Editor's note: This mock draft was published prior to the March 1 news that Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter was the subject of arrest warrants for reckless driving and racing in Athens, Georgia, stemming from an ongoing investigation into a fatal Jan. 15 car crash. Carter was subsequently booked and released from jail.
With college all-star games and further tape study in the books, NFL Network draft guru and former NFL scout Daniel Jeremiah updates his ranking of the top 50 draft-eligible prospects heading into the on-field events and workouts at the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine (March 2-5 on NFL Network, NFL+). The 2023 NFL Draft will be held April 27-29 in Kansas City, Missouri.
Carter is a highly disruptive player with the versatility to line up at any position along the defensive front. Against the pass, he has an explosive first step and understands how to work through the edges of blockers. He jars opponents with his initial strike before clearing his hips and closing in on the quarterback. He has the change-of-direction ability of a player 40-to-50 pounds lighter. He can use pure power to run through single blocks and possesses the quickness to split double teams. Against the run, he is firm and strong at the point of attack and has the range to make plays on the perimeter. The only negative is that he ends up on the ground a little too much. Overall, Carter is a real difference maker and must be accounted for on every snap.
Anderson is a long, athletic edge rusher with excellent power and production. Against the pass, he is at his best when he's wide on the edge and has a runway. He can win with his suddenness/speed or transfer that speed into power and run through offensive tackles. He also has a good feel for an up-and-under move when the OT oversets to the outside. He does need to work on escaping when he doesn't win early in the down, as he gets stuck at times. Against the run, he uses his length to stack blocks and make his way to the ball. He has the speed to chase and make plays from the back side. Overall, Anderson isn't a super loose/bendy edge rusher, but his combination of speed, power and instincts should translate into double-digit sacks at the next level.
Young was an ultra-productive passer for Alabama. The 2021 Heisman Trophy winner has quick feet in his setup and effectively marries his eyes and feet. He remains on balance and delivers the ball accurately to all three levels. He is quick to work through progressions and throws with excellent anticipation. When he has room to step up in the pocket, he can forcefully drive the ball. When his foot space is limited, though, his ball lacks life at times. He can avoid free rushers and extend plays, always keeping his eyes up to capitalize down the field with his arm. He will take the free yards with his legs when necessary, but he's never in run-first mode. His lack of height isn't a major issue, but his narrow frame raises concerns about his durability at the next level. If Young can maintain his health, he should quickly emerge as a quality starting quarterback in the NFL.
Robinson is a three-down back with excellent size, vision and burst. On inside runs, he is aggressive to press the hole before lowering his pads and exploding through contact. He has the lateral quickness to make defenders miss in tight quarters. On outside runs, he has the speed to capture the corner and is very loose and elusive out in space. In the passing game, he is a fluid route runner out of the backfield, boasting excellent hands. He can contort and adjust to poorly thrown balls. He does need to improve his recognition and technique in pass pro, though; he is late to step up and his anchor gets challenged too often. Overall, Robinson has all of the tools to quickly emerge as a top-tier RB in the NFL.
Witherspoon is a lean, rangy cornerback with outstanding quickness, instincts and ball skills. He is at his best in off coverage, where he is quick to read and drive on the ball. He is a very twitchy athlete and has the utmost trust in his eyes. He is extremely fluid to open up and mirror down the field, possessing enough speed to carry vertical routes. He plays with an attitude and plenty of energy. He is aggressive as a tackler (see: his huge hit vs. Indiana), but will have some fly-by misses. Overall, with his build and ball skills, Witherspoon reminds me of Samari Rolle. I see similar success in his future.
Wilson is a tall, long edge rusher with excellent explosiveness. Against the pass, he's quick off the ball and uses his length to get into the chest of opposing tackles. He can generate power or use a swooping arm-over to get to the quarterback. If blockers shoot their hands too early, he is very aware and swipes them away to free himself. Once he clears the blocker, he closes in a hurry. Against the run, he can extend his arms and set a firm edge. There are a few occasions where he plays too high and gets washed down the line by angle blocks. His effort is excellent. Overall, Wilson is still improving, but he has all of the tools to develop into a Pro Bowl edge rusher.
