April 12, 2024

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Dane Brugler’s updated NFL Draft rankings: The top 100 prospects in 2023

Dane Brugler’s updated NFL Draft rankings: The top 100 prospects in 2023

With the Kansas City Chiefs hoisting the Lombardi Trophy, the NFL offseason is officially here.

Up next? The NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, which begins Feb. 28. But before we get there, let’s update the prospect rankings for the 2023 NFL Draft. Based on all-star game performances and updated information from NFL scouts, several players have moved up or tumbled down the board.

1. Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia (6-3, 310)

When attempting to sum up Jalen Carter’s impact, I keep coming back to three words: special block destruction. Not only does Carter have a rare combination of body control, quickness and power, but he is also highly skilled at using all three traits in unison to defeat blocks. While I have similar grades on him and Will Anderson Jr., the value of Carter’s interior disruption is what gives him the edge.

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2. Will Anderson Jr., Edge, Alabama (6-4, 245)

The first player in Alabama history named a unanimous All-American twice, Will Anderson Jr. is an explosive first-step rusher with a bendy, flexible frame that allows him to attack blockers from different angles. As talented as he is as a pass rusher, he is equally skilled and dynamic as a run defender (62 tackles for loss in 41 college games).

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3. Bryce Young, QB, Alabama (5-10, 192)

While his size makes him a complete outlier as an NFL prospect, Bryce Young is an instinctive problem-solver at the quarterback position. Given his slight frame, it is fair to question his long-term durability, but Young processes his surroundings extremely well with the uncanny vision, instincts and accuracy needed to thrive at the next level.

4. Peter Skoronski, OT/G, Northwestern (6-4, 305)

Regardless of the position he plays, Peter Skoronski is a technician and master of the details with impressive footwork, processing and strength. I hope he gets the chance to stay outside at tackle in the NFL, but his ceiling is likely highest at guard.

5. Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon (6-2, 200)

My No. 9 prospect back in August, Christian Gonzalez lived up to those lofty expectations and is one of the best non-quarterbacks in this draft class. He is long and athletic, can run and showed improved ball skills this past season. With his traits, Gonzalez should be an immediate starter as an NFL rookie.

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6. Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas (6-0, 220)

With his unique mix of elusiveness, vision and power, Bijan Robinson makes defenders miss in different ways. Although he won’t be drafted as high as this ranking (or even in the top half of Round 1, most likely), he is the complete package as both a runner and receiver.

7. C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State (6-3, 207)

An outstanding rhythm passer, especially from the pocket, C.J. Stroud is able to layer the football with outstanding touch and control. He played the game of his life against Georgia in the playoffs, showing improved comfort as an improviser. Stroud’s passing skills give him a solid floor as an NFL starter, but his development as a creator is what will ultimately determine his ceiling.

8. Tyree Wilson, Edge, Texas Tech (6-6, 270)

While his game lacks refinement, Tyree Wilson has length, speed and power for days — outstanding foundational traits for a scheme-versatile defensive lineman. With his linear explosion and forceful hands, Wilson can swipe, rip or simply go through blockers as a bull rusher.

9. Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State (6-7, 308)

A fluid big man, Paris Johnson Jr. is quick out of his stance, with the movement skills to mirror pass rushers around the arc or show off his pulling range in the run game. Johnson needs to show better control at the top of the rush, but his issues are fixable and scouts speak highly of his football character.

10. Will Levis, QB, Kentucky (6-4, 230)

Will Levis struggled to live up to expectations as a senior in 2022, but I think there are more reasons than excuses behind his inconsistent play. There is no question that he needs to see things more quickly, but he is physically built for the pro game with impressive tools, intelligence and toughness worth developing.

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11. Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State (6-2, 200)

A long, athletic cover man, Joey Porter Jr. has the fluidity and speed to match up with NFL wide receivers on the outside. His aggressive play style makes him an easy target for flags, but he competes with the physical mindset befitting his namesake (his dad, Joey Porter, played 13 NFL seasons).

12. Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia (6-4, 315)

With his above-average movement skills, Broderick Jones is considered OT1 in this class by several NFL teams. He is agile with his feet and has quick-strike hands that keep his frame square to rushers. Jones comes close to losing his balance more often than you’d like to see, but there is no doubting his natural talent.

