Coming off a 5-7 finish, the Arizona Wildcats are hoping to take another big step forward in 2023 after improving their win total by four games in Jedd Fisch’s second year as head coach. Having a young roster could’ve impeded the program’s sudden leap, but Fisch has built an exciting offense to rely upon. We’re looking at the Wildcats’ roster changes heading into the fall, as well as their 2024 NFL Draft prospects.
Arizona Wildcats Roster and Depth Chart Changes
Fisch relied upon the transfer portal to revamp the offense last year, adding star quarterback Jayden de Laura from Washington State, star receiver Jacob Cowing from UTEP, and tight end Tanner McLachlan from junior college. The unit ranked 48th in scoring last year. Now, he’s hoping the same approach will pay off for their woeful defense.
Arizona could see as many as eight new starters on their defense thanks to transfer additions. While none are obvious NFL prospects right now, the unit simply can’t be as bad as finishing 126th in scoring allowed. The Wildcats have to deal with some offensive powerhouses in the Pac-12, but last year’s effort was abysmal.
Losing three NFL draft prospects and five graduated athletes from the roster hurts, but the best talent on the team is back. Let’s dive into the three seniors who will help define this team’s upside in 2023.
Arizona NFL Draft Prospects
Jayden de Laura, QB
Standing only 6’0″ and 190 pounds, de Laura has an uphill climb to become a major NFL prospect. The fact he settled a sexual assault case from high school recently could further cloud how the NFL handles his availability entering the league. But if his background checks out, de Laura should earn some consideration to be added to all-star game rosters.
He’s completed at least 62.5% of passes over his last two seasons, averaging 8.5 yards per attempt last year. De Laura is more of a pocket passer despite having the quickness to run with a decent arm that relies upon touch to be effective. He’s an aggressive thrower who will buy time to make downfield throws.
There’s certainly room to improve his consistency in throwing mechanics and decision-making. Because he doesn’t have a cannon, de Laura has to be more decisive and keep his upper body in tune with his lower body. Currently, he should earn camp invites with room to grow into a possible backup.
Jacob Cowing, WR
A dangerous slot receiver who is one of the quickest players in the nation, Cowing easily creates separation. He’s comfortable running a variety of routes both inside and out, fitting the modern NFL game nicely. Cowing has the speed and ability to create after the catch to be much better than most small, thin receivers who haven’t worked out in the league.
It’s easy to see Cowing being successful at the next level because he wins so easily against man coverage. His overall athletic upside isn’t as dynamic as some of his peers, but he has a solid Day 2 grade as a quality role player.
Tanner McLachlan, TE
One player getting a lot of early attention from the all-star circuit is Tanner McLachlan. His first year in Arizona was encouraging but went under the radar. He caught 34 passes for 456 yards and two touchdowns.
McLachlan was previously a receiver, so it’s not a surprise he can move into the slot and show off strong hands and surprising route-running ability for his size. At 6’5″, McLachlan has an impressive catch radius and mobility. He enters the fall with a Day 3 grade but can continue to rise as he expands his game and produces.
Jordan Morgan, OT
There might not be a more athletic tackle in the nation than Jordan Morgan. He was likely set to be a first-round pick in the 2023 class before tearing his ACL in November. He returned to school to prove he’s healthy.
If Morgan is healthy, he’s a fantastic prospect. Morgan takes initiative when blocking and owns most reps because he’s so in control of his body. He has great lateral agility and timing with his hands. There’s room to improve the angles he’ll take in pass protection and handling bull rushes, but those are more technical tweaks than any overhauls.
Morgan can land in the first round in 2024.
Arizona Wildcats Schedule
- Week 1
- Week 2
Sept. 2: vs. Northern Arizona Lumberjacks
- Week 3
Sept. 9: at Mississippi State Bulldogs
- Week 4
Sept. 16: vs. UTEP Miners
- Week 5
Sept. 23: at Stanford Cardinal
- Week 6
Sept. 30: vs. Washington Huskies
- Week 7
Oct. 7: at USC Trojans
- Week 8
Oct. 14: at Washington State Cougars
- Week 9
- Week 10
Oct. 28: vs. Oregon State Beavers
- Week 11
Nov. 4: vs. UCLA Bruins
- Week 12
Nov. 11: at Colorado Buffaloes
- Week 13
Nov. 18: vs. Utah Utes
- Week 14
Nov. 25: vs. Arizona State Sun Devils
- Week 15
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