With college football season entering its stretch run, plenty of NFL draft news and rumors are circulating across the country. For NFL organizations, team needs continue to come into focus as scouts focus their attention on their favorite draft prospects.
In this mailbag, we take a look at some of the players who have announced their intentions to head to the 2023 NFL Draft, as well as Hendon Hooker’s outlook, and much more.
If you have a question that you want to be answered in next week’s NFL Draft News and Rumors Mailbag, be sure to email me here.
NFL Draft News and Rumors Mailbag
Q: What are your grades on some of the recent players that have announced their intentions to play?
I am conservative with my grades as I sit and watch these guys go through the draft process. So with that in mind:
Tucker Kraft, TE, South Dakota State: Second round but could make a big move up boards if he knocks it out of the park in pre-draft workouts.
Tanner Mordecai, QB, SMU: UDFA. He could slide into the late part of round seven with a big All-Star/pro day workout showing.
Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech: First round. Could be lacking the ideal football intelligence, but looks the part and plays to it.
Ronnie Hickman, S, Ohio State: Day 3, fifth/sixth round area, unless he has a great combine. He showed more flashes than consistency.
Isaiah Land, EDGE, FAMU: Seventh round, though the Shrine Bowl will be telling. Land is a terrific pass rusher but has safety size. Will want to see his actual measurables and how he does playing in space.
Q: How much does the torn ACL affect Hendon Hooker‘s draft stock?
It’s a killer and will likely push him into the late part of day two. The fact the injury was so late in the season, which now makes it impossible for him to participate in either the Shrine or Senior Bowl, really hurts.
MORE: 2023 NFL Draft Big Board
As we’ve seen time and time again, the Shrine Bowl (Jimmy Garapolo) and Senior Bowl (Mac Jones, Carson Wentz, Philip Rivers) are kingmakers at the quarterback position.
Q: Where do you grade Keion White, DT, Georgia Tech, for the draft?
Presently I have a fourth-round grade on him, but I could definitively see him moving into day two.
Q: A lot of the talk this offseason will center around Will Levis it feels like — what do we need to know about him before we get to January-April when all the “draftniks” criticize everything about him?
Pass placement, pass placement, pass placement!!! Does he “throw receivers free?” Does he “lead receivers” with passes? Or are receivers constantly adjusting to catch his passes? He needs to become a better passer and not a thrower.
The physical skills are obvious, but as someone from one of the New York football teams told me two months ago, “Will Levis looks like a big athlete that someone said, let’s try this guy at quarterback.”
Q: Is Will Anderson Jr. still the best player available in this draft class? And if not, who?
He’s still number one on my board. Did not have the season many expected, but 8 sacks and 14 TFLs in 11 games are still pretty good numbers.
Q: A lot has been written about Zach Wilson this week after his poor performance against the Patriots and his press conference afterward, which was even worse. Was there any writing on the wall with Wilson about a bad attitude before the draft? Had you been hearing anything about this?
I want to stress that I did not hear anything before the 2021 NFL Draft about personality issues with Wilson.
I can tell you this, Wilson made similar comments last season when he struggled and wasn’t willing to take the bullets for the team. When I spoke with someone inside the scouting community out west about it during the 2021 season, the comment was, “People knew Wilson was an entitled rich kid that doesn’t take responsibility.”
At the time, I completely brushed them off, figuring it was just a rookie mistake. Looking back at it now, there seems to be a lot of truth in what I was told.
Q: You mentioned on Saturday that Oklahoma is offering offensive tackle Anton Harrison a large NIL deal to stay in school one more season. Have you heard of any large offers to any other players?
I don’t seek out that type of information, but it’s often offered to me unsolicited. I have heard several things since then, including:
Underclassmen who are undecided about entering the NFL draft will wait and see what type of NIL offer they get from their respective universities before making a decision.
The Miami Hurricanes reportedly have a $5 million NIL arsenal which they will use to attract top players who enter the transfer portal.
MORE: NFL Mock Draft Simulator
I have always been on the side of college players making money off their names or using their celebrity to bring them cash. I always felt the NCAA was too authoritarian in handcuffing players’ ability to make money for themselves while they made billions from college sports. Past suspensions handed out to players like A.J. Green were proof of this abuse.
That being the case, it seems the pendulum has swung too far to the other side, in my opinion. I’m all for players making as much money off their names as possible, but letting schools get into free agent wars for the services of players won’t end well.