Skoronski is a steady, reliable tackle prospect. He has the desired height and bulk for the position, but lacks ideal length. In the passing game, he is quick out of his stance and has the ability to kick out and cover up speed rushers on the edge. He plays with knee bend and balance to redirect and stay square versus counter moves. He gives ground initially against power rushers before resettling and anchoring down. In the run game, he plays with leverage and uses a strong inside arm to uproot and displace defenders. He is quick to the second level to wall off linebackers. His overall awareness is excellent. Skoronski isn't on the same level as his former teammate, Rashawn Slater, but he'll be very consistent and stable as a starting OT.
Stroud is a pure, natural thrower with outstanding production. He has the desired size, arm strength and decision making for the position. He isn't a dynamic athlete in his setup, but he always throws off a firm/strong platform. He has a smooth delivery and throws a beautiful, tight ball. He can layer the ball over linebackers and under safeties. He puts a nice loft on deep balls, making life easy on his pass catchers. His biggest issues arise when he has to move/reset and deliver the ball, as this causes his accuracy to suffer. (The impressive College Football Playoff performance against Georgia is the notable exception in this department.) He is a build-up-speed runner when lanes open up for him to take off. Overall, Stroud is definitely more of a shooter than a scorer. He will have success, provided the pieces are in place in front of him and on the perimeter.
Levis is an inconsistent player on tape, but he possesses ideal size, arm strength and athleticism. He is a power thrower, capable of fitting the ball into tight windows at the second and third levels. However, he needs to get more consistent underneath. He has bad misses, especially when throwing to the left. He tends to close off his front side, which severely impacts his ball placement. I admire his toughness to stand firm in the pocket, but his lack of awareness leads to him taking some monster hits, spawning ball-security issues. He moved around much better in 2021, showing quickness and power as a runner. This past fall, due to his own injuries and a lesser supporting cast, he wasn't as effective. Overall, Levis is gifted, but has some bad habits he needs to clean up in order to be a reliable NFL starter.
Kincaid is a highly productive tight end with exceptional quickness, route polish and run-after-catch ability. At Utah, he typically lined up flexed in the slot. He is explosive in his release and is a smooth/fluid route runner. He gets up on the toes of defenders before snapping off his route and creating separation. He attacks the ball with his hands and can hold on after taking hard contact. After the catch, he has the burst, wiggle and strength to break tackles. In the run game, he is more of a shield-off blocker than a physical people-mover. Overall, Kincaid is a more explosive version of Zach Ertz coming out of college.
Addison has average height and a narrow frame for the position. He lines up outside and in the slot. He is a very smooth, polished route runner, routinely changing tempo and efficiently getting in/out of the break point. He has excellent play speed and can find another gear when the ball is in the air. He has natural hands and doesn't need to gather himself before catching the ball on crossers. He can high point the ball when working back to the QB, but has to get stronger on 50/50 balls. After the catch, he has excellent burst and wiggle. Overall, Addison should become a high-volume pass catcher very early in his pro career.
Porter Jr. has elite size, length and speed for the position. He is at his best in press coverage, where he can use his rare arm length to re-route wideouts. He is fluid when he opens up, but it's more build-up speed than urgent/sudden quickness. In off coverage, he trusts his eyes and closes the distance with his long stride. He has a great feel for working around pass catchers to poke the ball away. He didn't record any interceptions this past fall, but according to PFF, he only gave up one play of 15-plus yards. He is a reliable wrap/drag tackler in space. He doesn't play with the same ferocity as his famous father, but he's plenty tough enough for the position he plays. Overall, Porter should be a Day 1 starter capable of matching up with the bigger wideouts around the league.
Gonzalez is a tall and fluid cornerback with excellent ball skills. He is physical in press coverage, but can easily flip his hips and stay in position down the field. He does a nice job finding and playing the ball when his back is to the quarterback. He has excellent hands to attack and take the ball away. In off coverage, he isn't super twitchy on his plant-and-drive; he's more of a smooth mover than a dynamic/explosive closer. He is a very willing and physical tackler against the run. Overall, Gonzalez gave up some plays early in the 2022 campaign, but he improved throughout the year and should be a quality Day 1 starting cornerback.
Richardson packs elite arm strength and athleticism into a big/physical frame for the position, but he is incredibly raw on tape. He has urgency and explosiveness in his setup, and the ball jumps out of his hand from his three-quarters arm slot. His arm strength is special; he doesn't even need to engage his lower body to make power throws deep down the field. On the flip side, his decision making and accuracy are a roller-coaster ride. He yanks his arm at times, leading to some ugly misfires. He forces too many balls into crowded areas, too. He is electric as a runner, using his burst, agility and power to rack up runs of 60-to-80 yards. In summary, Richardson needs polish, but his upside exceeds everyone in the draft class. He's a low-floor/high-ceiling prospect.
