The 2023 NFL Draft is inching closer, which means for those of us who don’t follow NCAA Football all that closely, get a look at the available prospects. ESPN’s Todd McShay has been at this draft analyst business for quite a while now and does both prospect rankings and mock drafts as we close in on the big day.
Today we’re going to look at his 2023 FL Draft Prospect Tiers. These tiers are based solely on ability and not on need or position.
McShay has Alabama’s Bryce Young as the only quarterback in Tier 1, while C.J. Stroud is in Tier 2, then Anthony Richardson and Will Levis are in Tier 3, at 10th and 15th overall. The next QB, Hendon Hooker, shows up in Tier 4. Fresno State’s Jake Haener doesn’t come in until Tier 6 at 86th overall, while no other quarterbacks break the Top 100.
These quarterbacks are ranked similarly to where you have probably seen them in other publications. Young has been considered the No. 1 QB on the board for a while now, but his height may have scared off a few teams when evaluating him for the NFL. Stroud seems to be the Carolina Panthers first overall pick, but nothing definitive has leaked.
There are only two players in McShay’s Tier 1, Young and Texas RB Bijan Robinson. McShay grades the prospects using a point system and they were the only players that hit a 95. Last season, he didn’t have any players that hit that number.
This of course says a lot about how McShay values Robinson, but that also doesn’t mean he will be an early round pick. The last Top 10 running back pick was Saquon Barkley and that move has had mixed results due to injuries. There are plenty of reasons Robinson shouldn’t even go in the first round and none of them are based on his ability.
McShay’s Tier 2 list is based on players who receive a grade between 92 and 94. This season he has seven players in this tier, while he had none last season. You’ll see some familiar names here, with Will Anderson, Jalen Carter, Tyree Wilson, Devon Witherspoon, Peter Skoronski and Christian Gonzalez being led by Stroud at No. 3 overall and first in the second tier.
These are all players, with the majority being defensive starters come Week 1 of the season. Skoronski feels like the weakest player here, as the offensive line position is weak overall, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be drafted in the Top 12.
Teams with position needs will have a big board like McShay’s set up and their own draft grades. When they have multiple options at a position, they can be more flexible and wait or trade back. McShay has 100 players ranked and six tiers, so his total ranked players at each position could give us some insight in how deep each position is.
Overall, cornerbacks and wide receivers are tied at 14 players each, but it does look like cornerbacks overall are the highest ranked, with two in the second tier. Only quarterback has as many players in the top two tiers. Wide receivers are numerous, but they lead Tier 6 with seven players and have zero in the first two tiers. Ohio State’s Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Boston Colleges Zay Flowers are his top two receivers, landing in Tier 2 at 19th and 21st overall.
Tight end is deep with seven players in his Top 100. It isn’t a huge number, but tight end isn’t usually a position that see seven players through the first 100. But, Dalton Kincaid and Michael Mayer appear to be the cream of the crop, both lading in Tier 3 and inside the Top 20.
Safety, inside linebacker and center have no players in the first three tiers, while safety, center and offensive guard only have two players each through the first five tiers.
McShay does have one OT in his Tier 2, but has just four in his top four tiers. He like Skoronski quite a bit, but overall, the position doesn’t have any locks for the Top 10 this season.
Quarterback is always shallower than most teams would like. McShay loves Bryce Young and like CJ Stroud enough to put him third overall, but those are the only two signal callers he believes can be plus-starters, with four total being able to start with consistency in the NFL.