Louisville’s 2023 NFL Draft prospects headlined by Malik Cunningham

Which Louisville Cardinals might be able to make a run for a selection in the 2023 NFL Draft? Here's a preview of the squad.

The Louisville Cardinals may be very well represented in the 2023 NFL Draft. They are, of course, led by their signal-caller and do-everything QB Malik Cunningham in 2022. But their cast of characters for the next level contains more than just Cunningham. With that in mind, we’ll go through the roster of Louisville’s draft-eligible prospects with eyes toward the 2023 NFL Draft.

Louisville prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft

Cunningham does lead this group on offense, but it’s an experienced defense that may be the difference-maker for the Cardinals in 2022. Hassan Hall has transferred away, but Tiyon Evans is certainly a suitable replacement at running back. Some other vital transfers could help this team reach ACC prominence this fall, too.

Malik Cunningham, QB

Cunningham has all the tools of a big-time quarterback. He’s got a big arm and incredible feet. Cunningham uses his feet well and does a great job maintaining vision downfield when he has to break contain. Though he can hit all the levels of the field with his arm, it is his legs that separate him. Cunningham became just the second Louisville quarterback to rush for over 1,000 yards in a season last year while leading the ACC in rushing touchdowns. He’s a dynamic athlete, and with a bit more fine-tuning of his intangibles, he could be a valuable professional signal-caller.

Tiyon Evans, RB

A Tennessee transfer, Evans broke out a season ago for the Volunteers. Before Tennessee, Evans was the No. 2 overall JUCO player coming out in 2020 and made the most of his carries in Knoxville. Evans has an upright rushing style but is no stranger to finding the slightest crease in the line and making defenses pay. In just five games of full-time action a season ago, Evans averaged well over 6.0 yards per carry and had three 100-yard performances.

Jalen Mitchell, RB

Proving to be too much for defenses to handle at times, Jalen Mitchell can bounce off defenders or make them miss. He’s a fun running back to watch and comes fully equipped with a dominant skill set in space and between the tackles. Mitchell is too big for defensive backs to tackle 1-on-1, and he should be no stranger to the big play again in 2022.

Tyler Hudson, WR

Transferring over from Central Arkansas, Tyler Hudson is a name to know for both college football fans and NFL draft enthusiasts. Wearing No. 0 this year, Hudson was an All-FCS standout last season, hauling in 1,229 yards and eight touchdowns on 62 receptions. A big receiver at 6’2″, he showcased his ability to take games over and had five performances of 100+ yards. It’s a step up in competition, for sure, but Hudson has documented his ability to win at the catch point and rack up the yards after the catch with no trouble.

Dee Wiggins, WR

If it weren’t for a couple of dropped passes, we would have been writing Dee Wiggins’ name in for the class of 2022. Instead, Wiggins opted to return to college football after appearing in just four games a season ago with Miami. He transfers to Louisville for a change of scenery that may be just what he needs. Wiggins has terrific speed, runs great routes, and presents the ability to separate at any level. If he can tighten up his hands and lose some of the drops, Wiggins will absolutely be a receiver to know.

Braden Smith, WR

Capable of taking the top off the defense from the slot, Braden Smith is no stranger to the big play. Though he posted a down year in 2021, Smith’s 2020 tape showcased potential. He has speed for days and possesses incredibly strong hands for a receiver his size.

Marshon Ford, TE

Louisville’s leader in catches and yards from a season ago, Marshon Ford is at the top of the list of ACC tight ends this season. He also will find a lot of love in draft circles as analysts come around to him. Ford has sure hands and is a mismatch against smaller, slower linebackers who attempt to cover him. If he can improve his blocking to become a true three-down tight end, the sky is the limit for Ford, as he’s a complete package in terms of receiving ability.

Trevor Reid, OT

The left side of the Cardinals’ line returns as a whole, and Trevor Reid will anchor the unit in 2022. Reid was solid in pass protection a season ago, getting better as the season went on. He’s excellent on the move in the run game, though, as he uses his lean frame to get out in front of his backs. If he can improve his strength without losing any of his balance, Reid is in line for a great season.

