2023 NFL Draft: Prospects most ready to start on day one as rookies | News, scores, highlights, stats and rumours

2023 NFL Draft: Prospects Most Ready to Be Day 1 Starters as Rookies

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    AP Photo/Darron Cummings

    The NFL is bracing for an influx of talent during the upcoming draft, but only a small percentage of that incoming class will make their mark on the league as a rookie.

    While many of these prospects will take some time to adjust to the speed of the pro game and need time to develop on the bench, some will be a natural fit and quickly carve out a role.

    Whether they have the athleticism, skills or even the mindset to succeed immediately, some prospects stand out from the rest because of their over-the-top potential.

    With that in mind, here are five players you should expect to make an impact on Sundays this coming season.

Will Anderson Jr., Edge, Alabama

1 out of 5

    INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - MARCH 02: Alabama Linebacker Will Anderson runs the 40-yard dash during the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on March 2, 2023 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

    Stacy Revere/Getty Images

    Will Anderson Jr. he is one of the few generational type prospects available in this draft class. The Bleacher Report Scouting Department put the Alabama star atop their latest big board after giving the edge rusher a rare 9.6 grade.

    Anderson made an immediate impact upon arriving on campus in Tuscaloosa and will have the same effect on whichever team is lucky enough to draft the 21-year-old next month. He started 13 games as a true freshman on a loaded Crimson Tide defense that would win a national championship, racking up 10.5 tackles for a loss and seven sacks in the process.

    After finishing his three-year career with the second-most sacks (34.5) and tackles for a loss (62) in his storied school’s history, Anderson is ready to face bigger challenges in the NFL.

    While he’s not the biggest rusher in the class — he measured in at a shade over 6’3″ and 250 pounds at the combine — he has an absurd amount of strength in his frame and should only develop further in that area over the next few years.

    Anderson is far from one-dimensional and already has a refined set of technical passes – utilizing power and speed – in his back pocket. He’s able to use his athleticism to get by offensive linemen and close the gap on quarterbacks or close out plays in the backfield, but he’s also able to put an edge at will and uses top movement to consistently beat the blocker of in various ways.

    It would be an absolute shock if Anderson’s game doesn’t make a seamless transition to the pros. He has everything a club could want in a modern pass rusher and will be a foundational piece of any defense that lands him for at least the next half decade.

Jack Campbell, LB, Iowa

2 out of 5

    Iowa linebacker Jack Campbell runs a drill at the NFL scouting complex in Indianapolis, Thursday, March 2, 2023. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

    AP Photo/Darron Cummings

    Jack Campbell was one of the breakout stars at the NFL Scouting Combine. His performance showed some remarkable athleticism for a player already considered one of the best inside linebackers available in 2023.

    Campbell earned the highest athletic mark for his position in Indianapolis after running the 40-yard dash in 4.65 seconds, vertical leaping 37.5 inches and completing the 3-cone drill (6.74 seconds) and the 20-yard shuttle ( 4.24 seconds).

    The Cedar Falls native has been a late bloomer for the Hawkeyes, but over the past two years has been a dominant force in the middle of the program’s defense. The 6’5″, 249-pound linebacker has amassed 265 tackles since the start of 2021, while also adding seven passes defensed, four interceptions and a pair of forced fumbles and sacks.

    That effort helped Campbell grade as the No. 41 overall prospect, third-best inside linebacker and top prospect at the position according to Bleacher Report’s latest Scouting Division rankings.

    Perhaps most important to his prospects, Campbell has developed into the type of on-field leader that great NFL defenses require. He was voted team captain for 2021 and 2022 and earned Iowa’s Team Hustle Award as a senior. During his interviews, he talked about how important it is to build relationships with his teammates so he can feel comfortable telling them about mistakes.

    Mark Gaughan of BuffaloNews.com quoted Campbell on the importance of taking responsibility for his own mistakes as a team captain:

    “When I make a mistake, I want to be the first one to raise my hand, and then I want to be the one to get chewing tobacco in my eyes from coaches.”

    With that attitude, in addition to his solid athleticism and high awareness, Campbell looks to be the type of linebacker who will start every game and never come off the field from the moment he enters the NFL until the day which will retire.

Roschon Johnson, RB, Texas

3 out of 5

    INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 04: Texas running back Roschon Johnson speaks to the media during the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on March 4, 2023 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

    Michael Hickey/Getty Images

    Roschon Johnson may not be the top running back in this class, or even at his school, but the Texas power back has the potential to be a great NFL player.

