Ahead of the college bowl season, we’ve released an update to our 2023 NFL Draft Consensus Big Board built from draft rankings around the industry. At the conclusion of the college regular season, we’ve built most of our understanding of many of the players that will be entering the 2023 NFL Draft.
College bowl games, all-star performances, NFL Combine workouts, and pro day appearances will further change things, as will additional film review. But for now, we have a strong preview of which players might be the most important when approaching the NFL draft.
But the experts don’t agree, and that includes the experts here at Pro Football Network. We’ll go over which players the Pro Football Network draft team were higher on than the industry consensus and which ones they were lower on.
Players Pro Football Network Is Lower on Than Consensus
Peter Skoronski, OT Northwestern (7th Nationally; 25th PFN)
Let me start by saying this, Peter Skoronski has had a phenomenal season on what has been a very poor Northwestern Wildcats team. You’ve routinely seen the positive elements of his scouting report displayed, from his off-snap explosion, through his ability to glide out to the second level in the ground game, to his technical excellence, including pass-set timing, impressive footwork, top-tier body control, and NFL-caliber hand timing and placement.
Furthermore, he’s an intelligent player with highly developed play diagnosis ability. However, those elements are somewhat offset by question marks over translatable size. At 6’4” and 315 pounds, he won’t be the biggest tackle in the class, and this is exacerbated by his arm length.
While meeting a specific requisite for length isn’t a scouting point, we know that there are NFL teams with guard rails here. Furthermore, when that lack of length impacts your game — as it does with Skoronski — then that is likely to impact stock.
Longer-armed pass rushers are routinely able to get into Skoronski’s body. He’s also prone to leaning to compensate for his lack of length, almost bear-hugging his opponent at times.
In the games I studied, Skoronski struggled to execute reach blocks as a result. The lack of size and length also inhibits his ability to generate power. He doesn’t pack a powerful punch at the point of attack, and this is particularly noticeable in the run game.
While believing that he should draw first-round capital in the 2023 NFL Draft, these issues may halt any ascension toward the lofty expectations placed on his stock by other outlets.
Will Levis, QB Kentucky (13th Nationally; 60th PFN)
Are there really only 12 better players than Will Levis in the entire 2023 NFL Draft class? I’ve long been a proponent of the idea that Penn State let the wrong QB walk out the door when they allowed Levis to leave and kept Sean Clifford.
The upside with Levis over his former Penn State teammate is immediately clear. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see from the minute the ball leaves Levis’ hand that he’s capable of generating incredible and effortless velocity from multiple arm angles.
You’ve seen that on the field for the Wildcats, alongside his physicality, toughness, and leadership that you want to see from the quarterback position. Levis’ size (6’4”, 230 pounds) and functional athleticism allow him to add yardage as a physical creator out of structure.
Yet, there are holes in his game that should cause people to pump the brakes on crowning him a top-15 player from a talent perspective. The physical tools are there, as they were with multiple prospects in the previous cycle. But there are cerebral issues pertinent to playing the quarterback issue.
Levis’ pocket awareness isn’t as high as some of the other QBs in this class, taking unnecessary sacks as a result of an inability to sense and react. He doesn’t routinely throw with anticipation, limiting after-the-catch opportunities for his receivers. Meanwhile, his accuracy is spotty, particularly to the deep third, and he’s prone to making questionable decisions in terms of forcing throws into double coverage.
He’s still in the process of learning how to harness his physical tools to maximum efficiency. For those reasons, we don’t have Levis ranked as high as other outlets, especially when you remove “quarterback value” from the equation.
Yes, he could demand top-15 capital in the 2023 NFL Draft. Is he a top-15 player from an overall evaluation standpoint? We don’t believe so at this moment in time.
Mazi Smith, DL Michigan (65th Nationally; 99th PFN)
It’s easy to buy into the allure of Mazi Smith as a prospect in the 2023 NFL Draft. His freakish athleticism has been well-documented, being named to Feldman’s Freaks List as a result of a 33” vertical jump, a 9’4.5” broad jump, and ludicrous three-cone and bench press recordings. Oh, did we forget to mention that he’s 6’3”, 337 pounds? Freaky.
