Every season we see a running back not drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft turn into a high-quality starting running back. Last year, we saw Isaih Pacheco who was drafted in the seventh round help give Kansas City a more balanced attack. We have also seen running backs drafted on day two like Jonathan Taylor become one of the top ten running backs in the NFL. A player who could fit that mold this year is Auburn’s Tank Bigsby.
In addition to scouting Bigsby, this week’s NFL Draft Notebook also takes a look at what the Jacksonville Jaguars might do in the 2023 NFL Draft, the top outside linebackers in the 2023 NFL Draft, and much more.
Scouting Tank Bigsby
Tank Bigsby burst onto the scene as a junior in high school. That season he was able to rush for 2,221 yards and was named the Class AA Offensive Player of the Year in Georiga. He finished that up with another strong season as senior rushing for 1,636 yards and 27 touchdowns. His impressive back-to-back seasons allowed him to earn a five-star ranking and earn interest from schools like Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Auburn.
When it was all said and done Tank Bigsby decided to take his talent to Auburn where he made an impact immediately. As a freshman, he rushed for 834 yards while averaging six yards per carry. His strong season allowed him to be named the SEC Freshman of the Year and also make the All-SEC second team.
After an impressive freshman season, Bigsby again led Auburn in rushing with 1,099 yards and was able to haul in 21 passes in 2021. This past season Bigsby again led the team in rushing with 970 yards and also led the team in receptions catching 30 passes.
At the end of the 2022 season, Bigsby decided to enter the NFL Draft and skip his senior year at Auburn. At the NFL Combine, he posted the second-best bench press number of any running back getting 21 reps of 225 pounds. Unfortunately, the rest of his numbers at the event were average including a 4.56 40-yard dash. However, he was able to post a much better time at his Pro Day running the 40 in 4.46 seconds which would have been the sixth-best time among running backs at the NFL Combine.
When watching Bigsby on film the first thing that stands out is how much he runs with power. Despite not being the biggest back in the 2023 NFL Draft coming in at 210 pounds, he is one of the harder backs to bring down. One of the reasons for this is his strong lower body and the fact he keeps his feet moving on contact.
Another trait that sticks out with him is his ability to find running lanes. Last season at Auburn he played behind a very average offensive line yet was still able to average 5.4 yards per carry. When scouting him it is evident he has the vision to find the open running lane and also does a great job of finding the time to make cuts in the open field.
While Bigsby has the talent to see significant playing time in the NFL as a rookie he has some concerns with his game. One of these concerns is his ability to help in the passing game. He has proven he can catch the ball out of the backfield, recording 62 receptions out of the backfield. However, in order to take advantage of his hands he is going to need to improve as a pass blocker and quit catching the ball with his body.
One more concern with him has been his ability to take what a defense gives him. Even though Bigsby does a good job of finding running lanes he will dance in the backfield at times. In the NFL he will need to do a better job of trusting his offensive line and be more willing to hit the hole, especially on inside runs. In addition, to these concerns teams could also be concerned with the fact he has had five fumbles over the past two years.
When looking at where Bigsby rates in the 2023 NFL Draft, I currently have him rated as the fourth-best running back in the class and grade him out as a third-round pick. If he goes to the right team I could see him splitting carries with another back as a rookie and potentially developing into a starter down the road.
Jacksonville Jaguars Mock Draft
Round 1, Pick 24: Cam Smith, CB, South Carolina
The Jaguars battled inconsistency at the cornerback position all last year, so look for them to address this area early in the draft. Cam Smith is a physical corner who offers a good combination of size coming in at 6-foot-1 and speed running the 40-yard dash in 4.43 seconds.
Round 2, Pick 56: Byron Young, DE, Tennessee
Last season, Jacksonville ranked 26th in the NFL in sacks and in order to address this need they will need to add some pass rushers. Tennessses Byron Young is an explosive pass rusher who shows the flexibility to get around the edge.
Round 3, Pick 88: Emil Ekiyor Jr, OG, Alabama
The Jaguars will likely look to upgrade the left guard spot in the 2023 NFL Draft. Alabama’s Emil Ekiyor is a physically fundamentally sound offensive guard who should challenge for the starting job as a rookie.
Round 4, Pick 121: Tyler Steen, OT, Alabama
Jacksonville takes another Alabama offensive linemen with this selection. Steen is an impressive athlete who should be able to be a backup at either right or left tackle next season.
Round 4, Pick 127: Josh Whyle, TE, Cincinnati
The team has little behind Evan Engram at the tight end position and needs another dynamic player to back up Engram. Cincinnati’s Josh Whyle is a proven receiving threat and should be able to be used in a similar fashion to how they use Engram.
Round 6, Pick 185: Terell Smith, CB, Minnesota
After taking a cornerback in the first round Jacksonville comes back and addresses the position in the sixth round. Smith is a player who is seeing his stock rise after running a 4.41 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine.
Round 6, Pick 202: DeWayne McBride, RB, UAB
Another position that doesn’t have much depth is running back. With the selection of DeWayne McBride, the team gets a physical runner to play behind Travis Etienne.
