2023 NFL Draft: College Game Recaps - College Playoffs

This section breaks down many college football games each week and highlights how 2023 NFL Draft Prospects have performed.

By Charlie Campbell.
Send Charlie an e-mail here: draftcampbell@gmail.com
Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell for updates.

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  • Alabama quarterback Bryce Young surprisingly played in this game, and he ended his college career in style. Young had a slow start, but then found his rhythm to make some beautiful passes that led to a blow out of Kansas State.

    In the first quarter Young had a receiver running wide open deep downfield behind coverage but he overthrew the wide out for an incompletion on what should have been 69 yards. The next play he made a nice completion to move the chains, but then he took a bad sack from holding the ball too long that was a drive killer.

    Young came back to find running back Jahymyr Gibbs for a 60-yard gain as Gibbs made a few defenders miss to explode downfield. To cap the drive Young climbed the pocket and found a freshman wide out in the back of the end zone for a six-yard touchdown.

    After missing two deep balls, Young dropped in a beautiful pass to Jermaine Burton for a 47-yard gain to lead him open at the two-yard line. A couple plays later Young tossed a short touchdown pass to tight end Cameron Latu in the flat. Young was in a groove lofting in some beauties to Burton, Latu, and then a 12-yard touchdown pass to Burton.

    To open the third quarter Young dropped in a perfect pass in the deep corner of the end zone for a 32-yard pass to Ja’Corey Brooks. Later in the third he tossed his fifth touchdown pass on a 47-yarder Kobe Prentice. Young finished completing 15-of-21 passes for 321 yards with five touchdowns.

    As a passer, Young is superb and very advanced. He has excellent instincts and feel as a passer. With impressive intelligence, Young knows where all his receivers and check down options are and that makes him very dangerous to work all levels of the field. Young is an accurate passer that will lace some beautiful passes into tight windows to beat good coverage. With timing and precision, Young does a superb job of hitting his receivers on the run and leading them to rack up lots of yards after the catch. Many college quarterbacks don’t have Young’s confidence to throw into tight windows much less his skill at doing it. Young is an astute and dangerous point guard to distribute the ball to rip up a defense.

    While Young is looking to pass the ball, he is a good athlete that offers mobility and escapability. Young does a nice job of climbing the pocket, keeping his eyes downfield while getting pressured, and throws well on the run. The only concern about Young is his size and ability to avoid injury in the NFL, but someone will be willing to take that chance. Young is worthy of being a high first-round pick and is a future franchise quarterback.

  • Similar to Young, Alabama edge rusher Will Anderson was playing in his final game. Anderson was quiet in the early going before coming alive with some critical pressures in the middle portion of the game.

    For the NFL, Anderson could be an edge rusher similar to Tampa Bay’s Shaq Barrett. Like Barrett, Anderson does not have elite speed, athleticism, strength, or explosion. But also like Barrett, Anderson is a natural quarterback hunter that has superb instincts and just knows how to get after the trigger man. Anderson looks poised to be a top-10 pick next April and how high he goes will depend largely on team needs.

  • There was the potential for a good draft matchup with Alabama left tackle Tyler Steen and Kansas State defensive end Felix Anudike-Uzomah. Steen got some help and gave up two pressures, but overall he was superb at limiting Anudike-Uzomah. Steen enters the NFL with a ton of experience. He was a three year starter at Vanderbilt before playing his final season at Alabama and this was an excellent game to conclude his collegiate career.

    In pass protection, Steen is a polished blocker that bends at the knee and shows good development in his set up. Steen slides his feet well to cut off the edge and does not bend at the waist to lunge after defenders. With a thick and strong build, Steen anchors well against bull rushes holding his ground and not getting driven into the quarterback. With his strength, Steen shows a nice ability to sustain blocks with strong hands.

    In the ground game, Steen is able to tie up and manipulate defenders. He can push defenders back and keep them from getting to his runner. While Steen is not an overpowering force, he is a quality run blocker that is reliable.