That testing athleticism manifests itself on the field as an explosive nose tackle with the power and strength to dominate people at the point of attack. Additionally, Smith’s high-level, borderline unique athletic profile means that he’s more than just a gap-plugging big man on the defensive front.
Smith has frequently shown that he can combine his agility and explosion with some well-executed pass-rush moves to be a force in opposing backfields.
While his high-end athleticism requires your attention, there is sufficient development required to ensure a limitation to Smith’s NFL draft stock. Hence, the current positioning of 99th on the Pro Football Network Big Board.
Smith routinely plays too high and needs to work on consistently playing with lower pad level. When he plays too high, Smith can be comfortably manipulated even by interior offensive linemen that cede size and mass to him. This issue can be exacerbated by a lack of elite length, with this sometimes being apparent in his tackling.
Overall, Smith lacks consistency and control in his game to elevate him towards the earlier part of Day 2, in our opinion. Additionally, a recent (still ongoing) off-field incident involving a firearm may raise questions for teams. It’s worth adding that the Michigan staff believes “he is not and never has been considered a threat to the university or community” after being stopped for speeding and found to have a loaded Glock 19 in his vehicle.
Players Pro Football Network Is Higher on Than Consensus
Trenton Simpson, LB Clemson (23rd Nationally; 10th PFN)
The overall view of the 2023 NFL Draft linebacker class has soured since the start of the season. Trenton Simpson isn’t immune to that. While he’s had a solid 2022 campaign, he hasn’t been quite as productive as he was with current Oklahoma head coach Brent Venables calling the Clemson defense.
Nevertheless, draft evaluation is ultimately a projection of the traits, and in the right role, Simpson has the tools to be a phenomenally dynamic and diverse defender, especially in a modern NFL that values versatility in second-level players.
To play devil’s advocate, Simpson isn’t a perfect prospect. His recognition, especially on option plays, can be a tad late at times. And after watching him take on blocks head-on more often this year, play strength is a notable concern.
At 6’3”, 225 pounds, Simpson has good size and length. But he’ll need to keep adding bulk at the next level if he wants to consistently stack and shed against NFL blockers.
In spite of all this, the coveted versatility that first made Simpson an LB1 candidate remains apparent. He’s a twitchy, fluid, and high-energy athlete who’s very natural playing in space and patrolling zones in coverage. He can play overhang slot and jam receivers with his length. And when he’s able to come downhill with a full head of steam as a pass rusher, you can see his explosiveness, motor, power generation, and closing speed all on display.
The recent impression of Simpson might not be the strongest one, but he’s shown us what he can do before. With the right defensive mind in the NFL, that potential can be unearthed again.
Rashee Rice, WR SMU (41st Nationally; 18th PFN)
I distinctly remember writing about Rashee Rice as a player PFN was higher on in the last iteration of the consensus big board rankings. Getting a sense of déjà vu here, but I’m cool with it because Rice remains one of the most exciting, most well-rounded receiver talents in the 2023 NFL Draft.
That’s not to say that 41st overall is a bad ranking for Rice. He’s undeniably one of the top senior receivers. But there’s enough on film to take it a step further and say he can challenge for one of the top positional spots altogether. That much is clear after Rice caught 96 passes for 1,355 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2022 while dealing with a broken toe since September.
Putting Rice’s traits through the three-level framework — separation, catch point ability, and run-after-catch — it’s easy to get excited about his NFL potential. At 6’2”, 203 pounds, with arms over 33”, Rice has the length to convert in contested situations and the frame density to scrape through arm tackles as a RAC threat.
Size is a definite strength for Rice, but his athleticism and play style ultimately round out his profile. He’s a high-energy athlete with snappy lateral mobility before the catch. Rice can both displace and outrun defenders after the catch, with long speed that should track in the 4.4s.
All this, and we haven’t mentioned his outrageous instincts in the air. Few receivers are better at naturally contorting to the ball and keeping passes out of their frame than Rice.
On my personal board, Rice is WR2 behind Quentin Johnston. SMU has produced a bevy of NFL WR talent in recent years, but Rice might be the best one yet.
