After an 8-6 season in 2022, who are the top Purdue prospects for the 2023 NFL Draft? These scouting reports detail Purdue’s draftable players and their potential heading into their professional careers.
Purdue 2023 NFL Draft Scouting Reports
Aidan O’Connell, QB
Strengths: Tough, patient QB who does a great job leading his team. Remains poised, displays good pocket presence, and has a terrific sense of knowing where receivers are on the field. Delivers the ball with a quick release, possesses a next-level arm, and gets the ball downfield with a flick of his wrist.
Displays a sense of timing and hits receivers as they are exiting breaks. Accurate and flashes the ability to precisely place throws. Gets outside the pocket to buy time, goes to the underneath target, and takes off upfield only when necessary. Leads receivers downfield with throws. Tremendous leader on the field.
Weaknesses: Slow moving his head from the primary target. Doesn’t consistently pick up yardage with his legs.
Overall: O’Connell is coming off of two incredibly productive campaigns at Purdue and is well-liked in the scouting community. While he must do a better job protecting the ball, his size, physical skills, and maturity are very appealing to NFL teams. He can play from the pocket and displays a great feel for the position, which has many believing that O’Connell could be the best quarterback from this year’s class two years down the road.
Want more information on O’Connell? Here’s our expanded scouting report and draft profile: Aidan O’Connell, QB, Purdue | NFL Draft Scouting Report
Charlie Jones, WR
Strengths: Well-traveled receiver coming off a career season. Quickly releases off the line of scrimmage, has an initial burst of speed, and stays low exiting breaks. Uses his frame to shield away defenders, tracks the pass in the air, and possesses eye/hand coordination.
Gets vertical and correctly time receptions. Extends his hands and snatches the ball away from his frame. Fearless and exposes himself in a crowd to come away with the difficult catch. Possesses outstanding awareness and field vision and doesn’t give up on plays. Consistently finds ways to separate from defenders and make himself an available target. Possesses outstanding focus as well as concentration and works hard even if he’s not involved in the play.
Weaknesses: Doesn’t show great playing speed despite his 40 time and athleticism. Possesses a thin frame. Past injury history must be inspected.
Overall: Jones began his college career at Buffalo, then he moved to Iowa and had some success before turning heads with a great campaign at Purdue in 2022. He was the go-to receiver opponents could not stop in the Boilermakers’ offense.
Jones’ numbers last season included 110 receptions for 1,361 receiving yards and 12 TDs. He possesses all the physical and football abilities necessary to be a third receiver on the depth chart, but he must remain healthy.
Chris Jefferson, S
Strengths: Feisty run-defending safety who also flashes ball skills. Physical, mixes it up with opponents, and fires upfield to defend the run. Wraps up tackling and brings ball handlers down in the open field. Effectively reads and diagnoses the action. Quick getting to the sidelines and effective in coverage when facing the action.
Weaknesses: Not quick flipping his hips, slow in transition, and does a lot of trailing in coverage. Lacks overall speed and quickness and doesn’t show much of a burst. Presently dealing with personal issues.
Overall: Jefferson is a hard-nosed safety with poor athletic numbers. He offers possibilities in a zone system if he chooses to return to the field.
Cory Trice, CB
Strengths: Physically gifted college cornerback who will be best at safety on Sundays. Instinctive, quickly diagnoses the action, and immediately picks up responsibilities. Tracks the pass in the air, displays a terrific burst out of his plant, and possesses good hands for the interception.
Quick flipping his hips, stays on the receiver’s hip out of breaks, and has a nice move to the throw. Physical, mixes it up with opponents throughout the route, and gives effort defending the run. Competes and doesn’t back down from a challenge.
MORE: 2023 NFL Draft Big Board
Weaknesses: Tends to lose a sense of where he is on occasion. Doesn’t quickly read routes in zone. May be too big for cornerback.
Overall: Trice is a talented DB who plays tough, physical, and smart football. He’s constantly around the action, and while he needs to polish his game, Trice comes with an upside as well as positional versatility.
Want more information on Trice? Here’s our expanded scouting report and draft profile: Cory Trice, CB, Purdue | NFL Draft Scouting Report
Jalen Graham, LB
Strengths: Athletic linebacker who has been underrated his entire career. Breaks down well, uses his hands to protect himself, and fluidly moves in every direction. Fast in pursuit, flies around the ball, and gets out to the flanks to make plays against the run or pass. Remains disciplined with assignments, fires upfield to fill gaps against the run, and sells out on the blitz. Instinctive, displays good recognition, and doesn’t have lapses.
Weaknesses: Undersized, lacks strength, and gets controlled by running backs. Doesn’t possess much growth potential.
Overall: Graham has been a draftable player on my board since his freshman season when he broke in with the Boilermaker defense and had a productive campaign. Overlooked by scouts entering the season, he’s made a late charge up all boards and is an athletic linebacker with scheme versatility who should also be effective on coverage units.
Want more information on Graham? Here’s our expanded scouting report and draft profile: Jalen Graham, LB, Purdue | NFL Draft Scouting Report
Payne Durham, TE
Strengths: Massive tight end with a three-down game, who has shown continued progress on the field. Stays square as a blocker, plays with strength, and seals defenders from the action. Adjusts to the errant throw, uses his large frame to protect the pass, and takes a pounding but holds onto the ball.
Consistently settles into the open spot of the defense, extends his hands, and makes the difficult reception with defenders draped on him. Fights to pick up yardage after the catch and carries defenders on his back. Reliable, possesses soft hands, and looks the ball into his hands.
Weaknesses: Lacks quickness and speed. Rumbles around the field. Not a downfield threat.
Overall: Durham was consistent and reliable as both a pass catcher and a blocker for Purdue. He’s not a downfield threat, yet the completeness of his game makes him perfect to be a second or third tight end on a roster.
Want more information on Durham? Here’s our expanded scouting report and draft profile: Payne Durham, TE, Purdue | NFL Draft Scouting Report
Reese Taylor, DB
Strengths: Explosive safety with solid ball skills. Tracks the pass in the air, contorts to defend passes, and possesses good hands for the interception. Engages receivers at the line, quickly flips his hips, and loses nothing in transition. Stays with coverage assignments and works to get his head back around to locate the pass. Displays a burst to the action and gives effort defending the run. Experienced kick returner.
Weaknesses: Possesses average size. Lacks deep speed.
Overall: Taylor was a productive DB for both Indiana and Purdue and has the skills and style to line up in dime packages and play on special teams.
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