Big 12 2023 NFL Draft prospects and scouting reports
With the college football season around the corner, it’s time to set our eyes on the next group of NFL hopefuls that could be available next April in the 2023 NFL Draft in Kansas City. In this edition, we’ll take a look at the draft prospects and scouting reports from the Big Ten.
2023 Big 12 NFL Draft prospects to know
The up-and-down Baylor program is on the rise again, thanks in large part to terrific young coach Dave Aranda. The Bears have sporadically placed players into Day 2 of the draft the past half-dozen years, and that will very likely happen next April.
Siaki Ika, DT | Grade: 3.75 | Projected Round: 3
The top NFL prospect on the depth chart is defensive tackle Siaki Ika, a powerful wide-bodied lineman who takes up a lot of space. Ika is quick, explosive, and impossible to move off the point. He’s more gap occupier than playmaker, though Ika does force the action up the field. I think of him as a poor man’s Jordan Davis and grade him as a third-round prospect.
Connor Galvin, OT | Grade: 3.35 | Projected Round: 6
Offensive tackle Connor Galvin is a prospect I like. He’s a long, fundamentally sound blocker who gets the most from his ability. Galvin is smart, tough, and very strong. He’s also a better athlete than he’s given credit for. Galvin is a late-round prospect with right-tackle potential at the next level.
Christian Morgan, S | Grade: 3.35 | Projected Round: FA
Christian Morgan returns for a second senior season. The safety is a tough, forceful defender who is best between the numbers and up the field.
TJ Franklin, DE | Grade: 3.25 | Projected Round: FA
TJ Franklin is an athletic pass rusher with an underrated game. Franklin flies off the edge with excellent speed and makes plays down the line in pursuit. Both he and Morgan presently grade as PFAs on my board, but they could move into the late rounds.
Iowa State Cyclones
When the New York Jets traded up to the 36th selection and drafted running back Breece Hall, it marked the first time an Iowa State player had been selected in the top 40 since 1990, when the Miami Dolphins took offensive lineman Keith Sims at pick 39. There’s a chance the program could put a player into the first round next year.
Will McDonald IV, DE | Grade: 3.94 | Projected Round: 1-2
There was some speculation that Will McDonald IV would enter the 2022 NFL Draft, but the athletic pass rusher chose to return for another season with head coach Matt Campbell. McDonald is a long (6-foot-4) athlete who combines great speed and quickness with the ability to make plays in every direction. He’s fast up the field and can bend off the edge and make plays in the open field. McDonald is hampered by the fact that he lines up at defensive end in the Cyclones’ three-man line. And at 230 pounds, he struggles getting off blocks, as one could imagine.
Yet, McDonald has shown the ability to adapt and continually disrupt the action. There is some concern he may not be able to handle a complicated defensive scheme, but McDonald would flourish at DE in a four-man line or standing over tackle in a one-gap system that occasionally has him dropping into space. A year ago, I had McDonald graded as a late-third-round prospect, but he displayed great improvement and now ranks as a fringe Day 1 pick on my board.
Xavier Hutchinson, WR | Grade: 3.46 | Projected Round: 5
Xavier Hutchinson is a fantastic receiver who is ridiculously underrated. He’s a natural at the position who comes with dependable hands and a high football IQ. Hutchinson constantly comes up with big plays during important moments of the game, and though he’s sneaky fast, he won’t run a 4.3-second 40. I presently grade him as a mid-fifth-round prospect and believe he’ll be a terrific fourth receiver who could add value returning punts.
Trevor Downing, C | Grade: 3.38 | Projected Round: 6
Center Trevor Downing is an explosive blocker who’s very good in motion and at the second level. Though not a mauler in the middle of the line, he comes with growth potential and should get stronger as he physically matures.
It seems like Kansas cannot get out of its own way, and the program has been the doormat of the Big 12 for more than a dozen seasons. Yet, they’ve had a player drafted during even years since 2018, and true to form, they’re unlikely to have a player selected in 2023.
Earl Bostick Jr., OT | Grade: 3.16 | Projected Round: FA
Earl Bostick Jr. is a nice-sized offensive tackle with long arms and above-average athleticism. He’s fundamentally sound and does a solid job in pass protection. What he lacks is strength at the point and a killer instinct. The former can be cured, but I’m not sure about the latter.
Kenny Logan Jr., S | Grade: 3.15 | Projected Round: FA
Several scouts I’ve spoken with believe safety Kenny Logan Jr. could end up as a late-round pick, but I presently grade him as a PFA. Logan has nice size and decent safety speed, yet his film is spotty.
Kansas State Wildcats
K-State usually has a player selected in every draft and occasionally puts a prospect into Day 2. Presently the board is littered with Day 3 prospects, and most are underclassmen.