White is a twitched-up edge rusher with a defensive tackle frame. Against the pass, he has an explosive first step and can really bend at the top of his rush. He can convert speed to power and refuses to stay blocked. He never stops working to free himself and he can stack one move after another. He is a freaky athlete in coverage. On tape, you can see him peel off and mirror running backs 30 yards down the field. He also showed off his effort and motor by running more than 80 yards to look for a block on a Georgia Tech fumble return vs. Florida State. Against the run, he is violent with his hands to shock and shed blocks. He has a huge burst to close from the back side. Overall, White is one of my favorite players in the class and could emerge as the top defender in the class.
Johnson has ideal size, length and quickness for the position. In the pass game, he possesses quick feet out of his stance, and when he lands his punch, he can steer and control. He isn't a natural knee-bender and plays too high at times. When that happens, he struggles versus power rushers and gets walked back to the quarterback. He also has been susceptible to inside counter moves, but has enough athleticism to quickly recover and redirect. He is very aware versus twists and stunts. In the run game, he has strong hands to latch on and runs his feet on contact to create movement. He flashes a nasty streak to finish to the ground. Overall, Johnson needs to play with better leverage in pass pro, but he has the ideal frame and temperament to eventually develop into a solid left tackle.
Jones is a thick, muscular left tackle with ideal length and power. In pass pro, he operates out of a square stance. He is aggressive to close the space in his pass set, getting his hands on defenders early in the down. He gets beat upfield on occasion, but uses his length and quickness to recover. He has shown the ability to sink his weight, bend his knees and play with balance. In the run game, he takes excellent angles working up to the second level, and his foot speed jumps off the film when he's used as a puller. He does have trouble adjusting in space because he's too aggressive. He has the upper power to turn and torque defenders over his face at the point of attack. Overall, Jones got better every week. I feel like his best football is ahead of him.
Van Ness is a powerful defensive lineman with the versatility to stand up on the edge or slide inside and play over the guard. He is excellent at collapsing the pocket with his bull rush, getting his hands inside and driving opponents back with ease. He flashes a chop move and a rip move, but needs to develop a more diverse repertoire. Against the run, he has very strong hands to stack blocks on the front side and his effort/speed combination helps him make plays from the back side. For some reason, he didn't start at Iowa. That doesn't make any sense. Overall, Van Ness has ideal traits, and his best football is ahead of him.
Murphy is a tall, high-cut edge rusher with long arms. At Clemson, he split his time between standing up on the edge and aligning in a four-point stance. He offers an explosive first step and likes to use his inside arm to initially jolt offensive tackles before separating and closing on the quarterback. He does stall out too often with his pure bull rush. He is stout at the point of attack in the run game, but needs to become a more consistent tackler. I love his motor and nonstop effort to chase plays from the back side. Overall, Murphy is ready to start right away and can provide value on all three downs.
Smith is an undersized edge rusher with elite change of direction and burst. As a pass rusher, he has a dynamic get-off from a two-point stance, and his ability to bend and close at the top of his rush is special. He is a very loose and twitched-up athlete. When he gets upfield, he can put his outside foot in the ground and explode back inside to defeat blocks. Against the run, he's at his best when he uses his quickness to slip blocks and penetrate. His lack of bulk shows up at times, as he'll get uprooted. He missed a big chunk of the 2022 season due to injury. Overall, Smith has a lot of similar traits to Haason Reddick, and I believe he'll be utilized in the same way at the next level.
Branch was a playmaking slot cornerback for the Tide. He is outstanding against the run, quick to key and fill for tackles. He can use his quickness to slip blocks and make plays on the other side of the line of scrimmage, as well. He is also an outstanding blitzer, showing timing and burst to generate pressure. He is fluid in coverage and consistently stays in phase with his man. There are times when he gets out-muscled at the catch point, but he's rarely out of position. He has taken some reps on the outside, but doesn't look as comfortable there. He's just better in the middle of the action. He is excellent on special teams, collecting tackles on kick coverage and possessing the ability to return punts if needed (see: his return TD vs. Louisiana-Monroe). Overall, Branch is an immediate starter at nickel and provides value on all four downs.
