Each week at PFN, we’ll shine a spotlight on a dozen more 2023 NFL Draft sleepers worth keeping an eye on. After the Week 2 action, which prospects deserve more attention on the national stage? Let’s take a closer look.
2023 NFL Draft sleepers to watch in Week 3
Drew Sanders, OLB, Arkansas
If Drew Sanders’ name is familiar to you, it’s not an accident. Not long ago, Sanders was at Alabama, making flash plays on a very talented defense. But after a 2021 campaign in which his involvement stagnated, Sanders transferred to Arkansas, where he’s already become a defensive star.
The true junior plays both in space and on the edge, possessing elite size and length with impressive range at 6’5″ and 230 pounds. He’s an agile short-area mover with pass-rushing capabilities, but he can also seal off the boundary in pursuit. Sanders has high upside, and it was especially evident against South Carolina.
Bralen Trice, EDGE, Washington
Last week, it was Washington offensive tackle Roger Rosengarten who hit the 2023 NFL Draft sleepers list. This week, we highlight a Huskies player on the other side of the ball: Edge rusher Bralen Trice. Trice was a wrecking ball against Portland State last week. He amassed 1.5 sacks and 2.5 tackles for loss on the stat sheet, and somehow, that doesn’t do justice to the impact he had.
The 6’4″, 269-pound lineman is an explosive, violent defender who brings tremendous burst into contact and knock-back power at the point of attack. A fourth-year player, he’s just starting his NFL Draft ascent, and it could soon steepen.
Jalon Daniels, QB, Kansas
It’s early, but the Jayhawks might have something with third-year junior QB Jalon Daniels. Daniels earned the starting job heading into this season, and he’s rolled full-speed ahead since then. Most recently, Daniels helped knock off an intimidating West Virginia team in overtime, completing 18 of 29 passes for 219 yards and three scores while adding 85 yards on the ground.
Daniels is a stellar athlete at 6’0″, 215 pounds, but he also has a legitimate arm with strength and elasticity. His showing against West Virginia was littered with big throws, including a 40-yard opposite-hash, back-shoulder dime at high velocity in the fourth.
Cooper Beebe, G, Kansas State
Cooper Beebe garnered national respect as Kansas State’s left tackle last season. But it felt like a move to offensive guard would be in his future, either in college or at the NFL level. This year, the Wildcats chose to accelerate the timeline on Beebe’s move to the interior. He’s played at left guard thus far, and against Missouri, he was borderline dominant on some reps.
The 6’4″, 322-pound blocker is tough to get around, and he also has a tremendous combination of natural leverage and core strength. Once he latches, Beebe can easily redirect and drive defenders upfield. He was a road-grader on Saturday, and that should only continue.
Max Tooley, LB, BYU
The BYU Cougars came out on top in a hotly-contested clash with Baylor. In close games like these, sometimes the performance of one player can make all the difference. Turn on the film and you’ll see Max Tooley making that kind of impact. Although he’s a bit undersized at 6’2″ and 215 pounds, Tooley did his best work in the box against Baylor.
He showed great instincts and aggressiveness in run defense, engaging and shedding blocks, and successfully squaring up runners to make momentum-snuffing tackles. His closing burst also allowed him to carry energy into blocks, drive blockers back and reduce space for runners. Tooley closed the day with 13 tackles — a tremendous outing that drew eyes.
Isaiah Adams, G, Illinois
The “Chase Brown for Heisman” movement is moving along at full speed after three dominant performances. But Brown doesn’t have just himself to thank. Illinois’ offensive line has been terrific through the early goings of the 2022 season, and Isaiah Adams is a big part of that.
Adams has great size at 6’5″ and 315 pounds, and he carries that weight well. Adams has versatility between tackle and guard and has played both already. But at guard, his traits pop the most. He’s a mauler with strong hands who can bury opponents on the ground as a run blocker. And in pass protection, he brings a violent snatch-and-trap, which draws similar results. Adams’ physicality and versatility could win over scouts next spring.
