Ben Kuchipudi ‘25
To start, it makes sense to talk about the projected first overall pick, Alabama quarterback Bryce Young. Alabama overall had a very disappointing season, missing the college football playoffs for the first time since 2019. This was not because of Bryce Young, as he carried the offense that did not have the firepower at receiver they had in previous years. In his sophomore year, he won the Heisman, throwing for over 4,800 yards to go along with 47 touchdowns and seven interceptions. The one knock on him is his size, as he is only 5 ’10 ” and 194 pounds, but smaller quarterbacks like Russell Wilson and Kyler Murray have done well the last few years. The Carolina Panthers currently hold the first overall pick, so Young looks to be their next franchise quarterback, but if he doesn’t go there, he is not falling past the second overall pick, which is held by the Houston Texans.
Perhaps the most polarizing prospect in the draft, Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson has shot up draft boards due to his freakish athleticism. He ran a blazing 4.43 40 yard dash and had a 40 inch vertical, something we have never seen out of a quarterback before. He also has an absolute cannon of an arm, as he can throw 70 yards downfield with ease. However, he does have his concerns. He seemed to struggle with his accuracy and overall he seems unpolished as a passer. A good comparison for him is Josh Allen, who isn’t nearly as fast as Richardson, but he can make plays with his legs and has arguably the strongest arm in the NFL. Richardson won’t be a day one starter, as he needs time to develop behind a veteran, but when he works out his mechanics, watch out.
Texas has a history of producing elite running backs, and Bijan Robinson might be the best one out of that crop. There hasn’t been a tailback as highly touted as Robinson since Saquon Barkley, and there’s good reason for that. Like Barkley, he’s a dual threat back, elusive and shifty on the ground and a reliable pass catcher. He can also be compared to Le’Veon Bell (the Pittsburgh version), as he knows how to wait for his blocks to set up so he can get to the second level. Robinson is the perfect back for any team looking for that final piece to turn their offense from good to great.
Jaxon Smith-Ngjiba should probably be a top five pick, but a nagging hamstring injury limited to only three games in 2022. However, people forget that he was the best wide receiver in a room that had Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave, two first round picks last season. Smith-Ngjiba burst onto the scene after last year’s Rose Bowl with 347 receiving yards, the most in a bowl game and the fifth most in FBS history. His route running skills are unmatched by any other receiver in the class and his body control while the ball in the air is unreal. However, while he is an elite slot receiver, he does need to develop as an outside receiver. The best receivers in the NFL have the ability to play on the outside and inside, so Smith-Ngjiba needs to develop those outside skills. No matter what team lands him, they’ll be getting an excellent receiver with All-Pro potential.
In a draft that is very top heavy, Will Anderson may be the cream of the crop. In his two years at Alabama, he was a two time All-American, two time Bronko Nagurski Award winner (given to the best defensive player in the country), and finished his career with 34.5 sacks, second most in school history. He has a relentless motor and knows how to get to the quarterback, but he is also a force in the run game. If there wasn’t a high demand of quarterbacks, Anderson would likely be the first overall pick this year, but he has the physical tools and IQ to be one of the most dominant players in the league no matter where he lands.
Jalen Carter is the biggest question mark in this draft by far. On a Georgia Bulldogs defense that yielded five first round picks last season, Carter was the best player on that side of the ball, and talent wise, he is right there with Will Anderson as the best overall player in the class. The problem is that Carter was involved in a car accident that killed one of his teammates and scouts, and he was charged with reckless driving. To add insult to injury, Carter was also sluggish at the combine last month, and he showed up nine pounds heavier. He was projected to be a top three pick just two months ago, but now he could very well fall out of the top ten. I doubt that would happen, but teams look at character when drafting players. Realistically, Carter should still be a top five pick at worst due to his sheer talent.
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