NFL Draft 2023: College Days

NFL Draft 2023: College Days
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NFL Draft 2023: College Days

In trying to predict how the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft might play out we can look back to recent Drafts to find clues. Take for example College Football programmes. Their fortunes may rise and fall. But there are some College teams that NFL front offices consistently look to when seeking out the best of the best to make the leap to the professional game. 

Over the last 6 years 192 players have been selected from 60 different College programmes. However, from those players over 40% have been drafted from just 7 College teams. Do the patterns from the last 6 Drafts give us some indication of what could happen for the NFL Draft this year? Will the production line of College talent remain true in comparison with recent times?

Top of The Pile

Alabama (23 players, average 3.8 per first round)

The Crimson Tide are far and away the most popular team, a clear 10 players ahead of the nearest rival. Twelve months ago was in fact a down year for ‘Bama. With only two players selected on opening night: Evan Neal and Jameson Williams. They may struggle to hit their average again this year. They have only two certainties in BRYCE YOUNG and WILL ANDERSON JR. The next two prospects are BRIAN BRANCH and JAHMYR GIBBS so we may be looking at a maximum of three from Alabama this year.

Ohio State (13, 2.2) Georgia (12, 2.0) and LSU (11, 1.8) are next up at around two players per first round. The obvious team to exceed expectations is Georgia off the back of their second consecutive National Championship. Their line up this year is outstanding: JALEN CARTER, NOLAN SMITH, and BRODERICK JONES are locks, with the possibility of DARNELL WASHINGTON and KELEE RINGO rounding out a five-star group. 

Ohio State are likely to maintain their consistent record with at least CJ STROUD and PARIS JOHNSON ready to hear their names called. The wildcard could be DAWAND JONES if the tackle market proves competitive. However, LSU Tigers will only be able to point to an outside chance BJ OJULARI will continue their run of at least 1 player selected on opening night since 2019.

The Next Tier

There are a further four College teams who have recently been heavily involved in the NFL Draft first round. Clemson Tigers are looking to bounce back in this Draft after Andrew Booth was the first recruit in round 2 last year. The likes of BRIAN BRESEE and MYLES MURPHY should see a return to favour this year. Florida Gators, Michigan Wolverines and USC have also seen at least one player drafted into the first round in five of the last six years. Florida (ANTHONY RICHARDSON, O’CYRUS TORRENCE) and USC (JORDAN ADDISON) should continue the trend. Michigan will only have an outside chance with MAZI SMITH to pin their hopes on.

Other College Programmes have recently come under the spotlight for round one talent and this may well continue. Penn State have had three round one players in the last two years and JOEY PORTER JR should add to that number. Oregon Ducks have also had success with a first rounder each of the last three years and CHRISTIAN GONZALEZ will make it four out of four. 

Breaking Through to the NFL Draft

Two-thirds of the 60 Colleges represented have had three players or less drafted in the first round since 2017. This year a number of those could easily boost their popularity. At the moment the certainties look like WILL LEVIS (Kentucky), TYREE WILSON (Texas Tech) and QUENTIN JOHNSTON (TCU) with DEONTE BANKS (Maryland) and CALIJAH KANCEY (Pittsburgh) also in the running.

Other notables for 2023 are where College Programmes could see a first rounder drafted for the first time since 2017. The Tennessee Vols will be looking to DARNELL WRIGHT or JALIN HYATT to break their 6-year hiatus. DEVON WITHERSPOON will be the first Illinois Football player in round one since 2012. For the Texas Longhorns it is eight years since their last round one selection. BIJAN ROBINSON has the talent to end that drought.

Wildcards for the 2023 NFL Draft

That is 30 names listed so far and there are still several players with an excellent chance of making their mark in the 1st round. In each case a 1st round Draft spot can go a long way to helping a College programme with future recruitment of High School stars. 

The players in contention here are: PETER SKORONSKI (Northwestern) DALTON KINCAID (Utah) ANTON HARRISON (Oklahoma), ZAY FLOWERS (Boston College), MICHAEL MAYER (Notre Dame), LUKAS VAN NESS (Iowa), WILL McDONALD (Iowa State), FELIX ANUDIKE-UZOMAH (Kansas State), JOSH DOWNS (North Carolina),  CAM SMITH (South Carolina).

That give us 40 players vying for the 31 1st round spots. Who do you think makes it into round 1 and who does not? Are there any players and College Teams missed out from the list? Let us know @ninetynineyards or drop me a line @47yards and be sure to check out our Draft Talk podcast content

You can run your own Draft with our fantastic mock draft simulator.

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