Cooper Beebe, OT Kansas State (94th Nationally; 41st PFN)
Conference awards like Big 12 Offensive Lineman of the Year aren’t always completely translatable to NFL production. But in the case of Cooper Beebe, that award is a fitting representation of his skill and talent.
After earning All-Big 12 honors as Kansas State’s left tackle in 2021, Beebe moved inside to left guard in 2022 and proceeded to dominate week in and week out. Despite having the requisite size, mass, and length to play tackle at 6’4”, 322 pounds, he thrived inside with his physical skill set, frequently overpowering opposing defenders.
Beebe caught my eye during the initial Big 12 evaluation in the summer, and credit also goes to fellow draft analyst James Fragoza for identifying Beebe’s talent early and writing up a great report on him. Beebe isn’t always mentioned in this light, but he could be one of the best guards in the 2023 NFL Draft.
He’s not quite as powerful as O’Cyrus Torrence, but you can make a compelling case that Beebe’s the more well-rounded blocker. And he’s pretty powerful on his own, too.
Beebe is well-leveraged, very strong at the point, mobile enough in space, and a high IQ blocker with malleability mid-snap. He can adapt and adjust angles to maintain positioning on running downs — an impressive trait for a player his size.
Darnell Wright, OT Tennessee (84th Nationally; 57th PFN)
I conducted Darnell Wright’s initial evaluation in the summer, identifying him after watching his play against Will Anderson Jr. in 2021. Wright’s power capacity popped on tape. At one point in the running game, he locked out and essentially folded Anderson with one arm, showing off rare strength and upper body torque.
Wright graded out as an early-round prospect off his initial evaluation at PFN, and he’s gone beyond validating that placement in 2022. Now, the general consensus is that Wright is a Top 100 prospect. But he has a legitimate claim to be one of the top tackles in the 2023 NFL Draft as well.
A former five-star recruit, Wright looks like a lab creation at 6’6”, 335 pounds, with outrageous frame density and width. His power and strength are dominating traits, but this year, he’s refined his technique to more efficiently channel that ability. Wright is one of the best at employing independent hands in pass protection — a violent operator with a brutal snatch-and-trap and a finisher’s mentality.
Wright still leans at times and can still more consistently manage his leverage. But he’s improved there and is quietly a solid short-area athlete for his size, with good foot speed and recovery athleticism. All the tools are there for Wright to develop into a high-level NFL starter at right tackle — well worth a pick within the first two rounds.
Ruke Orhorhoro, DL Clemson (160th Nationally; 79th PFN)
Of the prospects PFN is notably higher on, Ruke Orhorhoro has the lowest consensus national ranking at 160. I’ll go on the record to say that Orhorhoro is easily a Day 2 interior defensive line prospect, and he has the tools to develop into one of the 2023 NFL Draft class’ top defensive products, period.
Above all else, Orhorhoro is explosive. Coming off the line alongside Myles Murphy on the edge, Orhorhoro doesn’t lose a step. He accelerates extremely quickly into contact and can leverage impressive amounts of power both with his proportional length and functional torque.
MORE: 2023 NFL Draft Prospects
Orhorhoro is extremely well put together as an athlete, a muscular-built 6’4”, 303-pound defender with levers for arms and superb natural leverage acquisition. With his size and athleticism, he’s very versatile — able to play from 1-tech to 5-tech.
And for a Nigerian-born player who only started playing football as a junior in high school, Orhorhoro already has a working hand usage arsenal on the interior as a pass rusher.
The Senior Bowl will be a vital opportunity for Orhorhoro to boost his stock in the national lens, and I expect him to make the most of it with his raw traits. He’s a supremely underrated talent.