13. Myles Murphy, Edge, Clemson (6-5, 273)

With his size and arc speed, Myles Murphy has the floor of an NFL starter. He has the get-off burst to fire upfield and use his length to attack blocks. He currently lacks diversity in his rush moves and counters, which clouds his projected ceiling, but he is naturally gifted with the talent to be a disruptive leverage-power rusher.

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14. Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida (6-4, 232)

A very young and unrefined passer, Anthony Richardson doesn’t have the most impressive resume (zero career games with 250-plus passing yards and a 60 percent or higher completion rate). However, his impressive talent gives him the highest ceiling of any quarterback in this class. A traits-based prospect, Richardson is the most intriguing wild card of the 2023 draft.

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15. Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois (6-0, 183)

With the tenacity of a junkyard dog, Devon Witherspoon has read-and-drive quickness to blow up plays in front of him. He skillfully returns his eyes to the football and shows outstanding competitiveness when the ball is in the air. Despite weighing under 180 pounds during his senior year, Witherspoon plays much bigger than he appears.

16. Brian Branch, S, Alabama (6-0, 193)

With his ability to play any position in the secondary, Brian Branch will be highly coveted by teams looking for defensive back versatility. With his instincts and toughness, Branch projects best as a nickel defender who is sticky in man coverage and reliable in run support. After ranking 26th overall in August and 19th in November, Branch has continued to climb on my board.

17. Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson (6-5, 316)

Bryan Bresee was the best player on Clemson’s defense as a true freshman, but his last two seasons were marred by injuries (ACL, kidney infection) and personal tragedy (the passing of his younger sister, Ella). Bresee plays with the explosive force to be a disruptive player up and down the defensive line, as long as there are no lingering medical concerns.

18. Lukas Van Ness, Edge, Iowa (6-5, 270)

I received plenty of “Who?” responses when Lukas Van Ness cracked the top 25 in my November draft board. And, no, Van Ness wasn’t a starter for the Hawkeyes this past season, but he did play starter-level snaps and led the team in tackles for loss (11). He plays with the explosive power of a grizzly bear.

19. Nolan Smith, Edge, Georgia (6-3, 237)

Much will be made about Nolan Smith’s lack of sack production (12.5 sacks over four years, never more than 3.5 sacks in a season). Smith, however, did a lot of reading in Georgia’s scheme and wasn’t asked to simply pin his ears back. He checks several critical boxes for the position, including explosiveness and flexibility, and his Georgia coaches rave about his energy and football character.

20. Jordan Addison, WR, USC (6-0, 180)

Jordan Addison skillfully marries his play speed, suddenness and focus as a route runner to create spacing and run-after-catch opportunities. He is undersized, and scouts have concerns about his ability to defeat press and win on the outside in the NFL, but Addison is a loose athlete who can work all three levels of the field.

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21. Jahmyr Gibbs, RB, Alabama (5-11, 204)

With his ability to press, sort and burst, Jahmyr Gibbs is an offensive line’s best friend as a runner. He has sudden footwork and an advanced feel for blocking design. Gibbs might not have ideal size or run power, but his pass-catching skills will make him an exciting NFL weapon.

22. Jalin Hyatt, WR, Tennessee (6-0, 188)

For teams looking for a polished route runner who can uncover quickly in the short-to-intermediate part of the field, Jalin Hyatt won’t be valued this high. But for those coveting field-stretching speed, tracking skills and reliable hands, the Tennessee product will have value in the top 25.

23. Drew Sanders, LB, Arkansas (6-5, 232)

A former five-star “Athlete” recruit out of high school, Drew Sanders is a long, lean defender with exceptional range and versatility. There were too many “almost” tackles on his tape, but Sanders posted impressive production for a first-year starter and shows playmaking instincts both as an off-ball player and pass rusher.

24. Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame (6-5, 257)

All four of the tight ends graded as top-32 prospects here will be valued differently, team to team. For an offense searching for a true Y tight end who can play inline as a blocker and win over the middle of the field as a pass catcher, Michael Mayer will be attractive in this range. He is one of the best contested-catch tight ends I have ever evaluated.

25. Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU (6-4, 215)

A freaky athlete for his size, Quentin Johnston has a unique combination of speed, strength and tracking skills. He is raw at the top of routes and drops too many should-be completions, but Johnston can break tackles and offers the most upside of any receiver prospect in this class.

26. Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State (6-1, 193)

Despite missing almost all of the 2022 season due to injury, Jaxon Smith-Njigba still belongs in the first-round discussion. He isn’t a burner, but the Texas native is a route technician with terrific ball skills and a knack for working to open space in coverage. Smith-Njigba can be a high-volume producer out of the slot in the NFL, just like he was at Ohio State.

27. Luke Musgrave, TE, Oregon State (6-6, 255)

An impressive size/speed athlete, Luke Musgrave runs like a gazelle. His lacrosse and skiing backgrounds translate to football, too, with his core strength and hip fluidity as both a pass catcher and blocker. He will be the first Oregon State tight end ever drafted in the top 100 and should be a productive starting combination tight end in the NFL.

28. O’Cyrus Torrence, G, Florida (6-5, 337)

Considered a potential first-round pick last year, O’Cyrus Torrence didn’t necessarily need to transfer to Florida. He wanted to prove himself against SEC competition, though, and that is exactly what he did with an impressive 2022 season. Torrence has the play strength and competitive appetite to be a plug-and-play starting guard.

29. Darnell Washington, TE, Georgia (6-7, 280)

Carrying the leanest 280 pounds you will see on a football field, Darnell Washington is a weapon as a blocker and offers untapped potential as a pass catcher. He is still maturing in several areas, but he gives his quarterback a massive target and will show his value as a run blocker immediately.

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30. Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah (6-4, 241)

In one of the deepest tight end groups in recent years, Dalton Kincaid is the best pure receiver. A long, loose athlete, he quickly enters his routes and is a natural ball winner with his ability to track and isolate the football. His blocking consistency is an issue, but Kincaid can be a weapon out of the slot.

31. Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland (6-0, 207)

A cover-and-clobber corner, Deonte Banks looks like an impact NFL starter when he trusts his technique. He needs to make small tweaks to his game — like balancing his sightline between quarterback and route runners — but he has the athleticism, physicality and ball skills to match up with NFL receivers.

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32. Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia (6-2, 210)

Arguably the freakiest athlete in the entire draft, Kelee Ringo has an elite physical profile with his size, play strength and reactive athleticism to make plays in coverage. While he makes splash plays, Ringo also gives them up because of his struggles to anticipate, which will be a tough skill to improve against NFL-level receivers. His size/speed alone might land him in the first round, but he has work to do once drafted.

33. BJ Ojulari, Edge, LSU (6-3, 245)

Similar to his older brother Azeez (a second-round pick of the Giants in 2021), BJ Ojulari is quick, fast and bendy from anywhere on the field. He won’t be an ideal fit for every scheme because of his lack of size and length, but he has a vast bag of tricks, including a nasty “ghost” move that he can pull off at full speed.

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34. Emmanuel Forbes, CB, Mississippi State (6-0, 174)

With his length, athleticism and ball skills, Forbes always seems to find the ball — he set the SEC and FBS records for career interceptions returned for touchdowns (six). He is rail thin and likes to freelance a tad too often, but the good far outweighs the bad.

35. Calijah Kancey, DT, Pittsburgh (6-0, 275)

As an undersized defensive tackle from Pitt, the Aaron Donald comparisons will be inevitable. While that is unfair to Calijah Kancey, there are some similarities in Kancey’s quickness off the ball and explosive hands to play in gaps. His lack of size will be more pronounced versus NFL blockers, but Kancey has the disruptive qualities that will translate to the pro game.

36. Trenton Simpson, LB, Clemson (6-3, 234)

An impressive size/speed athlete, Trenton Simpson can look like he is moving at a different gear than other pursuit defenders due to his short-area burst and acceleration. That said, he needs to continue developing his play recognition to translate his immense talent into playmaking production.

