The 2023 NFL Draft will be centered around the quarterback prospects and right smack dab in the middle of that talk will be Miami’s Tyler Van Dyke. A fast riser after earning the starting nod midway through the season, Van Dyke is a candidate to declare early and rewrite the ACC passing record books if all goes to plan. But who are some other Miami Hurricane prospects that could join him in the 2023 NFL Draft?
Miami’s 2023 NFL Draft prospects
There’s something that feels right about the NFL Draft and college football as a whole when certain teams are winning games and churning out prospects. The Miami Hurricanes are one of those teams that make the sport have a little bit more luster when they’re good. It also helps produce future professional athletes in the process. With a new head coach and new offensive system led by Van Dyke, just how good could this Miami team be in 2022? And how many prospects could they produce for the 2023 NFL Draft?
Tyler Van Dyke, QB
It all starts here for Miami’s success in 2022 and eventually in the 2023 NFL Draft. Van Dyke is an interesting case study, one we’ve done a deep dive into his film from a season ago. As he rides a six-game streak of at least 300 yards and three touchdowns into the 2022 season, Van Dyke still finds himself in the mid-tier of quarterback prospects for next year’s draft. He must prove a few things this year including his processing and accuracy. But if he does so, you can bet the Hurricanes will win some games and he’ll improve his draft stock heavily.
Jaylan Knighton, RB
The ‘Canes have a backfield so good this season that it may come to rival not only any backfield in the country this season, but could even be placed in the echelon with some of Miami’s previous, historically good backfields. It starts with the Rooster, Jaylan Knighton. Taking the reins in Week 5 a season ago, Knighton showcased what makes him so special time and time again in 2021. Not only is he sound with the ball in his hands on the ground, but Knighton is also a menace to any defender in the open field. All it takes is one cut and he’s upfield, past the closest defender in the blink of an eye. He’s a vital contributor in the passing game as well, giving him the new prototypical NFL skillset for a running back.
Donald Chaney Jr., RB
We only got to see Donald Chaney Jr. for a game and a series last season as he sustained an injury that kept him out after the Appalachian State game. Chaney returns to form an impressive 1-2 punch with Knighton. A hulking back, Chaney is hard to bring down in one-on-one situations and plows through arm tackles all the same.
Henry Parrish Jr., RB
Returning to South Florida after two years at Ole Miss, Henry Parrish Jr. saw great success with the Rebels. He finished with over 550 yards on the ground in his final year with Ole Miss and chipped in with nearly 200 total scrimmage yards elsewhere. Parrish is a similar running back to both Knighton and Chaney as this trio all possess similar skills to do it all in Miami’s offense.
Key’Shawn Smith, WR
With a bevy of targets to go around following the departures of Mike Harley and Charleston Rambo, a good bet on receiving a massive uptick in production is Key’Shawn Smith. Becoming a valuable threat for Van Dyke downfield, Smith finished third on the team in receptions and yards a year ago. The 6’1″ speedster had a midseason stretch that was impressive as he showcased his ability to win at the catch point as well as fabulous body control in multiple games.
Xavier Restrepo, WR
An underrated speed demon, Xavier Restrepo may also see the benefits of a massive uptick in production with more targets. He’s a threat to take it to the house whenever he touches it and wins both off the line of scrimmage and off his route breaks all the same. Restrepo has vast special teams experience as well.
Frank Ladson Jr., WR
A Clemson transfer, Frank Ladson Jr. may take the mantle that Rambo did a season ago. Ladson wins outside and wins off a bevy of route combinations. At his best downfield, Ladson’s size offers him an advantage over most defensive backs. If he can improve his hands at the catch point, Ladson would improve his draft stock.
Will Mallory, TE
There isn’t much more to say about Will Mallory than has already been said. Mallory is a dominant pass catcher and a terrific athlete. What he showcased in 2021 added new elements to his game as he has highlight-reel ability in his game. He also is fearless as he goes over the middle with reckless abandon. There’s a yards-after-the-catch ability with Mallory that was unlocked over the past two seasons. He’s the full package and one of Miami’s top 2023 NFL Draft prospects.
Zion Nelson, OT
Miami’s longtime starter at left tackle returns for one more season as Zion Nelson is back. After a rocky start to his career, Nelson has rebounded with two solid years that have put him firmly in the 2023 NFL Draft picture. Improving every year with his pass protection, Nelson showcased great recovery and a sturdy base multiple times a season ago. Proving he can do it again while perhaps adding some run-blocking prowess to his game in 2022 will go a long way.
Jakai Clark, C
Jakai Clark has played every interior position for Miami over the past three years. But it sure seems like he found a home at center as the season wore on a year ago. Clark returns for another season and is entrenched in the middle of the ‘Canes’ offensive line. He uses his leverage wonderfully and holds up very well against bigger defensive tackles on the inside.
