COLLEGE FOOTBALL: JAN 01 Rose Bowl Game - Ohio State v Utah
Icon Sportswire

The 2022-23 college football season has begun and the NFL is not far behind. In preparation for this weekend's slate of college football games, Ryan Wilson, Chris Trapasso and myself compiled an early list of the best prospects expected to be available in the 2023 NFL Draft.

1. Will Anderson Jr., EDGE, Alabama
2. Myles Murphy, EDGE, Clemson
3. C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
4. Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
5. Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
6. Jalen Carter, DL, Georgia
7. Trenton Simpson, LB, Clemson
8. Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia
9. Antonio Johnson, S, Texas A&M
10. Kayshon Boutte, WR, LSU

NFL Draft fans should be familiar with a few of the names at the top of this list. Anderson and Carter have been discussed as two of the best defensive prospects to enter the draft in recent years. The quarterback position is projected to feature elite talent (Stroud, Young and Levis) that was not present a year ago. Levis is the first transfer on the list after leaving Penn State in 2021. Clemson has a loaded front seven on defense this season and two found their way into the top 10 overall. Despite producing the most prospects ever taken in the first three rounds, Georgia had two representatives in the top 10 overall. 

11. Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State
12. Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame
13. Peter Skoronski, OL, Northwestern
14. Cam Smith, CB, South Carolina
15. Bryan Bresee, DL, Clemson
16. Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
17. Noah Sewell, LB, Oregon
18. Arik Gilbert, TE, Georgia
19. Tony Grimes, CB, North Carolina
20. Anton Harrison, OT, Oklahoma

Smith-Njigba would be the third (fourth if Jameson Williams included) Ohio State wide receiver drafted in the first round over a two-year period. The stage is set for him to be the primary outlet for Stroud this season. Mayer is a well-rounded prospect who will not test as well athletically as Gilbert and some of the other talented tight ends. 

The early rankings are a prediction of what players could be at the next level and this range is the perfect example. Gilbert did not play for UGA last season but possesses the physical traits that helped Kyle Pitts become the No. 4 overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft. Gilbert initially transferred from LSU. Robinson is the best running back prospect in recent years and should challenge the notion that running backs do not belong in the first round. 

21. Felix Anudike-Uzomah, EDGE, Kansas State
22. Eli Ricks, CB, Alabama
23. Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State
24. Nolan Smith, EDGE, Georgia
25. Isaiah Foskey, EDGE, Notre Dame
26. Andre Carter II, EDGE, Army
27. Jordan Battle, S, Alabama
28. Jaquelin Roy, DL, LSU
29. Josh Downs, WR, North Carolina
30. Zion Tupuola-Fetui, EDGE, Washington

Ricks is the second LSU transfer to make the list. He will play an important role in a loaded Alabama secondary. Johnson played guard for Ohio State last season but is now making the transition to the boundary. Smith and Carter are about as raw as edge rushers can be but they have noteworthy athletic traits. Downs is a personal favorite. If able to overlook his lack of traditionally accepted size, talent evaluators will find a natural route runner who is elusive post-catch. 

31. Garrett Williams, CB, Syracuse
32. Gervon Dexter, DL, Florida
33. Clark Phillips III, CB, Utah
34. Zach Harrison, EDGE, Ohio State
35. Tyler Van Dyke, QB, Miami (Fla.)
36. Zion Nelson, OT, Miami (Fla.)
37. Brian Branch, DB, Alabama
38. Jordan Addison, WR, USC
39. Jahmyr Gibbs, RB, Alabama
40. Siaki Ika, DL, Baylor

Williams, Dexter, Harrison and Nelson are faces of potential. Each possesses great size and natural athletic ability. Phillips is smaller in stature but feisty. Following a brief hiatus, a fourth quarterback (Van Dyke) makes the cut. Addison and Gibbs transferred from Pittsburgh and Georgia Tech, respectively. Gibbs is not a prototypical Crimson Tide running back but he excels in three phases of the game. Ika is the third LSU transfer to reside in the top-40. 

41. Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State
42. Jalen Catalon, S, Arkansas
43. Henry To'oTo'o, LB, Alabama
44. Blake Freeland, OT, BYU
45. Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College
46. Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU
47. BJ Ojulari, EDGE, LSU
48. Rakim Jarrett, WR, Maryland
49. Jordan Morgan, OL, Arizona
50. Brandon Joseph, S, Notre Dame

The final portion of the list begins with the son of former NFL linebacker great Joey Porter. Catalon is probably the most athletically gifted safety in the class but tackling has been an issue for him in the past. Johnston is a big-bodied wide receiver who will be relied upon to make plays down the field. Jarrett has significant upside and should build on an impressive 2021 campaign.