The 2023 NFL draft class is loaded with talent, from three exceptional quarterback prospects to potential generational defensive players to immediate impact game-breakers on offense. As we move through college football’s bowl season and inch closer to the clock starting on Round 1, we asked draft analysts Jordan Reid and Matt Miller to introduce a few of the top prospects every NFL fan needs to know.
We picked 10 players who are ranked high on most boards and are likely to be drafted early in the first round come April. Jordan and Matt dove in on each prospect’s background, standout traits and draft stock. Plus, they took a closer look at what’s next for all 10, from bowl game appearances to pre-draft events. Let’s start with a trio of quarterbacks who have a good chance to be the No. 1 pick.
Young | Stroud | Levis | Anderson
Carter | Robinson | Porter | Johnston
Wilson | Johnson
Year: Junior | Age: 21 | Career starts: 26
Height: 6-foot | Weight: 194 pounds
Reid’s current ranking: No. 3 overall (QB1)
2022 stats: Young has thrown for 3,007 yards and 27 touchdown passes with 5 interceptions, while posting an 83.6 Total QBR. His 7.1% off-target rate is fifth best in the FBS.
Who is Young? He came out of Mater Dei High School in Pasadena, California, as the top-ranked dual-threat passer in the 2020 class. After sitting behind Mac Jones in his freshman year at Alabama, Young took over during the 2021 season — and his sophomore campaign was one of the most prolific in program history. Young went on to set program records in passing yards (4,872) and total touchdowns (47), helping him become only the fourth Alabama winner of the Heisman Trophy.
Young didn’t have the same caliber supporting cast in 2022, but he still once again eclipsed 3,000 passing yards to become the first Crimson Tide signal-caller to hit that mark in back-to-back seasons. His running ability stood out this season, too, as he gained 195 yards and scored four times on the ground.
Standout trait: Young’s overall poise really stands out. No matter the moment of the game, he plays with the same heartbeat.
What’s next? Young already officially graduated but will play in the Allstate Sugar Bowl against Kansas State on Saturday. Then pro day and combine workouts await. — Reid
Year: Junior | Age: 21 | Career starts: 24
Height: 6-foot-3 | Weight: 215 pounds
Miller’s current ranking: No. 6 overall (QB2)
2022 stats: Stroud has thrown for 3,340 yards and 37 touchdowns with 6 interceptions, while posting an 87.7 Total QBR. His 9.4 yards per attempt ranks third in the country.
Who is Stroud? A five-star prospect coming out of Rancho Cucamonga (California), Stroud went on to be a two-year starter and two-time Heisman finalist at Ohio State. After sitting behind Justin Fields for a year, he beat out one of the highest-graded quarterbacks in recruiting history (Quinn Ewers) for the 2021 starting job as a sophomore and emerged as one of the nation’s most efficient passers (4,435 yards, 44 TD throws). He won the Big Ten’s Graham-George Offensive Player of the Year Award, the Thompson-Randle El Freshman of the Year Award and the Griese-Brees Quarterback of the Year Award. He also set a Rose Bowl record following the 2021 season, throwing for 573 yards and six touchdowns.
A team captain in 2022, Stroud was once again a Heisman finalist and led the NCAA with 37 passing touchdowns. In two seasons of starts, he has eclipsed the six-touchdown mark three times and has six games of five touchdowns thrown.
Standout trait: Accuracy to all levels of the field is Stroud’s signature trait. His ability to drop the ball into space and give receivers room to operate is the best in the draft class.
What’s next? As a junior non-graduate, Stroud will not be eligible for the Shrine Bowl or Senior Bowl, instead preparing for the scouting combine following Ohio State’s run in the College Football Playoff. First up in the CFP is Georgia in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. The combine and his pro day workout will be Stroud’s tentpole events in the pre-draft process. — Miller
Ohio State QB C.J. Stroud discusses the team’s expectations ahead of their matchup against Georgia in the College Football Playoff.
Year: Redshirt senior | Age: 23 | Career starts: 26
Height: 6-foot-3 | Weight: 232 pounds
Reid’s current ranking: No. 21 overall (QB4)
2022 stats: Levis threw for 2,406 yards and 19 touchdowns with 10 interceptions, while posting a 60.2 Total QBR. His 10.6 yards per attempt off play-action ranks 12th in the FBS.
Who is Levis? Levis was ranked as the second-best recruit overall in Connecticut in 2018 (three-star player). He played in 15 games for Penn State, but with only two starts for the Nittany Lions and already with his degree in hand, Levis sought a larger role. He moved on to Kentucky as a graduate transfer prior to the 2021 season and made an instant impact. Starting all 13 games, he led the Wildcats to a 10-win season and became only the seventh player in program history to surpass 3,000 yards of total offense.
After displaying great dual-threat ability under then-offensive coordinator Liam Coen (nine TD runs in 2021), Levis immediately became one of the top signal-callers to watch heading into the 2022 season. But the Wildcats lost Coen to the Los Angeles Rams, and Levis battled lingering turf toe and shoulder ailments in 2022. Kentucky went 7-4, and while Levis’ yards per attempt improved a bit (8.5, up from 8.0), he didn’t really cut down on the interceptions that plagued his game the year before (10 picks after throwing 13 in 2021).
