Meet the 2023 NFL Draft Class: Predictions for No. 1 pick, best QBs and radar prospects

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We are heading for 2023.

It’s time to start closing the books on the 2022 NFL draft and start looking forward to next year’s group. And oh boy, it’s a good one. We have advanced defensive stars, including an eye-catching edge rusher from Alabama. We have elite playmakers on the offensive. And if the lack of good 2022 quarterback prospects got you down, the 2023 team looks great, starting with two potential QB1s right at the top.

Of course, the 2023 draft is still 12 months away and there is a lot to learn about the class. And over the next few months, you will learn more and more about the available top names and their strengths. But for now, let’s take a quick initial look at what could be an excellent group of leads.

NFL draft analysts Matt Miller and Jordan Reid are here to answer 11 big questions about the top players who could become No. 1 overall and who flies under the radar in the beginning. Get your notebooks ready – it’s time to start evaluating the 2023 class. And for more on what to expect from the 2023 class, check out Todd McShay’s all-too-early mock draft of Round 1 on Thursday.

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Make your choice right now: Who will be No. 1 in the NFL Draft in 2023?

Rush: Quarterbacks will be the popular choice, but I’m going another way: Alabama edge rusher Will Anderson Jr. He’s the most productive edge rusher Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban has ever had, as indicated by his nationwide 34.5 tackles for losses and 17.5 sacks, and I expect him to have an equally good season in 2022. With his 6-foot-4 and 243 pounds, Anderson is a versatile player who is firm against running and an aggressive and cunning destructive ball of aggression like a pass-rusher.

Miller: It’s very difficult to pick against Anderson and he would also be my early call here. But here’s another name to keep an eye on: Ohio State quarterback CJ Stroud. The second-year starter had a hard time early in the 2021 season, but managed to throw 44 touchdown passes to just six interceptions. He is a strong armed quarterback who can play from his pocket. There is still a lot to learn about Stroud as he has only started 12 games, but right now he is the quarterback I like best in 2023.

What are the biggest strengths of quarterbacks Bryce Young (Alabama) and Stroud?

Miller: Young (6 feet, 194 pounds) is a pacemaker who is incredibly accurate at all levels of the field. He is dynamic enough with his legs to create passing windows and can collect yards like a scrambler. He is the point guard at the quarterback position. And Stroud (6-3, 215) has a stronger arm and is able to repel potential attackers. Stroud’s field vision, arm strength and second-try playmaking ability are his greatest strengths.

Who are the other quarterbacks we should know in the 2023 class?

Rush: Boston College Phil Jurkovec had plenty of buzz last preseason, but surgery for a broken right wrist forced him to miss eight games and he returned to his senior season. Two others to keep an eye on who have been repeatedly brought up when discussing next year’s best QBs: Kentucky’s Will Levis and Miami’s Tyler Van Dyke.

Would Anderson have been number 1 if he had qualified for the 2022 draft?

Miller: Absolutely! Anderson is so talented, and as we saw, NFL teams appreciated pass-rushers this year over offensive tackles and quarterbacks. Anderson has the production that Travon Walker did not have (17.5 sacks in 2021). He is much like Kayvon Thibodeaux in terms of his speed in the first step, but he plays with much more power despite being listed 10 pounds lighter (245). Anderson is a balanced, polished pass-rusher with really special burst, power and pass-rush movements.

Outside of Anderson, who are the best defenders to know?

Rush: The early prospects for the 2023 line of defense look promising. Georgia’s defensive tackle Jalen Carter already has many fans in the league. An area scout told me, “[Carter] was the best player on [Georgia] defense last year and it was not close. “After an excellent second season, there will be much more attention on Carter now that he’s qualified to be draft and one of the few stars to return to it Bulldogs defense.

Another player I think could quickly cement himself in the discussion at the top of the positional rankings with a strong season is Alabama cornerback Eli Ricks. He played at LSU in his first two seasons, but made the transition to Crimson Tide at the conference. With 6-2, 190, Ricks is a long press corner showing plenty of hip fluency, technique and confidence.

