While the 2023 NFL Draft is still far off in the distance, players that will be drafted early are on the field now. Each week presents unique matchups for draft prospects and this week is no different. Here are NFL draft prospects to watch in college football week 1 recap.
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1. Paris Johnson, OT, Ohio State
Ohio State had to slug it out against Notre Dame, but they left with a victory, 21-10. In his first start at left tackle Johnson looked very good, as the offensive line only allowed one sack as a whole. He also helped the running game get going as Miyan Williams had a great second half on the ground.
Against the Fighting Irish, Johnson showed proficiency in pass blocking and run blocking. His athleticism is unique and allows him to hold up in space, which is not something he was able to utilize at guard last season. It was just one game, but Johnson is trending towards being a first-round pick and possibly the first offensive tackle off the board in the 2023 NFL Draft.
2. Isaiah Foskey, EDGE, Notre Dame Fighting Irish
The Fighting Irish played Ohio State tougher than many thought they would in the game. Their defense hero Ohio State to just 21 points. Foskey did not play his greatest game, as he did not register a sack. He did have four tackles, but will need to show up more against solid competition later in the season.
Foskey played against a very good Ohio State offensive line and couldn’t get a ton of pressure on CJ Stroud. In the following weeks, he needs to produce more sacks and pressure, especially against premier competition. Foskey can still get drafted in the first round if he gets back on track soon.
3. Noah Sewell, LB, Oregon Ducks
Oregon did not put up much of a fight against Georgia in the first game of the season. The defense struggled, but they also didn’t have much help from their offense. Noah Sewell is a great player, but he didn’t show that against Georgia. He finished the game with just three tackles.
Sewell is traditionally good against the run, but was unable to get to the ball against the Bulldogs. There are some questions with his pass coverage and he didn’t really answer those this week. The Ducks still have a lot of football to play and Sewell has to improve if he wants his stock to rise.
4. KJ Jefferson, QB, Arkansas Razorbacks
Arkansas had a tough matchup in week 1, as they played a physical Cincinnati team. They were able to win by a touchdown, as quarterback KJ Jefferson had a good game along their way. Jefferson passed for 233 yards on 18/26 passing for three touchdowns. To go with his passing stats, Jefferson rushed for 62 yards and one touchdown.
Jefferson did a great job of using his arms and legs while protecting the ball in game one, which is something he proved he could do last season. He needs to continue to show he can be accurate with the football, because everyone already knows how hard he is to tackle as a runner. Arkansas has plenty of big games ahead for Jefferson to prove his worth.
5. Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida Gators
Florida upset the no. 7 Utah Utes in the Swamp for Billy Napier’s first win as the Gators’ head coach. The offense looked much better than last season and a lot of that credit goes to Anthony Richardson’s improvement. He looked very raw as a redshirt freshman last season, but against the Utes he showed off his physical tools. Richardson passed for 168 yards, but was efficient with the football with just seven incompletions and no interceptions. He also rushed for 106 yards and three touchdowns.
There is not a player who improved their stock more than Richardson in week 1. The arm strength and athleticism has been there, but his improvements in decision-making and accuracy are a welcome sight. After not putting much on tape last season, Richardson is clearly in play to be a first round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft if he continues this trend.
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