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NFL Draft: Underclassmen Whose Time Arrived Early

Although the NFL Draft is filled with senior prospects hoping to hear their names called on Day 1 and beyond, there’s always a heavy dose of underclassmen as well.

The NFL requires prospects to be three years out of high school to be eligible for the draft. According to the NFL, there are 82 underclassmen who declared for the draft this year, with 69 leaving school early to do so.

NFL Draft: Underclassmen Whose Time Arrived Early
Devon Achane of Texas A&M - Devon Achane of Texas A&M Stacy Revere/Getty Images/AFP

There are a number of underclassmen who are likely to hear their names called in the top 10, with NFL odds predicting quarterbacks Bryce Young, CJ Stroud and defensive end Will Anderson to all get picked early.

However, there are a number of other intriguing underclassmen that NFL predictions believe will be taken outside the top 10 and in later rounds as well. Following are some of those names to keep an eye on over draft weekend.

1. RB Devon Achane, Texas A&M

The running back class may be strong this year and Achane may be of smaller stature, but that doesn’t mean his speed should be ignored. Achane, who was a sprinter on Texas A&M’s track and field team, has solid vision and toughness and averaged seven yards per carry his sophomore season.

2. WR Nathaniel Dell, Houston

Dell is another smaller player for his position group. However, he brought plenty of big-play ability during his time at Houston. Dell’s final year with the Cougars was incredibly productive, as he led the NCAA in both receiving yards and touchdowns, and his athleticism and yards-after-catch ability is not to be ignored. In a weaker wide receiver class, where NFL picks favor less than 4.5 wide receivers going in the first round, Dell could be a late-round steal.

3. CB Emmanuel Forbes, Mississippi State

Forbes is one of the top ballhawks in the draft, finishing his college career with an FBS record six pick-sixes. Forbes’ speed allows him to keep up with most wide receivers while his instincts and hands make him great in coverage. If not for his lack of size, Forbes would be one of the earlier CBs taken in the draft.

4. OT Anton Harrison, Oklahoma

The 2023 NFL Draft doesn’t have as strong of a tackle class this year, which is where Harrison could benefit. Although Harrison could use a little coaching on recovering after he gets beat, he has the power and size that teams like to see in an offensive tackle. He also brings plenty of experience as a two-year starter for Oklahoma.

5. DT Siaki Ika, Baylor

After helping LSU win a national championship in 2019, Ika transferred to Baylor and became the Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year. Ika’s size is imposing, which makes him a great option for taking up space. He didn’t have the best numbers at the Scouting Combine, but his skills come in the form of stopping in the run while occasionally disrupting the pocket as well.

6. WR Parker Washington, Penn State

Another receiver who can profit from a weaker receiver class, Washington put up solid production numbers at Penn State. Though he didn’t get to participate in draft workouts due to an ankle injury cutting his college season short, Washington presents strong hands and balance with the ball.

7. Edge Tuli Tuipulotu, USC

Tuipulotu played three years at USC spending time at various defensive positions on the line. Tuipulotu brings quickness and strength to the position despite his size, and had his most productive season in his final year at USC, totaling 22 tackles for loss and 13.5 sacks last year.

8. CB Clark Phillips III, Utah

Phillips enters the NFL Draft coming off his best season at Utah, finishing with six interceptions and two defensive touchdowns. Though he is a bit undersized at the cornerback position, Phillips’ speed and reactionary ability make up for it, as he was able to keep up with the best receivers while at Utah.

9. C Luke Wypler, Ohio State

Wypler was a bit of a later addition to the NFL Draft, taking his time declaring, however, he remains a strong prospect after spending two years as Ohio State’s starting center. Wypler shows a strong understanding of the game and his balance and strength was key in him only giving up one sack during his time with the Buckeyes.

10. QB Tanner McKee, Stanford

The 2023 Draft Class has a few QB favorites to go in the first round, with NFL expert predictions expecting five to be off the board by the end of the first day. Despite McKee presenting as a late Day 2 or early Day 3 pick, he brings plenty to the table in his arm strength, accuracy and vision he displayed in his college career.

There are many more underclassmen who will wait with bated breath to hear their names called and plenty of NFL betting odds for the 2023 NFL Draft on, so don’t forget to bet online.

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