Now that both the NFL and college football seasons are well under way, it is as good a time as any to gauge how this vaunted 2023 NFL draft class stacks up for fantasy with our initial 2023 Dynasty Rookie Mock Draft. The hype for this class is already in full-gear, and the perceived strength of this 2023 group has definitely been on the minds of many dynasty managers when making trades involving 2023 rookie picks.
At this point of the season when 2023 rookie drafts are still far away from our collective radar, we don’t have full athletic testing numbers or NFL landing spots that will ultimately help shape the hierarchy of next year’s prospects leading up to 2023 rookie drafts. And so, rather than a true mock draft (where positional fit might carry more weight during rookie drafts), let this serve more as a “Power Rankings” list of the most valuable 2023 prospects at this point in time in my humble opinion. Obviously, many of these players will move up the list, down the list, or be removed from the list entirely based on how this upcoming college football season goes.
Now, without further ado, here is how I rank this loaded 2023 rookie class in Superflex at this point in time:
1.01 – QB1 Bryce Young – Alabama
If we’re playing Superflex, I’m taking a quarterback here at 1.01 despite the greatness at running back and wide receiver at the top end of this 2023 class. And as of today, that choice comes down to C.J. Stroud and Bryce Young.
I still lean Young despite all the valid reasons that many mock drafts have Stroud ahead of him. Young seems to me to be the more instinctual quarterback and quicker to decipher defenses pre-snap. He makes quick, decisive throws in rhythm, which is going to be important in the NFL. His ball placement is more consistent than Stroud at this point as well. While Young has a tendency to shy away from throwing risky “50/50” balls down the field at times, the fact that he takes care of the football and tries to avoid risky throws is admirable and something that NFL coaches will love.
Young reminds me of a more athletic Drew Brees at times, smoothly commanding his offense like a symphony orchestra despite not being blessed with as much high end receiver talent as some Crimson Tide quarterbacks over the years. Young will need to develop further to reach that lofty comparison, but imagine if he landed in a spot like Detroit where he could operate behind an elite offensive line and simply be tasked with quickly getting the ball into the hands of the many play-makers in that offense, something Young would excel at.
1.02 – QB2 C.J. Stroud – Ohio State
With Young going off the board first in our 2023 Dynasty Rookie Mock Draft, Stroud is a somewhat easy pick here at No. 2. The allure of Bijan is real, but in Superflex, you cannot leave a quarterback like Stroud on the board, especially if he is picked in the top three in the real life NFL Draft.
Stroud has almost 1,400 passing yards and 18 touchdown passes in five games in 2022, and he has shown more of a propensity for pushing the ball down the field than Young has. Of course, when you have Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Marvin Harrison Jr. and Emeka Egbuka playing on your team, that task becomes easier. Still, Stroud is very good at taking advantage of defensive weaknesses and play-calling lapses with big plays.
Stroud’s demeanor is also impressive. As he demonstrated in the Rose Bowl last year, he seems unflappable under pressure, which is a key trait NFL decision-makers love. He’s got a solid arm, good athleticism and makes very good decisions with the ball. Although Geno Smith has started the 2022 playing very well, I think the Seahawks would be an excellent landing spot for Stroud, where he would have DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett to make plays for him down the field.
1.03 – RB1 Bijan Robinson – Texas
This is a no-brainer at (Superflex) 1.03 at this point of the season. Robinson’s professional upside is up there with the likes of Saquon Barkley and Adrian Peterson. He is already carrying massive value in devy leagues as one of the top assets in the game. Assuming all continues well in 2022, Robinson could be a first round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. Most recently, Robinson played well against Texas Tech in the Longhorns’ 37-34 loss with over 100 yards rushing and two scores on just 16 carries (although he fumbled in overtime).
From a technical sense, what makes Robinson such a high level prospect? He is the complete package: size, pace, agility, explosiveness, power, contact balance and pass-catching. Robinson doesn’t necessarily have the top end track speed, but he shows everything else you’d want from a physical standpoint. Where Robinson separates himself for me is his instincts as a runner with the ball in his hands. He effortlessly and instantly processes which cuts he needs to make to find daylight or avoid squared-up hits in traffic. This is where his elite balance comes into play as well.
