College football Week 4 is upon us, which gives us the opportunity to once again dive into the potential 2023 NFL Draft prospects in action. Although we’re a third of the way through the season and some prospects have already solidified themselves at the top of the NFL draft class, others are still emerging and are hoping to create enough of an impression to earn a second look.
Which 2023 NFL Draft prospects should you be watching out for as you settle down for another action-packed college football weekend? As always in this 2023 NFL Draft prospect watch, we’ve tried to provide a good mix of offensive and defensive prospects spread out across the hours of action while shining some light on the sleepers in the class rather than repeatedly highlighting the established superstars.
Top 2023 NFL Draft prospects to watch
Lavel Davis, WR, Virginia
Virginia’s offense hasn’t lived up to either expectation or their electric performances from last season during the opening three games of the 2022 campaign. However, it’s not for a lack of effort from freak wide receiver Lavel Davis.
The 6’7″, 219-pound true junior led the ACC in yards per catch in 2019 before missing last season with an injury, and he’s back up to his old tricks this year. Davis leads the Cavaliers with 25.4 yards per catch so far this year.
The term “freak” gets thrown around with abandon, but Davis truly redefines athletic expectations. Players of his size simply shouldn’t be able to move the way he does.
The Virginia wide receiver is explosive off the snap, can accelerate quickly, and has twitchy change of direction skills that defy logic and leave defenders grasping at thin air or running into each other, as was the case in the season opener against Richmond.
Brandon Talton, K, Nevada
After a slight dip in his field goal completion last season, Nevada kicker Brandon Talton is back to his very best this season. Other than the blip in 2021, Talton has routinely completed over 80% of his field goal attempts since joining the Wolf Pack in 2019.
While he boasts impressive accuracy, Talton also has the leg to get the job done from 50+ yards. In a mixed bag of a season so far, the Nevada kicker offers consistency.
Through four games — Nevada beat New Mexico State in Week 0 — the 5’9″, 180-pound kicker and ukulele player has missed just one kick. That miss was a 57-yard attempt after the four-hour weather delay against Iowa, the ultimate icing of a kicker.
While Talton has been solely a kicker for Nevada, he boasts high school punting prowess which could give him an edge other some kicker prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Praise Amaewhule, EDGE, UTEP
It’s been a difficult start to the 2022 college campaign for UTEP, especially coming off the back of one of the most successful seasons in school history. A key component in that 7-5 regular season record was the performance of dangerous defensive lineman Praise Amaewhule. On an upward production trajectory, Amaewhule logged a career-high 12 tackles for loss and three forced fumbles, alongside six pass breakups and 5.5 sacks.
Comfortably the best of UTEP’s 2023 NFL Draft prospects, Amaewhule is an explosive pass rusher who effortlessly propels his 6’4″, 245-pound frame into the opposing backfield on a regular basis.
He showcases a great first step and plays with a relentless motor that never stops. The UTEP edge can also bully offensive linemen with impressive strength. He has a great opportunity to shine in Week 4 against a Boise State offensive line that has let quarterback Hank Bachmeier get hit far too often in his career.
Jaylon Carlies, S, Missouri
The start of conference play offers some intriguing matchups for 2023 NFL Draft prospects. Such is the case for Missouri safety Jaylon Carlies, who will have a difficult matchup against an Auburn team led by running back Tank Bigsby.
However, it won’t be a surprise to see Carlies emerge victorious from his personal battle on Saturday afternoon. He consistently elevates his game to act as an enforcer in both the ground game and passing games.
The Missouri safety is a ball hawk with five career interceptions to his name, one of which he picked up this season. His football instincts ensure he’s in the right place to make a play, while his length and ball skills allow him to act upon those instincts.
Meanwhile, he regularly demonstrates incredible closing speed, which often results in the play being blown up. Throw special teams experience and excellence into his scouting report, and Carlies is one of the top safety prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft class.
Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech
After a breakout season of sorts last year where he tallied 13.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks, Texas Tech defensive lineman Tyree Wilson earned early hype as a potential standout amongst 2023 NFL Draft edge prospects.
He’s living up to that expectation early in this season, and last week’s 3.5 tackles for loss and two sack performance added further evidence that Wilson is developing into one hell of a pass rush player.
Like Travon Walker in the previous class, Wilson has freaky measurements and athletic traits. He’s 6’6″, 275 pounds, and boasts 35 5/8″ arms and an 86″ wingspan. It’s difficult for an offensive lineman to manipulate him when they simply can’t get near his chest due to his length.