    While electrifying teammate Bijan Robinson may be the most talked about player at the position and a potential first-round pick, Johnson carved out an impressive role as a “thunder” to Robinson’s “lightning” during his tenure in Austin.

    Johnson arrived on campus as a quarterback recruit, but was converted to running back after a series of injuries ravaged the Longhorns’ backfield before the campaign began. It was an instant success, as the six-foot-two, 219-pound big man wore down defenses and racked up tough yardage on a regular basis.

    Although he only amassed 2,190 yards during his four years at Texas, Robinson was extremely efficient – he averaged 5.6 yards per carry – with his touches and had 23 touchdowns. He only pitched once during his college career and was reliable, consistent every year.

    However, Johnson is not just a power back who only makes short touches up the middle. He’s shown his skills as a passer—hashing in 56 catches for 420 yards and three scores over the past four seasons—and is a willing blocker.

    The Texas coaching staff has developed Johnson in a number of ways, giving him experience that will be invaluable as he looks to carve out a role early in his pro career.

    Whether he’s working as part of a platoon — something he’s proven more than comfortable with after declining to transfer despite playing in Robinson’s shadow — or finally getting a crack at being featured again, Johnson is surprisingly versatile for a run in its size for which teams will find room on the field.

Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU

4 out of 5

    TCU wide receiver Quentin Johnston runs a drill at the NFL scouting complex in Indianapolis, Saturday, March 4, 2023. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

    AP Photo/Michael Conroy

    Few NFL receivers possess the combination of size and athleticism that TCU’s Quentin Johnston brings to the table.

    After measuring in at a sizeable 6’3″, 208 pounds with an arm length of 33 5/8 inches, as well as a vertical leap of over 40 inches and a long jump that topped 11 feet at the combine, Johnston firmly established himself as one of, if not the top overall tackle in the 2023 class.

    While his stats don’t jump off the page — he never posted a 1,000-yard season until TCU’s run to the national championship game last season — Johnston has matured into an elite prospect who will find a solid role at the next level.

    Almost every team would benefit from having a rangy wideout who can beat defenders with either speed or power. The No. 7 overall prospect on Bleacher Report Scouting Department’s latest big board is a nightmare for the opposition to face and could find himself as a No. 2 or even No. 1 in high volume depending on where he ends up. night design.

    One of the few knocks on Johnston has been the perception that he can’t convert his arm length into a long catch radius, but he helped address that concern in Indianapolis by making an impressive roller-coaster reception during stoppage drills:

    Quincy Peyton @Agent Q_22

    I thought they said Quentin Johnston was Body Catcher??? pic.twitter.com/OvcgT0vKvN

    Johnston’s ability to pick up yards after catch and break tackles is arguably his best asset. He’ll be a favorite target for his quarterback because of his special ability to pick up big gains and pick up first downs once he secures the ball.

    Given his unteachable qualities and rare combination of traits, Johnston is poised to be on the fast track to becoming an NFL standout.

Peter Skoronski, OT, Northwestern

5 out of 5

    INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - MARCH 05: Northwestern's Peter Skoronski looks on during the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on March 5, 2023 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

    Stacy Revere/Getty Images

    Peter Skoronski is one of the top offensive linemen available in the 2023 class, but there have been concerns about his ability to continue playing tackle — the position he shined at during his three seasons at Northwestern — in the pros.

    Some teams may be put off by Skoronski’s extremely short arms—his arm length measurement of 32 1/4 inches ranked in fourth percentile for tackles at the combine since 1999—and a general lack of height at 6’4″, 313 lbs.

    Those who aren’t intimidated by the metrics will find Skoronski to be a highly skilled, highly skilled NFL offensive lineman who will almost certainly find himself in a starting role this coming season.

    As the No. 11 player on Bleacher Report Scouting Department’s latest big board, there are no offensive tackle prospects rated higher than Skoronski in 2023.

    The 21-year-old is a deceptively good athlete with incredible football IQ and leadership skills. He has fantastic technique and balance that will allow him to go toe-to-toe with some of the strongest and fastest defenders out there and win most of those matches.

    Factor in a football pedigree — his father played at Yale and his grandfather captained the Green Bay Packers’ five championship teams coached by the legendary Vince Lombardi — and teams in need of an offensive line anchor would be foolish to pass on this blue-collar prospect chip.

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