NFL Draft Notebook: Jake Haener Leads All-Underrated Offense
For the past two years, NFL Draft Notebook has named its All-Underrated Offensive and Defensive Teams. Some of the players who were named to this team last year and had highly productive rookie seasons include tight end Cade Otton and offensive tackle Braxton Jones.
In order to make this team, the player has to be graded as a day three prospect by Mock Draft Database and be someone I view as a prospect who can make an impact at the next level. This year’s team is led by four players from the SEC and also features one of the top small school players in the 2023 NFL Draft.
In addition to naming our All-Underrated Offensive Team, this week’s NFL Draft Notebook also takes a look at the following:
- Top 10 mock draft
- The top five defensive ends in the 2023 NFL Draft
- A few players that impressed scouts with strong pro days.
QB: Jake Haener, Fresno State
The best quarterback who will likely be available on day three is Jake Haener of Fresno State. While Haener might be on the smaller side coming in at six-foot, he is one of the toughest quarterbacks in the 2023 NFL Draft. He also is an accurate passer who has a smooth delivery and quick release.
RB: Tank Bigsby, Auburn
Auburn’s Tank Bigsby didn’t have the greatest NFL Combine, running the 40-yard dash in 4.56 seconds, which could cause him to fall in the 2023 NFL Draft. Despite his lack of elite testing numbers, he has the ability to pick up tough yards as a runner and the hands to catch the ball out of the backfield.
FB: Monte Pottebaum, Iowa
While it is unlikely Monte Pottebaum will get drafted, he could stick in the NFL if he goes to the right team. What stands out when watching his game film is his impressive run blocking. He has also seen his share of time on special teams at Iowa, which he will likely continue in the NFL.
WR: Puka Nacua, BYU
Three things stand out when watching Puka Nacua which are his size, his ability to make plays down the field, and his strong hands which allow him to catch in traffic. Coming in at 6-foot-2 he has the size to be an outside receiver and his 18.7 average yards per catch in 2021 show he can also stretch a defense.
WR: Bryce Ford-Wheaton, West Virginia
One of the biggest winners of the NFL Combine was West Virginia wide receiver Bryce Ford-Wheaton. Coming in at 6-foot-4 and 221 pounds, and recording a 4.38 40-yard dash, proves he has the raw talent to play in the NFL. If he can refine his game, especially when it comes to route running, look for him to be an impact player in the NFL.
TE: Tucker Kraft, South Dakota State
Last year, Cade Otton was named the All-Underrated tight end and all he did was become one of the more productive rookies in the 2022 NFL Draft class. This year’s pick is Tucker Kraft who is one of the more complete tight ends in the 2023 tight end class. Last season, despite missing six games, he was able to come away with 27 receptions and in 2021, he hauled in 65 passes. He also is a strong run blocker who does a great job of blocking to the whistle.
OT: Tyler Steen, Alabama
One of the more underrated players in the 2023 offensive line class is Tyler Steen of Alabama. Steen, who was named 2nd team All-SEC, is an impressive athlete who is still learning the finer points of the offensive tackle position. If given time he could develop into a starting left tackle in a couple of years.
OG: Emil Ekiyor Jr., Alabama
Another Alabama offensive lineman to make this team is offensive guard Emil Ekiyor Jr. Ekiyor is an aggressive offensive guard who led the Crimson Tide with 31 knockdown blocks last year. Another benefit with him is that he could get looks at both center and guard by NFL teams
C: Olu Oluwatimi, Michigan
Michigan’s Olu Oluwatimi had a dominant season last year at Michigan, winning the Outland Trophy. He shows impressive strength as a run blocker, and this strength was backed up by his 29 reps on the bench press.
OG: Nick Broeker, Ole Miss
A player who could be a good fit in a zone offense is Ole Miss offensive guard Nick Broeker. Broeker is a stellar athlete who spent his first three years at left tackle before moving to guard this season. This time at left tackle showed he has the feet to consistently reach block and get to the second level, which should make him a quality starter at the next level.
OT: Carter Warren, Pittsburgh
A player who was hurt by injuries this year is Carter Warren of Pittsburgh, who only played in four games due to a torn meniscus. While he will need to pass the medical tests he has the size coming in at 6-foot-5 with 35-inch arms to develop into a starting right tackle.
Top Ten Mock Draft
1. Carolina Panthers: CJ Stroud, QB, Ohio State
The Panthers gave up a ton to move up to get their quarterback of the future. Stroud is a big strong quarterback who is the exact type of prospect Frank Reich likes.
2. Houston Texans: Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida
While most people think the Texans will go with Bryce Young if he is available, I see them going with Richardson here. The reason I see them going with him is his higher upside and his ability to hurt teams with both his feet and arm.
3. Las Vegas Raiders: Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
Despite signing Jimmy Garoppolo, the Raiders see Bryce Young still on the board and decide to trade up for their quarterback of the future. Young is a smart quarterback who can take hard coaching and would be a good fit in Josh McDaniels’ offense.
4. Indianapolis Colts: Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
The Colts stick at the number four spot and get the fourth-best quarterback in the 2023 NFL Draft. Kentucky’s Will Levis has all the tools to develop into a high-quality starter, but he will need some time to develop.
5. Seattle Seahawks: Will Anderson Jr., Edge, Alabama
Last season, Seattle had trouble getting to the quarterback, only affecting 5.4% of passes. In order to fix this they get the best pass rusher in the 2023 NFL Draft.
