They may have the best recruiting class in the nation, but what does Texas A&M’s potential 2023 NFL Draft class look like? While there’s a whole season of college football ahead of us, it seems likely that the Aggies could place a player in the first round for the second consecutive season. Who should you be watching out for this season?
Texas A&M prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft
When Roger Goodell opens the 2023 NFL Draft, it will be 20 years since Texas A&M had a first-round cornerback selected. Early indications suggest that this drought could be broken in April. Furthermore, there’s genuine reason to believe that this Aggies team could produce more than the four players that were selected in last year’s cycle. So which players could hear their name called next April?
Antonio Johnson, CB
Texas A&M’s best hopes of a first-round pick seem to rest on the shoulders of cornerback Antonio Johnson. Johnson was predominantly used as a nickel back for the Aggies last fall, and early depth chart projections point to a similar usage this season. However, at 6’3″ and 200 pounds, Johnson has the size, length, and speed to be used at multiple spots across the secondary. He’s been productive at the catch point and can also be utilized as a blitzer.
Devon Achane, RB
It’s time for a change of pace — quite literally — in the Texas A&M backfield. Devon Achane is a legitimate track and field star. The Texas A&M RB clocked a 10.14-second 100m and 20.2-second 200m within the last few months.
Achane puts that speed to good use on the football field, averaging 7.4 yards per carry and 13 touchdowns through two seasons, and contributed as a returner. For his size (5’9″, 185 pounds), Achane also has decent contact balance if defenders can get anywhere near him.
Demani Richardson, S
Aggies safety Demani Richardson earned mid-round attention in the last cycle but opted to return for another year with Texas A&M. The 6’1″, 210-pound physical playmaker was used predominantly in the box last fall. That allowed Richardson to showcase his skills against the run and as a backfield penetrator, resulting in 6½ tackles for loss and two sacks. With a change of defensive coordinator, Richardson will have the opportunity to demonstrate his coverage skills this fall. That should only elevate his 2023 NFL Draft stock.
Ainias Smith, WR
With Jalen Wydermyer gone, Ainias Smith is the most productive returning pass catcher for Texas A&M. He might also be one of the most exciting prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft class.
The versatile Aggies playmaker is an explosive athlete who makes yards for fun in space. With his ludicrous lateral agility, Smith can make a man miss and has the speed to add significant yardage after the catch. Meanwhile, Smith can line up out of the backfield, making him an absolute weapon for creatively-minded offensive coordinators.
Jaylon Jones, CB
Texas A&M’a chances of having a haul of prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft appear to rest in the secondary. Alongside Johnson and Richardson, Jaylon Jones offers NFL potential. He tied the team lead for interceptions last fall while adding four pass breakups.
At 6’2″, 205 pounds, Jones is a tall, physical CB who also boasts excellent length. He’s showcased impressive athletic ability, especially with regards to straight-line speed. In a pinch, Jones’ size and athleticism give him positional versatility that adds value to his stock.
Max Johnson, QB
Max Johnson transferred from LSU to provide competition and an experienced mentor for presumptive starting quarterback, Haynes King. However, don’t rule out Johnson’s ability to win what is becoming one of the top QB battles ahead of the college football season.
The former LSU passer has a high level of football IQ and exudes competitive toughness. If he can develop his timing and arm strength while earning the Aggies’ starting job, Johnson might have a shot at hearing his name called late in the 2023 NFL Draft.
McKinnley Jackson, NT
Texas A&M has a largely inexperienced defensive front this fall. Nevertheless, they do have a potential 2023 NFL Draft prospect in nose tackle McKinnley Jackson.
At 6’2″ and 325 pounds, Jackson is a stout presence on the interior of the offensive line. While that lower center of gravity and strong lower body makes him an obvious roadblock against the run, Jackson has athletic upside and displays impressive hand usage that allows him to pose as a pass-rush threat. He’s expected to be a full-time starter this fall.
Layden Robinson, G
Like the defensive front, there are several younger bodies on the Texas A&M offensive line. Layden Robinson might not be a name that’s received a lot of national attention, but he could be one of the top guard prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft.
The 6’4″, 320-pound right guard has an impressive anchor in pass protection while possessing a mauler mentality in the ground game. Meanwhile, he showcases good hand placement and timing. With Kenyon Green departed, Robinson should emerge as the leader of the Aggies’ offensive line.
Edgerrin Cooper, LB
2022 could be a breakout season for Texas A&M linebacker Edgerrin Cooper. The third-year player took a leap in production last fall and is likely to be the starting WILL for the Aggies this year.
At 6’3″, 220 pounds, Cooper might be considered lightweight by NFL standards. Yet, he mitigates that with excellent length and an athletic profile that showcases burst with the ability to missile into the backfield. If he can clean up some elements of his game in coverage, Cooper could solidify himself as a 2023 NFL Draft prospect.