With the college football and NFL seasons moving right along, on-field performances take center stage. As such, preseason perceptions are confirmed to be accurate or proven to be incorrect. With that comes plenty of NFL draft news and rumors, including NFL team needs coming into focus and prospects moving up and down draft boards.
In this mailbag, we look to the 2024 NFL QB class, Jalin Hyatt’s place among 2023 wide receivers after dicing up Alabama, which situational linebacker you’d want, 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.
Best Prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft Class
Q: Tony, I know it’s early, but who do you think are some of the top quarterbacks heading into the 2024 NFL Draft?
We’ll assume that both Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud enter the 2023 NFL Draft. Obviously, Caleb Williams of USC would be at the top of the list as he’s developing nicely.
Florida’s Anthony Richardson has great potential but needs to become a passer, not just an athlete playing quarterback. Ditto for Tyler Van Dyke of Miami, assuming he doesn’t enter the 2023 NFL Draft. His inconsistency is a killer but at the top of his game he looks awesome.
And, of course, Clemson’s DJ Uiagalelei has the ability to make a big move if he consistently plays at a high level.
Q: Tony, who are the best linebackers in the 2023 class?
It depends on what kind of linebacker you are looking for or referring to. Despite not putting up big numbers this season, I believe Nolan Smith is the most complete linebacker in the nation. Ditto Will Anderson Jr., who’s having a disappointing season but would be the best edge rushing linebacker.
Q: As a Texas Alum, could Bijan Robinson be picked in the first round?
I don’t see how he gets out of the first round, as he’s a legitimate top-15 prospect. A lot of teams rue the fact they passed up on Breece Hall in Round 1 last April, as he’s having a great season. And Robinson grades much higher than Hall.
Prospects to Watch in the 2023 NFL Draft
Q: During last week’s CFB Live Blog, you mentioned Myles Brooks of Louisiana Tech as a cornerback that has come out of nowhere and may enter the draft. Are there any other players at the cornerback position people should be aware of?
Yes — Deonte Banks of Maryland. A lot of people talk about the Terps’ other corner, Jakorian Bennett, who’s having a terrific season, but it’s Banks who receives most of the talk in the scouting community.
MORE: 2023 NFL Draft Big Board
I compare Banks to former Maryland safety Nick Cross from one year ago, as no one outside the scouting community was paying attention to Cross (except PFN), yet he ended up as a third-round pick. I think the same will happen with Banks, and he’ll end up in Day 2 of the draft.
On a side note, I have received a lot of calls on Brooks since my post in the CFB live blog on Saturday, and there is a lot of buzz building around him.
Q: After early observations appeared to show a weaker offensive tackle class this year, it seems like there are multiple ascending players at the position. What are your thoughts on this class as a whole, and how many offensive tackles could we see taken in Round 1?
I’m not a fan of this class, especially when compared to some of the awesome offensive tackle classes we’ve seen in recent drafts. People love Peter Skoronski of Northwestern, and he’s played well this year, but is he tall enough to play tackle at the next level, or will he be a guard? Skoronski could end up a first-rounder, but I’m not sure it will be at tackle.
Other 2023 NFL Draft News and Rumors
Q: Tennessee WR Jalin Hyatt — what’s the chance he declares, and where would his draft stock be?
People close to Hyatt tell me it’s better than 50/50 he enters. Right now, I have Hyatt as a third-round pick, but there’s no doubt he could move higher. You have to like what he showed against Alabama. His speed and game-breaking ability are attractive, but he needs to complete his game.
Q: What quarterback this year is likely to make an impact as a rookie but is probably going to be drafted outside the top 10?
If I had to choose one quarterback, I’d say Aidan O’Connell. He gets the most from average skill players at Purdue, he makes good decisions, and he has an NFL body. Hendon Hooker of Tennessee would be right there as well.
Q: The RB class intrigues me. Many smaller backs, no real big back. Who are your favorites?
Big names guys like Bijan Robinson and Jahmyr Gibbs aside, I’ve always liked Travis Dye of USC by way of Oregon. Smart, tough, and complete player who can run, catch the ball, or block. Israel Abanikanda of Pittsburgh is another with a versatile game that will help a team in a rotational role.
Q: Who are left guards the Dolphins could target in the third round onwards?
I like Clemson tackle Jordan McFadden, whom I project to guard. Juice Scruggs of Penn State can play guard or center, though he’s likely to fall into Day 3. Mark Evans II of Arkansas-Pine Bluff, who I featured last Friday as my small-school player of the week.