Could the 2023 NFL Draft bring the Texas Tech Red Raiders one of their strongest NFL classes in recent memory? A lot hinges on the 2022 season, but Texas Tech has the talent to potentially make an imprint next April.
Texas Tech prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft
On both offense and defense, the Red Raiders are stocked with a surprising amount of talent. Let’s take a look at who from Texas Tech’s locker room might make noise in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Donovan Smith, QB
Tyler Shough was the transfer that brought all the hype last offseason. But down the stretch in 2021, it was redshirt freshman Donovan Smith who showed the most promise.
Smith likely won’t declare as a redshirt sophomore, but he has the tools to potentially break out, provided he eventually becomes the unquestioned starter at Texas Tech. Smith is tall, well-built, and athletic. He’s shown he can throw with touch from the pocket and also generate velocity out of structure.
Tyler Shough, QB
Shough is still on the roster at Texas Tech, and presumably battling for the starting QB job. But right now, the former Oregon starter feels as if he’s in limbo.
A broken collarbone took Shough off the field early in 2021, and eventually paved the way for the upstart Smith to show promise at QB. Now, nothing is assured for Shough. He has the athleticism to create, but as a thrower, Smith possesses a visibly higher ceiling. Shough will have to rely on his experience to re-emerge.
SaRodorick Thompson, RB
The 2023 NFL Draft’s running back group projects to be very deep, and SaRodorick Thompson is a part of that group. The Red Raiders RB logged 107 carries for 500 yards and 10 scores in 2021, and he figures to once again be a vital weapon on offense. Thompson has nice frame density, which he pairs with great open-field burst and urgency. His hips aren’t incredibly loose, but he has a combination of burst and balance worth keeping tabs on.
Tahj Brooks, RB
Thompson may have been the Red Raiders’ primary back in 2021, but Tahj Brooks was quietly more efficient. On 20 fewer carries, Brooks earned 68 more yards than Thompson, averaging 6.5 yards per carry, compared to Thompson’s 4.7.
Brooks is younger than Thompson and arguably has more upside. He has a similarly dense frame, standing at 5’10”, 220 pounds, but also shows off spry lateral athleticism, quick cutting ability, and speed in the open field.
Myles Price, WR
If you remember, in the 2022 NFL Draft, I was irrationally high on Texas Tech WR Erik Ezukanma. Well, we’re into the 2023 NFL Draft cycle, and I’ve already found another Red Raiders receiver to market: Myles Price.
Standing at 5’10”, 180 pounds, Price isn’t close to the physical specimen that Ezukanma was, but he’s an equally dangerous mold of receiver. Price is a speed WR who splices through coverages with natural separation ability and hauls in tough catches amidst contact.
Xavier White, WR
Xavier White feels like a player who still has yet to show the full extent of what he can do. He’s flashed brightly, but perhaps the arrival of offensive coordinator Zach Kittley will be the final piece in his emergence.
White is 6’0″, 200 pounds, and has a unique background as a hybrid RB-WR. Over the past two seasons, he’s accumulated 169 touches, 983 total yards from scrimmage, and six touchdowns. His unique blend of RB and WR traits might lend him a breakout opportunity in 2022.
Weston Wright, G
After losing Dawson Deaton, the Red Raiders will likely rely on senior Weston Wright to build around on the interior line. Wright is 6’6″, 320 pounds, with a well-sized frame. He doesn’t have great proportional length for his size, but he’s shown to generate power at the point of attack.
Wright likely isn’t going to be a coveted 2023 NFL Draft prospect, as his length is limiting, and he needs to work on his pad level. Nevertheless, a good year could generate more appeal.
Tony Bradford Jr., DT
There are two interior defensive line prospects within similar molds for Texas Tech. But the most appealing of the two prospects is Tony Bradford Jr.
On the surface, Bradford is a smaller defensive tackle — listed at around 6’1″, 290 pounds. But while his frame is stout, he has exceptional proportional length for his size, as well as a great first step off the line. With his burst and length, Bradford has great power capacity to go along with strong natural leverage. He could be a legitimate sleeper in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Jaylon Hutchings, DT
Jaylon Hutchings isn’t quite as long as Bradford, but aside from that, he has a similar athletic makeup. Hutchings is listed at 6’0″, 305 pounds. And like Bradford, he also shows off good quickness at the snap.
Hutchings can use his initial burst to surge through running lanes, and he has the strength to pry through blockers, even if his length is below average. Hutchings was productive last year, with 3½ sacks and 6½ tackles for loss. He’ll aim to finish even stronger in 2022.
Tyree Wilson, EDGE
Early on, Tyree Wilson might be one of the most underrated prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft. He could be a player who undergoes a massive ascent with another season of production.
Wilson logged 13½ tackles for loss and seven sacks in 2021, using his massive 6’6″, 275-pound frame to blast back tackles and puncture pockets with devastating force. He’s incredibly strong, but also explosive off the line, and has a potentially dominant skill set with early-round upside.
Krishon Merriweather, LB
The Red Raiders lost to two of their leading tacklers last year when linebackers Colin Schooler and Riko Jeffers exhausted their eligibility. In their place, Krishon Merriweather will be asked to carry greater responsibilities at the second level. Merriweather, a veteran leader listed at 6’0″, 240 pounds, has the makeup of a solid college LB. But he’s a bit undersized and not overly athletic. Thus, Merriweather’s professional ceiling might be limited.
Rayshad Williams, CB
With the departure of Damarcus Fields, Rayshad Williams becomes even more important in the Red Raiders’ secondary. Williams already stepped up in 2021 with 10 pass deflections, and now, even more eyes will be on him as he locks down the boundary. He has room to grow before he becomes a surefire 2023 NFL Draft prospect. But Williams is a long cornerback with good ball skills, and he’s shown solid route recognition and breaking ability in zone.
Adrian Frye, CB
Believe it or not, Adrian Frye was one of the best freshmen in the country back in 2018. That year, the Texas Tech defender put up five interceptions and 10 deflections in a spectacular debut season. Since then, however, it’s been quiet for Frye.
In the three seasons since, he’s tacked on a total of two interceptions and four pass breakups. Frye does have visible upside with his length, frame density, and burst. Although he’s not the most fluid, Frye has a skill set worth watching. And he’s proven before that he can produce.
Dadrion Taylor-Demerson, DB
Affectionately nicknamed “Rabbit”, Dadrion Taylor-Demerson could bounce into the 2023 NFL Draft conversation with another standout season at Texas Tech. The defensive back quietly hauled in three picks and 10 deflections in 2021, showing off natural playmaking ability and great zone awareness in space.
Taylor-Demerson is a little undersized, but he’s smart, fluid, and has impressive closing speed. The glue of the Red Raiders secondary, expect Rabbit to get more buzz down the stretch.
Reggie Pearson Jr., DB
Returning as a starting safety, Reggie Pearson Jr. is yet another player to know in a stocked Texas Tech secondary. The 5’11”, 200-pound DB is a former Wisconsin commit with cornerback experience. In his first season at Texas Tech in 2021, Pearson showed promise, accounting for 54 tackles, two tackles for loss, a pick, and three deflections. Pearson has room to improve in coverage, but he’s very willing to come downhill and tackle.
Marquis Waters, S
Marquis Waters brings additional safety experience to the Red Raiders. He’s unique in his build, standing around 6’1″, 215 pounds. That frame density brings value in run support, but Waters has flashed playmaking ability before as well. A former Duke standout, Waters logged two picks and seven deflections with the Blue Devils back in 2019. Perhaps another season with the Red Raiders enables him to make more plays.