2023 NFL Draft: Will Anderson Jr. and Jalen Carter Lead Group of Blue-Chip Players

Georgia Bulldogs defensive lineman Jalen Carter (88) greets fans Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022, after defeating Alabama in the College Football Playoff National Championship at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Georgia Bulldogs defensive lineman Jalen Carter (88) greets fans Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022, after defeating Alabama in the College Football Playoff National Championship at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. /

The phrase “Blue-Chip” refers to (according to the Cambridge Dictionary) an investment that can be trusted and is unlikely to fail. In the NFL, this refers to a high-end draft pick with a high chance of success regardless of the situation they are dropped into. Alabama’s Will Anderson and Georgia’s Jalen Carter lead this group in the 2023 NFL Draft.

In years past, we can see that blue-chip players have a high probability of success, with a lot of them being perennial All-Pros, as can be expected. Despite the fact that we still have about six months until the draft, the blue-chip players seem evident for this class, and this is an introduction to them.

Who are the Blue-Chip Players in the 2023 NFL Draft?

Will Anderson Jr, EDGE, Alabama

Perhaps the most expected name on this list, Will Anderson Jr seems to be a lock for the top five picks despite his slow start to the season. Anderson led the nation in sacks as a sophomore (17.5) on his way to the Nagurski Trophy (awarded to the best defensive player in CFB) and to a unanimous berth as an All-American.

Now a junior, Anderson has recorded five sacks through his first seven games, which is not a bad rate but a bit slow for his standards. However, his traits and the ability that he has shown means he should be a top pick and could be taken first overall if the order falls favorably for him.

Jalen Carter, IDL, Georgia

Another player that has not had a great start to this season is Georgia’s Jalen Carter. The gifted defensive lineman looked like a true game-wrecker last season, despite all the first-round picks and playmakers he had around him.

Despite playing on a Georgia defense that had five first-round picks last year, including the #1 overall pick Travon Walker, many people would say that Carter looked like the best player on that team and the heartbeat of that Championship defense. Even without putting up great numbers, the skill and traits are absolutely there for Jalen Carter.

There are even some people who believe that he is a better prospect than Will Anderson, and while I don’t agree, I can definitely see why.

Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas

The first slightly surprising name, Bijan Robinson, has been the best running back prospect that I have ever scouted. Personally, I do buy into the narrative that running backs are becoming more and more invaluable to NFL teams and that they aren’t worth high-end draft picks.

However, I believe that this message should be changed slightly. If there is a player who is electric enough as a playmaker, the label of running back shouldn’t deter a team from taking them high in the NFL Draft. This relates to Bijan as he is outstanding both as a runner and as a receiver.

According to PFF, he ranks as the eighth-best running back in the nation, with a 91.1 rushing grade, while his offensive line ranks 115th in the nation with a run-blocking grade of 51.2. This highlights his ability to run so successfully behind a below-average offensive line.

CJ Stroud, QB, Ohio State AND Bryce Young, QB, Alabama

I do not believe that there is much of anything separating these two at the top. They are both miles ahead of any QB from last year’s draft and have both been the best QBs in college since last season. It would not be a surprise if these two are the first two picks in the 2023 NFL Draft.

They both have the complete skill set of an NFL QB and both have the potential to be top-ten quarterbacks at the next level. They both ranked in the top five in CFB in terms of PFF grade (Young – 92.0, Stroud – 91.5) and both got off to strong starts this year. This level of play should put them at the forefront of the NFL Draft conversation this year.

Overall, these five are my blue-chip prospects for this year at the mid-season mark, and these could absolutely change come draft day. The main players on the outside looking in are Myles Murphy, Jordan Addison, and Michael Mayer who could all end up being in this category in April.