Khalid Duke, LB | Grade: 3.42 | Projected Round: 5
Despite the fact that he was lost for the season after just three games last year, I still grade Khalid Duke as the top prospect from the program. In 2021, he displayed himself as an explosive edge rusher who made plays all over the field. Duke is athletic and comes with nice size, but he must start developing a three-down game.
Daniel Green, LB | Grade: 3.38 | Projected Round: 6
Senior Daniel Green is a tough, athletic inside linebacker prospect with an underrated game. Green possesses next-level instincts, makes plays sideline to sideline against the run and shows ability in coverage. He’s fierce and comes with next-level size (6’2 1/2″, 240 pounds) as well as speed (4.73 seconds).
Cooper Beebe, G | Grade: 3.35 | Projected Round: 6 and Deuce Vaughn, RB | Grade: 3.32 | Projected Round: 6
Cooper Beebe is a punch-you-in-the-mouth offensive lineman who moves well at guard, while Deuce Vaughn is a creative running back who catches the ball well.
Both players — along with Duke and Green — presently grade as late-fifth/early-sixth-round prospects on my board, while underclassman defensive end Felix Anudike-Uzomah (3.18 grade), corner Julius Brents (3.11), and receiver Malik Knowles (3.09) are PFAs who could move into the late rounds.
The offseason saw major changes to the landscape at Oklahoma, as head coach Lincoln Riley took off for USC and a host of players transferred out of Norman, including two quarterbacks. Despite this, OU’s depth chart is still stacked with next-level talent.
Key Lawrence, S | Grade: 3.77 | Projected Round: 3
Most of the top prospects on the OU roster are underclassmen, starting with safety Key Lawrence. The junior plays the safety position like a cornerback, displaying terrific ball skills and the ability to cover the slot receiver. He has nice size, gives effort against the run, and is a true free safety.
Anton Harrison, OT | Grade: 3.75 | Projected Round: 3
The Sooners have been an offensive-line factory, and left tackle Anton Harrison looks as though he’ll be the next great one from the program. Harrison is a smooth pass protector who easily slides off the edge and shows great lateral blocking range. He’s also adept as a run blocker, as he opens up the lanes. Harrison’s not your classic 6-foot-6 offensive tackle, but he has all the tools necessary to start on Sundays.
Woodi Washington, CB | Grade: 3.63 | Projected Round: 3
Corner Woodi Washington also holds a third-round grade, though it’s much later in the round. Washington impressed me in 2020, but he was spotty last season. He also possesses good ball skills as well as athleticism, but he must improve his techniques.
David Ugwoegbu, LB | Grade: 3.54 | Projected Round: 4
With a fourth-round grade, linebacker David Ugwoegbu ranks as my top senior prospect on the depth chart. He’s a big, tough athlete who stacks well against the run and shows enough ability to play in zone coverage on passing downs.
Jalen Redmond, DT | Grade: 3.41 | Projected Round: 5
Several scouts I’ve spoken to believe that defensive tackle Jalen Redmond could end up being a Day 2 selection in next year’s draft. He’s an explosive athlete who penetrates the gaps with his explosive burst off the snap. But Redmond is under 290 pounds and struggles getting off blocks. I like his skill and upside, but I believe he’s more middle-of-Day 3 material at this point with a fifth-round grade.
Oklahoma State Cowboys
This past April, the Cowboys had three players selected in the late part of the draft. Expect that to change in 2023.
Spencer Sanders, QB | Grade: 3.62 | Projected Round: 3
I’ve had an on-again, off-again love affair with Spencer Sanders’ game. The quarterback was incredibly impressive off the 2019 film, when I stamped him as a Day 2 pick. I thought he showed no improvement the following season but rebounded exceptionally well in 2021.
Sanders is a feisty QB with a next-level arm and the ability to make all the throws. In many ways, he reminds me of Baker Mayfield in substance and style when the former No. 1 pick played for interstate-rival Oklahoma. Sanders shows great poise, uses all his targets, and challenges the vertical game. He’s also a legitimate threat to pick up yardage with his legs. At 6-foot-1, Sanders will not be a quarterback for everyone. I presently have a third-round grade on Sanders, yet he could move in either direction based on his results this season.
Trace Ford, LB | Grade: 3.49 | Projected Round: 5
Two OSU pass rushers grade as fifth-round picks on my board, starting with Trace Ford. Ford looked like an up-and-comer in 2020 and was a menace who dominated the opposition and blew up opponents’ game plans. He missed the team’s bowl game with an injury that season then missed all of last year due to injury. Obviously, he must get back to full health and complete his game, but Ford has a lot of upside.
Tyler Lacy, DE | Grade: 3.43 | Projected Round: 5
I’m much higher on Tyler Lacy than scouts I’ve spoken with, and in the end, he could be a better NFL player than Ford. He’s a long (6’4 1/2″) defensive end who has decent size (275 pounds) as well as athleticism. Lacy shows a lot of ability, not only as a pass rusher but also in making plays in pursuit and defending the run. He also has a ton of upside, and as far as I’m concerned, he’s not given the credit he deserves.
