Michigan State’s 2023 NFL Draft prospects are led by Jayden Reed

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

Taking home the Peach Bowl title at 11-2 was a major accomplishment for Michigan State in 2021. Even more impressive, however, was the emergence of second-round pick Kenneth Walker III. The 2023 NFL Draft may not see any Spartan go off the board as high as Walker did. But under Mel Tucker, Michigan State is once again ascending, and there’s plenty of talent to know in the coming cycle.

Michigan State prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft | Offense

The Spartans feature a surprising amount of talent in the trenches on both sides of the ball, but it doesn’t stop there. The offense is once again a hotbed for intrigue, with a potentially draft-worthy signal-caller and a severely underrated receiver prospect. What kind of crop does Michigan State have to offer in the 2023 NFL Draft? Who’s already on the radar, and who could join the fray with a strong season?

Payton Thorne, QB

Between Brian Hoyer, Drew Stanton, Kirk Cousins, and Connor Cook, the Spartans have been one of the more consistent college football programs when it comes to generating draftable QB talent. After a few years of turmoil, Payton Thorne could be the next in line. Thorne won the starting QB job last offseason and rode that momentum to a stellar season, completing 235 of 389 passes for 3,232 yards, 27 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions. His frame is a little light, but Thorne has a decent arm and is fairly mobile. With another strong year, he could draw interest at some point in the 2023 NFL Draft.

Jarek Broussard, RB

Transferring over from Colorado to join his former coach Mel Tucker, Jarek Broussard has a chance to fill the void at running back left by 2022 second-round pick Kenneth Walker III. Listed at 5’9″, 185 pounds, Broussard isn’t the dense runner that Walker was. But Broussard brings an appealing element in his own right. He’s not going to win on physical traits alone, but he brings nifty footwork and spry short-area athleticism in space. At the very least, he can be a good change-of-pace back and challenge for a late-round billing.

Harold Joiner, RB

It’s easy to look over Harold Joiner’s name on Michigan State’s 2022 roster. Joiner is a redshirt senior who netted just 13 carries in 2021 after transferring over from Auburn. But quietly, Joiner brings upside, and he could benefit in an open RB competition. Joiner was a near top-100 recruit in the 2018 class, with a documented 38″ vertical jump at 6’4″. Joiner hasn’t produced much to this point, but perhaps this is the year that he breaks out and delivers on his promise.

Jayden Reed, WR

An early favorite to be Michigan State’s best prospect in the 2023 NFL Draft, Jayden Reed has the skill set to be a legitimate early-round pick. PFN’s own Oli Hodgkinson pegged Reed as a Day 2 prospect last cycle before he returned. On film, it’s easy to see why. Reed is explosive and fleet-footed off the line. But beyond that, he has some of the class’ best catching instincts when the ball is in the air. He routinely makes acrobatic catches and can work through contact as well. Reed should be selected earlier than his teammate Jalen Nailor, who went to the Vikings in Round 6 this past April.

Tre Mosley, WR

Playing third fiddle to Reed and Nailor, Tre Mosley quietly had a solid season in 2021, amassing 35 catches for 530 yards and three scores. It wasn’t a dominant campaign by any stretch, but for a redshirt sophomore, it was a nice tune-up to what could be a breakout 2022. Mosley is a bit bigger than his counterparts, standing at 6’2″, 195 pounds with a strong frame and good length. He flashes nice acceleration upfield but also possesses great body control and hands.

Jarrett Horst, OT

Jarrett Horst transferred from Arkansas State in 2021 and immediately picked up a major role on the Spartans’ offensive line. Although he missed several games due to injury, Horst was still able to log eight starts at left tackle. Standing at 6’6″, 305 pounds, Horst has a long frame with good density. He plays a little tall at times and can bend at the waist, but he has enough athleticism, size, and discipline to be a steady bookend blocker — and a potential draft pick in 2023.

Spencer Brown, OT

Spencer Brown might be a year out from hitting the draft, but the redshirt junior has talent. And this year, he’ll be tasked with replacing the team’s starting right tackle in 2021, A.J. Arcuri. Brown is a hulking specimen at 6’6″, 320 pounds, with incredibly long arms and violent striking capacity. His technique is still fairly unrefined, but if he can be more efficient and composed with his feet and hands, he could be a breakout player on the offensive line.

J.D. Duplain, G

J.D. Duplain has quietly started at least five games in each of the last three seasons. And last year, he started all 13 games at left guard, earning honorable mention All-Big Ten honors for his play. Duplain and Horst should form one of the better left sides in the Big Ten. Duplain, in particular, has a desired steadiness to his game. How coveted he’ll be as a draft prospect remains to be seen. His frame is a bit undersized, and he’s not an elite athlete in space. Nevertheless, he offers utility in both phases.

Matt Carrick, G

The Spartans will have several experienced options to choose from on the interior of their offensive line. One of those options is Matt Carrick, who started the first seven games last year at right guard, before missing the rest of the year with an injury. A sixth-year senior with a 6’5″, 325-pound frame, Carrick has the game experience and the size to close out his career as a full-time starter.

Nick Samac, C

For the past few years, Nick Samac has only been a rotational center, sharing reps with veteran Matt Allen. Now that Allen has left, however, it’s Samac’s time to take hold of the starting center spot. The 6’4″, 310-pound blocker has good size for the position, and his experience should help him get going in stride early in the 2022 season.

Michigan State prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft | Defense

Jacob Slade, DT

If you’re looking for someone to break out in the 2023 NFL Draft defensive tackle class, Jacob Slade could be your guy. Now a redshirt senior, Slade is in line for an exciting closing campaign after coming on strong late in the 2021 season. Slade has good size at 6’4″, 315 pounds, as well as an above-average first step and solid upper-body torque. But his hot motor is what truly ties together his game and earned him five tackles for loss and 2 1/2 sacks last year. He led all Big Ten defensive tackles in pressures in 2021 and could do so again in 2022.

