Who’s #1; Mwel has his say

January 25, 2023

Who’s #1; Mel has his say … For those who haven’t seen it, ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper has posted an updated top 25 for the upcoming draft. No real surprise in that he has Georgia DT Jalen Carter and Alabama DE Will Anderson as the top 2 prospects overall, followed by QBs Will Levis of Kentucky, Alabama’s Bryce Young and CJ Stroud of Ohio State at 3-4-5, although the fact that he has Levis as the top QB is a bit of a surprise (more on that below. There are even bigger surprises in Kiper’s ranking in the second ten where he has Illinois CB Devon Witherspoon at #10, Pitt DT Calijah Kancey at #11 and Iowa DE Lukas Van Ness at #17. In fact, we have been hearing that Witherspoon is one of, if not THE hot guy in this year’s draft at this moment and we have bumped him up to the #4 CB and #22 overall on the GBN top 100-plus. Same for Iowa’s Van Ness who is also generating plenty of first round buzz. On the other hand, we haven’t heard as much about Kancey, who was a terrific college player, but at barely 6-0 and maybe 280 doesn’t really fit any positional profile. He’ll certainly be one guy we’ll be watching very closely at next week’s Senior Bowl.

We are also hearing that with just over 90 days to go until the draft, teams still aren’t real comfortable with the tops of their boards. No question, for example, that Carter and Anderson are outstanding prospects, but they each have questions. Carter, for one, can literally dominate games, but there are whispers that his motor runs a little hot and cold. On the other hand, there are no doubts about Anderson’s motor which is always on high, but he weighs less than 245 and there are questions whether he has the bulk to hold the point of attack defending the run. In the end, we keep hearing that nobody should be surprised if someone like Texas Tech DE Tyree Wilson ultimately ends up being the first non-QB selected this spring.

At the same time, there appears to be a continuing debate around the league about this year’s top QBs. Bama’s Young does seem to be the consensus choice at the position even though he may not even be 6-0. In fact, teams don’t appear to be that concerned about his height as their have been some very successful QBs of late at 6-0 or shorter. However, those guys all weighed in the 200-210 range, at least, whereas there are concerns that Young played at under 190 at Alabama. Indeed, there are recent reports that Young is currently eating everything in sight in an attempt to get over that Mendoza-weight line! On the other hand, the Buckeyes’ Stroud checks out the size and arm strength boxes, but there are reportedly concerns that he isn’t very athletic at all and tends to be somewhat robotic in the pocket. Which seems to bring everyone back to Levis who didn’t have a particularly strong second half to his season, but of the three probably checks off the most boxes of what NFL teams are looking for in a franchise QB. As we said, time will tell!