Caleb Chandler, G

Caleb Chandler returns to the left guard spot he dominated from a season ago. One of the premier guards over the past few seasons, Chandler returns for his sixth season at Louisville. He’s a great pass blocker, but he took a step forward this past season in terms of his road-grading ability. Though he’d be an older rookie, his stock for the 2023 NFL Draft will be heavily influenced by the fact that he’d be ready to start for an NFL team from Day 1.

Bryan Hudson, G

Likely sliding into the new starting center role, Bryan Hudson split his time between center and guard last year. Hudson’s positional versatility is a key asset to his game, as he can play any of the three interior positions. After two seasons at Virginia Tech, Hudson found greener pastures at Louisville and made a name for himself in 2021. With another season of growth, Hudson can vault himself into the ranks of draftable interior prospects.

Adonis Boone, G

A big man with a ferocious attitude, Adonis Boone returns for his fourth season as the starter at right guard. He’s decent in the run game, but very few defenders get by him in the passing game. He’s also shown to be able to play with his head on a swivel in the Louisville passing attack, routinely picking off multiple defenders on a single play.

Renato Brown, OT

Rounding out the returning linemen for the Cardinals is right tackle Renato Brown. A mover in space, Brown’s at his best in the run game. He has great feet and better hands, utilizing his strength to stop rushers in the passing game and to open holes for his backs in the running attack. Brown is durable and has arguably the highest ceiling of this whole group.

YaYa Diaby, DE

A menace to opposing quarterbacks and running backs alike, YaYa Diaby has a very well-rounded skill set. He can rush the passer from a wide variety of positions. Diaby is also no stranger to blowing up the point of attack in the running game due to his strength. There’s an edge to his game as well as a terrific motor. Diaby has the chance to break out even further in 2022.

Yasir Abdullah, EDGE

Back for a fifth year of action, Yasir Abdullah is a tackling machine off the edge. Abdullah can drop in coverage when necessary, but his bread and butter certainly comes on the pass rush. Positional versatility is the name of the game here, but if he can hone his pass-rush craft, his NFL future becomes brighter.

Marvin Dallas, LB

A prime candidate to see an expanded role in 2022, Marvin Dallas was once the No. 1 JUCO outside linebacker from Georgia Military College. He’s shown linear growth since enrolling at Louisville and will look to take over their hybrid CARD position in 2022. Dallas can utilize his defensive back speed and linebacker tenacity perfectly in this role. He also comes fully equipped with an arsenal of special-teams play at his disposal that NFL teams will love.

MoMo Sanogo, LB

There isn’t much more to say about MoMo Sanogo that hasn’t already been said. After five years in Oxford, the longtime Ole Miss linebacker heads to Louisville for his final season. Sanogo possesses a terrific linebacking skill set, including a stout ability to run the alley and maintain his position with strength or speed. He’s also a great cover ‘backer when called into duty. Like so many prospects with the added COVID year of eligibility, Sanogo will be an older rookie. But if all goes to plan in 2022, he could start right away for an NFL defense.

Monty Montgomery, LB

Despite playing in just three games a season ago, Monty Montgomery is a linebacker prospect every ACC offensive coordinator knows. Montgomery is at his best when rushing the passer (something he doesn’t frequently do), but he has documented his ability to change games with disguised blitzes or rushes off the edge. He is also terrific in coverage and brilliantly plays the middle of the field when healthy.

Chandler Jones, CB

It’s been quite a career for Chandler Jones already at Louisville. After four seasons of extended play, he chose to return for a final season with the Cardinals. He’s a ball hawk who plays much bigger than his listed height. He can stick with receivers of all types and has great back-end recovery speed. With another season of play similar to his stretch from 2019-2020, Jones could vault himself up draft boards as part of a sound secondary.

Kei’Trel Clark, CB

After toying with entering the 2022 NFL Draft, Kei’Trel Clark returns to the Cardinals this fall. After appearing in just eight games a season ago, he can reassert himself as a dominant cover cornerback who forces incompletions at will. Clark defines the term ball hawk with four interceptions and over 20 pass breakups to his credit.

Kenderick Duncan, S

Kenderick Duncan is Louisville’s leading returner in terms of tackles. The former Georgia Southern standout made his name known to Cardinals fans in 2021. A massive safety at 6’3″ and 225 pounds, Duncan plays a physical brand of football complete with sound coverage skills when he’s called into action. He stymies run plays, too, as he’s a true do-it-all safety with great range and proper technique.

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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