Jovaughn Gwyn, G, South Carolina
Sometimes, in such a talent-dense conference as the SEC, consistent and dependable players can go overlooked. Case in point: South Carolina offensive guard Jovaughn Gwyn. As of Week 3, he’s started 36 games at right guard for the Gamecocks. He’s a dense 6’3″, 300-pound interior blocker who brings a surprisingly complete pallet of traits to the fold.
Gwyn shows off exceptional mobility as a pulling blocker but also offers impressive core strength in pass protection, which he can use to lock down and absorb power rushes. He’s not the biggest blocker, but his over-arching ability and experience should earn him fans, especially among heavy zone-concept teams.
Javon Foster, OT, Missouri
Javon Foster had his hands full on Saturday against Kansas State edge rusher Felix Anudike-Uzomah. But while the results-based analysis won’t always be kind to Foster, he assuredly has tools worth keeping an eye on. Anudike-Uzomah gave Foster trouble with his explosiveness and violent hand usage, but Foster wasn’t always an easy out.
He has a long, wide frame at 6’5″, 319 pounds, and flashes extremely impressive torque generation and power output. With his strong base and torso flexibility, he can absorb power, and he also accelerates well when tracking defenders upfield. One of his biggest issues so far is that his hands can be too wide. But there’s potential if he can clean that up.
Kendrick Sartor, OT, Marshall
Any time an offensive tackle holds off Isaiah Foskey as Kendrick Sartor did against Notre Dame, you have to take notice. Sartor earned PFN Team of the Week honors for his performance, and he’s also drawing eyes as a potential 2023 NFL Draft sleeper.
His size is arguably his biggest asset. Sartor sports a long, dense frame at 6’7″ and 310 pounds. But against Notre Dame, he showed enough mobility to run the apex as a pass blocker and helped pave open holes for Khalan Laborn on the ground. As the Herd move into C-USA play, Sartor may garner more attention.
Jayshaun Coffman, DT, Marshall
The representation for the upstart Marshall Thundering Herd continues with defensive tackle Jayshaun Coffman. Coffman is a redshirt sophomore, so more likely than not, he’s a stash for the 2024 NFL Draft cycle. But at the very least, keep your eyes on this man, because he has visible talent.
Coffman isn’t an every-down player just yet for Marshall, but he made a huge impact in a limited sample against Notre Dame. In the second half, Notre Dame had a short-yardage sequence on third and fourth down. Coffman blew up the play both times. He comes off the line quicker than his teammates and was able to stack, shed, and envelop runners at 6’5″ and 297 pounds.
2023 NFL Draft sleepers at the FCS level
Jacardia Wright, RB, Missouri State
Every year, one or two running back prospects distinguish themselves at the FCS level. Jacardia Wright’s Week 2 performance for Missouri State was a step toward claiming one of those spots.
Against UT Martin, Wright rumbled for 120 yards on 23 carries and also caught three passes for 45 yards and a score. Formerly of Kansas State, the 6’0″, 220-pound Wright has natural talent. He’s big and compact, but is also surprisingly sudden and agile on his cuts — able to sink his hips and quickly reset his feet moving upfield. UT Martin had no response for Wright’s combined cuts and contact balance, and other teams may soon have a similar quandary. Wright has legitimate rising potential in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Jayden Dawson, CB, Montana
Montana unleashed a shellacking on South Dakota’s offense in Week 2. Carson Camp was bombarded with pressure whenever he dropped back. And when he managed to throw, the venerable cornerback duo of Justin Ford and Jayden Dawson made every pass a dangerous endeavor.
Dawson wasn’t tested as often, but he managed to contribute a deflection in Montana’s dominant outing. More often than not, he blanketed his man with steady, fleet-footed coverage, playing low in his stance and maintaining leverage upfield. All Dawson has done since 2018 is rack up accolades. All-Frontier Conference, All-Mountain League, and now All-Big Sky. He’s on track to keep it going in 2022.
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