    For the NFL, Steen looks like he could be a starter at left tackle. With his skill set, he could play guard or right tackle as well. After racking up a ton of SEC experience over four years as a starter, he could compete quickly at the pro level and end up challenging for a starting job as a rookie. Early in his rookie contract, Steen could be a quality starter. In the 2023 NFL Draft, some sources think he will be a first-round pick.

  • Kansas State running back Deuce Vaughn is going to be a steal in the 2023 NFL Draft. Vaughn is very short at 5-foot-5 or 5-6, but defenses have a hard time keeping track of him behind the line and Vaughn is a warrior. He gave proof of that in the Sugar Bowl.

    Late in the first quarter Vaughn showed his next level speed with an 88-yard touchdown run. Vaughn took the run up the middle and kicked it out to the right side and he out ran the Crimson Tide defense before diving into the end zone for the score. In the third quarter Vaughn went out for a time due to a banged up ankle, but he returned to the game. After that long run, Alabama closed up the running lanes and had their defensive backs attacking downhill to not let Vaughn spring a big run. Vaughn totaled 133 yards on 22 carries with a touchdown.

    Vaughn may not have the size to be a three down starter but he could be a dynamite No. 2 back in the NFL. He is an excellent receiver, has speed, amazing elusiveness, and is tough as nails. While he is slightly different Vaughn could be a Darren Sproles type back in the NFL.

  • Alabama defensive back Brian Branch put on a clinic against Kansas State. He was all over the field making tackles in run defense and in pass coverage. To open the first quarter Branch came over from zone coverage to make two good open field tackles. In run support he had a good tackle for a loss on Vaughn as Branch shed a block from Malik Knowles to track down Vaughn in the backfield. Shorty later Branch blitzed and flew into the backfield to get another tackle for a loss on a tackle of Vaughn.

    In the third quarter Branch was in zone coverage over the slot receiver. He read the eyes of the quarterback to undercut the outside receiver to get an interception. The next play the Tide had a 17-yard touchdown to essentially lock up the win over the Wildcats.

    The next possession Branch added his third tackle for a loss running past a block and tracking down Vaughn in the flat. The next play Branch had another big hit on a tackle, and on third down he made the tackle to get the defense off the field. Early in the fourth quarter Branch came on a corner blitz and dodged blockers to get a sack of Will Howard.

    For the NFL, Branch could be a superb weapon for his pro defense. He can play nickel corner, safety, and outside corner. Branch has good size, speed, athleticism, and is instinctive. This tape will help Branch to be a first-round pick next April.

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  • Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud is in the running to be the top quarterback prospect for the 2023 NFL Draft and he ended up having an anti-climatic ending to the 2022 regular season with a loss to Michigan. Versus Georgia, Stroud had a phenomenal performance showing that he is a true potential franchise quarterback for the NFL.

    In the first quarter Stroud led a pretty drive moving in the pocket and throwing accurately. To cap it he bought time and directed Marvin Harrison Jr to break off his route and run to an open space in the end zone and Stroud lofted in a 31-yard touchdown pass to his star receiver. It was an excellent play for Stroud as a lack of ad lib playmaking is one of the concerns that teams have with him and he did that on this play.

    Later in the first half, Stroud made two amazing plays. He dodged Jalen Carter and moved to throw for a first down and then he dodged three defensive linemen in the pocket before scrambling to the side and lofting in a beautiful 16-yard touchdown pass to Harrison.

    In the second half Stroud remained proficient leading the Buckeyes to points and using his legs more than he typically does to help move the chains. He had an impressive 17-yard run midway through the fourth quarter showing off untapped speed and athleticism. Late in the game, Stroud moved the ball in position for a 50-yard field goal to win the game, but the kicker missed it. Against Georgia, Stroud completed 23-of-34 passes for 348 yards with four touchdowns. He ran for 34 yards and 12 carries. On top of playing well, Stroud lost Harrison and other weapons to injuries during the game.

