The NFL draft can either make or break a team’s season, and this year’s draft class has some fantastic prospects of the likes, which we have not seen in ages. The 2023 NFL Draft is crowded with quarterbacks and defensive players with generational talent, so I have assembled a list of the top three players to watch for coming out of the 2023 draft.
Bryce Young, QB Alabama
Despite standing at just five foot 10 inches, Young has proved the doubters wrong and consistently played at an elite level in college and high school. Young was projected to be taken very high in this draft, so it’s no surprise that he was taken first overall by the Carolina Panthers. Young has a quick release and is very accurate while still being able to limit his mistakes. Mel Kiper Jr., a senior NFL analyst for ESPN who has covered the NFL draft since 1984, claims Young is one of “the best processors” he has seen in decades.
The former Alabama quarterback can escape the pocket exceptionally well and has one of the best arms in this year’s draft class, throwing 47 touchdowns and only seven picks when becoming the most outstanding college player of the year in his Heisman-winning season.
However, many NFL teams raise concern because of his smaller size. Young’s frame is almost identical to signal-caller Kyler Murray’s but the 21-year-old lacks the ability to be a mobile, dual-threat quarterback like Murray. Young is a prospect that has perennial pro bowl talent, but his fate will ultimately boil down to how he can operate in the pocket at the NFL level.
C.J Stroud, QB Ohio State
After throwing for over 4,435 yards and 44 touchdowns in 2021, Stroud is one of the best quarterbacks available in the draft and dominated at Ohio State this year. The California-born signal-caller led the Buckeyes to the college football playoffs this season, where he threw for 348 yards and four touchdowns in a loss to the eventual national champions Georgia Bulldogs 42-41.
The two-time Heisman finalist has the potential to have an outstanding NFL career, despite the questions about his arm strength. Stroud can throw the deep ball but not at an elite Mahomes-like level, which may become an issue early into his career. Regardless, I believe Stroud’s frame is perfect for the NFL level, as he stands at six foot three inches. He can survey the field, make the smart decision in the pocket, and hit his receivers accurately. Stroud is a quarterback with smooth mechanics but has some skills to work on. The second overall pick will be a project for the Houston Texans and will not make a huge impact right out of the gate. Although if everything goes according to plan, he will be a perennial pro bowler.
Jalen Carter, DT Georgia
Coming out of high school, the Florida Native was a five-star recruit committed to the University of Georgia. Carter would win back-to-back national championships and tally 83 total tackles and six sacks in his three seasons with the Bulldogs. Entering the combine at six foot three inches, and 314 pounds, he will be an excellent addition to any defensive line in the NFL.
Even though Jalen Carter came into the year as one of the best players in the nation, it’s been an offseason to forget for the junior. Unfortunately, the defensive tackle has dealt with some off-the-field issues leading up to the draft. However, many scouts had Carter as the best player in the 2023 draft, regardless of his issues outside of football. Even though he was projected to be a top pick by many people in this draft, he ended up being picked ninth overall to the Philadelphia Eagles.
The 2023 draft class has talent on both sides of the ball. I expect many of the drafted players to impact their teams immediately.
Cover photo via USA Today