NFL Draft Notebook: Scouting 2023 Prospects in the College Football Playoff

Oct 8, 2022; Lawrence, Kansas, USA; TCU Horned Frogs wide receiver Quentin Johnston (1) catches a touchdown pass against Kansas Jayhawks cornerback Cobee Bryant (2) during the second half at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 8, 2022; Lawrence, Kansas, USA; TCU Horned Frogs wide receiver Quentin Johnston (1) catches a touchdown pass against Kansas Jayhawks cornerback Cobee Bryant (2) during the second half at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports /

This coming week is one of the most important weeks in college football as we see the top bowl games and the start of the College Football Playoff. In this edition of our NFL Draft Notebook, we take a look at one of the more intriguing NFL Draft prospects for each playoff team.

In addition to taking a look at these NFL Draft prospects, this week’s article also highlights the following:

  • An NFL rookie who proves you should never overlook playmakers in the NFL Draft
  • The top five quarterbacks in the 2023 NFL Draft
  • A small school player who put up big times numbers this year
  • And much more

One NFL Draft Prospect to Watch from Each CFB Playoff Team

Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia
The biggest challenge Georgia will face in their game against Ohio State will be in pass coverage. Ohio State is led by star quarterback C.J. Stroud, and likely the best receiver in college football, Marvin Harrison Jr. The player who will be asked to shut down this combination is corner Kelee Ringo, who was named second-team All-SEC this season. What attracts scouts the most to Ringo’s game is his impressive measurables, as he comes in at 6-foot-2 and runs a 4.3 40-yard dash.

Mike Morris, DE, Michigan
A player who had a breakout year this season is Michigan defensive end, Mike Morris, who was recently named the Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year. In his game against TCU, he will be asked to pressure Max Duggan, the runner up in Heisman Trophy voting. When looking at Morris as a pro prospect two things stand out: his impressive size and his high upside.

Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU
While Max Duggan is the name most college football fans know, the top NFL Draft prospect on the Horned Frogs is wide receiver Quentin Johnston. Johnston has the ability to take over games, which he might need to do if TCU is to advance to the National Championship. What allows Johnson to be such a threat in the passing game is how well he can catch in traffic, and his ability to break tackles after the catch.

Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State
In order for Ohio State to pull the upset against Georgia they are going to need to create a clean pocket for quarterback C.J. Stroud consistently. One of the players tasked with this challenge is Ohio State offensive tackle Paris Johnson Jr., who according to Pro Football Focus has only allowed one sack in 2022. Johnson’s ability to hold up in pass protection, his physical style of play, and his long arms are just some of the reasons he should hear his name called on the first day of the NFL Draft.

Rookie of the Week

New England’s Marcus Jones is showing this season why it is never a smart move to overlook playmakers coming out of college. Coming out of Houston, Jones was one of the most dynamic playmakers in college football, shutting down opposing wide receivers and being named AAC Special Teams Player of the Year. Jones was also one of the Cougar’s most explosive wide receivers. Despite his standout play on the field, Jones lasted to the end of the third round in the 2022 NFL Draft.

This season, Jones has already made an impact in all three areas for the Patriots. In his game against the New York Jets on Oct. 30, he was named special teams player of the week after returning a punt for a game-winning touchdown. He has also seen time at wide receiver, hauling in one touchdown pass on the season and averaging over 19 yards per catch. However, his most impressive play may actually come on the defensive side of the ball. In this area, he has proven he can already hold his own vs. the top receivers and that he has elite ball skills.

Jones’s impressive ball skills were on full display in his latest game against the Cincinnati Bengals, which may be his most impressive game of the year so far. His play of the day came in the third quarter when he picked off Joe Burrow and returned the interception for a touchdown. This pick-6 now gives him a touchdown on special teams, offense, and on defense, which makes him the first player to accomplish all three in the same year in at least 45 seasons.

While Jones’s highlight of the day was on that play, he had a good game all around. In addition to his pick-6 on defense, he also came away with a team-leading 14 tackles, and recovered one fumble. Additionally, he helped out on offense, coming up with one reception for 15 yards.