Mayer is a physical tight end with strong hands and value in the run game. He lines up in-line, on the wing or flexed in the slot. He isn’t a sudden mover, but he understands how to set up defenders and utilizes his big frame to box out down the field. He’s excellent when making catches in congested areas. After the catch, he has the strength to drag tacklers for extra yards. He is a very dependable run blocker, as well. He latches on and runs his feet to create movement. Overall, Mayer doesn’t have elite athleticism, but he’s a complete tight end who will be ready to contribute right away.
Wright is a massive right tackle prospect. He lacks ideal foot quickness in pass protection, but does a nice job of staying square and staying patient. Defenders get into his chest, but he’s able to absorb and stop their charge because he has so much mass and power. He is late with his punch, but once he latches on, the play is over. He more than held his own against Alabama’s Will Anderson Jr. In the run game, he leans on his opponent and creates movement despite playing too high. He has success at the second level when he can stay on one track. He struggles to redirect in space, though. Overall, Wright isn’t a special athlete, but his blend of size and power gives him a chance to be a stable starting right tackle at the next level.
A traditional in-line tight end, Washington is a massive physical specimen with outstanding play strength and toughness. He can power through press coverage with upper-body strength. He uses his long stride to build speed down the seam and provides an enormous target for his QB. He is a little clunky getting out of breaks, which limits his separation. However, it doesn't really matter because he can use his big body to shield off defenders. He has some "wow" contested catches where opponents just bounce off his frame. After the catch, he is shockingly fast and nimble (see: the hurdle vs. Oregon). He is a dominant run blocker, as he latches onto and displaces defensive ends with ease. Overall, Washington has tremendous value because he functions as a sixth offensive lineman in the run game and he's a moving billboard in the passing game.
Smith-Njigba primarily lined up in the slot for the Buckeyes, but he did get some work on the outside. He has a compact build with a strong lower body. Smith-Njigba was very productive playing alongside Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave for Ohio State in 2021, but he missed all but three games in 2022 due to injury. He doesn’t have ideal top speed, but he gets to his full speed very quickly. He is very polished as a route runner, leaning on defenders and quickly getting in and out of breaks. He has strong hands and thrives in the middle of the field, as he can pluck the ball while absorbing contact. He has some power and wiggle after the catch, but lacks a second gear. Overall, Smith-Njigba reminds me of Amon-Ra St. Brown, and I believe he’ll make a similar impact in the NFL.
Hyatt is a thin-framed wide receiver with rare speed. At Tennessee over the past two years, he primarily lined up in the slot in Josh Heupel's spread attack, catching a ton of quick hitters and over-the-top balls. He is at his best when he can stay on the move without having to gear down and work back to the quarterback. He has easy speed, destroying cushions immediately, and he can find another gear with the ball in the air. He tracks the ball naturally over his shoulder and can make plays above the rim. After the catch, he isn't very shifty or elusive, but he can simply run away from tacklers. He enjoyed his best game this past season in Tennessee's thrilling win over Alabama, producing one big play after another in a five-touchdown bonanza. Overall, Hyatt is a home run hitter with reliable hands.
Johnston has exceptional size, speed and production. He uses a variety of releases to defeat press coverage and gains ground in a hurry with his long, powerful stride. The TCU offense featured him on a lot of crossing routes and deep balls over the top. He amassed a large collection of explosive plays. Drops are his biggest issue. He doesn’t trust his hands, leading to way too many balls bouncing off his body and onto the turf. After the catch, he reminds me of Mike Williams with his long stride and power to break tackles. Overall, Johnston has ideal size and speed, but he needs to become a more reliable finisher with his hands.
Gibbs has average size, but he offers outstanding burst and versatility. As a runner, he excels when he can get to the perimeter, either from the backfield or from the slot on jet sweeps. He explodes to the edge. Gibbs can set up blocks in space and rely on a nasty stiff-arm. On inside runs, he needs daylight. He lacks the lower-body power to push the pile. He has good vision and he’s decisive. He is a weapon in the passing game, as he can run wide receiver routes and he easily catches the ball. In pass pro, he attacks linebackers, closing down their runway and stopping their charge. He is very aware. Overall, Gibbs isn’t quite as strong as Alvin Kamara, but the rest of his game is almost identical to that of the Saints’ star running back.
