All April, a plethora of ideas about 2023 NFL Draft prospects or the category as an entire turn into considered extra as reality than opinion. But in just a few years, we’ll finally look again on the accepted-as-fact concepts with this class and notice they had been means off.
After watching round 300 prospects in preparation for this draft, I’ve landed on quite a lot of my very own opinions that do not precisely align with consensus ideas with somewhat over per week till the beginning of the draft. I’ve listed seven of them beneath.
Quentin Johnston is WR1
Johnston is way from excellent as a prospect. He did not run within the 4.40s on the mix or his professional day. He is not Mike Evans in contested-catch conditions, and actually, at occasions appears awkward when attacking the soccer at its highest level. But he is a yards-after-the-catch specialist. Just as a result of the TCU offense featured like eleventy billion jump-ball deep pictures for Johnston does not imply that is the kind of receiver he’s or will likely be within the NFL.
He must be considered by means of the YAC monster lens. He’s not 6-feet-4 and 230 kilos. He’s a hair below 6-3 and 210 kilos. Pretty stocky. His 40.5-inch vertical explosiveness permits him to get prime pace in a rush, and Johnston’s body makes his equilibrium almost unshakable with the soccer in his arms. In the trendy NFL route working completely issues. But we’re seeing receivers get schemed open extra now than ever. YAC is essential. Johnston is essentially the most ferocious YAC wideout within the class, a big a part of why he is my WR1.
We ought to be fearful about Trenton Simpson in protection
A glossy, hyper-athletic, excels-in-space linebacker with lofty first-round hype. We’ve seen the sort earlier than. Recently. Devin Bush in 2019. Isaiah Simmons, Kenneth Murray, Patrick Queen, and Jordyn Brooks in 2020. And Quay Walker and Devin Lloyd final yr. While not all busts, it is honest to say none of these linebackers have met the hype that naturally comes with being a first-round choose. Simpson looks like subsequent in line.
What else connects these linebackers to Simpson? Lack of protection experience, and admittedly, protection expertise. Simpson, like these talked about above, was largely deployed as a blitzer/QB spy in apparent passing conditions. While I’ll be the primary to acknowledge that evolving evaluations issues as the sport adjustments, and there is most likely extra use for that sort of second-level defender now that there was even 5 years in the past, linebackers nonetheless must be stud protection gamers in in the present day’s NFL. That’s going to be the case from right here on out. That’s merely not Simpson. In three seasons at Clemson, Simpson didn’t report an interception and had 5 go breakups on 612 protection snaps. The 4.43 pace and 40.5-inch vertical are great luxuries to have on the place. But they don’t seem to be the elemental elements that make a stud linebacker in in the present day’s NFL.
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Jack Campbell is a first-round prospect
No joke, the one knock I’ve on Campbell is that he has quick 31 7/8-inch arms. Everything else about his sport screams “first-round choose.”
He stays sq. to the road when flowing laterally to remain in place for cutbacks, has superior protection really feel in zone, can run with tight ends in man, has plus ball expertise, not often misses a deal with, and examined like an elite athlete. I genuinely do not know why he is not broadly thought-about a locked-in first-round choose. OK, so he did not run within the 4.50s on the mix. Maybe that is it. Guess what although — Lavonte David ran 4.65. Fred Warner ran 4.64. Demario Davis, 4.61. Germaine Pratt, 4.58. Campbell is loads quick sufficient, and he performs sooner due to his fine-tuned instincts. He’s the one basic off-ball linebacker — so I’m not together with Drew Sanders — worthy of a first-round choose.
Myles Murphy ought to be drafted in Round 2
Traits and measurables matter. I get it. They’re usually extra vital than manufacturing, notably within the first spherical. And Murphy is sort of 6-feet-5 and 268 kilos with arms a shade below 34 inches. He examined effectively at his professional day. Freaky, amazingly good? Not precisely.
Even if I could possibly be satisfied Murphy is a first-round caliber athlete with first-round measurement, his productiveness in faculty drastically falls in need of standard Round 1 requirements. After the sunshine appeared to activate late in 2021, it by no means appeared to be re-lit. In 2022, Murphy was really much less environment friendly as a pass-rusher producing stress than he was the earlier season (9.5% vs. 12.6%).
He’s athletic for his measurement, however not a ridiculous specimen flying/bending across the nook and must be taught to grasp his hand work on the subsequent stage, all the time a scary proposition for pass-rushing prospects. He belongs within the second spherical, the place the expectations are decrease and he is extra more likely to assume a decrease quantity position early in his professional profession.
What are we doing with Hendon Hooker?
So not precisely a take, however let me clarify my thought on the Tennessee quarterback. Hooker has an awesome story. He looks as if a pleasant man. But what are we doing speculating him going within the first spherical? He’s 25. That completely issues. Trevor Lawrence is not 25 till 2024. Beyond that, he tore his ACL in late November. So he is unlikely to be totally prepared for the beginning of his rookie season. He’ll be 30 on the finish of his rookie deal. Hooker merely does not present wherever near the identical ROI chance as 99% of quarterback prospects.
Even if a workforce can look previous the age, Hooker’s coming from a very huge open Air Raid offense that featured essentially the most wide-open layup-type lengthy balls I’ve seen since Tua Tagovailoa’s remaining season at Alabama. The tight-window, high-degree of issue throws are really laborious to search out. I did not see nice downfield contact on lengthy tosses that required it both. While cellular, Hooker does not look like a high-level athlete who’ll be capable to flip to his legs as a final resort usually within the NFL, when he recovers from harm. His arm is nice, not nice, and it is uncommon that he makes a powerful, high-velocity throw whereas improvising.
All of that signifies Hooker ought to be a Day 2 and even early Day 3 flier, not a first-round choose.
Olusegun Oluwatimi is being vastly underrated
Oluwatimi’s case is a standard one. He’s a brick-wall middle prospect who does not possess Jason Kelce-esque burst and lateral quicks, so he is seemingly being massively neglected. Balance is usually neglected alongside the offensive line, and Oluwatimi is essentially the most balanced blocker within the class. He’s simply immovable inside. He jogs my memory numerous Elgton Jenkins, who was constructed like a rock and as boring as watching paint dry on movie at Mississippi State earlier than the 2019 draft. But the faster, extra explosive Garrett Bradbury went forward of him — within the first spherical — in that draft. Jenkins wasn’t picked till No. 44 general, and he has been an absolute stud in Green Bay ever since, whereas Bradbury has largely struggled.
I imagine within the predictive powers of athleticism — and Oluwatimi is not fairly as athletic as Jenkins was — however typically, notably alongside the offensive line — immense energy and stability can buoy a blocker early in his NFL profession. Other execs who match this mould embrace Lions guard Jonah Jackson, Patriots guard Michael Onwenu, and former All-Pro Rodney Hudson.
Darnell Wright is the most effective OT prospect
Here’s my idea on why Wright is often being mocked after Ohio State’s Paris Johnson and Georgia’s Broderick Jones — Wright performed proper deal with in class, and there is nonetheless a unconscious bias towards proper tackles as lesser blockers. Johnson and Jones had been left tackles at their respective faculties.
Right tackles are simply as vital as left tackles. That’s been the case for near a decade now. Wright is 6-foot-5 and 333 kilos with almost 34-inch arms, and he examined like an immaculate athlete regardless of that measurement. His movie, to me, is cleaner than Johnson’s and far cleaner than Jones. Wright’s a pass-blocking wizard who can win on the level of assault with ferocious hand work, explosiveness, or sheer energy. He’s the most effective deal with prospect within the 2023 class.
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