Many 2023 NFL Draft prospects used opportunities afforded to them in Week 3 to boost their stock. But which prospects had the most noteworthy performances? As we do each week, let’s once again cover a dozen of the most impressive prospect showings from the latest dose of college football.
Week 3 2023 NFL Draft Risers
Michael Penix Jr., QB, Washington
There’s still room for more quarterbacks to take up real estate behind the top tandem of C.J. Stroud and Bryce Young. Michael Penix Jr. might be the latest signal-caller to stamp his claim to mid-round consideration. The Indiana transfer was electric for the Huskies in Week 3, completing 24 of 40 passes for 397 yards and four touchdowns in a 39-28 upset over the 11th-ranked team.
The Spartans’ secondary clearly still has work to do, but Penix’s performance shouldn’t be discounted for that reason. Penix showed a little bit of everything. He has size and athleticism, as well as an above-average arm with off-platform capabilities. Beyond that, he also processed quickly and showed improvisational ability.
Zach Evans, RB, Ole Miss
Zach Evans has the recruiting pedigree to sell his upside. But this year with Ole Miss, he’s earning the production as well.
Against Georgia Tech, Evans put up 134 yards and two touchdowns on just 18 carries, averaging 7.4 yards per attempt. It’s rare that you find a runner as smooth and as fluid as Evans is at 6’0″, 215 pounds. That’ll be one of his most appealing traits through the draft process. Evans can churn his legs through contact, but the ability to carry his acceleration through cuts and minute angle adjustments in space is what truly makes him a dangerous runner.
Rashee Rice, WR, SMU
Rashee Rice is blossoming into an early-round receiver prospect before our eyes. Saturday against Maryland was his first test of 2022 against a secondary with NFL draft-worthy talent, and Rice did not disappoint. In fact, he had his best outing yet — corralling 11 catches for 193 yards.
Rice is well-known as a high-level RAC threat with his dense frame and dynamic athleticism. But against the Terrapins, much of his production derived from his catching instincts, timing, and ball-tracking ability in contested situations. Rice is a complete three-level weapon, and his stock is soaring up after Week 3.
Daewood Davis, WR, Western Kentucky
After catching 43 passes for 763 yards and eight touchdowns a season ago, Daewood Davis is surging ahead in his final campaign for Western Kentucky. Through three games, the Hilltoppers star has 16 receptions for 279 yards and two scores. Most recently, he put up five catches for 77 yards and a touchdown against an Indiana secondary with multiple NFL draft prospects.
Davis, a Feldman Freak with a 40″ vertical at 6’2″, has the length and explosiveness to be a dangerous deep threat and seam buster. This year, with Austin Reed as his QB, he’s delivering on his natural traits.
Olumuyiwa Fashanu, OT, Penn State
Ahead of Week 3, Penn State OT Olumuyiwa Fashanu vs. Auburn EDGE Derick Hall was listed as one of the top prospect matchups of the weekend. Looking back, we can safely say that, while Hall had some nice moments, Fashanu got the edge in this battle.
Fashanu helped the Nittany Lions plow over the Tigers’ defense on the ground. And though he didn’t face Hall every time in pass protection, he was lights out regardless on the left side. Whatever Auburn threw at him — power, delayed blitzes, stunts — Fashanu held strong and kept the blind side clean.
Anton Harrison, OT, Oklahoma
Oklahoma drew a wounded Nebraska squad as their opponent in Week 3, and the results were essentially what you’d expect. The Sooners outmatched the Cornhuskers on both sides of the ball, but the discrepancy was especially large with Oklahoma on offense. Oklahoma’s line dominated the trenches and left tackle Anton Harrison stood out on every other rep.
At 6’5″, 315 pounds, Harrison has the necessary size and length. He also complements it with the mobility and power of an early-round tackle. He’s explosive into contact, with excellent rotational torque and leg drive in the run game. But in what’s been a staple of his game, Harrison also showed he could replace his hands with full, violent extensions as a pass protector. Together, Harrison and Fashanu are helping fill the shortage of OT talent in 2023.
