ER, CB emerging positions for 2023 … We always get a lot of questions at this time of year what are the strongest positions for the upcoming draft. And until recently, we would have said for 2023 that QB looked to be the position of choice with the rest of the top prospects spread across the other positions. However, you get the feeling when talking to people around the league, that while the QB position has kind of stagnated of late, a couple of other positions have started to really excite NFL scouts including the edge rushers and cornerbacks.
In fact, nobody should be shocked if the ERs ultimately end up as the most prominent position in this year’s draft class, although it would be a shock if as many as three are selected in the first 5 picks as in 2022. However, there certainly appears to be a chance that a DE goes first overall for the second year in a row as Alabama’s Will Anderson is generally considered to be the top prospect overall for the upcoming draft, although it is still very possible that some QB needy team with the #1 pick will take a passer instead. At the same time, there are as many as a half dozen other edge rushers with clear first-round potential including Clemson’s Myles Murphy and Nolan Smith of Georgia, both of whom have legitimate top 10 possibilities, along with Isaiah Foskey of Notre Dame and BJ Ojulari of Texas. Meanwhile, the wild card out there at the position could be Tyree Wilson of Texas Tech, a full-sized 6-6, 275-pound DE with prototype length, along with good quickness and intensity.
There isn’t quite the depth at CB, but still as many as 4-5 could hear their names called in the first 15-20 picks this coming April including Kelee Ringo of Georgia, South Carolina’s Cam Smith, Joey Porter of Penn State, who is quietly having a terrific season, and Utah’s Clark Phillips who opened some eyes this past weekend with 3 picks against Oregon State after leading the conference in pass-break-ups last season. There’s also something of a buzz in NFL scouting circles about Oregon’s Christian Gonzalez, who is really just starting to scratch the surface but has all the tools including prototype size and length at 6-2, 200 along with track speed. At the same time, the one CB that seems to be in free fall is Eli Ricks of Alabama. He was a freshman All-American at SEC rival LSU last year, but transferred to the Tide fo whom he has barely played. Ricks was slowed by a back in issue in fall camp and was not a starter heading into the season. In fact, he had two tackles in Alabama’s opener and zilch since. For now its not clear whether it is in fact an injury issue or he just isn’t playing well; whatever it hasn’t done much for his draft grade.