Ole Miss’ 2023 NFL Draft prospects led by Zach Evans, Isheem Young

The PFN Draft Preview series takes a deeper look into the potential 2023 NFL Draft prospects set to hit the field for Ole Miss this season.

One of the most successful seasons in recent Ole Miss history paved the way for a substantial NFL draft haul for the Rebels, but are they set up to repeat in the 2023 NFL Draft? We know Lane Kiffin’s high-scoring offense will make the Rebels must-watch football. So, which prospects should you be watching out for in Oxford this fall?

Ole Miss prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft

Last season’s 10-3 record ensured that Kiffin joined a select number of Ole Miss head coaches who have managed to guide the Rebels to double-digit wins. However, significant pieces of that team — on both sides of the ball — have departed. In an attempt to replace them, the Rebels have been active in the transfer portal. Some of those players make up their top 2023 NFL Draft prospects to watch this fall.

Zach Evans, RB

During his whirlwind 2019 high school recruiting tour, Ole Miss was on running back Zach Evans’ list. However, it wouldn’t be until 2022 that the former five-star recruit would land in Oxford. A do-it-all runner who is equally adept grinding between the tackles as he is using his explosiveness to break big runs to the outside, Evans has quietly averaged 7.3 yards per carry during his two seasons with TCU. A big season running the rock in the SEC could see him challenge to be one of the top running backs in the 2023 NFL Draft class.

Ulysses Bentley IV, RB

The Rebels added another 2023 NFL Draft RB prospect to their roster from the transfer portal. Former SMU back Ulysses Bentley IV tallied 1,523 rushing yards over the past two seasons, averaging 5.9 yards per carry. While Evans is more of a power back, the 5’10”, 184-pound Bentley’s game is predicated on speed, elusiveness, and finesse. Give him an inch, and he’ll take a mile. The former SMU running back also added some return experience to his résumé last fall.

Isheem Young, S

While the Ole Miss offense is hyper-productive, the defense has often resembled a sieve. A sieve with really big holes. The Rebels are hoping to plug one of those holes with former Iowa State safety Isheem Young. At 5’11” and 210 pounds, Young is a well-put-together defensive back who comes downhill with brutal force. In addition to his physicality and excellent tackling efficiency, he is able to close with speed in coverage. Playing with his hair on fire, Young has tallied five forced fumbles and three interceptions in the last two years.

Nick Broeker, G

Having gained attention in the last cycle, Nick Broeker returns as a potential standout in a 2023 NFL Draft offensive line class that doesn’t appear to have a consensus leader early in the running. Broeker’s game is predicated on above-average athletic ability, some technical refinement, and lower body strength. The Ole Miss guard can mirror even the most athletic pass rushers and gets out to the second level well in the run game. His lower body strength is evident in his pass protection anchor and leg drive in the ground game.

Jaylon Robinson, WR

Former Oklahoma and UCF wide receiver Jaylon Robinson is another 2023 NFL Draft prospect headed to Oxford via the transfer portal. He’s earned comparisons to Kadarius Toney and a name Ole Miss fans will be familiar with — Elijah Moore. The 5’9″, 180-pound pocket rocket is a dynamic and explosive deep threat. Meanwhile, he’s demonstrated the ability to add yardage after the catch for fun. Despite losing half of last season to injury, Robinson has averaged 17.8 yards per catch in both seasons with UCF.

Troy Brown, LB

A three-time All-MAC linebacker for Central Michigan, Troy Brown will look to elevate his 2023 NFL Draft stock in the SEC. During the past three seasons, Brown has tallied 32.5 tackles for loss, four interceptions, and three forced fumbles. Like Young, Brown is another fast and physical downhill threat. Furthermore, he’s showcased sideline-to-sideline range during his career with the Chippewas. While there are still some pass coverage improvements to be made, he’s demonstrated some impressive body control to be impactful there too.

Otis Reese, S

With Chance Campbell departed to the NFL, safety Otis Reese is the most productive returning player to the Ole Miss defense. The 6’2″, 215-pound safety tallied 91 tackles last fall while logging a first career forced fumble. Reese’s size and ability to play down in the box and patrol the deep third should attract attention. Like many of the Ole Miss 2023 NFL Draft prospects on defense, he brings an impressive level of physicality that should help the unit continue on an upward trajectory.

Caleb Warren, C

A former high school offensive tackle, Caleb Warren has become a moveable piece for the Ole Miss offensive line. Although he predominantly played left guard last year, he did see some snaps at center. The 6’5″, 310-pound offensive lineman will assume that role this season for the Rebels. While he’s shown he can play with a solid anchor in pass protection, Warren does his best work in the ground game, showcasing a mauler mentality to clear out rushing lanes. He’s also demonstrated that he’s not afraid to drive his man into the dirt.

Mason Brooks, OT

While Jeremy James might attract some attention as a 2023 NFL Draft prospect, it’s right tackle Mason Brooks who is making some noise ahead of the college season. The former Western Kentucky tackle arrived at Ole Miss after protecting Bailey Zappe during his record-setting season. Brooks is strong, showcases impressive technical ability in pass protection, and has showcased violence in his punch. One of the most highly sought-after tackles in the transfer portal, he has the chance to elevate his stock in the SEC.

Jonathan Mingo, WR

The Ole Miss offense is going to look very different in the upcoming college football season, with almost all the “skill” players departed. However, it’s a returning wide receiver who could make a genuine impression on the 2023 NFL Draft. Due to injury, Jonathan Mingo only played six games last season. However, he averaged 15.7 yards per catch. At 6’2″ and 215 pounds, Mingo boasts great size. He puts that to use as a physical threat at the catch point and after it. The Ole Miss WR also has deceptive straight-line speed for his size.

Cedric Johnson, DE

If Ole Miss is looking for their Sam Williams replacement, they shouldn’t be looking much farther than Cedric Johnson. The junior defensive end prospect tallied eight tackles for loss and six and a half sacks while forcing a fumble last season. While he does not possess the same elite strength and athleticism that Williams did, Johnson packs a punch from his 6’3″, 265 pounds frame. Additionally, he’s displayed flashes of excellent hand work that, if developed further this fall, could help facilitate a climb up draft boards.

Deantre Prince, CB

Ole Miss cornerback Deantre Prince had one of the most unreal interceptions in college football last fall. The 6’0″, 180-pound cornerback produced a leaping, contorting, toe-tapping pick against Vanderbilt that defied belief. While one play does not make a 2023 NFL Draft prospect, Prince has potential. According to reports, he’s been working on his speed while also taking snaps as a nickelback in spring practice to add versatility to his profile.

Khari Coleman, EDGE

While his last season with TCU was disrupted by injury, 2020 showed just how disruptive Khari Coleman could be. In his first college campaign, the 6’2″, 220-pound edge rusher tallied 15 tackles for loss. While he might be considered undersized as a 2023 NFL Draft prospect, he’s an explosive pass rusher with strong hands and an element of flexibility to his game. A season of production in the SEC should skyrocket his draft stock.

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