Last-Minute Predictions for Top Prospects at 2023 NFL Scouting Combine
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The 2023 NFL Scouting Combine begins this week and with it comes a unique chance for many prospects to address many of the concerns teams may have about them.
Whether those issues are related to their size, athleticism, health or even off-field concerns, these players will be able to respond during the various weigh-ins, testing, exams and interviews scheduled to take place in Indianapolis over the next week.
The results of these events will impact draft stock and big boards across the league. For better or worse, prospects will rise and fall based on their performance in front of an armada of NFL scouts, coaches and general managers.
With that in mind, here are some last-minute predictions for some of the top prospects and how they will fare at the combine.
Bryce Young Answers Weight Concerns
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Bryce Young may be one of the top quarterback prospects in the 2023 class and should come off the board early in the first round no matter what happens at the combine, but there are still some reservations about his size.
The Alabama product is listed at 6’0″, 194 pounds, which aren’t exactly measurements that jump off the page when it comes to blue-chip quarterback prospects.
While plenty of modern quarterbacks have been showing that you don’t need to be a giant to have success in the NFL—both starting QBs in the most recent Super Bowl stood 6’2″ or under—Young’s listed weight, which may be a bit generous even, could be considered a detriment to his ability to stay healthy at the next level.
That should change at the combine, as Young has reportedly been packing on pounds as he prepares for the draft. According to ESPN’s Todd McShay, the 21-year-old has been working with trainers and nutritionists with the goal of reaching 210 pounds.
Given the gap between Young’s last major football event—which was guiding the Crimson Tide to a convincing victory over Kansas State in the Sugar Bowl on New Year’s Eve—and the combine, it’s quite possible the Pasadena native has already bulked up significantly.
Young knows that concerns about his measurables have been the main knock on his status as a high-end prospect, but he’s had plenty of time to address that issue both in the kitchen and weight room.
If Young can tip the scales near or even 200 pounds, it will go a long way towards answering any concerns teams may have about his weight and could solidify his status as the first quarterback taken on draft day.
Anthony Richardson Earns Top-Five Pick Status
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Anthony Richardson is one of the more polarizing prospects in this class. The Florida product hasn’t found a ton of success on the field and appears far from NFL-ready, but he possesses world-class athleticism and arguably has more upside than any other quarterback who has come into the league in years.
On paper, Richardson has just about everything a team could want in a signal-caller. He stands a solid 6’4″, 232 pounds, has an absolute cannon for an arm and is often the most elusive player on the field. The Gators star couldn’t convert that natural talent into high-level production, however, due to issues with his accuracy, footwork and rhythm.
Fortunately for Richardson, he’ll have a chance to make one of his last impressions before the draft a lasting one in a setting that will make him look like a superstar.
The combine is the perfect place for Richardson to secure his status as not only one of the first quarterbacks off the board this year, but one of the first players to be selected in the first round.
The Bleacher Report Scouting Department already has Richardson ranked as the No. 31 overall prospect and he could see a significant bump up that list by the end of the week.
When teams see Richardson’s elite measurables and unreal testing numbers, there is a strong chance they will fall in love with his ceiling and envision him dominating NFL defenses with his big-play potential.
It may take a long time for Richardson to get to the point where he’s contributing at the professional level and there is plenty of risks involved in selecting him on Day 1, but front offices will be smitten with his potential if he puts on the type of showing for the ages he’s capable of at the combine.
A great performance in Indianapolis, coupled with highlight-reel footage of Richardson ripping off multiple 80-plus yard touchdown runs and making effortless throws to his receivers way downfield, will have at least one team in the top-five—or planning to trade up that high—willing to overlook his issues connecting on even short-range passes at times and myriad of mistakes he’s made as a passer in Gainesville.
Jordan Addison’s Stock Will Drop
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Jordan Addison heads into the combine with hopes of establishing himself as the top receiver in his class. While he’s shown he can be an elite talent that put up some special numbers during his collegiate career, his dip in production this past season and stature could end up costing him a chance to be the first off the board.
