Below is my first attempt at a first-round big board for this year’s class. This does not necessarily reflect where players will be chosen but instead reflects my current impressions of each player’s overall value. This board is subject to change in the months leading up to the draft as I continue to learn about the prospects in this year’s class and track their performance in remaining bowl games, the pre-draft process and so on.
Check out all of our 2023 NFL Draft Scouting Reports & Prospect Profiles
1. Will Anderson Jr. (EDGE – ALA)
One of the most disruptive edge prospects you’ll find, having drawn comparisons to the likes of Von Miller. Slightly undersized for a pro edge defender but makes a strong impact on the game in run defense.
A highly advanced quarterback from a mental standpoint. He may not have quite as elite a set of tools as his predecessor Justin Fields, but he processes the game better and plays with strong anticipation and awareness.
As complete a running back prospect as there’s been in recent years, Bijan Robinson has nearly everything teams look for in a feature back, with size, vision, patience, footwork and receiving skills.
Many have Jalen Carter ahead of Bryan Bresee, but the latter’s explosiveness, power and schematic versatility should make him one of the league’s most difficult interior linemen to defend against.
Perhaps the current favorite to go No. 1 on draft day, offering rare playmaking skills and accuracy that could very well make him a high-end starter in the modern game.
One of the freakiest edge defenders in a draft loaded with talent at the position. The relative completeness of Myles Murphy’s game as both a run defender and pass-rusher really stands out on tape.
Perhaps more disruptive than Bresee, his aggressiveness and intensity would fit perfectly at three-technique in a defensive scheme built around creating chaos in opposing backfields.
8. Jared Verse (EDGE – FSU)
A slightly undersized defensive end with incredible functional strength for a player with his physical profile, combining it with a wide repertoire of rush moves and a nonstop motor.
Has been starting for the Gamecocks for the past two years, showing an incredible amount of physicality and impressive twitch/ball skills to lock down opponents in press-man coverage.
10. Paris Johnson Jr. (OT – OSU)
Has started at both guard and tackle for the Buckeyes, with an impressive combination of short-area/lateral quickness, footwork, toughness and grip strength which should let him start immediately.
11. Broderick Jones (OT – UGA)
An intelligent tackle prospect with excellent athleticism and positioning, he has a little bit less starting experience than some of the other tackles in the class, but his superior tools are clearly visible on-tape.
A five-star recruit with rare size, length and explosiveness, he shows the ability to handle different types of receivers in man coverage with a more polished game than is typical for a redshirt sophomore.
13. Tyree Wilson (Edge – TTU)
Has been a force off the edge for the past two seasons, moving around the team’s defense and showing rare power and explosiveness to hold the point in the run game or to generate pressure as a rusher.
14. Tuli Tuipulotu (DT, USC)
Bursting onto the scene this past year with highly impressive athleticism, active hands and the first-step quickness to knife into the backfield and generate disruption as a five-technique end.
Hoping to follow in the footsteps of former teammate Rashawn Slater, Peter Skoronski’s pre-draft measurements could affect his stock, but he’s been a rock-solid left tackle since 2020 and is one of the safest prospects in the draft.
16. Christian Gonzalez (CB – ORE)
A big, three-year starter who’s done a little bit of everything, showing impressive technique, awareness, and diagnostic skills, which should allow him to step into a starting lineup sooner rather than later.
A potentially divisive prospect in that he has all the talent in the world, but there are still some questions about his accuracy, decision-making and why he wasn’t able to dominate SEC competition.
Offers an exciting combination of vision, burst and footwork, which have drawn many well-justified comparisons to Alvin Kamara; he may be part of a running-back duo but has game-breaking traits.
19. Trenton Simpson (LB – CLEM)
A thoroughly modern linebacker with excellent flexibility, fluidity, range and closing burst to fly around the field and make plays in space - traits that are in high demand around the league.
A 6’3″ defensive back who has done a little bit of everything, primarily playing in the slot in college but also working in the box and as a traditional high safety, showing polished instincts.
The brother of 2021 second-rounder Azeez Ojulari, he’s an explosive, active and disciplined player with a well-diversified rush approach who converts speed to power better than his size would suggest.
22. Jaxon Smith-Njigba (WR – OSU)
Didn’t play much this past season while dealing with a hamstring injury, but looked highly impressive in the slot in 2021, showing an advanced understanding of how to release, run routes and find space vs. zone.
A very agile, flexible receiver with a thin frame, he has been a high-volume target for the Trojans, showing inside/outside versatility and looking comfortable running various different types of routes.
25. Quentin Johnston (WR, TCU)
The rare big receiver who’s dangerous after the catch, Quentin Johnston spins, jukes and barrels his way through defensive backs, turning shorter throws into big gains and threatening over the top.
Another safe bet for a team seeking immediate contributions, Michael Mayer is a strong, thickly-built tight end who shows impressive physicality as a blocker and is a detail-oriented receiver who’s aggressive at the catch point.
26. Brian Branch (S – ALA)
May not have the elite physical traits of some of the other defensive backs in this year’s class, but has very few weaknesses, playing with polished technique and diagnosing well in Nick Saban’s “Star” role.
A somewhat undersized edge defender with an incredible motor and impressive tenacity, he can slip punches as an edge rusher and closes fast when he’s in position to finish snaps with a sack or tackle for loss.
28. O’Cyrus Torrence (OG – FLA)
Spent the first three seasons of his career at Louisiana-Lafayette but made a seamless transition to the SEC, complementing his outstanding size with impressive intelligence and consistency.
Powerfully built with impressive contact balance, functional strength and leg drive, he may not be quite as freaky as some of the other edge rushers in the class, but he resembles the likes of Brandon Graham and LaMarr Woodley.
One of the youngest tackle prospects in the class, he already has a pro-style build, showing impressive discipline, awareness and functional strength to hold the point of attack in the run game.
A dancing-bear type who will be one of the league’s biggest offensive tackles but who shows impressive footwork and short-area quickness for a player of his size, he dominated at right tackle for the Buckeyes.
This may seem high based on Stanford’s lack of success the past two seasons, but is an intriguing pure pocket passer who combines size, sound decision-making, anticipation, arm talent and touch.
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