Standout trait: Levis has an easy throwing motion that enables him to get plenty of velocity behind his throws. His arm strength stands out right away on tape, and scouts love the physical traits in his game.
What’s next? Levis is eligible for postseason all-star contests and has already received an invitation to the Senior Bowl — but he hadn’t made an official decision about participating. He opted out of Kentucky’s TransPerfect Music City Bowl against Iowa, though, which means he will turn his attention immediately toward the draft. — Reid
Year: Junior | Age: 21 | Career starts: 40
Height: 6-foot-4 | Weight: 243 pounds
Miller’s current ranking: No. 1 overall (OLB1)
2022 stats: Anderson has 10 sacks, 21.5 tackles for loss and 53 pressures, and he returned an interception for a TD. His 21 run stops are tied for ninth in the FBS.
Who is Anderson? A consensus four-star recruit from Hampton, Georgia, Anderson signed with Alabama over in-state favorites and immediately hit the field as a key starter in his true freshman season. Over the past three seasons, he has taken over the SEC record book and compiled numerous awards, earning SEC Defensive Player of the Year honors (twice), the Bronko Nagurski Trophy (twice), the Chuck Bednarik Award, the Lott Trophy and unanimous All-American honors (twice).
Anderson amassed 10 starts at Alabama with double-digit sacks, including a four-sack performance against Mississippi State in 2021. He has 68 tackles for loss and 34.5 sacks over three seasons, and his best campaign came in 2021 when he registered 34.5 tackles for loss, 17.5 sacks and 79 pressures.
Standout trait: Anderson’s first-step quickness is a sight to see. It allows him to beat offensive tackles off their spot and hurry the quarterback through their reads before hitting their drop.
What’s next? As a true junior, Anderson is not eligible for all-star games and will begin his draft process by preparing for the scouting combine. But first, Anderson will join Young at the Allstate Sugar Bowl against Kansas State on Dec. 31. — Miller
Year: Junior | Age: 21 | Career starts: 11
Height: 6-foot-3 | Weight: 300 pounds
Reid’s current ranking: No. 2 overall (DT1)
2022 stats: Carter has 3 sacks, 6 tackles for loss and a forced fumble. He has also added 20 pressures.
Who is Carter? He hails from Apopka, Florida — the same hometown as former NFL defensive tackle Warren Sapp — and was a consensus four-star prospect (the No. 3-ranked defensive tackle in the country). Carter started his Georgia career as a rotational player in his true freshman year and then recorded two starts in 2021 for what’s considered to be one of the best college defenses ever. Despite there being three first-round picks along that national champion defensive line, some still considered Carter to be the unit’s best player.
This season, Carter battled through a knee injury suffered during the team’s fifth game, causing him to miss two contests. But he still played in 11 games (seven starts), and it was obvious that the Bulldogs’ defense is on another level when he is up the middle.
Standout trait: He has a natural ability to penetrate the first level and cause instant disruption. Carter has an explosive first step and complements it with strong hands at the point of attack to puncture and finish plays behind the line of scrimmage.
What’s next? Carter is not eligible for any postseason all-star contests, but Georgia is the No. 1 seed in the College Football Playoff, and many eyes will be on him against Ohio State in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. — Reid
Year: Junior | Age: 20 | Career starts: 28
Height: 6-foot | Weight: 222 pounds
Miller’s current ranking: No. 4 overall (RB1)
2022 stats: Robinson rushed for a career-best 1,580 yards (6.1 per carry) and 18 touchdowns, and he added two receiving TDs on 19 catches. Robinson created 90 missed tackles this season, tops in the country.
Who is Robinson? A five-star recruit and Arizona Gatorade Player of the Year in 2020, Robinson hit the field immediately at Texas and produced as expected. He was the 2022 Doak Walker Award winner, a unanimous All-American and a two-time first-team All-Big 12 performer (2021, 2022). Robinson leaves Texas ranked No. 4 all time in rushing yards and total touchdowns (41) while also being named to the Academic All-Big 12 first team in 2021.
Texas scores first as Bijan Robinson rushes in from 36 yards out.
Robinson topped the 100-yard mark 18 times in his college career, including in nine of his final 10 collegiate games.
Standout trait: Robinson’s contact balance is a rare trait, allowing him to bounce off tacklers and evade would-be tacklers in space with awesome balance, body control and power.
What’s next? He has declared for the draft and will bypass the Longhorns’ Valero Alamo Bowl against Washington. He is not all-star-eligible and will prepare for the scouting combine, up first in his pre-draft schedule. — Miller
Year: Redshirt junior | Age: 22 | Career starts: 31
Height: 6-foot-2 | Weight: 200 pounds
Reid’s current ranking: No. 11 overall (CB1)
2022 stats: Porter had 25 tackles and 11 pass breakups this season. He allowed only 3.7 yards per passing attempt as the primary defender, the fifth-best mark in the country.
