“You play to win the game.” We know Herm Edwards’ philosophy, but unfortunately for the Arizona State Sun Devils in 2022, there weren’t enough Ws to go around. Nonetheless, there was talent aplenty. We’ll dissect Arizona State’s top 2023 NFL Draft prospects and their scouting reports to project ceilings at the next level.
Arizona State 2023 NFL Draft Scouting Reports
Bryan Thompson, WR
Strengths: Former Utah wideout with an underrated game. Runs sharp routes, stays low exiting breaks, and positions himself to make the reception. Possesses eye/hand coordination, tracks the pass in the air, and gets vertical to make the reception.
Displays strong hands, snatches the fastball from the air, and easily adjusts to the pass to make the catch in stride. Shows focus and eye/hand coordination and makes plenty of difficult catches.
Weaknesses: Not quick releasing off the line of scrimmage. Lacks a deep burst. Marginally productive the past two years at Arizona State and has never caught a touchdown pass.
Overall: Thompson flashed ability over the past two seasons and comes with nice size, speed, and pass-catching ability. He must further develop his game, but Thompson has enough upside to warrant a spot on a practice squad.
Khoury Bethley, S
Strengths: Well-built safety who is best making plays against the run. Quickly locates the ball handler, takes proper angles, and flies around the action. Sells out against the run, displays a burst of closing speed, and wraps up tackling. Quickly diagnoses plays and immediately recognizes coverage assignments.
Weaknesses: Plays to his 40-time and cannot recover. Best playing downhill and comes with poor ball skills.
Overall: Bethley was a durable safety, and he comes with next-level size and an aggressive game. He lacks speed and ball skills and must line up in a system that has him facing the action and playing downhill.
Kyle Soelle, LB
Strengths: Disciplined, instinctive linebacker with average size and speed. Quickly diagnoses plays, flows well to the action, and takes proper angles. Remains disciplined with assignments and keeps the action in front of him. Wraps up tackling and brings opponents down at the point of attack. Fires upfield on the run blitz and sells out, but, at the same time, plays under control. Effectively quarterbacks the defense and makes the calls for the unit.
Weaknesses: Plays to his 40-time, slow getting to the point, and cannot cut off the corners from ball handlers. Lacks speed in pursuit. Gives effort in coverage but has limitations.
Overall: Soelle is a tough, instinctive linebacker who comes with athletic limitations. His tenacity and awareness are appealing, and he should add value on special teams.
Merlin Robertson, LB
Strengths: Smooth linebacker who is best against the run. Gets depth on pass drops, covers a good amount of area on the field, and easily alters his angle of attack. Fires upfield and gives effort against the run. Works hard to get involved in the action, and uses his hands to protect himself. Hard-hitting and drives his shoulders through ball handlers.
Weaknesses: Struggles in coverage and rarely locates the pass. Doesn’t always play under control. Gets caught up in blocks and easily knocked from the action despite his size.
Overall: Robertson was a very productive run defender at Arizona State and comes with the size and ability to back up as a middle linebacker on Sundays.
Nesta Jade Silvera, DT
Strengths: Tough, nasty defensive tackle who began his career at Miami. Flashes an explosive first step off the snap, displays good movement skills, and is tough to stop. Plays with outstanding leverage, quickly locates the ball handler, and gets off blocks to make plays against the run. Powerful, bull rushes blockers off the line of scrimmage, and collapses the pocket. Consistently draws double-team blocks. Moves down the line of scrimmage and makes plays.
Weaknesses: Must develop more moves with his hands and become quicker disengaging from blocks. Marginal pass rusher.
Overall: Silvera is a nice-sized defensive tackle who plays with a high-revving motor and solid fundamentals. He exceeded expectations last season, and his draft stock has continued to move north since January. He offers possibilities as an interior lineman in a four-man front and could eventually develop into a starter.
Want more information on Silvera? Here’s our expanded scouting report and draft profile: Nesta Jade Silvera, DT, Arizona State | NFL Draft Scouting Report
Tautala Pesefea, DT
Strengths: Hard-working interior defensive lineman who is best occupying blockers. Fires off the snap with a quick first step. Breaks down well, plays with proper pad level, and quickly gets his hands up. Resilient, keeps his feet moving, and stays with the action. Quick, flows laterally down the line of scrimmage, and chases the action.
Weaknesses: Gets knocked around and is easily pushed off-balance despite his size. Minimally productive and never recorded a sack in four years at Arizona State.
Overall: Pesefea possesses the size, growth potential, and mentality to be a gap-occupying defensive tackle, but his game has limitations.
Timarcus Davis, DB
Strengths: Feisty safety who shows good recognition. Possesses solid size, shows good awareness, and keeps the action in front of him. Stays on the receiver’s hip out of breaks, has a closing burst, and hits hard. Plays physical football and sells out defending the run.
MORE: 2023 NFL Draft Big Board
Weaknesses: Struggles staying with receivers on crossing patterns. Does a lot of face-guarding in man coverage. Gives up too many underneath receptions.
Overall: Davis possesses solid size, but he comes with marginal speed and lots of limitations.
Xazavian Valladay, RB
Strengths: Productive ball carrier who is also effective as a receiver out of the backfield. Patient, waits for blocks to develop, and finds the running lanes. Effectively follows blocks all over the field, consistently runs north/south, and keeps his feet moving.
Plays faster than his 40-time, beats defenders into the open field, and keeps the play in-bounds. Quick, runs with authority, and possesses outstanding instincts. Extends his hands to make the reception away from his frame, and displays eye/hand coordination. Sturdy.
Weaknesses: Better in a straight line and loses momentum trying to cut back against the grain or change the direction of runs. Not a perimeter runner and lacks the agility to turn the corner. Possesses average size.
Overall: Valladay was a dual-threat running back for Arizona State with a nose for the end zone. He possesses the versatility and running skill to be a third-down back, and he could surprise in camp this summer.
Want more information on Valladay? Here’s our expanded scouting report and draft profile: Xazavian Vallday, RB, Arizona State | NFL Draft Scouting Report
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