Round 6, Pick 208: Rakim Jarrett, WR, Maryland
The Jaguars add some depth at the wide receiver position with the selection of Rakim Jarrett out of Marland. Jarett is a player who possesses the size and speed to play in the NFL but will need to refine his game in order to make an impact in the NFL.
Round 7, Pick 226: Connor Galvin, OT, Baylor
With their last pick in the 2023 NFL Draft the Jacksonville Jaguars take Connor Galvin of Baylor. Galvin was named the Big 12 Offensive Lineman of the Year in 2021 and All-Big 12 in 2022. He should be a good developmental player for Jacksonville as well as provide more depth on the line.
Top Five Outside Linebackers in the 2023 NFL Draft
1. Will Anderson Jr., Alabama
While we may see four quarterbacks go ahead of him the top player in the 2023 NFL Draft is still Alabama’s Will Anderson Jr. Anderson is a terrific pass rusher who shows both the speed to get around the edge and the strength to go through the man assigned to block him for the sack. He also holds up well against the run. In this area, he shows the strength to set the edge and the hand use to get off blocks. It will be a shock if Will Anderson Jr. doesn’t become an All-Pro player in the NFL.
2. Nolan Smith, Georgia
A player who is quickly rising up the draft board is Georgia’s, Nolan Smith. The main reason his stock is skyrocketing is his impressive testing numbers that include a 4.39 40-yard dash and a 41.5-inch vertical jump. His play on the field backs up these strong numbers as well. He shows an elite burst off the ball and will beat most blockers off the ball. In addition to his quickness, he is a tough player who makes his share of plays against the run.
3. Trenton Simpson, Clemson
Last season, Clemson’s Trenton Simpson played middle linebacker but his best pro position will likely be at outside linebacker. The reason he is an ideal fit here is his ability to match up against tight end and even slot receivers in coverage. He will likely also shift outside due to his smaller frame coming in at only 235 pounds.
4. DeMarvion Overshown, Texas
A linebacker who is more of a coverage linebacker instead of a downhill thumper is DeMarvion Overshown. Overshown who is a former safety has the ability to match up in coverage in both a zone or man-to-man defense and could fit the role of a dime linebacker at the next level. While his strength as a player is in coverage he also displays the ability to get after the passer having recorded four sacks last year.
5. Bumper Pool, Arkansas
One of the biggest NFL Combine snubs this year was that of Arkansas linebacker Bumper Pool. Last season, he became the school’s all-time leading tackler despite battling injuries most of the season. What stands out about him on film is his nose for the ball. He does a great job of flying downhill to make the tackle and can also shuffle through traffic to make the tackle. At the very worst expect Pool to be a core special teams player in the NFL.
NFL Draft Scouting Notes
— The Atlanta Falcons have shown a lot of interest in Alabama running back Jahmyr Gibbs. If Gibbs is taken by the Falcons in the second round it could be the ideal fit for him. He would team up with Tyler Allgeier to give the Falcons a dynamic one-two punch at running back. Allgeier is a physical back who can get the tough yards inside, while Gibbs is a dynamic runner who can take any carry the distance and is a threat in the passing game.
— While all the talk coming out of the Kentucky Pro Day was about the arm-strength quarterback Will Levis showed, there were some concerns with him as well. According to Pro Football Network’s Tony Pauline, teams are still worried about Levis’s ability to throw with touch. This is a concern since Levis will have to throw with more touch in the short to the intermediate passing game, and his inability to take something off his throws raises the question of how catchable his ball is. It will be interesting to see if teams are in awe of his strength and take him in the top ten, or if he falls in the draft due to this concern and his average game film.
— One underclassman that NFL teams got an up-close look at last week was wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. Harrison will likely enter the 2024 NFL Draft cycle as a top ten prospect partly due to his impressive production this past season. Harrison was able to 77 passes for 1,263 yards and 14 touchdowns as a junior and he accounted for over 100 yards receiving against Georgia, Michigan, and Penn State last year. When watching his film his most impressive trait is the strength the 6-foot-4 205-pound receiver plays with.
— Speaking of wide receivers a receiver in this year’s class who had a strong showing last week was Rashee Rice of SMU. At his pro day, he showed his ability to run an extensive route tree and his strong hands. On the day he only dropped one pass which should not be a shock for anyone who has seen his game film. Last season he caught 96 passes and consistently showed the ability to snag the ball in traffic and bring in poorly thrown balls. Two teams that are showing an interest in him and the Cincinnati Bengals and Houston Texans.
— Stephen F. Austin’s Xavier Gibson is yet another receiver who had a strong pro day. His most impressive number was his 4.38 40-yard dash, but he also looked outstanding in receiver drills. These testing numbers and his strong play on the field including accounting for over 1,000 receiving yards and averaging over 20 yards per punt return over the past two seasons are why he is one of my favorite late-round prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft. At the very least look for Gibson to compete for a starting punt returner job, and he could also see time as a slot wide receiver.
— A day three quarterback who is getting some interest is Houston’s, Clayton Tune. According to KPRC’s Aaron Wilson, Tune will be visiting the Houston Texans, Dallas Cowboys, Cleveland Browns and New Orleans Saints. Tune is a good-sized passer who has proven he has NFL caliber arm strength.