Braydon Johnson, WR | Grade: 3.27 | Projected Round: 7
Speaking of upside, keep the name of receiver Braydon Johnson in the back of your mind. From a size/speed perspective, Johnson grades as an early-rounder at 6 feet, 200 pounds with a 40 time under 4.4 seconds. From a production point of view, Johnson is minicamp material. He played in just one game last season after making 20 receptions the year prior. Unless he gets an NCAA exemption for another year, Johnson must put it together this season.
It always seems Texas is the redheaded stepchild to Oklahoma in the Big 12. And in recent years, the Longhorns have taken a backseat to Baylor in their own state. That should change this season, as the roster is stacked with talent, including draft-eligible players who’ll impact the 2023 event as well as non-eligible freshmen and sophomores who could be early picks in the future.
Bijan Robinson, RB | Grade: 4.00 | Projected Round: 1
Twelve years ago, Bijan Robinson would be stamped as a can’t-miss, top-10 choice. But times have changed, and the RB position has been devalued in the NFL draft. Regardless, Robinson is a fantastic next-level prospect at running back. The junior is a large, powerful ball carrier who is rarely brought down by a single defender on initial contact. Robinson’s also creative, as he shows the ability to get skinny and slide off defenders and make them miss with his patented jump cut. Additionally, Robinson is a terrific pass catcher out of the backfield.
He grades as a first-round pick and has “feature runner” written all over him. Whether or not he is chosen in the first round remains to be seen, but scouts I’ve spoken with who grade underclassmen have Robinson ranked higher than quarterbacks C.J. Stroud and Bryce Young.
DeMarvion Overshown, LB | Grade: 3.73 | Projected Round: 3
Talking to scouts, I find there are a variety of opinions on linebacker DeMarvion Overshown. My opinion is that he’s a terrific Day 2 prospect who can line up at inside linebacker, play three downs, and force the action on the blitz. Overshown is a tough, nasty, and explosive defender who makes plays all over the field. He’s a little light at 225 pounds, though I’d expect his 6’1 1/2″ frame to be closer to 235 by Combine time.
Roschon Johnson, RB | Grade: 3.69 | Projected Round: 3
Robinson’s backup Roschon Johnson is another terrific RB prospect who holds a third-round grade on my board. Though not as creative as his teammate, Johnson is big and powerful, and he’s a sensational short-yardage ball carrier. Johnson’s more than a downhill grinder, as he possesses terrific short-area quickness and is also effective catching the ball out of the backfield.
Christian Jones, OT | Grade: 3.65 | Projected Round: 3
Tackle Christian Jones is another drawing a wide range of opinions, but I believe he’s a terrific left-tackle prospect with excellent size and athleticism. I give Jones a third-round grade, almost half a round higher than many of the scouts I spoke with.
Jahleel Billingsley, TE | Grade: 3.61 | Projected Round: 3
Jahleel Billingsley transferred to UT from Alabama and should do well in the Steve Sarkisian offense. He’s a tall pass-catching TE who makes plays down the field and looks more like a big possession receiver than a tight end. That’s part of the issue for scouts, as Billingsley evidently weighs under 220 pounds. He’s a ‘tweener — small for a tight end and slow for a receiver. Still, measuring 6’4 1/2″, I’m betting he’ll be closer to 230 pounds by Combine time and will time in the low 4.6-second range in the 40.
Keondre Coburn, DT | Grade: 3.58 | Projected Round: 4
I graded Keondre Coburn as a Day 2 pick last summer, but I didn’t see much progress in his game and dropped him into the fourth round off the 2021 film. The defensive tackle is big (6’1 1/2″, 335 pounds) and athletic. My issue is Coburn’s game runs hot and cold, and he gets upright too often, neutralizing the size and natural leverage he possesses.
Jake Majors, C | Grade: 3.48 | Projected Round: 5
Redshirt sophomore Jake Majors is a terrific center prospect for the future. I’ve given him a fifth-round grade, but he has the tools to develop into the top 90.
TCU Horned Frogs
The Horned Frogs are under new management, as Sonny Dykes takes over after last year’s resignation by Gary Patterson. Since 2016, the program has put multiple players into Round 1, but most have not panned out. They won’t have to worry about that in 2023, as no player on the depth chart carries a first-round grade.
Steve Avila, G | Grade: 3.72 | Projected Round: 3
Offensive lineman Steve Avila is the top TCU prospect and holds a third-round grade on my board. He’s a dominant power-gap lineman who drives defenders from the action and finishes blocks. Avila is smart and very nasty, playing through the whistle and working to finish off opponents. Though he played center in 2021, Avila sits on my guard board, the position where he’ll line up this season.
