Who will be the number one pick in this year’s NFL Draft?
With Super Bowl LVII in the rearview and the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine on the horizon, it’s time to look toward the next group of talent to hit the pro ranks. The NFL released the list of players invited to the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine earlier this month with a total of 319 prospects invited to attend this year’s event, which will take place in Indianapolis from February 28 through to March 6, each one hoping to stake their claim in one of NFL’s top rosters. The first round order has been settled for now, but all could change in the weeks leading up to one of the most exciting times of the year on the football calendar. The willingness to wheel and deal top draft choices has increased massively in recent years, and for the first time since 2016, it looks likely that the number one overall pick will be on the move. So who are the top prospects and who will be the first pick of the 2023 NFL Draft? Here’s our list of who to look out for this Draft season.
Bryce Young – Alabama, QB
While the crop of quarterbacks in 2023 is an upgrade on the 2022 group, it still lacks the X factor of certain classes from recent years. That said, there are some quality QBs in the pot with the potential to evolve into long-term options in the right environment. Of those, Youngs is flat-out the best of this draft class. For those looking to bet on the first overall pick, there are plenty of options at US betting sites. Young checks off all the boxes of a franchise quarterback, despite his size and frame. The 2021 Heisman Trophy win showed off his credentials and his production and performance as an exceptional passer from the pocket at Alabama since has really caught the eye. If Young were a few inches taller and 20 pounds heavier, there would be zero debate as to the identity of the top player in this class but he makes up for what he lacks in stature with some truly remarkable improvisational play and poise in tough situations. Young is a shoe-in for top spot this year.
CJ Stroud – Ohio State, QB
Following closely behind Young as a prime contender for the number one pick is Ohio State’s maverick playmaker Stroud. Back in October many could have argued that Stroud was the most accurate quarterback in the country and the improved mobility and moxie he showed against Georgia, albeit in a losing cause, has his stock climbing even higher. Stroud’s statistics at Ohio State are like something straight out of a video game, but he was never better than against the Bulldogs in his Buckeye finale. Even though he is an extremely talented passer and playmaker with the requisite physical traits and tools to operate at the elite level, he did not lean into his athleticism for most of his collegiate career. If he were to harness that side of his game, he would become a first ballot choice for coaches to explore his potential as a dual-threat playmaker in the NFL.
Jalen Carter – Georgia, DT
The 2023 DT pool offers some high-end prospects with blue-chip potential and of those Carter is the favoured candidate. The Georgia standout flashes a rare combination of explosive first-step quickness and heavy hands, allowing him to cause havoc. He has the change-of-direction ability of a player 40-to-50 pounds lighter and possesses the pure power to run through single blocks at ease. Those disappointed by Carter’s lack of dominating statistics the past two seasons at Georgia fail to appreciate how he impacts blocking schemes and playcalling from opponents. Agile, long-armed and incredibly powerful, Carter tilts the line of scrimmage in his team’s favor. Overall, Carter is a real difference maker and must be accounted for on every snap; that’s something that will be in high demand coming out of this draft.
Will Anderson Jr. – Alabama, ED
Numbers can be bent to argue all sorts of points, but Anderson’s production is so staggering it speaks for itself. In 41 career games, Anderson recorded 58.5 tackles for loss, including 34.5 sacks, beating opponents with speed, deadly hands and the type of agility and instincts that make him a nightmare to deal with. He does need to work on escaping when he doesn’t win early in the down, as he gets stuck at times but there is little debate that Anderson is the biggest prize as a high-energy defender in this draft class with unrivalled athleticism and pass-rush skills. He’s a handful off the edge with the tools that should help him blossom into a double-digit sack producer early in his NFL career.
Bijan Robinson – Texas, RB
Positional bias likely will keep Robinson from being drafted this high because of the devaluation of running backs in the draft hierarchy. However, he’s a true workhorse runner with an exceptional combination of size, speed, elusiveness and power. The Texas standout is an old-school runner with the vision, balance, body control and power to run through or around defenders, and he flashes the ability to score from anywhere on the field. A valid argument could be made that Robinson, who accounted for over 4,200 yards and scored 41 touchdowns in just 31 college games, is the best all-around player in this draft. Robinson has all the necessary tools to emerge as a an elite RB in the NFL and is a dark horse for one of the top spots in this year’s draft.
Will Levis – Kentucky, QB
Levis is this group’s wild card, as a talented passer and playmaker with immense physical tools. Levis is a gifted talent but he is also an inconsistent player. He possesses ideal size, arm strength and athleticism and is a power thrower, capable of fitting the ball into tight windows at the second and third levels.The Kentucky product has flashed intriguing potential as a QB, but his up-and-down play makes him something of a boom-or-bust prospect, perhaps one a bit too risky for coaches to invest in in the early rounds of this year’s draft. The traits are undeniable and so, too, is his experience in pro-style offenses at Kentucky. But necessary improvements in Levis’ decision-making keeps him outside of the tier of elite prospects. He will need to make some adjustments to slot in as an NFL starter.