Simeon Barrow, DT

It’s unlikely that Simeon Barrow, a redshirt sophomore, enters the 2023 NFL Draft. But when you’re dealing with a player who has this kind of talent, you can’t rule it out. Barrow is the undersized mold of defensive tackle, standing at 6’2″, 285 pounds. But with what he lacks in size, he makes up for with great explosiveness off the line. As a mere redshirt freshman last year, Barrow accrued 34 tackles, four tackles for loss, and three sacks. That early success bodes well for the rest of his career.

Maverick Hansen, DT

Michigan State’s interior defensive line rotation is fairly deep, but that shouldn’t preclude Maverick Hansen from finding playing time. Hansen is another talented defensive tackle on the Spartans’ roster, standing at 6’4″, 310 pounds. As a redshirt sophomore in 2021, he added six tackles for loss and 3 1/2 sacks to the team’s total. Hansen is another name to know, as he’ll certainly get his chance to make an impact.

Khris Bogle, EDGE

Ever since Kenny Willekes’ departure, and perhaps even dating back to the days of Shilique Calhoun, the Spartans haven’t had a consistent edge presence. Jacub Panasiuk was productive in 2021, but his athleticism was visibly lacking, and it caused him to go quiet for long stretches. Athleticism is something they’ll be assuredly getting with Florida transfer Khris Bogle. The senior defensive end is a bit light at 6’4″, 240 pounds, but he has excellent length, along with good get-off and eye-catching ankle flexion. Bogle is a top breakout candidate for the Spartans, and he could work his way into the draft conversation.

Brandon Wright, EDGE

Opposite Bogle, there’s another EDGE prospect who could make waves this season in Brandon Wright. Wright was a running back when he joined the Spartans in 2019, and he brought speed, having run a 7.01 60-meter dash in high school. Now, he’s a 6’2″, 240-pound pass rusher who flashes definite potential on the defensive line. At his size, he often gets taken out on early downs. But as a pass-rush specialist, his speed can be dangerous unblocked. And he’s also flashed impressive hand usage and bend early in his developmental track as an EDGE.

Jacoby Windmon, LB

Jacoby Windmon won’t have the same name recognition that some of the Spartans’ other transfers do. While most others are from the SEC, Windmon played his college ball at UNLV up to this point. But while Windmon doesn’t have the pedigree, he has the production. Windmon was a menace in 2021, registering 119 tackles, 11 1/2 tackles for loss, 6 1/2 sacks, a pass deflection, and two forced fumbles for the Rebels. Windmon has great size and athleticism at 6’2″, 230 pounds, plays fast, and hits hard. East Lansing could be his springboard to stardom.

Aaron Brule, LB

It’s likely that one of Windmon or Aaron Brule will start at linebacker for Michigan State in 2022. Both players have compelling arguments for taking that starting spot. Windmon has shown more dynamic ability on tape. However, Brule comes from the SEC, where he was able to show off willing physicality against some of the best the nation has to offer. Brule appears a bit stiff in space at times, but his hard-nosed style will be appreciated at the second level.

Ronald Williams, CB

The Michigan State secondary was one of the worst in the league last season, and Alabama transfer Ronald Williams wasn’t without blame in that descent. Yet, while there were gaffes on Williams’ side, there were also great moments. If the Michigan State CB can continue to refine his game, he has high-end physical talent. Williams has an outrageously long frame at 6’2″, 195 pounds, and he’s flashed excellent ball skills as well. In 2021, Williams produced eight pass deflections to go along with a pick. Disruptive but volatile, Williams can take the next step by ironing out his game.

Ameer Speed, CB

The Spartans have made heavy use of the transfer portal since Mel Tucker’s arrival. That continued this offseason with the acquisition of several high-profile defenders. Most have already been mentioned, but one who hasn’t is Georgia CB Ameer Speed. A four-star recruit out of the 2017 class, Speed spent five years at Georgia but was never a full-time starter. He’ll look to change that with a sixth year at Michigan State. Speed is expected to start and garnered optimistic reviews in the spring. He’s long and physical at 6’3″, 210 pounds, but it remains to be seen if he can bring needed stability to the CB room.

Chester Kimbrough, CB

Chester Kimbrough logged a great deal of starting experience in 2021. However, his role in 2022 is up in the air. With Speed and Williams likely to take the boundaries to start, there’s a chance Kimbrough could be relegated to the slot or fall farther down the rotation. A former Florida commit, Kimbrough has nice athleticism and decent size at 6’0″, 180 pounds. But there’s added pressure on the senior to take his game up a notch, with plenty of young, ascending talent behind him.

Xavier Henderson, S

Returning for a fifth season, Xavier Henderson profiles as a vital part of the Spartans’ secondary. There was a point when Henderson was regarded as a draftable prospect last cycle, but he ended up coming back for an extra year to try and finish on a high note. Henderson flashes quite a bit. With 10 tackles for loss in 2021, he proved he could come downhill and make plays. But with his 6’1″, 210-pound frame, he can also elevate and convert at the catch point. 2022 will be his chance to put it all together.

Darius Snow, S

Alongside Henderson, Darius Snow is another safety prospect worth monitoring, though he spends a lot of his time in the box. The 6’1″, 220-pound defender was a tackling machine in 2021, having amassed 87 total tackles to go along with 5 1/2 tackles for loss, an interception, and two pass deflections. Snow is only a true junior, so he might not declare in the 2023 NFL Draft cycle. But another strong season could certainly put him on the radar.

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