Finally, his receiving chops are the cherry on top for Robinson as a prospect. He fits the mold of a modern NFL back who can run routes and even split out wide to create mismatches and rack up fantasy points. If Robinson is taken in the mid-to-late first round in the 2023 NFL Draft, a team like Philadelphia would be a really fun fit. The Eagles have multiple first round picks in 2023.
1.04 – RB2 Zach Evans – Mississippi
It is difficult at this early stage for me to feel strongly about Evans over Gibbs, or Gibbs over Evans, but these two are firmly the next two on my list as prospects. Both look like potential NFL playmakers, but their styles differ. Evans, for me, profiles much more closely to a workhorse NFL runner than Gibbs, despite the latter’s insane explosiveness in the open field. The value of the running back position in dynasty is also relevant here in terms of why someone like Jordan Addison or Jaxon Smith-Njigba is lower than this.
Evans was a former five-star recruit according to 247Sports and was their No. 2 running back in the country. Some of his devy value at the moment is being carried by that high pedigree out of high school because he’s only played 15 games in two seasons so far. To his credit, he has dominated when healthy, especially in 2021, when Evans rushed for 100 or more yards in four of his six games to go along with six touchdowns and another 130 yards through the air. So far in 2022, Evans is averaging almost 100 yards from scrimmage and nearly a touchdown per game.
I’ll take Evans slightly over this next guy just due to perceived workhorse potential at this point. It is fun to envision him as the lead-back for the Atlanta Falcons or Arizona Cardinals, both of which would likely offer Evans the opportunity to eventually be a workhorse.
1.05 – RB3 Jahmyr Gibbs – Alabama
Gibbs, a former four-star recruit and top-ten-ranked running back in the 2020 class, comes to Alabama from Georgia Tech where he rushed 143 times for 746 yards and four touchdowns to go along with 35 catches for 465 yards and another five touchdowns in 2021. So far in 2022, Gibbs has 378 rushing yards, 207 receiving yards and five touchdowns through five games.
Possessing incredible agility and burst, Gibbs is looking to find himself in the open field even more often in 2022 as he runs behind the Alabama offensive line. I think he profiles as someone who will be more of a big-play speedster (think Elijah Mitchell) rather than a sturdy between-the-tackles thumper (Javonte Williams) at the next level.
His eventual dynasty value will depend on his eventual NFL team as well as his ability to develop as a pass catcher. With open field electricity like Gibbs has, he will be unstoppable if he can dependably get open on routes and catch the ball with open space around him. A team like Tennessee would be a fun fit for Gibbs. The Titans desperately need explosive playmakers, and he would form a terrifying duo with Derrick Henry for a year or two until he officially passes the torch to Gibbs.
1.06 – WR1 Jaxon Smith-Njigba – Ohio State
Smith-Njigba straight-up dominated last season. He put up a silly 95/1605/9 receiving line in 13 games as a college sophomore. Those numbers are more impressive when you consider the level of receiving talent Smith-Njigba played along side with at Ohio State.
Some of the other top receivers look faster and more explosive than Smith-Njigba, but with his route-running, footwork and intelligence, Smith-Njigba more than makes up for his lack of top end athleticism. At 6-0, just under 200 pounds, Smith-Njigba also fits the physical mold of what a modern NFL wide receiver looks like.
Where Smith-Njigba really shines is down the field. He is adept at using his arms and body to create separation at the catch point whereas Addison and Keyshon Boutte both need to rely more on pure burst and speed to get open. Smith-Njigba is elite at locating and tracking the ball on those deeper plays as well. At the NFL level, I fully expect Smith-Njigba to be a very good and productive player, especially if he lands in an offense that trusts him to make plays down the field.
It would be fitting if Smith-Njigba somehow ended up in Chicago where he could provide fellow former-Buckeye Justin Fields a desperately needed playmaker who can make plays down the field to match Fields’ strengths as a passer.
1.07 – WR2 Jordan Addison – Southern California
Many analysts fell in love with Addison while watching Pitt’s Kenny Pickett last year, and rightly so. Addison helped Pickett’s meteoric rise up 2022 NFL Draft boards by catching 100 passes in 14 games for almost 1,600 yards and a ridiculous 17 touchdowns. Now at USC for 2022, Addison has quickly established a rapport with QB Caleb Williams. Addison already has scored six touchdowns in five games (to go along with 29 receptions for 442 yards).