Flowers is an undersized wideout with outstanding quickness, ball skills and production. He took the majority of his reps outside but he’s also very productive in the slot. He is extremely quick in his release and at the top of his routes. He doesn’t waste any steps or movement. He does everything full speed. He has a very good feel working in zones. He has strong hands to extend for the ball or reach back and pluck it off his back hip. He tracks the deep ball with ease. He is outstanding on jet sweeps because of his quickness and make-you-miss ability. Overall, Flowers’ only flaw is his lack of size and bulk. He reminds me of T.Y. Hilton.
Kancey is a short, compact DT with rare twitch and explosion. He is at his best against the pass. He rockets out of his stance and wins early in the down with quick hands, leverage and a burst to close. He is very sudden to change direction and cross the face of blockers. However, if he doesn’t win early, he struggles to free himself and gets stuck. In the run game, he relies on quickness to shoot gaps and disrupt. His lack of size (6-0, 280) shows up on occasion, with him getting washed right down the line. Overall, I wish he was bigger, but he's a very dynamic and disruptive presence along the interior.
Schmitz is a strong, tough and reliable center prospect out of Minnesota. In the pass game, he plays with knee bend, balance and awareness. He uses his inside hand as an under hook to latch and control blockers. He is rarely out of position or driven back. In the run game, he can latch, sink his weight and create movement. He is under control working up to the second level. He lacks elite quickness and change of direction in space, but he’s functional. Sources at the school rave about his leadership. Overall, Schmitz should be a quality starting center as soon as he enters the league.
Torrence is a massive offensive guard with ideal instincts and play strength. In pass protection, he can bend his knees and play with balance. He has an immediate anchor and provides plenty of space for his QB to climb up into the pocket. He has strong hands to latch and control. He is very aware versus twists and stunts. In the run game, he can create movement with defenders over his nose and has surprising quickness to reach and cut off foes. He is quick to the second level, but he struggles to redirect and adjust in space. That should improve if he can drop 10-to-15 pounds. Teams that want to run downhill and create a firm interior in the pass game will really appreciate Torrence.
Tippman is a tall, athletic center. He is quick out of his stance in pass protection, flashing the ability to sink and anchor versus power. There are times when he sets too high and will give ground before recovering. He is very aware and redirects easily. In the run game, his athleticism is on display when pulling and working up to the second level. He has the upper torque to turn and dump defenders lined up over his nose. Overall, Tippman is the rare tall center capable of playing with leverage and balance.
Anudike-Uzomah has been a highly productive pass rusher for Kansas State. He has average size and speed for the position, but he's a skilled pass rusher. He had to play in a lot of tight alignments in K-State's three-down-linemen scheme. This forced him to play run-to-pass on early downs. He lacks the ideal size to battle inside against much bigger opponents and double teams, but he hangs in there and battles. When he got to play outside for the Wildcats, he displayed a variety of ways to generate pressure. He has a violent slap/rip move, a nifty spin and a quick hand-swipe maneuver. He is also effective as a looper. To see his full potential, watch the 2021 game against TCU, when he collected four sacks and harassed Max Duggan the entire game. Overall, I'm anxious to see how Anudike-Uzomah tests, but I believe his best football is yet to come.
Avila is a physically imposing guard prospect with quick feet and power. In pass protection, he is quick out of his stance, chops his feet and delivers a strong two-hand punch. He anchors easily and looks for work when he's uncovered. He is very aware and has a nasty streak. In the run game, he runs his feet on contact and drives opponents off the line of scrimmage. He does a good job staying attached to blocks. If he loses his hand placement, he is quick to replace and recover. He is sudden as a puller and can unload when he stays on a single track. He has some issues when he has to adjust and redirect his feet in space. Overall, I love the size and temperament Avila possesses. He's going to be a solid starting guard right away at the next level.
McDonald is an undersized edge rusher with excellent bend and closing ability. He played defensive end in Iowa State’s three-man front, often aligning on the inside shoulder of the offensive tackle. This isn’t ideal for someone with his size/skill set. When he’s loosened up on the edge, he is more natural and disruptive. He has an explosive first step and uses his hands to control the wrists of blockers before dipping and ripping around their outside shoulder. He is very fluid. He flashes some power, but his game is more speed-based. Against the run, he presses out blocks and plays bigger than his size. Overall, McDonald needs to add weight, but he has the tools to be a disruptive pass rusher at the next level.