Who is Porter? The son of 13-year NFL veteran linebacker Joey Porter, he was a multisport athlete in Pennsylvania. The younger Porter was a three-star recruit after spending time at both wide receiver and defensive back in high school, and he stayed in state to suit up for the Nittany Lions. After redshirting during his first season on campus (2019), he became a key starter the following year.
But his true breakout year came in 2022, when he started at outside corner in 10 games. Despite not hauling in an interception, he contested 75.9% of the passes thrown in his direction — the fourth-best mark in the country. A first-team All-Big Ten selection this season, Porter is likely to be the first Penn State defensive back to ever be chosen in the first round of the NFL draft. He finished his college career with 17 pass breakups and an interception.
Standout trait: His suffocating length allows him to attack wideouts at the line of scrimmage, but Porter also does a good job using it to squeeze and close throwing windows.
What’s next? Porter has already announced that he will skip the Nittany Lions’ matchup against Utah in the Rose Bowl and begin his preparations for the combine. — Reid
Year: Junior | Age: 21 | Career starts: 28
Height: 6-foot-3 | Weight: 215 pounds
Miller’s current ranking: No. 15 overall (WR3)
2022 stats: Johnston has caught 53 passes for 903 yards and five touchdowns, while averaging 17 yards per catch. He has forced 23 missed tackles on receptions, fourth best in the FBS.
Who is Johnston? A four-star recruit from Temple, Texas, Johnston was the second-highest-rated recruit to sign at TCU during Gary Patterson’s 20-year tenure. Johnston made an impact early on, averaging 22.1 yards per catch as a freshman. The wideout caught 13 touchdowns and had over 2,000 yards receiving on 108 receptions during his three years, and he was a first-team All-Big 12 player in 2021. He went for 185 yards and three touchdowns against Oklahoma that year.
Quentin Johnston goes airborne for the big catch at the 1-yard line. Max Duggan would run in the short touchdown a couple of plays later.
This season, Johnston has three games with more than 130 receiving yards and scored in five of his final eight contests, despite dealing with an ankle injury.
Standout trait: Johnston plays like a power forward when attacking the ball down the field, displaying excellent body control to out-position smaller defensive backs for jump balls and on vertical routes.
What’s next? Johnston will suit up for the College Football Playoff semifinal against Michigan (Vrbo Fiesta Bowl), but he is not eligible for any all-star games as a junior non-graduate. He’ll prepare for the scouting combine and pro day workouts following the playoffs. — Miller
Year: Redshirt senior | Age: 22 | Career starts: 28
Height: 6-foot-6 | Weight: 275 pounds
Reid’s current ranking: No. 6 overall (DE1)
2022 stats: Wilson finished his year with 72 tackles, 15 tackles for loss and 7 sacks. His 16.0% pressure percentage is the fourth-best rate among all defenders in the country.
Who is Wilson? Born in Henderson, Texas, he was a three-star recruit and the No. 16 defensive end in the state coming out of high school, and his college career began at Texas A&M. After two years and 12 games there, Wilson opted to transfer. He served primarily as a rotational defensive tackle in Year 1 in Lubbock before switching back to defensive end during the backstretch of the 2020 season.
Wilson broke out in 2021 with seven sacks and was an All-Big 12 honorable mention and the AutoZone Liberty Bowl’s defensive MVP. He came into 2022 with a lot of hype and lived up to it as a first-team all-conference selection. He finished the year with 37 pressures (tied for 13th) and was a big riser on a lot of draft boards. The Red Raiders haven’t had a first-round selection along the defensive line since 1983 (Gabriel Rivera, Pittsburgh Steelers).
Standout trait: Wilson has a unique frame with a good blend of power and buildup speed — and he plays with a powerful base.
What’s next? Wilson declared for the draft and will not play in Texas Tech’s TaxAct Texas Bowl game against Ole Miss. He accepted an invitation to the Senior Bowl, but after suffering a season-ending foot injury against Kansas, he opted to have surgery. That means his status for participating in the contest is uncertain. — Reid
Year: Junior | Age: 21 | Career starts: 25
Height: 6-foot-6 | Weight: 310 pounds
Miller’s current ranking: No. 7 overall (OT1)
2022 stats: Johnson started all 12 games at left tackle, allowing one sack and seven pressures over the course of the season.
Who is Johnson? A consensus five-star recruit out of Cincinnati, Johnson was the No. 1-rated tackle in the 2020 class after receiving the Anthony Munoz Lineman of the Year Award. He worked his way into the Ohio State lineup as a sophomore, starting at right guard, where he was a second-team All-Big Ten performer and Academic All-Big Ten. Johnson moved to left tackle in 2022 and excelled, earning consensus first-team All-American honors while being named a Lombardi Award semifinalist.
Standout trait: Johnson’s recovery agility is special, allowing him to easily redirect and reposition once he’s settled into his pass set.
What’s next? He will anchor Ohio State’s offensive line against Georgia in the College Football Playoff, starting with a Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl matchup with Georgia. Once the playoffs are over, Johnson will begin preparation for the scouting combine. — Miller
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