The 2023 NFL Draft is almost three months away, but some prospects have already seen their stock rise. Here’s a look at seven players who have risen to prominence over the past month:
Clemson tight end Davis Allen
It is possible to identify tight end talent without the production to match. Oregon State’s Luke Musgrave was personally ranked among the the top 10 draft prospects in the Pac-12 in August despite recording just 36 receptions in three years of playing time. He has now found his way into first-round projections. Allen wore what amounts to roughly a top 100 for a few years, but continued to play for head coach Dabo Swinney. He nearly matched his production from his first three years with the Tigers (49 receptions for 508 yards and seven touchdowns) in 2022 (39 receptions for 443 yards and five touchdowns).
Allen is not a flashy player, but he is consistent. He has soft hands and is proud of his blocking.
Maryland cornerback Deonte Banks
Banks is a long-coverage cornerback with the speed to route vertically. He is a fluid player capable of leading routes through the pitch. However, he has limited ball production during his career with the Terrapins due to his tendency to not put his eyes back on the ball. While missed tackles are a problem for many cornerbacks in this class, the same is not true for Banks, who has had one missed tackle throughout 2022, according to TruMedia. With teams looking for male cornerbacks, Banks’ positioning among the front group makes sense given his size and athletic ability.
Bowling Green defensive lineman Karl Brooks
Brooks arrived at Bowling Green as a 6-foot-4, 235-pound defensive lineman. During his career, he gained 70 pounds. Despite his change of frame, the Falcons played him a little on the edge. The Michigan native has recorded 26.5 sacks in his career, including 10 last season. For a player of his size, he does a good job of breaking his feet into space and changing direction. Brooks shows good first-step quickness and a drive that resulted in a sack in Reese’s Senior Bowl on Saturday.
Georgia Tech edge rusher Keion White
White is an intriguing prospect as he runs well at 6-foot-4, nearly 290 pounds. A tight end unique to Old Dominion, White has long arms and a bit of pop in his hands, but was in the process of shedding his early-season film studies shortcomings. The elder is explosive from the snap of his fingers and has the rushing potential to go into the early rounds should his run defense improve as other outlets suggest. He had just 11.5 sacks during his career at Georgia Tech, with 7.5 coming this season.
South Carolina cornerback Darius Rush
Rush was one of Reese’s Senior Bowl standout performers. He has a long frame and solid production over the past two years. Looking at him last season, one cause for concern was his tackle. According to TruMedia, he missed the tackle on 21.2% of opportunities in 2021; this figure has dropped to 14.6% in 2022. Rush has good speed to transport routes to the border and is competitive at the point of capture.
Oklahoma offensive tackle Wanya Morris, Wisconsin defensive tackle Keeanu Benton and Stanford wide receiver Michael Wilson were others who improved their actions in Mobile.
USC defensive lineman Tuli Tuipulotu
USC’s use of its defensive front has been confusing. Drake Jackson was a productive rusher who was put on the cover too often. Tuipulotu has great speed and quickness relative to his 6-foot-4, 290-pound frame. However, he was usually lined up on the edge and asked to rush the setter. His responsibilities in the NFL will be different and that should benefit him in the long run, but it may require a longer adjustment period compared to a prospect who has filled a traditional 3-tech role throughout his college career. .
Lukas Van Ness, Iowa edge pitcher
The talent of some players is evident the moment you hit the play button. There are others that burn more slowly; which means it’s easier to like them the more they’re watched. Van Ness seems to fall into this slow burner category. I’m personally not as high on him as the others, but it’s impossible to ignore the buzz he generated early in the pre-draft process. Van Ness has the distinction of never leaving for the Hawkeyes. Over the past two seasons, he’s recorded 13.5 sacks.