Trench players highlight stock up; wideouts headline stock down
Your preseason 2023 mock drafts are completely destroyed now that it’s late November and we know so much more about who these prospects are as players—with yet another year of game film under their belts. The 2022 season brought plenty of new prospects to the table while others have faded over the 12-game schedule. Regardless, we now have a wealth of knowledge to help sort out who helped and hurt themselves since those preseason mock drafts were posted all over the internet.
This group of players were essentially nonexistent in preseason NFL mock drafts for the 2023 class. Throughout the course of the season, they’ve put their stamp on college football and the perception of the draft landscape.
Olu Fashanu, OT, Penn State
Fashanu had one start entering the 2022 season. The third-year sophomore was a three-star recruit out of Maryland who has had his coming out party this season. Fashanu played in nine games in 2021, but he only made one start. Now, he’s the starting offensive tackle for the Nittany Lions and threatening as the potential OT1 in the upcoming draft. Fashanu has some elite movement ability and grip strength. He’s still very young and could certainly return to school in the world of NIL. But Fashanu is likely to be a shoo-in first-round pick in the draft due to the way his frame and feet work in unison.
Think we’re looking at OT1 here. 19-years old pic.twitter.com/gZZ7HnC5Ex
— Brandon Thorn (@BrandonThornNFL) November 1, 2022
Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech
Wilson has a much different story than Fashanu as far as risers go. Wilson was a Class of 2018 four-star recruit who signed with Texas A&M and subsequently played his first two seasons during his college career. Wilson then transferred to Texas Tech where his career really took off. He posted seven sacks in each of the past two seasons for the Red Raiders, and was looking to surpass that until a foot injury forced him to miss the last two regular-season games of 2022. Wilson is a specimen—6’6”, 275 pounds—who moves like someone much smaller in stature. He was certainly viewed as a potential high-round pick in the preseason by some early mock drafts. But the top 10 buzz for one of the freakiest players coming out is certainly within reach. There’s real potential he’s the second edge off the board after Alabama’s Will Anderson. Not many saw that coming in the preseason and he’s made himself plenty of future money in 2022.
Tyree Wilson clips vs. Texas
This man is a certified goblin. pic.twitter.com/vzXfD7MlZ4
— Frankie Abbott (@FrankiesFilm) November 15, 2022
Jared Verse, EDGE, Florida State
The trenches have helped themselves a good amount in 2022 due to the prior two names mentioned in this “Stock Up” category. Another name coming from the woodwork is Florida State’s Jared Verse. It started this past offseason when Verse transferred from the University at Albany. Verse hit the portal and was immediately coveted by a multitude of college football powers. The Seminoles were able to sway Verse their way after the recent success of New York Jets first-round pick Jermaine Johnson. Very quickly, Verse jumped off the page in 2022. His chiseled-up frame and first-step explosion popped against LSU in primetime. He gave the Tigers fits in that game and his name has been squarely on the map since. Verse is still raw in some aspects and needs some work as a run defender, but his motor and athleticism have earned him 7.5 sacks and 14.5 tackles for a loss in 2022. He did suffer a mid-season injury, but he only missed one game. Verse has gone from an unknown at the University at Albany to a player squarely in first-round conversation in a hurry.
Jared Verse has bullied the LSU offensive line all night long. Can win with speed, can win with power.
— Oliver Hodgkinson (@ojhodgkinson) September 5, 2022
Nobody likes to talk about the disappointments in a given season, but the reality is that it happens each year. Whether it be due to a change of situation, possible injury, or just a downtick in play, players drop. Let’s talk about three disappointments from this 2022 season.
Kayshon Boutte, WR, LSU
One of the more odd situations in 2022 is that involving Kayshon Boutte. Many viewed Boutte as the potential WR1 entering this season even after playing just six games as a second-year freshman. Boutte has all of the tools and ability as a wide reciever to be a first-round pick. The ankle injury suffered in 2021 didn’t cause him to miss any time this season, but he didn’t look quite right. Boutte has high-end NFL speed, but the compete level looked like it had fallen off a cliff starting with a bout of bad body language in Week 1 against Florida State. A new coaching staff and quarterback could factor into Boutte’s fall, but it’s unlikely he finds his way into the first round at this point. It remains to be seen if Boutte will declare, but tabbing his draft position will likely rely on testing and pre-draft interviews if he does try his hand at the league.
Noah Sewell, LB, Oregon
Sewell had as bad of a start to a season as any 2023 prospect. In Oregon’s first game against Georgia (a huge game for Sewell’s draft stock), the third-year linebacker missed 33% of his tackle attempts—which is an abysmal number to post. Sewell looked like the worst player on the field. Per PFF, Sewell’s missed tackle percentage has since dropped to 11.1% on the year compared to 17.9% in 2021. Sewell has an extremely compact frame, which limits his fluidity in coverage. The downhill speed still exists, while ability to navigate to the ball and tackling issues remain in question. Sewell went from having a decent shot at the first round to being an unknown in terms of projection. Sewell likely has a third-/fourth-round evaluation by most teams at this stage.
Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State
This year’s crop of wide receiver prospects took a serious hit between the disappointment of Boutte and the lack of Smith-Njigba in 2022. He went from 95 catches in 2021 to five in 2022. It wasn’t due to a drop-off in play—we really don’t know what JSN would have looked like in 2022 alongside sophomore sensations Marvin Harrison Jr. and Emeka Egbuka. Smith-Njigba suffered a hamstring injury Week 1 against Notre Dame. He attempted to return two weeks later where he re-aggravated the injury. Smith-Njigba remained out for over a month until he played against Iowa in late October. He caught one pass before once again leaving the game. He hasn’t been seen since and it seems unlikely he’ll play another game for the Buckeyes before a potential declaration. One of the more fun players in the 2023 NFL Draft has one true season of tape to utilize. Missing the season will stack upon athleticism concerns for Smith-Njigba. In addition, he has been a slot-only player for the Buckeyes in his time in Columbus, OH.
Reminding everyone of the catch that put Ohio State’s Jaxon Smith-Njigba on the map. pic.twitter.com/poHHz3tnWY
— Brutus Wayne™ (@BuckeyeBat) August 19, 2022