At 6-0, 175, Addison is a tad smaller than the other top receivers in this class, but in today’s NFL, that isn’t that big of a deal. This kid is a separator. He just knows how to attack defenses by varying his speed to maximize timing with his quarterback to find soft spots in coverage. Combine that high-level understanding with Addison’s raw physical abilities, and you have the makings for some pretty prolific production.
If Addison lands in an up-tempo situation with lots of timing and rhythm throws, he can be a great NFL player. He is not as strong at creating late separation at the catch point due to his smaller stature, so he needs an offense that will afford him more opportunities to catch the ball in space. Addison would be a fun fit in Indianapolis where his explosive ability would complement Michael Pittman very well.
1.08 – QB3 Anthony Richardson – Florida
Richardson combines moments of sheer brilliance with others of maddening ineptitude, but at the end of the day, he boasts truly crotch-tingling potential given his incredible athletic gifts, both legs and arm.
Despite Richardson’s rawness as a passer, there is plenty of evidence that says NFL decision-makers love to bet on potentially special talent. Lamar Jackson and Jalen Hurts are currently dominating the game right now, and Richardson offers that same dual-threat upside. Trey Lance came into the league (and is still struggling) with similar issues with reading defenses and passing accurately, and he was picked No. 3 overall.
So far in 2022, Richardson is completing just 56.9 percent of his passes and has thrown four touchdowns against six interceptions in five games. Conversely, Richardson has been breath-taking on the ground at times, rushing for 241 yards and five touchdowns so far this season.
Richardson will hopefully be able to sharpen his skills against SEC defenses as the season progresses. If he shows some improvement as a passer, it seems likely that he will end up being an early 2023 NFL Draft pick based on his upside. As with any quarterback of Richardson’s unique skill-set, his NFL success will require an NFL head coach/play-caller who is not afraid to abandon conventional wisdom and cater a scheme to Richardson’s strengths. I think the Detroit Lions would be a very interesting fit with the offense they are constructing.
For additional Richardson analysis, check out Ben Perrin’s scouting report here.
1.09 – RB4 Tank Bigsby – Auburn
Much like Ken Walker last year, Bigsby will trigger a ton of “can he pass block well enough to be a high pick?” debates around draft circles next summer. Bigsby is a tough, physical runner whose physique and running style will have many experts pegging him a potential workhorse back in the NFL. However, just like Walker, he will be questioned when it comes down to his third-down ability.
As a ball-carrier, Bigsby is very good. We’ve talked about his power and strength, but he is also quick-footed and downright explosive going laterally, which is a great combination to have for an NFL runner. Bigsby also shows really good vision and patience on film too. He’s got 413 scrimmage yards through four weeks so far in 2022, and he’s scored four touchdowns as well.
If Bigsby profiles as a mid-late Day 3 pick next year, a team like the Chargers might elect to add some power to their high-flying offensive attack and draft him.
1.10 – WR3 Kayshon Boutte – Louisiana State
Boutte has gotten off to a rough start in 2022, with just 97 yards receiving and no touchdowns in four games thus far. Regardless, Boutte’s talent is so evident that he is still an easy first round pick for me here in our 2023 Dynasty Rookie Mock Draft.
A former five-star recruit and the No. 2 ranked receiver in the country coming out of Louisiana, Boutte decided to stay home and attend LSU. As a freshman in 2020, stepping in for the opted-out Ja’Marr Chase, Boutte was very good, catching 45 balls in ten games for 735 yards and five scores. This past season, Boutte was limited to six games, but he put up 509 yards and nine touchdowns in those games.
On a technical level, Boutte is smooth in his routes. Has the complete package athletically to be a Stefon Diggs-like problem on intermediate routes. Also has the raw pace and explosiveness to be very good after the catch. A team like Houston could use an A-list star like Boutte headlining their receiving corps for Davis Mills, especially with Brandin Cooks’ contract situation up in the air.
1.11 – WR4 Josh Downs – North Carolina
There is perhaps no greater proof of the overall quality and depth of this 2023 rookie class than to see Downs going this late in the round. This kid is electric, a natural playmaker by any means necessary.