Addison truly broke out during the 2021 season at Pitt. Playing with future first-round quarterback Kenny Pickett, the wideout amassed an eye-popping 1,593 yards and 17 touchdowns on 100 receptions. He wasn’t able to build on that impressive display after transferring to USC, however, and saw his numbers regress to 875 yards and eight touchdowns on 59 catches.
Although he did play in three fewer games as a junior than he did during that sensational sophomore season, Addison’s consistency issues may have some scouts concerned. If Addison—who is currently neck-and-neck with TCU’s Quentin Johnston in the latest Bleacher Report Scouting Department rankings—doesn’t shine in Indianapolis, there could be enough red flags to drop him several spots on the big board.
Listed at six-foot, 175 pounds, the 21-year-old is rather diminutive for an NFL wideout. While the equally undersized DeVonta Smith didn’t let that stop him from becoming an instant contributor after being selected early in the first round two years ago, Addison isn’t coming off a Heisman-caliber campaign and may struggle to convince professional squads he can have a similar career trajectory.
One of the biggest concerns with Addison was his struggles against physical corners. Given those issues at the collegiate level, it’s understandable that scouts would be skeptical about his production when facing the stronger, faster defensive backs he’ll often be matched up with at the next level.
If Addison’s weigh-in and strength testing numbers underwhelm, his stock will see a correlated fall.
Quentin Johnston Locks Up Top Wide Receiver Status
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Unlike many of his contemporaries in this draft class, Quentin Johnston won’t have anything to worry about when his official measurements are taken in Indianapolis. The TCU prospect has all the unteachable qualities an NFL team could hope for in a No. 1 wide receiver and that should solidify his status as the first player at the position drafted come April.
Johnston is listed at a solid 6’4″, 215 pounds while possessing equally impressive speed, athleticism and hands. The Bleacher Report Scouting Department, which listed him as the No. 7 overall prospect and top receiver on their latest big board, called him a “complete athlete” and believes he has the “makings of a Pro Bowl receiver”.
PFF noted that the Horned Frogs star reportedly runs a 4.4 40-yard dash and has a 42-inch vertical leap. If Johnston can prove that at the combine, it’s hard to imagine a scenario in which the first receiver-needy team on the clock passes.
While Johnston hasn’t put up freakish numbers during his three years at TCU—he never had more than six touchdowns in a season and just had his first 1,000-yard campaign as a junior—he has all the tools to instantly produce with a quarterback upgrade in the pros.
NFL decision-makers will be forgetting any of Johnston’s less-than-stellar collegiate performances as soon as they witness him testing off the charts at the combine, writing his name in pen as the top receiver on their big board.
Kelee Ringo Uses Combine as First-Round Springboard
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Kelee Ringo was one of the more prized recruits coming out of high school, but his production at Georgia left much to be desired. While he’s still considered a quality NFL prospect, he’s currently only ranked No. 50 overall and No. 5 at the cornerback position on the Bleacher Report Scouting Department’s Big Board.
While Ringo has been a starter on two championship teams and saw his play improve in that span, there are still concerns about his body control, patience and coverage lapses. He had some truly spectacular showings over the last two years, but also had just as many middling performances where he was toasted in coverage.
Despite that up-and-down collegiate career, few if any players will see as big of a leap up the rankings as Ringo should after the combine. The Bulldogs product may not have lived up to sky-high expectations in Athens, but he’ll more than makeup for that over the course of a few days in Indianapolis.
Listed at 6″2″, 210 pounds, the Washington native looks the part of a star cornerback. While he’s better in zone right now, he’s an incredible athlete with the type of speed that will allow him to match his mark stride-for-stride and come up with big plays when dialed in.
Ringo will certainly have scouts buzzing about his athletic capabilities. If he can perform equally well in positional drills and assuage any lingering doubts about scheme dependance, the 21-year-old will be a lock to earn a first-round grade.