    Versus the Bulldogs, Stroud threw the ball accurately with excellent placement to beat tight coverage. On top of his accuracy, he did a nice job of hitting his receivers on the run to lead them for yards after the catch. Stroud showed developed field vision to work through his progressions and read coverage. This game was impressive because he threw into a lot of tight windows and made some brilliant passes. On top of throwing the hell out of the bowl, Stroud showed more running and ability to ad lib into big plays. There is no doubt that this tape is going to help Stroud to be a high first-round pick next April.

  • Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter is one of the top prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft and Carter flashed special ability against Ohio State. Early in the second quarter Carter showed his special ability tossing the right guard to the side and then closing on Stroud in a blur, but the talented quarterback was able to side step Carter and get a completion. The next play Carter got off his block to tackle the back for a gain of only one.

    In the second half, Ohio State did a decent job of containing Carter. He was still disruptive behind the line of scrimmage, but Carter was kept from wrecking the game with splash plays. Carter also seemed to get winded and was rotating out of the game a fair amount. For the NFL, Carter could stand to improve his conditioning.

    For the NFL, Carter is a fast and athletic interior lineman with strength to shed blocks. He could be a versatile tackle with the power to play nose tackle and the speed to be a three technique. Team sources feel that Carter is a better prospect than Jordan Davis or Devante Wyatt with this game giving proof to that. Overall, this tape will help Carter to be one of the first players selected in the 2023 NFL Draft.

  • Some in the media have pushed Georgia cornerback Kelee Ringo as a high first-rounder, but many teams have him graded on day two. This performance in the SEC Championship game gave proof why teams are not as high on Ringo, and that continued against Ohio State.

    As usual with Ringo, he struggled to run with receivers out of their breaks. Ringo gave up a slant for a chunk gain, got beat on a deep cross, and gave up big separation to Harrison on an out and up route where Ringo was turned around. He had to grab Harrison to hold him to prevent a long touchdown.

    Ringo has good size and straight line speed, but he has major issues with stiffness and that leads to him giving up separation when receivers make cuts in their routes. In the NFL, Ringo is limited to being a press man corner only.

  • Ohio State left tackle Paris Johnson could be a first-round pick next April and this tape is going to help his draft grade. Johnson was steady in pass protection keeping rushers off his quarterback. With good size and athleticism, Johnson was able to cut off the edge and showed the ability to get depth in his drop. He had plays where he would bend but not break and was effective. With good length, Johnson is hard for defenders to get around and he does a nice job of using that length to tie up defenders. For the NFL, Johnson could stand to get stronger in his base and add more power to knock defenders back.

    In the ground game, Johnson is a solid blocker but he is not a true bull. He does not blast defenders off the ball and drive them around the field. With his length and size, Johnson latches onto defenders, turns them, twists them, and manipulates them away from the ball carrier. If Johnson can get stronger for the next level that would make him more well-rounded.

    Johnson showed some tenacity versus Georgia not taking a shove from Jalen Cater at the end of the play, and putting Carter into the turf with a hard hit. Johnson was fortunate he didn’t get a late hit penalty, but teams will like to see that Johnson has the fight and won’t take gruff from the defense.

    Johnson looks like a starting left tackle in the NFL and is worthy of being a first-round pick.

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  • TCU wide receiver Quentin Johnston could be the first wide receiver drafted next April and he proved why against Michigan. In the second quarter Johnston got wide open in busted coverage for a 32-yard gain. Johnston got open for some other chunk completions but Duggan didn’t see him and missed some passes with inaccuracy. With TCU on the ropes, Johnston got open running a deep post and hauled in a 46-yard reception to get the Horned Frogs just outside the red zone.

    Michigan kept clawing their way back, but Johnston kept coming up clutch. Duggan hit him on the run on a crossing route and Johnston broke a tackle before exploding down the field on a 76-yard touchdown. Johnston showed his complete package on that play with the speed to get open, strength to break tackles, and being very fast to run away from defenses. Versus Michigan, Johnston caught six passes for 163 yards and a touchdown.