37. Darnell Wright, OT, Tennessee (6-5, 342)

An undraftable prospect a year ago, Darnell Wright flipped the script as a senior by moving to right tackle and producing impressive tape (including a standout performance against Will Anderson Jr.). He will get himself in trouble when he sacrifices technique for his nasty play style, but he blocks with extraordinary power and torque and stays square in pass protection.

38. Mazi Smith, DT, Michigan (6-3, 335)

The No. 1 player on Bruce Feldman’s Freaks List, Mazi Smith has a rare combination of power and athletic traits. He probably will never be a lineman who fills up the stat sheet, but he is an immovable object in the run game and has the heavy hands and upper-body strength to toss massive guards.

39. Cody Mauch, G/C, North Dakota State (6-5, 305)

A former walk-on tight end, Cody Mauch made a successful transition to offensive tackle, although he projects best as a guard or center at the next level. Similar in ways to Mitch Morse (No. 49 pick, 2021) out of college, Mauch doesn’t have elite length or sand in his lower body, but his movement skills and innate competitiveness will make him an NFL starter early.

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40. Keion White, Edge, Georgia Tech (6-5, 280)

A former tight end at Old Dominion, Keion White is a rangy defender who can spot drop with running backs or collapse blocks off the edge with his physical hands. He will be a top tester at this year’s combine. After switching positions in 2019, though, he is still developing his craft and defensive instincts, which is why he isn’t a slam-dunk first-rounder.

41. Steve Avila, G/C, TCU (6-3, 332)

The unsung hero of a TCU squad that advanced to the national championship, Steve Avila is a wide-bodied blocker and pulls rushers into his tractor beam with his ability to engulf at the point of attack. He needs added consistency to access his explosive power, but he has a strong base and legitimate position flexibility at guard or center.

42. Will McDonald IV, Edge, Iowa State (6-4, 241)

Will McDonald IV has impressive length and quick-twitch movements, but NFL scouts will wish he showed better efficiency as both a pass rusher and run defender — especially for a fifth-year senior. Will he ever become the sum of his freaky parts? Maybe, maybe not. But teams will be lining up for a chance to find out.

43. Joe Tippmann, G/C, Wisconsin (6-6, 315)

For a taller blocker, Joe Tippman moves with the flexibility and quickness to stay low at the snap. He will get in trouble, at times, when he loses his balance and ends up on the ground, but he plays with power and physical hands to anchor in pass pro or create movement as a run blocker.

44. Devon Achane, RB, Texas A&M (5-9, 185)

While his instant speed is a nightmare for defenses, Devon Achane’s junior tape also showed improved vision and tempo to stack cuts with explosive quickness. Although Achane doesn’t have an ideal body type (his weight at the combine will be interesting), I’ll bet on his competitiveness and rare acceleration.

45. Josh Downs, WR, North Carolina (5-10, 175)

A tough guy to cover one-on-one, Josh Downs can work all three levels with his ability to control acceleration and tease defensive backs with agile footwork. The main hang-up on Downs is his undersized frame, but he has a bigger catch radius than his size suggests and consistently pulls in throws.

46. Derick Hall, Edge, Auburn (6-3, 252)

It can be easy to nitpick Derick Hall: He has some body stiffness, his counters are undeveloped and he can be late shedding blocks. But he is an urgent player with outstanding intangibles, linear athleticism and the power in his hands to annoy blockers with a pestering play style.

47. Tyler Scott, WR, Cincinnati (5-11, 185)

It feels like there is a prospect compared to Tyler Lockett every draft cycle, but Tyler Scott has the legitimate upside to be a similar player in the NFL. A high school running back and track stud, Scott has outstanding speed and short-area suddenness to create his own separation. He is one of “my guys” in this year’s draft class.

48. Gervon Dexter Sr., DT, Florida (6-6, 315)

Although his body of work doesn’t warrant a spot in the top 50, Gervon Dexter Sr. is an agile, coordinated athlete, and there is more talent in that body than we have seen up to this point. He is a traits-based projection. With improved discipline, he can be a game-wrecker when he properly uses his long levers.

