NFL Draft: Ten players that could go No. 1 in 2023
The 2022 NFL Draft wrapped up last weekend, so it’s already time to look forward to the next crop of players who could be high first-round picks. Here is a look at 10 that should be getting a lot of attention as potential No. 1 overall selections after next college football season:
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WR JORDAN ADDISON, TEAM TBD
One of the top players in next year’s NFL Draft does not even have a college football team to play for next year. Welcome to the brave new world of college football where Addison is now in the transfer portal with USC, Alabama, Texas and others as possible destinations. When Addison departed Pitt, it seemed like he was destined to play for Lincoln Riley at USC. But then a report by The Athletic stated Addison was working out with Alabama QB Bryce Young in California. And others could be involved as well.
Addison caught 100 passes for 1,593 yards and 17 touchdowns last season for the Panthers. He’s going to be high on the radar for NFL teams after next year.
WILL ANDERSON, ALABAMA
While Anderson and Myles Garrett are different players in some ways, Garrett was the No. 1 pick in 2017 and never had more than 11.5 sacks during his career at Texas A&M. The first overall selection in this draft was Georgia’s Travon Walker, who had 9.5 sacks in his entire college career.
And then there is Anderson, who finished with 17.5 sacks last season and 102 tackles and just completely wrecked offensive lines. It was amazing to see the former five-star in action because he was completely unstoppable at times and could be in line for the No. 1 overall pick.
WR KAYSHON BOUTTE, LSU
This is how dominant Boutte was last season at LSU: At the end of the season, Boutte led the team in receiving yards and touchdowns and he was finished playing in October after only six games because of an ankle injury.
A wide receiver has not been taken No. 1 overall since Keyshawn Johnson in 1996 so it’s unlikely Addison or Boutte would be selected first but the LSU receiver should receive significant first-round consideration especially if LSU’s quarterback room is even more upgraded heading into this season.
DT BRYAN BRESEE, CLEMSON
If Bresee can come back gangbusters after a knee injury ended his season in late September then NFL teams could be highly interested because when the former No. 1 overall prospect is on the field he can be dominant. Bresee had an excellent freshman season and was looking to build on that last year but then the knee injury happened against NC State. If he comes back stronger and more dominant than ever then Bresee could be in the discussion for one of the first players off the board. He’s that good.
DT JALEN CARTER, GEORGIA
Georgia had five first-round NFL Draft picks last week and one could make an argument that Carter would be toward the top end of that group, if not the best player among the whole group. Carter was outstanding in the national championship game, he has excellent size and showed dominance along the defensive line this past season. Another year in Athens should only continue to bolster his draft status.
QB WILL LEVIS, KENTUCKY
There is inevitably going to be so much discussion about whether Ohio State’s CJ Stroud or Alabama’s Bryce Young will be the first quarterback taken in the NFL Draft but let’s not forget about Levis, who never caught on at Penn State but has since transferred to Kentucky and is emerging as one of the best QBs in college football.
He’s a physical specimen who can throw and run and while some NFL teams might not be thrilled about his 24/13 touchdown-to-interception ratio last season, a big year for the Wildcats could jettison him up draft boards.
CB ELIAS RICKS, ALABAMA
While Ricks might not be the physical specimen of Derek Stingley Jr., if Stingley could go third overall then an argument could be made that Ricks could go that high as well because his talent is unquestionable. The former five-star had a great first year at LSU but then got sidelined with a shoulder injury before transferring to Alabama. A new focus and being under coach Nick Saban’s wing should only accentuate Ricks’ strengths and with his length, instincts and playmaking ability, he should be special.
WR JAXON SMITH-NJIGBA, OHIO STATE
Smith-Njigba had 25 more catches than Garrett Wilson and 30 more than Chris Olave this past season at Ohio State and those two players went Nos. 10 and 11, respectively, in the first round of the draft. The former five-star won’t have as many elite receivers around him this year so he could see more exotic coverages but Smith-Njigba will clearly be CJ Stroud’s top targets and he can pretty much get open against anybody.
QB CJ STROUD, OHIO STATE
The discussion during the pre-draft process will inevitably be whether Stroud’s size should win out over taking Bryce Young as the first quarterback off the board and many will believe that should be the case. The former high four-star quarterback has all the arm talent, athletic ability and skill in the world but he was also boosted this past season by having a triumvirate of incredibly talented receivers. Still, he could end up being the No. 1 overall pick after next season.
QB BRYCE YOUNG, ALABAMA
Like it or not, we’re going to hear a lot of debate about Young’s size heading into next year’s draft even though he has proven every critic wrong by winning the Heisman Trophy already and proving he can play at the highest levels of college football and completely take over the game.
Kyler Murray is 5-foot-10 and Russell Wilson is 5-foot-11 and while Young checks in at 6-foot even (we will see what he measures at the combine) the comp would be closer to Wilson because of his poise, anticipation and playmaking ability.