Even though Jones did make several impressive plays on the day — and is this week’s NFL Draft Notebook’s Rookie of the Week — he did have a few plays which he will need to improve on. One of these was a fumbled punt return. He also gave up a couple of receptions. If Jones can improve in these areas, there is no reason we shouldn’t be hearing the versatile Jones’ name among the most feared players in the NFL in the upcoming seasons.

Top-Five Quarterbacks in the 2023 NFL Draft

1. Bryce Young, Alabama
In today’s game, it is vital for a quarterback to throw off of platform and be able to make plays with his feet, which is the reason why Bryce Young gets the nod over C.J. Stroud for the top spot. Along with being able to make plays when things break down, Young is also a consistently accurate passer who gets the ball to his playmakers in a spot where they can make a play after the catch. It would be a big surprise if the Houston Texans get the No. 1 pick and don’t take Young.

2. C.J. Stroud, Ohio State
Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud is more of the old-school traditional pocket passer. While he does not have a cannon for an arm, he has plenty of arm strength to deliver any pass in an NFL offense. He also shows the ability to hit his receivers in stride when throwing in a clean pocket. While it is likely that Stroud will be a top-five pick, he might be a reach considering how limited his game can be at times.

3. Anthony Richardson, Florida
A team that is looking to build an offense similar to what the Chicago Bears and Baltimore Ravens run will love what they see in Anthony Richardson. Richardson is a dynamic playmaker whose biggest threat to opponents is what he can do with his feet. As a passer, he has a ways to go and must improve his accuracy and overall decision making in the passing game.

4. Will Levis, Kentucky
Another quarterback who could hear his name called on the first day of the draft is Will Levis of Kentucky. What stands out to scouts about Levis is his natural ability. He shows the arm strength to easily get the ball downfield and the mobility to pick up yards with his feet. Unfortunately, his production in college is somewhat worrisome having thrown 23 interceptions over the past two seasons.

5. Hendon Hooker, Tennessee
The 2022 SEC Offensive Player of the Year Hendon Hooker, is a quarterback who could make a quick impact once he recovers from his torn ACL. He is someone who should be able to make a quick transition to the NFL due to his high football IQ, and how well he takes care of the ball. While Hooker could see some time early, the question is: has he maxed out his potential? And does he have the traits to be anything more than an average quarterback in the NFL?

NFL Draft Scouting Notes

— One of the most interesting quarterbacks in the 2023 NFL Draft is South Carolina’s, Spencer Rattler. On one hand, he is an athletic quarterback who was the No. 1 recruit coming out of college. On the other hand, he has had an up-and-down college career, and his character has been questioned multiple times. If he can go to a team that has a veteran quarterback he can learn behind — and with a coach who will keep on him — he could end up being a day-three draft pick who develops into an NFL starter.

— Perhaps no player in college football had a more dominant season than Ferris State’s Caleb Murphy. This season Murphy set an NCAA all-divisions record for sacks in a season with 25.5. He also was able to account for 39 tackles for loss which tied the all-time NCAA record. This ridiculous season allowed him to win the Ted Hendricks Award, which is the first time this award has gone to a non-FBS player.

— It looks like one of the biggest busts of the 2021 NFL Draft will be New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson, who was the second pick of that draft. The biggest thing that seems to have deterred his career is his lack of maturity and his lack of desire to be great. Another concern that has popped up with Wilson is his lack of ability to deliver in the pocket. In this area, he looks uncomfortable and throws way too many passes into coverage. It will be intriguing to see if New York adds a veteran quarterback in the offseason or decides to take another quarterback in the 2023 NFL Draft.

— A player to watch in the 2024 NFL Draft is new Nebraska quarterback Jeff Sims. Sims spent his first three years at Georgia Tech where he excited Yellow Jacket fans with his playmaking ability. When scouting him it is easy to see how he can beat teams with his impressive mobility, especially for a 6-foot-4 quarterback. He also has the raw skills as a passer to excite Husker fans and NFL scouts. His top trait as a passer is his arm strength, but he will need to improve his accuracy to be a high draft pick.

Quote of the Week

“I don’t think you can ask for more from a guy, but every week, we do, and he delivers.”

-New England’s Matt Judon on rookie Marcus Jones