Mauch is an excellent athlete who plays with balance and awareness. In pass protection, he pops out of his stance, stays square and sinks his weight. The North Dakota State tape shows him effortlessly sliding and mirroring opponents. Defenders get to his chest on occasion and there is some concern about his lack of length. That might be a reason he kicks inside in the NFL, although he was able to anchor and settle against FCS competition. In the run game, he has a powerful inside arm to uproot defenders and he looks to finish them to the ground. He is excellent working up to the second level, redirecting and adjusting to moving targets. He smothers linebackers. Overall, I think Mauch might need some time to adjust to NFL competition, but he should settle in as a solid starter somewhere along the offensive line.
Forbes is a rail-thin cornerback with outstanding instincts and ball skills. He is at his best in off coverage, where he utilizes his unique route awareness to drive and make plays on the ball. He collected three pick-sixes this past fall. He doesn't have any wasted movement and is always under control. In man coverage, he can press and mirror underneath while possessing enough speed to carry vertical routes. He does an outstanding job of playing the pocket at the catch point and poking the ball away downfield. He needs to improve his tackling, though, as he has too many fly-by misses. Overall, Forbes' weight will be scrutinized at the NFL Scouting Combine, but his tape is outstanding.
Hall is an explosive and productive edge rusher with a high motor. He is most dangerous when he has a runway to work with on the perimeter. He is sudden in his get-off and accelerates into contact, generating consistent knock-back and pressure. He also has a nifty dip/rip move and an inside counter move. He does have some ankle and hip tightness, limiting his ability to corner at the top of his rush. Against the run, he needs to get better using his hands more consistently to stack and shed blocks. He turns his shoulder on occasion and he'll also lose sight of the ball. His effort and speed to chase plays is very impressive. He can close in a hurry! Overall, I wish Hall was nimbler, but he's very twitchy and can win as a pass rusher.
Brown is an explosive athlete who was utilized all over the Nittany Lions' defense in 2022. He lines up in the deep half, deep middle, in the box and in the slot. He has outstanding range and instincts against the pass, with the ability to match up with, and mirror, TEs all over the field. He is fluid in his movement and his cornerback background shows up when matched with wideouts in the slot. He has excellent ball skills, which shows in his production (10 INTs over two seasons as a starter). Also, he has solid timing and burst as a blitzer. In the run game, he is quick to read and takes proper angles; though, he will have some misses in space because of his aggressive style. Overall, Brown is a versatile player with Pro Bowl potential.
Musgrave is a tall, muscular tight end with elite play speed. Unfortunately, he missed all but two games of the 2022 season due to injury. He’s sudden in his release and is a weapon running down the seam. He pulls away from second-level defenders and can naturally high point the football. He is more of a home run hitter than an option-route player at this point in his development. He is consistent catching balls on his frame, but he struggles to reel in low passes when on the move. After the catch, he has the speed to pull away. He is a willing blocker and can effectively shield/wall off at the point of attack. Overall, Musgrave isn’t polished and he’s missed time, but he has the potential to emerge as the top tight end in the class.
Banks has excellent height, bulk and length for the position. He is very physical in press coverage, routinely staggering and re-routing wide receivers. He has average change-of-direction skills when he has to flip and open up. He does a nice job of staying on top versus go balls and he can locate the ball in the air. In off coverage, he is a little high in his pedal and wastes steps in his plant-and-drive. To see his competitiveness, watch his blocked PAT against Ohio State that was returned for a two-point conversion. He doesn't take plays off. He is a physical and reliable tackler in space. Overall, Banks doesn't have ideal fluidity, but he's tough and possesses ball skills.
Simpson is a tall, twitched-up, off-ball linebacker. He is excellent in man coverage. He has the speed and agility to mirror tight ends all over the field. He isn’t as reliable when dropping into zone coverage; he is late to react, but his speed helps cover it up most of the time. He is an excellent blitzer and closes in a hurry. Also, Simpson is effective when spying the quarterback. Once he decides to go, he’s a blur. Against the run, he’s at his best when he can see from outside the box. He will get lost in the trash inside the box on occasion. Overall, I wish Simpson was a little more instinctive inside, but his speed and athleticism should translate well to the next level.