When Wilson attacks, he does so with unnerving power but also with high-level athleticism. Meanwhile, he has enough flexibility to bend around the edge. A young, inexperienced Texas Longhorns offensive line may be in for a long day in Week 4.
Nick Kidwell, OT, James Madison
Fresh off a bye week, James Madison will look to continue the impressive start to their inaugural season in the Sun Belt. The perennial FCS powerhouse has done a good job of assembling a team that can legitimately compete from the early days of their FBS transition. College football Week 4 sees the Dukes biggest test to date, however, as they face off against giant-killers and heart attack football purveyors, Appalachian State.
In Nick Hampton and Jalen Mcleod, the Mountaineers have an impressive pair of future NFL Draft pass rush prospects. Testing his mettle against them will be an opportunity to elevate his own stock for Dukes offensive tackle Nick Kidwell.
The 6’5″, 314-pound lineman offers requisite size while possessing experience both at tackle and guard. He boasts good footwork with an explosive get-off, is a genuine people mover in the ground game with a nasty disposition, and showcases impressive play strength to negate pass rushers.
Jalon Daniels, QB, Kansas
The year is 2022, and after years of being college football’s whipping boys, the Kansas Jayhawks are careering towards national relevance at an alarming rate. Undefeated through three games, Lance Leipold’s team has put up convincing wins against teams you would have expected them to lose to before the season.
These aren’t your grandpa’s Jayhawks, and while the new head coach has some responsibility, there’s another key contributor helping shape this Kansas revival.
In quarterback Jalon Daniels, Kansas has uncovered a legitimate playmaker and game changer at the sport’s most important position. Of that, there is no doubt. The question now is, can he assert himself amongst the upper echelon of 2023 NFL Draft quarterback prospects?
The answer is a resounding yes. He has incredible athletic traits to be a menace as an off-script creator. Meanwhile, he’s showcased the arm talent to not only drive the ball down the field but into tight windows while being accurate and throwing with anticipation.
Jeremy Lucien, CB, Vanderbilt
Vanderbilt heads into college football Week 4 with a 3-1 record powered by some impressive offensive performances. While the defense might not have reached the same performance levels, they’ve got several 2023 NFL Draft prospects who will undoubtedly receive attention come next April.
The Commodores’ Week 4 matchup with Alabama provides their first high-level test of the season and, with it, the opportunity to sink or shine in the spotlight.
One impressive playmaker who should see plenty of action on Saturday is UConn transfer Jeremy Lucien. Ahead of this weekend, the Vanderbilt CB leads the team with four pass breakups.
At 6’2″ and 192 pounds, he has the size to play outside at the NFL level while boasting impressive length. Meanwhile, Lucien has demonstrated a decent level of athleticism that, combined with his size and length, makes him a potent weapon in man coverage.
Eric Gray, RB, Oklahoma
Following his transfer from Tennessee to Oklahoma ahead of the 2021 college football season, there were plenty of expectations that Eric Gray would assert himself as one of the top prospects in the previous cycle.
An ultimately disappointing campaign for an unsettled Oklahoma team led to his return to the Sooners for another season. Unbridled by the previous season’s expectations or perhaps fuelled by an apparent falling off the radar, Gray has begun the 2022 college campaign in commanding style.
Through three games, the 5’9″, 206-pound running back is averaging 7.7 yards per carry. He’s already equaled his two touchdowns from last fall and he’s already racked up over half of the total yards he rushed for last season.
Gray is a dynamic, versatile playmaker who provides a genuine all-purpose threat out of the backfield. His quick, light feet enable a suddenness of acceleration and a twitchy change of direction to provide elusive quality while also boasting great vision and providing a reliable pair of hands as a receiving back.
Kyle Harmon, LB, San Jose State
Are you looking for a reason to stay up for a game between Western Michigan and San Jose State that kicks off at 10:30 p.m. ET? Admittedly, with Utah and Washington also in action at this time, this game is likely to receive little attention.
However, there are still 2023 NFL Draft prospects to be found as Saturday turns into Sunday in San Jose, and Kyle Harmon is already garnering national attention as a Shrine Bowl 1000 Watchlist member.
Harmon has been steadily productive during his five playing seasons for the Spartans, and last season broke the 100 tackle mark for the first time in his career. The 6’0″, 225-pound linebacker is a tackling monster who flies to the football with impressive speed.
When he gets there, he’s capable of laying hits as ferocious as you’ll see on a college football field this season. His play recognition is as impressive as his speed and ferocity, and he routinely takes good angles to the ball carrier.