Duke’s 2023 NFL Draft prospects include Jalon Calhoun and Shaka Heyward

The PFN Draft Preview takes a deeper look into the potential 2023 NFL Draft prospects set to hit the field for Duke this season.

Before you know it, the 2023 NFL Draft will be here. But in the 2022 college football season, it’s a new era of Duke football under new head coach Mike Elko. Just how many prospects will Elko have with eyes on the 2023 NFL Draft, and who should you be on the lookout for once the season rolls along?

Duke prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft

Elko was named the head coach at Duke following the season and longtime head coach David Cutcliffe’s retirement from the position. A defensive-minded coach, Elko hails most recently from Texas A&M, where he served as the defensive coordinator over the past three seasons. As you would imagine, the Duke prospects for the 2023 NFL Draft are headlined by defensive players.

Jordan Waters, RB

Replacing Mataeo Durant, Jordan Waters has a chance to make a big name for himself. A big back at 6’1″, 210, Waters has just 108 career rushing yards. He’s a converted wide receiver who could showcase some of his receiving ability to make him an even more enticing prospect in an expanded role.

Jalon Calhoun, WR

The team’s leading returning receiver, Jalon Calhoun is a slot magician. Calhoun uses his compact frame to weave his way open across the middle of the field very well. He’s a threat after the catch and averages well over 10 yards per reception through his career. Calhoun can cement himself as a top-notch slot receiver in this class with an uptick in quarterback play.

Eli Pancol, WR

A big-play threat, Eli Pancol feasts on smaller defensive backs on the outside at times. With more targets his way, Pancol could showcase his contested-catch ability in a featured role as Calhoun takes attention from the inside. Pancol, at 6’3″, 200 pounds, has the size advantage to dominate those smaller receivers but showcasing an ability to separate will be key for his NFL evaluation.

Darrell Harding Jr., WR

With sure hands, Darrell Harding Jr. has a tremendous size and speed combination. An athletic lineage runs deep in Harding’s family as his second cousin is all-time great baseball player Ken Griffey Jr. Harding’s no stranger to dominating play, as he was the Orlando Touchdown Club Player of the Year following his final season at West Orange High School. His sure hands will certainly be helpful as the Blue Devils break in a new quarterback.

Graham Barton, OT

Last year’s starter at left tackle, Graham Barton returns in 2022. He’s a mauler in the run game, and he can increase his NFL stock by allowing fewer quarterback pressures than he did a season ago. Barton’s strength is not in question, and fine-tuning his fundamentals could make him a candidate for this year’s draft class or even in 2024.

Maurice McIntyre, G

Proving himself on the inside, Maurice McIntyre had a great season at left guard a year ago. He’s a stout pass protector on the inside with his strength and hand usage. McIntyre is no slouch in the running game either as he has an impressive get-off. Staying healthy and improving his movement skills in the zone rushing attack at Duke will help his stock.

Jacob Monk, G

A three-year starter, Jacob Monk has one final go in him as Duke’s right guard. He has positional versatility, but his future is on the inside at the NFL level. Monk is a great pass protector as he uses his outstanding balance to guide him. It’s been a great career as Duke’s leader on the offensive line, and it could be capped with an even more dominant senior season.

John Gelotte, OT

After splitting reps a season ago, John Gelotte brings his massive frame back to Duke for the 2022 season. Adding muscle to his 6’7″ frame while maintaining his speed and quickness will do wonders as he needs to prove he can withstand faster ACC pass rushers while not giving anything away with his strength. Gelotte has an ideal frame to build upon, and 2022 could put him on the map.

DeWayne Carter, DT

A menace on the inside, DeWayne Carter knows a thing or two about making an impact. The team’s leading returner in sacks and forced fumbles, Carter can equally find the ball carrier in the run game all the same that he brings down the quarterback with his pass-rushing skills. Carter is a name to remember as he’s in line for a potential breakout season.

Christian Rorie, DT

Primed for a uptick in snaps, Christian Rorie is a massive man. At 6’6″ and 305 pounds, Rorie has length and a frame to build upon. With his frame comes versatility as he can line up at a multitude of positions opposite Carter for favorable matchups.

Ahmad Craig, DE

Similar to others on this list, Ahmad Craig may be in line for a breakout season. He hasn’t shown much through his first two seasons, mainly because of limited snaps, but if his size and recruiting prowess are to be trusted, Craig could find himself on the list for breakout candidates for this draft or the next.

R.J. Oben, DE

R.J. Oben returns after proving his worth multiple times a season ago — his first as the starter. Oben was a consistent force in the backfield against the pass. If he can improve his run-stuffing ability and pursuit from the backside, he could round into a fine three-down defensive end. He has size and speed, and adding technique will go a long way for his draft stock.

Shaka Heyward, LB

The veteran on the Duke defense, Shaka Heyward is a three-year starter who does just about everything you’d imagine a guy with his skill set would. Heyward can stop the run very well, but he’s also proven to be a skilled coverage defender. Yet, his best attributes are when he rushes the passer, whether via a disguised blitz or off the edge all the same.

Dorian Mausi, LB

The man in the middle for this Duke defense, Dorian Mausi calls the shots wonderfully. He’s a ball hawk both in the ground game and in coverage. He rarely allows a big play and tracks down ball carriers in the alley or in pursuit nicely. Additionally, Mausi is no stranger to disrupting the opposition with his pass-rushing skills.

Datrone Young, CB

An Iowa State transfer, Duke fans would be wise to get to know the name Datrone Young. Though not on the roster, his transfer destination is Duke, and the three-year starter at cornerback for Iowa State would be a huge boost. Young has great coverage skills both in man and zone coverage and would fit coach Elko’s defense nicely.

Cam Mellor is the Senior Director of the College Football/NFL Draft vertical for Pro Football Network. You can find his writing here and follow him on Twitter: @CamMellor.

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