2023 NFL Draft Industry Consensus Big Board
|1||Will Anderson Jr.||Alabama||ED||1||77.1|
|4||C.J. Stroud||Ohio State||QB||2||96.4|
|6||Tyree Wilson||Texas Tech||ED||2||83.4|
|9||Paris Johnson Jr.||Ohio State||OT||1||85|
|11||Jaxon Smith-Njigba||Ohio State||WR||1||78.9|
|12||Joey Porter Jr.||Penn State||CB||3||101.8|
|17||Lukas Van Ness||Iowa||ED||4||103.1|
|19||Michael Mayer||Notre Dame||TE||1||101.3|
|27||Zay Flowers||Boston College||WR||4||87.4|
|33||Will McDonald IV||Iowa State||ED||6||108.1|
|34||Josh Downs||North Carolina||WR||5||82|
|35||Cam Smith||South Carolina||CB||5||98.2|
|36||Emmanuel Forbes||Mississippi State||CB||6||94.7|
|39||John Michael Schmitz||Minnesota||OC||1||106.1|
|40||Dawand Jones||Ohio State||OT||6||94.8|
|45||Keion White||Georgia Tech||DL5T||2||106.7|
|46||Felix Anudike-Uzomah||Kansas State||ED||8||113.4|
|47||Luke Musgrave||Oregon State||TE||4||130.1|
|53||Isaiah Foskey||Notre Dame||ED||10||108.9|
|55||Julius Brents||Kansas State||CB||8||88.1|
|61||Tucker Kraft||South Dakota State||TE||6||90.4|
|64||Antonio Johnson||Texas A&M||S||2||112.9|
|65||Clark Phillips III||Utah||NCB||1||104.1|
|66||Devon Achane||Texas A&M||RB||4||100.2|
|69||Daiyan Henley||Washington State||LB||4||108.2|
|70||Luke Wypler||Ohio State||OC||4||92.1|
|71||Marvin Mims Jr.||Oklahoma||WR||8||104.3|
|72||Tyrique Stevenson||Miami (FL)||CB||9||95|
|77||Gervon Dexter Sr.||Florida||DL3T||4||100.1|
|78||Jonathan Mingo||Ole Miss||WR||11||98.7|
|80||Darius Rush||South Carolina||CB||10||119.2|
|82||Zach Harrison||Ohio State||ED||11||92.4|
|84||Byron Young (Tennessee)||Tennessee||ED||12||96.2|
|86||Jayden Reed||Michigan State||WR||13||93.3|
|87||Ji'Ayir Brown||Penn State||S||6||106.5|
|88||JL Skinner||Boise State||S||7||93.5|
|90||A.T. Perry||Wake Forest||WR||14||88.3|
|93||Zacch Pickens||South Carolina||DL3T||5||88.5|
|96||Jammie Robinson||Florida State||S||8||92.3|
|101||Andre Carter II||Army||ED||13||114.4|
|106||Chandler Zavala||NC State||OG||2||165.9|
|109||Christopher Smith II||Georgia||S||9||92.3|
|113||Karl Brooks||Bowling Green||DL5T||5||92.2|
|115||Kyu Blu Kelly||Stanford||CB||14||98.3|
|117||Zach Evans||Ole Miss||RB||10||86.2|
|120||Xavier Hutchinson||Iowa State||WR||17||85.2|
|121||Nick Saldiveri||Old Dominion||OT||12||102.7|
|127||Parker Washington||Penn State||WR||19||99.8|
|129||Jaylon Jones||Texas A&M||CB||16||107.8|
|133||Byron Young (Alabama)||Alabama||DL5T||7||79.6|
|137||Brenton Strange||Penn State||TE||8||91|
|143||Emil Ekiyor Jr.||Alabama||OG||5||101.8|
|147||Zack Kuntz||Old Dominion||TE||9||82.8|
|149||Jake Haener||Fresno State||QB||7||100.8|
|151||Nick Hampton||Appalachian State||ED||18||82.6|
|153||Ivan Pace Jr.||Cincinnati||LB||11||84.4|
|155||Kobie Turner||Wake Forest||DL3T||7||133.6|
|156||Jarrett Patterson||Notre Dame||OG||6||91.2|
|158||Marte Mapu||Sacramento State||S||11||152.8|
|161||Brandon Joseph||Notre Dame||S||12||92.6|
|165||Nick Broeker||Ole Miss||OG||8||87.3|
|170||Deuce Vaughn||Kansas State||RB||16||95.2|