Downs wins a lot of time with raw speed. There’s a ton of examples on film where he sits down 10-15 yards down the field and just turns and goes with it, and he simply outruns the defenders’ convergence. Downs is also pretty sudden with the ball to go along with good hands and contact balance for someone of his size. Analysts will love Downs’ 2021 metrics (breakout age and college dominator rating) as well.
I want to see Downs run a more diversified route tree as 2022 unfolds. If he can do that and demonstrate more success in contested catch situations, he might eventually challenge Addison, Boutte and Smith-Njigba for best in class at the position.
1.12 – QB4 Will Levis – Kentucky
Levis’ eventual real-life NFL Draft stock will probably either be much higher or lower than this depending on how the rest 2022 college football season plays out. But if I was drafting 2023 rookies today, this is about where I’d take him given that risk and potential payoff. So far this season, Levis is completing 67.5 percent of his passes for nearly 1,200 yards and 10 touchdowns to four interceptions in four games.
Levis spent two seasons at Penn State, where he barely played, before transferring to Kentucky prior to the 2021 season. Levis threw 353 times for 2,826 yards and 24 touchdowns versus 13 interceptions in 13 games last season. He also rushed for 376 more yards and scored nine touchdowns on the ground.
Levis has prototypical size at 6-4, 222, and possesses the arm talent that teams look for. He adds mobility, which is obviously attractive in fantasy football. Levis displays toughness as a ball-carrier as well, which is admirable, but NFL teams will probably want him to be more conservative with his body.
2.01 – RB5 Sean Tucker (Syracuse)
2.02 – WR5 Quentin Johnston (TCU)
2.03 – TE1 Michael Mayer (Notre Dame)
2.04 – RB6 Zach Charbonnet (UCLA)
2.05 – WR6 Marvin Mims (Oklahoma)
2.06 – WR7 Cedric Tillman (Tennessee)
2.07 – RB7 Devon Achane (Texas A&M)
2.08 – QB5 Michael Penix Jr. (Washington)
2.09 – WR8 Rashee Rice (SMU)
2.10 – WR9 Parker Washington (Penn State)
2.11 – QB6 Jaren Hall (BYU)
2.12 – RB8 Deuce Vaughn (Kansas State)
In any other year, players of the caliber of Mayer, Johnston and Tucker would absolutely be first round locks. Heck, Charbonnett was a first rounder in 2022 on most people’s lists before he decided to return to UCLA for 2022. Right now would be a good time to try to acquire as many cheap 2022 second round picks as you can in your dynasty leagues, especially if more quarterbacks can increase their draft stock between now and next spring. If that happens, even more elite talent is going to get pushed down to Round 2.
Penix Jr. and Hall, as of now, are solidly in my second round. Both are trending up though based on their play so far in 2022, and I could see them continue to rise into the first round.
Tucker is a running back that many experts have as a first round talent, but I think he is a little more scheme-dependent than some of the other top runners. Tucker reminds me of Elijah Mitchell with his big play ability, but he will require a situation that is able to afford him the opportunity to run in space. Check out Ben Perrin’s amazing scouting breakdown of Tucker here. Fellow runners Achane and Vaughn offer electric ability with the ball in their hands, but their lack of workhorse size keeps them down here in the second round.
The second round is headlined by this second tier of wide receivers as well. Johnston has started slow with TCU, but his size and skill set keeps him solidly in Round 2 for me. Tillman, Mims, Rice and Washington are all extremely productive and capable weapons whose eventual stock could rise or fall depending on how the rest of the 2022 season goes.
Finally, we see our first tight end off the board here as well.
Mayer is a name that devy managers have been aware of for years now, but it’s hard to rank him any higher than this, even in tight end premium formats.
Obviously the top-end depth of this 2023 class has a lot to do with it. With all the elite talent at running back and receiver positions this year, Mayer drops a bit in this mock. Rookie tight ends rarely put up big fantasy numbers, Kyle Pitts excluded, and even those who are talented and refined enough to make an impact on Sundays aren’t high enough in the pecking order for their teams to be big fantasy contributors. Landing spot is so vital for early fantasy success at the position.