Is there a clear top wide receiver in next year’s draft?

Miller: Ohio State’s Jaxon Smith-Njigba will carry the WRU torch for the Buckeyes next year, and he may actually be a better prospect than Garrett Wilson or Chris Olave. JSN came away last year with 95 catches, more than 1,600 yards and nine goals. And he did so while sharing goals with two 2022 leaders at the position.

His chemistry with Stroud late in the season was electric as the two connected 60 times in 958 yards and six touchdowns in the last five games. Smith-Njigba ended his 2021 season with a record performance in the Rose Bowl against Utah, where he went after 15 catches and 347 yards. He was to continue in 2022 right where he left off.

No running backs went in the first round this year. Could we see one on day 1 of 2023?

Rush: Based on the early prospects, running back is one of the strongest units overall next year. The “Never Go Back in the First Round” philosophy will be put to the test next year. Bijan Robinson (Texas) is already seen as one of the best prospects in the position after rushing for 1,127 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2021. Two others to keep an eye on are Alabama’s Jahmyr Gibbs and Ole Miss’ Zach Evans.

What is the strength of the 2023 class?

Rush: The quarterback, running back, wide receiver and defensive line groups all look promising, and it looks like the offensive class will be much stronger than the 2022 crop, but much may change in a few months. It certainly looks like we’re heading for another strong WR class. Smith-Njigba is likely to become WR1, but Kayshon Boutte (LSU) and Jordan Addison (Pittsburgh, currently on the transfer portal) can make it an interesting race at the top.

Miller: To me, the quarterback group is strong but unknown, while the defensive line class is definitely stacked. Anderson is the best prospect for many good reasons, but he is joined by potential first-rounders like Carter and Nolan Smith at Georgia, Bryan Bresee and Myles Murphy at Clemson and BJ Ojulari at LSU. Although there is great potential at quarterback, there are many already proven playmakers on the defensive line.

Who is another likely first-rounder we should know?

Rush: Northwestern offensive tackle Peter Skoronski is a name to be known. He took on Rashawn Slater (a first-rounder in 2021) without any kind of drop-off last season. At 6-4, 294, he will have to keep adding weight, but he has clean tape in the delivery defense and shows lots of attitude like a running block. With a repeat performance from last season, it would not be surprising to see Skoronski end up in the top-15.

Miller: Alabama wide receiver Jermaine Burton is potentially Tide’s next big receiver. A transfer from Georgia, Burton caught 26 passes for five touchdowns last year in an offensive built entirely around the running game. Now in Alabama, Burton has the potential to become Young’s choice.

Are there any potential top picks from group of 5 schools?

Rush: Army defensive end Andre Carter II is constantly jumping off the bandwagon. At 6-7, 250, he played primarily as a stand-up defensive last season, and he plays with an engine that doesn’t turn off. Carter had 15.5 sacks in 2021, and he has a chance to become the highest-drafted player from a service academy since Mike Wahle (1998, supplementary draft).

Miller: Fresno State quarterback Jake Haener is one to watch. He’s a little undersized (6-1, 195), but lit up Mountain West last year with 33 touchdowns to just eight interceptions and over 4,000 yards. He is not an elite running threat, but his accuracy and field vision are impressive.

Who is an under-radar prospect that everyone should know?

Rush: There always seems to be a QB in the draft that is making great strides in their development to raise their stock significantly. Keep an eye out for Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker to become that guy in 2023. After switching from Virginia Tech, Hooker had a great year in coach Josh Heupel’s explosive offense, where he had career-high in passing yards (2,945), TD passes (31) and finishing . percent (68.2%). At 6-4, 218, he is comfortable in and out of pocket and can hit passes to all three levels of the field.

Miller: Quarterbacks will once again dominate the conversation in the 2023 class, and I have to mention Kentucky’s Levis here. He is a 6-3, 232-pound junior who has the arm and physical qualities to get NFL scouts excited. He has to cut back on his turnovers (13 wiretaps last year), but as he gains experience, that is very possible. Levis is not the red-hot name that Young or Stroud is right now, but he is a potential talent in the first round.

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