Sedrick Van Pran, C, Georgia
In actuality, you can give “Riser” tags to the entire Georgia offensive line after their performance against South Carolina. Broderick Jones was mauling edge defenders in the run game. Warren McClendon was using his power output to displace opponents. But Sedrick Van Pran might’ve had the most impressive day.
The redshirt sophomore center is very explosive moving upfield, but he also showed the necessary strength to hold off fellow prospect Zacch Pickens on the interior. Beyond that, Van Pran also displayed flexibility and leverage awareness in close quarters. In a tight race for the top center spot, Van Pran gave himself a boost in Week 3.
Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech
We’ve been talking about Tyree Wilson and his unnatural raw traits since the summer months. It’s not often you find an edge rusher built like him — standing at 6’6″, 275 pounds with 35 5/8″ arms and an 86″ wingspan. But all the talk was of potential. Week 3 felt like an emergence for Wilson, who logged two sacks and 3.5 tackles for loss against a talented NC State team.
There’s still room for Wilson to play with more discipline, but his disruptive capacity is nearly unmatched in the class. He brings absurd power and hand strength, with surprising athleticism and flexibility for his size. Comments telling of first-round upside are very much warranted, and Wilson took a step toward that point in Week 3.
Tavius Robinson, EDGE, Ole Miss
Ole Miss‘ defense, with the help of several standout defenders, was able to shut out Georgia Tech in Week 3. But one of the most impressive plays of the day came from edge rusher Tavius Robinson.
The 6’6″, 255-pound defensive end came up big for the Rebels on a 4th-and-goal play, first blasting the tackle back with a powerful bull rush, then swimming inside and ripping into the pocket. It was a surgical rep, which Robinson finished by swarming the QB in pursuit with his length. The key for Robinson now is finding consistency, but he’s on the radar after a strong showing in mid-September.
Daiyan Henley, LB, Washington State
Few 2023 NFL Draft prospects were more unforgivingly impactful than Washington State’s Daiyan Henley was in Week 3. The Cougars linebacker has been a stud through his early three-game stretch with Washington State, but Week 3’s game against Colorado State was a career-best outing.
Henley dominated the stat sheet with 13 tackles, three sacks, three tackles for loss, and two forced fumbles. At 6’2″, 232 pounds, the sixth-year senior has great size. He uses that size to scrape past blocks as a blitzer and run defender, but his explosive burst and red-hot motor is what allowed him to be such a nuisance for the Rams on Saturday. He’s a nightmare blitzing from space.
Julius Irvin, CB, Washington
Julius Irvin might be one of the best under-the-radar stories on the college football landscape. He’s a fifth-year senior, who’s the son of former NFL All-Pro cornerback LeRoy Irvin. Up to this point, Irvin had played safety, but injuries nudged him into the CB spot for the 2022 season.
Fast forward to Week 3, and Irvin had a spectacular outing against Michigan State, complete with a pass deflection and an impressive interception in the second half. At 6’1″, 179 pounds, Irvin has speed and length, and used that combination to envelop Spartans receivers consistently on Saturday. He’s one to watch in the coming weeks.
Jay Ward, S, LSU
LSU football isn’t at its best spot right now. But for now, they can celebrate a 31-16 win over Mississippi State, for which most of the credit goes to the defense. More specifically, safety Jay Ward had an outstanding day.
The 6’1″, 180-pound defender, who has flexibility between the nickel spot and field safety, racked up 11 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, an interception, and a pass deflection in an eye-opening performance.
Ward’s game-sealing interception — which he got by undercutting an inaccurate crosser — will get the most looks, but his play in run support was most impressive. He consistently triggered downhill quickly, engaged and deconstructed blocks, and made crucial tackles in space with his length, consistently limiting Mississippi State to short gains. Ward is a complete safety with coveted positional versatility.