    For the NFL, Johnston looks like a future No. 1 receiver. He has mismatch size, with speed to get separation, and is a very good route runner. Team sources have said that Johnston is super smart and the hardest worker on the team. With his skill set, Johnston is a favorite to be the first wide receiver drafted and is likely to be a top-10 pick.

  • TCU quarterback Max Duggan has mid-round or day-three potential for the 2023 NFL Draft, and Duggan showed that he is a gamer taking on Michigan. In the first quarter Duggan started out with some bad luck after a deflection was intercepted. He bounced back to have a good run to move the chains for TCU, and to end the drive Duggan plunged into the end zone from a yard out and that put the Horned Frogs up 14-0. Duggan did not get into much rhythm as a passer, but he did have a short touchdown pass on a rollout where he did a nice job to evade the rush. In the third quarter Duggan had some bad luck as he made a good pass to Derius Davis but Davis let the ball bounce off his chest and the deflection was intercepted. Duggan bounced back to lay out a beauty to Johnston after Duggan climbed the pocket to let the slow developing play pay off into a huge play. To end the third quarter Duggan did a quarterback sneak for another rushing touchdown. Duggan completed 14-of-29 passes for 225 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.

    For the NFL, Duggan could be a backup quarterback. As a passer he is too inconsistent with his accuracy and ball placement. He aims throws and uses his strength to deliver the ball as opposed to being a natural passer. However he does have good instincts as a passer. Duggan is a good athlete that is a real running threat. That makes him very good in the red zone as Duggan is a tough runner that has quickness, agility, and strength. Multiple team sources have compared Duggan to Sam Ehlinger and Tim Tebow. Hence he could be a day three pick with a chance to sneak into day two.

  • Michigan defensive tackle Mazi Smith could be starting in the NFL next year. In the first quarter Smith had a good run fill to keep a back from bursting to the second level. In the second half Smith was stuffing a running lane and was in the right spot to pounce on a TCU fumble. Overall, Smith was solid but not dominant or prolific.

    In the ground game Smith is a tough defender. He is very stout at the point of attack. When runs come downhill at him, he is able to anchor and hold his ground. As a pass rusher Smith has some ability to get a push into the backfield with his power, but after gaining some ground upfield Smith struggles to finish the play by getting to the quarterback. He is limited from a speed and athleticism perspective to be a dangerous pass rusher in the NFL. As a pro, he probably will be rotated out of the game in the majority of sub package plays. If Smith had more pass rush ability, he would have been a definite first-round pick.

    Smith could get first round consideration next April and probably won’t fall out of the second round.

  • Other Weeks:

    2023 NFL Draft: College Football Game Recaps - Week 1
    2023 NFL Draft: College Football Game Recaps - Week 2
    2023 NFL Draft: College Football Game Recaps - Week 3
    2023 NFL Draft: College Football Game Recaps - Week 4
    2023 NFL Draft: College Football Game Recaps - Week 5
    2023 NFL Draft: College Football Game Recaps - Week 6
    2023 NFL Draft: College Football Game Recaps - Week 7
    2023 NFL Draft: College Football Game Recaps - Week 8
    2023 NFL Draft: College Football Game Recaps - Week 9
    2023 NFL Draft: College Football Game Recaps - Week 10
    2023 NFL Draft: College Football Game Recaps - Week 11
    2023 NFL Draft: College Football Game Recaps - Week 12
    2023 NFL Draft: College Football Game Recaps - Week 13
    2023 NFL Draft: College Football Game Recaps - Conference Championships
    2023 NFL Draft: College Football Game Recaps - College Playoffs
    2023 NFL Draft: College Football Game Recaps - National Championship Game


    2023 NFL Mock Draft - March 28

    2024 NFL Mock Draft - Feb. 19

    NFL Power Rankings - Feb. 17

    NFL Picks - Feb. 14

    Fantasy Football Rankings - Sept. 7


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