Each year, draft prospects are selected too high relative to their on-field play. Sometimes a team falls in love with a player's character or athletic profile when it should probably be considering other factors. The 2023 NFL Draft isn't short on candidates teams could overdraft. Here are nine players NFL teams should be careful of drafting too high.
Led by T.J. McCreight, The 33rd Team Scouting Department has been hard at work evaluating the top prospects in this class. A former player personnel executive for the Philadelphia Eagles and former director of college scouting for the Indianapolis Colts, McCreight has nearly 25 years of NFL scouting experience.
He is joined in the department by three scouts:
- Kevin Cohn, a former scouting assistant for the Jacksonville Jaguars and assistant director of player personnel for the University of Connecticut.
- Justin Casey, who worked for the Arizona Cardinals in football administration and then as the senior player personnel executive for the Montreal Alouettes.
- Evan Pritt, a former scouting assistant for the Eagles and former player personnel assistant for the University of Maryland.
9 Players Who Will Get Overdrafted
Peter Skoronski, OT, Northwestern
Big Board Rank: 23
The Northwestern offensive lineman’s best NFL position might be guard. Skoronski's arm length and overall movement skills are a better fit inside, and he should excel at guard and perhaps even center as a rookie.
Plenty of NFL teams could use a guard of Skoronski's caliber, but viewing him as a tackle might lead a team to draft Skoronski higher than it should.
Calijah Kancey, IDL, Pittsburgh
Big Board Rank: 69
NFL scouts and coaches will love Kancey's quickness, speed and production, but his size is a major red flag and will limit him as an NFL defensive lineman. He finished with at least seven sacks and 13 tackles for loss in the past two seasons.
However, given his 6-foot-1, 281-pound frame, his best fit may be as an inside sub-rusher. That can be a valuable asset for a defensive line, but there's risk in drafting him too early.
Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida
Big Board Rank: 14
The Florida quarterback had an outstanding combine and pro day, but when you look at the entire body of work, there are concerns. Richardson basically only played one full season in college and showed some inconsistencies regarding his accuracy and decision-making.
He did not play in the Gators' bowl game and won only six games as a starter in 2022. There's no denying Richardson's natural talent, but there's also no denying his inexperience and flaws.
Myles Murphy, DE, Clemson
Big Board Rank: 24
Murphy is a talented player, but his production is modest, and he does not quite play up to his ability level. He finished 2022 with six sacks and 11 tackles for loss, down from his 2021 numbers of eight sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss.
There are some concerns about Murphy's effort. He needs to become a better finisher in the backfield, which leaves you wanting more after watching his film. Still, his athleticism might get drafted him higher than he should be.
Bryan Bresee, IDL, Clemson
Big Board Rank: 44
Bresee has battled injuries throughout his career and some weight issues. He will flash some outstanding plays but could be more consistently productive. The defensive tackle finished his collegiate career with just nine total sacks and 15 total tackles for loss.
His arm length and health are major red flags moving forward. Teams tend to like interior defensive linemen with good athletic profiles, so Bresee might get drafted a little early, considering his inconsistencies.
Darnell Washington, TE, Georgia
Big Board Rank: 105
Washington is productive in the run game, but he does not play with the explosiveness his testing numbers would suggest. His 4.08 20-yard shuttle was impressive for someone his size, but combine numbers don't always translate to the field.
Additionally, Washington is not a natural pass catcher and sometimes will “fight” the ball. He had just 45 catches in his college career at Georgia.
Mazi Smith, IDL, Michigan
Big Board Rank: 88
Smith is a freaky athlete for his size but did not have the production teams are looking for. He appeared in 30 games across three seasons with the Wolverines but only had half a sack and six tackles for loss during that span.
As a true nose tackle, his play time will be limited to specific packages. Despite his strength, he is not a dominant run defender. Smith's athletic profile is intriguing, but teams have to be realistic about his abilities.
Trenton Simpson, LB, Clemson
Big Board Rank: 30
Simpson has the athleticism and size to be a quality NFL starter, but there are concerns with his instincts, inconsistent effort and play finish. Instincts at the linebacker position are critical to success in today's NFL, and Simpson needs to improve in that aspect.
There's no doubt he has the movement skills to run and cover, but the rest of his game hasn't caught up yet.
Blake Freeland, OT, BYU
Big Board Rank: 109
Freeland had outstanding numbers at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. He ran a 4.98 40-yard dash, jumped 37 inches in the vertical and had a 10-foot broad jump while weighing more than 300 pounds. The film does not match up to his athletic numbers.
He is not a fluid mover and has lower-body tightness. At the end of the day, his play on the field is pretty ordinary. Still, NFL teams always covet athletic offensive tackles, and Freeland fits the bill.