49. Tucker Kraft, TE, South Dakota State (6-5, 255)

The fifth tight end to make my top 50, Tucker Kraft was wooed by Alabama and several other FBS teams that wanted him to transfer last offseason. But he stayed put and helped the Jackrabbits to the FCS national championship. Kraft is going to make an NFL team very happy on Day 2 of the draft.

50. John Michael Schmitz, C, Minnesota (6-3, 306)

Although his 2022 film was more up and down than you’d like to see, John Michael Schmitz’s highs are impressive and his Senior Bowl performance was a reminder of the type of ass-kicker he can be. There aren’t many starting-caliber centers in this draft class. Schmitz is one of them, so supply and demand could push him up even higher.

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51. Cam Smith, CB, South Carolina (6-0, 181)

52. Dawand Jones, OT, Ohio State (6-8, 375)

53. Keeanu Benton, DT, Wisconsin (6-4, 312)

54. Clark Phillips III, CB, Utah (5-10, 185)

55. Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College (5-9, 182)

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56. Antonio Johnson, S, Texas A&M (6-3, 195)

57. Siaki Ika, DT, Baylor (6-4, 354)

58. Isaiah Foskey, Edge, Notre Dame (6-5, 252)

59. Tuli Tuipulotu, DT, USC (6-4, 290)

60. Kyu Blu Kelly, CB, Stanford (6-0, 193)

61. Sam LaPorta, TE, Iowa (6-4, 250)

62. Tyrique Stevenson, CB, Miami (Fla.) (6-0, 204)

63. Anton Harrison, OT, Oklahoma (6-6, 310)

64. Zach Charbonnet, RB, UCLA (6-1, 224)

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65. Matthew Bergeron, OT/G, Syracuse (6-5, 323)

66. Zach Harrison, Edge, Ohio State (6-6, 266)

67. Felix Anudike-Uzomah, Edge, Kansas State (6-4, 255)

68. Ji’Ayir Brown, S, Penn State (5-11, 210)

69. Wanya Morris, OT, Oklahoma (6-5, 317)

70. Tank Bigsby, RB, Auburn (6-0, 215)

71. Henry To’oTo’o, LB, Alabama (6-1, 230)

72. Jayden Reed, WR, Michigan State (5-11, 191)

73. Jack Campbell, LB, Iowa (6-4, 248)

74. Cedric Tillman, WR, Tennessee (6-3, 214)

75. Nick Herbig, LB, Wisconsin (6-2, 229)

76. DJ Turner, CB, Michigan (6-0, 180)

77. Parker Washington, WR, Penn State (5-10, 210)

78. Roschon Johnson, RB, Texas (6-1, 219)

79. Darius Rush, CB, South Carolina (6-2, 196)

80. Tyjae Spears, RB, Tulane (5-10, 204)

81. McClendon Curtis, OT/G, Chattanooga (6-6, 331)

82. Daiyan Henley, LB, Washington State (6-1, 230)

83. Christopher Smith, S, Georgia (5-10, 188)

84. Jaelyn Duncan, OT, Maryland (6-6, 298)

85. Mike Morris, Edge, Michigan (6-6, 290)

86. Nathaniel Dell, WR, Houston (5-8, 163)

87. Zach Evans, RB, Ole Miss (6-0, 215)

88. Andre Carter II, Edge, Army (6-6, 255)

89. Eric Gray, RB, Oklahoma (5-10, 210)

90. Jammie Robinson, S, Florida State (5-11, 194)

91. A.T. Perry, WR, Wake Forest (6-3, 195)

92. Kendre Miller, RB, TCU (6-0, 220)

93. Colby Wooden, DT, Auburn (6-5, 285)

94. Dylan Horton, Edge, TCU (6-4, 275)

95. Braeden Daniels, OT/G, Utah (6-4, 291)

96. Adetomiwa Adebawore, DT, Northwestern (6-2, 284)

97. Xavier Hutchinson, WR, Iowa State (6-2, 207)

98. DeMarvion Overshown, LB, Texas (6-3, 222)

99. Byron Young, DT, Alabama (6-3, 297)

100. Luke Schoonmaker, TE, Michigan (6-5, 249)

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(Illustration: John Bradford / The Athletic;
Photos: Kevin C. Cox, Dustin Bradford, Tim Warner / Getty Images)