6. Detroit Lions: Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia
The Detroit Lions must address their defense if they are to contend for a playoff spot next year. They do this by adding Georgia’s Jalen Carter, who can team up with Aidan Hutchinson to give the Lions two young defensive linemen to build around.
7. Arizona Cardinals: Tyree Wilson, DE, Texas Tech
While the Cardinals miss out on Will Anderson, they pick up another defensive end in Tyree Wilson.
8. Atlanta Falcons: Keion White, DE, Georgia Tech
The Falcons have stressed how they are looking for people who can get after the passer and one of the more dynamic pass rushers in this class is Keion White. While this might be high for him, his raw athletic ability makes him too hard to pass up.
9. Chicago Bears: Peter Skoronski, OT, Northwestern
In order to evaluate if Justin Fields is their long-term answer at quarterback, they need to give him a strong supporting cast. With the selection of Skoronski, they get a day-one starter at right tackle.
10. Philadelphia Eagles: Christian Gonzalez, CB. Oregon
Oregon’s Christian Gonzalez is the top cornerback in the 2023 NFL Draft and would fill a need for Philadelphia.
Top Five Defensive Ends in the 2023 NFL Draft
1. Keion White, Georgia Tech
One of the most underrated players in the 2023 NFL Draft is Keion White of Georgia Tech. The first thing that stands out about him is his size, coming in at 6-foot-5 and 285 pounds with 34-inch arms. He uses this size to routinely bullrush offensive tackles, which is one of the reasons he recorded 7.5 sacks last year. In addition to his power, he moves very well for his size. In this area, he shows a good burst off the ball and the agility to make plays sideline to sideline.
2. Lukas Van Ness, Iowa
A player who is just starting to realize his potential is Iowa’s, Lukas Van Ness. Despite not starting a single game last year, Van Ness was still able to make second-team All-Big Ten and record 6.5 sacks on the year. As a pro prospect, he offers a good combination of strength that he uses to routinely manhandle the offensive tackle, and speed, running a 4.58 40-yard dash.
3. Myles Murphy, Clemson
Clemson’s Myles Murphy is a bigger defensive end who wins with power. Last season, he tied for the Clemson lead with 6.5 sacks on the year and showed the ability to win as either a defensive end or defensive tackle, at times. A team that drafts him would be wise to play him at defensive end on early downs and then shift him inside on passing situations.
4. Isaiah Foskey, Notre Dame
A player who is still developing and shows the potential to be great is Notre Dame’s, Isaiah Foskey. The 6-foot-5, 264-pound pass rusher shows the speed to get around the corner, running the 40-yard dash in 4.58 seconds. He also is a proven playmaker, recording 11 sacks last year. One area he can improve in is his play vs. the run since he can be controlled at the point of contact and also will find himself out of position at times.
5. Felix Anudike-Uzomah, Kansas State
One of the most explosive defensive ends in the 2023 NFL Draft is Kansas State’s Felix Anudike-Uzomah. Anudike-Uzomah has a quick first step off the ball and routinely beats offensive tackles around the edge with his quickness. In addition to his speed, he also has a variety of pass-rushing moves which allowed him to be named the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year this past season.
NFL Draft Scouting Notes
— One team who has shown an interest in Alabama offensive tackle Tyler Steen is the San Fransisco 49ers. The team met with Steen at both the NFL Combine and Senior Bowl and he would be a good fit with the team. He would likely be a backup his first couple of years and would provide good depth at both right and left tackle.
— I am likely one of the few people who doesn’t have Tyree Wilson ranked as one of the top five defensive ends in the 2023 NFL Draft. The reason for this is that he is one of the most overrated players in this class, and only has a third-round grade on my board. My concerns with his game is his lack of explosion off the ball and how he shows only average flexibility. While he can win with power, in order to take full advantage of his strength he will need to use his hands better.
— Texas tight end Jahleel Billingsley showed why he carries a day three grade on my board, despite catching only 20 passes over the past two years, and not earning an NFL Combine invite. At the Texas Pro Day, he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.56 seconds and also posted an impressive 36-inch vertical jump. While Billingsley might be undersized coming in at only 220 pounds, he can use his speed and soft hands to create mismatches in the passing game as an H-back. One team that could be a good fit for him is the Denver Broncos, who need to add some tight end depth this offseason and were at his pro day.
— A small school quarterback who had a strong pro day is Fordham’s Tim Demorat. Among his strong testing numbers included a 4.68-yard dash and 33.5-inch vertical jump. Also, according to Tony Pauline of Pro Football Network, he impressed scouts with his arm strength, which was one of his biggest concerns from his game film. Along with testing well, Demorat had outstanding production throwing for 4,891 yards and 56 touchdowns this season.
— Speaking of players who could be undrafted free agent signings, another player who fits that bill is Illinois center Alex Pihlstrom. At Illinois’s Pro Day last week, he posted a 4.97 40-yard dash and a 7.45 3-cone time. Last year, Pihlstrom was named second-team All-Big Ten despite only playing center for one year.
— Now that the Carolina Panthers have traded for the number one pick, and lost their top receiver, look for them to add at least one pass catcher on the second day of the draft. One player who could be a good fit with the 39th pick is Jalin Hyatt, who would be a deep threat for whatever quarterback the team takes with the No. 1 pick.
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