3.01 – RB9 Kendall Milton (Georgia)
3.02 – RB10 Chase Brown (Illinois)
3.03 – TE2 Arik Gilbert (Georgia)
3.04 – QB7 K.J. Jefferson (Arkansas)
3.05 – QB8 Tyler Van Dyke (Miami)
3.06 – WR10 Rakim Jarrett (Maryland)
3.07 – RB11 Jase McClellan (Alabama)
3.08 – RB12 Blake Corum (Michigan)
3.09 – QB9 Hendon Hooker (Tennessee)
3.10 – TE3 Darnell Washington (Georgia)
3.11 – RB13 Kenny McIntosh (Georgia)
3.12 – WR11 Jermaine Burton (Alabama)
Even the third round of our 2023 Dynasty Rookie Mock Draft has plenty of well-known talent, yet another testament to this year’s quality and quantity.
Quarterbacks Jefferson, Van Dyke and Hooker fall to the third round, but all three still have plenty of time to improve their stock. Once we get closer to the 2023 NFL Draft season, it’s likely that virtually all of the appealing quarterbacks will start to float towards the top and will be gone by the third round.
In running backs Milton, Brown, Corum, McClellan and McIntosh, we see less decorated collegiate careers in terms of individual stats and accolades, especially due to splitting workloads, but all of these Round 3 backs are talented and offer more tread left on the tires than some of the running backs selected earlier. The NFL has shown that they are not afraid to prioritize this type of part-time college running back profile with Brian Robinson and James Cook being the most recent examples.
At wide receiver, we see the well start to dry up a bit here in Round 3, but the 2022 college football season is young still. We will see plenty of wideouts start to creep up draft boards. In general, the receiver position is very strong in recent years due to the glamor of the position and young kids working on running the route tree from an early age. Less emphasis is placed on receivers being 6-4, 220 pounds anymore like it was a decade ago, with route-running chops and early separation being more important nowadays.
A pair of Georgia tight ends appear here in the third round as well, and neither are even the best tight end on their own team. Despite the greatness of Brock Bowers (2024), both Gilbert and Washington are extremely talented, but their lack of true production in college will require some projection on the parts of NFL executives and coaches.
4.01 – RB14 Dwayne McBride (UAB)
4.02 – WR12 Dontay Demus (Maryland)
4.03 – TE3 Sam LaPorta (Iowa)
4.04 – QB10 Cameron Ward (Washington State)
4.05 – TE4 Jaheim Bell (South Carolina)
4.06 – RB15 Miyan Williams (Ohio State)
4.07 – RB16 Mo Ibrahim (Minnesota)
4.08 – RB17 Eric Gray (Oklahoma)
4.09 – WR13 Zay Flowers (Boston College)
4.10 – WR14 Nathaniel Dell (Houston)
4.11 – RB18 Israel Abankandi (Pitt)
4.12 – QB11 D.J. Uiagalelei (Clemson)
Typically, by the time Round 4 comes around in rookie drafts it is slim pickings in terms of available talent that has any shot at succeeding in the NFL, but as we’ve talked about and as you can see in this 2023 Dynasty Rookie Mock Draft, this class is deep.
At quarterback, the likes of Ward and Uiagalelei are well-known names in a lot of dynasty and devy circles and could still sneak up boards between now and Draft Day. And this doesn’t even mention names such as Tanner McKee, Devin Leary, Grayson McCall, Spencer Rattler or Phil Jerkovec.
There are some sneaky running backs available this late as well. I love Abankandi out of Pitt due to his physicality and athleticism. Ibrahim from Minnesota, who tore his achilles last season, is also someone to watch despite his advanced age and mileage. He just knows how to read blocks and wear down defenses, and he’s doing it against some great Big Ten defenses week in and week out.
How does this draft look compared to previous years? Let us know in the comment box below!
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Your typical know-nothing wannabe who never played American football growing up, Andrew grew up playing the REAL football, dreaming of being the next Ronaldo (the Brazilian one).
One fateful day in 1998, Andrew was introduced to one, Randy Moss, who would almost singlehandedly vault American football to the forefront of a young twelve-year-old’s flimsy attention span.
Twenty-some years later, Andrew, now a father, coach and rabid Tottenham supporter, still loves both footballs.