Sanders is a tall, lean and versatile linebacker. He played in the middle of Arkansas’ 4-2-5 front, but would drop down at times to rush off the edge. He is solid in coverage, flashing the ability to smother running backs in the flat. His size and length are assets when clogging up throwing lanes. He was highly productive as a pass rusher in 2022 with 9.5 sacks in 12 games. His most effective approach is converting speed to power off the edge. Against the run, he has good instincts and can thud off blockers for tackles. There is some stiffness when he’s forced to change directions, and that leads to missed tackles in space. Overall, Sanders has an intriguing mix of size and speed. Teams craving versatility will value him more than others.
Ringo is a tall, thick cornerback prospect with outstanding straight-line speed. I love his blend of size, speed and competitiveness, but he has issues with tightness and doesn't always find the football. In press coverage, he carries his hands low, and if he allows a clean release, he is susceptible to inside cuts, especially slants. He has plenty of speed to carry vertical routes. He flashes big-time ball skills (see: his pick-six to sew up the 2021 national championship game), but in 2022, he had issues locating the ball in the air, resulting in multiple big plays and touchdowns allowed. He is very physical as a tackler against the run. Overall, Ringo is a work in progress. His success will depend on what he's asked to do at the next level. I wouldn't rule out a move to safety.
Bresee has ideal height and bulk for the position. He moved up and down the line of scrimmage in Clemson's scheme. Against the pass, he generates pressures on slants and is an effective looper in pass-rush games. He has some shock in his hands, but stalls out too often once he's engaged. He has some hip and ankle tightness. Against the run, he shows block awareness and utilizes his quick hands to keep blockers off his chest. He looked gassed at times this past season, which was likely the result of high snap counts while still recovering from injury. Overall, Bresee flashes on tape, but he needs to be more consistent.
Ojulari is a polished pass rusher with the athleticism to contribute in multiple ways. Against the pass, he has a quick first step and a combination of maneuvers. He wins with a quick-swipe technique, a dip-and-bend move or a nifty hesitation rush. He can really bend and wrap to the quarterback once he clears the offensive tackle. He doesn't possess a lot of power, so when he rushes through the numbers of the OT, he often stalls out. He needs to stay on the edges and work half a man. He is fluid in coverage when asked to drop. Against the run, he relies on quickness to swim and work around blocks. Overall, Ojulari has a similar skill set to that of Uchenna Nwosu.
Smith is a powerful defensive tackle with sneaky quickness. As a pass rusher, he is primarily a push-the-pocket player, but he flashes a quick swim move and a violent club maneuver to generate pressure. If he doesn’t win right away, he is going to do his best to collapse the pocket. He is dominant against the run. He can sink his weight and hold up versus single blocks and double teams. He doesn’t have a lot of lateral range, but his effort is solid. As more teams line up with fewer defenders in the box, players like Smith will be in demand.
Charbonnet is a tall, physical running back. On inside runs, he is aggressive and decisive to attack the line of scrimmage. He runs a little high, but he can get skinny through the line of scrimmage, as well as drop a level and explode through tackles. He has excellent vision and instincts. He has enough speed to capture the edge, but doesn’t spend much time moving east or west, preferring to get downhill as soon as possible. In the passing game, he had a couple concentration drops with the Bruins, but I don’t worry about his hands. He is excellent after the catch and can make the free defender miss in space. In pass protection, he is aware, stays on balance and anchors down. Overall, I loved Charbonnet’s 2021 tape -- and he was even better in 2022. He’s a Day 1 starter.
Hooker is an ultra productive QB with size, accuracy and athleticism. He operates in the Vols' unique spread attack, where they send their outside wideouts to the extreme edges of the field and force opponents to defend them in space. Hooker has outstanding field vision, makes quick decisions and delivers the ball in a position where his receivers can easily run after the catch. He doesn’t have a powerful arm, but he can make all the necessary throws. He throws a beautiful deep ball. He has the athleticism to extend plays and he’s very effective on designed QB runs. Unfortunately, he suffered an ACL injury late in the season that could jeopardize his rookie campaign. Also, his age (25) is a concern for some teams. Overall, I see Hooker as a quality starting QB and wouldn’t be shocked if he has the best career of any passer in this year's class.
OUT: Sam Laporta, TE (No. 46); Tuli Tuipulotu, Edge (No. 47), Tyrique Stevenson, CB (No. 48), Davis Allen, TE (No. 50)