|175||Juice Scruggs||Penn State||OC||7||89|
|178||Ronnie Hickman||Ohio State||S||13||81|
|180||Will Mallory||Miami (FL)||TE||12||89.6|
|182||Jose Ramirez||Eastern Michigan||LB||12||84.3|
|183||Darrell Luter Jr.||South Alabama||CB||20||85.9|
|192||Viliami Fehoko||San Jose State||ED||20||90.9|
|193||Jon Gaines II||UCLA||OG||10||87.1|
|195||Keaton Mitchell||East Carolina||RB||17||111.2|
|196||Asim Richards||North Carolina||OG||11||91.3|
|198||Sidy Sow||Eastern Michigan||OG||12||101.1|
|200||Rejzohn Wright||Oregon State||CB||23||113.5|
|202||Bryce Ford-Wheaton||West Virginia||WR||26||88|
|203||Cameron Young||Mississippi State||DL1T||4||93.7|
|206||Lonnie Phelps Jr.||Kansas||ED||21||87.7|
|208||Thomas Incoom||Central Michigan||ED||22||79.9|
|210||Chris Rodriguez Jr.||Kentucky||RB||19||84|
|212||Tavius Robinson||Ole Miss||ED||24||100|
|214||Jason Taylor II||Oklahoma State||S||15||98.8|
|215||Jalen Moreno-Cropper||Fresno State||WR||30||86.6|
|216||Jerrod Clark||Coastal Carolina||DL1T||5||87.5|
|218||Anthony Johnson Jr.||Iowa State||S||17||104|
|227||Tyler Lacy||Oklahoma State||DL5T||12||86.3|
|228||Robert Beal Jr.||Georgia||ED||26||89.7|
|229||Isaiah Land||Florida A&M||ED||27||75.5|
|230||Brenton Cox Jr.||Florida||ED||28||94.8|
|231||Alex Austin||Oregon State||CB||25||94.8|
|233||Dontay Demus Jr.||Maryland||WR||31||87.3|
|234||Dante Stills||West Virginia||DL5T||13||80.6|
|235||Starling Thomas V||UAB||CB||26||102|
|241||Nesta Jade Silvera||Arizona State||DL3T||8||77.3|
|245||Chamarri Conner||Virginia Tech||S||21||81.5|
|248||Myles Brooks||Louisiana Tech||CB||28||82.2|
|249||John Ojukwu||Boise State||OT||20||79.8|
|254||Earl Bostick Jr.||Kansas||OT||21||83.7|
|256||Trey Dean III||Florida||S||23||84.2|
|260||Brodric Martin||Western Kentucky||DL1T||6||119.2|
|262||Jason Brownlee||Southern Miss||WR||34||98.3|
|263||Cameron Brown||Ohio State||CB||30||109.3|
|264||Antoine Green||North Carolina||WR||35||91.5|
|266||Rashad Torrence II||Florida||S||24||82.7|
|268||Blake Whiteheart||Wake Forest||TE||15||110.6|
|269||Tyrus Wheat||Mississippi State||ED||31||86.7|
|270||Nic Jones||Ball State||CB||31||95.4|
|271||C.J. Johnson||East Carolina||WR||37||95.1|
|273||Aubrey Miller Jr.||Jackson State||LB||20||85.5|
|280||Mitchell Tinsley||Penn State||WR||40||109.8|
|282||Camerun Peoples||Appalachian State||RB||22||78.8|
|283||Drake Thomas||NC State||LB||22||95.4|
|284||Isaiah Moore||NC State||LB||23||83.8|
|288||BJ Thompson||Stephen F. Austin||ED||32||83.5|
|290||Caleb Murphy||Ferris Sate||ED||33||104.7|
|291||Bryce Baringer||Michigan State||P||1||85.9|
|292||Mark Evans II||Arkansas-Pine Bluff||OC||10||79.1|
|293||PJ Mustipher||Penn State||DL1T||7||77.1|
|295||Scott Matlock||Boise State||DL3T||10||99.1|
|296||Jovaughn Gwyn||South Carolina||OG||18||83.4|
|297||Lance Boykin||Coastal Carolina||CB||34||84.3|
|298||M.J. Anderson||Iowa State||ED||34||94.7|
|299||Jalen Wayne||South Alabama||WR||42||102|
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