Justice Oluwaseun, G
Likely penciling into one of the guard spots, Justice Oluwaseun is back for his second season in Orange and Green. After three seasons at UNLV, Oluwaseun will look to make his mark on the Miami offensive line and showcase what made him a highly sought-after transfer. He uses his hands well and is strong through contact with every defender he engages with.
DJ Scaife Jr., OT
Whether it’s tackle or guard, DJ Scaife Jr. is back for another season on this veteran offensive line for Miami. Scaife has played the past two seasons at right guard after previously playing right tackle for his first two seasons on campus. The 2021 season was a revelation for him as he improved his game in each facet. With another year approaching, the linear growth shown from Scaife is nothing but enticing for his NFL Draft stock.
Jahfari Harvey, DE
It seems like ages ago that Jahfari Harvey was bullying the Alabama offensive line for quick pressures in the face of Bryce Young. Yes, that season opener was a great performance from Harvey as it showcased his ability to get after the passer from a variety of alignments. Using his size to his advantage as well as his versatility, he could make a bigger name for himself this season.
Chantz Williams, EDGE
In what should be a featured pass-rushing role this season, Chantz Williams could thrive. Williams is a long 6’4″ and 255 pounds, playing with terrific bend around the edge. He also has great balance and fast hands to beat offensive tackles in a variety of ways. Proving his consistency this year will be key.
Akheem Mesidor, DT
Transferring in from West Virginia, Akheem Mesidor is a quick, speedy rusher on the interior. He uses his 6’2″, 272-pound frame incredibly well on the inside, routinely using his fast first step to push into the pocket or blow up rushing lanes. Mesidor is rarely out of a play and often takes on double teams like it’s his job.
Mitchell Agude, EDGE
Another transfer on the defensive line, Mitchell Agude comes to Miami after two years at UCLA. Agude had a solid career as a Bruin, wreaking havoc off the edge as a stand-up rusher. He presents a challenge for most tackles to block but he’s arguably a bigger threat in space when he’s allowed to roam free against the run. Agude can penetrate rushing lanes with ease and has plenty of strength to attack any ball carrier.
Keontra Smith, LB
Though a bit undersized, Keontra Smith uses his frame to his advantage often. At 5’11” and just over 200 pounds, Smith is at his best when he can blitz and use his speed to find open rushing lanes. Bulking up this year and perhaps into the next year will be crucial to his showcasing an ability to make tackles against a variety of bigger ball carriers.
Caleb Johnson, LB
Entering his sixth season of college football, Caleb Johnson lands in Miami for his final season. After two years at UCLA that saw him earn multiple Athletic Director’s Honor Roll awards, Johnson also turned his football career around with much-improved play. After being named the No. 2 JUCO linebacker in 2019, Johnson started on the weakside for UCLA the past two seasons with great success in 2021. He’s a great coverage linebacker with the speed to lockdown the short and intermediate ranges of the field.
Gilbert Frierson, LB
Yet another linebacker on this list, Gilbert Frierson will pair nicely with the aforementioned Johnson. Frierson has solid coverage skills as well as great instincts over the middle of the field. Improving his technique at the point of contact with ball carriers will go a long way for his success this season.
Tyrique Stevenson, CB
A big, physical cornerback, Tyrique Stevenson had a great season in 2021, his first with Miami. After transferring in from Georgia, Stevenson immediately took to the role on the outside and made multiple plays on the ball including his first collegiate interception. He brings a physicality to the position as well as a tenacity on the outside in run support.
Daryl Porter Jr., CB
Another transfer from West Virginia, Daryl Porter Jr. should immediately bolster the Miami secondary. He’s a sticky cover corner with great ball skills. He can make plays with his back to the ball and also has a knack for timing his shots. There’s plenty of speed to Porter’s game as well.
Al Blades Jr., DB
After appearing in just four games a season ago, Al Blades Jr. is back for a final season with the Hurricanes. Blades best stretch of football came in 2019-2020 when he ripped off four interceptions and over a dozen forced incompletions. He has great size and even better instincts in the secondary. Where he fits in with this Miami defensive backfield is interesting and could go a long way towards his 2023 NFL Draft prospects as he has positional versatility to play any of the starting four spots.
DJ Ivey, DB
Another veteran defensive back returns for Miami as DJ Ivey enters Year 5 with the program. A talented cornerback, Ivey has seen his ball production drop off since the 2019 season which saw him pick off 3 passes. Still, he has shown an ability to lock down a side of the field at times while also proving he has great instincts to blow up run plays as well as wide receiver screens on the outside.
Lou Hedley, P
Everybody’s favorite tattooed punter is back for another year as Lou Hedley returns. Sure, Hedley will make for an older rookie if this is the path he so chooses, but there’s no denying his leg talent. The 28-year-old punter averaged over 44 yards per punt last season and knocked home 20 of his boots inside the opponent’s 20-yard line.
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