Dee Winters, LB | Grade: 3.48 | Projected Round: 5
Dee Winters may not hit 6 feet when officially measured, but he’s an explosive and athletic linebacker with a three-down game. Winters is tremendous in pursuit, shows ability defending the run, and plays the pass like a strong safety. He’s an early-fifth-round prospect who could line up on the inside of a 3-4 alignment.
Quentin Johnston, WR | Grade: 3.47 | Projected Round: 5
Receiver Quentin Johnston is a nice-sized target with strong hands and a reliable game. He consistently wins out for the contested throw and doesn’t drop the ball. Johnston lacks a second gear, yet he’s more than just a big receiver who comes away with the tough catch.
Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson, CB | Grade: 3.45 | Projected Round: 5
Corner Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson is another talented defender who possesses outstanding ball skills and does a great job making plays with his back to the ball. I’ve been high on Hodges-Tomlinson the past two seasons, but he’ll measure under 5-foot-8, which will hurt his draft stock.
Dylan Horton, DE | Grade: 3.44 | Projected Round: 5
Defensive end Dylan Horton is an athletic pass rusher who displays excellent speed off the edge and gives effort in all areas of the position. He fits as a 4-3 end.
Max Duggan, QB | Grade: 3.42 | Projected Round: 5
I like QB Max Duggan and could see him make a big rise up draft boards. Duggan is a terrific athlete with a big-time arm and the ability to pick up a lot of yardage with his legs. He challenges the vertical game, fires the outs with speed, and makes good decisions. Duggan needs to improve his pass placement, but he has the tools to play on Sundays.
Texas Tech Red Raiders
The Texas Tech program that gave us Patrick Mahomes possesses a pass rusher who is presently getting a ton of love from NFL scouts.
Tyree Wilson, DE | Grade: 3.83 | Projected Round: 2
Talk to NFL scouts and they’ll tell you that edge rusher Tyree Wilson is one of the highest-rated senior prospects in the nation. Some will even say he’s a mid-first-round prospect. Me? I’m not as high on Wilson.
The senior is an athletic specimen with a terrific frame and super long arms. Wilson easily moves around the field and flawlessly rushes the edge. He’s quick and has a closing burst. What Wilson doesn’t display is great strength at the point or pursuit speed. He’s controlled by a single opponent and doesn’t make a lot of plays out to the flanks in pursuit. The love thrown his way is based more on future potential than present dominance, hence the reason I presently grade Wilson as a second-round choice.
Tyler Shough, QB | Grade: 3.35 | Projected Round: 6
Potential is why many were in love with quarterback Tyler Shough a year ago; he showed flashes of big-time ability at Oregon in 2020 before transferring to Texas Tech. However, it didn’t work out as planned for Shough in 2021, as he played in just four games before suffering a season-ending injury. Shough is a tall, athletic pocket passer with a big-time arm and the ability to make all the throws. He’s also very unpolished and must do a better job protecting the football.
Weston Wright, G | Grade: 3.32 | Projected Round: 6
Weston Wright is a small-area, slug-it-out offensive guard with superior strength at the point. He’s a mauler who easily opens running lanes and does a great job finishing blocks. What Wright cannot do is block in motion, and he’s singularly a power-gap lineman.
Jaylon Hutchings, DT | Grade: 3.29 | Projected Round: 7
Defensive tackle Jaylon Hutchings is short, but he’s an explosive and intense 3-technique prospect who could be effective in a rotational role on Sundays.
West Virginia Mountaineers
West Virginia did not have a player selected in the 2022 NFL Draft after having just a single prospect chosen the prior year. Though the situation appears to be slightly better moving towards 2023, it’s just late-round prospects on the depth chart.
JT Daniels, QB | Grade: 3.38 | Projected Round: 6
After not being able to hold down the starting job in his previous stints with USC and Georgia, quarterback JT Daniels hopes the third time is the charm at his new school.
Daniels displays a lot of skill at the position; he’s patient, poised, and accurate. He possesses a sense of timing and doesn’t make receivers wait for the ball. Daniels also possesses a decent arm, but he’s been plagued with a ton of injuries and insecurities since 2019. Obviously, the upcoming season is a last-gasp attempt for Daniels.
Bryce Ford-Wheaton, WR | Grade: 3.36 | Projected Round: 6
Bryce Ford-Wheaton is a long and fluid receiver who catches the ball extremely well. He plays to his size (6’3 1/2″, 221 pounds), but Ford-Wheaton is a possession wideout with limited burst.
Dante Stills, DE | Grade: 3.34 | Projected Round: 6
Dante Stills is an explosive hybrid DE/DT who displays a lot of athleticism and mobility. He needs to add bulk to his frame and get stronger, but Stills has ability on the inside of a 4-3 alignment.