is easily the most exciting offensive prospect in the draft after QBs Young, Stroud, and Richardson. The plain thought of the Philadelphia Eagles using their No.10 pick to snag him and pair him in the team’s backfield with Jalen Hurts just screams out as unfair, but also makes plenty of sense.
Philly needs an RB to help Hurts free up his loads, especially in the team’s running game. Unless they manage to trade with Tennessee for Derrick Henry, making it two years in a row where the Eagles shock the NFL world by trading for the best offensive talent the Titans can offer (remember A.J. Brown?), taking Robinson should definitely be the plan to roll with.
Besides Robinson, the only real running back prospect I could see maybe squeezing his way into the first round of the draft is Alabama’s Jahmyr Gibbs. And, honestly, I’m stretching that statement to near invisibility. I’m not shooting on Gibbs’ talents; the man is a stud. And it’s almost a given that any RB coming out of Alabama has some of the highest chances of becoming a star in the pros. If not, just look at the last few backs who entered the league after playing for Nick Saban.
Still, Gibbs is not a first-round player if you ask me.
WR Class Skinny Compared to Previous Drafts
Sorry people, but there is no Justin Jefferson, Ja’Marr Chase, Garret Wilson, or Chris Olave-type receivers entering the 2023 NFL Draft. The talent is there. There’s enough to work with for teams looking to spruce up their receiver corps. But to go from there to thinking that there’s a prospect strong enough to become WR1 right away? That’s a hard no on my part.
A lot of people have continuously hyped up Ohio State’s Jaxon Smith-Njigba as this draft’s top receiver, but is he really worth the pop? I am more of a Zay Flowers fan. The former Boston College star brings a level of electricity to his game that is unmatched by any other prospect.
In addition, USC’s Jordan Addison and TCU’s Quentin Johnson also deserve some love, but if it’s up to me, do not sleep whatsoever on Georgia’s Jonathan Mingo. Mark my words, Mingo could end up becoming THAT guy for whichever team drafts him.